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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates

Today is Dividing Day on King Kong.
Do you want to attack it and call it the 75th best Friday in history

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58 Responses to “Friday Estimates”

  1. EDouglas says:

    that’s a great expansion for Brokeback…into the Top 10 in its second week while in less than 100 theatres. I think only Motorcycle Diaries has pulled that one off in recent memory. That’s not a great start for The Producers, but I think the single theatre thing might not allow it to get the type of business it can get when it opens in more multi-plexes. I’m still optimistic that business will pick up next weekend.

  2. joefitz84 says:

    I’m really curious to see how Brokeback does when it opens wide. It’ll be a good indicator of how good it’s chances really are.

  3. Rufus Masters says:

    The Producers is getting some horrendous reviews. Especially in NY. Saw a few one star reviews. After seeing them on Broadway I couldn’t imagine that. Someone really screwed up or they phoned this in for the dough. Both scenarios are plausible to me.

  4. MattM says:

    The complaint I’ve seen in most of the New York reviews is that they were hoping for/expecting something more than merely a pretty much straightforward filming of the stage show. It seems like reviews are much kinder among critics that aren’t as familiar with the stage show. (Also, the tepidly reviewed “Odd Couple” in NY is helping create a lot of Broderick/Lane backlash.)

  5. Wrecktum says:

    Looks like Narnia’s headed for a nearly 50% drop which is a bit disappointing, considering it should have capitalized more on the soft opening of Kong.
    That said, it’ll pass 100m on Saturday and will be off to the races for great mid-week grosses now that schools* are out of session.
    * Except for those schools that have the weekend finals contributing to the weak Kong numbers. I hear most schools will be having finals for the rest of the year. Those damn finals, ruining everything! 😉

  6. Josh says:

    It just seems like we have a ton of films this year where the expectations were huge on and they just disappoint. Either box office or award caliber. The Producers now joins that.

  7. Blackcloud says:

    As I posted at BOM: “Those must be some awfully long finals. They must be, what, three or four days long? All Wednesday, all Thursday, and now all Friday. I had no idea college was so hard.”

  8. PandaBear says:

    Thinking of Finals gives me nightmares.

  9. Wrecktum says:

    I’ll have to remember “stats are for suckers” next time you go on for 4,000 words on some random boxoffice obscurity, Poland.
    As for the gleeful burying of Kong: This movie was supposed to be *THE* holiday film to beat. People at Disney, up to a week ago, were quaking in their boots, ready to be swept away by the Kong tidal wave to come. Websites were touting the Titanic-like numbers the film was sure to generate.
    If you’re disgusted by the “overstated hyperactivity” of the reaction to the first three days gross, you should be equally disgusted by the worse “overstated hyperactivity” of the hype leading into this mess.

  10. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, I gave my very last final exam to students in my film history class on Friday. And my son didn’t wrap up taking HIS final exams until Thursday. I can’t say how much effect (if any)final exams have had on “King Kong” grosses so far. But I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss this factor, either.

  11. qwiggles says:

    I’m telling you — the “finals” argument is hooey. The only way I’m not seeing a film because I have an exam fast approaching is if the exam is about 12 hours away. If it is, I’d have still caught the film by now.
    I should know; I had a Film Aesthetics exam on Friday and saw it on Wednesday anyway.
    Kong is doing decent business – no doubt about it. But this blame game is bizarre. Speaking of bizarre:
    “Or do you want to come a bit closer to the reality and project it as the 4th, 5th, or 6th best December opening Fri-Sun ever,”
    That may well be the reality, but it has to be a disappointing one, given the marketing, media muscle, ads blitz, interviews galore, good reviews, Oscar pedigree, Jackson factor and fanboy love.

  12. waterbucket says:

    I worry a little about Brokeback Mountain. Here hoping that it will continue to do well.

  13. Crow T Robot says:

    The slump didn’t get him. It was budget killed the beast.

  14. David Poland says:

    I fI wrote 4000 or even 500 words based on a stat as simple minded and wrong headed as “the 21st best wednesday,” you’d be right to call me out, Wreck.
    And you blame Universal for the media insanity of the Titanic call? I know of no studio that wants that kind of heat called to its movie… ever. There is no win.

  15. James Leer says:

    You’ve got to think that whispers of Titanic-like box office were planted by the competition, because no way would Universal dig their own grave like that, especially with underperforming tracking.
    While I agree with most of DP’s analysis here, his earlier post comparing King Kong to the Wednesdays of Star Wars and Spider-Man was tooootally disingenuous, and he knows it. Those two films didn’t even open on a Wednesday, rendering comparisons moot. The thing about statistics is that they can be used to support anything. 95% of all people know that.

  16. Wrecktum says:

    I don’t blame Uni for the Titanic insanity. Neither do I blame Uni for the “overstated hyperactivity” of the Internet response to the film’s soft opening. In both cases, it was the bloggers and Internet geeks who’ve fanned the flames.
    If I were to blame Uni for anything, it’d be their opening the movie on a Wednesday and then their damage control on Thursday and Friday. But, considering how much they have invested in the pic, I guess some damage control was needed.

  17. combat_wombat says:

    I desperately want to see Kong but it’s kinda hard finding what is essentially HALF-A-DAY to go and see it. Especially at this time of year. Why did it have to be so looooong? Is there simply so much plot it can’t be done any other way? Are the secondary characters that riveting? I know what happens at the end anyway… oh hell, maybe I’ll wait for the five hour DVD special edition…

  18. martin says:

    “the stats suggest that the worst possible domestic total for this film will be about $175 million domestic, which would likely be reflected overseas by about $350 million, which at $525 million worldwide means $288 million or so returned to the studio, which means that the film breaks even and then churns out nine-figure profits via DVD. The more hopeful scenario

  19. martin says:

    it’s possible other studios whispered the Titanic comparisons, but more likely this is a result of bad journalism. “King Kong the next Titanic” is a story that is sure to get read and printed widely.

  20. MattM says:

    The other wild card next week is two big-budget, big-hype, big-star comedies hitting the marketplace, but with almost NO buzz. I mean, has ANYONE seen “Fun With Dick and Jane” yet? If Jim Carrey can’t open a movie, who can? (Then again, “Fun With Dick and Jane” seems to be following a media strategy that worked just fine for “Meet the Fockers.”)

  21. JckNapier2 says:

    I’d guarantee that the ‘it will beat Titantic’ crap came from rival studios.
    It was rival studios that swore up and down that Pearl Harbor would do $100 million in four days, thus making the successful and more logical $75 million seem like a dissapointment.
    It was rival studios that were SURE that Blair Witch 2 would open to $30 million, thus making the very good $13.5 million opening seem like a let down.
    And I’m sure Sony wasn’t the one touting Vin Deisel’s XXX as capable of making $60 million in three days, thus making the very very strong $46 million seem weak.
    It’s the same way the GOP pundits were SURE that John Kerry would have a 10 point bounce after the convention, thus making the five or so point bounce seem dissapointing.
    The list goes on…
    It’s a classic trick and it always works as long as no one in the media calls them on it. And it annoys me everytime.
    Scott Mendelson

  22. EDouglas says:

    Damn, David! Is the glass *always* half-full with you? You’d never survive in NY with an attitude like that! 🙂

  23. AgentArc says:

    Universal is on record expecting a $75 million 5-day.
    They are getting a $63 million 5-day.
    The weekend is dead on exact with Fellowship of the Ring, the standard Universal set, but the opening days threw everything off.
    Fellowship of the Ring also only costed New Line $143 million (after marketing), while Kong is expected to clock in at $270 million. Ouch.
    This isn’t what we call the ‘Kong Bomb’, just underwhelming. Much like the movie itself.

  24. EDouglas says:

    King Kong wasn’t being marketed like a $75 million five day movie. It was being pushed like a $105+ million five day movie. I wonder how the movie is doing in other parts of the world.

  25. AgentArc says:

    It made $8 million from 36 markets opening day, and will be in 56 markets by the end of this weekend…
    Um… I hear it is doing good in Hong Kong? =P

  26. EDouglas says:

    I understand that in Hong Kong, it’s been retitled “Memoirs of a Gorilla”

  27. Brett B says:

    The only other thing I would want to add to the whole “finals” argument is that I would have seen the movie regardless of if I had finals the next morning, but the theater by my school is pretty bad and the one that I goto when I am at home is extremely good. So I could have seen it at school opening night, but I would have rather waited an extra 2 days to see it in a vastly superior theater. Not sure if anybody else was/is under the same circumstances though.

  28. quizkid82 says:

    Something everyone is forgetting: “Titanic’s” first weekend was $28.6 million, which, even in 1997, had to be a huge disappointment. But do you know what happened the next 16 weeks? It came in at No. 1. It didn’t have its peak weekend until after the first of the year, and even that weekend was only $36 million.
    This could very well happen with “Kong.” I think the so-called “bad” opening can be directly attributed to the release date for a number of reasons, final exams just being one of them. It’s also the biggest shopping weekend of the year, the weekend when all the college kids come home, a weekend with three NFL games each on both Saturday and Sunday…people have other things going on this weekend. And they don’t have the built-in anticipation that comes with a franchise picture like “Star Wars,” “LOTR” or “Harry Potter.”
    But Christmas falls on a Sunday, and a whole lot of people go to the movies on Christmas. Same goes for New Year’s Day — also on a Sunday.
    I think we can expect “Kong” to be No. 1 for a long time — not until April, like “Titanic” was, but at least through the end of January, “Fun With Dick and Jane” notwithstanding (I honestly don’t think that movie is on anyone’s radar.).

  29. EDouglas says:

    Movies really don’t play the way that they did back in 1997 anymore, because these days, it’s all about pushing the movie for opening weekend, and it’s really hard to convince a theatre to hold a movie for a long time if it’s not getting consistent money. For Kong, it’ll have to be making at least $4-5 million a day between now and Christmas if it wants theatres to keep it in the biggest rooms rather than giving it over to other movies (like the ones vying for Oscars).
    The good thing is that there aren’t very many strong new movies over the next month so it might stay on top for awhile, but there are still a lot of new movies and expanding movies in the coming weeks that will be vying for screens.
    #1 the weekend of January 20 will be Underworld regardless, and there’s a good chance there could be another #1 on January 13 (probably Glory Road)

  30. Lota says:

    King Kong #1 til the end of January? dream on. If anything Narnia will build with the perpetual winter going on and the fact that many like my family will wait to see it during the post 25th dec holiday days they have off work. That book was required reading in school (non-religious) for many kids.
    I also don;t think Jim carrey’s movie will be carried by him or successfully opened to cover budget. There’s too much going on and FWDAJ might disappear pretty quick–it won’t interest the teens through twenties most likely. The first one wasn’t so great–another ho hum subject matter remake.

  31. Skyblade says:

    School’s out…what could stop it now?

  32. AgentArc says:

    I’m getting tired, tired, TIRED of hearing Shrek 2 & Titanic used like a new mantra.
    Titanic opened against a James Bond flick, and still brought in $38 million (adjusted). It opened in 2,674 theaters with a $14,000 theater average (adjusted). This was the day in age before multiplex giants ruled the nation.
    King Kong opened in 3,568 theaters with a (at best for now) $3,995 average. Kong has a lot of empty seats to account for now. The whole point about Christmas Eve/New Year’s Eve landing on a Saturday, and Christmas/New Year’s landing on a Sunday is a BAD THING. Unlike the lucky LotR trilogy, which got a lot of help for mid-week holidays, Kong now has both major holidays wrapped up into weekends, which always have high traffic anyways.
    LotR & Titanic has massive oscar buzz. Kong will not. Let’s also look at the fact that every studio outside of Paramount is releasing a film next weekend…
    The Producers (Universal)
    Munich [limited] (Universal)
    Fun With Dick & Jane (Columbia)
    Memoirs of a Geisha (Columbia)
    Rumor Has It… (Warner Bros.)
    Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (Fox)
    The Ringer (Fox Searchlight)
    Casanova (Disney)
    Wolf Creek (Dimension)
    And then we still have Narnia, Syriana and Potter making Christmas comebacks. Next weekend is going to get UGLY.

  33. Joe Straat says:

    Well, I’m one of those people who DID wait until finals to watch a movie, but then again, I’m one those “cram and get everything done at the last minute” people. I tried to go to The Hours after a mid-term paper and an exam on the same day kept me awake for 36 hours because it was the last showing……. Bad move, to say the least. However, after finishing up finals and having about 14 hours sleep (I kid you not), I went to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and I loved it. Despite its darker edge, it was a warm movie in a warm theater after having all of my burdens lifted the day before going home for Christmas.
    I haven’t seen King Kong yet, but since I’ve graduated college, finals wasn’t the reason. No, the answer is much more simple: Holiday shopping has made me too poor to even take in a movie.

  34. Joe Straat says:

    Ooops, I meant “the END of finals” on that last post.

  35. martin says:

    these are all very minor excuses, many movies have opened these dates in december and not had any box office “issues” like this film is having. This is another excuse, like the whole DVD/slump BS, it comes down to the movie. If this was Da Vinci Code opening we’d be seeing gigantic #’s, if it was Star Wars 3 we’d be seeing gigantic #’s, but it’s King Kong, and it’s not, end of story. And again, the Titanic comparison is silly. Where’s the similarity? That they both cost a shitload of money and opened around christmas time? Thats silly.

  36. Blackcloud says:

    Just think how much ROTS would have made on May 19 if some universities and school districts hadn’t been having finals that day.

  37. Martin S says:

    Let me explain the “finals” argument for all you dismissing this so quickly, because Pauline Kael’s “I don’t know anyone who voted for Nixon” parable seems to be in full effect.
    “I should know; I had a Film Aesthetics exam on Friday and saw it on Wednesday anyway”.
    Buddy – you’re in FILM SCHOOL. You going to the theater is the equivalent of an accounting major going to the bank. In other words, it’s a given.
    MCN readers – we are *not* the majority of the movie audience. We are the avid fan that makes up a miniority. Then factor in not just studying, papers and tests, but students who travel back home for the break, holiday parties and shopping. Where the hell does someone block out three hours for pure nonsense in such a week? And yes, Kong is nonsense, unlike the LOTR or Potter sequels which at least furthered invested characters along.
    As for Titanic, the movie was a fluke. No one expected it to do well until the Mall of America screening, and even then, Cameron thought he was just going to see a return. Kong is actually the antithesis of Titanic, because everyone was so sure it was blockbuster. And for those wondering where the Titanic comparisons started, it came Stacy Snider at Kong’s first showing. She didn’t say it was going to do Titanic business, but she helped float that it had gotten the same audience reaction. She knew it would cause a comparison without anyone having to go on record. It’s an old lawyer’s trick – raise the question without officially asking it.
    Dave – you’re right Kong’s fate will be written Jan 3. If opening day was a scheduling mistake, then we’ll see it in the following weekday returns. But the fact that this movie has no true competition on the horizon does show that you’re downplaying Kong’s numbers. Kong was a never a “will it do good” project, but a “how well will it do”. Like AgentArc pointed out, Uni openly called 75M, which leaves me to wonder what was being said in private.
    I can see from your standpoint that on a large-scale grid, it’s doing well. But the fact that you cite Godzilla…I knew a lot of people at Tri-Star when Godzilla was being made. The expectations – sequels, merchandising sales, spin-offs – were all projected. It was supposed to be Jurassic Park multiplied by ID4. It wasn’t even close. In the end, Pascal’s only defense was worldwide sales. But that film was the nail in Tri-Star’s coffin.
    The point is that these huge flicks are not meant to do well, they are meant to devour. At the end of the day, Snider has to make her case and justify expenses v returns. I don’t see how, after Hulk and Van Helsing, she could afford anything less than a grand slam. Each year, she ratches up the cost, breaks out the fireworks and the marching band, then fails to meet expectations. So this is not about being negative, it’s about being realistic.

  38. RyanK says:

    Why is there this idea that NARNIA is going to bit into KONG’s performance? Has anyone actually seen the slight, poorly made NARNIA? I haven’t met one person who enjoyed it. I just don’t get where the love for this film is coming from.

  39. EDouglas says:

    Munich is going to be a lot less “limited” than originally imagined. At one point, it was going to be NY/LA only, but now it’s getting into over 500 theatres, which should be enough to get it into the Top 10 and take business away from other movies in those areas.
    I agree that opening Kong on a Wednesday was a mistake. It made no sense to do so except that they were trying to mimic the Lord of the Rings movies, but if finals were still going on, it wasn’t going to get much business then. Still, making more on Friday than Weds is pretty good for legs.

  40. Blackcloud says:

    I discount the finals argument because people making it seem to think finals had ended by the time the LOTR films opened, or that they’d be a non-factor had Kong opened a week later. At my university, finals end on the 21st. I’m sure it’s not alone.
    Personally, finals is (are?) why I had to see Kong on opening day. Not taking them, but grading ’em. I’m in the middle of grading papers, and then on Monday I get finals, so I took the day off to see Kong and Narnia. Skull Island and Narnia weren’t exactly dream vacations, but they sure beat reading the 37th poorly written essay on Nixon’s trip to China. Egad.

  41. Blackcloud says:

    “Why is there this idea that NARNIA is going to bit into KONG’s performance? Has anyone actually seen the slight, poorly made NARNIA? I haven’t met one person who enjoyed it. I just don’t get where the love for this film is coming from.
    Perhaps it’s because Narnia is a better movie than Kong? Or maybe that’s just me.

  42. Wrecktum says:

    Narnia scored an A+ in all four of Cinemascore’s reported quadrants.

  43. martin says:

    all i’m hearing is good word of mouth on narnia.

  44. jamiep says:

    And all I am hearing is good word of mouth on Kong. What the hell is the matter with all of you. King Kong is a movie; Narnia is a movie. Both will make a lot of money, entertain a lot of people, and that is it. Why in hell do you even care how much money they make? In what possible way could it affect your life?

  45. Wrecktum says:

    jamiep, please note the name and general subject matter of this website.

  46. Bruce says:

    Narnia has received GREAT reviews.

  47. qwiggles says:

    “Buddy – you’re in FILM SCHOOL. You going to the theater is the equivalent of an accounting major going to the bank. In other words, it’s a given.”
    All right, it was pointless of me to list which exam I blew off studying for to see Kong, but…
    I go to a small university in a small-ish city. I’m an English major and film buff. My companions blew off studying for Philosophy and Russian Lit exams, respectively. Like I said, if you want to do something, you’ll find time for it.
    Your comment is interesting though. Sub “film buff” for “film student” and ask yourself why, using your own logic, more film buffs and fanboys — Jackson’s core audiences — didn’t turn out? We tend to blitzkrieg theatres on opening day, you know.

  48. Bruce says:

    Guy, relax. It’s ok. You blew off an exam for a big movie. Not going to kill you.

  49. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    But, that’s probably just some of the dedicated school attending folk. I’m sure some don’t give a rats arse about their school but the fact is a lot do, and seeing King Kong (which demands upwards of 4 hours probably) may not be of the upmost importance.
    “I desperately want to see Kong but it’s kinda hard finding what is essentially HALF-A-DAY to go and see it. Especially at this time of year. Why did it have to be so looooong? Is there simply so much plot it can’t be done any other way? Are the secondary characters that riveting? I know what happens at the end anyway… oh hell, maybe I’ll wait for the five hour DVD special edition…”
    Definitely. Along with finals and stuff, it’s the last full weekend for before Christmas. Quite a few people just don’t have the time to invest in a movie that isn’t the concluding chapter for LOTR (yet is almost as long).
    This may all mean though that Kong will see good holds as the people who missed it this weekend can see it eventually.
    But you were right, the film could’ve lost at least half an hour. Even the action scenes become perfunctory after a while. They end up having almost no point except to kill off more extras.

  50. RDP says:

    I guess I’m too old to understand the “no matter what, I have to see a movie on opening day” stance because when I saw Kong opening on a day I had a final, I thought to myself, “nothing about the movie will change before I can see it this weekend.”
    But, like I said before, I can’t imagine that finals are really a significant factor in Kong’s box office, and I’m surprised the movie isn’t doing as well as it could have. Though part of that surprise is the fact that it’s the first Peter Jackson movie that I’ve wanted to see since The Frighteners.

  51. Bodhizefa says:

    Does the budget number include the massive advertising they did for the film? They spent a TON to promote this puppy, and I’d have to think that should add another $100 million-plus to the deficit from which the film has to climb.
    Very good film, though. I enjoyed it (especially all the Ann/Kong scenes) as much as anything I’ve seen all year long. Peter Jackson, I salute you.

  52. EDouglas says:

    Well, folks, the finals argument may end up proving true, as I’ve heard from various sources that Saturday had a big increase from Friday, mainly because the matinees were much busier, which basically tells us that the kids today are more serious about taking their tests and doing schoolwork than they are about going to see a movie just because everyone tells them they must see it. (Those crazy kids today… ) I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a huge increase from Friday to Saturday (I hear some early estimates saying that it could come close to $20 mil.)

  53. EDouglas says:

    And about the Producers:
    Looks like the people who did go out to see the movie at $12.50 a pop loved should be able to pick up the slack today and next week when it goes wide.

  54. Rob says:

    I’m pretty relieved about The Family Stone. I think there’s plenty of room for it to grow over the Christmas stretch – I don’t see Cheaper or Dick and Jane as direct competition. Rumor Has It seems more like a direct competitor, but who on earth wants to see that?

  55. Paul8148 says:

    The first weekend per screen aveage is looking about 14,054 or one dollar less than the first weekend for Fellowship Of The Ring 14,055…..

  56. Chucky in Jersey says:

    “Wolf Creek” is a Weinstein Co. release. “The Producers” and “Memoirs of a Geisha” will expand at least semi-wide. “Casanova” is Disney’s “Oscar Bait” pic and won’t go national until January.

  57. Cadavra says:

    Y’know, I’ve never understood the mindset that feels a Broadway show must be radically reworked for the film version. Why throw out what worked in favor of something that might not? To me, THE PRODUCERS’ greatest asset is that it DOES faithfully replicate what I saw onstage (and so many others were unable to). I wish people could see Zero Mostel in FIDDLER or Karloff in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE or Angela Lansbury in MAME, but some studio boneheads decided otherwise. At least in this case, future generations will see and enjoy a solid replication of one of the best Broadway musical comedies of recent times.

  58. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    I think I’m the only one who prefers the stage version ot the original 1968 version. I saw the stage version first though so that might mean something. I didn’t find the original movie all too special to be honest. Definitely no where near how high Ebert holds it in regard.
    Speaking on Angela Lansbury can she get a final great role? She’s had what? An episode of Law & Order and a small role in Nanny McPhee that they aren’t even promoting (as in, she doesn’t get a credit in the trailer). Shameful, really.

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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?”

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