MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Ek Static!

Though it couldn’t unseat Meet the Fockers, the Sixth Sense clone White Noise was a very honorable second place with a $24 million debut in a generally upbeat frame. Noise was the sole national opener but the span included limited expansions of both National Society of Film Critics winner Million Dollar Baby and Hotel Rwanda that should provide that all important Oscar consideration.

Fockers continued to hold sway with a weekend estimate of $28.7 million that propelled the picture past a $200 million domestic cume. Its 31% decline was comparatively hearty, bucking the trend that the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

White Noise was expected to gross in the high teens but easily exceeded advance word and a perceived cynicism about early year releases. The Michael Keaton thriller about communication with the dead is still likely to play out quickly but with an eventual tally in excess of initial projections.

The first weekend of 2005 should ring in with slightly more than $120 million for a 12% faster start than last year. It’s a considerable boost in light of the tepid holiday frame that had both distribution and exhibition in the doldrums.

Holdover titles almost uniformly experienced drops between 30% and 40%. One not unexpected sharper decline was The Polar Express. Its 64% erosion is historically in keeping with holiday-themed movies moving into the New Year and would have been even more extreme save for a continuing potency in large format 3-D engagements.

Cited as best picture of the year by the National Society, Million Dollar Baby added 100 theaters to its initial nine engagements and maintained a very sturdy average of $17,900. There remains concern in the industry that the dark nature of the story will limit its commercial potential and its next expansion won’t occur until Jan. 28, following the announcement of Oscar nominees. Baby is expected to figure prominently in the Academy Awards while Hotel Rwanda is nervously on the cusp of final ballot mentions. Nonetheless Rwanda had a very impressive expansion similar to the Eastwood picture that translated into a $10,800 engagement average.

Also adding playdates in hopes of at least securing acting nominations were The Woodsman and The Assassination of Richard Nixon. The bar isn’t particular set high in terms of commercial expectations for either of these dark, brooding dramas with the former showing more modest muscle. In either case award attention would be a box office asset and a hedge against early expiration.

In Good Company, the light drama about contemporary corporate politics, held rock steady buoyed by strong revues with close to $150,000 from three venues. It expands to 1,500 theaters next weekend.

The session was light on specialized openers with the documentary Hitler’s Hit Parade off to a very good start with an $11,000 gross at New York’s Film Forum and Travelers and Musicians also faring well with $8,800 also from a single screen.

– by Leonard Klady

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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