MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge…

The animated spoof Hoodwinked nosed ahead of the competition to claim the weekend box office crown with an estimated $16.7 million. Two other new releases were in close pursuit. The sport-themed Glory Road grossed $16.4 million while the Queen Latifah human comedy Last Holidayranked third with $14.9 million. However, the report card for the 4-day Martin Luther King holiday frame was generally uninspired with grosses falling behind 2005 by 8% and dipping 10% from last weekend’s comparative three-day portion of the revenues.

Hoodwinked marks the first time the nascent Weinstein Co. has had a picture top the weekend charts. The acquisition drew little attention when it played a week to qualify for the Oscars and wasn’t expected to gross more than $10 million in its national bow. Tracking and a perception of the film’s primary appeal greatly under appreciated the draw it ultimately had for pre-teens that have been largely ignored in recent weeks.

Also somewhat underestimated was the rags to riches tale of an unseeded amateur basketball team in Glory Road. A year ago the similarly themed Coach Carter was top draw with a $29 million debut during the holiday. Disney has mined this field before with the likes of Remember the Titans and Miracle and so the new film suffers somewhat from over familiarity.

Last Holiday, based on a British film from the 1950s that starred Alec Guinness, has been kicking around development circles for more than a decade. A more sober sided version of Nothing Sacred, it was expected to carry the weekend and its more modest response will be one of those head scratchers for studio execs.

The span generated ticket sales approaching $160 million to fall short of last year’s tally by roughly 8% and dip below the prior weekend of 10%. The current frame’s top grosser would have ranked fourth just one year ago and the situation had distribution execs at least pondering whether last year’s record might not be an anomaly but a cultural viewing shift that requires some future budgetary tweaking.

The frame also included the national bow of the classic love saga Tristan & Isolde that grossed a respectable $7.9 million to slot eighth overall. A handful of limited release openers barely registered a blip on the radar screen.

In general holdover titles continued to hold well against new entries. Fun with Dick and Jane is emerging as one of the more resilient seasonal offerings and it and Walk the Line are both poised to surpass $100 million domestically.

The highly strategic, glacial expansion of Brokeback Mountain added 200 additional playdates and was one of the few titles to receive a slight box office boost. Tonight’s broadcast of the Golden Globes could provide a boost for the film if it takes away the top statuette. The event could also be significant to Munich’s commercial future but insiders say that the drama prize could well be won by Good Night, and Good Luck.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – January 13-16, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average % change Theaters Cume
Hoodwinked Weinstein Co 16.7 (6,960) 2394 16.6
Glory Road BV 16.4 (7,400) 2222 16.4
Last Holiday Par 14.9 (5,940) 2514 14.9
The Chronicles of Narnia BV 13.1 (4,050) -35% 3224 264.3
Hostel Lions Gate 11.7 (5,010) -40% 2337 36.9
Fun with Dick and Jane Sony 10.4 (3,220) -27% 3239 94.3
King Kong Uni 9.2 (3,280) -40% 2814 204.7
Tristan & Isolde Fox 7.9 (4,260) 1845 7.9
Brokeback Mountain Focus 7.1 (10,380) 3% 683 32.1
Cheaper by the Dozen Fox 6.8 (2,450) -40% 2773 74.7
Munich Uni 6.1 (4,080) -33% 1498 34
Memoirs of a Geisha Sony 5.4 (3,250) -30% 1654 47.6
The Ringer Fox 3.3 (2,360) -35% 1388 32
Rumor Has It WB 3.2 (1,650) -53% 1955 40.1
Casanova BV 2.8 (2,780) -38% 1011 9.1
The Family Stone Fox 2.8 (1,920) -50% 1441 57.3
Match Point DreamWorks 2.5 (7.950) -25% 312 6.9
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire WB 2.4 (2,360) -39% 1003 284.6
Walk the Line Fox 2.2 (2,530) -14% 864 98.4
The Producers Uni 1.6 (2,000) -43% 785 17.5
Grandma’s Boys Fox 1.5 (730) -60% 2016 5.6
Syriana WB 1.4 (2,010) -45% 706 44.2
Pride and Prejudice Focus .67 (1,790) -34% 375 26.2
The Matador Weinstein Co .53 (9,460) 91% 56 1
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $150.50

% Change (Last Year) *
% Change (Last Week) -10%
Also Debuting/Expanding

Echo Bridge 15,500 (2,210) 7 0.02
When the Sea Rises New Yorker 10,400 (5,200) 2 0.01
Henri Cartier-Bresson Palm 8,100 (8,100) 1 0.01

Top Worldwide Grosses – January 1 – December 31, 2005

Distributor (releases) Gross Percentage % Chang Rank 04
Warner Bros. (25) 1385.8 15.60% 13% 2
Fox (21) 1353.9 15.20% 46% 5
Universal (24) 1004.2 11.30% 12% 6
Buena Vista (23) 921.8 10.40% -21% 3
Sony (27) 918.9 10.30% -31% 1
Paramount (16) 832.3 9.40% 32% 7
DreamWorks (10) 503.9 5.70% -46% 4
New Line (17) 424.7 4.80% 4% 8
Miramax (22) 360.6 4.00% -7% 9
Lions Gate (19) 284.8 3.20% 2% 10
MGM (8) 182.6 2.00% -8% 11
Focus (11) 160.2 1.80% 28% 13
WIP (7) 114.6 1.30% N/A
Fox Searchlight (10) 102.1 1.20% -41% 12
Sony Classics (27) 63.3 0.70% 68% 14
Other * (254) 281 3.10% 15%
* none greater than .05% 8894.7 100.00% 5.40%

Domestic Grosses – January 1 – December 31, 2005

Title Distributor Gross
Star Wars: Epi III – Revenge of the S Fox 380,270,577
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire WB 273,281,180
War of the Worlds Par 234,292,593
The Chronicles of Narnia BV 209,440,087
Wedding Crashers NLC 209,255,921
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory WB 206,459,076
Batman Begins WB 205,362,156
Madagascar DmWks 193,595,521
Mr. & Mrs. Smith Fox 186,336,279
Hitch Sony 179,495,555
King Kong Uni 158,709,835
The Longest Yard Par 158,119,460
Fantastic Four Fox 154,696,080
Meet the Fockers * Uni 146,401,395
Chicken Little BV 131,744,998
Robots Fox 128,200,012
The Pacifier BV 113,086,868
The 40 Year-old Virgin Uni 109,516,849
Million Dollar Baby * WB 99,649,950
Walk the Line Fox 90,851,004
* does not include 2004 box office
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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