MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Hitch & Run!

Where there’s a Will, there’s a Hit (ch). Unabashedly playing up actor Will Smith‘s popularity provided Hitch with a sensational debut estimated at $45.6 million and pegged as the biggest opening gross for a romantic comedy.

Rebounding from the traditional Super Bowl box office dip, weekend movie going jumped 22% from seven days earlier and exceeded the comparable 2004 frame by 10%. The span also saw a fair bow for Disney’s animated Pooh’s Heffalump Movie and solid response to premieres of the Bollywood-inspired Bride and Prejudice and the documentary Inside Deep Throat.

While grudgingly received by reviewers, Hitch was a clear audience pleaser with Smith cast as the Dr. Phil of dating who gets bit by the bug himself. Industry expectation for the picture was high and it clearly did not disappoint on any level.

In addition to Hitch, Sony also had bragging rights to the second and third top weekend grossers with Bogeyman sliding 44% to $10.6 million and the staggeringly resilient Are We There Yet? adding $8.5 million to its coffers for a $61.5 million cume. The hat trick eluded Universal recently with Meet the Fockers, In Good Company and White Noise and last occurred in 1989 when Universal iced the competition.

The latest from Disney’s video-driven animation unit – Pooh’s Haffalump Movie – was off to a good start with a $5.9 million weekend that appears headed for an ultimate domestic theatrical gross of about $25 million. It should more than pave the way for very upbeat sales on DVD and hearty response internationally for the venerable storybook character.

The Thai martial arts actioner Ong-Bak launched on 387 screens for just OK results of $1.3 million. French filmmaker Luc Besson picked up rights to the film in most international territories last year and generated an excellent $12 million theatrical gross primarily in Europe.

Lightning did not strike twice for the independent family friendly Uncle Nino. The film grossed about $150,000 from 190 theaters following its first regional release back in 2003. It’s gained some notoriety among specialized exhibitors and distributors for a Michigan suburban run that’s now played continuously for more than a year.

The Oscar bunch continued to hold its own against incoming fire with Million Dollar Baby, Finding Neverland and Hotel Rwanda each off a slim 11% from the prior frame and The Aviator down just 12%. Sideways was slightly sturdier, grossing 98% of its prior weekend’s tally.

In limited release, the large format Aliens of the Deep was virtually unchanged with a $350,000 weekend from 27 screens. Bride and Prejudice, a Bollywood style musical that’s already hit paydirt in the U.K., India and several other foreign climes was enthusiastically received in 32 venues with an estimated $370,000. It still has considerable ground to cover to prove its mettle beyond an obvious niche appeal.

Inside Deep Throat, the ambitious flashback to the heyday of the XXX era, drew considerably better than a nostalgic crowd with a $90,000 tally from 12 locations. The film has triggered a wave of response and recollection (see current Gross Behavior) and talk of the original starring Linda Lovelace receiving at least a modest re-issue.

Among other exclusives, the import My Mother’s Smile grossed about $7,800 from two Manhattan screens and The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill generated an estimated $35,000 from six playdates.

– 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