MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

No Tale-a-de-gating

Talladega Nights The Ballad of Ricky Bobby lapped the competition for a commanding lead estimated at $47.6 million at the weekend box office. That left the rest of the field in the dust with the kidtoon Barnyard a distant second milking $15.7 million and The Descent scaled back with $8.6 million. The frame also featured excellent bows for the thriller Bon Cop Bad Cop in Quebec and, in limited release, the Sundance award winner Quinceanera.

There was no denying the ascendancy of Will Ferrell’s fictional NASCAR racer as he took to the track Friday. By Talladega matinee it was clear that the hijinx would exceed industry estimates that pegged it no higher than $35 million. It was easily the performer’s most potent opening and clearly the shameless promotional huckstering translated into rich rewards. The race to see it opening day could however be seen in an 11% drop in Saturday’s business.

Considering the dire prognostications for yet another animated animal movie in the multiplex,Barnyard’s bow was also slightly better than expected … but hardly a commercial stampede. The strains of competition in family viewing were evident in the picture’s barely discernable 4% upturn from Friday to Saturday. Still if there was anyone that believed there were no limits to movie toons in the marketplace, the current marketplace dispelled that notion.

Last weekend’s freshmen all took substantive hits including Miami Vice with a 62% drop and The Ant Bully declining by 55%. In the current frame it was the exception to find a holdover that sustained less than 50% erosion.

Revenues climbed to close to $145 million and for the immediate future August is shaping up as a stronger than usual period. Box office improved by 8% from the prior weekend and was up 25% from 2005 when the premiere of The Dukes of Hazzard led with a $30.7 million gross. Next weekend’s eclectic mix of World Trade Center and Snakes on a Plane plus the second Talladega lap should be very formidable.

In international release for more than a year, the chilling The Descent arrived on these shores with impressive genre appeal. Lionsgate is rapidly taking over the indie mantle held by New Line prior to its acquisition by Castle Rock that led to being part of the Time Warner family.

Sundance grads provided mixed results as they entered into commercial play. The eerie suspenserThe Night Listener had no better than passable response of $3.5 million from 1,367 locations. However, Quinceanera, a drama of remarkable power, translated well in its initial foray in eight theaters. It generated a screen average of $10,800 and critical response as well as positive word-of-mouth should bode well for expansion over the next two months. While Quinceanera is well positioned for niche success, the Sundance premiered comedy Little Miss Sunshine is demonstrating signs of crossover appeal. It expanded from seven to 58 engagements and maintained a very healthy $25,700 theater average.

Setting records in its Quebec bow, the policier Bon Cop Bad Cop blew away the competition with an estimated $1.8 million. The release was timed to a Canadian holiday long weekend and its dynamic opening salvo has already prompted talk of a more aggressive than usual plan for English Canadian theaters. Also in specialized venues, Bollywood’s Anthony Kaun Hai registered tepid results of $42,300 from 18 circuit playdates.

In exclusives there was good response of $8,650 to the French thriller The Bridesmaid in a single locale. My Country, My Country was indifferent in a $3,900 solo flight and few bit at two Jailbaitscreens that generated a $2,300 gross.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – August 4-6, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average % chan Theaters Cume
Talladega Nights Sony 47.6 (12,520) 3803 47.6
Barnyard Par 15.7 (4,740) 3311 15.7
Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man’s Ches BV 11.0 (3,190) -47% 3436 379.7
Miami Vice Uni 9.7 (3,190) -62% 3026 45.7
The Descent Lions Gate 8.6 (4,120) 2095 8.6
John Tucker Must Die Fox 6.0 (2,320) -58% 2566 28.5
Monster House Sony 5.9 (1,960) -49% 3029 56.9
Ant Bully WB 3.8 (1,240) -55% 3050 18
You, Me and Dupree Uni 3.7 (1,620) -48% 2266 66.9
The Night Listener Miramax 3.5 (2,590) 1367 3.5
The Devil Wears Prada Fox 3.1 (2,120) -34% 1453 112.7
Lady in the Water WB 2.7 (1,020) -62% 2670 38.6
Little Man Sony 2.6 (1,650) -50% 1561 55.1
Superman Returns WB 2.1 (1,250) -44% 1710 190.2
Scoop Focus 1.8 (3,250) -42% 541 6.2
Bon Cop Bad Cop Alliance 1.8 (13,610) 132 1.8
Little Miss Sunshine Fox Searchlight 1.5 (25,690) 302% 58 2.2
Clerks II MGM 1.4 (920) -66% 1496 22.4
My Super Ex-Girlfriend Fox 1.1 (1,000) -73% 1093 20.2
Cars BV 1.0 (1,040) -63% 942 237.4
Click Sony .82 (1,260) -57% 651 134.4
An Inconvenient Truth Par Classics .58 (1,810) -22% 346 21.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $136.00
% Change (Last Year) 25%
% Change (Last Week) 8%
Also debuting/expanding
Quinceanera Sony Classics 86,500 (10,820) 8 0.09
Anthony Kuan Hai Adlabs 42,300 (2,350) 18 0.04
The Bridesmaid First Run 8,650 (8,650) 1 0.01
My Country, My Country Zeitgeist 3,900 (3,900) 1 0.01
Jailbait Kindred 2,300 (1,650) 2 0.01

Top Domestic Grosses: January 1 – August 3, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s C BV 368,697,958
Cars BV 236,432,622
X-Men: The Last Stand Fox 233,524,650
The Da Vinci Code Sony 216,543,915
Ice Age: The Meltdown Fox 195,122,952
Superman Returns WB 188,018,343
Over the Hedge Par 152,995,450
Mission: Impossible III Par 133,829,520
Click Sony 133,593,836
The Break-Up Uni 117,788,940
The Devil Wears Prada Fox 109,660,935
Scary Movie 4 Weinstein Co. 90,710,620
Failure to Launch Par 88,915,704
Inside Man Uni 88,593,474
The Pink Panther Sony 83,137,123
The Chronicles of Narnia * BV 82,270,870
Eight Below BV 81,612,565
Nacho Libre Par 79,170,942
Brokeback Mountain * Focus 70,615,735
RV Sony 70,603,417
* does not include 2005 box office

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – July 27, 2006

Buena Vista (17) 1001.5 17.70%
Fox (18) 957.9 16.90%
Sony (19) 952.1 16.80%
Universal (14) 624.4 11.00%
Warner Bros. (15) 597.7 10.50%
Paramount (9) 532.5 9.40%
Weinstein Co. (9) 192.3 3.40%
Lions Gate (12) 168.5 3.00%
Focus (9) 127.4 2.20%
New Line (7) 119.3 2.10%
Fox Searchlight (8) 97.7 1.70%
Sony Classics (14) 48.7 0.90%
MGM (2) 43.5 0.80%
Other * (181) 205.2 3.60%
* none greater than 0.45% 5668.7 100.00%
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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