MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Wrap-Up

The shock of the weekend wasn’t the explosion of The Peacemaker (more like a firecracker, with a decent, but hardly exciting $12.5 million for number one). It wasn’t the weak opening of The Edge (it was ahead of The Game with $8.2 million, as I predicted on Friday). It wasn’t even that I hit the L.A. Confidential box office draw exactly right ($4.5 million for sixth place)!
The shock of the weekend was Soul Food! An African-American dramedy that did serious business. If Soul Food ends up doing $45 million domestically, it will be a much bigger hit for Fox than The Peacemaker will be at $55 million for DreamWorks. In fact, at a cost of only $7 million, it would be a bigger hit than Waiting To Exhale, which grossed $66 million domestically, but cost $15 million. There are going to be a lot of executives spending their mornings trying to figure out why Soul Food is a hit and the wonderful love jones and A Family Thing missed. Could it be that Vivica Fox is a legitimate movie star? Since Independence Day, this is the fourth straight film she has done that has “opened.” Set It Off (opened at $11.8 million), Booty Call ($8.5 million), Batman & Robin (a Vivica-irrelevant $43 million) and now Soul Food. As good as Vanessa Williams is, her track record is a lot less clear. Congrats to you, Viv. Your price just went up.
In the rest of the box office news, In & Out held up, taking third spot with $11.3 million, dropping only 26 percent. The Game took another 45 percent plunge to $5.1 million and fifth place. Wishmaster hit seventh place with $3.3 million after its take was cut in half, while A Thousand Acres continues to get plowed under and G.I. Jane disappears off the AWAC screens.
Finally, my current pet peeve, L.A. Confidential, and its limited release distribution plan continues to allow the film to dip before it expands out next week, dropping well under $6,000 per screen from $7,100. Here’s a movie with the potential to be a bigger Usual Suspects, but at this rate, it will need Oscar nominations aplenty to match last year’s sleeper’s $46 million domestic gross.
Tomorrow, The Hot Button tackles the news, including some eyewitness Tori Spelling gossip. I’m such a media whore!
E-Mail Dave with the issues that get your button hot!

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon