MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady


Invincible toughed it out to nose past a pair of new films and claim top holiday weekend attraction with an estimated $15.3 million. Debuts of the testosterone thriller Crank and the horror remake The Wicker Man were on its tail with respective grosses of $12.2 million and $11.6 million.

The close of the summer season rang in with a tally of approximately $3.759 billion that represented a 5.8% increase from 2005. And while the figure translated into almost a 2% increase in ticket sales, the season could hardly be considered the rich bounty predicted by industry leaders at ShoWest in March.

Summer 2006 was comparatively weaker to the year’s opening five months that recorded a 9% better record than the preceding year. Exhibition leaders are predicting at best a fall season on par with 2005 and are girding themselves for the prospect of flat admissions when December 31 rolls around.

There was nothing particular noteworthy or revelatory about the Labor Day weekend that totaled roughly $126 million in revenues. It was a 6% improvement on last year, mirroring the seasonal trend. A year ago the bow of Transporter 2 led the frame with a $20.1 million gross and the bow of The Constant Gardener ranked third with an unexpectedly potent $10.1 million.

This year two genre freshmen entries improved upon Transporter 2 by 18%. Considerably brighter was the fourth and fifth ranked Little Miss Sunshine and The Illusionist that each displayed comparable potency to Gardener. There was definitely an industry inkling that Sunshine had potential to gross in excess of $40 million prior to its release but The Illusionist was written off as too esoteric and likely to struggle to $10 million domestically.

The session’s other national debut was Crossover that grossed an OK $4.5 million. Limited releases included a solid debut of $440,000 for the Bollywood entry Lage Raho Munna Bhai; fair returns for the latest Lassie barking up $350,000 and a doltish $150,000 for the aptly titled Idiocracy.

Exclusives included a potent $41,400 box office for the doc expose This Film is Not Yet Rated and a better than likable $16,700 solo tally for Mutual Appreciation. There was also good response for the Chinese Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles of $19,100 from two engagements and Ed Burns’ latest Looking for Kitty eked out $4,300.

Summer bragging rights went to Buena Vista with an overall tally estimated at $786 million and close to 21% of the seasonal marketplace. This year’s scoreboard dramatically reflects just how quick and extreme are the winds of change. Buena Vista and second ranked Sony went from close to the bottom of 2005 summer performers with startling rebounds. With the exception of Universal, all other significant performers experienced box office declines. The addition of DreamWorks to the Paramount portfolio initially gave that studio a boost but DW had a more impressive 2005 record.

The majors truly dominated summer with their primary labels accounting for 88.5% of revenues. Fox Searchlight sat out last summer, so its increase was uncharitable but New Line lacked a Wedding Crashers and Miramx in the post Weinstein era was listless in the absence of Dimension product. The new players are ironically MGM and FreeStyle whose slate includes the Yari Film Group.

Final numbers and an official summer market share will be available later in the week.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – September 2-4, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
Invincible BV 15.3 (5,250) -29% 2921 38
Crank Lions Gate 12.2 (4,860) x 2515 12.2
The Wicker Man WB 11.6 (4,180) x 2784 11.6
Little Miss Sunshine Fox Searchlight 9.8 (6,120) 3% 1602 35.9
The Illusionist YF/FS/Odeon 7.9 (8,180) 242% 971 12
Talladega Nights Sony 7.6 (2,520) -27% 3001 138.2
Barnyard Par 6.3 (2,180) -15% 2907 63.5
World Trade Center Par 5.9 (2,030) -28% 2902 63.8
Accepted Uni 5.8 (2.070) -30% 2822 29.3
Step Up BV 5.6 (2,180) -34% 2553 58.5
Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest BV 4.8 (2,700) -9% 1786 413.9
Crossover Sony 4.5 (4,430) x 1023 4.5
Beerfest WB 4.5 (1,520) -49% 2964 14.7
How to Eat Worms New Line 3.7 (2,000) -25% 1870 9.3
Snakes on a Plane New Line 3.0 (1,200) -60% 2505 31.6
Idlewild Uni 2.8 (2,900) -60% 975 9.9
Material Girls MGM 1.3 (1,060) -53% 1188 10.5
Superman Returns WB 1.1 (3,810) 9% 281 196.8
Cars BV 1.1 (2,000) 13% 555 242
The Devil Wears Prada Fox .93 (1,860) -15% 501 122
Pulse Weinstein Co. .69 (880) -66% 787 19.2
Ant Bully WB .67 (1,640) -8% 409 26.6
Bon Cop Bad Cop Alliance .65 (3,080) -17% 211 7.9
The Descent Lions Gate .53 (1,240) -59% 426 25.4
Miami Vice Uni .52 (1,260) -50% 412 62.8
You, Me and Dupree Uni .51 (1,280) -30% 397 74.7
* percentage change is 3-day to 3-day x x x x
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) x $96.60      
% Change (Last Year) x 6% x x x
% Change (Last Week) x -8% x   x
Also debuting/expanding
Trust the Man Fox Searchlight .46 (1,760) 30% 260 1.1
Lage Raho Munna Bhai Eros .44 (6,770) x 65 0.44
Lassie IDP .35 (2,080) x 169 0.35
Idiocracy Fox   .15 (1,180) x 130 0.15
This Film is Not Yet Rated IFC 41,400 (20,700) x 2 0.04
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles Sony Classics 19,100 (9,550) x 2 0.02
Mutual Appreciation Gbye Cruel World 16,700 (16,700) x 1 0.02
Looking for Kitty Thinkfilm 4,300 (4,300) x 1 0.01
* percentage change is 3-day to 3-day


The Summer Chart: May 4 – September 4, 2006

Distributor Gross Percentage % change 2005 Rank 2005
Buena Vista 786 20.90% 275% 7
Sony 704.1 18.70% 351% 8
Fox 543.5 14.40% -34% 1
Paramount * 499.3 13.30% -36% 3 & 6
Warner Bros. 417 11.10% -37% 2
Universal 379.1 10.10% 29% 4
Lions Gate 67.8 1.80% -18% 10
New Line 51.7 1.40% -82% 5
Fox Searchlight 47.4 1.30% N/A N/A
MGM 35.8 0.90% N/A N/A
Focus  32.5 0.90% -34% 11
Weinstein Co. 30.2 0.80% N/A N/A
FreeStyle 25.3 0.70% N/A N/A
Paramount Classics 25 0.70% -19% 12
Other ** 114.1 3.00% 17% N/A
* includes DreamWorks 3758.8 100.00% 5.80% x

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

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~ David Simon