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David Poland

By David Poland

Box Office Hell – May 18, 2007

An Added Note: As most of you have noticed, I have taken myself out of the predictions game for the most part. Spouting studio tracking is particularly idiotic on films like Shrek The Third and Spider-Man 3 because it is always wrong and should be

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41 Responses to “Box Office Hell – May 18, 2007”

  1. MattM says:

    I’m thinking those numbers for Shrek are all WAY high. For mega-openers like Spidey or Pirates, big theatres in NYC are sold out (or substantially sold out) for the night by now. Tickets for all shows after 7:30 appear to be available at the Regal Union Square (which is a sell-out magnet), and even the 7 PM show at the AMC in Times Square still has tickets available.
    Obviously, Shrek is going to be less NYC-dependent and less Friday-night dependent than many other films, but part of what made the films successful is that they played four quadrant. Doesn’t seem like they’re getting the young adult audience.

  2. jeffmcm says:

    So if it’s idiotic to spout studio tracking, why report other outlets’ spoutings? Or are their numbers based on something else?

  3. LexG says:

    On the LA tip regarding what MattM just said, a cursory look at their web sites shows that no shows are sold out at the Arclight or the Grove here.
    Then again, this is probably a “take all the kids in the burbs on Saturday/Sunday afternoon” movie than one that sells out the hot-spot Hollywood/Westside (or Manhattan/NYC) big houses on Friday nights, which skew toward hipsters and adults without kids.
    I’ll ask again though, do people over 12 really care about Shrek? It’s not something I can see older teens, college kids, and adults without kids really going to see en masse. Pirates or Spidey are truly four quadrant… Isn’t Shrek kind of 1 1/2 quadrant (kids and parents)?

  4. MattM says:

    I think the first two (especially the first one) went for hipsters with the irreverant skewering of Disney/fairy tales, and the big names in the cast. It’s interesting that this time, I haven’t seen any of the cast names touted. The second one coasted off goodwill for the first one (which is massively over-appreciated to begin with).

  5. David Poland says:

    I would agree with Matt. The first film became a 4 quadrant beloved. The second film was a must-see, but was probably a mild dissapointment for much of the audience. And the third is probably skewing as young as most animation with some holdover. (One of the over-40 hosts of Squawk Box was was looking forward to the film this morning.)

  6. Lota says:

    Because Jeff
    it’s fun to speculate.
    RAT will rock the summer and will be the big surprise.
    I got handed a headband of Shrek ears today.
    That still won’t make me see it even though it looks cool with my hair ( I HATED Shrek 2).

  7. jeffmcm says:

    Lota, that doesn’t answer my question.

  8. Lota says:

    Geez Jeff
    Sometimes Dave posts up his opinion pieces
    sometimes Dave puts stuff up that he thinks WE will be interested in, doesn;t matter of he “believes it” or not.
    the money aspects are so speculative anyway

  9. jeffmcm says:

    That was all that needed to be said – ‘I think box office prediction has gotten silly but some of you like it so here are some numbers from people who don’t care if they look stupid’.

  10. EDouglas says:

    MattM: You’re forgetting that NYC is not the largest per capita of kids or families compared to the suburbs and smaller surrounding buros. Finding Nemo wasn’t sold out at all on opening day at the Regal in Union Square (which caters mostly to the NYU and downtown crowd) and that wound up making a lot of money in other regions.
    And David, you’re wrong about Shrek 2. Whether or not it was as good as the first movie or not (I personally liked it as much or slightly more), it’s only 1% lower on RottenTomatoes and one decimal point lower on IMDB, so obviously, others didn’t dislike Shrek 2 as much as you seemed to. I rarely use tracking these days, but the tracking I’ve seen is fairly even across the quadrants, though doing well among parents. I’m not exactly rushing out to see it but I didn’t the previous two movies either, and I’m sure those who loved the other movies will see this one, too.
    Either way, I openly admited in my update yesterday that I’m not as confident as my prediction in past weeks… I could be way high… could be way low… or maybe I’ll get lucky and it’ll end up close (stranger things have happened).

  11. Wrecktum says:

    Based on what’s happening today, I suspect Shrek 3 will have $40m in the bank by end of day Friday, which will translate into a $100m-$110m weekend.
    Of course, if its opening Saturday is as colossaly huge as Shrek 2’s, all bets are off the table.

  12. David Poland says:

    ED… basing your sense of reality on Rotten Tomatoes and imdb is not really grasping a broader sense of reality. These are measures will minimal context.
    Do you know anyone who cherishes Shrek 2 the way they cherished Shrek? Anyone?

  13. EDouglas says:

    Well, I never cherished Shrek, so Shrek 2 was just more of the same to me, though the improvement in the quality of the animation was very obvious to me. I think both movies are WAY overrated compared to much of PIxar’s offerings.
    But you have to remember, David, these are meant to be KIDS MOVIES, which means that what you and I think about them don’t matter. The continued success is an interesting look at how the growing population is adding new potential audiences to the franchise with each movie and how growing ticket prices are insuring a higher opening with each one. I know that I have two nephews, and while the first one was too young to see the first Shrek, I did see Shrek 2 with him, and I’m sure both my nephews will go see Shrek the Third. QED?

  14. Shrek = Meh
    Shrek 2 = The Incestuous Spawn of Satan

  15. David Poland says:

    Thing is, ED, Shrek 2 was not a ticket price jump or just kids. No 1 quadrant movie makes $400 million domestic.
    Shrek was conceived of as a kids movie, but became something else… not unlike The Matrix, which became a lot more than its gross. Shrek 2 and Matrix Reloaded both benefited from that.
    The question now is whether Shrek The Third is Matrix Revolutions or something a little better or likely to match Shrek 2.
    Your nephews are enough for Shrek The Third to be a $250 million movie, but not a $400 million movie.

  16. Bulldog68 says:

    Deadline Hollywood Daily is reporting a $39m Friday. Leading to the 3rd biggest weekend of all time. I think its a summer 2 horse race between Shrek and PoTC. Transformes is beginning to look better. More like an updated Independence Day. Could surprise and pull a 300m.

  17. EDouglas says:

    I think Shrek the Third is pretty safe as at least a $300 million movie unless Pirates 3 completely kills it next week, but I think there’s enough of an audience for both of them and Shrek is less likely to be affected by the movies opening on June 1 than Pirates is. Then again, Spider-Man is going to have trouble cracking the $300 million mark by Memorial Day after making half that amount in its first three days so we’re definitely seeing a lot of frontend loading this summer so far.

  18. EDouglas says:

    (BTW, my nephew argument was me being semi-facetious if it wasn’t obvious)

  19. RudyV says:

    If “RAT” is the abbreviation for RATATOUILLE, I have a hard time believing it will do even as well as CARS. How many people will really be captivated by a movie about French cuisine? With CARS you could at least expect the NASCAR crowd to show up, as well as fans of Owen Wilson, while “RAT” has, uh….
    At one point Spidey might have dominated the summer, but Raimi was so eager to kiss the franchise goodbye that he let every producer and his girlfriend suggest subplots, which of course bogged the film down. Too many villains, too much dopey retroactive continuity, too much of everything but a good, solid story. And the capper of them all–to have the alien symbiote just drop out of the sky to land on the one person who needed it the most was, ahh, dumb (Ebert’s “Fallacy of the Predictable Tree” anyone?).
    Since SHREK 3 is also proving to be a disappointment to all but the kiddies, I suppose that gives PIRATES 3 the real opportunity to dominate the summer…as long as it doesn’t suck. “Dead Man’s Chest” may have coasted on the inertia of “Black Pearl” (Anyone remember that the main complaint about “Black Pearl” was that there was too much running around? Well, that’s ALL that “Dead Man’s Chest” was!), but “World’s End” has to payoff the entire series and make everyone happy just to earn back the investment, let alone insure the return of a #4, tho without Verbinski, who has apparently threatened to slit his wrists or somesuch if he has to make another movie set on the water.
    As for TRANSFORMERS, don’t even count on the fanboys showing up–they’re still pissy that the main villain won’t be turning himself into a handgun. And don’t forget this is MICHAEL frikkin’ BAY we’re talking about here, the red-headed stepchild of King Midas–everything he touches turns to crap.

  20. RudyV says:

    …and I forgot to mention that any fan of SOUTH PARK can tell you that visual quality is much less important than a good story. After hearing so many reports about SHREK’s visual upgrade, I started to hear the echoes of game designers who loudly proclaim how many polys they’re cranking out rather than admit they’ve let gameplay suffer from neglect.
    So…has anyone taken a stroll down the breakfast aisle at your local supermarket? Just take a look at all those cereal boxes and guess what? Shrek has entered the Uncanny Valley. Those soft eyes and long eyelashes, the unblemished skin and smooth facial lines–this isn’t a cartoon ogre, it’s Mike Myers in drag! Who wants to see that?

  21. anghus says:

    i don’t know why, but the misspell on ‘Georgia Rule’ made me laugh.
    Now i want to see a movie called GEORGIA RULES.
    It would, of course, be a work of complete fiction.

  22. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Obviously, Shrek is going to be less NYC-dependent and less Friday-night dependent than many other films …
    There’s also a Mets-Yankees “Subway Series” this weekend to affect the NYC turnout.

  23. Lota says:

    Well we already had a movie called SWEET HOME ALABAMA why not GEORGIA RULES. The mountains up north are pretty anyway, too bad about their Senate.
    Rudy Rudy Rudy.
    I agree with you on Shrek, cosmetically and disappointment-wise but Disagree on RAT.
    Yes RAT is Rattatooeee, what did you think I meant…Ratner?
    Anyway RAT will do better than CARS. The word of mouth will be good and the Rats are damn cute and every time I’ve seen the trailer it’s the only thing that kids are perking up to, the rest of the trailers were bringing the Ho-hum vibe.

  24. Direwolf says:

    Shrek is looking at $38-40 million depending on the source. That is a big number and the film is headed over the top end of expectations. Probably well over. The first two films bumped 51% and 58% on Saturday. Front loading exists but you got to think this film is looking at at least $50 million today. The first two films dropped 24% adn 22% on Sunday. Let’s call it 33% this time and you are looking at a weekend of $39, $50, $33 or $122. And if the Saturda number explodes to $60ish, it could be near the $135 figure.
    FWIW, the over was the good bet here as just like on Wall Street the expectations game was played well and the numbers were very much kept in check. The studio was talking them down, while industry had lots of plausible reasons to expect it to be one of the one of the big three to suffer due to its release date.

  25. Wrecktum says:

    Yeah, Ratatouille isn’t about French cuisine. It’s about talking animals. People love talking animal cartoons.
    With a $40m Friday (predicted by me last night) will Shrek 3 end the weekend with a Shrek 2 multiplier or with a more traditional Harry-Potterian multiplier? Either way its final weekend gross is comfortably above $100m.

  26. EDouglas says:

    I’m thinking it will be somewhere between Ice Age 2 (3.12) and Over the Hedge (3.5ish)… to wind up with $125 – 130 million for the weekend, third highest opening movie. Astounding.

  27. RudyV says:

    Sorry, Lota–folks have been tossing around so many acronyms (I still can’t get TWINE out of my head) that I assumed “RAT” had to be a new one, and I even Googled it.
    I dunno about the movie itself, though. Everything we’ve seen so far has emphasized food, and we didn’t even find out until perhaps two months ago that humans would be anything other than background antagonists.
    But cute rats?!? Uh, did we see the same trailers–I can’t help but think about the tubby rat chewing on unidentifiable garbage. I know the kids will love that, but the rest of us…?

  28. “And don’t forget this is MICHAEL frikkin’ BAY we’re talking about here, the red-headed stepchild of King Midas–everything he touches turns to crap.”
    Yeah, but how many of those crap movies have made tonnes of money. I think you’ll find the answer is “All except The Island” unless I’m forgetting another flop he made that had everyone proclaiming “He’s over!” about.
    And, honestly, how many people see the trailer for Ratatouille and go “Oh, a movie about french cuisine. I don’t wanna see that!” And I never really bought that NASCAR argument about Cars. Talledega Nights, definitely. Cars, not so much.

  29. cjKennedy says:

    Disney founded their empire on a talking rat. What’s the big deal?
    I’m rooting for Ratatouille if for no other reason than it’s not a sequel.

  30. RudyV says:

    I’m sorry, I meant that Bay’s movies are in and of themselves crap. I had to sit in on a high school history class recently where the teacher was showing the TV-version of PEARL HARBOR during their unit on WWII–in the back of my mind I was constantly repeating the mantra “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
    This reminded me of reading Don Murphy’s attack on a USA Today writer who had called LXG (there’s an acronym for ya) a “resounding flop”–okay, so it made its money back, now calm down–but the movie itself still sucked. It was hilariously bad, and violated the comic it was based on like it was a drunken cheerleader. But all that really matters is that it made its investment back.

  31. RudyV says:

    Uhh, Mickey is a mouse. Y’know…MIC-KEY M-O-U-S-E.
    Big difference between a mouse and a rat. How many people would’ve felt any sympathy for the lead character of that Verbinski movie if it had been titled RATHUNT?

  32. David Poland says:

    Ebert’s Fallacy of the Predictable Tree
    The logical error committed every time the good guy is able to predict exactly what the bad guy is going to do. For example, in FIRST BLOOD, law enforcement officials are searching the woods for John Rambo. A cop pauses under a tree. Rambo drops on him. Question: Out of all the trees in the forest, how did Rambo know which one the guy would pause under?
    Note to Rudy: You forgot to mention that not only does the meteor just happen to land by Spider-Man’s scooter at a time when only Spidey and Mary Jane are in Central Park, but then the man who will be Venom just happens to be in a church – praying for Peter Parker’s death (??????) – when Parker rips off the symbiote (sic?), letting it drip onto Eddie, who also happens to be standing under the church bell, which just happens to have an open column of space down to the ground.

  33. brack says:

    Who else thinks The Simpsons will do some great business?

  34. jeffmcm says:

    Fortunately even Ebert knows that that ‘fallacy’ is often meaningless because of the ‘it’s only a movie’ codicil.

  35. Cadavra says:

    I think SIMSPONS (and RAT) will both be huge.
    Moreover, I just saw SURF’S UP, and it’s the closest anyone has yet gotten to Pixar’s quirky sensibility. Expect it to perform like CARS: less-than-stellar opening but tremendous legs as the word spreads.

  36. Cadavra says:

    SIMSPONS? D’oh!!

  37. Rudy, I can’t tell whether you’re being sarcastic or you are actually being serious. Besides, the rat in Ratatouille doesn’t exactly look like some sewer-dwelling giant rat. And also, the main rat character in the movie isn’t the one that eats garbage. Did you see the same trailer as everyone else? You’re confusing me.
    And, also, your thing about Michael Bay was that you thought it wouldn’t be a hit because Michael Bay movies are crap, but what I was saying was that that’s never stopped his movies being hits before. And that wasn when they weren’t based on nostalgic sci-fi properties.
    I honestly don’t understand what you’re getting at.
    “I’m rooting for Ratatouille if for no other reason than it’s not a sequel.”
    Amen to that.

  38. cjKennedy says:

    RudyV, I’m perfectly aware of the taxonomic differences between rats and mice. It was sort of a snarky swipe at Disney. Do you work for them or something?

  39. RudyV says:

    I wish. If I did, though, I probably wouldn’t have expressed any reservations about RATATOUILLE. I love PIXAR to death, sorta, but I dunno–if they really want to French it up and make it feel like AMELIE then I’ll be sold.
    (As for that “sorta”, I attended every PIXAR film religiously until MONSTERS INC–for some reason the promos left me with a feeling of “feh” so I took a pass. Same with NEMO. But once I saw them on DVD I fell in love with them. Maybe they just did a bad job of marketing them to adults.)
    As for taxonomy, I grew up in the country so I’ve had plenty of exposure to mice. Kinda cute, actually. Rats, though, I’ve only seen in cages, and they inspire me with the same amount of affection as piranhas, or those little Amazonian fish that swim up your wang.

  40. I had a pet rat once. It was cute.
    If you were so religious to Pixar then you probably should’ve gone even if they didn’t look like they were better than 98% of movies from their year (which they were, pretty much)

  41. cjKennedy says:

    “or those little Amazonian fish that swim up your wang.” HAH!
    You know it’s going to be an excellent day when someone tosses off a reference to the candiru fish.
    And in case anyone has any doubts left about the magnitude of the Internet’s beauty, all I had to do was Google ‘Amazon Fish Penis’ to find out what those fish are called. Genius!
    I was late to the Pixar game, but I fell for them with The Incredibles.

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