MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Grid and Bare It …

Invincible would be hyperbole but the true life movie sports saga of the same name posted a sturdy debuted estimated at $16.9 million to finish at the front of a very crowded movie going field. New titles in the marketplace were generally soft with Beerfest grossing $6.6 million to rank fourth and How to Eat Worms further back with $3.9 million. The raucous Idlewild grossed $5.9 million and had the best screen average of all films in wide release.

Mid-August has traditionally been a significant dumping ground for studio product and this year is no exception. Even with an increasing number of school districts beginning classes, the closing days of summer afford an extra boost for films perceived to have middling box office prospects.

Weekend revenues just eked past $100 million to register an 8% decline from the prior frame. However the sheer volume of product accounted for a 6% increase from 2005 when the $16.3 million second weekend of The 40 Year Old Virgin nosed ahead of the $15.1 million bow of The Brothers Grimm.

Disney has effectively mined the underdog sports drama with the likes of Remember the Titans, Miracle and Passing Glory. Invincible – the true story of an unlikely pro football athlete – ably continues the franchise and its performance justifies the company’s policy even if the record is playoff rather than championship level.

The slow, strategist expansion of Little Miss Sunshine finally reached a significant national exposure level that boosted it to third spot (behind Talladega Nights) with an impressive $7.3 million box office. The acquisition now appears headed for a hefty $40 million plus domestic tally.

New entries grappled with fierce competition even if their commercial expectations were modest. The bawdy, irreverent Beerfest tapped almost exclusively into the young male crowd with expected potency. However, despite upbeat reviews and teen lit creds, How to Eat Worms will have to rely on subsequent ancillary revenues to make the grade.

Idlewild, an unusual showcase for music dynamos Outkast, rang up better than $6,000 screen averages with strong indication for expansion prospects. Opening weekend demos included a strong African American tilt and a perhaps surprising 61% plus 30 year old audience. The groups wider and younger appeal should kick in with continued heat behind the picture.

Among continuing titles there was a better than expected holdover for Accepted but fears that the crowd for Snakes on a Plane was all in line opening day appeared all too true. It decelerated 56% in a session where 50% plus drops were not uncommon.

Continuing to expand in niche exposure, The Illusionist rang up a potent $1.8 million and $12,400 average. Debuting limited fare was struggling with the late summer blues including a $27,200 gross for horror entry The Quiet from seven locations and a $15,100 tally from five screens for the Spanish import Queens.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – August 25-27, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
Invincible BV 16.9 (5,810) 2917 16.9
Talladega Nights Sony 8.1 (2,400) -41% 3370 127.8
Little Miss Sunshine Fox Searchlight 7.3 (5,130) 31% 1430 22.9
Beerfest WB 6.6 (2,230) 2964 6.6
Accepted Uni 6.5 (2,210) -36% 2917 21.1
World Trade Center Par 6.3 (2,090) -42% 3021 55.5
Snakes on a Plane New Line 6.2 (1,750) -56% 3555 26.5
Step Up BV 6.0 (2,260) -41% 2647 50.2
Idlewild Uni 5.9 (6,070) 973 5.9
Barnyard Par 5.4 (1,810) -28% 3003 54.7
Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest BV 4.0 (2,370) -23% 1701 407.6
How to Eat Worms New Line 3.9 (2,110) 1870 3.9
Material Girls MGM 2.0 (1,430) -56% 1509 8.2
The Illusionist FreeStyle/Odeon 1.8 (1,240) 92% 144 3.1
Pulse Weinstein Co. 1.6 (1,010) -54% 1608 17.8
Monster House Sony 1.1 (1,190) -45% 906 69.3
The Descent Lions Gate 1.0 (1,140) -60% 859 24.4
Miami Vice Uni .93 (1,160) -62% 804 61.9
The Devil Wears Prada Fox .87 (1,490) -33% 585 120.6
Superman Returns WB .81 (2,600) -5% 311 195
Bon Cop Bad Cop Alliance .79 (3,030) -32% 261 6.7
Cars BV .73 (1,370) 67% 531 240.5
Ant Bully WB .67 (1,300) -36% 515 25.8
Zoom Sony .62 (710) -74% 868 10.8
You, Me and Dupree Uni .58 (1,110) -42% 522 73.9
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $96.60
% Change (Last Year) 6%
% Change (Last Week) -8%
Also debuting/expanding
Trust the Man Fox Searchlight .28 (1,750) 54% 158 0.53
Quincineara Sony Classics .18 (2,150) 8% 85 0.77
The Quiet Sony Classics 27,200 (3,920) 7 0.03
Queens Regent 15,100 (3,020) 5 0.02
Suicide Killers Intl Film Circuit 10,600 (5,300) 2 0.01
Princesas IFC 4,500 (4,500) 1 0.01


Top Limited Releases: January 1 – August 24, 2006

Match Point DmWks 23,052,317
An Inconvenient Truth Par Classics 22,575,982
Deep Sea 3-D WB 17,593,298
Mrs. Henderson Presents Weinstein Co. 10,662,712
Scoop Focus 9,442,574
Transamerica Weinstein Co. 8,771,637
Magnificent Desolation Imax 8,451,166
Good Night, and Good Luck WIP 8,203,593
Bon Cop Bad Cop Alliance 5,916,643
A Scanner Darkly WIP 5,222,455
The World’s Fastest Indian Magnolia 5,128,124
Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada Sony Classics 4,996,040
The Libertine Weinstein Co. 4,773,768
Roving Mars BV 4,493,313
Keeping Up with the Steins Mrmx 4,354,174
Wild Safari 3-D nWave 4,161,816
Cache (Hidden) Sony Class/Alliance 3,732,437
Water Fox Searchlight 3,209,671
Wordplay IFC 2,978,617
Tsotsi Mrmx 2,912,606
* none greater than 563 theaters

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – August 24, 2006

Sony (21) 1108.6 17.80%
Buena Vista (18) 1084.5 17.40%
Fox (18) 988.9 15.90%
Universal (15) 675.6 10.80%
Paramount (11) 633.3 10.20%
Warner Bros. (15) 623.3 10.00%
Weinstein Co. (10) 208.6 3.30%
Lions Gate (13) 192.3 3.10%
New Line (8) 139.5 2.20%
Focus (9) 132.5 2.10%
Fox Searchlight (8) 112.9 1.80%
MGM (3) 52.6 0.80%
Sony Classics (16) 49.9 0.80%
Other * (196) 233.6 3.80%
* none greater than 0.45% 6236.1 100.00%
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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