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David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks 12

“Mr. Anti-Slump 2006 is here to tell you that the first seven weeks of this summer is the worst of the last five years.”
“Next summer, May starts with Spider-Man 3, Shrek 3 two weeks later, and Pirates 3 a week after that. Are you scared of monsters?
The parade of sequels to $100 million hits continue in June with Ocean’s Thirteen (a fourth third), Fantastic Four Two, and Evan “Not Bruce” Almighty.
Transformers shoots for July 4 while Harry Potter V returns to summer for the second time and The Simpsons hit the big screen.
But August makes July look a little slow with Bourne 3, AVP2 and Rush Hour 3 all arriving, along with Oscar nominee Amy Adams playing purebred to the Underdog.:
Holy Moley!
B.O. Intermission

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38 Responses to “20 Weeks 12”

  1. Goulet says:

    What’s a MEFE?

  2. jeffmcm says:

    It sounds like the studios are permanently broken with their obsession with franchises.
    That said, I’m looking forward to most of those movies. The two Fox sequels will be awful.

  3. Sandy says:

    Most Expensive Film Ever???

  4. Crow T Robot says:

    Spiderman 3, Shrek 3, Bourne 3, Pirates 3, Ocean 3, Rush Hour 3…
    Jeez… with all these #3s next summer, how will I ever have time to take a #2?

  5. Geoff says:

    Early predictions, any one? For what will be the biggest hit, what will flop, and which of those films will actually fall apart and not be released?
    What a ridiculously crowded summer. The box office can only expand so much and you have to think that some of those films will cannabalize each other.
    Early predictions for top five:
    1) Spiderman 3 – That two week jump could make all the difference – $390 million
    2) Shrek the Third – $345 mill
    3) POTC: At World’s End – $330 m
    4) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – $280 m
    5) Rush Hour 3 – $245 m
    6) Ratatouille – $220 m
    7) The Simpsons Movie – $205 m
    8) The Bourne Ultimatum – $185 m
    9) Evan Almighty – $160 m
    10) Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer(?) – $150 m
    Crazybig summer, but you can almost bet that one of the above films will fall apart and/or get delayed. The obvious answer is Rush Hour 3, how many issues have they had putting that one together? And I’m guessing that Warner’s will blink and move Ocean’s 13 back to its comfort zone, two weeks before Christmas.
    As for biggest flop, another easy answer, but it’s gotta be Transformers. Real strong chance that it might not even crack $100 million. Do the studio’s really believe that films based on toys or video games are EVER going to do huge four-quadrant business? Just ain’t gonna happen. And Micheal Bay will finally go back to directing video’s.
    And yeah, this summer, despite the box office, is looking pretty uninspiring, pretty glum. At this time, last year, at least, there were some big films that came week after week. Four films that grossed over $150 million all opened between the end of June and mid-July. Unless Pirates is truly huge and/or You, Me, and Dupree really takes off, looks like those grosses are going to be hard to replicate.

  6. Bodhizefa says:

    Superman looks to have made $21 million in its first day, but those figures also include Tuesday night screenings. Looks like that uber-marketing campaign for WB was a big bad idea. And the movie, for all the good reviews, is actually pretty darned boring with a horrible plot and paper-thin characters. Heck, the most round character (not to mention the most wholesome) is James Marsden’s role. Superman, on the other hand, wins the award for creepiest character in the whole movie as he spies on Lois multiple times, trespasses on Marsden’s property, and tries to steal away the man’s wife through adultery. Meanwhile, Singer manages to morph the beautiful Kate Bosworth into a 1950’s prudish school marm with the worst hair this side of an 80’s afterschool special. Then there’s Luthor’s ridiculous barren, brown rock island real estate scheme thrown in for good measure. This film will be lucky to reach $250 domestically, in my opinion. And with the way most films have so dramatically dropped off after the first weekend this season, we could see Supes barely reach $200. Warner Brothers has to be pretty disappointed right now.

  7. David Poland says:

    Think you meant to post to the Superman thread, Bod…

  8. Jimmy the Gent says:

    You make some rather shrewd predictions. If Pirates 2 is as good as people think, I think Pirates 3 will be huge next summer. I pray it doesn’t turn into another Reloaded/Revolutions situation.
    I predict Rush Hour 3 and Evan Almighty being the biggest disapointments. RH3 will be six years in the making. Were we really asking for this one? People will go, but New Line better not hope for RH2-like numbers. The same thing goes for Evan Almighty.
    The Simpsons Movie is a tricky thing to call. How much is Fox really expecting from a movie based on a still-running TV show?
    Fantastic Four 2 and AvP2 will not only suck, but they’ll flop, too. That is, if there really is a movie God.
    Bourne 3 is the movie I most want to see. Greengrass and Damon are a great combo.
    With Spider-Man 3, Shrek 3, and Pirates 3, May 2007 could be the biggest May ever.
    Is the Scott/Crowe/Washington American Gangster coming out during Summer 2007? That would be cool.
    Is Grind House a Summer ’07 release?
    I think Transformers will make money, but I have no idea on its quality. A teaser trailer might clarify things.
    If they release Ocean’s 13 during the summer, it should be during late July/early August. They should give it the Seabiscuit slot. Otherwise, it needs to go during the holidays.

  9. Bodhizefa says:

    My bad, DP. I thought I was in the other thread as I had them both open 🙂 Feel free to delete my post in this thread as I’ll port it over to the other.
    Solid column, by the way. Next summer looks amazingly stacked, and I keep wondering what will give. The market has to have a ceiling, and there are films like Rush Hour 2, Transformers, and even Shrek (with the market saturated with CG kids’ movies) that I think will suffer in terms of final gross in the end. By the way, does anyone think that Transformers is going to be an incredibly tough sell for women at the moment? For a July 4th film, it seems like the most lopsided target audience I’ve seen in a good long while. And no, I don’t want to see a robot romance 🙂

  10. Jimmy the Gent says:

    Yes, Nikki Finke is crazy.

  11. Crow T Robot says:

    Hahaha Jimmy,
    Funny how entertainment journalists seem to be a crazy, thin-skinned lot, while movie critics come off as calm and well-rounded by comparison.
    Any theories?

  12. Jimmy the Gent says:

    I’ve thought criticism and journalism should not be put into the same category. It always amazed me in high school that criticism was given a its own section in my journalism class. It seems to confuse the matter. Criticism should be put into English courses. It’s a form of essay writing, not reporting. The only reporting you do is reporting your emotional responses to a movie or a song or a play.
    Critics are generally a more avuncular bunch because they deal with opinions, not cold hard facts. This is why it can be a little difficult to read where Poland is coming from from time to time.
    This is also why we love him so.
    And, yes, Nikki Finke is crazy. She should know that anything you send to Gawker is subject to publication.
    BTW: Does anyone feel that Superman Returns feels more like a middle movie than a first? It’s rather humorless tone makes it feel like we missed the joyful first installment. Makes you wonder how dark the second one will be. And, please, don’t give me that Donner’s-Superman-is-the-first jive. It don’t fly with me.

  13. palmtree says:

    Re: Nikki Finke, how many K’s are there in the word crazy?

  14. Geoff says:

    Jimmy and Bod,
    Yeah, Transformers is going to be a tough sell, I really don’t see how they think it’s going to hold its own against so much other, pre-sold, even more well-known brand name entertainment.
    However, from what I have read, Tyrese might be the star and there is a strong possibility they could focus much of the marketing campaign on a star-making romantic lead role from him, a’la Will Smith from Independence Day. But regardless the movie’s going to be about freaking TRANSFORMERS, so it’s gonna be a tough sell. But hey, they got lots of women to see epics about little hobits based on Viggo and Orlando, so really anything is possible, at this point.
    Jimmy, you’re right about The Simpsons, it’s very tough to call. And we’ve been here, before, many times in summer’s past. It’s so easy to get sucked into the numbers that a TV audience can bring and very easy to overestimate. I mean, I was positively sure that X Files, Private Parts, SouthPark, etc. were surefire blockbusters and the big ratings numbers just didn’t translate. Hell, even Spongebog Squarepants disappointed, a couple of years back. So maybe $200 million is a tall order. I guess The Simpson’s is pretty much a singular pheonomenon, it’s been on the air, so many years.
    But I remember reading in the Hollywood Reporter, just a couple of weeks ago, how Fox and NewsCorp are going to go all-out synergistic to hype this movie, throughout the television season. It could be through the roof.
    No doubt, Bourne is the film that I most looking forward to, and it will make money. But you guys are kidding yourselves if you really think Fantastic Four and AVP sequels are going to flop. No doubt, they will both suck, but so did the first ones.

  15. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    They’re only gonna do more damage with all those films coming out. Even if they are all successful (which I doubt) then 2008 will be all “slump” talk because, much like last year, they will be coming off of one of the biggest Summer’s ever.
    You know what movie I think Fantastic Four‘s sequel will do similar numbers to? Scooby Doo: Monster’s Unleashed. Not a disaster, but down considerably from the first because it wasn’t good and nobody cared.
    Ratatouille will do better than Cars, Transformers will do better than The Island. Oceans 13 will probably do about the same as 12 or worse. Alien Vs Predator 2 (shouldn’t they subtitle it “The Rematch” or something sort’ve cool like that?) will hopefully die. Evan Almight is a tricky one. I have no idea where it’ll go.
    That’s just my thinking. Oh, and Shrek 2 will be the highest grossing of the main three. Then Spidey and then Pirates. Just a hunch (unfortunately)

  16. jeffmcm says:

    True, Fantastic Four and Aliens Vs. Predator both sucked yet made money, but the sequels will be hit hard by Tomb Raider syndrome: burned once, twice shy, and I think those are the two surest bombs in that entire list.
    Transformers is iffy, especially without any human stars bigger than who, Shia LeBouef? I’m already amused that the only Michael Bay movie that I like was his biggest flop, and that could very well be reinforced by this movie.

  17. Skyblade says:

    I’m thinking a performance in the vicinity of the “Charlie’s Angels” franchise for the second Fantastic Four.

  18. jeffmcm says:

    How depressing to learn that Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle still made $259 worldwide. Here’s hoping that that’s the combined total of AvP2 and FF2.

  19. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    God, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle was awful. Sad, considering the first is a guilty pleasure of mine.
    I certainly hope the Fantastic Four sequel isn’t called Fantastic Four 2 – that’s be too hilarious.

  20. jesse says:

    I agree, KC — I’m hoping for perhaps 2 Fantastic 2 Four.

  21. TheManWho says:

    The FF sequel, as of right now, is called “The Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer.” Which means there should be Galactus goodness ahead! Once again, you guys underestimate the FF, and ignore who helped to make the first FF movie a hit–the KIDS! The kids will go see it. Even if it does not appeal to many of you.
    That aside, Geoff, you think the TRANSFORMERS being TRANSFORMERS, make it a hard sell? IT’S LARGE ROBOTS BEATING THE UNGODLY CRAP OUT OF ONE ANOTHER! I use caps there to help you visualize the way people will respond to this film next year. It’s ROBOTS beating the UNGODLY CRAP out of one another. That sells. It will always sell. If TRANSFORMERS is half-way decent of a film. It could easily be the biggest film of next Summer. Do not sleep on Optimus Prime or the phenomenom of the Transformers that exist for 20 years.

  22. djk813 says:

    I think people will be disappointed with Pirates 2. Not a Matrix 2 type backlash, but definitely an “it’s not nearly as good as the first” reaction. The first half is almost excruciatingly dull and plot seems to be randomly thrown together. The second half picks up with some fun action, but somewhat too little too late. Depp’s performance isn’t new any more, and that hurts plus he’s toned down a bit. A huge opening weekend will help the second one pass the first one in overall box office, but I think the third one will make less than the first.

  23. Geoff says:

    The Man Who,
    Look, I’m an avid Michael Bay hater and even I think Transformers could be a lot of fun. No doubt, he’ll shoot the hell out of it and the geeks will come, in mass.
    If Dreamamount is looking to do Spy Kids numbers with this film, I think they have a very good shot. But with the the July 4th release date, Bay, and a budget, that I’m sure, will end up exceeding $200 million, that’s just not gonna cut it.
    Remember how huge Doom was going to be, considering there was over a decade of die-hard fans for that game?
    The fact is, when it comes to translating from other mediums, if it’s not a T.V. show, book, or comic book, the studio’s have still not found the magic formula to make it work. That means toys, musicals, theme park rides, video games, etc. For every Chicago or Pirates, there is a Rent, Doom, Street Fighter, Tom the Railroad, and Phantom of the Opera.
    And with all the competition, next summer, I could see easily see this tanking.

  24. TheManWho says:

    Geoff, you fail to realize, that Transformers not only had a highly succesful comic book, but it also had a TV show. Both the comic and the TV show ran for several years. If you remember; DeSanto stated how much the comic would be used as a reference for this film. So, it’s not just a TOY MOVIE. IT does have a TOYLINE attached to it, that has been going on for 22 years. Only Star Wars, Gi Joe, and Barbie have been around longer. Besides the longevity of the toyline, this film already has solid foreign box office prospects. Since the Japanese are as invested, pop-culture wise, in a Transformers movie as any US moviegoer will be.
    You or anyone else, Geoff, underselling this film’s box office potential because of the reasons that you have listed. Should really re-evaluate your take on this film’s prospects. Since it features an iconic truck that turns into a robot, iconic logos that can be found the world over that are either for the Autobots or the Decepticons, and it will features BIG ASS ROBOTS BEATING THE UNGODLY CRAP OUT OF ONE ANOTHER. If this film only pulls in Spy Kids numbers, then someone is going to get fired on July 5th. If this film doesnt pull down at least Spidey 2 numbers, then I will be shocked.

  25. Wrecktum says:

    Dead Man’s Chest will invariably make more money than Pirates 3, but I think the audience reaction to Dead Man’s Chest will *not* be as djk813 describes above. Sure there will be those who don’t enjoy the movie (like all films) but from what I’ve seen, audiences have been very satisfied with it. Meandering structure and runtime notwithstanding.
    Oh, and the first half is certainly not “excruciatingly dull” as reel 3 contains what is perhaps the best action set piece in the film (at least the set piece that gets the best audience reaction).

  26. jesse says:

    TheManWho, let me get this straight. You will be *shocked* if Transformers doesn’t become one of the 20 or so highest grossing movies ever??!
    I mean, that’s what “Spidey 2” numbers would be, right? About $370 mil?
    I really don’t think the Transformers are as iconic as you think. OK, so the movie will allegedly take a lot from the comic. And there was a TV show that ran for awhile. But ask anyone what TRANSFORMERS is, and they won’t say “a TV show and comic book that happens to be associated with a toy line. They will say TOYS.
    Surely the movie will do $100 million from hype and spectacle and the geek/nostalgia turnout and all that. But I would be shocked if it *did* come close to reaching the numbers you’re talking about. You’re talking about STAR WARS/LORD OF THE RINGS numbers, dude. You’re talking about outgrossing any X-MEN or HARRY POTTER movie. Sorry, but on its own TRANSFORMERS is not anywhere near any of those. It is not a hallowed, beloved piece of literature or cinema. Even if it’s a massive crowd-pleaser in the vein of INDEPENDENCE DAY, the odds of it cracking $300 mil are pretty damn slim.

  27. TheManWho says:

    Jesse, it’s Transformers. It has been a crossover franchise for as long as many folks on this blog have been alive. To think that Transformers is not some valued franchise by many people, to me ignores how this property has continued to be prosperous for years. This film will attract the kids that will see Spidey and Shrek. It will bring in the teenagers that have grown up on Mecha cartoons or those teens that love big action films. It will also attact adults that have nostalgia for the cartoon, comic, or toyline, and want to see those characters brought to life. It’s the perfect storm of audience crossover, and it has huge giant fighting robots. I keep selling this point, but it will be a POINT that will be continually sold over the next year. This film should be huge. It should be BIGGEST FILM OF THE SUMMER huge. If they advertise it right. Go ahead and under sell it’s prospects. Try not to act surprise when it blows up like Artie Lange.

  28. Wrecktum says:

    Your fanboyism is admirable but your confidence is misplaced. Transformers is a midrange hit for next summer.

  29. David Poland says:

    If the Transdormers trailer is as weak as the Transformer’s teaser, it will be a mid-range flop (given the cost).
    But if there are a few breathtaking images in that inevitable Superbowl commercial, the movie will transcend the TV show, etc.
    The problem with the obsession of pre-sold ideas is that the movies are so expensive. It has to be the movie… and the sell of the movie. That, not the fanboy base, will determine if this is a $600 million-plus worldwide hit or a $200 million worldwide miss.
    Things have changed. We are now more than capable of a $100 million opening that leads to a $230 million total domestic gross. And no one flinches.

  30. jeffmcm says:

    The Transformers was a TV show…twenty years ago! (God it makes me feel old to type that). You don’t see Snorks: The Movie either.

  31. Blackcloud says:

    The Snorks?!? Now that is truly a piece of ’80s pop culture esoterica/arcana/trivia. Excellent work, sir. 🙂
    Apparently, there is a Smurfs movie on the schedule for ’08.

  32. Colin says:

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned this yeat (unless I missed it):

  33. Wrecktum says:

    Poland can’t decide if he wants Rachel McAdams or Ginnifer Goodwin as Smurfette.

  34. Wrecktum says:

    This just in: Michael Bay is following up his stint on Transformers with a $400 million budgeted bigscreen adaptation of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Internet commentator TheManWho projects a final domestic boxoffice take of $1.6 billion.

  35. Blackcloud says:


  36. Geoff says:

    Is there any doubt that Transformers is going to the movie snob’s whipping boy, next summer, at this point? There will be blog after blog about how AICN is pimping themselves out for Bay and how Dave has a heartless bias against Bay and his toys.
    Bold prediction?
    That said, you gotta admire TheManWho’s enthusiasm for this thing. I think it is actually the perfect fit for Bay and has skills. But sorry to say, my preference, as a kid, was for GoBots. They were easier to play with and less likely to break into small parts:)

  37. Crow T Robot says:

    Michael Bay’s Transformers movie is the only Transformers movie I would bother sitting through. Seriously, the guy is a visual virtuoso. He just has no sense of story and character. You’d think now, with these obstacles clearly out of the way, he should be free to have all the fun he wants.
    I would suggest he study up on Jan DeBont’s cacophanous “Twister.” Spielberg, producer of both films, should push the project in the direction of big loud spectacle.

  38. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    “I agree, KC — I’m hoping for perhaps 2 Fantastic 2 Four.”
    That would be TOO good.
    “To think that Transformers is not some valued franchise by many people, to me ignores how this property has continued to be prosperous for years. This film will attract the kids that will see Spidey and Shrek.”
    How has it been prosperous in the last 15 years? I’m 20 years old and I haven’t heard about the Transformers since I was 5 (when I had a horrible nightmare that they were in my backyard thank you very much). Yes, it’ll be probably hit big (I’m predicting War of the Worlds numbers – that was based on an equally nostalgic yet known property by a famous director) but $400mil domestic? It takes a lot to get to that. And I think Spiderman 3, Shrek 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 will all be battling it out for the crown before Transformers, plus Ratatoille if it’s great like Nemo.

Quote Unquotesee all »

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