August 17, 2002 
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Surf's in at the US BO
Blue Crush promises a good run

Arthur J Pais

With the pix of semi-nude surfing young women staring at the potential moviegoers all over the town, one shouldn't be forgiven for thinking Blue Crush would be one of those exploitative movies that are dumped into movie theatres in the waning days of the summer.

But the Universal Pictures movie, directed by John Stockwell (whose previous hit Crazy/Beautiful was also a good teenage romance), has many favourable reviews, including a decent one in The New York Times.

'You can ogle at Annie Marie (Kate Bosworth) and her friends,' wrote A O Scott, 'or you can aspire to be like them, or even a little of both. Whatever gets you stoked, dude.'

It should not be a surprise if it will attract far more people than the Eddie Murphy sci-fi comedy The Adventures Of Pluto Nash. The Murphy movie had received so much of negative buzz that Warner Bros decided not to hold a press screening. It opened Friday without a review in newspapers.

With a budget touching $80 million and starring its co-producer Eddie Murphy, Pluto Nash was expected to be a big summer hit. But now, expectations are very modest. Some box-office analysts, including Gitesh Pandya of expect it to open with $10 million.

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Showtime, the previous Eddie Murphy flop (which also starred Robert de Niro) grossed just about $40 million in North America a few months ago and was DOA (dead on arrival) abroad. The new movie might end up making even less money.

Murphy plays Pluto Nash, who defies the mob when he refuses to sell his nightclub to them. His misadventures land him in space where he has to use his wits and audacity to foil those who are after him.

Blue Crush, which is gorgeously photographed in Hawaii and has many dramatic surfing scenes, on the other hand, is a story revolving around young men and women. It reportedly cost about $40 million and could be profitable in about three weeks. Several box-office analysts expect Blue Crush to be a formidable hit, going beyond the eagle-eyed voyeurs and surf enthusiasts, grossing about $30 million in its first full week. It might even challenge Universal's other hit, XXX, which grossed a robust $63 million in its first week.

'With its theme of female empowerment and its sappy romantic plot line designed to appeal to teen girls, along with plenty of killer wave footage and a comely lead actress spending 90% of the film in a state of near nakedness to entice their male counterparts,' predicted Hollywood Reporter, Blue Crush should ride a fairly substantial wave of opening week.

The movie is co-produced by Brian Grazer, whose many hits, including Oscar-winner A Beautiful Mind, has made Universal rich.

Anne Marie (Bosworth) lives on Oahu beach with three roommates, including her kid sister who has a talent for rebellion. Anne is working hard for a big time surfing competition. She also needs to work hard to overcome the memories of several other failures in her life. But her quest is disturbed when she meets pro quarterback Matt Tollman (Matthew Davis) who woos her with expensive gifts.

The women rooting for her are afraid she might end up being a Barbie or a doormat. Challenged by her friends and her sister, she must decide the best way to fight the surfing competition but also find peace in her personal life.

If Blue Crush turns out to be a solid hit, expect a sequel to follow early next summer.


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