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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 31, 2001

Hawai'i movies fall short of hype

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Staff Writer

The year opened with high expectations for two very different big-budget movies produced in Hawai'i.

"Pearl Harbor" grossed $89.3 milllion the first week.

Advertiser library photo

• Budgeted at $145 million, Disney's "Pearl Harbor" had one of the largest premieres in film history — aboard an aircraft carrier in May — and an impressive first-week domestic gross of $89.3 million. But mixed critical reviews and the hokiest- of-love-triangles plot lines burdened the film. Disney did not pass the $200 million, end-of-summer domestic gross it hoped for. When the studio pulled "Pearl" from theaters in early December, it had taken in just $198.5 million.

Still, Disney has touted the film as a success, mostly because of an additional $200 million-plus in international receipts, and a first-week video/DVD release this month that netted $130 million and record DVD sales of 3.7 million. "Pearl" is Disney's top-grossing film of 2001.

• Video game maker Square Co. spent four years and $137 million building a Honolulu-based animation studio to create its first feature, "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within," employing about 220 animators at its peak. But a miniscule $32.1 million domestic gross and disappointing box office take worldwide for the "photo-real" animated film ushered Square out of film-making for good in October. The poor performance hastened the departure of Square Co.'s president in November and will likely lead to the sale or shuttering of its local animation facilities early next year.