HOLLYWOOD, CA—Leading movie producers are reacting with disinterest following Monday's discovery of the bodies of four cult members in Plano, TX.
The four victims, identified by police as members of a minor, unimportant death cult known as "Magic Shine," were discovered by a janitor at approximately 8 a.m. in the basement of their Plano-area church. They had covered their heads with plastic bags after each received a lethal overdose of a common non-prescription pain medication, dying in a boring, non-attention-grabbing fashion, forensic authorities determined.
The story of the cult members' suicide is not expected to generate interest on the part of deal-making agents.
"I'm sorry," said Lawrence Rudnick of Paramount Pictures. "I just don't see the movie."
Uncharismatic cult leader Ron Roenicke, who said in a suicide note that "the time has come to ride the laughing purple turtle to mysteriosoville," was only able to persuade three people to follow him to the next realm, leading to allegations of incompetence on his part. Additionally, none of the deceased were children, further dooming the cult's box-office prospects.
"No aliens, no comet, just four wackos who take a fistful of headache pills and then lay down?" Gramercy Pictures vice-president Dennis Carpenter said. "Where's the picture? They at least could have taken some sort of interesting poison, like Carbodium-54, which causes horrific convulsions and bleeding from the mouth, ears and anus."
Tri-Star Pictures CEO Don Silver agreed. "The pill thing: It's too slow. If I have to sit and watch somebody sleep to death, I'm going to end up sleeping to death, and so are the viewers. This was a clear case of too much ambition, not enough talent."
Families of victims were contacted, and each tearfully recounted its stories on local news outlets. A candlelight vigil has been planned for Friday for the victims' friends and loved ones to express their sorrow and rage. Hollywood, however, isn't buying any of it.
"Maybe this would play big back in the sticks, but here in Tinseltown we expect a little more out of a death cult," Silver said. "We have standards. Showmanship. Danger. Drama. Frankly, I don't even see this as a made-for-TV movie, much less a full-blown big-screen project."
Though the suicide has failed to generate Hollywood interest, top studio executives stress that they are still interested in future, more substantial group suicides.
"If a real good one comes down the pike, I could be proven wrong. If the money's there, I'll green-light the project," said Paramount Television's Ed MacAlester. "Obviously, if 40 or 50 nutcases take themselves out with, say, a bomb that kills a whole bunch of pregnant women, well, we're not going to pass on an opportunity like that."
But now that the funerals are over and the sad story of Magic Shine has come to an end, what lessons have been learned that can prevent such tragedies in the future? Universal Pictures head of development David Mankoff offered the following tips.
"Number one: Secure representation before you down the Kool-Aid. You can only commit group suicide once, so make sure you have a top-notch agent on your side before you take your one big shot."
"Number two: Take at least 30 people with you. If you haven't got that many followers willing to die at your command, it may not even be worth it."
"Number three: Die painfully, or at least in a scary-looking way."
"Number four: Make sure that at least a few children die with you. That was the main problem with Heaven's Gate: no kids. Why do you think everybody went so Waco-crazy a while back? All over the TV, it was the same thing—the children this, the children that. That's what you call free word-of-mouth publicity, and believe me, it's worth more than gold."