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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates

King Kong / Uni / 8.4 / 3576 / 95.7
Chronicles of Narnia / BV / 8.2 / 3853 / 141.3
Fun with Dick & Jane / Sony / 5.6 / 3045 / 13.1
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 / Fox / 3.9 / 3175 / 9.2
Memoirs of a Geisha / Sony / 2.7 / 1547 / 5.8
The Family Stone / Fox / 2.4 / 2469 / 21.6
The Ringer / Fox / 2.3 / 1829 / 2.3
Harry Potter & Gob Fire / WB / 1.6 / 2521 / 258.3
Munich / Uni / 1.4 / 532 / 1.4
Syriana / WB / 1.1 / 1724 / 26.7
Brokeback Mountain / Focus / 0.7 / 217 / 5.6
Also Debuting
Cache / SonyCla / 16.5 / 5 / –
The White Countess / SonyCla / 14.5 / 10 / –
Boy, do I not want to be the first to point this out… but King Kong will take longer to get to $100 million than The Hulk.
More eventually…

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22 Responses to “Friday Estimates”

  1. EDouglas says:

    Interesting…showbizdata has Narnia ahead by $60,000.

  2. EDouglas says:

    Oh, and I guess Fox used up all their sequel karma with the awful Transporter 2.

  3. martin says:

    and shankman’s got all used up on “The Pacifier”.
    Dick and Jane seem to be doing better than I expected, may be a “sleeper” hit. Geisha seems to have found an audience. Not sure what $1.4 munich means, seems decent for the # of screens but nothing great. Ringer opened OK too.
    KK and Narnia are more complicated. As unimpressive as KK’s #’s are, they’re looking worse because it’s getting knocked in and out of the top spot by what is considered a smaller movie. Narnia looks to me like it could do at least $250 at this rate, KK feels more like a stretch to $200. And going back to an earlier $200 millionaire, Pearl Harbor, which cost about $50 mill. less than KK and was considered a financial disappointment at $200 mill. So with KK, even more so.

  4. EDouglas says:

    No worries….Jackson will do the same thing that Ang Lee did to recover…make a controversial smaller-budget drama based on a popular story.

  5. martin says:

    Hulk stat is disturbing, but I can’t imagine Kong doing less than $140 mill. US (Hulk did around $134, Godzilla did $137). It does seem like these gigantism movies tend to draw roughly the same crowds, no matter how big they’re marketed, no matter who directs and stars. KK will still make good $$ international and on DVD, but it’s bordering on becoming a domestic flop, which unfortunately is the most-important press stat.

  6. EDouglas says:

    Kong will have the advantage of the holidays for legs, while Hulk had the advantage of the summer for frontloading…I’d expect Kong to start seeing a lot of business come Monday and right through the end of 2005.

  7. Paul8148 says:

    Meanwhile here comes the second wave of attack on Munich with the “Steve got the facts wrong” charges…
    By Dan Williams
    JERUSALEM, Dec 23 (Reuters) – A pocketful of receipts helped blow the lid off Israel’s most notorious intelligence bungle.
    It was in 1973, after spies dispatched to Norway killed a waiter mistaken for the Palestinian mastermind of a raid on the previous year’s Munich Olympics where 11 Israeli athletes died.
    The assassins might have got away, except that one of them was not a trained member of Israel’s spy agency Mossad but a Danish-born volunteer brought aboard for his language skills.
    Hoping to recoup expenses, he had kept his receipts. Once detained by Norwegian police, he provided a paper trail that led to the capture and prosecution for murder of the rest of team.
    So when director Steven Spielberg, in his new film on the post-Munich reprisals, showed a Mossad case officer ordering agents to hoard receipts while in deep cover abroad, eyebrows were raised among veterans of the intelligence service.
    “It’s an absurd version of the modus operandi,” former field agent Gad Shimron said when asked about the thriller “Munich”.
    “Agents are expected to account for their expenses, but not if it means incurring the risk of discovery. They can just as easily declare their expenses from memory when they return home, and it’s accepted on trust,” he told Reuters.
    That is just one of a list of complaints made about “Munich” by those with direct knowledge of the Israeli reprisal campaign.
    Spielberg’s version paints a grim picture of what befell five men sent by Israel to track and kill members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) blamed for the Olympics raid.
    The film is based on “Vengeance”, a 1984 book purporting to chronicle the confessions of an assassin who broke ranks in protest at Israel’s two-fisted tactics. It portrays a hit-team unleashed on Europe and the Middle East with little supervision, torn by self-doubt and on the run from Palestinian gunmen.
    Spielberg was careful to add the disclaimer that the film was merely “inspired” by real events, but many Israelis say they are disappointed in the Hollywood director famed for his fastidiously researched Holocaust epic “Schindler’s List”.
    “I think it is a tragedy that a person of the stature of Steven Spielberg, who has made such fantastic films, should have based this film on a book that is a falsehood,” said David Kimche, a senior Mossad official in the 1970s.
    “Munich” shows the Olympic attack, followed by another established fact: Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir instructing Mossad to track down and kill the Palestinians held responsible.
    In the film, Meir goes further, personally recruiting the hero, Avner, to lead the team. Shimron said this was unheard of.
    “I know it’s tempting to see Golda as a sort of Zionist version of ‘M’ from the James Bond films, but she had nothing to do with Mossad personnel,” he said.
    Spielberg shows a hit-team isolated in the field for months, and including a forger and bomb-maker so it can function alone.
    But Mossad veterans say the reprisals, like all top-priority missions, were executed by a large number of agents, in stages.
    First, case officers posted abroad were told to look out for Palestinians on the hit-list. Information came from a variety of sources, the most important being paid PLO informers; the Munich raid was carried out by Black September, a PLO splinter group.
    Once the targets were found, specialised agents went through elaborate practice runs in Israel to prepare the assassinations.
    “We would set up ‘models’, by choosing areas in Israel that resembled the place where the person in question would be hit. Then we would drill to make sure the mission went without a hitch,” said a retired operative on condition of anonymity.
    “The hit-teams were assembled and sent out on an ad hoc basis. Everything was in place for them, so they never spent more than a few days — or, at most, weeks — in the field. They were monitored and withdrawn as soon as each mission was over.”
    The assassins in “Munich” are shown as occasionally inept, especially when it comes to planting novel booby-trap bombs.
    But Shimron noted that by the 1970s Mossad had perfected this tactic.As for having a forger, Shimron doubted this would be considered for such short-term missions as no forger would be able to produce high-quality documents under such conditions.
    Shimron was more damning of the all-male makeup of the team.
    “It’s standard practice to include female agents in such operations,” he said. “Anyone who has been on a stakeout knows that having a lady on hand helps you avoid being spotted.”
    Much of the criticism from Israelis in the know focuses on the film’s depiction of the moral debates that burden the team.
    A former Israeli special forces officer who took part in a Mossad assassination in the 1980s called this fanciful.
    “Look, we all did mandatory military service, we all had combat experience, and we all accepted the necessity of hitting out at our enemies. Israel is a country at war,” he said.
    “So you go, you do the job, and you hope you’ll be back in time to eat breakfast with your kids and take them to school.”
    Shimron said Mossad provides in-house psychologists to help any agents who develop doubts about their work.
    “Munich” also shows three assassins being killed. Other accounts do not mention this, although at the time the PLO did strike at Mossad case officers permanently stationed in Europe.
    Michael Bar-Zohar, who wrote an authorised history of the operations, said two officers were shot in Madrid and Brussels.
    “But as for Black September, it was wiped off the map for months,” he told Israel Radio.
    Bar-Zohar noted Spielberg shows the hit-team hunting 11 Palestinians, and said this built an overly simplistic moral symmetry with the number of Israeli athletes killed in Munich.
    Historians say the final Palestinian death toll may have reached as high as 18.In 1981, Black September mastermind Mohammed Daoud survived a shooting attack at a Warsaw hotel. In 1992, PLO official Atef Bseiso was shot dead in Paris.
    Israel neither claimed nor denied responsibility for those operations, but Mossad veterans said that prior to 1993 there was no reason for the post-Munich reprisals to be called off.
    That year, Israel and the Palestinians signed an interim peace deal in Oslo, near the site of the botched 1973 hit.
    “We decided then that as long as they are not killing us, we would not kill them,” said the retired senior operative

  8. JckNapier2 says:

    I finally saw Munich last night and loved it. One of my favorite films of the year, if not my very favorite. Point being, it passes the most important test for any ‘factual’ movie. Would it be just as riveting if it were complete fiction?
    Since movies must inevitably change or alter things, the question must be how much dramatic impact comes from the film itself, versus how much comes from the feeling of ‘golly, and it really happened this way’.
    A Beautiful Mind, for example, fails horribly, as the film bases much of its potency on its claims of fact, yet all the of the stuff that people liked about it were fictitious. Don’t get me started on The Hurricane, as anyone who reads about the real case might come away convinced of his genuine guilt (google ‘hurricane carter; guilty’ and have some laughs).
    JFK could be complete fiction and it would be just as absorbing. I don’t know how much of Couch Carter is fact or fiction and I frankly don’t care. It’s still a entertaining drama with an important social rallying cry. Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is full of malarky, yet it’s supremely entertaining anyway.
    Ironically, Universal Studios is the worset offender (so much so that I often call them ‘home of the bull-shit biopic’) as they have a laundry list of factually-impaired biopics or ‘true stories’:
    Ray, Hurricane, Man On The Moon, Dragon, Munich, Beautiful Mind, Sea Bisquit, and Cinderalla Man (a great film until they turn Max Baer into Clubber Lang).
    Now to be fair, it merely seems like Universal merely makes this particular genre of picture as one of their primary types, in a manner befitting the old studio system. Still, its unfortunate that they so rarely trust their audience to be entertaining on the facts alone, if the stories in question are supposed to be dramatic enough to merit filming.
    Since much of Munich is allegedly based on speculation and alleged accounts, the film works as a top-notch political thriller in the ‘what if’ vain. In that fashion, it is a tremendous success.
    Scott Mendelson

  9. steve4992 says:

    I saw Munich today, and I must admit that I was very disappointed with the film. Munich is obviously intended to be a “statement” movie, but, first and foremost, it is a thriller. The success of a thriller depends, in large part, upon the credibility of the plot and the characters; to fall under the movie’s spell, one must ultimately believe that the movie tells a coherent and plausible story. Munich did’t accomplish that for me.
    Among the other difficulties, consider the following (by the way, I am about to give away some of the plot points, so read no further if you haven’t seen the movie).
    -Avner’s naivete is really beyond the pale. Coule he really have agreed to undertake to eliminate the senior leadership of Black September without at least considering that his family might become a target?
    -The scene where the Mossad accountant requires Avner to provide receipts is simply ridiculous. What would such a receipt say? Recived from Israeli agent $600,000 in payments to mysterious Frenchman for names and locations of Arab terrorists?
    -When the French family sold Avner the names of the terrorists, why on earth would he have believed that the family would not sell his name and location as well? Why was Avner so stunned when the “father” in the French family called him by his real name–did it not occur to him that the family might apply their considerable intelligence skills to find out about Avner’s background?
    -Then there is the scene in the hotel bar in which the beautiful and seductive woman trys to pick up Avner and ultimately picks up and kills one of Avner’s team. Would it not have occurred to these professionals to be on their guard and that this woman might be up to no good?
    As a result of these and other lapses in credibility, I found the movie to be manipulative and unconvincing.
    Then there was the matter of the melodramatic dialogue that permeated the script. “The only blood I care about is Jewish blood.” Oy.

  10. Joe Leydon says:

    Back to “Kong” and “Hulk” — Did both movies open on more or less the same number of screens? Also: Might the comparions be misleading because theaters could show “Hulk” more times each day?

  11. Lynn says:

    Everyone laughs at this, but Hulk also came out the same weekend as the fifth Harry Potter book after more than 2 years since the previous book. A lot of the target audience spent most of that weekend reading.

  12. Snrub says:

    And Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came out the same weekend as the sixth Harry Potter book. Hulk didn’t fail because everyone stayed at home reading. In fact, it had audiences out in droves opening weekend. It failed because it had terrible word-of-mouth and suffered massive drops in subsequent weeks – long after everyone had finished Potter.

  13. martin says:

    Saturday #’s are down, as expected for Xmas eve. No real surprises here but it’s shaping up to be a so-so weekend. Not much more can be said about KK.. If it truly stalls at $140 mill US I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried re-releasing it in the spring/summer. Too much money going down the drain to leave it with these #’s.
    Estimates for
    Saturday, December, 24, 2005 Title Daily Total
    KING KONG 4.9 100.4
    CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2 2.0 11.3
    FAMILY STONE 1.5 23.0
    MUNICH 1.1 2.5
    SYRIANA .7 27.5
    RINGER, THE .7 3.1

  14. lazarus says:

    I’ll never hesitate to bring Star Wars up in a relevant discussion, so if Attack of the Clones was the first $200 million bomb, what will they say about Kong? If it tops off at $150 mil, entirely possible, will it qualify as an even bigger flop? The fact that the critical rating is so high would lay the blame solely on the marketing and Jackson’s failure to prune a reasonable length out the material.
    Now I’m not rooting for this to fail, as I think it’s a very good film, but it’s been very overrated in too many circles, and doesn’t deserve more than a few technical nods. Naomi Watts, in a slower year might be worthy of recognition, but Top 5 of 2005? No.
    What I AM enjoying is the thought of all the people who even dared to suggest this film would even make a stab at approaching Titanic’s numbers. No D-Cap, no Celine Dion, no chance. And unlike the end of 1997/beginning of 1998, this year there is a lot of competition to keep the ape fighting through January, where Titanic earned most of its money.
    It may not be over yet, but it’s over, Mr. Berra.

  15. lazarus says:

    A quick correction, Attack of the Clones made it to $300 mil, not $200. Which makes calling it a bomb even more ludicrous.

  16. joefitz84 says:

    First of all, Merry Christmas. Second of all, whoever calls Stars Wars a bomb or a disappointment is clueless.

  17. grandcosmo says:

    I said on the day after it opened that based on how the other 20 films that had better opening Wednesdays than Kong did it was reasonable to expect Kong to do approx. $136M domestic (the films above it took an average of 7.5% of their total B.O. on their opening Wednesdays).
    This seemed low at the time but it is looking more feasible now. Still, I think the good reviews will put it right around $150M when all is said and done.

  18. martin says:

    It’s not Jackson, not the marketing, at this point it’s the concept. KK in 2006 just isn’t a story that audiences want to see. There’s a market for it, the Godzilla and Hulk market, which is 12-35 males. But KK has 2 strikes against those males, long and slightly soppy. It made up for that with more of a family appeal, but at the moment Narnia, Cheaper 2, etc. are getting that. So, like Godzilla, KK will end up being profitable, and better than Godzilla it will be seen as at least a critical hit, but financially a disappointment. I doubt Universal is too concerned because internationally and on DVD it will do fine. The only way I could see things turning around is if it got a Best Pic nom, that would elevate its profile above the financial issues.

  19. Crow T Robot says:

    Sat through Kong again today with kiddie cousins and it’s flaws really do come out more. I think the bottom line is that the story isn’t really structured for 3 hours. It’s the same problem I had with the first 2 Harry Potter films… there was an insistence somewhere, outside of telling a good story, that it carry more weight. Seeing it through a kid’s eye was all the more unique. But in addition to suffering from Hulk’s “big ugly brute trashing shit” selling point, the movie doesn’t have James Cameron’s magnificent sense of the three hour/three act structure. The stuff that you may have ignored on the first viewing sticks out big this time (the anemic first act, the heavyhanded ship’s crew, the sense that the story concept itself is 70 years past silly). By the time New York arrives it plays like recycled chaos from the second act. I still like the film, the critics are right to embrace it’s classiness, but as an audience-machine Kong is more exhausting than invigorating. It’s pleasing that a good guy like Jackson got to make his dream movie and — taking a page from the Serenity people (yikes!) the people who care enough can love it till their blue in the face. But I do understand why the film is underperforming.
    (The 15 year old with me, who had no idea the ape dies at the end, said as the big moment came, “Dude! No Way! Well that sucks!”)

  20. joefitz84 says:

    He dies??? You jerk!

  21. Crow T Robot says:


  22. palmtree says:

    I don’t think the question is whether KK will make money (the answer is yes and lots of it). It really boils down to will it hit the sweet spot at Oscar. IMO KK needed to do noteworthy BO to hit Best Picture. If the slump was the Hollywood story of the year, then KK was supposed to be its savior. Not so, and that is hurting its chances for awards. Oh well, since it is such a cool movie.

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