There are two things you may not know about Stardust, opening this weekend. 1) Good thing Brad Grey is vacationing in Europe with his family. Because he’ll miss the pic’s disastrous domestic opening this weekend. Even budgeted without marketing costs at $70 million (which sounds way low to me because of all the special effects excess), director Matthew Vaughn’s adventure romance fantasy is tracking horribly for its Friday opening in 2,300 theaters. “The over/under this weekend is at $15 million,” one of my box office gurus tells me. Yikes! Plus, the trailers starring Claire Danes, Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Sienna Miller have to be among the worst I’ve ever seen. (They remind me of the promos for that huge Terry Gilliam bomb, The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen, though Stardust‘s producers prefer to compare their pic to Princess Bride on steroids.) Anyway, though it’ll do nil biz domestically, Paramount is still “very bullish” on the pic’s chances overseas because of the international cast. But, seriously, look at all the Paramount-branded bombs this year: last weekend’s Hot Rod, plus Next, Shooter and Zodiac (a leftover from the Sherry Lansing era). Yet the studio is now first place in market share only because of DreamWorks, which is about to cross the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office this year.
2) So here’s the silver lining: I’m told Paramount is only into the pic for $35 million because it’s distributing worldwide through PPI for the studio’s full fee. The other 50% was financed mostly by Peter Morton with Vaughn’s UK-based MARV Films and Ingenious Film Partners, one of the biggest UK players in movie financing. Yes, that Peter Morton, of Hard Rock Cafe and Las Vegas hotel fame. You see, Vaughn is a longtime Morton family friend who bussed tables at the Hard Rock Cafe before Peter started him in showbiz. The Layer Cake helmer also is married to supermodel Claudia Schiffer who read Neil Gaiman’s famed novel when she was pregnant and thought her husband should make it into a film.