Never underestimate Screen Gems topper Clint Culpepper. More than most studio execs, he gets to put together an eclectic range of projects under Sony’s low-budget Screen Gems label because he’s got that magic gut instinct for what audiences want and how to sell it to them. Since 1999, Culpepper has figured out which pictures to make without stepping on the toes of big Columbia and little Sony Pictures Classics: horror, urban and teen flicks like the Underworld, Hostel and Resident Evil franchises and Dear John.
One of Culpepper’s pet projects for a while now has been the Steve Antin musical Burlesque (due Thanksgiving) which stars Cher in a welcome return to the screen as the impresario of a struggling burlesque club. Christina Aguilera makes her screen debut; Stanley Tucci, Kristen Bell and Julianne Hough co-star. E.T.’s first look and a new trailer are on the jump. (Farewell to departing E.T. vet Mary Hart, whose sizable salary got the budget axe this week.)