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Paramount trying to make 'The Lovely Bones' the next 'Twilight'

December 16, 2009 | 10:15 am

LovelyBones On its face, Tuesday seemed like a bad day for "The Lovely Bones."

Paramount Pictures, which inherited the movie from its former partner DreamWorks Studios, gave director Peter Jackson's adaptation of Alice Sebold's best-selling novel all the trappings of an awards movie: screeners sent to voters, "for your consideration" ads, and an opening at just three theaters in Los Angeles and New York, traditionally a way to build momentum through positive reviews.

But "The Lovely Bones" got only one Golden Globe nomination Tuesday, for best supporting actor Stanley Tucci. Last week, the movie opened to mostly negative reviews and an unimpressive opening weekend performance.

Executives at Paramount, however, are already thinking about beyond awards. They're thinking beyond adults, in fact. On Jan. 15, when "The Lovely Bones" opens nationwide, Paramount is hoping to draw huge numbers of girls between 13 and 25.

While executives at Paramount and DreamWorks thought they were making a movie that would appeal to adults, testing has shown the only audience responding strongly to "The Lovely Bones" is teenage and college-age girls. So the marketing campaign is now being aimed almost exclusively at them. "There's a real interest for the 'Twilight' crowd," commented Ken Kamins, Jackson's manager and an executive producer of the film.

Paramount will need to get girls nearly as worked up about "The Lovely Bones" as they were about "Twilight" to make the movie a success, as it has roughly $150 million in production and marketing costs at stake.

To find out more about how and why the studio is trying to turn what at first looked like an adult drama into a teen thriller, read the story in today's Times.

--Ben Fritz

Photo: Saorsie Ronan, Stanley Tucci and Peter Jackson on the set of "The Lovely Bones." Credit: Barry Wetcher / DreamWorks Studios.