MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady


More treat than trick commercially speaking, Saw III sliced through the marketplace with an estimated $34.2 million to take command as weekend movie favorite. The frame had only one other national debut with the political thriller Catch a Fire at a low spark of $2.1 million.

Activity was torrid in limited and platform bows with Babel most impressive at $360,000 from seven venues and the Dixie Chick’s Shut Up & Sing generating a tuneful $47,000 from four concerts. However, the controversial Death of a President was mostly firing blanks with about a $200,000 tally from 122 playdates.

Bond may have a license to kill but Saw’s license to print money carries considerably greater industry weight. The third installment of the grisly saga sold even more weekend tickets than segment two released 52 weeks ago. Unless OPEC seizes control of resources for movie blood this inexpensive serrated franchise has considerably more commercial mileage in its tank.

The frame also featured some excellent holds for, again, The Departed and Open Season and a better than expected 65% hold for The Prestige. However, anxiety is running high over Flags of Our Fathers that added 314 screens and experienced a 35% drop in screen average. The award season cannot come too soon for the Second World War saga.

Weekend revenues were approaching $105 million for a virtual carbon copy result from the immediate prior frame. There was a 9% boost from 2005 when the debut of Saw II sliced off $31.7 million, followed by the opening of the Legend of Zorro and Prime with respectively $16.3 million and $6.2 million.

Fueled by four star reviews Catch a Fire entered the marketplace with 1305 screens and a disappointing $2.1 million return. The South African-set Apartheid era yarn was playing more upscale than ethnic but neither niche was particularly potent. The response was warmer for Running with Scissors that expanded from eight to 586 theaters and generated about $2.5 million for the three days.

The Queen also continued to fare well in its slow roll out, adding $1.9 million to the royal coffers but The Last King of Scotland continued to falter, losing 18 screens and experiencing a 23% decline at movie polling stations.

Dipping its toes into the awards race, Babel spoke to audiences with a distinctive $364,000 gross and $51,000 screen average. The film split critics at Cannes but has generally received upbeat domestic reviews and capitalized on the appeal of its international cast.

Apart from Shut Up & Sing, the rest of the limited openers failed to secure a toe-hold in the marketplace. Winner of the International Critics prize at Toronto, Death of a President – a fictionalized account of George W. Bush’s assassination – failed to generate even a visceral thrill for political detractors while inspirational fare including Conversation with God and The Color of the Cross had middling response and the acclaimed doc on Golden Gate suicides, The Bridge, plunged into shallow waters.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – October 29, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (avg) % change Theaters Cume
Saw III Lions Gate 34.2 (10,810) x 3167 34.2
The Departed WB 9.8 (3,310) -27% 2951 91
The Prestige BV 9.6 (4,200) -35% 2281 28.8
Flags of Our Fathers Par 6.3 (2,890) -38% 2190 19.9
Open Season Sony 6.1 (1,990) -26% 3059 77.3
Flicka Fox 4.9 (1,710) -36% 2877 14.1
Man of the Year Uni 4.7 (1,770) -33% 2626 28.8
The Grudge 2 Sony 3.4 (1,100) -56% 3063 36.1
Marie Antoinette Sony 2.8 (3,210) -49% 859 9.7
Running with Scissors Sony   2.5 (4,330) 1024% 586 2.9
The Guardian BV 2.4 (1,210) -35% 1973 50
Catch a Fire Focus 2.1 (1,580) x 1305 2.1
The Marine Fox 1.9 (1,030) -49% 1868 15.5
The Queen Miramax 1.9 (12,370) 25% 152 6.3
The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D BV 1.8 (10,900) -44% 168 5.9
Employee of the Month Lions Gate 1.6 (1,060) -45% 1478 26.2
One Night with the King Gener8Xion 1.5 (1,860) -36% 823 10
Texas Chainsaw: The Beginning New Line 1.2 (610) -68% 2007 38.3
Facing the Giants IDP .78 (1,980) 2% 393 6.3
Jackass: Number Two Par .52 (730) -66% 710 72
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $100.00 x x x
% Change (Last Year) x 9% x x x
% Change (Last Week) x 0% x x x
Also debuting/expanding
Babel Par Vantage .36 (51,000) x 7 0.36
The Last King of Scotland Fox Searchlight .33 (3,490) -23% 95 2.4
Death of a President Newmarket .20 (1,610) x 122 0.2
Conversations with God IDP .14 (2,150) x 64 0.14
Shut Up & Sing Weinstein Co. 47,400 (11,850) x 4 0.05
The Bridge First Stripe 43,200 (2,400) x 18 0.04
Cocaine Cowboys Magnolia 32,600 (2,720) x 12 0.03
Color of the Cross Rocky Mountain 23,600 (815) x 29 0.02
Climates Zeitgeist 9,100 (9,100) x 1 0.01
Absolute Wilson New Yorker 4,900 (2,450) x 2 0.01

Top Limited Releases: To October 26, 2006

Title  Distributor  Gross
An Inconvenient Truth Par Classics 23,802,206
Match Point DmWks 23,052,317
Deep Sea 3-D WB 20,168,478
Mrs. Henderson Presents Weinstein Co. 10,662,712
Scoop Focus 10,546,627
Bon Cop Bad Cop Alliance 10,206,438
Magnificent Desolation Imax 9,393,038
Transamerica Weinstein Co. 8,771,637
A Scanner Darkly WIP 5,501,616
Facing the Giants IDP 5,500,301
The World’s Fastest Indian Magnolia 5,128,124
Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada Sony Classics 4,996,040
Roving Mars BV 4,906,041
Wild Safari 3-D nWave 4,804,902
The Queen Mrmx 4,380,802
Keeping Up with the Steins Mrmx 4,354,174
The Science of Sleep WIP/Seville 4,245,872
The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D BV 4,071,660
Cache (Hidden) Sony Class/Alliance 3,732,437
Kahbi Alvida Naa Kehna Yash Raj 3,275,443
* non greater than 565 playdates

Domestic Market Share: To October 26, 2006

Distributor Gross Mktshr
Sony (29) 1336.2 18.10%
Buena Vista (22) 1256.6 17.00%
Fox (22) 1033.9 14.00%
Paramount (14) 775.8 10.50%
Universal (18) 762.1 10.30%
Warner Bros. (18) 759.1 10.20%
Lions Gate (16) 248.4 3.40%
Weinstein Co. (13) 225.2 3.00%
New Line (11) 203.9 2.80%
Focus (11) 172.4 2.30%
Fox Searchlight (11) 158.5 2.10%
MGM (5) 88.2 1.20%
Sony Classics (20) 52.6 0.70%
FreeStyle (8) 51.6 0.70%
Other * (240) 275.1 3.70%
* none greater than 0.45% 7399.6 100.00%
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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