It's a few days before his film, Love and Other Drugs, reaches theaters and Edward Zwick is sipping tea, as calm as can be expected.
The movie, after all, is out of his hands at this point. Now it's up to critics and audiences as to the kind of opening weekend -- the extra-long Thanksgiving weekend, at that -- his film will receive.
"I'm in the chute," Zwick says with a laugh. "I'm allowed a small amount of room on either side to make tiny adjustments. But in terms of the outcome, it's pretty much already been determined."
Based on a book called Hard Sell: Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, by James Reidy, Love is being sold as a date movie and partially as a romantic comedy. But Zwick understands that finding a pigeonhole for a film is what marketing contemporary movies is all about. He understands, but that doesn't mean he's happy about it.
"There's a factor of needing to sell a movie within a 30-second timeframe -- or even a 15-second time frame," he says. "So those things that are most easily reduced or encapsulated into bite-size morsels are most favored. When you add in something that's being resold -- a sequel, a remake, a comic book, a brand -- then the oxygen available for more unique things has been diminished.
"It was a challenge to get this made -- even after we had (Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway) attached. It was only after we all cut our fees to one-fourth and agreed to make it on a limited budget. That's the economic reality we're facing."
Love and Other Drugs stars Gyllenhaal as a pharmaceutical salesman in the mid-1990s, working for Pfizer just before the release of Viagra. A ladies' man with a roving eye, he falls hard for a tough young woman played by Hathaway -- who turns out to have a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.
So she keeps him at a distance emotionally, even as she rides him hard sexually. The salesman finds himself becoming emotionally involved with a woman who equates relationships with being pitied and wants no part of them.
Already the film has been compared to Love Story. But since the Ali McGraw-Ryan O'Neal film is 40 years old, Zwick assumes that most young viewers have no idea what references to the older film even mean.
"In my office, we were talking about the fact that they'd announced a remake of A Star is Born and I was bemoaning the idea of a fourth remake," Zwick says. "And the young guys who work in my office were giving me blank looks, like 'What's A Star is Born?'"
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