MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Date From Hell

The anticipation was enormous and the results impressive but the final estimated tally of $35.1 million for the supernatural thriller Constantine still lagged slightly behind Hitch, which took weekend box office honors with slightly more than $37 million. Modest results for several other debuts during the four-day Presidents holiday frame pushed business to about $160 million for a tidy 11% increase from 2004.

Constantine, based on a popular graphic novel, was aggressively promoted and had all the elements to ensure a big opening number that many predicted in the area of $40 million to $45 million. Critical response, though tepid, did not deter a solid $10.5 million opening day. However, business barely budged Saturday and its lead quickly was overtaken by Hitch that subsided just 27% from its opening salvo (% comparisons are 3-day to 3-day).

The frame’s other freshmen titles were targeted to kids and willing adults. The sentimental Because of Winn-Dixie with a cute dog and tykes ranked third with roughly $13 million and Son of the Mask opted to play to the youngest viewer demographic and that translated into almost $10 million. The former result bodes well for Winn-Dixie’s ancillary life but the Mask sequel has to be considered a disappointment in light of the popularity of the original and year’s of failed attempts to spawn a new yarn with or without Jim Carrey.

The dynamism of the top ranked titles, combined with a continuing interest in Oscar nominated movies, fueled the frame, providing a 19% boost from seven days earlier. Last year’s holiday saw the bow of 50 First Dates leading the pack with $45.3 million with the second weekend of Miracle trailing with $17 million.

Overall domestic box office crossed $1 billion last week on the 44th day of 2005. Movie going in general is off to a fast start with grosses up 12% from the prior year.

The frame was also dotted with quite a number of new specialized titles in limited exposure. Most impressive was Downfall, Germany’s Oscar submission starring Bruno Ganz as Adolf Hitler during the last days of the Second World War. It grossed about $24,000 from a single Manhattan venue. The Kurdish Turtles Can’t Fly registered a strong $30,500 from four screens but other debuts ranged from fair to poor. The American indie Bigger Than the Sky opened to $18,600 at nine locations and the French import Vipere au poing did $28,400 from 10 theaters in Quebec.

There was good news for a couple of niche holdovers especially the Bollywood-inspired Bride and Prejudice that maintained a $12,800 average from 32 engagements. Also good was Inside Deep Throat with 15 added and a roughly $150,000 weekend.

Best picture contenders Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator and Sideways all ranked in the top 10 with both Finding Neverland and Hotel Rwanda also benefiting from the award spotlight. However, the biggest second wind comparatively speaking belong to Being Julia that’s been able to secure hundreds of new playdates since the Oscar announcement for Annette Bening and generated $710,000 over the holiday span.

– 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