They say Hollywood’s glory days have passed, but when it comes time to celebrate a fantasy weeper with promising box-office legs, the new Hollywood can party as heartily as the old. Thus, at the Beverly Hills premiere party for Twentieth Century Fox’s Cocoon, a gentle film about extraterrestrials and the Fountain of Youth, some 1,000 swells gathered to launch the summer’s first movie that may attract kids and those whose age is into significant double figures.
The $150-per-head fund raiser benefited the Institute for Cancer and Blood Research (cancer figures in the movie). Director Ron Howard missed the bash because he was already filming his next movie, Gung Ho, in Japan, but talk at the party centered on his uncanny ability to make movies of transgenerational appeal. Don Ameche, 77, who with Wilford Brimley and Hume Cronyn helps form Cocoon’s delightful trio of rambunctious codgers, praised the kid director whose 1984 hit was Splash. “Ron Howard is unique, unlike anyone I have ever worked with in my entire career,” said Ameche. “He gave us tremendous latitude where it counted, yet he knows exactly how and when to totally take charge.” While such stars as Apollonia, Perry King and Morgan Fairchild helped gobble up the party’s shrimp, oysters and crab legs, Cocoon co-star Steve Guttenberg, 26, described making the film as “a magical experience.” Co-producer Richard Zanuck was more pragmatic. “I want to see what the overnight grosses are,” he said before the party broke up. He shouldn’t have worried. Opening weekend Cocoon made $7.9 million, becoming the top film in the nation, and that’s good for anyone’s butterflies.