MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Be … Calm

The leading films in the marketplace expressed soothing sentiments but the anticipation was for a heated competition between two debuting titles. And while both films opened well, it was unquestionably the family friendly The Pacifier that prevailed over the return of Chili Palmer in Be Cool. The Pacifier’s first weekend was estimated at $29.6 million while Be Cool took the second slot with $23.3 million.

The frame also saw a post-Oscar bump for Million Dollar Baby, a disappointing premiere for The Jacket and a handful of promising launches in limited and exclusive engagements.

Spoofing his muscular image, Vin Diesel provided excellent mileage for The Pacifier. Buoyed by a clever ad campaign the film established its dominance Friday with an $8.5 million gross that was close to $1 million ahead of its closest competition. Pundits had pegged its opening strength no better than $25 million but insiders at Disney said its tracking was closer to the final number.

Be Cool had been favored to lead the weekend by a slim margin though its final tally was close to tracking estimates. Critical response had been middling for the follow up to Get Shorty. However, the cast – including The Rock playing against type – received thumbs up.

The momentum of the debuts propelled the span to about $123 million for a slim 1% bump from the prior weekend. However, a year ago The Passion of the Christ was still commercially on fire with a $53.2 million second weekend and that resulted into a 14% better frame.

The third national premiere, the psychological thriller The Jacket, nipped into the 10th slot with about $2.7 million and a theater average of roughly $2,000. It was more bad news for Warner Independent that’s been looking for a hit since it opened for business a year ago.

Heading into the weekend, the consensus was that only Million Dollar Baby and documentary award winner Born into Brothels would experience a noticeable bump from Oscar and that was clearly the case. Baby added 225 theaters and experienced a 16% boost to $8.6 million while Brothels expanded 11 screens and ballooned 54% with a $200,000 weekend. The rest of the field experienced 30% to 40% hits with Hotel Rwanda the most resilient of the runners up.

The hot button doc Gunner Palace on American soldiers in Iraq arrived on seven screens to a very good response of $50,000. The Israeli drama Walk on Water opened to a comparable gross but in 10 locations and Dear Frankie, the winning Scottish social comedy, fared well with $38,000 in five venues.

The Italian family epic The Best of Youth bowed on a single screen in New York to roughly $8,000. Youth had its first international exposure at Cannes in 2003 and has trickled out throughout Europe to solid niche response. Its two-part and six-hour running time have been difficult to overcome audience resistance despite 4-star reviews and its U.S. launch has been rescheduled several times for more than a year. The films played last year in Quebec and grossed about $350,000.

– by Leonard Klady

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.


Quote Unquotesee all »

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