MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Jackass or No Jackass!

The American public has voted and in this cinematic deal or no deal the winner was clearly Jackass: Number Two with an estimated opening frame of $27.9 million. Debuting a distant second was the upscale Jet Li actioner Fearless at $9.8 million. The passed over included the First World War heroics of Flyboys with $5.2 million and the awards ballyhooed All the King’s Men at $3.7 million.

The session also featured a very good opening for The Science of Sleep of $350,000 from 14 venues.

Considering the performance of the previous cinematic Jackass and its relatively inexpensive cost to produce one can only ask why it took four years to produce a sequel. Expectations were that the new outing of outré, presumably real dumb antics would bow at about the same $23 million level as the 2002 edition. The unexpected franchise from the MTV corral is apt to be back for more but not necessarily better.

Fearless premiered in China late last year to great success and has amassed about $35 million from Asian and European exposure to date. Based on the real-life story of a famed and influential late 19 th century martial artist, the film has largely targeted an action crowd with no great effort to tap into potential art house crossover. It performed slightly better than expected.

Also surpassing expectations was Flyboys, though many presumed a Great War yarn of flying aces was destined to crash and burn. While by no means close to a hit, it nonetheless registered a noticeable if faint commercial pulse.

On the heals of the previous weekend’s soft revenues, ticket sales accelerated about 26% to $95 million. However, that was still 5% behind the 2005 box office when the $24.6 million debut of Flightplan was the top attraction.

Valiant efforts to turn All the King’s Men from a film maudit to a cause celebre clearly failed. The taint of a missed 2005 Oscar berth and gossip of considerable tinkering and additional filming translated into predominantly thumbs down verdicts from major critics. The public clearly accepted the summary judgment.

On the holdover front, Gridiron Gang and the animated Everyone’s Hero had impressive second weekends though the latter film’s poor opening would have required a box office boost to provide commercial solace. The news was dire for The Black Dahlia that followed a middling entry with a steep decline.

Alternative fair continues to be a strong option for movie goers with both The Illusionist and Little Miss Sunshine maintaining box office potency and performing well beyond industry predictions. Both films will shortly confront apples to apples options as the flow of award contender movies begins to enter the marketplace.

Though unfavorably compared to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep from the same director certainly received initial benefit of doubt. Its $25,000 plus theater average is a very good starting point.

The rest of the freshman class rendered mixed results including the animated Renaissance with a tepid $10,100 gross at two locations. Recent strong Bollywood box office could not be maintained by Khosla Ka Ghosla and the $19,000 single screen bow of the music doc American Hardcore while solid provides no hint for expansion prospects.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – September 22-24, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (avg)ge) % chnge Theaters Cume
Jackass: Number Two Par 27.9 (9,130) x 3059 27.9
Fearless Focus 9.8 (5,420) x 1806 9.8
The Gridiron Gang  Sony 9.6 (2,750) -33% 3501 27.1
Flyboys MGM 5.2 (2,580) x 2033 5.2
Everyone’s Hero Fox 4.7 (1,610) -23% 2898 11.5
The Black Dahlia Uni 4.4 (1,960) -56% 2236 17.2
All the King’s Men Sony 3.7 (2,460)   1514 3.7
The Illusionist YF/FS/Odeon 3.3 (2,320) -8% 1432 27.7
The Covenant Sony 3.3 (1,220) -31% 2678 20.3
Little Miss Sunshine Fox Searchlight 2.8 (2,030) -15% 1384 50.3
Invincible BV 2.6 (1,120) -37% 2331 54.8
The Last Kiss Par 2.5 (1,850) -46% 1359 8.5
Hollywoodland Focus 1.4 (1,100) -49% 1263 12.9
Barnyard Par 1.3 (1,060) -23% 1205 70.7
Talladega Nights Sony 1.2 (1,000) -36% 1167 146.7
Crank Lions Gate 1.1 (930) -57% 1228 26.6
The Wicker Man WB 1.1 (740) -50% 1451 22.5
Accepted Uni 1.0 (1,110) -32% 886 35.5
The Protector Weinstein Co. .93 (760) -62% 1217 10.9
Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest BV .84 (1,190) -35% 706 419.6
Step Up BV .63 (900) -53% 700 64.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $89.30 x x x
% Change (Last Year) x -5% x x x
% Change (Last Week) x 26% x x x
Also debuting/expanding
The Science of Sleep WIP .35 (25,070) x 14 0.35
American Hardcore Sony Classics 19,700 (19,700) x 1 0.02
Khosla Ka Ghosla UTV 17,200 (1,720) x 10 0.02
Renaissance Miramax 10,100 (5,050) x 2 0.01
Solo con tu Pareja IFC 3,600 (3,600) x 1 0.01

Top Grossing Domestic Releases: To September 21, 2006

Title  Distributor Gross
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest BVI 418,786,083
Cars BVI 243,150,464
X-Men: The Last Stand Fox 234,351,765
The Da Vinci Code Sony 217,964,158
Superman Returns WB 198,145,682
Ice Age: The Meltdown Fox 195,330,621
Over the Hedge Par 155,285,311
Talladega Nights: Legend of Ricky Bobby Sony 145,510,777
Click Sony 137,172,494
Mission: Impossible III Par 133,930,344
The Devil Wears Prada Fox 123,322,396
The Break-Up Uni 118,778,358
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 80,341,196
You, Me and Dupree Uni 75,338,030

Domestic Market Share: To September 21, 2006

Distributor (releases) Gross Percentage
Sony (24) 1183.8 17.60%
Buena Vista (19) 1175.1 17.50%
Fox (20) 1002.1 14.90%
Universal (17) 725.4 10.80%
Paramount (12) 680.7 10.10%
Warner Bros. (17) 671.5 10.00%
Weinstein Co. (11) 222.3 3.30%
Lions Gate (15) 220.4 3.30%
New Line (9) 165.2 2.40%
Fox Searchlight (9) 146.2 2.20%
Focus (10) 145.1 2.20%
MGM (3) 57.9 0.90%
Sony Classics (18) 51.8 0.80%
FreeStyle (7) 39.6 0.60%
Other * (205) 233.4 3.50%
* none greater than 0.05% 6720.5 100.00%
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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