Small Wonders

Burned by big-star salaries and fancy productions, Hollywood suddenly sees a hitmaking formula in films that are warm, playful and cheap to make

The hottest thing traipsing through Hollywood last week was not another $1 million, half-written movie script, or Julia Roberts, or even Warner Bros.' squad of shiny dark Jaguars. Instead it was a supposedly top-secret 28-page memo from Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief of Walt Disney Studios, to a small group of his colleagues. In the memo, which leaked out and instantly set fax machines buzzing all over town, Katzenberg called on the studio to avoid high- priced stars whenever possible, shun the "blockbuster mentality that has gripped our industry" and return to Disney's roots as a budget-minded filmmaker.

Disney isn't alone. Rival moguls...

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