“Saving Private Ryan,” starring Tom Hanks, and Ed Burns of “The Brothers McMullen,” seems set to become another blockbuster for director Steven Spielberg.
Following its launch, the three-hour World War II epic, not only received some of the best reviews of the year, it was also No. 1 at the box office, earning an estimated $30 million, in its opening weekend alone.
Much of the praise for the movie has been for its prolonged battle scenes, particularly because, rather than glorifying war, it shows the mayhem in all its bloody, brutal and emotional reality.
It cost $65 million to make the movie, which, relatively speaking, is not high for such an epic production.
Jim Tharp, the distribution chief at Dreamworks, which made the movie with Paramount, said that it played broadly across the nation, attracting equal numbers of women and men, with its appeal drawing heavily on moviegoers over 25. He said the movie’s audience appeal seemed just as strong in cities like San Antonio and Dayton, as in New York as Los Angeles.
“Saving Private Ryan,” written by Robert Rodat, stars Hanks as an army captain who leads his platoon across the Normandy countryside following D-Day in search of Private Ryan, who is played by Matt Damon. Private Ryan is the only one of four enlisted brothers in the war who may still be alive.
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Initially, “Saving Private Ryan” was developed at Paramount by Rodat and executives there. Hanks read the script and was immediately interested. Spielberg, who has had a longtime interest in World War II, and whose father was a combat veteran, also read the script, and said he wanted to do it.
Because of Spielberg’s involvement, his company, Dreamworks, shared producing credit. Dreamworks is in charge of the film’s domestic U.S. distribution, with Paramount releasing it abroad.