MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Born to be Mad…

Though tracking was upbeat, no one expected Diary of a Mad Black Woman to top weekend movie going with an estimated $21.2 million gross. In a very close competition with the third weekend of Hitch, the independently produced social comedy starring and conceived by Tyler Perry appeared to have the edge and certainly ranks immediately as one of the season’s surprise successes.

The span also saw national debuts for the chiller Cursed and the action-comedy Man of the House. Neither film displayed more than passable interest in a frame that should run up a tally of slightly more than $120 million.

Black Woman had been generating industry buzz going into the weekend with reports of brisk group sales. Perry’s niche following will obviously expand based on the impressive $14,300 theater average. It should also expand the picture’s to date dominant Afrocentric and female appeal.

Constantine took a hefty 62% plunge to rank third overall with $11.4 million, followed by the two freshmen outings. Neither Cursed nor Man of the House were promoted with much vigor and their respective grosses of $9.4 million and $9 million and mid-$3,000 theater averages indicate short and not terribly fruitful theatrical lives.

Overall business abated by about 9% from the prior weekend and 22% from 2004. A year ago The Passion of the Christ arrived with a jaw dropping $83.8 million and the prospect of lightning striking twice wasn’t on anyone’s weather forecast. And while there’s an anticipated further erosion from Sunday’s Oscar broadcast, its significance should be less severe based on current films in the marketplace and the films up for honors.

The traditional last minute surge and stamina for Oscar contenders was in evidence with such films as Million Dollar Baby, Sideways, The Aviator, Being Julia, Finding Neverland and Hotel Rwanda each demonstrating virtually unchanged interest from the past several weekends. There’s every indication that winners in major categories will receive a noticeable boost and the award also-rans will quickly evaporate from the screen scene.

The first major expansion for Bride and Prejudice continued to show encouraging response with the film inspired by Bollywood musicals grossing roughly $850,000 from 156 venues. Meanwhile, Bewaafa – the latest from India – debuted to no more than OK results of $130,000 from 46 screens on the specialized circuit.

Another Oscar contender – Germany’s Downfall – added two screens in Los Angeles and its trio of playdates generated a solid $41,000.

Other debuting niche fare had passable to poor results. The Czech award winner Up & Down generated about $31,000 from six screens while the Brazilian import The Other Side of the Street grossed $4,500 from a single booking. A couple of French imports failed to translate in Quebec including 5 x 2 with a dull $18,000 from 9 playdates and Malabar Princess even duller with $11,600 in six outings. The Canadian family comedy Daniel and the Superdogs growled to a surly $58,000 from approximately 64 dog houses.

– 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