MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

The Big Chill

Imitation is the sincerest form of film production if Scary Movie 4 is any yardstick of contemporary Hollywood. The horror spoof sequel arrived with an impressive estimate of $40.7 million that provided a significant boost to weekend holiday business. The frame’s other major debut – the animated family yarn The Wild – ranked a disappointing fourth with $9.4 million while there was upbeat news for the limited launch of Mexico’s La Mujer de Mi Hermano with an $840,000 gross.

Down about 20% from the third installment, Scary Movie 4 nonetheless debuted with the requisite force expected of a popular franchise. Part of the settlement between Disney and the former execs of Miramax, the Weinstein Company will be splitting revenues with the Mouseketeers.

That’s a better arrangement than Disney’s 100% claim on The Wild, an early seasonal animated offering that wedged in ahead of DreamWorks Over the Hedge. The new cel mate had little impact on the Ice Age sequel that ranked second with more than double the gross of the freshman entry. The lukewarm theatrical response puts added weight on the picture’s ancillary life on DVD.

Weekend box office was flexing close to a $120 million tally for a modest 3% boost from seven days earlier. Depending on the yardstick employed, comparisons with 2005 were up or way up. The literal comparative weekend experienced a considerable increase of 43% but placed alongside the Easter period that occurred two weekend’s earlier on the calendar, business was to the plus by 21%.

Mexico’s hit of 2005 La Mujer de Mi Hermano took another kick at the can at tapping into America’s Hispanic market. Its $850,000 return from 205 engagements was not simply an improvement from recent efforts but clearly saw the target group as the primary audience for the film. Fox financed the movie and has opened it in South America. The major also appears to be taking a pass on this continent with another acquisition, the adventure-comedy Bandidas.

Holdover titles experienced significant declines including last weekend’s debs The Benchwarmersand Take the Lead. Bucking the conventional release pattern, the satiric Thank You for Smokingexpanded nationally and scored with a $4.4 million weekend and a continuing potent $4,000 plus theater average.

The holiday span was also brimming with new niche entries that ranged from good to fair in their opening rounds. The biggest surprise was the provocative thriller Hard Candy not simply for its $30,000 theater average but the fact that its distributor decided to roll the dice on just two screens and promote positive reviews prior to its national bow Friday.

There was also good response of $82,400 from nine screens for the British import Kinky Boots and passable marks for the $140,000 box office of The Notorious Bettie Page from 20 exposures.

The rest of the field had to contend with scraps including the religiously-themed Preaching tot the Choir with a $200,000 gross at 143 pulpits and an indifferent response for Bollywood’s Humko Deewana Kar Gaye of $42,000 from 22 screens. Barely registering a blip on the radar screen were Australian import Look Both Ways, the contemporary literary adaptation The Sisters and the documentary profile Herbie Hancock: Possibilities.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – April 12-16, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (averag % change Theaters Cume
Scary Movie 4 Weinstein Co. 40.7 (11,300) 3602 40.7
Ice Age: The Meltdown Fox 19.6 (5,070) -42% 3873 146.8
The Benchwarmers Sony 9.7 (2,970) -50% 3282 35.7
The Wild BV 9.4 (3,300) 2854 9.4
Take the Lead New Line 6.7 (2,230) -44% 3009 22.5
Inside Man Uni 6.4 (2,580) -30% 2472 74.4
Lucky Number Slevin MGM 4.7 (2,380) -33% 1984 14.3
Thank You for Smoking Fox Searchlight 4.4 (4,320) 90% 1015 11.4
Failure to Launch Par 2.6 (1,320) -38% 1950 83.1
V for Vendetta WB 2.2 (1,590) -36% 1380 66
ATL WB 1.3 (1,020) -64% 1315 19.6
Phat Girlz Fox Serachlight 1.2 (1,150) -61% 1060 5.2
She’s the Man Par .93 (880) -58% 1051 31.8
La Mujer de Mi Hermano Lions Gate .84 (4,100) 205 0.84
Friends with Money Sony Classics .73 (16,590) 24% 44 1.5
Stay Alive BV .67 (640) -70% 1039 22
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspe Lions Gate .53 (540) -65% 976 14.6
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $112.50
% Change (Last Year) 43%
% Change (Last Week) 3%
Also debuting/expanding
Preaching to the Choir Innovation .20 (1,410) 143 0.2
The Notorious Bettie Page Picturehouse .14 (7,150) 20 0.14
Kinky Boots Miramax 82,400 (9,150) 9 0.08
Hard Candy Lions Gate 61,200 (30,600) 2 0.06
Humko Deewana Kar Gaye UTV 42,300 (1,920) 22 0.04
Mountain Patrol IDP 13,800 (4,610) 3 0.01
Look Both Ways Kino 4,500 (2,250) 2 0.01
The Sisters Arclight 2,300 (770) 3 0.01
Herbie Hancock: Possibilities Magnolia 1,900 (950) 2 0.01

Top Limited Releases: January 1 – April 6, 2006

Match Point DmWks 22,950,527
Mrs. Henderson Presents Weinstein Co 10,304,821
Transamerica Weinstein Co 8,504,425
Good Night, and Good Luck WIP 8,203,593
Deep Sea 3-D WB 4,786,059
The Libertine Weinstein Co 4,725,992
Three Burials of Melquiade Sony Classic 4,598,069
The World’s Fastest Indian Magnolia 4,196,529
Thank You for Smoking Fox Searchli 3,883,977
Magnificent Desolation Imax 3,621,301
Cache (Hidden) Sony Class/ 3,525,586
Roving Mars BV 2,569,612
The Squid and the Whale IDP 2,324,489
Rang De Basanti UTV 2,197,694
Wild Safari 3-D nWave 2,001,938
Tsotsi Miramax 1,749,899
Night Watch Fox Searchli 1,458,707
The White Countess Sony Classic 1,455,056
Neil Young: Heart of Gold Par Classics 1,447,792
Why We Fight Sony Classic 1,248,700
* none greater than 522 theaters

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – April 6, 2006

Distributor (releases) Gross Percentage
Fox (10) 321.8 14.90%
Sony (12) 321.6 14.90%
Buena Vista (12) 311.4 14.40%
Universal (8) 270.7 12.50%
Warner Bros. (10) 215.4 9.90%
Paramount (6) 146.2 6.80%
Lions Gate (6) 124.8 5.80%
Weinstein Co. (8) 100.6 4.60%
Focus (6) 99.3 4.60%
New Line (5) 75.1 3.50%
Fox Searchlight (5) 63.8 2.90%
Sony Classics (9) 28.4 1.30%
DreamWorks (3) 24.6 1.10%
Rocky Mountain (1) 11.9 0.60%
Other * (88) 48.4 2.20%
* none greater than 0.5% 2164 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