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David Poland

By David Poland

A Little Kong Perspective Please

King Kong had the ninth best Wednesday of all time in the month of December, sixteenth best outside of summer.
Five of the eight better Wednesday were Rings movies.
Meet The Fockers, released Christmas week last year, had a better Wed three days before X-mas and 4 days after.
Catch Me If You Can did slightly better than Kong did Wednesday on its Christmas Day release.
The non-December, non-summer betters? Harry Potters, Matrix III, The Passion,
I’m not saying that $10 million on Wed is thrilling. But get some perspective. THe Wednesday was better than any Wednesday by Spider-Man or Star Wars: Revenge of The Sith. They ended up doing ok.

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114 Responses to “A Little Kong Perspective Please”

  1. Blackcloud says:

    Sith did okay because its first Thursday clocked in at $50 million. After that, an $8 million first Wednesday is more than acceptable.
    If “Kong” can pull through with a $50 million weekend, it should be okay. I think the thing to watch is how big the margin between it and “Narnia” is. “Narnia” is holding really well. It might be more of a threat to the monkey that I (or many others) thought.

  2. Hopscotch says:

    I’m much more curious how Brokeback and Geisha do this weekend. They’re expanding slightly, but will the per-screen average stay intact? we’ll find out soon.
    The movie I want to see this weekend: The Family Stone.

  3. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Remember Xmas 1999/Y2K? “Man on the Moon” flopped out of the gate, so Universal had to expand “The Hurricane” earlier than expected. This Xmas looks like a rerun.
    Mojo is predicting that for Xmas ’05, U will take “The Producers” semi-wide and open “Munich” limited.

  4. hatchling says:

    It’s too early to declare Kong a failure, but count me as someone who’s just not all that interested in investing 3 hours of precious time in roars and special effects at the moment. Maybe I’ll go later… maybe not. A friend who went said all she remembers is Naomi Watt’s really big teeth. Everything else is a blur of noise and computer generated spectacle.
    In my area of Florida, there were lots of ads and articles on Geisha and Producers, but the films only opened in on screens an hour away from the population center and all the other theaters. So much for a wide opening. No one in their right mind is going to fight the traffic to go at this time of the year. Will the PR momentum be dissipated by the time the films reach my megaplex? Could be. It just seems counter productive to expend all that press when the films only shown “exclusively” at a distant theater which will only draw locally, not area wide.

  5. EDouglas says:

    I dunno, David…King Kong is doing worse than Batman Begins, which cost less to make and market…if it holds up the way it is, it’ll have trouble making as much as the first Lord of the Rings did in the same weekend four years ago, and that was before Jackson was a known commodity. I guess people just aren’t interested in another remake, but I’m quite surprised, because there seemed to be as much advance buzz for this movie as there was for War of the Worlds. (Then again, maybe they shouldn’t have had such a big premiere…that’s 8,000 less people to see it opening weekend)

  6. JckNapier2 says:

    If Universal thinks it can recover from Kong with The Producers, they will be quite dissapointed. I saw it Tuesday and it’s literally the worst musical in 20 years (Grease 2 is at least entertaining in a jaw-wide open amazement sense). Everything you love about the original movie is trashed and cheapened. The songs are terrible, overlong, and completely incosequential to the story and characters. The staging is a sick joke, and the film has no sense of comic timing to speak of. I was shocked and saddened. Avoid!
    Scott Mendelson

  7. EDouglas says:

    Perception is a funny thing. The Producers was one of the best musicals I’ve seen in years (both on Broadway and the movie) and I thought it was as funny as anything Brooks has done in the past. Sure, Broderick was the weak link with those cheesy ballads, but the rest was great.

  8. joefitz84 says:

    Perspective is a good thing. I still think it was a tough date to open. No holiday. Schools in session. It’s tough.

  9. Angelus21 says:

    The Family Stone can wait for DVD for me. Going to see King Kong. Maybe Syrianna too.

  10. EDouglas says:

    From what I hear, Family Stone seems to be doing pretty well, selling out a lot of the evening shows here in NY.

  11. JckNapier2 says:

    Sorry for the double post…
    Alas, if Kong follows Batman Begins’ pattern (a reasonable comparison as both were well reviewed and opened very soft), it won’t even make $50 million by Sunday (and it has a good chance of coming in second to Narnia if Narnia drops by a reasonable 45% or less). This is quite scary.
    All hype aside, I don’t find very many non film geeks who really want to see this film with any conviction. Also, there were tons and tons of free screenings in the last two weeks, and this could have had the dilluting effect. It in effect shows the film to the very people who would be first in line last night. Mars Attacks bungled in the same fashion back on Thanksgiving 96, holding a national paid sneak preview two weeks early and getting all the hardcore Burton and Elfman fans who didn’t come back on opening weekend.
    Word of mouth isn’t THAT strong. The word on the street is that, all other qualities aside, not only is it long, but it feels long. One could argue that those same people aren’t going to rush out to see it again (especially as those free screenings are in the very cities where ticket prices are most expensive).
    I saw the film on Monday and I very much enjoyed it (just shy of loving it, merely really liking it). But I am in no huge rush to burn off my free Frighteners ticket and I suspect my attitudes are similar to most people. Lots of people really like this film, but not many people are willing to sit through it again so soon in order to show their friends.
    The main problem of course, is that even if it plays like Batman Begins, that still means it makes a slow crawl to $180-$220 million, which would be a moderate dissapointment in relation to cost. And, for stockholders and the media, King Kong will have the PERCEPTION of failure attached to it. Even though Batman Begins made $202 million on a $180 million investment, there was a perception that the film wasn’t expected to soar all that high, so it’s slow word-of-mouth crawl to $200 million was considered impressive.
    Thanks to all those idiots (probably from rival studios) who proclaimed that Kong would outgross Titanic, this film was have the whiff of failure whether it fails in the end or not. It’s sad really.
    Scott Mendelson
    PS – I’m glad ‘EDouglas’ enjoyed the Producers. I envy him as I love everybody in it and everyone involved, I like musicals, and I was expecting to have a great time. Instead I nary laughed once, hated the songs, and was bored silly to the point of anger.

  12. Blackcloud says:

    I was talking to a younger friend of mine today, and I mentioned that I’d seen Kong. Her reaction was, “i dont think ill go see it. i want to see family stone and geisha.” She had no interest at all, and this is someone who was in line with me to see ROTK opening day. She’s definitely the target for those Coldplay ads. Either she hasn’t seen them, or she doesn’t care. I know it’s just one person, but I take it as a bad sign for “Kong”.

  13. Wrecktum says:

    Dave’s simply playing devils advocate. Kong’s matinee tracking today (Friday) was horrible, and it looks like it’ll end up doing a $30-40m 3-day with a 5-day of around $55m. This is, frankly, AWFUL for a film of this size.
    If Kong doesn’t double its Friday gross on Saturday, then there’s a shot it’ll come in behind Narnia if Narnia only drops 40%. It’s that serious.

  14. Hopscotch says:

    I think I was the first person on this blog to make the Hulk = Kong comparison. And I thought I was wrong but its now coming very true.
    They had a special on Dateline, all the cast is on the Today Show, Conan O’Brien did a Kong bit the other night, Leno did one last night…this movie is the DEFINITION of synergy. What’s going on? Why isn’t this movie going through the roof??

  15. jeffmcm says:

    It’s kind of nice to see that synergy doesn’t work…makes life a lot more interesting, doesn’t it? Anyway, I can’t imagine Kong being as big a bomb as Hulk…NOBODY liked Hulk.

  16. Martin S says:

    Dave, you’re a good dude,….but let’s talk about perspective.
    Spider-Man’s first Wednesday = 6th day of release. Revenge of the Sith first Wednesday = 7th day of release.
    Those two had already grossed obscene amounts by then. The people who really wanted to see it, already had. Their Wednesday audiences were residual dollars until the next big weekend take. This doesn’t apply to Kong since it was opening day. Every Wednesday is not equal.
    As for Catch Me… and Fockers
    Catch me If You Can: Cost – 52 Mil. 9 Mill Wednesday = 17% of its budget.
    Meet The Fockers: Cost – 80 Mil. 12 Mil Wednesday = 15% of its budget.
    Kong: Cost 207 Mil. 9 Mil Wednesday = 4% of its budget.
    As for LOTR –
    Fellowship: 33% of cost with two Wednesdays.
    Two Towers: 40% of cost with two Wednesdays.
    ROTK: 43% of cost with two Wednesdays.
    Now, what do you think the peeps at NBCUni are saying? 4% is fine, *after* the return on this guy’s previous films? No way in hell. They were expecting about a 15% return, or 35 Million.
    I think you’re playing fireman for Kong because you know it’s only going to fan the “Slump” flames in the press. In truth, you should be arguing about the 1-off week release date. This is technically the 50th week, not the 51st, so half the country’s age demo is in the midst of finals. Then, add in holiday parties and last-minute shopping, and who the hell has time for 3 hours in a theater?

  17. Wrecktum says:

    The “finals” argument is, frankly, dumb. Kong was positioned as a giant tentpole…the type of film you blow off studying to see.
    If you’re a distributor, you don’t base your release strategy around the nerds and hermits that study instead of party during finals week. This was supposed to be a four quadrant mega-opening, not a “Gosh I got a French Lit test on Thursday I have to study for” crowd opening.

  18. PandaBear says:

    You might blow off finals but 15 yr olds in high school can’t. 12 yr olds can’t. I would think they’re going to make up a nice core audience for this.

  19. David Poland says:

    The point is, everyone is getting nuts over one day, with a transit strike in NY, horrible weather all over, etc.
    If the 5-day is $50 million, trouble. Yes.
    But take a breath. All this talk is really over the top.

  20. Wrecktum says:

    12 year olds don’t have finals. When I was 12 we didn’t do anything in the last week of school except sign yearbooks and watch videos.

  21. Wrecktum says:

    To add: OK, no yearbooks in December, so holiday parties and videos.

  22. Blackcloud says:

    Do that many high schools have finals this time of year? I only had finals at the end of the school year.

  23. PandaBear says:

    That’s what I’m saying. The finals thing is dumb. Let’s see how this mighty Kong is on Monday morning before we string Peter Jackson by his short hairs.

  24. Blackcloud says:

    Oops, hit the post button too soon. To continue . . .
    A lot of students in college don’t take finals during the exam period. They might take them the last day of class, they may have papers instead, they may get take-home exams they can work on for a while. Hence, I don’t buy the “finals” argument. I mentioned a few posts ago my friend who has no interest in seeing Kong. Two years ago, she came straight from a final to join me in line for ROTK. It’s not a question of finals or Kong. Students can squeeze Kong into their finals. The question is, do they want to? So far, not as many do as was expected. As for the weather, it sucked where I was on opening day for ROTK. Didn’t stop anyone from standing in line for hours.
    David is right that Kong could rebound. But think about it, we’re talking about Kong “rebounding”. That alone shows how much and how quickly the parameters have changed.

  25. Skyblade says:

    It’s kind of nice to see that synergy doesn’t work…makes life a lot more interesting, doesn’t it? Anyway, I can’t imagine Kong being as big a bomb as Hulk…NOBODY liked Hulk.
    I don’t know…it took a couple weeks for the Hulk hate train.
    It might not be the end for Kong, but hoping for the legs of family schewng films, or adult period dramas (yes, I know it’s a “drama”, and it’s “period” but…) is unrealistic.

  26. RDP says:

    I actually didn’t see Kong on Wednesday because I had a final that very night (and one Thursday night, as well).
    I could blow off studying, but I can’t blow off the actual tests.
    But, I can’t make the argument that there were enough people like me to make that big of a dent in the number of people going or not going to the movie on Wednesday.

  27. Brett B says:

    I just wanted to say that I’m a college kid and even though I was anticipating Kong more than any other movie this year, I was not able to see it until tonight because I had finals all week. Although back in 2003, I actually told all my professors that I had scheduling conflicts so that I could take my finals earlier and make it home to catch the LOTR Trilogy Tuesday special, which was quite worth it. And I don’t think that anybody would be willing to skip their finals in order to see a movie. I came extremely close for ROTK, but I was probably anticipating that movie more than anything else in my life. So I don’t really remember what my point was here. Basically, although I did have to miss opening night because of finals, I still wouldn’t think it is so widespread as to be a huge problem. Not everyone had a final on Thursday morning.

  28. Brett B says:

    I would also like to point out that the Wednesday to Thursday drop was only 35%, whereas the Wed-Thurs drops were 45% for FOTR, 47% for TTT, and 51% for ROTK.

  29. Wrecktum says:

    It’s not so much the % drop that’s important, it’s the number of tickets sold:
    FOTR: $9,703,767
    TTT: $15,455,171
    ROTK: $17,019,987
    King Kong: $6,295,755

  30. Wrecktum says:

    ^ Those are first Thursday numbers.

  31. jeffmcm says:

    There must have been bad weather on at least one of those opening weeks, right? Or is Kong opening a week earlier in December and thus running into more final exam conflicts?

  32. TJFar says:

    Universal should have mandated a run time of no more than 2 1/2 hours (including credits). People I know are hesitant about going to see Kong because of the run time. Also, everyone is under the impression that the whole first hour should have been a half hour. I don’t know anyone who has actually seen it, but I have heard many people say “I hear the first hour sucks” Not exactly a a great pull quote, but thats the impression that is out there.

  33. jeffmcm says:

    But that doesn’t make any sense considering how long the Rings theatrical cuts were. Unless people saw that those films were true epics that needed to be that length, and are aware that Kong ’33 was around 100 minutes.

  34. tfresca says:

    I feel the bottom line with this thing is that there was nothing new here that anybody had any compulsion to see. If you saw Kong in the 1980s, Jurrasic Park or even Mighty Joe Young (Theron) why bother with this? This was a needless remake. At least Batman made apoint of showing this was a different approach to the character, younger, harder, faster. (Forgive me). This just had a been there done that thing. Gas prices ticked back up the last two weeks where I live. I just couldn’t justify spending $10, sitting in a movie theather and watching Kong. No way.

  35. tfresca says:

    Oh, am I the only person who thinks a Kong vs. Mothra movie would’ve done big business. I kinda feel like Jackson has diarrhea of the imagination. Three hours for a monkey movie is just too long.

  36. jeffmcm says:

    Where do you live? I’m in LA and gas has been going steadily down for the last month or so.
    Jackson needs to go back to his roots and make a 90-minute zombie movie again – but with full WETA resources.

  37. qwiggles says:

    What’s all this business about skipping finals? Films tend to have more than one show time.
    My final was this afternoon, and I went ahead and saw Kong Wednesday night anyway, with a group of other college women, with finals the next day, who stifled giggles all the way through.
    I don’t mean to sound representative, but what I can say is that if you want to see a movie, you see it — studying be damned.

  38. grandcosmo says:

    Bad weather, final exams, even a transit strike that hasn’t happened yet. Please.
    In the immortal words of Sam Goldwyn, “If people don’t want to go to the picture, nobody can stop them.”

  39. Wrecktum says:

    “Or is Kong opening a week earlier in December and thus running into more final exam conflicts?”
    There’s a quirk in the calendar that forced Universal to choose the 14th. Christmas is on a Sunday this year, which means Christmas Eve (one of the slowest movie days of the year) is on prime-movie-going Saturday. Universal had to open Kong on the 14th to get in a full three-day weekend before Christmas. This (according to some) has bumped the opening back into finals-time.
    The Lord of the Rings movies didn’t face this problem, by the way, because Christmasses in ’01-’03 were on weekdays, which cleared up the weekends before Christmas for massive 3-day grosses.

  40. martin says:

    Sam Goldwyn was right. The press and the studio have been telling us for over a year that we want to see King Kong. Well, maybe not. Audiences want to be given a reason not to see a movie, and the running time, lack of major stars, supposedly dull first hour, lots of CG scenes, sappy romance, etc. build up to give people reasons not to see it. And perhaps, they were simply never interested in the first place. Getting the word out there is important, everyone knows KK is at the movies. But knowing the King Kong is in theaters, or that Howard Stern is now going to satellite radio, does not mean that tons of people will open their wallets and submit to this common knowledge. Universal probably did all they could for this movie, but apparently the audience wasn’t what they expected and told us to expect.

  41. jeffmcm says:

    It’s as if this is the opening that was expected for Titanic, eight years ago…huge movie, generally good reviews, and then it sort of fizzles.

  42. LesterFreed says:

    Build it up before you knock it down??
    Kong won’t go down this quickly.

  43. Angelus21 says:

    Why bother with this Kong?
    Maybe because it’s a four star film. Maybe because it is directed by Peter Jackson who may be the best director working today. Maybe because it has some of the best action scenes ever put on film.
    That enough for you or is any film that is like Mighty Joe Young a must pass?

  44. Bruce says:

    My Oscar pick is not going to do it if it keeps this up.
    Kong, you’re better than this. Be there for Brucie. The first 45 minutes is a little long but it’s more than worth it for the last 2 acts.

  45. Mr. Bloppy says:

    Wow. Who would have thought that Kong will just barely beat Narnia this weekend?

  46. joefitz84 says:

    Narnia is chugging along. I didn’t think it could bea King Kong either.

  47. Sanchez says:

    Narnia is good but it is not even close to being as good as Kong.

  48. Rufus Masters says:

    It is safe to say that the studio expected more from “Kong”.
    Especially with the fabulous reviews that have poured in. Maybe it has some legs. Don’t doubt it can’t happen. It is entirely possible.

  49. neomaul says:

    “But get some perspective. THe Wednesday was better than any Wednesday by Spider-Man or Star Wars: Revenge of The Sith. They ended up doing ok.”
    HELLO! O_O Spiderman first wed was day 6 and Sith was day 7. WTF DAVID?!!! You can’t be serious.

  50. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    I never really did buy into the whole $100mil weekend thing people were predicting. Mainly because the original King Kong isn’t a big famous piece of literature that has been read (or, in this case, watched) by millions of people for decades and decades. It is a fun little black and white 1933 B movie that a lot of people haven’t even seen.
    And, ya know, IT’S ABOUT A GIANT APE!
    I did expect more from it though. BUT, when I saw it opening night in a cinema that fits 650odd people, there were only about 100-150 there. On opening night, at an 8pm session!
    And whoever was saying people will give up exams to see a movie, then you obviously haven’t recently done any exams that you had to get good scores in.
    And I suppose tracking was both completely wrong and entirely right at the same time. They said that the movie wasn’t tracking very well with women. And it may appear that that could be it’s downfall (just a theory).
    It is sad however that a film that could indeed reach $200mil+ is being touted as a failure. Specially considering it should make the same amount overseas and so on…
    But, ya never know. it’s Fri-Sun part of the weekend could be really great. Or it could also be a product of it’s own hype, and everyone could be over it. Especially considering we all know what happens in the end.
    I saw it on opening night, and it IS too long (stuff from the start AND the middle could’ve been cut). Everyone who I have spoken to who’s seen it (or who I overheard on the bus!) thought Harry Potter 4 was better. Including myself and the two people I saw it with. My friends liked Kong, but didn’t think it should’ve been that long (it’s not like there’s a big plot there like HP or LOTR).
    Oh, and how come when Naomi and Adrien are in the river to they not just stay and follow it to the ocean? They randomly cut from them in the river to them running through the jungle with Kong right behind them. And how come the Empire State Building didn’t have a spire? I swear it had one in the original…

  51. James Leer says:

    It’s just totally fucking random to suit the story. You can’t question it or (why, when Kong vigorously shakes her, does Naomi Watts not break EVERY bone in her body?) you’ll go crazy.
    I do think Kong will not do as well as expected. I don’t know of a single person, including me, who’s come out of it saying anything other than, “That was long.” Which begs the question, what was the best-edited movie this year? Even my favorite flicks could stand to lose at least ten minutes. Is there something worthy this year that you could not say that of?

  52. jeffmcm says:

    You could say that War of the Worlds may have been too edited-down – maybe if there was more to the ending and resolution scene people wouldn’t have gotten so annoyed by them.

  53. EDouglas says:

    See, the rest of what you said goes out the window as soon as you say something like this because if you say “King Kong” to just about anyone over 10, they’ll know what you’re talking about. Maybe it was a B movie but in the 70 years since it was made, you have to expect that billions of people have seen it and are familiar with the story…Peter Jackson’s name is also familiar to the millions who saw the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Obviously, something kept people away, whether it be the running time or the overhype (that maybe made thing that theatres would be overly crowded). I’m sure it will do better on Friday than it did on Weds/Thurs, but I think it’s going to have to make more than both days combined if it wants to crack $50 million this weekend.

  54. Me says:

    Dave always says that opening weekend is marketing. Maybe the audience never saw what we wanted to see. Or maybe the expectation that people will show up like mindless drones to see a 3-hour monkey movie simply because it was made by a guy who made some good films rather than showing us any reason to want to see it was a bit stupid.
    Maybe the suits who should have explained to Ron Howard that the boxing movie is death at the B.O. should have explained to Peter Jackson that the monkey movie is too.

  55. Melquiades says:

    It’s certainly looking like a box office disappointment but I, for one, am glad it’s such a critical success. That’s far more important to me as a filmgoer.
    Yes, it’s a little long and the love story doesn’t work. But it has some of the most amazing special effects I’ve ever seen, the Watts/Kong stuff is simply magical and it’s as thrilling an adventure as I’ve seen in years. You just don’t see movies like this very often, and it’s sad that people appear to be staying away.

  56. Mr. Bloppy says:

    well, Kong was always tracking behind Narnia which made it confusing that everyone thought Kong the advantage. I think us media types always have more respect for film makers like Jackson than the average movie goers so we tended to fuel the fire for it a little more than Narnia. I was at a theater outside of Pittsburgh where folks cheered when the Narnia trailer ended and just sat there when the Kong trailer ended.
    So, if Narnia was ahead in the tracking and did $67, Kong should do about $50 for it’s 3 days i think. Either way, Universal will beg, borrow, and steal to make sure that it’s 5-Day at least matches Narnia’s 3 Day. Doncha think?

  57. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    “you have to expect that billions of people have seen it and are familiar with the story…Peter Jackson’s name is also familiar to the millions who saw the Lord of the Rings trilogy.”
    I think you mean millions of people have seen it? And, yeah, so what if Peter Jackson’s name is famous to all those people. If the movie doesn’t look good to people, they won’t go and see it.
    And yeah, i think the feeling that it’s a three hour+ movie (remember 20 mins of ads and trailers are included) about a gorilla (and not the cute Gorillas in the Mist kind) may have initially turned people off. But, as we’ve seen before, this is the friendliest time of the year for legs and word-of-mouth.
    I think somebody was right up there when they said that in the weekend before Christmas a lot of people don’t have 4 hours to go and see a movie (I’m including driving and all that junk) that they know will still be in cinemas in a week or two.
    Can I point out though, that King Kong actually on Wednesday had the highest PSA of movies in the Top 10, yet on Thursday it had the second highest – behind… The Polar Express: IMAX.
    Of course, Brokeback Mountain had $14112 PSA and $12886 PSA on each of those days respectively, with Memoirs of a Geisha having PSAs of about half those amounts.

  58. Melquiades says:

    On another topic, has anyone seen The Family Stone? I saw it last night, extremely hyped in no small part due to Poland’s raves, and was disappointed.
    Much of it worked beautifully, and I really liked the whole cast (Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson and Craig T. Nelson especially) but some of the subplots were painfully contrived.

  59. Nicol D says:

    I think in the case of Kong the people’s perception perhaps overtook what it may be. We are told how emotional it is, how heartbreaking, intense and satisfyling it is. We are told that the action is on a par with Raiders and the like.
    The commericals say more CG monsters fighting each other like in Jurassic Park 8. Now, I have not seen Kong and most likely will in the next few days, but I am seeing it more out of a ‘duty’ to see it as a film fan than actually anticipating to it. I’m actually much more looking forward to seeing Narnia again and Munich.
    I have seen so many clips of the Kong vs. two dinosaurs sequence and all I can think is that Naomi Watts would be dead from the whiplash alone.
    It looks cartoon silly. These do not look like effects that are better than what Spielberg did in JP and they do not look as photorealistic as Aslan in Narnia.
    I do not think Hollywood realizes how much of a turn off Jack Black is for many. Just seeing Black’s smug attitude in the Kong interviews made me think hard about seeing Narnia again first. What an ass.
    Funny that the two biggest love stories from Hollywood this season are between a woman and an ape and a man and a man.
    I’ll put money on Narnia beating it over Christmas stretch. If you were a kid what would you want. A big ape or a Santa Claus that comes bearing weapons of war?

  60. Blackcloud says:

    It’s actually Kong vs. THREE dinosaurs. Which is two many. It makes me wish they’d brought back the snake from the ’76 remake. I’ll say it again, dinosaurs were a novelty in 1933, they’re not in 2005.
    “It looks cartoon silly. These do not look like effects that are better than what Spielberg did in JP and they do not look as photorealistic as Aslan in Narnia.” Totally agree. Kong is well done, but I think overall the effects are more impressive in Narnia. The animals are a great achievement. They really look like talking animals.
    Jack Black isn’t terrible, but he’s not great, either. He is kind of one note, though, and that’s it’s hard to sustain one note for three hours. And his reading of the legendary final line is shockingly flat. That was the best take?
    Friday #s are better, but only marginally. Kong will have to do some climbing to get $50 million for the weekend.

  61. Paul8148 says:

    Here is the Fridays numbers from show biz data……..
    Title Daily Total
    KING KONG 14.4 30.4
    FAMILY STONE 4.1 4.1
    SYRIANA 1.6 18.5
    WALK THE LINE 1.0 79.9
    YOURS, MINE & OURS 1.0 42.6
    JUST FRIENDS .7 28.1
    AEON FLUX .5 22.0

  62. martin says:

    looks like Syriana got it’s ass kicked, bottom half of that list is kind of a mess. Family Stone clearly a hit though. And Kong? $14 aint a bad number but it’s in the average blockbuster range, doing perhaps $45 for the 3-day. The movie has certainly opened, though not spectacularly. It certainly has a shot at doing $200 mill. Any more than that looks very unlikely at this point.

  63. MattM says:

    The stories of the weekend:
    1. Kong is now unquestionably a commercial disappointment. That Friday is more than 1/3 less than Narnia did last weekend.
    2. Narnia’s hold isn’t special, but it’s decent, and will continue to motor along once school lets out for the holidays.
    3. Family Stone appears to be going ahead of tracking, but is getting lost. Shoulda rolled out at turkey day.
    4. WOM on Syriana was apparently pretty bad, judging by that drop. (Deservedly so–the film needs a meat cleaver taken to it.)
    5. Brokeback is holding extraordinarily well as it goes wider–it’ll do about 30K in PSA this weekend.

  64. AgentArc says:

    And… The $50 million weekend looks to have slipped away. ‘King Bomb’ is a fun to say, but it looks like it is doing (slightly lower) Batman Begins business… Hmmm… Underwhelming. Just like the movie itself.
    I’m not understanding the ‘critical success’ everyone is speaking about at all. It has an 82% on, just like Revenge of the Sith. Both are likely to be nominated for effects awards, and that will be the extent.
    I’m just going to be honest, and blame the running time and remake status for the box office returns. I had a near impossible time convincing my family to see a three hour+ monster movie, and even then we all knew what was going to happen, point by point.
    Narnia is headed for a 50% drop. Potter is going to pass $250 million today… Possibly $700 million worldwide for the weekend. At least there is a ray of light for one studio this weekend.

  65. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Wow – for two things
    1. King Kong’s 14.4 is only 5.4million ahead of Narnia in it’s second week! That is really… quite shocking. If it has a multiplier of 3, that means it’ll come in just over $40mil and… well, that’s good and all, but nowhere near where they wanted to be
    2. Brokeback Mountain in the Top 10! And it’s only playing on 69 screens. That’s very impressive.
    Other places though, Family Stone looks to do as expected. Around the $12mil mark. And the others are all doing their own thing. Walk The Line remaining in the Top 10 can only help it remain visible.

  66. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Can I just say that if Cinderella Man’s perceived “failure” damanged its Oscar hopes, then will it occur here too. Considering that Kong will probably be the bigger failure of the two…

  67. henryhill says:

    I don’t mean to say that KONG has any chance of beating or even getting near Titanic after this opening weekend… and I realize that Titanic opened 8 years ago, on 1000 less screens… BUT:
    Titanic “only” opened with 28.6 million dollars. People knew it was long, knew how it would end, and then we know the rest of the story.
    I saw Kong last night and I don’t think it’s nearly as good as Titanic was; I think it’s without question in need of 30 less minutes, specifically in the first act plus, before we get to see Kong himself. It would be like going to see Indiana Jones and having him not show up until the middle of the second reel. If Jackson wanted to do the “Hide the Shark” routine that Speilberg did with Jaws, building tension, then maybe they shouldn’t have centered the entire marketing campainge around Kong. Since everyone has seen what he looks like, it felt like we were just waiting around for him to show up, and none of the action in Manhattan or on the ship to Skull Island needed more than 15 minutes total.
    Still once Kong captures Ann, the rest of the movie is brilliantly conceived. Great set pieces, great drama, great effects, great Jack Black. It’s just too bad you have to hack through the first 75 minutes to get to that. Word of mouth will be good, but not great. I expect Kong to only drop by little bits through the holiday season and end up somewhere around 230 million. Worldwide maybe something like 300. If it could ever get a Best Pic Nom, it will go much higher. Maybe it has a better chance now that it will be viewed as an underdog, since it’s revenues aren’t what everyone expected.

  68. Terence D says:

    I just don’t see the Kong – Titanic compaarisons. Big movies who start slowly?

  69. martin says:

    titanic was a hit with old people because of it’s historical aspects, a hit with teens because it had hot Leo and was a good date movie, a hit with 20 and 30 somethings cause it was water-cooler talk. KK still seems like a core geek movie but without the rabid fanbase (beforehand). It may well expand out and do some nice business over the holidays, but I’m not hearing much as far as great word of mouth, to some extent KK is now the butt of jokes.

  70. AgentArc says:

    Kong… An… Underdog!?!
    The spin… It’s a justa too mucha for meya captain!

  71. LesterFreed says:

    It was a hit because it was a great movie that appealed to women. Young and old. Most saw it multiple times. It was a phenomenon. I remember being dragged to see it twice. What a guy won’t do for some female booty.

  72. henryhill says:

    I’m just saying, that’s all… We’re so used to seeing these blockbuster movies open huge, then fall and fall and fall… it’s such a rarity that we see an actual movie do business because of word of mouth: Titanic did it. Something About Mary did it. My Big Fat Greek Wedding did it. Pirates of the Caribbean did it. Wedding Crashers did it…
    MAYBE Kong will do it. I agree I think word of mouth is going to be merely good, and not out of this world, but the one thing it has going for it, is that it’s last 2 hours are the meat of the story, and the first hour is almost long forgotten by the time the credits roll.
    And as for it being an underdog, well, I mean listen: It gotten tremendous reviews. I saw someone say that it got similiar ratings on Rotten Tomatoes to Revenge of the Sith… very misleading. That might be true percentage wise, but I defy you to find all of these major critics giving Four Star reviews for Star Wars… Ebert, NY Post, NY Daily News, EW, Rolling Stone, and on and on gave King Kong top top four star reviews (even DP loved it). With that kind of critical backing, the old-timey story, and the idea that this great movie was a misunderstood underdog (like Kong himself), maybe Academy members will squeeze Kong into the 5th spot…
    I’m just saying…

  73. Angelus21 says:

    The recipe has been the same for the past few years.
    Open huge. Gradually fall off. Close. Open on dvd huge.
    That’s blockbuster sensibility. You don’t see any movies now have any legs at all. I would like to see Kong go for it.

  74. martin says:

    henry, every one you mentioned was either heavy female skewing or simply a good date movie. KK is neither. That’s why box-office watchers get concerned looking at its less than stellar open. This is a movie that was built and paid-for to open huge and that didn’t happen. Geek movies unfortunately are now heavily 1x theatrical then DVD purchase, not good for the long run at all.

  75. Wrecktum says:

    Postmortem on Kong:
    1) Directors are not stars. People do not flock to movies based on who’s behind the camera. They haven’t since Hitchcock. Or maybe Spielberg circa ’84.
    2) Just because everybody knows about King Kong doesn’t mean anyone cares about King Kong. Don’t confuse a character’s Q-rating with an audience’s interest in seeing that character.
    3) A B-movie is a B-movie is a B-movie. And should be treated like one. Hell, even Emmerich realized that if you’re going to use B-movie archtypes at least make the resulting flick a fun feel-good movie.
    4) Real stars! Spending $200m on a flick with no existing fanbase a la Lord of the Rings? Get a big name star! Your director and a few indie favs are not going to get butts in seats!!
    5) Release date is key. Is King Kong, a splashy summer-movie-style adventure, the right fit for the holiday season? How would the same flick perform over Memorial Day Weekend.
    Obviously the story on King Kong boxoffice isn’t completely told. But these are the questions Uni execs will be asking themselves come Monday morning.

  76. Rufus Masters says:

    The release date is the big problem. This wasn’t a prime weekend for a huge release. Not Thanksgiving. Not Christmas. Not a Summer. I think it is really contributing to the weak BO so far.

  77. martin says:

    wreckturn, good call on the lack of stars. The point of entry for sci-fi/action these days seems to be Will Smith or Tom Cruise. As we’ve seen several times this year, your Ewan McGregors, your Jamie Foxx’s, and your Jack Black’s are not enough to sell iffy concepts. No matter what anyone says, a CG tragic monkey movie is not an easy sell in 2006, it was never going to be. You put a Tom Hanks in King Kong and suddenly people start saying “oh, this movie must have been worth remaking because TOM HANKS wanted to be in it”. The stars here say nothing in that regard. Remaking a classic because of better CG is not a good selling point. An modern-retelling with Tom Hanks feels much more fresh and audience-friendly to me.

  78. martin says:

    and yes, King Kong does feel much more like a summer movie.

  79. joefitz84 says:

    Using the star angle.
    What stars were in Lord of the Rings? Harry Potter? Spiderman? Batman Begins?
    Who is a “star” now anyway? You got Cruise and he delivered with “War of the Worlds”. Pitt delivered with “Mr and Mrs Smith”. Who else would be considered a star that can open a movie nowadays?

  80. Josh says:

    I think very few actors would have helped on King Kong.
    You have an Oscar winning lead and an Oscar nominated female lead. You have a good comic actor in Black. Would Nicole Kidman have added onto the BO? Reese Witherspoon? Doubtful.
    The real star is Kong himself and the story. Maybe they didn’t sell it right. Maybe after Potter and Narnia parents are just tired of seeing 3 hr movies with their kids and are waiting til next week when kids have off.

  81. Wrecktum says:

    “What stars were in Lord of the Rings? Harry Potter? Spiderman? Batman Begins?”
    None needed stars. They all have huge built-in fanbases. So does Narnia.
    Kong does not.

  82. martin says:

    Joe, not to belabor the point but perhaps Kong needed a star because the concept wasn’t hip or strong enough of a sell. LOTRs, Smith, Potter, etc. were all extremely commercial film concepts, whereas Kong has been made twice before and at this point is sort of a joke as far as concept goes. No one was saying “I really wish they’d remake King Kong”, huge numbers of people wanted to see LOTRs and Potter up on the screen. Kong needed something more than just concept, and that hasn’t happened.

  83. Blackcloud says:

    “What stars were in Lord of the Rings? Harry Potter? Spiderman? Batman Begins?”
    Those are the stars, just like James Bond is the star of James Bond. King Kong may be the star of King Kong, but he’s just a monkey. There’s no cachet there. He’s just a character, not a whole world.
    What could Jackson really have added that wasn’t there the first time? He fleshes the story out, but it’s the same story as before. I think he’d have been better served “reimagining” the movie entirely instead of doing a straight remake; wholly new, instead of just improved. We’ve seen Kong climb the ESB. How about Petronas Towers this time?

  84. Wrecktum says:

    Perhaps Kong in space? Or an underwater research facility? Or maybe he discovers a time machine?
    Kong koncepts are infinite.

  85. PandaBear says:

    What average eprson today has veen seen the previous Kong’s? I just remember the terrible one from the 70’s. I can see the no stars argument hurting the BO if the reviews were terrible. But the reviews have been outstanding.

  86. joefitz84 says:

    I get what you guys are saying and obviously Batman and SPiderman don’t really need stars because the character is well the star. But who could you have cst instead of Brody to make this a guaranteed success? Cruise? Pitt? Leo? Damon? Would one of those have made this a guaranteed success? Did the producers put too much stock in Jacksons appeal and the success of the Rings to forego a star? Is it going to cost them huge?

  87. Blackcloud says:

    Darth Kong: “No, I am your father.”
    Luke: “Noooo, I don’t believe in evolution.”

  88. joefitz84 says:

    Ha. hayden Christiansen as the femme fatale??

  89. quizkid82 says:

    “Directors are not stars. People do not flock to movies based on who’s behind the camera. They haven’t since Hitchcock. Or maybe Spielberg circa ’84.”
    The marketing of every M. Night Shyamalan movie since “The Sixth Sense” has revolved around his name, and it has worked every time. Even “The Village” had a gigantic opening weekend. The preview for “Lady in the Water” got no reaction with the sold-out “HP” crowd I saw it with, but as soon as the words “A Bedtime Story by M. Night Shyamalan” came up, the place burst into applause.

  90. jeffmcm says:

    Spielberg, Shyamalan, and Tarantino’s names can open a film. Jackson’s, not as much, but probably on par with Lucas or Ron Howard.

  91. lindenen says:

    I wonder what Scorsese’s name is worth.

  92. martin says:

    lady in the water is a very interesting trailer.

  93. Blackcloud says:

    “Spielberg, Shyamalan, and Tarantino’s names can open a film. Jackson’s, not as much, but probably on par with Lucas or Ron Howard.”
    I wouldn’t put Lucas in this group; he hasn’t opened a film on his name in 28 years at least. Unless you want to argue that Lucas and “Star Wars” are synonymous. I can buy that, but it still takes us away from him being a director. Hell, he hasn’t been a director in 28 years. I mean, obviously he directs movies, but that’s the least of what he’s been up to the last three decades.

  94. martin says:

    i dunno, I think a sci-fi film “from the director of Star Wars” would have a shot at some real good money. It’s all a genre thing, if he sticks to his audience, his audience will response to one extent or another. KK is similar to the LOTR crowd, so it was a decent lateral move to sell off PJ. If PJ or Lucas tried to use their name to sell a Meg Ryan movie they’d be in trouble.

  95. PandaBear says:

    If Peter Jackson can’t open a film no director can.

  96. jeffmcm says:

    Well, that’s obviously untrue, as the above posts have said regarding Shyamalan and The Village, where the biggest star was William Hurt.

  97. Bruce says:

    He wasn’t Jackson and he didn’t have 3 of the biggest films of all time under his belt. Sixth Sense was great but Unbreakable faded and The Villag faded even more.

  98. jeffmcm says:

    We’re talking about openings. Unbreakable opened with $30m. Signs opened to $60, The Village, with no Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis, opened to $50. Shyamalan as director created that opening.

  99. jeffmcm says:

    Also, I haven’t seen King Kong yet, but I’m guessing that I’m glad that it didn’t have big stars in it. Put Tom Hanks in instead of Jack Black and all of a sudden it’s a Tom Hanks movie.

  100. jeffmcm says:

    Nothing against Tom Hanks per se. But LOTR didn’t have any stars and it did okay.

  101. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Considering this entire thread is about the OPENING WEEKEND of King Kong the M Night Shyamalan comparison is very apt. People know what they’re getting themselves in for.
    And no offence to Peter Jackson who I think is a great director (Kong isn’t in the ballgame of Heavenly Creatures of LOTR) but LOTR is all he has for him when it comes to advertising a movie such as Kong, and to general moviegoers they probably dont put that much stock into the fact that Jackson co-wrote and directed all three. Someone such as Spielberg developed his name and brand and audiences trusted him that he would deliver. Shyamalan’s next will suffer due to bad Village left overs – The Village coincidentally was helped because Signs was so good and make a ton of cash. But when a director has been around long enough to develop a following THEN you can take him to the bank.
    And we’ll test Lucas’ director-power when he actually makes a movie that isn’t Star Wars. He hasn’t made one since before the first Star Wars. Will putting “From the Director of Star Wars” infront a trailer for one of his low-budget movies he’s planning help it. I doubt it.

  102. jeffmcm says:

    Hopefully Lucas doesn’t actually direct any of these low-budget movies he’s talking about. Producing should be quite enough.
    Agreed about Jackson’s lack of not-quite-name-recognition and how Shyamalan’s mermaid movie will at most open to 30-40m based on The Village (ps Signs sucks).

  103. Blackcloud says:

    Signs rules. (Haven’t we had this argument before?)
    I don’t think they’ll have to put “From the Director of Star Wars” on anything. “From George Lucas” will be enough. I think people will recognize the name.

  104. Crow T Robot says:

    Shyamalan is an interesting cat. He sadly hasn’t made a movie outside of The Sixth Sense mold but there’s no denying his talent. If he were smart he’d start work on an outside-the-box flick — romantic comedy, hardcore action movie, political thriller — something new. An “Achtung Baby” that will keep him relevant.
    Self-indulgence seems to be the connective tissue in this new generation of directors. Tarantino, Jackson, Rodriguez. They’re all working through their own little kinks and fetishes. Every now and then they get around to telling a real story.
    (Speaking of Achtung Baby — Bono and Bill Gates in Time Magazine! WOW!)

  105. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Well, Shyamalan’s newie will be interesting. It’s the same genre but looks to be different and less reliant on the twist.
    And yes, we had the Signs discussion when (the far inferior) War of the Worlds was released, i believe.

  106. jeffmcm says:

    Ah, we could go on all day debating Signs vs. War of the Worlds…
    Anyway, if Shyamalan was smart, he’d hire someone else to write for him…but we all saw how that worked on Attack of the Clones, so it won’t happen until M. Night has a HUGE bomb.

  107. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    lol, exactly. He ain’t gonna stop until the gravy train is over. And as long as his movies are making hundreds of millions of dollars and studios aren’t gonna stop him from doing his thing.
    And now he’s got a mermaid movie starring Paul Giamatti… which when written like that sounds TERRIFYING.

  108. jeffmcm says:

    Just as long as it’s less pretentious than Signs or The Village. When Shyamalan isn’t trying to make A Statement, he’s a much better director. Sadly, I’ve read excerpts from the script, and I think it’ll be more of the same.

  109. bicycle bob says:

    isn’t every director making a statement with every picture they make? why else put all that time in and make something? u can spot the whores a mile away. make some sense now.

  110. Terence D says:

    Signs has Mel Gibson. War had Tom Cruise. Might be the two biggest stars in the world. Even if the directors are stars in their own right. Now if Signs starred Jeff Daniels and made that much money, we’d have a nice discussion.

  111. jeffmcm says:

    BiBob, there’s a big difference between making a statement, and making a Statement, with big flashing lights and pointed dialogue. It’s called subtlety. Also, there’s the question of whether or not the statement is worth stating or not. For me, the subtlety of Sixth Sense has given way to something very different in Signs and The Village.
    Terence D, I don’t follow you.

  112. Rufus Masters says:

    Every director is making a statement.
    That is why they direct films. The good ones at least. The hacks are in it for the blow and the babes. But good ones are in it to say something. To show something. How can you a film fan and not see that?

  113. jeffmcm says:


  114. Mark Ziegler says:

    Don’t underestimate the importance of stars to a films success.

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