Godzilla, aliens, and asteroid and a Hunter Thompson book are all headed for theaters. Here's a look at those movies and more.

BEASTLY SUMMER

May 15, 1998|By CHRIS KALTENBACH | CHRIS KALTENBACH,SUN STAFF

Don't kids yourself. Size always matters in Hollywood, especially in summer. Much Tinseltown is holding its breath, waiting to se if the big guy has legs -- and whether his ravenous appetite will leave room for anyone else.

The big guy, in case you've been living in a cave the past few months, is Godzilla, the humongous, firebreathing, Tokyo-destroying lizard that Tristar is reviving. With its ubiquitous "size Does Matter" ad campaign, plus some clever trailers, "Godzilla" is pretty much guaranteed a monster opening weekend; the queston is, where does it go from there?

Will the world's favorite ticked-off dinosaur have the legs to move beyond its opening-week bonanza and dominate the vacation months? Or will "Godzilla" follow the lead of "The Lost World" and open huge, then fade quickly, allowing other films to seize the spotlight.

And what of the other films of summer, those whose heroes don't have cold blood running through their veins?

Here's a look at what Hollywood will be sending to theaters over the next few months, presented with the usual caveat; Release dates (in parentheses) can change; don't be surprised if "Dr. Dolittle" shows up at your local multiplex a week or two late.

May

"Godzilla" (Wednesday): Oh, no, there goes Tokyo! Or, in the case of this big-budget remake of the 1956 Japanese classic, New York City. Unfortunately, this "Godzilla" won't have Raymond Burr to help move things along, but it looks to have everything else -- including the creative team (Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin) that brought us the 1996 summer 1996 blockbuster, "Independence Day." The cast includes Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo (seen recently on "ER") and Hank Azaria. Advance buzz suggests good things.

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (Friday): Does gonzo still work in the '90s? Universal thinks it does, which is why it's bankrolling the adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's book. With Terry Gilliam ("Brazil," "12 Monkeys") at the helm, there's cause to hope for the best. If nothing else, it should be better than an earlier attempt to put Thompson on screen, 1980's "Where the Buffalo Roam." This time, Johnny Depp stars, with cameos from just about everyone.

"Shooting Fish" (Friday): A pair of con artists try to impress a woman (Kate Beckinsale).

"Bulworth" (Friday): Warren Beatty plays a U.S. senator who has compromised his ideals away, until he sees the light and decides to speak the un-P.C. truth.

"Chinese Box" (Friday): Jeremy Irons is a British journalist in Hong Kong. Gong Li and Maggie Cheung are the objects of his desire. From director Wayne Wang.

"I Got the Hook-Up" (May 27): Hip-hop artist Master P comes to the screen as one of two ghetto guys trying to hawk cell phones from the back of their van.

"Hope Floats" (May 29): Sandra Bullock, attempting to prove there's life after "Speed 2" (there sure wasn't any life in it), plays a woman fleeing a bad marriage who moves in with her mother (Gena Rowlands) and finds the love of a good man (Harry Connick Jr.).

Also scheduled for May:

"Twentyfourseven": Bob Hoskins establishes a boxing club in a small English town as a way of channeling the resident youths' aggression.

"Almost Heroes": The late Chris Farley teams up with Matthew Perry ("Friends") in an Old West buddy comedy.

"Go Now": Robert Carlyle ("The Full Monty") in a love story of a man whose body is falling apart, and the woman who cares for him. Michael Winterbottom ("Welcome to Sarajevo") directs.

June

"The Truman Show" (June 5): Jim Carrey's back, and despite the film's name, he's not playing the president who guided us through the final days of World War II (thank God!). This time, the rubber-faced one is cast as the unwitting star of a TV sitcom; everyone around him is an actor and he's the only one without a script. Laura Linney and Ed Harris co-star.

"The Last Days of Disco" (June 5): Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny ("Kids") star as upscale young lasses who dance their frustrations away every night in 1981. Directed by Whit Stillman.

"Dirty Work" (June 5): Hoping to find life after "Weekend Update," Norm MacDonald comes to the big screen as a dude who'll help you get even with anyone for a price.

"A Perfect Murder" (June 12): Michael Douglas plots the murder of unfaithful wife Gwyneth Paltrow. Andrew Davis ("The Fugitive") directs this remake of "Dial M for Murder."

"Six Days, Seven Nights" (June 12): Will the public accept an out-of-the-closet lesbian playing a heterosexual love interest? That's the big question facing Anne Heche as one half of a mismatched couple stranded on a desert island. The other half is played by Harrison Ford, one of Hollywood's most dependable drawing cards.

"Hav Plenty" (June 12): A love story -- she has it all, he has nothing -- that made a big splash at this year's Sundance Festival.

"Can't Hardly Wait" (June 12): Just-graduated high-schoolers search for love -- which shouldn't be tough, since Jennifer Love Hewitt ("Party of Five") stars.

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