MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Passing Game

It was relatively peppy talk as Coach Carter led the Martin Luther King holiday frame with an estimated $29.2 million debut in a crowd of new openers. Apart from Meet the Fockers, the top five viewing choices were either new titles or national launches including a potent expansion of In Good Company, an OK premiere of the family friendly Racing Stripes and a disappointing first down for female crime fighter Elektra.

American audiences again proved receptive to high school football as Samuel Jackson joined the ranks of Denzel Washington and Billy Bob Thornton prodding his troops to play and study hard. Coach Carter – like the other recent entries – is based on a true story and lists toward the inspirational. The downside is that these yarns consistently fail to make much of an impression with overseas audiences.

A yarn of a zebra that aspires to thoroughbred status, Racing Stripes bowed third in the rankings with $18.4 million. It’s a talking animals tale that will be fueled by weekend matinees in the coming weeks.

Following two weeks in exclusive engagements, In Good Company went wide and grossed about $16.6 million for a sturdy $10,600 theater average. The light comedy set against the corporate takeover of a magazine appears to be translating good reviews and word-of-mouth into box office muscle. However, that hasn’t translated into a great deal of awards buzz.

Elektra, spawned from 2003’s Daredevil, is likely to be assigned the same out basket as Catwoman in the franchise department. Its $15.5 million opening might squeak by commercially but falls short of earning an encore status.

The collective heat of openers and holdovers generated slightly more than $170 million in ticket sales to surpass last year’s holiday span by 24%. Its three-day portion also provided an encouraging 15% upturn from the immediate prior weekend.

Still in plenty of good humor, Meet the Fockers added $23.1 million to its treasure chest to bring its cume to $235 million. If it maintains comparable holdover stamina in the next month, it will easily surpass $300 million domestically. Meanwhile, The Incredibles climbed to $257 million and The Polar Express rose to $160.5 million as they approached their theatrical sunsets. Polar is increasingly being propped up by Imax 3-D engagements.

The award season darlings continued to carve out a sizeable audience niche and such Golden Globe recipients as The Aviator, Sideways and Million Dollar Baby should benefit at Monday’s box office. Just being a contender has been a great assist also for Hotel Rwanda and The Phantom of the Opera and a host of pictures are awaiting Oscar’s verdict that’s unveiled in eight days.

Opting for an early start, China’s House of the Flying Daggers took the plunge in close to 1,200 theaters and grossed a fair $2.2 million. Prospects for Crouching Tiger or Hero returns aren’t likely with an Academy endorsement. Similarly such films as Beyond the Sea and The Woodsman are holding out for Oscar to provide its commercial second wind.

In limited debuts, the latest Japanese anima entry Appleseed planted a passable $82,000 from 31 venues and Miramax bowed French Oscar submission The Chorus on two screens that grossed close to $35,000. The Chorus has been singing up a storm in Quebec where it’s earned roughly $2 million after 15 weekends in release.

– 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