MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Click… Clack…

The Adam Sandler fantasy-comedy Click bowed to an estimated $39.7 million to top weekend movie going charts. However, the frame’s big surprise was an unexpectedly potent debut for the urban thriller Waist Deep of $9.2 million that ranked fourth in the lineup. And another puzzler wasWordplay that filled in the blank spaces in 45 niche engagements.

Despite tracking reports that suggested a $40 million debut for Click, exhibition sources remained confident the Adam Sandler vehicle would surpass polling that historically rarely gets it right. It was a solid launch but in a season where the majority of high profile releases haven’t quite lived up to expectations, the desire for a picture that hits it out of the ballpark has ramped up considerably.

Despite the upbeat advance word on Superman Returns, one senses a palpable anxiety about the picture’s performance during the upcoming Independence holiday weekend. Even with the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel in the wings, the Man of Steel picture has been singled out as movie that could make or break the torrid summer season.

Waist Deep entered the fray with no more than a modest anticipation of genre strength that might translate into a $5 million gross. Unheralded and lacking a powerhouse ad campaign the yarn of kidnapping and revenge had all the markings of a summer programmer that would fill in the gaps between seasonal blockbusters. Though expected to have a steep sophomore frame drop, its opening salvo ensures it of a considerably enhanced theatrical vitality.

Weekend revenues should click in with roughly $140 million in ticket sales for a 12% decline from the immediate prior weekend. Box office was however 6% ahead of 2005 when the second frame ofBatman Returns grossed $27.6 million and the premiere of Bewitched ranked second with $20.1 million.

Sophomore frames of both Nacho Libre and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift experienced steep drops of around 60% while The Lake House and Garfield sequel proved more resilient with erosion of less than 40%. The session also inducted The Break-Up into the now over populated $100 million club and both A Prairie Home Companion and An Inconvenient Truth continued to hold their own as alternative multiplex fare.

New entries in niche play included respectable debuts for the docudrama The Road to Guantanamo and the indie entry The Great New Wonderful. There was also encouraging single screen bows for Wassup Rockers and the concert-profile outing Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man.

However, the appeal of Wordplay uttered nary a cross word. Upping the ante from two to 45 locations, the favorite American pastime translated well from newspaper to big screen with an average of almost $7,000 and a weekend gross of roughly $310,000. It definitely is shaping up as a commercial successor to spelling bee outing Spellbound and a challenge for an aficionado producer to adapt into a fiction movie.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – June 23-25, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (avera % chan Theaters Cume
Click Sony 39.7 (10,550) 3749 39.7
Cars BV 22.9 (5,790) -32% 3949 156.2
Nacho Libre Par 11.9 (3,860) -58% 3083 52.4
Waist Deep Focus 9.2 (9,140) 1004 9.2
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drifr Uni 9.1 (3,010) -62% 3030 42.5
The Lake House WB 8.3 (3,150) -39% 2645 29.3
The Break-Up Uni 6.1 (2,080) -38% 2907 103.7
Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties Fox 4.8 (1,600) -34% 2981 16.1
X-Men: The Last Stand Fox 4.5 (1,850) -43% 2408 224.1
The Da Vinci Code Sony 3.9 (2,060) -25% 1911 205.5
Over the Hedge Par 2.8 (1,370) -37% 2007 144.5
A Prairie Home Companion Picturehouse 2.2 (2,870) -24% 752 12.4
The Omen Fox 2.1 (990) -63% 2107 52
An Inconvenient Truth Par Classics 1.9 (3,660) -2% 514 9.5
Mission: Impossible III Par .74 (1,340) -45% 552 131.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $130.00
% Change (Last Year) 6%
% Change (Last Week) -12%
Also debuting/expanding
Wordplay IFC .31 (6,930) 845% 45 0.36
The Road to Guantanamo IDP 60,400 (4,030) 15 0.06
The Great New Wonderful First Indeende 38,500 (4,810) 8 0.04
Wassaup Rockers First Look 29,050 (29,050) 1 0.03
Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man Lions Gate 16,700 (16,700) 1 0.02
Two Drifters Strand 5,600 (5,600) 1 0.01
The Hidden Blade Tartan 4,200 (4,200) 1 0.01

Top Limited Grosses: January 1 – June 22, 2006

Match Point DmWks 23,052,317
Deep Sea 3-D WB 11,861,080
Mrs. Henderson Presents Weinstein Co. 10,662,712
Transamerica Weinstein Co. 8,771,637
Good Night, and Good Luck WIP 8,203,593
An Inconvenient Truth Par Classics 7,613,606
Magnificent Desolation Imax 6,496,800
The World’s Fastest Indian Magnolia 5,120,660
Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada Sony Classics 4,996,040
The Libertine Weinstein Co. 4,773,768
Cache (Hidden) Sony Class/Allianc 3,732,437
Roving Mars BV 3,729,400
Keeping Up with the Steins Mrmx 3,506,924
Wild Safari 3-D nWave 3,190,581
Tsotsi Mrmx 2,905,200
Water Fox SearchMongrel 2,834,463
La Mujer de Mi Hermano Lions Gate 2,808,241
The Squid and the Whale IDP 2,324,489
Rang De Basanti UTV 2,197,694
Brick Focus 1,936,248
does not include 2005 box office | none greater than 522 theaters

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – June 15, 2006

Fox (15) 768.9 18.50%
Sony (16) 695.6 16.70%
Buena Vista (16) 525.6 12.60%
Paramount (9) 479.3 11.50%
Universal (12) 476.4 11.40%
Warner Bros. (12) 321.4 7.70%
Weinstein Co. (9) 190.9 4.60%
Lions Gate (11) 166.2 4.00%
New Line (7) 119.1 2.90%
Focus (7) 101.5 2.40%
Fox Searchlight (7) 95.7 2.30%
Sony Classics (13) 47.3 1.10%
DreamWorks (3) 24.7 0.60%
MGM (1) 22.5 0.50%
Other * (147) 132.6 3.20%
* none greater than 0.4% 4167.7 100.00%
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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