MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Mechanical Behavior

There was no need for Fox to retrofit its animation unit as Robots left the competition in the rust. The family friendly movie grossed an estimated $35.5 million while second place went to The Pacifier at $17.7 million.

The frame also saw an OK opening for the Bruce Willis thriller Hostage and a number of upbeat limited releases including The Upside of Anger and Millions. But there was no second coming for The Passion of the Christ that grossed roughly $200 per location in an almost 1,000 screen break.

A full court marketing press animated Robots debut to impressive realms. Tracking had suggested the film might gross more than $40 million but a comparatively strong hold for The Pacifier obviously ate into expectations by 10% to 15% to render a rare non-holiday instance where the top performers were directed toward kids and sturdy parents. Both films will likely remain strong in the coming weeks leading up to Easter.

The other debuting national release Hostage performed predictably. It was just shy of $10 million in fourth position behind the second weekend of Be Cool.

Overall business should generate more than $110 million when the dust settles. That reps a 9% fall back from last weekend and also trails last year by 4%.

The luster was quickly fading from Oscar’s statuette. Million Dollar Baby still ranked among the top 10 but following an impressive post-broadcast boost, fell 40% this weekend. Other major contenders experienced even sharper drops, leaving the box office glory to non-fiction and foreign-language nominees. Documentary winner Born into Brothels maintained a slow role out and had a marginal decline while Germany’s submission Downfall had its first major expansion and ballooned by more than 200%.

The skepticism about a reissue of The Passion of the Christ, particularly one that emphasized a tamer cut seven minutes shorter than the original proved justified as the film under whelmed even the Doubting Thomases with a gross of less than $200,000 from 954 playdates. The video era pretty much curtailed theatrical second winds and the advent of DVD on the heals of theatrical exploitation may have put the final nail in that particular coffin.

Activity among limited and exclusive opening titles was more brisk than usual with the quirky romantic comedy The Upside of Anger benefiting from strong reviews. The ensemble piece grossed about $213,000 from 9 engagements while Fox Searchlight’s whimsical British import Millions was off to a very good start of more than $66,000 from 5 playdates.

There were also encouraging returns for several independents including a $51,000 tally for Off the Map on 11 screens and almost $17,000 for Mail Order Wife from two theaters. However, the nine-screen launch of the South African set In My Country failed to connect with critics or audiences, grossing a less than tepid $22,000 entry.

– 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