Imagine That: Denver-filmed movie's flop seals fate of movie executives

Just as Colorado is belatedly trying to become friendlier to Hollywood moviemakers via the re-establishment of the state's Office of Film, Television and Media, the most recent studio flick to be shot in these parts -- Eddie Murphy's Imagine That, which cost around $55 million to put on screen -- is shaping up to be the biggest bomb of the season, earning only an estimated $11 million or so as of June 21. This performance may well have been the last nail in the coffins of Paramount Film Group president John Lesher and production president Brad Weston, who were given the heave-ho over the weekend. Numerous reports about their canning give Imagine That top billing.

Granted, Lesher came aboard in early 2008, after Imagine That (original title: Nowhereland) had already filmed its Denver sequences. Nevertheless, Paramount's marketing campaign for the picture was pathetic, displaying a total lack of confidence in the product. And while that's understandable given the critical indifference it generated, the studio launched it in over 3,000 theaters nationwide, compounding the catastrophe.

Clearly, Denver isn't to blame for what happened -- but any connection with a loser like Imagine That isn't good news for a state trying to get back into the movie industry's good graces. To erase the association, Colorado needs to lure another production here, pronto. And it'd definitely help if it's actually good.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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