MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady


Hide and Seek scared up a hair-raising gross estimated at $22.2 million to handily take the lead in the weekend box office derby. However, audiences were less inclined for the equally visceral Alone in the Dark that had a roughly 90% less chilling $2.5 million debut. Overall business rebounded 24% from last weekend’s snow-out in much of the country on the allure of cheap thrills and the opportunity to at least see all those critical darlings that comprise the official Oscar list.

The old saw about no second acts certainly doesn’t apply to Robert DeNiro, whose early career pegged him as box office poison despite a string of highly lauded performances. His comedy turns in Analyze This and Meet the Parents changed all that and Hide and Seek has provided him his best ever dramatic opening in one of those twisty thrillers rife with implausible turns and sloppy construction. Exiting polling provided some surprising results including a majority female audience and a strong 57% turnout of under 25. It should out-perform the equally lackluster and similarly themed Secret Window from last year.

The weekend’s only other wide release was the aptly titled Alone in the Dark. Audiences decided not to take up the challenge and the film wound up 13th in the lineup with faint prospects of surviving beyond next weekend.

Ticket sales should generate about $120 million to top last year’s business by 22%. A year ago the incoming You Got Served led the frame with a $16.1 million gross.

The biggest surprise in the current span was the amazing resilient second weekend of Ice Cube‘s Are We There Yet? It slipped a notch in the rankings with a $16.5 million gross and defied the odds with a razor this 11% drop from its opening.

Leading the Oscar charge in third spot was the $11.7 million tally for Million Dollar Baby. The downbeat boxing saga from Clint Eastwood added more than 1,850 theaters and generated a solid near $6,000 engagement average. While it was flagging in the heartland, its major contender status should sustain commercial momentum for at least the month running up to Oscar’s Kodak moment.

Two other best picture nominees ranked in the top 10 – The Aviator and Sideways – with significant bounces in ticket sales and a sizeable number of new playdates. The Howard Hughes bio jumped 49% to $7.2 million and the long and wine-y rode of Sideways shot up 115% to $6.1 million. Finding Neverland and Ray, the other two nominees, also experienced significant boosts but are much further along in their theatrical careers and the latter film bows on DVD next week.

Oscar was also good to The Phantom of the Opera and Hotel Rwanda but the paucity or absence of nominations resulted in sharp declines for such titles as The House of Flying Daggers, Kinsey and The Woodsman.

Among limited and regional freshmen titles, the large format bow of James Cameron‘s Aliens of the Deep was not at all soggy, with the underwater adventure splashing up close to $400,000 from 27 venues. There was also an OK $17,300 gross for Lost Embrace – Argentina’s Oscar submission – from two Manhattan hard tops.

Conversely, there wasn’t much utz for Childstar, rated best Canadian movie at the Toronto Film Festival, and generating an icy $10,300 from seven screens. Even frostier was the 10-theater opening of the romantic drama Fascination that grossed roughly $8,700.

– 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