MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Call Waiting

You might say it was a ring and a miss at the weekend box office as the horror sequel The Ring Two led the field with an estimated $36.4 million while the other national debut, Ice Princess, was chillin’ in fifth position with $6.7 million. The frame also had a spectacular exclusive run for Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda but otherwise overall business was on par for this time of year.

The Ring Two stormed into theaters Friday with avid fans dialing up close to $15 million in ticket sales. However word of mouth was cool and Saturday’s box office experienced a 12% decline from opening day and the picture fell short of tracking expectations that had indicated a debut of more than $40 million. Still there wasn’t a lot to bemoan in the film’s $10,000 plus theater average. Ring Two is likely to experience sharp drops and will not hit the $100 million box office level of the original but should generate a revenue level worthy of further franchise considerations.

The film’s performance may or may not have validated last week’s entreaty by National Association of Theater Owner’s president John Fithian who pointed to the opening power of Robots and The Pacifier as fuel for the industry to make more PG-13 rated movies and get off the R bandwagon that embraces the likes of Ring. Certainly the poor performance of Ice Princess that debuted with $6.7 million underscored the fact that not all PG-13s are created equally.

Robots added $21.3 million to its tally to rank second and fell off 41% in its second weekend. The animated production and other family friendly fare should stand up well in the coming weeks as the Easter holiday break provides increased leisure time for frequent movie goers.

Weekend sales should reach about $118 million for a marginal boost of 3% from the prior weekend and a slim 1% decline from 2004. Miss Congeniality 2 bows next Thursday and Guess Who on Friday and the lighter holiday fare is expected to perform well but below record levels.

Woody Allen’s latest Melinda and Melinda has already bowed in several key European territories where it’s grossed about $11 million and earned the filmmaker his best reviews and box office in years. It was generating near capacity sales in its Manhattan exclusive this weekend that should tally to more than $73,000 and a personal record for Allen.

Niche expansions for the frame included several buoyant results including a $12,000 per theater average for the quirky romantic comedy The Upside of Anger that added 144 playdates to its initial 9-theater bow. Another offbeat sophomore entry, Millions, added 18 screens and maintained a $9,400 average.

Also continuing strong was German Oscar submission Downfall with a $7,330 average from 83 venues and a cume of $1.4 million. Its Academy consideration brethren were pushing toward their commercial finish line with The Aviator passing $100 million and Million Dollar Baby crossing $90 million from weekend additions.

Limited and exclusive freshmen included the Japanese anima entry Steamboy that garnered close to $160,000 from 39 theaters. It was a good result for the acclaimed production that was a b.o. disappointment on home turf with less than a $10 million gross and fair returns from other international markets.

Single screen entries included a $7,500 tally for the Russian import Schizo and $5,500 for the American indie Way Off Broadway.

– 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