MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Rabbit Punch

There was no second coming despite the preponderance of sequels on the marquee during the Easter holiday frame. The debuts of Guess Who and Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous topped the box office but without the box office dynamism of such recent entries as Robots, Ring Two or The Pacifier. The result was a double-digit decline in movie going with the few targeting the pew.

The weekend, according to industry tracking, belonged to the Miss Congeniality sequel and Warner Bros. accordingly decided to debut the film on Thursday ahead of the pack. Its $3 million bow provided every confidence that it would ring up about $25 million for the four days but that scenario would quickly evaporate.

Conversely, the ad hoc switcheroo on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was expected to rank third overall with a gross in the neighborhood of $15 million. Instead it exceeded expectations with audiences provides these ayes to an estimated $21.6 million fueled by a young multi-ethnic crowd. Miss Congeniality 2 barely nosed into second with $14.4 million for the 3-days and The Ring Two‘s sophomore session recorded about $14.3 million.

Overall business declined by roughly 13% from seven days earlier with a tally around $102 million. It was also down by some 16% from calendar 2004 and 14% from last year’s Easter period.

In general, the leading holdover titles experienced 33% declines and the sturdier fare in the marketplace skewed more adult or niche in appeal. Several films including The Upside of Anger and Downfall continued to maintain momentum in slow rollouts with the former titled primed for its national debut next weekend.

Fox Searchlight boosted its exposure on Woody Allen‘s Melinda and Melinda and scored $810,000 from 95 venues. Its Brit import Millions also added screens and kept a sturdy $6,700 average at 77 locations.

The frame also had a healthy number of regional and limited openers including a ho-hum $120,000 gross from a 32 screen launch of La Vie avec mon pere in Quebec. Also virtually under the radar was the 45 playdates of the distaff action spoof D.E.B.S. that failed to graduate with $58,000 report card.

On the plus side, the relatively nascent Tartan Films had its best ever bow with the critically acclaimed Korean revenge opus Old Boy grossing around $61,000 from five theaters. Similarly, the Sundance-preemed The Ballad of Jack and Rose generated $60,000 from four screens. Other openers included an upbeat response of $22,000 for three exposures of the Israeli Nina’s Tragedies and a sweet bouquet of $10,300 for the wine doc Mondovino at a single Manhattan site.

A-M-C … See you later!

There was more than a ripple last week when the AMC circuit rather abruptly decided to close down its Los Angeles film booking office and move its entire operation to headquarters in Kansas City. Local reps for the theater chain were given the option of headin’ out to Missour,i but many weren’t ready to quickly uproot on this cattle drive.

Most of the national theater chains – including Regal and Loews – have L.A. offices for the strategic and political edge of being close to studio distribution. Even Canada’s Famous Players chain has a SoCal office.

Response from key distributors was less than enthusiastic, tinged by shakeups in AMC’s booking department that will see long standing alliances broken and new relationships established. The majors won’t be adding K.C. to their travel itinerary and one division chief said he’s been told that the circuit’s new head booker, Sonny Gurley, is committed to spending a week in Los Angeles every month to deal with the circuit’s needs.

– 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