MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

That Was No Lady…

Weekend movie going was dominated by a couple of unusual females as the debuts of Big Momma’s House 2 and Nanny McPhee ranked first and second in box office sales with respective estimates of $27.4 million and $14 million. There was also a passable national bow for the military romance Annapolis and good limited bows for the Imax formatted Roving Mars and the Brit importTristram Shandy. However, there was no discernable pop for The Bubble.

While there was a slight 1% pop from the prior weekend’s box office, ticket sales dipped by 1% from 2005 when there was heavy Sunday competition from the Super Bowl.

The sequel to the surprise 2000 Martin Lawrence gender-bender comedy Big Momma’s House 2arrived with comparable force in its new incarnation. Pundits were anticipating a slightly lower result but buzz has been positive on the outrageous undercover yarn and its fan base has been solid. A potent second weekend hold bodes the possibility of a $100 million gross and based on the original’s performance internationally, sizeable foreign returns.

Already a huge success in the U.K. and doing well in a handful of overseas markets, the kid lit favorite Nanny McPhee also exceeded expectations. As in other territories, the presence of Emma Thompson has provided the film with an additional crossover appeal and its attention to detail and quality has been a real asset to providing better than average commercial legs.

Weekend sales approached about $125 million with about one-third of that figure coming from the top two films. However, while business appeared to be on par with last year, the absence of Super Bowl Sunday eased what would have been a more significant drop in attendance.

Echoes of An Officer and a Gentleman were present in Annapolis and that appeared to be enough to provide the film with an OK opening frame of $7.5 million. Still, it looks likely to experience sharp second weekend declines and make a hasty about face from theaters.

If current box office vitality proves to be any sort of bellwether for next week’s Academy Award announcements, Brokeback Mountain, Walk the Line, Capote, Syriana and Match Point can anticipate nominations in Oscar’s top category. However, while the awards always provide a commercial boost, the seeming victory of Brokeback may mute the box office benefit for other contenders. Academy attention is all that remains now for Munich and The New World to stave off the slow fade to black on domestic screens.

Activity in the niches was once again lively and eclectic. Rang de Basanti on the Bollywood circuit rang in with one of the best bows in the arena over the past six months, grossing close to $500,000 from 60 screens. Also literally big was the Imax venture Roving Mars that grossed about $380,000 from 27 venues and a surprisingly strong initial foray of about $58,000 for the very British Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story at three sites.

A number of other films including Manderlay and Imagine Me & You had good openings but the major focus for the frame was the bow of The Bubble at 32 theaters the same weekend as its cable debut and four-days ahead of its video release. The low-budget thriller grossed an estimated $72,300 for a $2,260 average. The result neither indicated a boost or decline in the picture’s theatrical potential and that minimally will provide this and other experiments with validation to work on a formula that works for producers, exhibitors and filmmakers in terms of windows releases.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – January 27-29, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
Big Momma’s House 2 Fox 27.4 (8,410) 3261 27.4
Nanny McPhee Uni 14.0 (7,000) 1995 14
Underworld: Evolution Sony 10.8 (3,360) -60% 3207 44
Annapolis BV 7.5 (4,680) 1605 7.5
Hoodwinked Weinstein Co. 7.3 (2,430) -30% 3020 37.6
Brokeback Mountain Focus 6.3 (3,780) -16% 1654 50.7
Glory Road BV 5.1 (2,130) -42% 2397 34.7
Last Holiday Par 4.9 (1,990) -44% 2442 32.7
The Chronicles of Narnia BV 4.3 (1,990) -31% 2170 277.7
Fun with Dick and Jane Sony 3.6 (1,700) -37% 2132 106.3
The Matador Weinstein Co. 3.5 (3,990) 861% 885 5.2
Walk the Line Fox 2.9 (2,430) -5% 1201 106
Match Point DreamWorks 2.5 (5,030) -14% 501 13.6
The New World New Line 2.4 (2,950) -41% 811 7.8
End of the Spear Rocky Mountain 2.3 (2,120) -45% 1097 7.7
King Kong Uni 2.2 (1,650) -48% 1322 213
Hostel Lions Gate 1.8 (1,380) -59% 1272 45.8
Munich Uni 1.6 (1,610) -48% 980 40.6
Memoirs of a Geisha Sony 1.5 (1,510) -43% 1016 53.8
Syriana WB 1.2 (720) 55% 1685 46.9
Tristan & Isolde Fox 1.1 (1,180) -65% 951 13.8
Cheaper by the Dozen Fox 1.0 (880) -63% 1161 79.6
Capote Sony Classics .74 (2,100) -15% 353 15.4
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire WB .55 (1,620) -38% 340 286.3
The Ringer Fox .51 (930) -63% 547 34.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $117.00
% Change (Last Year) -0.01
% Change (Last Week) 0.01
Also debuting/expanding
Rang de Basanti UTV .47 (7,880) 60 0.47
TransAmerica Weinstein Co. .43 (5,270) 36% 82 1.4
Roving Mars BV .38 (14,190) 27 0.38
The Bubble Magnolia 72,300 (2,260) 32 0.07
Tristram Shandy Picturehouse 58,200 (19,400) 3 0.06
Imagine Me & You Fox Search 51,700 (6,460) 8 0.05
Manderlay IFC 14,200 (7,100) 2 0.01
La Petite Jerusalem Kino 4,300 (4,300) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – 25, 2006

Distributor (releases) Gross Percentage
Sony (6) 112.4 17.60%
Buena Vista (7) 105.8 16.50%
Universal (4) 88.4 13.80%
Fox (6) 80.9 12.70%
Lions Gate (2) 44.9 7.00%
Warner Bros. (5) 44.1 6.90%
Weinstein Co. (6) 39.6 6.20%
Focus (3) 36.1 5.60%
Paramount (4) 31.1 4.90%
Fox Searchlight (1) 16.7 2.60%
DreamWorks (3) 12 1.90%
New Line (3) 6.5 1.00%
Rocky Mountain (1) 5.4 0.80%
Sony Classics (6) 4.6 0.70%
Other * (28) 11.3 1.80%
639.8 100.00%
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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon