MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Cool Customer

There’s nothing quite like a hot movie to reinvigorate movie going and Ice Age: The Meltdown needn’t have worried about a chilly reception. The very animated sequel arrived with an estimated $69.3 million that sent revenues and attendance airborne. The film also added $43 million from international bows. The competition was pallid using the Ice Age 2 yardstick but the urban drama ATL had a very good $12.2 million debut to rank third while the horror yarn Slither eked by with $3.8 million and Basic Instinct 2 undressed a flimsy $3.2 million. There was also an impressive two-screen opening for the American indie Brick.

Expectations were high for Ice Age: The Meltdown but few expected the tale of bygone critters to debut more than 20% better than its inspiration’s $45 million premiere weekend. According to sources at Fox the difference in the bounty appeared to come from an unexpected high turnout from adults that were going without children in tow. “It’s not the film you’d earmark as a date movie,” said Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder. “But with these type of numbers and the preliminary exit polls we have to conclude it’s playing to a very broad audience.

The opening was better than any other first quarter non-holiday bow with the sole exception of The Passion of the Christ.And international debuts replicated and topped domestic performance. It’s headed for the best debut ever in Mexico and the biggest animated opening in Russia.

Ice Age 2 accounted for close to half of weekend ticket sales that should reach about $145 million. It propelled revenues skyward by 35% from the prior weekend and exceeded 2005 by 38%. A year ago the marketplace leaders were freshmen entries Sin City and Beauty Shop that respectively grossed $29.1 million and $12.8 million.

Curiosity rather than anticipation marked the debuts of other entries. Obviously programmed as adult alternatives, most found few nibblers. Both ATL and Slither targeted the teen crowd but creepy worms failed to spark much interest. The tale from the hood fared considerably better with a rather potent theater average of $7,640. However, this type of film tends to have a brief theatrical life with precipitous drops in interest.

Long in development, Basic Instinct 2 suffered from an absence of interest in continuing the yarn. Plagued by an inability to attract a prominent male lead, the critics were less than kind to the sequel and the audience got the message.

Activity in the niches was fairly brisk with the high school whodunit Brick drawing in near capacity crowds that translated into about $92,600 from just two theaters. There was also a sturdy single screen bow of $17,400 for the documentaryDrawing Restraint 9.

Local entry La Rage de l’Ange faired well in Quebec with more than $90,000 from 25 venues but the remaining limited releases ranged from fair to poor. The gay-themed comedy Adam & Steve had no more than a commercial chuckle of $68,700 from 18 screens and Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing tripped but not the light fantastic with $78,300 at 38 engagements. The rock doc Awesome: I … Shot That lived up to its title in reverse $15,200 from 18 stands.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – March 30-April 2, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
Ice Age: The Meltdown Fox 69.3 (17,490) 3964 69.3
Inside Man Uni 15.6 (5,530) -46% 2830 52.7
ATL WB 12.2 (7,640) 1602 12.2
Failure to Launch Par 6.6 (2,150) -37% 3074 73.2
V for Vendetta WB 6.4 (2,210) -48% 2910 56.8
She’s the Man Par 4.6 (1,790) -37% 2552 26.8
Stay Alive BV 4.6 (2,280) -57% 2009 17.3
Slither Uni 3.8 (1,940) 1945 3.8
The Shaggy Dog BV 3.5 (1,180) -62% 2929 53.8
Basic Instinct 2 Sony 3.2 (2,220) 1453 3.2
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector Lions Gate 3.1 (1,800) -55% 1747 11.4
The Hills Have Eyes Fox Searchlight 1.8 (1,100) -59% 1628 38.9
Thank You for Smoking Fox Searchlight 1.7 (13,170) 65% 126 3.4
Eight Below BV 1.0 (820) -62% 1275 79.2
16 Blocks WB .68 (670) -69% 1007 35.5
Deep Sea 3-D WB .52 (11,300) -15% 46 4.5
Medea’s Family Reunion Lions Gate .47 (990) -65% 476 62.8
The Pink Panther Sony .44 (700) -70% 626 81.7
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $138.60
% Change (Last Year) 38%
% Change (Last Week) 35%
Also debuting/expanding
Tsotsi Miramax .28 (2,350) -4% 120 1.6
Brick Focus 92,600 (46,300) 2 0.09
La Rage de l’Ange Alliance 91,400 (3,660) 25 0.09
Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing IDP 78,300 (2,060) 38 0.08
Adam & Steve TLA 68,700 (3,820) 18 0.07
Devil & Daniel Johnston Sony Classics 26,100 (4,350) 6 0.03
Drawing Restraint 9 IFC 17,400 (17,400) 1 0.02
Awesome: I … Shot That Thinkfilm 15,200 (840) 18 0.02

Top Canadian Grossers: January 1 – March 30, 2006

Brokeback Mountain * Odeon 11,436,069
The Chronicles of Narnia * BV 11,319,621
King Kong * Uni 9,648,786
Eight Below BV 9,441,134
The Pink Panther Sony 8,343,269
Underworld: Evolution Sony 6,682,615
Fun with Dick and Jane * Sony 6,508,241
V for Vendetta WB 5,643,544
Curious George Uni 5,587,225
The Shaggy Dog BV 5,365,749
Failure to Launch Par 5,222,297
Memoirs of a Geisha * Sony 5,211,100
Hoodwinked Alliance 5,116,048
Cheaper by the Dozen * Fox 5,071,380
Nanny McPhee Uni 4,948,473
Munich * Uni 4,944,814
Final Destination 3 Alliance 4,740,428
Date Movie Fox 4,730,448
Firewall WB 4,483,518
Walk the Line * Fox 4,169,325
* Does not include 2005 box office

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – March 30, 2006

Distributor (releases) Gross Percentage
Sony (11) 316.5 15.90%
Buena Vista (12) 299.6 15.10%
Universal (7) 245.5 12.40%
Fox (9) 238.6 12.00%
Warner Bros. (9) 191.2 9.60%
Paramount (6) 132.4 6.70%
Lions Gate (6) 120.2 6.00%
Weinstein Co. (8) 100.1 5.00%
Focus (5) 98.9 5.00%
New Line (5) 74.7 3.80%
Fox Searchlight (5) 59.1 3.00%
Sony Classics (8) 27.8 1.40%
DreamWorks (3) 24.5 1.20%
Rocky Mountain (1) 11.9 0.60%
Other * (82) 45 2.30%
* none greater than 0.5% 1986 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