The Science Of Hollywood


Based on what little I know about the way Hollywood works (Julia Boorstin's our go-to reporter on that stuff), when I saw that CBS Films was releasing "Extraordinary Measures" in January, I assumed that couldn't be a good sign.

A general rule of thumb is that studios tend to dump a lot of their bad flicks on the market in the first couple months of the year.

But when I met earlier this week with the man whose story inspired the movie, John Crowley set me straight. I was doing a pre-interview with him a day ahead of his live appearance on CNBC the other day.

By way of quick background, Crowley, now the CEO of tiny Amicus Therapeutics , plowed his personal biotech fortune into finding a drug to treat the rare disease two of his children have.

Anyway, Crowley told me the studio originally planned to roll out the movie in April, but after screening it for at least two focus groups of 400 in L.A., CBS honcho Les Moonves pushed up the release date to January and ordered up a promotional blitz.

According to Crowley, the audiences gave "Measures" a more than 80 percent favorable rating. He claimed that's double the average.

Crowley attended at least one of those screenings with star and producer Harrison Ford, who he said slipped into the back row of the darkened theater baseball-cap incognito.

And if you think you've seen this movie before, Crowley said think again. In addition to having a cameo role as a venture capitalist, Crowley also served as a consultant on the film. He visited the set half a dozen times to mostly answer questions. He said Amicus' biology chief also showed up on location to doublecheck the science for accuracy. Crowley claimed Ford was a stickler about the biotech stuff being totally true to life.

The timeline is compressed and Ford's physician character is an amalgam of several medical professionals, but other than that Crowley said the movie keeps "100 percent to the spirit" of his story.

If that's the case, the film might pass muster with science-savvy audiences. Whether it's the next "Blindside," of course, will be up to the critics and moviegoers. It premieres in L.A. and New York on the 19th and 21st and opens on the 22nd.

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