MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

The Squid and the Wayan…and Dupree

The question was not whether Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest would lead weekend film going but how steep would be its box office drop. The secondary concern were the performances of debuting pictures Little Man and You, Me and Dupree. And, of course, there was the issue of how well everything else in the marketplace would weather the storm, the heat and everything else. The clutch of new limited releases barely registered on the radar.

The Pirates sequel grossed an estimated $62.3 million that translated to a 54% decline from its opening weekend. The result fell somewhere on the line between a fabulous and catastrophic hold. Perhaps, one could even say it was a very good result coming off of the biggest opening weekend of all-time. But it was neither a 30% nor a 65% fall and on the domestic front that likely will mean an ultimate box office of slightly more than $400 million. International box office projections are pegged at $600 million and if they hold up would rank the swashbuckling sequel as the third biggest global grosser of all time.

Bragging rights for second place saw a close race that gave the Wayans brothers dark comedy Little Man a slight edge of slightly less than $400,000 and a weekend tally of $21.8 million. That put the low brow comedy You, Me and Dupree into third position. Certainly one couldn’t complain too much about the opening strength of either picture. Nonetheless, one had to wonder about the wisdom of opening two comedies with essentially the same core audience appeal at the same time.

On the heels of last weekend’s record-breaking business, the only logical way to go was south. The current frame was heading toward a $160 million frame that translates into a 29% decline from seven days earlier. It was also off the 2005 pace by 5% when the opening salvo of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was $56.2 million and Wedding Crasher’s bow was a not too shabby $33.9 million.

Pirates fever escalated to a pitch level that’s largely obscured the fortunes of continuing fare. That could well be a blessing, for the moment, for Superman Returns that now appears to be struggling toward a $200 million domestic box office. On the flip side, the initial potency of The Devil Wears Prada has lost the spotlight even as it approaches a $100 million gross no one saw coming. Similarly, it’s required due diligence to keep the ink flowing for An Inconvenient Truth that looks to be a film that will play steadily thorough the season and into the autumn.

The session was rife with specialized debuts that largely ranged from promising to very good. A pair of French imports with similar translated titles – Changing Times and Time to Leave – saw the former very strong with a $29,500 box office in a solo date and the latter finding its niche with a $15,500 tally from two screens. Ed Burns’s The Groomsman received generally strong reviews and an OK start of $27,600 from three locations while The Oh in Ohio was struggling with a $47,400 box office from 10 initial playdates.

The animated Asterix and the Vikings descended on Quebec with an aggressive 83 screen launch that resulted in a passable result of roughly $181,000.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – July 14-16, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average) % chang Theater Cume
Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man’s Che BV 62.3 (15,080) -54% 4133 258.4
Little Man Sony 21.8 (8,610) 2533 21.8
You, Me and Dupree Uni 21.4 (6,824) 3131 21.4
Superman Returns WB 11.2 (2,970) -49% 3765 163.2
The Devil Wears Prada Fox 10.1 (3,600) -33% 2810 83.2
Cars BV 7.2 (2,400) -33% 3003 219.4
Click Sony 6.7 (2,030) -44% 3296 119.4
The Lake House WB 1.6 (920) -45% 1710 48.9
Nacho Libre Par 1.5 (1,000) -55% 1501 77.1
A Scanner Darkly WIP 1.2 (5,460) 201% 216 1.8
An Inconvenient Truth Par Classics 1.1 (1,910) -7% 570 17
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drifr Uni 1.0 (890) -60% 1140 59.7
The Da Vinci Code Sony .85 (1,210) -36% 700 214.8
The Break-Up Uni .76 (950) -53% 797 116
Waist Deep Focus .68 (1,070) -64% 633 20.6
A Prairie Home Companion Picturehouse .57 (1,060) -33% 536 17.8
Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties Fox .53 (600) -48% 888 26.2
Over the Hedge Par .51 (950) -22% 538 150.9
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $151.00
% Change (Last Year) -5%
% Change (Last Week) -29%
Also debuting/expanding
Strangers with Candy Thinkfilm .30 (3,830) 35% 79 0.72
Wordplay IFC .27 (1,800) -13% 147 1.8
Asterix et les Vikings Alliance .18 (2,120) 83 0.18
The Oh in Ohio Cyan 47,400 (4,740) 10 0.05
Changing Times Koch Lorber 29,500 (29,500) 1 0.03
Gabrielle IFC 28,200 (14,100) 2 0.03
The Groomsmen Bauer Martine 27,600 (9,200) 3 0.03
Mini’s First Time First Independ 22,400 (3,200) 7 0.02
Edmond First Independ 19,500 (9,750) 2 0.02
Time to Leave Strand 15,800 (7,900) 2 0.02

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – July 13, 2006

Fox (16) 874.8 17.50%
Sony (17) 823.6 16.50%
Buena Vista (17) 802.8 16.10%
Paramount (9) 525.6 10.50%
Universal (12) 519.7 10.40%
Warner Bros. (13) 504.7 10.10%
Weinstein Co. (9) 192.2 3.80%
Lions Gate (12) 167.3 3.30%
Focus (8) 121.6 2.40%
New Line (7) 119.3 2.40%
Fox Searchlight (7) 96.6 1.90%
Sony Classics (14) 47.9 1.00%
DreamWorks (3) 24.7 0.50%
Other * (164) 181.9 3.60%
* none greater than 0.45% 5002.7 100.00%
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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