I'm in Hollywood - Chapter 26

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 10:13:26]
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Michael Klaus decided to play it like a rascal when he saw that Eric kept shaking his head: “Eric, just give me something, alright ? I’ve been so busy while helping you with Jurassic Park that my wife started complaining, I even gave you 200,000$ of royalties in advance so that you could make your movie, aren’t you a little bit moved ?”

Seeing the stocky middle-aged man in front of him playing the emotional card, Eric couldn’t help but have the chills. He thought for a moment, and said: “Well, I do have a science-fiction one in mind, but it’s just an idea, no specific outline yet. It’s based on George Romero’s living dead series, a biotechnology company is studying a virus when it is suddenly leaked, infecting humanity at the same time….”

Eric’s story was of course, Resident Evil. Although he had seen the series in his past life, he hadn’t really liked it, but thanks to his memory, he remembered it in its entirety.

The past Resident Evil was probably the most profitable game adapted to the screen, the cost of production wasn’t high, and the series’ total box office had even crossed the 1 billion $ mark. Since Michael wanted him to write something, this would keep him occupied. Plus, he would get to steal from the Japanese, which kind of left him with a sense of accomplishment.

Michael Klaus was somewhat dissatisfied: “Don’t you have anything else ? A lot of people do like zombie stories, but the audience is just too small…”

Eric shrugged his shoulders and spread his hands, as if saying ‘do what you like’, so Michael had no choice but to say: “Alright, then start writing as soon as possible, with your current fame, we shouldn’t worry about the sales volumes. By the way, you could add some adults elements, anyway you’re of age now, no one will say anything about it…”

Blabbing about his own proposal, Michael suddenly noticed that Eric’s face looked unnatural, he subconsciously turned around and found that Aniston was standing behind him, her mouth slightly opened, she was looking at the middle-aged man in a way that screamed: ah, so that’s what you’re like !

“Cough, Eric, I suddenly remember I have some things to do, so I’ll be going now.” After instigating her boyfriend to write about that kind of things, Michael was embarrassed as he awkwardly made his way towards the door and left this sentence before running away: “Be sure to start writing as soon as possible !”

After he left, Aniston asked: “Eric, you’re not really going to write according to that fellow’s suggestion… right ?”

“Of course not, I am now being promoted by Columbia and the Fox as a model for young people in the United States, how could I damage that glorious image for some petty profits.”


After the Home Alone and 17 Again large-scale publicity stunt, it was finally time for another key moment: the reviews.

November 11th, the two films held simultaneous screenings for the press. In this era where Internet didn’t exist yet, the viewers relied mostly on newspapers when it came to pick a film, therefore, the movie’s reviews were something that one could not avoid. Of course, after the critics who participated in the preview watched the movie, as long as it wasn’t completely repulsive, they would generally not make too incisive remarks. After all, the critics’ needed movies to survive, but movies didn’t actually need them that much.

The day after the screenings, the major newspapers and magazines had finally released the long awaited reviews on Home Alone and 17 Again.

Home Alone delivers a new narrative mode of pure comedy, full of innocence, warmth, and jokes that will grow on you, like funny conflicts between the protagonist and the two young and old robbers. I have to say, Stuart Runkle’s performance as a seven-year-old can be described as nothing short of amazing. There was also rookie Matthew Perry who played a remarkable Marvin, full of hilarious gimmicks, and people just can’t help but laugh….” – Los Angeles Times.

“A genius director and talented young actors, have dedicated themselves to make you happy this Christmas. To those who will go watch the movie, I advise you not to eat popcorn, or you’ll likely spray it all over your seated neighbors when you laugh out loud….” – Chicago Tribune.

“In 17 Again, Drew Barrymore experiences a complete transformation. Gone her previous image of the small and cute girl from E.T, here, she portrays a rebellious daughter about to graduate from high school whose several outbursts throughout the movie helped the young actress exhibit her amazing acting skills. Both Dan Aykroyd and Susan Sarandon’s, those two giants of the cinema, performances were absolutely splendid. Eric Williams, who wrote and starred in the movie, was absolutely nothing like an inexperienced young blood. If we’re talking about acting skills, he didn’t lose to Drew Barrymore in the slightest. With his movie Home Alone being released at the same time, I have to concur that this man might be a genius blessed by God, that would be the only way to explain Eric Williams’ outstandingness ……” – Empire Magazine.

“Many people are always complaining about the reality of their life, go and watch 17 Again, and you will realize that you might not be so unhappy, you might also feel a variety of negative emotions that will probably suffocate and isolate you, and you might even start getting jealous of the protagonist for being able to get out of his body and look at himself from another’s perspective….” – Washington Post.

A lot of newspapers paid tribute to the two movies, so critics were also inevitable, after all, no matter how powerful the two giants were, they couldn’t control all the media, not to mention that the four other big players weren’t about to let Columbia and the Fox gloat too long.

One of them, The Chicago Sun-Times, directly criticized Home Alone as a completely unrealistic and nonsensical work, saying that the plot lacked rationality, that two robbers being teased by a kid had never happened in reality, and that it was likely to result in misleading children and teenagers alike.

Another, the Los Angeles Daily News, made a more incisive point as it denounced the use of a toy gun by Kevin in Home Alone, and was calling for a re-examination of the movie itself. This news had even gotten the attention of a Los Angeles television station which made Eric really concerned; despite the proliferation of firearms in the United States, they controlled their uses in movies and television works very strictly.

He anxiously phoned Lester Reed and inquired about the matter, the former casually reassured him, and let him in on an inside story.

The Los Angeles Daily News’ owner was a shareholder of Universal Pictures, and the studio was planning on releasing their animated work Land Before Time on November 18th, which would be the same time as Home Alone, their only child-oriented competitor. These kinds of things were normal, and Columbia would naturally counterattack accordingly.

Hanging the phone up, Eric sighed, troubles were knocking at his door way too soon. At the same time, this little episode gave him a sense of crisis. Compared to those big movie companies, he was just a small shrimp right now, he wasn’t of any threat to those giants, but once Home Alone became a success, they would surely start to be vigilant of him, especially Columbia.

If at that time he didn’t have enough strength to stand up for himself, then he could only wait while those giants suppressed him.

His past’s Tom Cruise was splendid example, since the movies he starred in sell so well, his authority and share of the profits got higher and higher, until finally, the paycheck he received even exceeded the Paramount Pictures’ CEO by many times. The owner, Sumner Redstone, had therefore openly and directly lost all decorum with Tom Cruise in 2006, while Viacom’s media had kept discrediting him for several years, making his career hit rock bottom.

“Hey baby, what’s up ?” Noticing Eric had gotten off the phone but was still in a daze, Aniston gently tugged his shirt.

“Oh, nothing.”

While Eric always maintained his confident behavior, Aniston still felt his concern about the two movies. After all, the only thing that remained in Eric’s possession was the car that his father had left behind. Besides that, he had mortgaged out everything that could be mortgaged, and if Home Alone flopped, the bet would be lost and Eric would become bankrupt.

She grabbed her boyfriend’s waist from behind, and leaned her head against his back, as she whispered: “Baby, if there’s something on your mind, I might not be able to help much, but I should still be qualified enough to listen.”

“I just suddenly felt that……” Eric turned around and took Annie in his arms as he said: “The future might be more difficult to tread on than I thought, Annie, will you still go down the road with me ?”

“Of course I will.” Aniston didn’t understand the underlying meaning of Eric’s words, but still decisively acquiesced.

“Thank you, Annie. Are you really not coming to New York with me ? I can arrange for James to get an extra ticket.”

As the Home Alone and 17 Again release date was drawing near, the two crews decided to leave for the East Coast in order to promote in New York, however, as she only had a small role in 17 Again, Aniston wasn’t one of the actors involved in the promotion.

Annie didn’t want to bother her boyfriend for something this small, she shook her head and said: “No, I lived in New York for many years, there’s really no point in going again.”

The two lovers hugged for a while before Annie gently pushed him away and turned to tidy up his travel luggage.