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David Poland

By David Poland

Early Box Office Analysis

Paramount is looking for the fifth highest opening in its history with Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. 

Interestingly, none of the current Top Five (M:I2, Tomb Raider, M:I, Runaway Bride and What Women Want) are kid-target movies, though Tomb Raider was certainly built for horny teen boys.  But the current #6 is The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, which started strong and fell off the edge of the box office chart after a week.  And Paramount’s best kids-film effort overall was the first Rugrats movie, which barely passed the $100 million mark.

I don’t expect that to be the fate of this film, in part because of Jim Carrey’s presence.  His reviews have been blistering, but Snicket is looking to become his third best starring opening (I don’t count Batman Forever) after Bruce Almighty and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  Both of those films ended up grossing well over $200 million, which is probably why Snicket is a Jim Carrey movie (besides his talent, obviously).  But Paramountis not over the hump yet.  Carrrey’s current third best opening is for Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, the sequel which opened to $37.8 million and ended up with a gross of just $108 million domestic.

This has been the season, so far, for movies that the critics don’t much like doing big business and movies that critics love struggling to get past the $20 million mark.  Whether what looks to be a near-$40 million start leads to a $120 million domestic total or a $200 million domestic total we will not know until next weekend. 

However, the big bright question mark for Paramount right now is why they gave up the last three weeks of playtime with The Incredibles slotted for November 5 and Polar Express slotted for November 10.  I would, of course, be the first to scream about an overcrowded marketplace.  But I would also have noticed that the highest grossing family-oriented December release of all time, leaving the Rings films aside, is Stuart Little, which grossed “only” $140 million after opening on December 17, 1999.  An incremental improvement over that for Snicket is okay, but not sensational.  And with the price tag on this film, they need sensational.

Spanglish and The Flight of the Phoenix are both going down fairly hard.  For Spanglish, it is the widest James L. Brooks opening ever by about 30 percent, but it will open to about 30 percent less than his next widest starter, As Good As It Gets.  That said, AGAIG ended up doing twelve times its opening figure in 1997.  That would make Spanglish a $100 million movie.  So anything is possible.

As for Phoenix, Fox tried to counterprogram, moving the film into December from a 2005 date.  A $5 million start is a plane crash.

Closer added about 30% more screens and will see a gross increase this weekend of about 15%.  Not bad.  But hardly overwhelming. 

And Ocean’s Twelve looks to fall by more than 50% in its second weekend.  Surprised?  Anyone… anyone…

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57 Responses to “Early Box Office Analysis”

  1. PeppersDad says:

    No surprise to me if you’re right about Ocean’s 12. My wife and I, both fans of 11, saw 12 last Saturday night at The Grove in L.A.. We both despised it and heard nothing but grumbles from other viewers as we left the theater. It felt like we paid $12.50 per ticket to watch some industry insiders’ vacation reel. I am shocked at how many respected critics posted positive reviews because they liked the movie’s supposed laid-back vibe. This movie feels like another big, disdainful Soderbergh F-you to his audience. The lazy-ass actors who gave up their usual fees so they could phone in their performances for a percentage of the gross deserve to see squat.

  2. Stella's Boy says:

    While it may not be anything particularly special, I don’t understand some of the animosity being shown towards Ocean’s 12. I’ll take it any day of the week over the dreadful Closer. It was easy to watch and the cast is great.

  3. Dan R% says:

    ‘Batman Forever’ not Returns. 🙂

  4. Paul Vargo says:

    I went to see Spanglish this afternoon and think it could be like the polar express and have some staying power. Everyone I talk to or overheard on the way out was nothing but praise. I think the tend of critics giving a movie mix to poor reviews but people going to see it every after the opening week will conutine. I think Sander and Paz will push this thing for a while.

  5. PeppersDad says:

    Stella’s Boy – Why are you comparing a big-budget popcorn heist flick to a serious, dour drama about adult relationships?
    I haven’t seen Closer yet, but I can vouch that Ocean’s 12 fails at every level. Unlike its predecessor, there is virtually no character development. The closest the movie comes to any character individuality is in Matt Damon’s role, but did they really have to turn him into such a momma’s boy? Beyond Damon we get nothing more informative character-wise than the revelation that Bernie Mac has a manicure fetish.
    Besides the weak characterizations, the heists themselves are rote and dull, making The Italian Job look like a textbook classic in comparison. And I don’t know how many people are going to agree with you that the film “was easy to watch.” Soderbergh’s decision to resume his punishing obsession with handheld cameras was utterly pointless, and gave the film a jittery, murky look that is utterly inappropriate for this type of project. Finally, you’re more than entitled to think “the cast is great,” but for me it felt like suffering through a 2-hour edition of “Access Hollywood.” I guarantee that when the DVD comes out, you won’t be able to see much difference between the movie and the standard HBO “making of” documentary that’s always included.
    Gotta say it’s pretty shocking that you enjoyed this movie given your critique of Spider-Man 2.

  6. LifeAndDeathBrigade says:

    Let me be about as blunt as Shaquelle O’Neil when
    asked a question about Kobe Bryant. If you have
    animosity towards Ocean’s 12, then you really
    need to get that stick pulled from your rectum
    all Excalibur like, soon. There certainly can never
    be no accounting for taste. But if you like these
    actors, then this movie should be for you. God forbid
    some actors, or MOVIE STARS, had fun making a movie.
    Dear sweet RUTTIN LORD, we better lock them up,
    because we here REAL PEOPLE cant be watch no
    flick where they make Catherine Zeta Jones hot
    again, and have a good time. GOD NO! CANT DO IT!
    And Closer sucks Pepper, and how dare you defend
    such a boring piece of merde. This flick easily
    has to be the most unintentionally funny film
    you will see all year. If only the filmed ended
    with that girl who really enjoys her MAGNIFICENT
    BOUNCING BREAST getting hit by a truck. Then this
    would be the greatest unintentionally funny film
    in the history of cinema. Instead, you get a piece
    of merde featuring a script that could be seen
    by those who know, as Dawson’s Creek fan erotica.
    Since the actors deliver their lines in their very
    best impersonations of Joey, Pacey, Jen, and Dawson.
    Closer sucks. If they made 10000 films like this
    , then we would all be DOOMED. Horrible tripe.
    Adult films suck. What does a brother have to
    do to get one with some HONESTY? Bloody pikers.

  7. PeppersDad says:

    LifeAndDeathBrigade – Let me be blunt as well: Your mommy and daddy need to adjust the online parental controls so you can’t get to forums like this anymore. And you really need to step away from the keyboard and acquire some elementary-school reading skills (let alone basic manners). I never in any way endorsed Closer. I even stated unambiguously that I haven’t seen it yet. From everything I’ve read and heard, I don’t expect to enjoy it when and if I do finally see it. All I said was that I didn’t see the point of comparing it to Ocean’s 12. So if you can’t bother to read or if you simply suffer from ADD, I must assume that your mommy forgot to teach you not to hold yourself up to well-deserved ridicule by spewing your “blunt” uninformed trash.
    FYI: I do like all of the actors in Ocean’s 12. I have no problem with them having fun while making a movie. Maybe next time they’ll actually make one.
    It’s past your bedtime. Go have a glass of milk and some Ridalin. Nighty night!

  8. Stella's Boy says:

    I really couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks. We simply disagree about Ocean’s 12. I don’t think it fails on every level. It’s certainly not my favorite movie of the year. Not even close. I’m not sure why you’re getting so worked up about it and the fact that I enjoyed it. For me, it’s an ideal popcorn movie. For two hours I relaxed and had a good time. Honestly, I’ll probably never see it again. Seems to me you’re wasting a lot of energy on hating a movie that’s harmless fluff. And Spider-Man 2 sucked big time. And what’s with all the name calling?

  9. PeppersDad says:

    Stella”s Boy – As I’ve said to you and others before, it’s perfectly fine that we disagree. But it’s a cheap shot to say I’m expending any more energy than anyone else who chooses to articulate their opinions here – most particularly the omnipresent contributors like you. If it takes me more than three or four sentences to convey my thoughts, sorry, but my opinions don’t always fit neatly into compressed sound bites.
    Nobody is forcing their opinions on you. But it completely shreds credibility for you to claim you don’t care what anybody else thinks when you in particular quite evidently choose to post/respond so many times a day on this blog (and lord knows how many others).
    Finally, please show me a single instance where I’ve engaged up until now in what you refer to as “name calling.” I mean, for crying out loud, did you even bother to read the objectively abusive post by LifeAndDeathBrigade? Or is that OK because he sided with you?

  10. Stella's Boy says:

    I enjoy discussing movies. That is why I come here and post here. Isn’t it the same for you? But I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I find it hysterical when people use arguments like, “Everyone else in the theatre hated it” or, “Word of mouth will be terrible because no one liked it, at least at the theatre I saw it in.” So what? What does that prove? That is what I mean when I say that I don’t care what anyone else thinks. As for LifeAndDeathBrigade, we have disagreed plenty of times, and it has nothing to do at all with him “siding” with me. You sound like a 12 year-old in that post. Seemed like a strange way to try and make your point.

  11. Martin says:

    I thought both Spiderman 2 and Oceans 12 sucked. Sequels in general are whores films and these are no different.

  12. PeppersDad says:

    Stella’s Boy –
    1. When I said that everyone in the theatre hated Ocean’s 12, it was with regard to how much of a box office drop the movie may experience this weekend. It was about watching the movie in a theatre filled with excited fans who had rushed out opening weekend to see this sold-out screening, and who were all now going to give this movie the most wretched word of mouth. Yes, it’s an isolated episode, nothing more than anecdotal evidence of one audience’s response to this film. It certainly had nothing to do with my own position about the quality of the movie, just my impression of the box office prospects. Again, you need to make an effort to actually read what I’ve actually written.
    2. You say you enjoy discussing movies. You then immediately follow that by repeating twice your mantra, “I don’t care what anyone else thinks.” That doesn’t meet anybody’s idea of a discussion. That’s just loving the sound of your own voice.
    Nobody says you have to conform your opinion to that of the masses. But you can at least be respectful of differing perspectives, and then respond appropriately. This all started because you posted a note saying you didn’t understand all the animosity targeted at Ocean’s 12 (see above). In my response, I did nothing but attempt to explain that animosity toward the film. In return, I’ve gotten nothing but outrageously hostile animosity directed toward me personally. Again, READ!
    3. Funny how in one post you absurdly accuse me of “name calling” (without backing it up), then now say that I sounded like a 12-year-old (without backing it up). Guess I’m rubber, you’re glue…
    Yes, I ridiculed LifeAndDeathBrigade’s noxious post. But there’s a critical difference between holding someone up to ridicule and what you simplistically label “name calling.” I’m so sorry that you cannot see it. It’s truly a sad day in this country when a genuinely venal posting like the one submitted by LifeAndDeathBrigade (above) cannot be exposed and shamed.
    And, yes, shame on you as well for standing by his vicious side. I’d like to think that Stella would not be proud.

  13. PeppersDad says:

    The results are in. Ocean’s 12 did about $18 million this weekend, down from $39 million last weekend – a drop of more than 50 percent. Well whad’ya know…

  14. Stella's Boy says:

    1) Did you poll the entire audience? Did you stand outside of the exit and ask each and every person what he or she thought of it? How could you possibly know that an entire theatre disliked the movie?
    2) I find it hilarious that you are demanding I READ, when you apparently have trouble doing the same. First of all, I specifically and clearly stated that in regard to me not caring what everyone else thinks, I was speaking about audience reaction. You said “everyone in the theatre” hated it. I responded by saying that I do not care about that. Understand? READ. Second, do you honestly believe that all you did was attempt to explain the animosity, and that only I am “hostile?” If so, you are delusional and mistaken. You could just as easily be describing yourself when you talk about “outrageous hostility.” I see you have a predilection towards overreaction as well. Seriously.
    3) I am not siding with anyone on this issue. Nor am I defending him. I merely found your rant about his ADD and mommy and daddy to be fairly childish and stupid.
    4) You are really beating a dead horse here buddy. I could not care less about it dropping 50%. I have already stated this, but apparently you simply don’t get it.

  15. Stella's Boy says:

    All this back and forth really isn’t accomplishing anything, and I apologize for my role in it. I don’t want to make this personal. I just want to talk movies.

  16. PeppersDad says:

    Stella’s Boy –
    1. Did I poll the entire audience? Of course not. All I said here was that I heard nothing but innumerable angry grumbles about the movie when my wife and I exited the sold-out theater. Having looked around that audience, it is my opinion that the patrons were as valid a sampling as you could possibly get in Los Angeles. Would you also think it was irrelevent if such an audience had applauded wildly as the credits rolled? Remember, the question here is what kind of word of mouth the film could expect, not whether you or I personally thought the movie was any good.
    2. You can protest the point as much as you want but, no, YOU MANIFESTLY STILL DON’T READ. If you did, you would have seen that my previous posting addressed in careful detail the point about audience reaction and your “not caring what everyone else thinks.” What’s sad is that you are incapable of comprehending the important substantive distinctions so many rounds into this debate.
    And, yes, it is absolutely true that, in my initial response to you (above), all I did was endeavor to explain the public’s general animosity toward Ocean’s 12 by giving my personal review of the film. Where oh where was the purported animosity toward you? Was is when I asked you to explain why you chose to compare the public response to Closer to that for Ocean’s 12? Or was it when I expressed my surprise at your support of Ocean’s 12 given your recently published condemnation of Spider-Man 2? That’s your idea of animosity? Talk about a “predilection towards overreaction”!
    3. When you chastise me but don’t in any way chastise LifeAndDeathBrigade, yes, you are in very real effect siding with him. I apologize if you (or anyone else) found my pointed response to his wild attack on me to be childish. Too bad you didn’t find the need to express the slightest bit of similar moral outrage when, in his provocation above, LifeAndDeathBrigade bluntly told me, among other things, to rip a sword out of my ass.
    4. If you continue to insist that you don’t care about a movie’s receipts, then what on earth are you doing increasing everyone’s eye strain on a blog entitled “Early Box Office Analysis”?
    Finally, when you talk about beating a dead horse, you might want to consider whether you are the horse. Therefore, your final point may be right. This probably isn’t accomplishing anything. Not when your mind is so demonstrably closed and obstinate. Not when the only important point to you continues to be your proud mantra: You don’t care what anyone else thinks.

  17. Stella's Boy says:

    Listen, I’d really like to end this. As we’ve agreed, this isn’t accomplishing anything and is pointless. Agree to disagree. Alright?

  18. PeppersDad says:


  19. Martin says:

    Box office is gay, man.

  20. Stella's Boy says:

    PeppersDad, I just hate it when things get personal. Takes all the fun out of it. I’m not saying it’s your fault, so please don’t get that impression. We’re just not really talking about the movie anymore. I don’t think Mr. Poland likes it when folks get off topic.

  21. PeppersDad says:

    Like I’ve already said: Fine. Everything’s cool.

  22. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Anyone seen the per-theater averages?
    “Million Dollar Baby” has a higher PTA than “The Aviator”. Miramax’s policy of opening in Aspen and Greenwich day-and-date with NYC does not work.
    “Closer” and “Finding Neverland” expanded to ~1000 theaters. Which film has the higher PTA? “Closer”. Not only that, “Sideways” and “House of Flying Daggers” have stronger PTAs than “Neverland”.
    “The Life Aquatic” was off only ~10 percent in its 2nd weekend. Remarkable that in NYC it was up against icky weather and important NFL games.

  23. bicycle bob says:

    ever wonder how tis always stellas girl starting trouble?
    wheres theres smoke…

  24. Stella's Boy says:

    Pray tell, how am I always starting trouble? Why did you even feel it necessary to post that in the first place? What does it accomplish? And who is starting stuff again?

  25. Reece's Pieces says:

    Sticking to the subject, I’m curious to see the long-term power of Lemony Snicket. The vibe in the theater was odd (few stuck around for the great animation during the credits) and I think the piss-poor ending will hurt its word-of-mouth.
    My thought? $130 million tops, if that. A better reception on DVD, but hopefully enough to warrant a sequel.
    I agree with Roger Ebert when he said the film feels like a warm-up to something really great. A heck of a lot of potential, and I was actually surprised at Jim Carrey and how much I actually liked him this time.

  26. Joe Leydon says:

    At the risk of reigniting a heated argument: It’s actually quite easy to tell when most of the folks sitting around you actively dislike a movie. There are all manner of “tells” to watch out for – especially when no one is laughing during a comedy, or when bored children are constantly walking out for bathroom breaks and concession-stand visits during a “family film.” But there are subtler signs as well. Several years ago, I attended a sneak preview screening in Dallas. The title was not revealed in the newspaper ads – and it turned out to be “Blade Runner.” How did the audience react? Let’s not mince words: I have never before or after been in a situation where I felt such a hostile vibe from people sitting around me. No wonder the Warner Bros. brass felt concerned about the movie’s b.o. potential. So concerned, in fact, that the movie was substantially revised – WB added voiceover narration and an upbeat ending – before its theatrical release months later. I don’t care if you’re the world’s biggest fan of the “Blade Runner: Director’s Cut” that was released years afterward: If you would have been part of that Dallas audience, you, too, would have changed the film.

  27. PeppersDad says:

    Great story, Joe! Here’s another: About 20 years ago, my brother attended a sneak preview of a small rock ‘n roll comedy. My brother, an ivy-league-educated doctor with a great sense of humor who always stays on the cutting edge of the music scene, came out of the preview saying that it was unquestionably one of the worst movies he’d ever seen, that the jokes all fell flat, and that the bored audience booed furiously at the end. The film? This Is Spinal Tap.
    So, needless to say, isolated examples of audience reactions cannot validly forecast the final, objective verdict of a film’s worth. But, as the above two anecdotes illustrate, they may be valid prognosticators of box-office potential. Both Blade Runner and Spinal Tap (and many others) did disappointingly in their initial theatrical runs, and only later found their audiences via critical reappraisals, word of mouth, and home video.

  28. Stella's Boy says:

    I’m sure everyone here can come up with an example where it was easy to accurately summarize an audience’s reaction to a movie. I never said it was impossible to do so. But, sometimes I find blanket statements such as “the entire theatre hated it” a little suspect. If I had to guess, the audience I saw Ocean’s 12 with, for example, seemed to like the movie.

  29. Joe Leydon says:

    Something else to consider – something so obvious that, ironically, it’s often overlooked: Just because a movie makes gadzillions of dollars doesn’t mean everyone who sees it (or, for that matter, even MOST people who see) really like it. Which is why, sometimes, sequels to seemingly popular films stiff at the box-office. Yeah, I know: Sequels usually stiff because they plumb heretofore uncharted depths of suck. But I would argue that some films that “everybody likes” actually are disliked, if not hated, by many people who buy tickets. Case in point: “The Blair Witch Project” made a phenomenal amount of money. But some folks who saw it (because they were drawn by the hype) very likely despised it. Indeed, judging from the sheer volume of angry e-mails I received in response to my rave review back when I was reviewing for, MANY people despised it. I can’t say if the “Blair Witch” sequel was any good or not. (I missed it because… well, because it looked like it would stink out loud.) But I’d be willing to bet that many, many people refused to see it simply because they figured they didn’t want to get burned again. I’m not saying that’s why some folks are avoiding “Ocean’s 12” (which I kinda-sorta liked, for what it’s worth). But maybe…

  30. Stella's Boy says:

    Good point, Joe. Personally, I’m a fan of The Blair Witch Project, but I know more people that despised it than liked it. And don’t bother with the sequel. It is awful. As for Ocean’s 12, it’s not as good as the O11, so maybe that’s why it’s not performing as well. Though I enjoyed it, it’s not even close to one of my favorites of the year and I’m not broken up about its box office. Those guys won’t starve.

  31. Mark says:

    Fine. I’ll say it. Stella has a point. Who is anyone to judge a reaction of a theatre? I’ve seen thousands of movies. I can’t name one instance where the audience played a factor in my experience. Or where it swayed me. or where I thought it was even funny about how they acted.

  32. PeppersDad says:

    Joe – I wish studio execs took some time to grasp what you’ve just said because it just doesn’t seem to factor enough in their green-lighting decisions.
    Then again, maybe it does. There is a knot in this entire line of argument that should not be overlooked: the home video market. Blair Witch was not just a monster hit in theatres. It also was huge on video, and I seem to recall that when released it became the best-selling DVD ever. (It has, of course, since been surpassed). That’s certainly a good indicator of how many people tired of it after one viewing. If audiences have not demonstrated substantial aversion or fatigue, the decision to make a sequel seems quite justifiable.
    At least Blair Witch Project (which I did not enjoy at all) was a genuinely original, audience-driven, film community phenomenon and, as such, arguably deserved to be revisited – especially given the potentially high-yield return on a small investment. What grates at me more is a lot of the more commercial sequel fare, where you’d pray a “lord no, we won’t be able to sucker them again” mentality ought to prevail over the statistics. I’m talking about movies like Tomb Raider 2, Charlie’s Angels 2, and the like. Certainly the poorly reviewed first ones succeeded solely because of the marketing hype, which extended even into the home video releases. But the curiosity factor was long gone by the time the sequels rolled around. It’s one of those fool me once…fool me twice… things.
    An upcoming example? My vote is for The Ring 2. I didn’t care for the first one, don’t know anyone who was gaga about it, and simply don’t see any point in giving this quickly forgotten trifle any more of my precious time.

  33. PeppersDad says:

    Mark –
    Stella may indeed have a point. The problem is, it’s an irrelevant one, at least with regard to the matter that was being discussed. The issue here was never how much sway the audience has over any viewer’s judgment. The issue was trying to predict what the word-of-mouth and box-office gross would be based on an audience’s response to a film.
    Can that be predicted based on one audience’s reaction? OF COURSE IT CAN. Studio’s do it all the time with preview test screenings.

  34. Stella's Boy says:

    PeppersDad, please don’t take offense, but I think you may rely too much on one audience’s reaction. More often than not, I don’t think you can predict a movie’s success or word of mouth based on a single audience. A friend recently saw an advanced screening of After the Sunset. He swore up and down that the audience loved it, and that it was going to be huge. We all know what happened there. Back in ’98, I saw a sold-out, opening night showing of Disturbing Behavior (I was young, forgive me). I was certain it would do extremely well. It was a huge flop. I could go on and on with examples. I’m not suggesting it is impossible to predict success or failure based on one audience, but I personally don’t put much faith in it.

  35. Stella's Boy says:

    As far as the sequels for Charlie’s Angel and Tomb Raider, the originals of which I absolutely hated, did international box office factor in at all? Both were huge hits globally, weren’t they? I skipped the sequels. My understanding is that both were worse than the original, which is an extremely scary thought.
    You knew there would be a sequel to The Ring, which I enjoyed. It made a ton of money, and sequels to horror movies are pretty common. I know a lot of people who love The Ring, especially my sister and her friends (they’re teenagers). They can’t wait to see Ring 2.

  36. PeppersDad says:

    Stella’s Boy –
    As far as individual audience reaction goes, I’ll say it again: INDUSTRY TEST SCREENINGS. Maybe you don’t believe in them, but the studios sure do.
    There’s also something to be said for the notion that a negative audience reaction is far more indicative of a film’s future than a positive one (i.e., every one of the screenings you’ve cited). Bad word of mouth will always do great harm to a movie. But even with a positive reaction, you still have to factor in nebulous X factors like proper marketing, star wattage (e.g., After the Sunset’s star does not have a great record for opening movies in the U.S. that don’t display the numerals 007 on their posters), the competition, personal tastes, and the effect of critics’ reviews.
    As far as sequels go, I think you are generally right. But I still expect The Ring 2 to open somewhat big and then quickly tank, at least domestically, just as most horror sequels do. (Think of every Exorcist sequel.)

  37. LifeAndDeathBrigade says:

    If people start pulling swords from their asses, then
    this entire world might be in trouble. It’s called
    hyperbole! Us 12 year olds love the hyperbole. Goes
    right over the heads of adults all the time!
    And why do people always slam the intelligence of
    12 year olds when they have to slam another adult?
    What did the 12 year olds do to get stuck in this
    rather unfortunate circumstance? Does anyone ever
    slam someone else by saying, “Stop acting like a 15
    year old dumbass?” Poor 12 year olds; they deserve

  38. Stella's Boy says:

    The studios definitely seem to believe in industry test screenings. I wish they didn’t rely on them so much sometimes. You’re right, negative audience reaction is probably more indicative of a film’s future than a positive one. And chances are, as you said, Ring 2 opens big and then fades away. Do you think the time of year has any impact on the box office of a movie like Ring 2 (or Ring for that matter)? Isn’t it coming out in March, whereas Ring was an October release?

  39. TheBrotherhoodOfTheKLostSkeletonOfCadavra says:

    Test screenings are notoriously unreliable. (It’s well known that A NIGHT AT THE OPERA and SOME LIKE IT HOT both stunk up the joint at their first previews, but went on to become enormous hits, anyway.) Moreover, by repeatedly holding these screenings in L.A., the studios ensure that the same jaded teens will go over and over again and say anything just to screw with the filmmakers. I believe it was Blake Edwards who said he abandoned Hollywood for Broadway because he was tired of having his films “rewritten, reshot and recut by 200 Valley teenagers who can’t spell.”

  40. EntryNmbrV says:

    I think the operative here may be that you didn’t attend every test screening and were therefore unable to take into account a wide sampleing of data (cutting across geographic area– what plays in Norfolk may not in Boston) that anyone making a decision for a studio would demand.
    Truth told, you can gain a good perspective from test screenings, but you were at only one, and cannot make an informed opinion based solely on that one expierance. It’s all in statistics…

  41. PeppersDad says:

    EntryNmbrV –
    No, not to sound egotistical, but if you’ve been following this thread you would know that the operative is that I WAS 100% RIGHT.
    Am I the only one who reads these pages top to bottom before jumping in? This started all the way up on top of this page, where I agreed with the opening proposition that Ocean’s 12 would likely take at least a 50% plunge in box office revenue this past weekend. I based this conclusion, in part, on the screening I attended. I got a good look at the packed house, which was comprised of a representative mix of people of diverse age, race, gender and sexual orientation. Perhaps of greatest importance, the fairly boisterous crowd quite evidently consisted of many fans of the previous film, Ocean’s 11. And this eager, receptive audience, by all the available visual and audible evidence, left the screening extremely disappointed, sullen, and even vociferously angry.
    I never claimed to have conducted a scientific poll. I didn’t mean to give the impression that polling or test screenings always without fail produce accurate data. (I mean, for crying out loud, look at the TV networks’ U.S. election results.) All I did was articulate my personal observations, perceptions, and resulting conclusions. And, yes, I factored in how I thought such a smug, self-referential film might play in Peoria.
    Lo and behold, I nailed it.
    Which apparently, at least on this page, is my bad. So shoot me.

  42. Stella's Boy says:

    Was it really that difficult to predict a 50% second weekend drop for Ocean’s 12? Nearly every wide release movie these days suffers at least a 50% second weekend drop, save for family movies. I never said it wasn’t going to drop 50%.

  43. PeppersDad says:

    Stella’s Boy –
    Someone’s got to tell you: You really ought to stop putting your foot in your mouth. You’ve been on the attack throughout this page for my estimate of the drop, and now you’re ever so conveniently spinning that you “never said it wasn’t going to drop 50%.” Give us a break! (Maybe there’s your answer as to why others in this forum have accused you of always starting trouble.)
    Second, a 53.7% drop is a substantial one unless the movie has a super-gargantuan opening. While a $39 million opening is a big one, a 53.7% drop from there is quite precipitous – especially when you factor in the film’s budget and the number of theatres in which it is playing. It means this film, which had a budget of $110 million, might not earn $100 million domestically. That’s a serious disappointment for Warner Bros. no matter what the international or home video markets may bring.
    Really, bro, you need to give it a rest.

  44. Stella's Boy says:

    bicycle bob said I “always start trouble.” Read some of his posts in other threads. His opinion counts for less than nothing. And you are making stuff up now. I have not put my foot in my mouth at all. And you have accused me of not reading? Oh the irony is thick around here. I did not attack you once for your estimate of the drop. I defended the movie itself. I said I enjoyed it and didn’t understand the animosity shown towards it. I never said you were wrong in thinking it would drop 50%. Got that? Need any more clarification? I want to make sure you understand clearly what I have and have not said. I don’t want to be misrepresented or have things attributed to me that I never even said. OK, bro? Maybe someone else needs to give putting words in people’s mouths a rest, hey?

  45. bicycle bob says:

    stella lady, ur all about nonsense. glad others are realizing this from the god of liberal nonsense.
    don’t listen to his double speak, people. she tries to drown u out with long paragraphs about nothing. then tries to make fun of u.

  46. Stella's Boy says:

    I try to drown you out with long paragraphs and then make fun of you? Are you sure you’re talking about me and not mistaking me for someone else? Even yourself perhaps? And really, what do you contribute around here? Do you do anything other than insult people, call people names and use poor grammar? I am trying to discuss movies with PeppersDad (and others), even if we do disagree. You, apparently, are only here to throw around insults at basically everyone. Why do you even bother? That bored?

  47. PeppersDad says:

    Stella’s Boy –
    Again, I got onto this page to support the proposition of a drop of at least 50%. In doing so, I made reference to the audience response at the screening I attended. Here’s a direct, completely in-context quote from you:
    “I find it hysterical when people use arguments like, ‘Everyone else in the theatre hated it’ or, ‘Word of mouth will be terrible because no one liked it, at least at the theatre I saw it in.’ So what? What does that prove?”
    Throughout this page you’ve unmistakably attacked my conclusions and my methodology. You’ve dismissed things I’ve observed with repeated monomaniacal statements like “I don’t care what anybody else thinks.” Now you’re oh-so-conveniently saying, “Oh, even I could have predicted that.”
    At this point, you’re just spewing. That puts you in league here with unwelcome nuisances like LifeAndDeathBrigade. Congratulations.

  48. Stella's Boy says:

    Again, I was talking about the quality of the movie, not how much it would drop. Like I’ve said before, I have a problem with using one audience’s perceived reaction to determine overall audience response to a movie. I was stating that one showing can’t necessarily predict a movie’s success or failure. And why do you continue with the personal attacks, accusing me of being as bad as LifeAndDeathBrigade? That sort of confuses me. I thought we had moved past that. I could easily say that you are just spewing and intentionally misreading what I have said, and that you’re in fact no better than Brigade. Proves nothing. Just more useless back and forth. Also, I have agreed with some of your statements. I am not just trying to disagree with you for kicks.

  49. PeppersDad says:

    Stella’s Boy –
    It is impossible for me to imagine that anyone reading your earlier posts would believe that, underneath it all, you supported my proposition that the film was going to take a substantial drop. Your unwavering defense of the film and your dismissals of my analysis are plastered all over this long page. Yet even now, when precisely what I deduced has come to pass, you still cannot back down.
    I don’t wish to attack you personally. But when confronted with such relentless foolishness, it’s nearly impossible not to respond in some personal way. So you know what? Since you can’t handle it, let’s forget about it. I’m done. I’ve got nothing whatsoever to prove. I’m tired of repeating myself. I’m tired of repeating what you’ve said. The facts speak for themselves.

  50. bicycle bob says:

    typical stella girl. shes at it again!!
    by the way, u say test screenings are unreliable and then quote us “some like it hot”???? are u serious? 50 yrs ago?? oh no. the studio system hasn’t changed anything. heavens no! i’m not even going into all the jokes and stupidity that that involves.

  51. Mark says:

    Test screenings are bad. Just ask the exec’s behind “The Jazz Singer”!!

  52. LifeAndDeathBrigade says:

    Did I not say I used hyperbole? People just do
    not pay attention. Just giving a brother a headache.
    Useless nuisances? ON WHAT PLANET? Shenanigans
    upon you man! SHENANIGANS!

  53. PeppersDad says:

    LifeAndDeathBrigade –
    Your definition of “hyperbole” = “giving a brother a headache” = “useless nuisance” = LifeAndDeathBrigade

  54. EntryNmbrV says:

    Peppers Dad,
    Just because your conculsions were ultimatly correct, does not mean your methoeds were proven to be effective. Calling a 50% drop for a movie does not, under any circumstances, invalidate statistical science, which, though not perfect, does have some base rules that would not have supported your evidence. Sorry to sound like a jackass here, but “well I was right” does not mean how you got there was acceptable or anything more than a lucky guess based on personal feelings and opinions.

  55. LifeAndDeathBrigade says:

    Poor Pepper has to have a dad like you, ZING!

  56. PeppersDad says:

    Regarding EntryNmbrV’s last comment –
    Geez, who lifted up the rock and let another one crawl out?
    Exactly what base rules were violated by my evidence? Forget that – what mathematical or scientific methods did I ever claim to have employed? I NEVER CLAIMED TO BE A POLLSTER OR STATISTICIAN. What, I’m not entitled to form an impression? INDIVIDUAL IMPRESSIONS ABOUT BOX OFFICE PROSPECTS ARE WHAT THIS WHOLE BLOG PAGE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT! And, for the last time, will one of you idiots actually read what I wrote top to bottom?
    The following was the question by Permalink that opened this thread:
    “Ocean’s Twelve looks to fall by more than 50% in its second weekend.  Surprised?  Anyone… anyone…”
    Now here’s my response (verbatim, unedited) that got the ball rolling with the tag-team morons:
    “No surprise to me if you’re right about Ocean’s 12. My wife and I, both fans of 11, saw 12 last Saturday night at The Grove in L.A.. We both despised it and heard nothing but grumbles from other viewers as we left the theater.”
    Beyond some later comments by me about the look and vibe of the crowd, that’s all of it. Yet I have been attacked and forced to defend this innocuous observation to the Kafka-esque hilt.
    Enough already. I refuse to put any more energy into correcting the reading comprehension skills of a couple of dolts who think their comments count for something simply because they’re posted for all to see on a blog.
    As for whether you, EntryNmbrV, sound like a jackass, I think you have met the base rules and most certainly have proven that you are one.

  57. bicycle bob says:

    now i gotta read about statistical science here? ugggh
    i walked out of oceans 12 and an usher told me it was better than citizen kane. but the lady who never shut up said it was as only as good as mean girls. what to do?

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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