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David Poland

By David Poland

Sunday Estimates by Klady

The Theatrical Box Office Is Dead! Long Live The Dead Theatrical Box Office!!!
As Father Oyl said endlessly in Popeye, someone owes me – and more importantly, the industry – an apology.
I will explore this further in tomorrow

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61 Responses to “Sunday Estimates by Klady”

  1. movielocke says:

    Interesting that there are comparatively low percentage drops across the board, Nativity’s 19% is especially interesting, Next weekend (just before christmas) may actually see an increase, and the week following Christmas will probably be the best weekday grosses the movie will ever achieve. But I’d expect a pretty big drop on the weekend before new years.
    how does Dreamgirls per theatre compare to Brokeback’s first weekend of limited release? I know it was ridiculously high as well, but Brokeback wasn’t limited to one screen in it’s initial five or so theatres…

  2. EthanG says:

    110,000+ per theatre for Dreamgirls? Goodness…
    I think more than anything this weekend confirmed Will Smith as the biggest box office star in the world currently.
    What I don’t understand is how analysts were touting this year as some sort of box office renaissance over the last. Surely they knew there was nothing this month to compare to King Kong, Chronicles and Harry Potter? While there is certainly more variety this year, and an oppurtunity to make up a little ground in these last few weeks, this month is largely littered by the corpses of box office follies.

  3. Wrecktum says:

    This holiday season is very unusual due to the lack of franchise films. Had there been a Narnia or Potter slotted in the season, I think you’d definitely see this year as a “renaissance over the last.”

  4. Wrecktum says:

    As a follow-up, the top four holiday movies in ’05 were:
    Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe
    Goblet of Fire
    King Kong
    Chicken Little
    Two huge franchise films, one mammoth remake reimagined by a big-name filmmaker, and a Disney animated family film.
    The only franchise film in ’06 is Casino Royale, and that doesn’t appeal to families.

  5. EthanG says:

    Because of this terrible scheduling, ticket sales for the year will wind up only slightly ahead of last year overall.
    It’s unbelievable that through the first three weekends of this month we haven’t had one opening to crack the top 20 openings for the year. With advanced tracking for We Are Marshall and Night at the Museam not particularly strong, the studios better pray people flock to see Rocky next weekend.

  6. Wrecktum says:

    If it’s true that Night at the Museum isn’t tracking strong, then color me surprised. I always had the movie pegged as one of the top two December releases. It seems to have everything going for it: a popular leading comic actor; fun, family-friendly premise; strong supporting cast, and a funny, crowd-pleasing trailer. If it opens soft, what would be the reason why?

  7. EDouglas says:

    Night at the Museum will do fine. They should stop releasing tracking if irresponsible journalists who don’t know how to interpret the data or understand the purpose keep posting analysis based on it.

  8. Direwolf says:

    But Nikki says Night At The Museum is going to do big box office and is tracking well 🙂

  9. Eric says:

    If Night at the Museum doesn’t open well, it’s because it looks like yet another tired retread of Jumanji.

  10. EDouglas says:

    “If Night at the Museum doesn’t open well, it’s because it looks like yet another tired retread of Jumanji.”
    And if it does well, it’s because it looks like another Jumanji. (Actually, I think most kids under 12 have probably never even heard of Jumanji.)

  11. Wrecktum says:

    Jumanji came out eleven years ago. I think it’s safe to crib some of the details of that film.

  12. MattM says:

    According to another public source, tracking is as follows (numbers are “awareness, definite interest, first choice”).
    Rocky Balboa–84, 29, 6
    Good Shepherd–62, 34, 4
    Night At The Museum–73, 41, 7
    We Are Marshall–57, 31, 4
    Dreamgirls–70, 30, 5
    Museum looks good off those numbers, especially since these are tracking adults rather than kids. Rocky Balboa has to be happy with the awareness number, but concerned by the huge gap between awareness and interest. Seems like it has to not just make people aware, but also get them independently interested.

  13. Eric says:

    Well, Zathura was pretty much Jumanji in space only a year ago, and that didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Just saying it’s not really a novel concept.

  14. David Poland says:

    Please… let’s not start throwing snippets of tracking around in here.
    How many of you have ever seen a tracking package? Do you realize that it is 8 – 15 pages, which people who are desperate for attention are happy to “report,” without even seeing the tracking itself, much less considering the various details?
    “They should stop releasing tracking…”
    They don’t release tracking, ED. Studio execs leak details to friends, either looking to promote or undermine. I doubt Nikki or Jeff has ever had an actual tracking package in their hot little hands. This is what I keep saying…. they “report” what they are told. They don’t even have the source material available to them.

  15. EDouglas says:

    See one of the things I don’t like about the public posting of tracking is that those are the AVERAGES of the four quadrants (or five if they’re polling teens or African-Americans), and it really does give a clearer picture when one group has HUGE numbers compared to others. For instance, something like The Holiday, it really doesn’t matter if guys under 25 don’t know about the movie or don’t want to see it. You can’t see that by the numbers being posted. (And Matt has a good point because they don’t generally poll kids..though usually around this time, they do have separate data for kids from 7 to 12 and their parents)
    And as David said in another thread, analyzing the box office based solely on tracking is foolish..just look at Borat.

  16. EDouglas says:

    “They should stop releasing tracking…”
    They don’t release tracking, ED. Studio execs leak details to friends, either looking to promote or undermine. I doubt Nikki or Jeff has ever had an actual tracking package in their hot little hands. This is what I keep saying…. they “report” what they are told. They don’t even have the source material available to them.”
    That’s what I meant..that the execs who are paying for this data, and probably signing releases about keeping that data private, should stop giving it to people who’ll use it improperly. But you have a good point that the studios have good reason to leak to journalists who they know will trash other studios’ movies or make them look better. (I have a source for tracking but I never publish it or use it solely for my analysis–for better or worse–or use it to attack any studio’s marketing dept.)
    It’s a shame that this is what the movie biz has come to though.
    Eric, Zathura didn’t have a star of the caliber of Robin Williams or Ben Stiller. As much as it’s true that star power doesn’t matter, for movies like Night at the Museum, it makes all the difference.

  17. jeffmcm says:

    Since when did star power not matter?
    So the only people who have full access to tracking are the studio execs who subscribe to it then, right? I’ve been asking this for months, when it seemed to be assumed that every reviewer or pundit in Hollywood had access to it.

  18. MattM says:

    I freely admit my tracking is not complete (I am in no way involved in the movie industry except as a patron)–but it’s a useful tool for analysis (and misanalysis). Oftentimes, people focus exclusively on the first number, rather than the second and the third numbers.

  19. EDouglas says:

    “So the only people who have full access to tracking are the studio execs who subscribe to it then, right? I’ve been asking this for months, when it seemed to be assumed that every reviewer or pundit in Hollywood had access to it.”
    Studio execs, distributors and I assume exhibitors pay these companies for their polling data. I’m sure it’s not cheap.

  20. Wrecktum says:

    “Since when did star power not matter?”
    For most films, it doesn’t. For a holiday family action comedy, it does.

  21. jeffmcm says:

    Oh, so The Pursuit of Happyness would have made as much money this weekend if it starred Don Cheadle? And people primarily went to see Happy Feet because of Hugh Jackman and Brittany Murphy?

  22. EDouglas says:

    “Since when did star power not matter?”
    Horror films, high concept comedies, spoof films like Scary Movie/Date Movie etc, most lower budget kid flicks. (Put it this way, Paul Walker did nothing to help Eight Below do as well as it did.)

  23. EthanG says:

    My apologies for bringing tracking into the mix. I think the point is, bottom line this has been a disatrous last month for the box office when it comes to yearly comparisons.
    Deck the Halls, The Fountain, Tenacious D, The Nativity Story, Turistas, Van Wilder 2, Blood Diamond, The Holiday, Unaccompanied Minors and Charlotte’s Web have ALL performed below expectations.
    Deja Vu and Apocalypto have about been on par and Pursuit of Happyness looks to exceed what’s expected but that doesn’t change the fact no film has opened with a 30 million weekend since Casino Royale and Happy Feet. And this is the holiday season.

  24. jeffmcm says:

    Paul Walker might not have helped Eight Below a lot (especially considering that Running Scared was a total flop at the same time) but he did help a little – a kids movie needs to at least have a recognizable face or else families will think – eek! – that it’s an indie movie.

  25. EDouglas says:

    “bottom line this has been a disatrous last month for the box office when it comes to yearly comparisons.”
    Anyone want to double dog dare Ethan to use the “S” word? 🙂
    All kidding aside, I’m not sure anyone expected this holiday season to be that much better than last year, not without a King Kong or a Chronicles of Narnia. At least next weekend should be stronger than last year’s Xmas offerings (still can’t believe there were over 6 new releases this time last year on top of many expansions)

  26. EDouglas says:

    “a kids movie needs to at least have a recognizable face or else families will think – eek! – that it’s an indie movie.”
    I’m sure that goes through exactly ZERO heads when deciding whether to go see a movie about sled dogs. And I think we’ve seen many times that an indie movie can have “starpower” and not bring in audiences…the last few months alone, we’ve had Sherrybaby (Maggie Gyllenhaal–okay not quite a draw yet), Come Early Morning (Ashley Judd), 10 Items or Less (Ashley’s buddy Morgan Freeman), Fur (Nicole Kidman) and many more… I WISH that starpower had more effect on box office for indie movies, at least the good ones.

  27. jeffmcm says:

    Edouglas, it might not be a conscious thought in the minds of the moviegoers, but it’s there, and the producers know it. People don’t care who exactly it is they’re seeing in a movie, as long as there’s some recognizable face, even if it’s Tim Allen or Wilmer Valderrama, to signify studio-level quality. It’s not starpower per se, it’s production value. What was the last family hit with _no_ stars in it? Even March of the Penguins had Morgan Freeman.
    (the answer, by the way, is High School Musical.)

  28. EDouglas says:

    “Tim Allen or Wilmer Valderrama”
    Bad examples… Zoom and Unaccompanied Minors bombed despite those recognziable faces.
    “What was the last family hit with _no_ stars in it?”
    Chronicles of Narnia?
    Sometimes it’s far too easy to win arguments with you, Jeff. 🙂

  29. jeffmcm says:

    It doesn’t matter if Zoom or Unaccompanied Minors were hits or bombs, I’m not talking about final success, the point is that the producers put thost actors into their movies as a hedge against the poor quality of the rest of the movie. This is a sampling thing, not a starpower thing. People demand at least a smattering of familiar faces in their movies. If they didn’t, the producers could save a lot a money.
    High School Musical came out after Chronicles of Narnia, which featured Tilda Swinton, Jim Broadbent, Liam Neeson, and Our Lord and Savior.

  30. T.Holly says:

    Is “The Pursuit of Happyness” a high-concept movie?

  31. jeffmcm says:

    By the way, I agree that this doesn’t carry over for horror movies. Apparently teens are better at knowing what they want to see without needing to think “oh, Kurt Russell is in it, I guess I can take my kids to see it now”.

  32. T.Holly says:

    No need to apologize EthanG “for bringing tracking into the mix.” I just want to know, who’s MattM’s, (I am in no way involved in the movie industry except as a patron),source? Box Office Mojo or something?

  33. EDouglas says:

    “oh, Kurt Russell is in it, I guess I can take my kids to see it now”.
    I think that’s what Quentin Tarantino’s motivation was for casting him in “Grind House” 🙂

  34. T.Holly says:

    My turn. Just checked, Box Office Mojo is not MattM’s source. Who are these “public sources” of his?

  35. Wrecktum says:

    Tilda Swinton, Jim Broadbent and Liam Neeson stars?
    This whole “star vehicle” argument has been done to death, so there’s really no reason to delve in it again, but suffice it to say, I don’t see any evidence that more than a handful of stars affect boxoffice these days. Will Smith can always open movies in at least the $20s. So can Denzel and Cruise and Hanks. But that’s about it.
    It’s great having recognizable actors in your films. It really, really helps marketing. But when push comes to shove, a well-known actor will not sustain a film’s business at the box office unless the movie’s concept and execution are appealing to filmgoers.

  36. T.Holly says:

    Casting is very complicated. Did Len Klady name a new genre calling P of H a “human comedy.”

  37. MattM says:

    Wells regularly posts tracking averages–that’s where I got those numbers from.
    And HSM doesn’t count as a “no-star” hit for two reasons. First, it’s non-theatrical (though were it theatrical, it would have done decent bank). Second, Ashley Tisdale is a star of decent size in that universe (Disney Channel viewers).
    Also, “Step Up” was a sizable teengirl hit despite an absence of stars (Rachel Griffiths wasn’t featured, and Channing Tatum is not a star).

  38. ployp says:

    According to IMDb, the budget of Eragon is 100 million. Did they spend that amount on the dragon? It didn’t seem like a special effects – heavy movie when I saw it. And the cast wouldn’t have cost anything. Jeremy Irons? John Malcovich? and the kid who plays Eragon?

  39. Joe Leydon says:

    But who can really judge just how much star power — any kind of star power — can help a movie? I mean, seriously, how many people of a certain age went to see The Notebook primarily because they heard James Garner was in it? I’ll bet more than we might suspect.

  40. T.Holly says:

    Doesn’t Tapley say Eragon’s in the VFX bake off?
    Matt, oh yeah, no shit, Wells does, and Ed always yells at him, no wonder he went away, it couldn’t be me. Really, check out the HR article, it touches on everything talked about here in a general roundtable with working pros, very informative. DP also noted a book he likes, a few days ago, called “A Star Is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Movies” by Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins. good night

  41. RDP says:

    Reminds me of the discussion I had with a producer regarding the relative value of casting Joey Lauren Adams versus Rachel Hunter. He managed to prove to me, using numbers and everything, that Joey Lauren Adams was a far bigger star.
    My teenage son, who was right about the target age for this particular movie, had never heard of either one of them.

  42. jeffmcm says:

    Wrecktum, I’m only talking about marketing purposes – opening a film. Swinton, Broadbent, and Neeson are not Tom Cruise, but their presence in a trailer, or the presence of Jeremy Irons and Malkovich in the trailer for Eragon, tells viewers that the movie is at a certain Hollywood level of class, regardless of how junky the script is. Let me repeat again, I’m talking about production value; hiring Jeremy Irons to be in Eragon is basically the same as another dozen shots of dragon action or scenic medieval landscapes.

  43. Wrecktum says:

    I disagree. Strongly. I believe that Swinton, Broadbent, and Neeson’s voice add nothing to the marketing of a film trailer, unless, of course, it were a small art-house film with award aspirations.

  44. jeffmcm says:

    Then why hire them to be in the movie? Sounds like they’re just eating into the profits. I know I wouldn’t have seen the movie without knowing that there was a promise of quality, thanks to the casting of those three (yes, I know I am not representative).
    To make a more obvious example, why does every major animated feature have an all-star voice cast now?

  45. EDouglas says:

    Really? I saw the movie yesterday and it definitely looked like those FX to create the dragons would have been expensive. I thought the VFX looked really good… not really sure what people are complaining about on that side of things as ILM did a pro job with the dragon compared to other similar movies. The acting…well let’s just say that Jeremy Irons never looked better compared to his co-stars. The acting and direction are probably where it faultered a bit…but it wasn’t terrible.

  46. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, this discussion reminds me of the era when producers would try to tart up their junky movies by hiring Laurence Olivier for a lead role. Sometimes that worked (The Boys from Brazil), sometimes it didn’t (Inchon).

  47. ployp says:

    I agree that Saphira looks fantastic but besides her (and the evil fortress) what else required a lot of CG? I didn’t know that ILM was hired. But still, would that have cost 100 million?
    The score really bothered me. It overwhelmed the story and totally distracts me from the screen.

  48. T.Holly says:

    “See one of the things I don’t like about the public posting of tracking is that those are the AVERAGES of the four quadrants (or five if they’re polling teens or African-Americans), and it really does give a clearer picture when one group has HUGE numbers compared to others.” EDouglas
    Public posting. So Wells isn’t the only one posting, or is he?
    mc, you’re being played about stars — of course it matters, that’s why I linked the casting article — so you could elevate your game, man.
    Can’t remember, did someone here compare Eragon’s plot to that of Star Wars?

  49. Tofu says:

    Everyone has made that valid comparison at this point. Yuck.
    Nesson & Swinton aren’t blockbuster stars, but they are stars who have appeared in blockbusters. They add credibility and a tone, which is something that other marketing efforts have to spend thousands if not millions to define.
    … Casino Royale is only $950,000 away from Die Another Day. Besides the holidays not landing in the middle of the week like 2002, this is a pretty clear shot.

  50. T.Holly says:

    The problem I have with this POV is that it’s disconnected from the process and art and ignores what is more the reality and central issues of casting and puts too much emphasis on studio approval (i.e. marketing). Nobody, even studio people, succeeds with this kind of tunnel thinking.
    RE Purssuit of Happyness, I’m reminded of an old quote: “I don’t know what a high concept movie is, but I know it when I see one.” I hear it’s a human comedy. I guess that an important distinction with all the animal comedies out there.

  51. James Leer says:

    I adore Tilda Swinton but Narnia was not sold on her. She is not a “movie star” and she is only a name in the independent film world…where she still is not a draw. She did not eat into the profits of that film one iota. Narnia wasn’t sold on Liam Neeson, either (don’t forget that they’d originally cast Brian Cox in that voice role). Perhaps they could have exploited that, but they didn’t, and most of the ads didn’t feature his voice at all.

  52. jeffmcm says:

    No, it wasn’t ‘sold’ on her, but her presence in the movie was a contributing prestige factor. As Tofu said, she, Neeson, and Broadbent added ‘credibility and tone’ that you wouldn’t get if they had cast, say, Barbara Kellerman or Michael Aldridge.

  53. Wrecktum says:

    I don’t think it would have made any difference at all. Narnia could have cast my cousin and the head waiter at Ago, and the gross would still be the same.

  54. LexG says:

    For the record, I saw HOME OF THE BRAVE at the Arclight on Saturday at 11:30am. I was the ONLY ONE IN THE THEATER. That is, at least, until an hour into the flick when two teenage Latinas snuck in and started giggling at Sam Jackson’s outbursts for a half a reel, then decided to leave. That was MOST distracting.
    Anyway, it wasn’t bad. A bit histrionic, but I enjoyed its earnestness.

  55. EthanG says:

    Anyone who thinks voice work from stars has much of any effect on box office, should look no further than Charlotte’s Web or The Ant Bully, the two most talent heavy voice movies of the year. Ant Bully is looked at as probably animation’s biggest dissapointment this year.

  56. jeffmcm says:

    I’m not talking about box office success. The point I am making is that producers find it necessary to cast stars in family movies at all as an added attraction.
    Wrecktum, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I do know that if your cousin had taken Swinton’s part, the movie would have grossed at least $10 less (mine).

  57. Wrecktum says:

    Yes, but I would have seen it twice! +$10

  58. jeffmcm says:

    Nicely done.

  59. jeffmcm says:

    Oh, let me conclude this by adding that putting stars into every movie isn’t something that I like – it’s marketing, and I think marketing is almost entirely evil, and the world would be better off if the studios would cast the best actor for a part than checking for Tim Allen’s availability.

  60. Ugh. It’s the dreamworks effect of throwing any and every celebrity into an animated film (going back to Antz I believe). Just the other day I watched Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. The biggest star between the two? Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach.

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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