MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Presto … Chango

The Prestige apparently had the magic to ascend to the top of the box office chart with an estimated $14.8 million. In a session that had anticipated Flags of Our Fathers would take the weekend, the saga of the “greatest generation” struggled to $10.2 and ranked third overall.

A glut of new product contributed to a significant box office boast. Freshman entries included the updated equine fave Flicka galloping to $7.6 million; Sofia Coppola’s hot button Marie Antoinette serving up $5.3 million; and a 3-D enhanced version of The Nightmare Before Christmas generating an eye-popping $3.2 million in limited release. Additionally, there were two potent entries on the Bollywood circuit, several hot docs, a local entry in Quebec and a very good bow for Running with Scissors to cut the muster.

Leading up to the weekend, industry pundits had prognosticated essentially what transpired if one flip flopped the results for The Prestige and Flags. Prestige, an often lethal yarn of rival fin de siecle magicians, appeared a bit arcane and indistinct. However, critical response was generally very favorable and resulted in strong opening day business and a modest 14% boost on Saturday.

Flags of Our Fathers also experienced a 14% boost on Saturday but its first day indicated the highly anticipated production would struggle to reach $10 million rather than early estimates of $15 million plus. Exit polls revealed that 80% of its audience was older than 25 and the challenge ahead will be to bring in a younger crowd while maintaining its position as an award’s contendor.

Marie Antoinette had better success drawing in the under 25s and both its weekend tally and critical response was better than anticipated. Since debuting at Cannes, the stylized portrait of the tragic Queen has divided critics as well as audiences in a handful of European countries.

The venerable Flicka returned to the screen and critics were generally surprised at the quality on the endeavor. However, business was no better than fair and its commercial pace will now be dictated by strides in ancillary arenas.

Weekend revenues should exceed $105 million for a 6% drop from the prior frame. It nonetheless accounts for a 21% increase placed alongside the comparable 2005 session when new entries Doom and Dreamer led the field with respective grosses of $15.5 million and $9.2 million.

Once again both The Departed and Open Season held their ground in a highly competitive marketplace with grosses at a 70% level. The rest of the wide release field was pumping at about 50%.

Both The Queen and King (of Scotland) continued slow expansions but despite glowing reviews for both, only Elizabeth II is maintaining regal returns while the deposed despot Idi Amin cannot staunch commercial erosion. Little Children boosted its theater count from 5 to 32 and maintained a solid standing but Infamous’s second weekend experienced a sharp 59% decline.

Digitally enhanced and reconstituted for 3-D, Tim Burton’s 1993 vintage The Nightmare Before Christmas returned with a vengeance. Released in 168 locations, it generated a roughly $19,000 average with a staggering record-breaking $290,000 gross from the El Capitain in Hollywood.

Also record-breaking at least in exposure was the Hindi Don that bowed in 113 theaters. The circuit has generally supported wide releases in the area of 65 to 70 playdates and the assertive push to expand Bollywood’s reach paid off well with a $630,000 weekend. Jaan-E-Mann on 65 screens was a disappointment with a $122,000 box office.

While response was mixed for Running with Scissors its $233,000 gross in eight venues belied antipathy. A notch down were returns for the documentaries 51 Birch Street and Jonestown that amassed, respectively, $10,300 in two situations and a solo gross of $7,900. Congorama, a hit with Toronto Fest audiences, generated an OK $86,300 in 27 situations in Quebec.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – October 22, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
The Prestige BV 14.8 (6,480) 2281 14.8
The Departed WB 13.7 (4,570) -30% 3005 77.2
Flags of Our Fathers Par 10.2 (5,420) 1876 10.2
Open Season Sony 8.0 (2,380) -29% 3379 67.2
The Grudge 2 Sony 7.7 (2,400) -64% 3214 31.4
Flicka Fox 7.6 (2,650) 2877 7.6
Man of the Year Uni 6.9 (2,750) -44% 2522 22.4
Marie Antoinette Sony 5.3 (6,150) 859 5.3
Texas Chainsaw: The Beginning New Line 3.8 (1,470) -51% 2569 36
The Marine Fox 3.7 (1,440) -49% 2545 12.5
The Guardian BV 3.6 (1,410) -39% 2558 46.5
The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D BV 3.2 (18,990) 168 3.2
Employee of the Month Lions Gate 3.1 (1,430) -41% 2141 24.1
One Night with the King Gener8Xion 2.2 (2,400) -47% 908 7.5
Jackass: Number Two Par 1.5 (1,080) -54% 1401 71
The Queen Miramax 1.5 (15,250) 49% 99 3.8
The Illusionist YF/FS/Odeon .78 (1,320) -43% 592 37.5
Facing the Giants IDP .73 (2,060) -11% 355 5.2
Don UTV .63 (5,580)   113 0.63
Little Miss Sunshine Fox Searchlight .56 (1,530) -34% 367 57.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $99.50
% Change (Last Year) 21%
% Change (Last Week) -6%
Also debuting/expanding
The Last King of Scotland Fox Searchlight .42 (3,740) -29% 113 1.9
Running with Scissors Sony   .23 (28,500) 8 0.23
Little Children New Line .23 (7,125) 171% 32 0.5
Infamous WIP .18 (1,020) -59% 179 0.8
Jaan-E-Mann Adlab .12 (1,890) 65 0.12
Congorama Christal 86,300 (3,200) 27 0.09
Sleeping Dogs Lie IDP 10,500 (1,750) 6 0.01
51 Birch Street Truly Indie 10,300 (5,150) 2 0.01
Jonestown 7th Art 7,920 (7,920) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: To October 22, 2006

Distributor Gross Mktshr
Sony (27) 1309.3 18.00%
Buena Vista (20) 1228.2 16.90%
Fox (21) 1019.8 14.00%
Paramount (13) 759.9 10.50%
Universal (18) 753.2 10.40%
Warner Bros. (18) 740.6 10.20%
Lions Gate (16) 244.7 3.40%
Weinstein Co. (13) 224.9 3.10%
New Line (11) 198.7 2.70%
Focus (11) 171.9 2.40%
Fox Searchlight (11) 157.1 2.20%
MGM (5) 87.5 1.20%
Sony Classics (19) 52.4 0.70%
FreeStyle (8) 50.7 0.70%
Other * (235) 264.2 3.60%
  7263.1 100.00%
Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.


Quote Unquotesee all »

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