MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Mr. Boxoffice Goes To Washington

There was a Spike in the box office both literally and figuratively as Inside Man ascended to an estimated $29.2 million to lead weekend movie going. The frame also provided surprises for other national debuts with the teen thriller Stay Alive having more utz than expected and the big screen incarnation for Larry the Cable Guy not as well connected as had been anticipated. Overall it was still more than enough to register double-digit boosts from 2005 and bring box office revenues on par with last year.

Riding on a crest of 4-star reviews, the twisty bank heist thriller Inside Man entered the frame with expectations for a weekend tally between $22 million and $25 million. However, it’s opening day gross of $9.8 million upped the ante for what’s turned out to be the most potent debut for a film directed by Spike Lee and its star Denzel Washington.

The film also received a day-and-date launch in a spectrum of 15 international territories and topped the charts in most instances. Great Britain provided a $2.3 million gross while German revenues were about $1.6 million. It was also first choice in Hong Kong and Brazil but trailed The Shaggy Dog by a furry nose in Mexico.

Absent the sort of graphic violence that’s figured into recent teen in jeopardy movies, Stay Alive had been largely written off as a non-starter. However, its roughly $11.3 million opening salvo close to doubled the pundit’s prognosis.

Conversely, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector was expected to draw a heftier sized audience for the small screen redneck character somewhere in the low double digits. Instead, it ranked seventh overall with a disappointing $6.7 million that should nonetheless propel the low-budget outing to sizable profits.

The frame generated a brisk run of about $110 million for a tidy 5% upturn from last weekend. However, that also translated into a 13% increase from 2005 when the $20.7 million debut of Guess Who led the way. With domestic grosses for the year approaching $2 billion, box office was less than 1% off last year’s pace with expectations for the May onslaught to once again provide increases in revenues and attendance.

Holdover titles generally experienced 30% to 40% drops with last week’s leader V for Vendetta to no one’s great surprise dropping 51% to place second in the charts with about $12.6 million in ticket sales.

The indie satire Thank You for Smoking received a second week expansion of 49 theaters that generated an impressive near $1.1 million gross. There was nothing comparable potent among the session’s niche openers.

The Bollywood entry Being Cyrus had a lackluster $66,580 frame from 30 outposts while the single screen Manhattan bow of the doc Beauty Academy of Kabul was better than encouraging at $10,500. There was OK response to Lonesome Jim with $14,600 from two sites and a passable $45,000 gate for the Cannes-prized L’Enfant in seven exposures.

The negative side of the ledger embraced the rock ‘n roll bio Stoned with $15,800 from six screens and the indie American Gun nudging up to $10,000 from four chambers.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – March 24-26, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average) % chang Theater Cume
Inside Man Uni 29.2 (10,350) 2818 30.2
V for Vendetta WB 12.6 (3,740) -51% 3365 46.4
Failure to Launch Par 10.9 (3,400) -30% 3202 63.9
Stay Alive BV 11.3 (5,610) 2009 11.3
The Shaggy Dog BV 9.2 (2,680) -32% 3421 48
She’s the Man Par 7.4 (2,810) -31% 2631 20.4
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspect Lions Gate 6.7 (3,930) 1710 6.7
The Hills Have Eyes Fox Searchlig 4.3 (1,750) -46% 2461 35.6
Eight Below BV 2.8 (1,320) -32% 2101 77.2
16 Blocks WB 2.2 (1,070) -53% 2066 34.1
The Pink Panther Sony 1.4 (1,030) -44% 1352 80.7
Medea’s Family Reunion Lions Gate 1.3 (1,240) -56% 1030 62
Thank You for Smoking Fox Searchlig 1.1 (19,810) 307% 54 1.4
Aquamarine Fox 1.0 (960) -52% 1054 17.3
Curious George Uni .96 (820) -41% 1166 56.8
Date Movie Fox .63 (850) -54% 739 47.5
Deep Sea 3-D WB .59 (12,830) 0% 46 3.6
Firewall WB .52 (900) -47% 578 47.8
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $104.10
% Change (Last Year) 13%
% Change (Last Week) 5%
Also debuting/expanding
Tsotsi Miramax .27 (3,300) -11% 81 1.2
Being Cyrus Eros 66,580 (2,220) 30 0.07
L’Enfant Sony Classic 45,100 (6,440) 7 0.11
Stoned Screen Media 15,800 (2,640) 6 0.02
Lonesome Jim IFC 14,600 (7,300) 2 0.01
Beauty Academy of Kabul Shadow 10,500 (10,500) 1 0.01
American Gun IFC 9,900 (2,480) 4 0.01

Top Domestic Grossers: January 1 – March 23, 2006

The Chronicles of Narnia * BV 80,670,158
The Pink Panther Sony 79,293,594
Eight Below BV 74,419,597
Brokeback Mountain * Focus 69,873,381
Big Momma’s House 2 Fox 68,548,414
Underworld: Evolution Sony 62,505,427
Medea’s Family Reunion Lions Gate 60,703,553
King Kong * Uni 58,993,635
Fun with Dick and Jane * Sony 57,063,776
Curious George Uni 55,854,980
Final Destination 3 NLC 53,145,076
Failure to Launch Par 53,075,421
Hoodwinked Weinstein Co 50,932,160
When a Stranger Calls Sony 47,899,603
Hostel Lions Gate 47,549,332
Firewall WB 47,321,019
Date Movie Fox 46,875,650
Nanny McPhee Uni 45,951,410
Glory Road BV 42,314,338
The Shaggy Dog BV 38,787,350
* Does not include 2005 box office

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – March 23, 2006

Distributor (releases) Gross Percentage
Sony (11) 313.6 17.00%
Buena Vista (11) 270.5 14.70%
Fox (9) 235.9 12.80%
Universal (6) 206.3 11.20%
Warner Bros. (9) 169.7 9.20%
Lions Gate (5) 110.1 6.00%
Paramount (6) 109.6 5.90%
Weinstein Co. (8) 98.8 5.40%
Focus (5) 98.2 5.30%
New Line (5) 74.1 4.00%
Fox Searchlight (5) 51.9 2.80%
Sony Classics (7) 26.7 1.50%
DreamWorks (3) 24.4 1.30%
Rocky Mountain (1) 11.8 0.60%
Warner Independent (4) 9.6 0.50%
Other * (76) 32.5 1.80%
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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