Analysts say boycott won't hurt 'Basic Instinct'

March 19, 1992|By Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES -- The efforts by gay rights advocates to disrupt tomorrow's premiere of "Basic Instinct" are unlikely to damage the movie's box office results, industry watchers said.

"I don't think [boycotts] are effective at all," said A.D. Murphy, longtime box office analyst for Daily Variety. Mr. Murphy said yesterday that he cannot recall any protests that seriously impact the box office receipts of a film.

If anything, added controversy sometimes generates more ticket sales, movie analysts say.

"The controversy has helped build some additional awareness of the film, but I don't think anyone can know the actual effect on the box office," said an executive for TriStar Pictures, which is releasing the film.

The executive noted that the studio has held talks with gay and lesbian groups to try to defuse objections. He said that TriStar has not changed its marketing plan for the movie, which will open in 1,500 theaters nationwide.

The only change, he said, was not listing what theaters would premiere the movie in last Sunday's full-page ads -- an attempt to avoid giving potential disrupters more time to target theaters.

John Neal, senior vice president of marketing at United Artists Theatre Circuit, also is unsure about the effect.

"I don't know what they are going to do," he said. "The more press it has, the more impact it could have. To the extent additional security is required, we will do whatever we think is necessary for safe passage in and out of the theaters."

Gay activists generally object to "Basic Instinct" because it focuses on lesbian and bisexual characters who are suspects in a murder investigation.

Several gay groups say they plan to protest the movie by, among other things, handing out leaflets outside theaters that reveal the ending. Some consider the tactic to be ineffective because the ending is ambiguous.

Anger among those in the gay community has been building because of negative gay characters in two of last year's biggest films, "JFK" and "The Silence of the Lambs."

"This isn't just about 'Basic Instinct,' " said Christopher Fowler, executive director of the Los Angeles office of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "Hollywood has a long history of films depicting us in a negative light, bashing us and fostering hate against us."

Scott Robbe, co-founder of Out in Film, a network of industry executives seeking to improve the image of homosexuals in the media, said: "We need parity in terms of the positive and negative portrayals we see on the screen of gays and lesbians."

However, Robbe agreed with the assessment of others in the industry that disruption tactics sometimes can help a movie by increasing its visibility. HC xtB

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