MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Very Scarrrrrry

The Grudge 2 chilled an estimated $22.5 million to take top honors in the weekend movie going derby. In a status quo frame, freshmen entries ranged from a disappointing $12.5 million ballot for Man of the Year to a fair $7 million pin for The Marine and a rather upbeat $4.2 million encounter with One Night with the King.

Limited bows were generally unexceptional including Infamous with a precarious $2,420 theater average while expansions of The Queen and ShortBus continued to perform regally.

Part of the wave of Asian horror remakes, The Grudge 2 recruited its Japanese creator to helm the sequel of the remake of the adaptation. The result largely drew yawns from the critical community and while its box office ascent was assured it came with a sharp 26% drop from Friday to Saturday. With Halloween on the horizon, the weekly offerings of Chainsaws and the like numb the nerves and coffers quite quickly.

While tracking had never been robust for the political comedy Man of the Year, expectations were still roughly 20% to 25% higher than early reported results. Reviews gave soft marks to its humor, satire and political savvy and audiences could not be convinced otherwise.

The Marine mustered no better than a sampling of the character’s World Wrestling fan base. However, with ancillaries the modestly produced venture appears to be a modest entry on the positive side of the ledger.

In an otherwise less than invigorating marquee selection, the Bible’s story of Esther in One Night with the King attracted the faithful quite impressively. The independent production carried on an adroit, well targeted campaign that sidestepped most of the major marketplace hurdles.

Weekend business should exceed $110 million for a slight 3% boost from the prior weekend. It was a hefty 29% improvement from 2005 when newcomers The Fog and Elizabethtown failed to spark with respective debuts of $11.7 million and $10.6 million. The current domestic box office of $7.2 billion exceeds last year by about 5% but admissions are no more than 1% better at this point.

Holdover titles largely experienced 50% hits with the major exceptions – The Departed and Open Season – maintaining appeal with very different demographics at a 70% level.

Meanwhile, the slowly evolving award season has continued to shine on early entries with orchestrated rollouts of The Queen and The Last King of Scotland maintaining momentum, particularly the former. Also on the plus side are the slight boost in theaters for the controversial ShortBus and the 83% hold for Little Children which expands next weekend.

The question mark hanging over Infamous that mirrors last year’s Capote in exploring the author’s creation of In Cold Blood could not be shaken by initial box office returns. Though armed with critical acclaim, audiences were unconvinced about revisiting the subject matter.

More vibrant was the contemporary immigrant saga Sweet Land that posted $44,800 from two venues and an encouraging $16,300 in four outings for the much praised documentary Deliver Us from Evil centering on a pedophile priest and the Church’s haphazard handling of the incident.

The single screen $8,100 gross for Terry Gilliam’s Tideland was good without being indicative of future prospects while Brit import Driving Lessons shifted into low gear and indie entry Nearing Grace failed to register a pulse.

– by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – October 15, 2006

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
The Grudge 2 Sony 22.5 (7,020) x 3211 22.5
The Departed WB 18.6 (6,170) -31% 3017 56.6
Man of the Year Uni 12.5 (4,570) x 2515 12.5
Open Season Sony 11.1 (3,010) -29% 3687 59.3
Texas Chainsaw: The Beginning New Line 7.8 (2,770) -58% 2820 30.5
The Marine Fox 7.0 (2,740) x 2545 7
The Guardian BV 5.8 (1,910) -39% 3044 41.1
Employee of the Month Lions Gate 5.1 (1,970) -55% 2579 19.4
One Night with the King Gener8Xion 4.2 (4,650) x 909 4.2
Jackass: Number Two Par 3.2 (1,380) -51% 2330 68.3
The Illusionist YF/FS/Odeon 1.4 (1,670) -27% 825 36.2
School for Scoundrels MGM 1.3 (900) -63% 1406 16.3
The Queen Miramax 1.0 (21,520) 146% 46 1.8
Fearless Focus .94 (1,060) -59% 886 23.5
Little Miss Sunshine Fox Searchlight .85 (1,680) -34% 505 56.3
Facing the Giants IDP .81 (2,090) -20% 387 4
The Gridiron Gang  Sony .78 (660) -65% 1174 38
Trailer Park Boys Alliance .69 (3,430) -37% 201 2.4
The Last King of Scotland Fox Searchlight .59 (5,690) 102% 104 1.3
The Science of Sleep WIP/Seville .54 (2,200) -21% 245 3.6
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $104.03 x x x
% Change (Last Year) x 8% 82.48 x x
% Change (Last Week) x 13% x x x
Also debuting/expanding
Infamous WIP .43 (2,420) x 179 0.43
Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker Alliance .21 (950) x 221 0.38
ShortBus Thinkfilm .13 (8,470) 18% 15 0.32
Little Children New Line .08 (16,270) -17% 5 0.25
Sweet Land Libero 44,800 (22,400) x 2 0.04
Driving Lessons Sony Classics 22,300 (2,790) x 8 0.02
Deliver Us from Evil Lions Gate 16,300 (4,070) x 4 0.02
Nearing Grace Whitewater 14,800 (235) x 63 0.01
Tideland Thinkfilm 8,100 (8,100) x 1 0.01


Top Domestic Releases: To October 12, 2006

Title  Distributor Gross
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest BVI 420,873,022
Cars BVI 243,969,546
X-Men: The Last Stand Fox 234,362,462
The Da Vinci Code Sony 217,988,137
Superman Returns WB 199,516,476
Ice Age: The Meltdown Fox 195,330,621
Over the Hedge Par 155,521,981
Talladega Nights: Legend of Ricky Bobby Sony 148,005,385
Click Sony 137,688,778
Mission: Impossible III Par 133,930,344
The Devil Wears Prada Fox 124,188,004
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 80,380,526
You, Me and Dupree Uni 75,694,004
* does not include 2005 box office    


Domestic Market Share: To October 12, 2006

Distributor Gross Mktshr
Sony (26) 1270.3 17.80%
Buena Vista (20) 1219.7 17.10%
Fox (20) 1010.6 14.20%
Paramount (13) 754.7 10.60%
Universal (17) 737.5 10.40%
Warner Bros. (18) 714.3 10.00%
Lions Gate (16) 237.8 3.30%
Weinstein Co. (12) 224.3 3.20%
New Line (11) 189.1 2.70%
Focus (11) 170.5 2.40%
Fox Searchlight (11) 155.1 2.20%
MGM (5) 85.4 1.20%
Sony Classics (19) 52.3 0.70%
FreeStyle (8) 49.1 0.70%
Other * (222) 251.5 3.50%
* none greater than 0.05% 7122.2 100.00%
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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