MOVIEMAKING: Thirsty Detour In the Dunes

Thirsty Detour In the Dunes

The movie Ishtar features arid Moroccan dunes, so it may seem appropriate that its studio, Columbia Pictures, is thirsting for box-office receipts. In its first 19 days, Ishtar grossed $11.6 million, trading on the presence of Superstars Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman. That sounds good, but the film cost $45 million or more to make.

As of last week Ishtar's ticket sales trailed even the inane Ernest Goes to Camp and were not in the same class as Beverly Hills Cop II ($71.6 million in 16 days) and The Untouchables ($3.3 million in its first two). One consolation: Columbia hopes to...