MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

16 Block Party…

Medea’s Family Reunion withstood a quartet of new releases as top draw in the marketplace with an estimated $12.7 million. There was a lack of real utz in film going for Oscar weekend with 16 Blocks taking second spot with $11.6 million and the bow of Dave Chappelle’s Block Party trailing the freshman field with $6.7 million. The frame also saw the very big screen debut of Deep Sea 3-Dgrossing $680,000 at 43 Imax locations.

Overall business was on the descendant with almost all of the Oscar contenders getting at least a slight box office boost. However, as most nominees are in limited release it did nothing to enliven weekend revenues that were in double-digit decline.

16 Blocks’ opening day had a slight edge on Medea that faded as the span proceeded. Pundits anticipated a more buoyant weekend with incoming product expected to perform with greater force to surpass Tyler Perry’s sophomore entry. But despite upbeat reviews Bruce Willis’s Block party came up short of a perceived $15 million or $16 million bow. WB-based Alcon Entertainment acquired the film with the studio providing only modest promotional support in the days leading up to release.

Similarly both the actioner Ultraviolet and the teen mermaid Aquamarine fell short of eight-figure weekends. Certainly in the former instance, there appears to be weariness among the young male audience of distaff superheroes in light of the recent performance of Elektra and Catwoman. The second film indicates again that young females don’t have quite the zeal to see targeted product on opening day. The films were ranked fourth and fifth with respective grosses of $8.9 million and $7.5 million.

The combination of past performance histories of concert films by Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphyand Martin Lawrence and Dave Chappelle’s current popularity and intriguing behavior also anticipated bigger returns than the $6.7 million gross of Block Party. The film had a strong opening day but promptly fell 17% on Saturday and emerged as a “for rapid fans only” endeavor.

Weekend revenues should top out at roughly $105 million, or a rollback of 14% from seven days earlier. It’s also off last year’s pace of 16% when the debut of The Pacifier grossed an unexpected but welcome $30 million.

While the media was buzzing with Oscar news, multiplex marquees were giving limited space to this year’s nominees. Brokeback Mountain, this year’s frontrunner, received a 10% boost and was the top grossing among contenders. A clutch of statuettes Sunday should add about $20 million to the picture’s gross for an ultimate domestic tally of $100 million. There’s also no denying that such films as Capote, Transamerica and Good Night, and Good Luck are receiving wider exposure both in the U.S. and overseas as a result of their award glory.

The session also included the American bow of French Oscar-submission Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) that grossed about $45,000 from six screens. The second weekend of South African nominee Tsotsi added a location and its seven venues tallied roughly $75,000.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – March 2-5, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
Medea’s Family Reunion Lions Gate 12.7 (5,780) -58% 2194 47.8
16 Blocks WB 11.6 (4,300) 0 2706 11.6
Eight Below BV 10.2 (3,270) -36% 3122 58.7
Ultraviolet Sony 8.9 (3,470) 0 2558 8.9
Aquamarine Fox 7.5 (3,000) 0 2512 7.5
The Pink Panther Sony 7.0 (2,310) -37% 3024 69.6
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party Focus 6.7 (5,550) 0 1200 6.7
Date Movie Fox 5.2 (1,990) -43% 2603 40.8
Curious George Uni 4.4 (1,710) -38% 2590 49.2
Firewall WB 3.6 (1,640) -46% 2212 42.5
Final Destination 3 New Line 3.2 (1,440) -42% 2208 49.7
Brokeback Mountain Focus 2.5 (1,990) 10% 1272 78.9
Doogal Weinstein Co. 1.9 (830) -47% 2319 6.2
Capote Sony Classics 1.6 (2,600) 55% 635 25.5
TransAmerica Weinstein Co. 1.5 (2,300) 77% 656 6.7
Running Scared New Line 1.3 (800) -62% 1611 5.9
Nanny McPhee Uni 1.2 (920) -49% 1329 44.4
When a Stranger Calls Sony 1.1 (1,020) -55% 1118 47.1
Big Momma’s House 2 Fox 1.1 (1,170) -54% 950 67.3
Mrs. Henderson Presents Weinstein Co. .94 (1,800) -6% 522 8.5
Good Night, and Good Luck WIP .76 (2,670) 16% 285 31.3
Deep Sea 3-D WB .68 (15,810) 0% 43 0.68
Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada Sony Classics .65 (1,860) -38% 350 2.8
Freedomland Sony .63 (640) -78% 987 12.3
Match Point DreamWorks .59 (1,700) -36% 347 22.4
Munich Uni .53 (1,630) 6% 325 46.8
Walk the Line Fox .52 (1,390) -28% 375 118.3
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films $98.50 0 0 0
% Change (Last Year) 0 -16% 0 0 0
% Change (Last Week) 0 -14% 0 0 0
Also debuting/expanding
Night Watch Fox Searchlight .36 (2,280) 74% 158 0.77
Tsotsi Miramax 74,800 (10,690) -2% 7 0.18
Joyeux Noel Sony Class/Seville 48,600 (6,950) 0 7 0.47
Woman is the Future of Man New Yorker 5,230 (5,230) 0 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – March 2, 2006

Distributor (releases) Gross Percentage
Sony (10) 274.1 19.30%
Fox (8) 203.7 14.30%
Buena Vista (10) 202.6 14.20%
Universal (6) 190.4 13.40%
Warner Bros. (6) 90.9 6.40%
Weinstein Co. (7) 85.1 6.00%
Lions Gate (4) 83.4 5.90%
Focus (4) 80.5 5.70%
New Line (5) 65.1 4.60%
Paramount (4) 42.9 3.00%
DreamWorks (3) 23.1 1.60%
Sony Classics (7) 19.3 1.40%
Fox Searchlight (3) 19.1 1.30%
Rocky Mountain (1) 11.6 0.80%
Warner Independent (3) 8.3 0.60%
Other * (47) 22.1 1.50%
= 1273.8 100.00%
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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