OSCAR BUZZ FOR 'PHANTOM'

Category: Phantom of the Opera News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: November 16, 2004 | Publication: New York Post | Author: Liz Smith
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November 16, 2004 -- 'HE WHO believes he can't be destroyed, destroys himself," writes Bernie Brillstein, Hollywood en trepreneur, in his new book "The Little Stuff Matters Most." You can be sure Michael Ovitz never read this book, but if you aspire to a career in showbiz, you should read it.

And now for something entirely different. I want to talk about a movie that I think will surely be nominated for an Academy Award, whether anyone believes me or not.

When the history of movies has come and gone, I think there'll be more than a footnote about one opening Dec. 6 in London and Dec. 12 in the U.S., plus the worldwide opening on Dec. 22. "The Phantom of the Opera" is going to be an unforgettable hit.

And probably Hollywood is already biting itself in exasperation because it may have to think of a Best Picture Oscar for the film's intrepid producer, Andrew Lloyd Webber of Great Britain. Like Mel Gibson before him, Andrew has personally put up the entire amount of money $90 million to make his great stage opus into a magnificent film that La La land cannot possibly ignore. (Mel had to ante up only $20 million to make his controversial and troublesome to Hollywood "The Passion of the Christ." But both of these unusual individual mountings of private bankrolls rank way up there in film history as belief in one's own personal vision.)

Andrew is not popular here nor in Great Britain. He is too successful, and he touches a mainstream approval that always unnerves the cognoscenti. But his "Phantom" opened on London's West End stage in 1986 and then came to Broadway in 1988. It is still running in both cities and in many other places around the globe. This incredible musical has grossed $3 billion, more than any mere movie has ever earned!

When Lloyd Webber was a child, his theater-mad auntie took him to see the musicals of Rodgers & Hammerstein. He experienced film versions of both "Carousel' and "Oklahoma!" which were very unlike their stage creations. Later, Andrew decided if ever his "Phantom" was put on film, he would show moviegoers the same kind of "Phantom" they can see in a legit theater.

And now millions of people who have never been lucky enough to discover this show on a stage, will see the "Phantom" story for the first time. Others will be revisiting its epic thrill. I have seen just 15 minutes of this movie musical spectacle. I didn't have to see more. It is incredibly beautiful, tantalizing, stunning.

If there is an ounce of justice at the Oscars, they'll just give up and hand Lord Andrew the prize. "Phantom of the Opera" is a fabled movie moment coming now and stretching back to Lon Chaney's silent original.