MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

The X-Files … to be continued

Though publicized as the conclusion of a franchise, X-Men: The Last Stand isn’t likely to be the last word on the cinematic mutant super heroes. It led the 4-day Memorial holiday frame with an estimated $120.8 million with second place falling to The Da Vinci Code with $43.3 million. X-Men added an additional $76 million from its initial forays in overseas markets.It was the second largest grossing Memorial weekend; trailing record levels set in 2004. X-Men 3was the only debuting national release but Fanaa, a new Bollywood entry, and the global warming doc An Inconvenient Truth both rang up potent returns in niche premiere engagements.

Entering the weekend, expectations were high for X but according to a Fox exec the top estimate was $85 million. “The first inkling that it was going to be bigger started with the Thursday Midnight screenings,” said Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder. “The first estimate was $3.9 million but as we separated those shows from Friday box office it rose by close to $2 million.”

As with last weekend’s The Da Vinci Code, X-Men daily box office declined throughout the span. However, with a $40 million start (plus Midnight shows), the final tally set at least one new impressive benchmark – biggest Memorial gross.

The question of how hard a hit The Da Vinci Code would experience in its second session was answered with a 56% decline (comparison is 3-day). The Friday comparison was even steeper at 62%. Nonetheless, the drop was in line with expectations and initial international returns indicate the controversial thriller held at a 60% level with weekend projections of roughly $90 million.

Da Vinci and X-Men: The Last Stand vied for top spot in most first tier territories as major releases scramble to get into theaters in advance of World Cup soccer finals. X-Men initial salvo was minus openings in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China and included impressive bows of $12.8 million in the U.K., $10.6 million in France, $5.1 million in Australia, Mexico with $5.9 million and Russia bowing with $3.1 million. Da Vinci maintained top spot in such territories as Germany, Italy and Spain as well as Japan.

Weekend box office should tally close to $240 million for a 3% boost from the 2005 holiday span. Its three-day portion exceed last weekend by 34%.

Holdover titles proved to be more resilient than expected with family fare holding up best to current top releases. The animated Over the Hedge ranked third with an estimated $35.6 million that only experienced a 30% decline in its second session.

The much-publicized globe warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth stepped out on four screens and heated up a torrid $370,000 during the holiday frame. The film, focusing on efforts by Al Gore in the arena, got an early start on the weekend with a Wednesday bow that netted $123,000 in its first two days.

The news was also upbeat for Fanaa with the unusual dramatic musical from Mumbai eyeing roughly $820,000 from 72 venues in North America.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – May 26-29, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
X-Men: The Last Stand Fox 120.8 (32,750) 3689 120.8
The Da Vinci Code Sony 43.3 (11,540) -56% 3754 145.8
Over the Hedge Par 35.6 (8,690) -30% 4093 84.6
Mission: Impossible III Par 8.6 (2,820) -41% 3053 115.9
Poseidon WB 7.1 (2,180) -41% 3245 46.7
RV Sony 5.3 (2,150) -18% 2481 57.2
See No Evil Lionsgate 3.2 (2,540) -43% 1270 9.2
Just My Luck Fox 2.3 (1,440) -46% 1604 13.9
United 93 Uni 1.1 (1,370) -42% 781 29.9
Akeelah and the Bee Lionsgate 1.0 (2,012) -29% 487 17.2
An American Haunting Freestyle .91 (1,220) -52% 748 14.9
Ice Age: The Meltdown Fox .85 (1,340) -33% 633 190.6
Fanaa Yash Raj .82 (11,390) 72 0.82
Keeping Up with the Steins Miramax .71 (4,860) 45% 146 2
Thank You for Smoking Fox Searchlig .61 (2,260) -7% 270 23
Stick It BV .51 (1,140) -62% 449 24.7
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $232.70
% Change (Last Year) 3%
% Change (Last Week) 34%
Also debuting/expanding
An Inconvenient Truth Par Classics .37 (93,200) 4 0.5
Cavite Truly Indie 16,200 (8,100) 2 0.02

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – May 25, 2006

Sony (16) 578.8 17.90%
Fox (12) 477.9 14.80%
Buena Vista (15) 385.4 11.90%
Universal (10) 342.1 10.60%
Paramount (8) 321.4 9.90%
Warner Bros. (11) 280.1 8.70%
Weinstein Co. (9) 189.6 5.90%
Lions Gate (10) 154.7 4.80%
New Line (7) 117.7 3.60%
Focus (7) 101.1 3.10%
Fox Searchlight (7) 92.5 2.90%
Sony Classics (13) 45 1.40%
DreamWorks (3) 24.7 0.80%
MGM (1) 22.3 0.70%
Other * (128) 98.7 3.00%
* none greater than 0.5% 3232 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