MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

High Gear .. with Salsa

Cars maintained the lead in weekend movie going with an estimated $31.5 million but it definitely had competition. Freshman entries Nacho Libre with Jack Black and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift rang up impressive numbers of $27.5 million and $23.9 million respectively. Other new entries ranked high in the pecking order with good results for the eerily romantic The Lake House in fourth spot with $13.8 million and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties disappointing with $7.2 million.

Overall box office approached $150 million for a nice bump of 8% from 2005 when Batman Beginsbowed to $48.7 million. However, revenues declined by 5% from the prior weekend.

Cars saw its gross decline by 48% in its second weekend but still raced past $100 million after nine days in theaters. Disney announced that it was the company’s 50th film to reach that milestone in its 50th anniversary. However, the boast isn’t quite true as it only covers box office since 1982 and doesn’t include such films as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or 101 Dalmatians.

Nacho Libre lived up to expectations it would be the top grossing new film in the marketplace but fell slightly short of an anticipated $30 million weekend. The oddball Jack Black comedy drew heavily on a young male crowd as did the third entry in The Fast and the Furious that exceeded tracking expectations. Both films also had strong appeal among minority audiences and both experienced box office declines on Saturday from opening day.

Industry spit balling is rationalizing the drops to an audience motivated to see films on opening day. However, it’s also possible we’re seeing a slight effect from World Cup fever. Though Football mania in America is tame alongside the frenzy in Europe and Latin territories, both Nacho and Drift had more than 30% of their audiences composed of Hispanics according to opening day exit polling.

The Lake House, adapted from a Japanese hit movie, effectively tapped a distaff crowd. The combination of marquee value and content could translate into the sort of summer performance level experience two years ago by The Notebook.

The frame’s head scratcher was the Garfield sequel. The appeal of the original indicated a considerably better commercial performance than occurred. It nonetheless had considerable competition from Cars and it’s a curious decision that it was released just one week after the Pixar entry.

Among continuing releases, The Break-Up continues to surprise expectations of considerably steeper weekend box office declines. It’s poised to exceed $100 million next weekend. The session also featured a good hold for A Prairie Home Companion and steady business for An Inconvenient Truth though industry pundits wonder how much more the latter film can be expanded beyond its current compliment of 404 theaters.

Incoming niche entries were once again few and largely undistinguished. The exception wasWordplay, the non-fiction paean to crossword addicts that grossed about $35,000 from three venues.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – June 16-18, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (avera % change Theater Cume
Cars BV 31.5 (7,900) -48% 3988 114.8
Nacho Libre Par 27.5 (8,950) 3070 27.5
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Uni 23.9 (7,890) 3027 23.9
The Lake House WB 13.8 (5,230) 2645 13.8
The Break-Up Uni 9.6 (3,060) -53% 3146 92
Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties Fox 7.2 (2,440) 2946 7.2
X-Men: The Last Stand Fox 7.0 (2,500) -56% 2812 215.4
The Omen Fox 5.2 (1,910) -67% 2723 46.8
The Da Vinci Code Sony 5.0 (2,090) -52% 2413 198.5
Over the Hedge Par 4.0 (1,550) -61% 2606 138.7
A Prairie Home Companion Picturehouse 2.5 (3,250) -45% 767 8.7
An Inconvenient Truth Par Classics 1.7 (4,310) 16% 404 6.4
Mission: Impossible III Par 1.2 (1,180) -61% 1002 130
Poseidon WB .58 (790) -68% 730 56.5
RV Sony .52 (780) -73% 668 66.4
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $147.87
% Change (Last Year) 8%
% Change (Last Week) -5%
Also debuting/expanding
Wordplay IFC 35,300 (11,760) 3 0.04
Loverboy Thinkfilm 13,100 (3,270) 4 0.01
Only Human Magnolia 8,050 (4,025) 2 0.01
Lower City Palm 7,820 (7,820) 1 0.01
A/K/A Tommy Chong Blue Chief 1,120 (1,120) 1 0.01

Worldwide Grosses: January 1 – June 15, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand Fox 208,398,600
Ice Age: The Meltdown Fox 192,470,228
The Da Vinci Code Sony 193,501,251
Over the Hedge Par 134,708,468
Mission: Impossible III Par 128,819,850
Scary Movie 4 Weinstein Co 89,129,412
Failure to Launch Par 88,579,458
Inside Man Uni 88,231,285
Cars BV 83,323,649
The Pink Panther Sony 83,137,123
The Break-Up Uni 82,429,015
The Chronicles of Narnia * BV 82,270,870
Eight Below BV 81,612,565
Brokeback Mountain * Focus 70,615,735
V for Vendetta WB 70,417,840
Big Momma’s House 2 Fox 70,165,972
RV Sony 65,908,796
Medea’s Family Reunion Lions Gate 63,445,832
Underworld: Evolution Sony 62,615,442
King Kong * Uni 59,422,439

* does not include 2005 box office

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – June 15, 2006

Fox (14) 737.1 18.70%
Sony (16) 686.1 17.40%
Buena Vista (16) 474.1 12.00%
Paramount (8) 429.5 10.90%
Universal (11) 427.6 10.90%
Warner Bros. (11) 298.8 7.60%
Weinstein Co. (9) 190.7 4.80%
Lions Gate (10) 165.8 4.20%
New Line (7) 118.9 3.00%
Focus (7) 101.4 2.60%
Fox Searchlight (7) 95.3 2.40%
Sony Classics (13) 47.1 1.20%
DreamWorks (3) 24.7 0.60%
MGM (1) 22.4 0.60%
Other * (144) 123.3 3.10%
* none greater than 0.5% 3942.8 100.00%
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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