MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

That Sinking Feeling

Mission: Impossible III took close to a 50% hit but that was still enough to keep it ahead of the debut of Poseidon. The Mission statement was estimated at $24.6 million while the upside-down remake soaked up $20.5 million. The marketplace had other soggy starts including a fourth place opening of $5.6 million for the Lindsey Lohan romantic-comedy Just My Luck and a $1.9 million bow for the soccer-themed Goal! from England. It added down to lower grosses from the prior year as well as the prior weekend.

It wasn’t much of a surprise that MI3 experienced what’s become a typical second weekend drop for a tentpole movie. However, as its opener was below estimates, there was disappointment that it won’t emerge as quite the powerhouse the industry had anticipated. Fears that next weekend’s arrival of The Da Vinci Code will suck up the grosses of current releases leave the Tom Cruisevehicle gasping to surpass an eventual $175 million domestic gross.

More than just the Captain went down with Poseidon. The remake of the 1972 catastrophe chestnut had been displaying all the signs of commercial disappointment for weeks but pundits still expected a first place finish with a box office of $25 million to $30 million. Its Imax run was about the only bright spot with an estimated $1.5 million from 64 venues.

The picture dipped its toe into international markets with openings in six Asian territories including India, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines were in rang up an impressive $4.4 million estimate including Imax runs in India. The film opened at the top of the charts in all territories except Indonesia and India.

On a scaled down basis, the expectation/results ratio wasn’t any better for Just My Luck. Promoted as Lindsay Lohan’s first mature role, the romantic comedy appeared to have drawn in her core audience … just not enough of them.

Weekend business was clocking in just shy of $100 million in ticket sales or 13% behind last weekend’s Cruise speed. It also lagged in relation to 2005’s pace when Monster in Law andKicking and Screaming led the frame with respective debuts of $23.1 million and $20.2 million.

Soccer movies have never particularly galvanized American audiences though ironically one year ago a variant with a comedic spin opened with comparable numbers to this weekend’s Poseidon. Goal!certainly failed to buck the trend though the British production’s U.S. release appeared to be an afterthought. The film was released internationally in 2005 and rang up about $18 million in Europe and South America.

Results in niche play were also generally disappointing. The ethnic comedy Keeping Up with the Steins had no better than fair returns of $590,000 from 138 mtzvahs. Sony Classics abandoned its traditionally cautious release expansions on Art School Confidential with the addition of 750 playdates from its 12-screen bow. Its $1.2 million weekend painted it into an alcove with no commercial upside.

On a pound-for-pound basis a couple of non-fiction portraits were trumps among new releases.Sketches of Frank Gehry by Sydney Pollack grossed almost $17,000 from two exclusive engagements while Giuliani Time on the former Big Apple mayor was eyeing $8,500 on a single screen.

The rest of the freshman class included the coming of age Wah-Wah with $52,000 at 25 engagements; Russian Dolls, the sequel to L’Auberge Espagnole, cradling $15,000 from three theaters and the heartwarming canine Saving Shiloh off the leash with $5,200 from 30 kennels.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – May 12-14, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
Mission: Impossible III Par 24.6 (6,060) -48% 4059 84.7
Poseidon WB 20.5 (5,760) 3555 20.5
RV Sony 9.0 (2,540) -18% 3536 42.3
Just My Luck Fox 5.6 (2,190) 2541 5.6
United 93 Uni 3.6 (1,940) -32% 1871 25.7
An American Haunting Freestyle 3.4 (1,980) -42% 1703 10.6
Stick It BV 3.3 (1,630) -40% 2009 22.3
Ice Age: The Meltdown Fox 2.9 (1,550) -30% 1879 187.3
Silent Hill Sony/Alliance 2.2 (1,170) -45% 1888 44.5
Hoot New Line 2.1 (690) -38% 3018 6.2
Akeelah and the Bee Lions Gate 2.0 (1,730) -40% 1176 13.6
Scary Movie 4 Weinstein Co. 2.0 (1,130) -45% 1793 86.5
Goal! BV 1.9 (1,910) 1007 1.9
The Wild BV 1.6 (1,320) -39% 1216 34.3
The Sentinel Fox 1.5 (1,160) -50% 1314 33.6
Art School Confidential Sony Classics 1.2 (1,540) 760% 762 1.4
The Benchwarmers Sony 1.0 (1,060) -49% 969 57.1
Thank You for Smoking Fox Searchlight .94 (2,200) -11% 427 21.4
Friends with Money Sony Classics .85 (1,870) -23% 455 11.2
Inside Man Uni .62 (1,360) -31% 455 87
Keeping Up with the Steins Miramax .59 (4,270) 138 0.59
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $91.40
% Change (Last Year) -6%
% Change (Last Week) -13%
Also debuting/expanding
Wah-Wah IDP 52,300 (2,090) 25 0.05
Sketches of Frank Gehry Sony Classics 16,900 (8,440) 2 0.02
Russian Dolls IFC 15,300 (5,100) 3 0.02
Giuliani Time Cinema Libre 8,500 (8,500) 1 0.01
Saving Shiloh New Dog 5,200 (170) 30 0.01

Top Domestic Grossers: January 1 – May 11, 2006

Ice Age: The Meltdown Fox 184,420,315
Failure to Launch Par 87,328,276
Inside Man Uni 86,368,485
Scary Movie 4 Weinstein Co. 84,501,768
The Pink Panther Sony 82,939,694
The Chronicles of Narnia * BV 82,270,870
Eight Below BV 81,231,885
Brokeback Mountain * Focus 70,615,735
Big Momma’s House 2 Fox 70,085,227
V for Vendetta WB 69,563,652
Medea’s Family Reunion Lions Gate 63,392,499
Underworld: Evolution Sony 62,615,442
Mission: Impossible III Par 60,091,171
King Kong * Uni 59,422,439
Curious George Uni 58,463,139
The Shaggy Dog BV 57,450,175
Fun with Dick and Jane * Sony 57,288,236
The Benchwarmers Sony 56,107,026
Final Destination 3 NLC 54,351,887
Hoodwinked Weinstein Co. 51,224,985
* does not include 2005 box office

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – May 11, 2006

Fox (11) 458.4 15.90%
Sony (15) 452.7 15.70%
Buena Vista (14) 373.6 12.90%
Universal (10) 333.6 11.60%
Warner Bros. (10) 238.5 8.30%
Paramount (7) 224.1 7.80%
Weinstein Co. (9) 185.9 6.40%
Lions Gate (9) 143.6 5.00%
New Line (6) 113.5 3.90%
Focus (7) 100.8 3.50%
Fox Searchlight (7) 89.4 3.10%
Sony Classics (12) 40.8 1.40%
DreamWorks (3) 24.7 0.80%
MGM (1) 21.8 0.80%
Other * (113) 85.2 2.90%
* none greater than 0.5% 2886.6 100.00%
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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

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~ David Simon