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David Poland

By David Poland

The Trouble With Shrek

I missed Saturday

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50 Responses to “The Trouble With Shrek”

  1. MattM says:

    Well, there’s 2,000+ screens that “Lucky You” will lose next weekend, which should help, and Pirates will get the Georgia Rule screens and whatever’s left of the Disney screens for Invisible and Robinsons. I’m not sure how much of a crunch there really is.

  2. Remember, not every theatre is going to be playing Spidey and Shrek and Pirates. Some theatres, like mine, are only going to be getting Shrek, and we’re giving it three of our six screens opening weekend.
    Shrek also doesn’t have to worry about not picking up many screens. If a theatre in the 14-30 screen range was playing Spidey on up to seven screens opening weekend and this past weekend, it will probably drop to three or four screens this weekend and down to two to three next weekend. In addition to all the dead wide release that will fall out of theatres in the next two weeks (Delta Farce, The Ex, Lucky You, Georgia Rule) and the somewhat older releases that will slow down due to natural attrition of patrons after a month plus run (Hot Fuzz, The Namesake, Meet the Robinson, Fracture, The Invisible) and there are more than enough screens available for Shrek and Pirates to each get 8000+.

  3. David Poland says:

    But you kinda made the point, Ed… you had to choose between Shrek and Pirates because you can’t have four Pirates screens and three Shrek screens on Memorial Day… you only have six total. And Shrek is, it seems, demanding that Memorial Day hold. So if you are Regal, which way do you lean?
    If Shrek The Third is at $175 million after 11 days, do you think they’ll be happy?

  4. Cadavra says:

    One Spidey, two Shrek, three Pirates. The distribs are not idiots, and they know that as long as their film stays on screen, even if it’s only one screen, they’ll be fine. Remember, what goes around, comes around, and if someone’s a dick about a holdover this time, they may pay for it the next time when they want to open something a week after another blockbuster.

  5. jeffmcm says:

    What I think is more important in all this is that in a couple of weeks, the combined mass of Spider-Man/Shrek/Pirates will be taking a huge percentage of all the screens in this country and bumping out smaller/better movies in order to do so. That’s the real thing to be concerned about here, not multiple bloated tentpoles jostling against each other.

  6. Dave, you ignored my first point… not every theatre, especially smaller locations, was ever going to get all three. Operators of smaller locations have to pick and choose what they can play, since most majors demand a specific amount of weeks their films must play on a certain number of screens… and exhibitors can force theatres with DLP projectors have to keep the movies they book on those DLP screens for a longer time, regardless of how much or how little business the film does (which is one of the many reasons digital rollout isn’t happening as quickly as it should, and one of the reasons only two major theatres in the Los Angeles area will be playing Shrek 3 in DLP). But the majority of theatres in the US have more than 12 screens, so even if every location that gets Shrek plays it on an average of just two screens, that’s still going to be more than 8,000 screens Shrek will be playing on (judging by the estimates 4,000 playdates).

  7. David Poland says:

    I see that, Ed… fair enough. And Shrek will be on 4 screens in any 12 plex this weekend.
    But my point is, Shrek will have a hard time getting those two screens on Memorial Day if they are demanding a hold of four. And that has been the battle so far.

  8. Chucky in Jersey says:

    For once jeffmcm called it right. Product flow is gonna be a big problem the next 2-3 weeks.
    AMC in New Jersey is hit-and-miss on anything that’s not a tentpole. I’m not certain if AMC’s Hamilton megaplex will pick up “Waitress” — and that movie goes national for Memorial Day.
    UA/Regal in the Hamptons opened “Spider-Man 3” extra-wide: 2 of 6 screens in East Hampton, 2 of 4 screens in Southampton, 2 of 5 screens in Hampton Bays. I don’t see that happening for “Shrek the Third” or POTC3.

  9. “But my point is, Shrek will have a hard time getting those two screens on Memorial Day if they are demanding a hold of four. And that has been the battle so far.”
    But it hasn’t been a battle at all. A lot of theatres are already doing pre-sales for both Shrek 3 and Pirates 3. If you have the time and the inclination, you can visit any of the major online movie ticketing websites, and see for yourself how many screens both films are going to open on. It’s just a matter of taking the time to spot-check any number of regions, big and small, metropolitan and rural, to see how the numbers are going to play out. However, it must be noted that, even with the large 20-30plexes, they are currently only listing one screen of Pirates, which means many exhibitors are waiting to see how the third week of Spidey will play out before deciding how many screens they want of Pirates.
    99% of the theatres that were booked with Shrek were already booked a week ago, with the final number of screens to be allocated today. 99% of the theatres that will be booked with Pirates will be booked by today, with the final number of screens to be allocated decided by this time next Monday.

  10. cjKennedy says:

    So what does this mean to me the consumer? It means it’s a fine time of year to stay away from the multiplex.

  11. Chucky in Jersey says:

    The Regal Union Square just put up its schedule for 5/18-24. It’ll open at least 3 screens for “Shrek the Third” and hold at least 5 screens for “Spider-Man 3” (4 film/1 DLP). Too had it may have to drop its 2nd print of “Waitress”.

  12. Aladdin Sane says:

    cjk, you can’t stay away from a crowded multiplex. that’s part of the fun of the summer. having some a-hole spill their junior mints all over you.

  13. Telemachos says:

    I’ll be curious what the reaction to SHREK 3 is. I thought it was boring, mundane, bland, generic, etc. Nothing new at all — it felt like a glorified straight-to-video release. At least SHREK 2 offered Far-Far Away as a new location with new characters. Of course, the audience I was with seemed to enjoy it, so I’ve no doubt it’ll make tons of money. I wonder if it’ll be able to crack $350 million though.

  14. Anything that means less cash for greedy mean-spirited Dreamworks the better, I say!

  15. crazycris says:

    Here’s Belgium’s solution:
    Shrek 3 bumped a few weeks (June 20th) to keep the screens available for Spidey and then have room for Pirates (which we get on 23/5)! Makes sense too ’cause kids should start being on holiday around then…
    It is sad though that all these screens reserved for the big tentpoles means lower diversity of options. Greedy, greedy, GREEDY! Who loses? The public with a modicum of taste! ;o)
    (thank heavens for the local independant cinema! am planning on watching Iwo Jima -finally!- and Sunshine this week)

  16. cjKennedy says:

    Aladdin…don’t forget people using the matinee as a baby sitter for their children. That’s my favorite.
    Luckily Los Angeles still has 1 1/2 art house chains I can hide out in until September.

  17. Aladdin Sane says:

    Well I finally saw SM3 last night. I’d be surprised if it still has two screens in any cinema by the time POTC comes out. The film was terrible.

  18. Spacesheik says:

    SHREK 3 has ‘jumped the shark’ it seems; more of the same, hip jokes with references adults can ‘get,’ routine slapstick and so forth.
    At 81 minutes long, is it even worth the theatre trip?
    That story about Katzenberg speaking of the ‘big three’ movies (PIRATES, SPIDEY and SHREK) dominating the summer seems even more ludicrous now.
    SHREK will probably make much less than either the panned SPIDEY or the upcoming PIRATES.
    Really, imho, its not looking like a good summer. I am not really looking forward to OCEANS 13, BOURNE or FF2 – I do want to see DIE HARD 3 though, even though the supposed PG-13 rating is a kick in the balls.
    What do you guys think?

  19. jeffmcm says:

    I think there are really no big movies that I’m excited about – I’m marginally into Ocean’s, Bourne, and Transformers but none of them feel like movies I need to see on opening weekend.
    I finally saw Spider-Man 3 last night and it was better than I expected. It’s very uneven but the things in it that are good are as good as anything in either of the first two movies. (If it makes people feel better, the things in it that are bad are vastly worse than anything in the first two movies as well).

  20. cjKennedy says:

    Every time I see the trailer for Die Hard 4 and Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ theme kicks in I get a little chill and it makes me want to see the movie, but regardless of what Bruce Willis says at AICN, the PG-13 rating is a bad sign. Plus the sheer number of sequels this summer is more than a little insulting.
    I know I’m getting a little old to be the target audience for the summer season, but give me something fresh. Give me the pretense of originality at least. For reasons of originality alone I hope Ratatouille kicks Shrek’s ass.
    After Spider-Man 3 bored me to death (and Jeffmcm, the glimmer of hope offered by the things SM3 did right made its failure all the more disappointing), Ocean’s 13 is about the only sequel I have any hope left for. Of course I’m one of maybe four people who didn’t hate 12 so I’m probably just delusional.

  21. Eric says:

    Jeff, what did you think the movie did right? (Real question– I didn’t like it but didn’t hate it or anything. Just curious to know what you thought worked.)

  22. jesse says:

    Eric, I’m sure Jeff can/will respond on his own, but I wanted to pipe up as someone who liked (but didn’t love) SM3. I thought the humor of the movie was perfectly on-target, and I’ve been surprised how this has been an object of criticism for people disliked or even hated the movie. I didn’t find the “dark” Peter Parker laughable; I found it *funny*, and I think there’s a big difference. I love Raimi’s goofy sense of humor and I think it fits the Parker/Spiderman character perfectly. Of *course* the “dark” Parker would still be a total dork! I mean, he was still being a douchebag; it just didn’t turn him into Batman. Nothing could; he’s Peter Parker. (I realize this puts me in agreement with Harry Knowles, but so be it.)
    So I found a lot of the movie really fun — including Topher Grace’s work as Eddie Brock, and the Bruce Campbell bit. I think scene-for-scene, it’s a very enjoyable movie; it just has some major flow problems on account of being overstuffed. Not to sound like one of those market-research surveys, but the humor and action really worked for me and that’s a significant portion of the movie.
    But then, my feeling was that with Spiderman 2 being so great, there was actually *less* pressure on Spiderman 3 to deliver, not more.

  23. jeffmcm says:

    Scenes that worked:
    creation of Sandman
    Peter’s botched proposal in the restaurant
    ‘bad Peter Parker’ with the greasy hair and goofy dance moves
    Mary Jane and Harry making omelets
    end scene in the jazz club

  24. cjKennedy says:

    I’m not Jeff either, but I agree with a lot of what Jesse says even if my overall opinion of the movie is lower. Taken in individual slices, SM3 had a lot to offer. It just didn’t come together into a satisfying movie for me. I liked most of the Sandman stuff, especially his initial emergence from the sand pit, I liked Thomas Haden Church in the role and I thought the character of a somewhat conflicted villian was great. Given more room to breathe, the business with the sick daughter and angry ex-wife might’ve seemed a little less heavy handed.

  25. Eric says:

    Fair enough. Most of what’s been mentioned didn’t really work for me, although I did really like the Bruce Campbell schtick in the restaurant. There was a much lighter touch there than the rest of the movie.

  26. Nicol D says:

    I don’t think I’m Jeff either, but I also saw Spiderman 3 for the first time last night and agree with much of what was said here. Perhaps for the opening weekend, expectations were so high that it couldn’t compete. But going in after hearing it was the worst movie ever made in the history of moviedom, I have to say it was entertaining.
    Flawed to be sure, but entertaining.
    Most of the individual set pieces on their own were quite good; subway battle, dark Peter was funny in a good way, Grace was good in limited screentime etc.
    But all of the plots didn’t quite gel. Gwen Stacy and Venom should have received their own movie in number 4.
    Overall, not up to 1 or 2…but not bad. Easily better than most recent summer extravaganzas.

  27. jeffmcm says:

    I agree with you, Nicol. The movie should have picked Venom or Sandman and not tried to cram in both, and Gwen Stacy was superfluous.
    The worst section of the movie was ‘exposition by newscaster’ which felt like a last-minute decision in post to fix story problems in a relatively cheap way.

  28. Eric says:

    It was definitely overstuffed. It was like three half-movies. I would have been satisfied with one whole movie.

  29. Nicol D says:

    I seem to remember last summer after Superman Returns came out and the fans were disappointed about the lack of action that Raimi was then told by Sony to put more action into the already in production Spiderman 3.
    I don’t remember where I read this, but perhaps if anyone else recalls.
    This could account for the exposition and crammed feeling that many of us have noticed. Perhaps it was at that late stage that the Venom character was added to a film that was only supposed to have Sandman and Goblin 2 which seemed like a more logical extension from part 2.

  30. Eric says:

    I’d be interested in reading that, too. It would explain a lot.
    One thing that really bugged me was the inconsistent way the black suit / alien was utilized. But I assume that was part of the story from the beginning. Anyone know?

  31. cjKennedy says:

    The worst part about the ‘exposition by newscaster’ is that it was Hal Fishman who is barely tolerable on the small screen.

  32. Chucky in Jersey says:

    This has drfited way off topic so leave it to me to move it back.
    The Regal (nee UA) Union Square opens 4 screens for “Shrek the Third”, 3 film and 1 DLP.

  33. Chucky in Jersey says:

    This has drifted way off topic so leave it to me to move it back.
    The Regal (nee UA) Union Square opens 4 screens for “Shrek the Third”, 3 film and 1 DLP.

  34. jeffmcm says:

    Okay, and what conclusions should we draw from this single theater’s bookings?

  35. “At 81 minutes long, is it even worth the theatre trip?”
    Christ. Now not only are Dreamworks being greedy meanspirited moneygrubbers, they’re doing it by making movies that barely qualify for the Best Animated Feature oscar (they need to be 75 minutes, right?).
    “Of course I’m one of maybe four people who didn’t hate [Oceans] 12 so I’m probably just delusional.”
    I know four people here in Australia that liked it! But they were high on shrooms at the time, so that probably explains it.
    “‘bad Peter Parker’ with the greasy hair and goofy dance moves”
    Peter with emo hair and that Saturday Night Fever routine was insulting on so many levels.
    It really looks like Pirates 3 will come out on top this Summer now, doesn’t it? Spider-Man 3‘s disappointing status should surely only help the other movies of Summer though with people trying to find something (other than Pirates) that they love.
    Also, I’m starting to think the Fantastic Four sequel could surprise just like the original. By the end of May we’ll already of had two very long very serious blockbusters, throw in Transformers and people may be after a lighter touch, which is probably the only reason the first one was a hit in the first place, right?

  36. jeffmcm says:

    “Peter with emo hair and that Saturday Night Fever routine was insulting on so many levels.”
    Would you care to elaborate? It was my favorite thing in the whole movie. It was perfectly in character and it was funny.

  37. Eric says:

    I wasn’t asked, but I’ll chime in. Although the scene might have been in character, it undermines the supposed danger of the symbiote if its effect is just to make him a bigger dork.
    I also didn’t think the symbiote was explained very well in the movie and it was treated rather inconsistently, as I mentioned above. If Peter can just toss the black suit into a trunk, what’s the problem? Why does he have to tear it off himself in the bell tower?

  38. jeffmcm says:

    All I can say is, neither problem bothered me. The danger of the symbiote was illustrated by having Peter so callously dispose of Sand-Man in the sewers and Harry in the Goblin garret, and obviously the symbiote knows that he’s trying to get rid of it in the bell tower, thus resists.

  39. Eric says:

    Yeah, but the movie provided no explanation for why Peter couldn’t just go put it back in the trunk. It’s not a big deal in and of itself, but the cumulative effect of lots of small mistakes like that is a really lazy script.

  40. jeffmcm says:

    I just told you. The symbiote knows he’s trying to take it off permanently, so it doesn’t want to go back in the trunk. ‘Salright?

  41. jeffmcm says:

    (that was a joke)

  42. Eric says:

    Yeah, I guess I slacked off on my research on alien symbiote costumes before I went into the theater. Sometimes you just fall behind, you know?

  43. Jeff, the Saturday Night Fever bit just incredibly stupid. For me, and pretty much everyone else I know, it was utterly pointless and was just putting the audience through more and more pointless crap (the dance sequence was just as bad). As if Raimi was just exercising his imagination with no thought that the film hasn’t even got to one of it’s major villains and has barely scratched the surface of it’s most advertised storyline.
    Also, emo = evil pretty much insults an entire subculture in one fell swoop. Nice to know Raimi was working with such subtlety and layers.

  44. jeffmcm says:

    You haven’t convinced me. It was funny, it was in character, and it worked for me. Please keep in mind he was ‘evil’ only by Peter Parker standards, which is to say the standards of a nerdy science student and do-gooder. So his version of ‘evil’ is to leer at women, think they’re reciprocating, and start to look and behave ‘dark’ and you saw his version of that.
    How did the evil subculture get insulted by their association with emo?

  45. Getting back on topic… Shrek 3’s going into 4122 locations, which means at least 8500 screens. You can guesstimate Spidey is going to lose 1/4 of its screens tomorrow, which still leaves around 22,000 screens. When Pirates opens next week, it’ll be in around the same number of locations, on probably 12,000 screens (thanks to the extended running time). But since Spidey is going to lose at least 1/2 its remaining screens next weekend, that still leaves about 10,000 screens not playing any of the three. Which will probably be more than enough for them anyway.

  46. LexG says:

    Just a question: What’s with this whole thing where adults actually go to see kids’ movies? Aren’t they, like, adults? By the time I was 10, I probably never wanted to see anything animated or “kiddie” ever again.
    I can understand people who have kids of their own having to take their brood to movies like this, but one would think it would be reluctant. But to post the huge numbers these things make, it can’t just be big families… or can it?
    I don’t know how to call something like SHREK vs SPIDEY, or SHERK vs PIRATES, because with PIRATES or SPIDEY, you have something that kids, teens, geeks, couples, middle-aged, elderly people all have some interest in. Go to a 10pm show of PIRATES, and it’ll still be sold out with adults and teens. But with something like SHREK, shouldn’t the audience be whittled down to kids and parents… and that’s it? So who goes to see this stuff? Do 18-year-olds go en masse to see a goofy cartoon? When I was 18, I wanted to see GOODFELLAS and KING OF NEW YORK, not a talking ogre.

  47. jeffmcm says:

    Edward Havens, what’s the total number of screens nationwide that you’re working with? 10,000 screens for every movie playing in the country except the big three doesn’t sound like very many.

  48. Jeffmcm… ~38,000 movies screens, including the few hundred remaining functional drive-in locations. (There was a drive-in here in Los Angeles that, until yesterday, was playing one screen of Spidey with Perfect Stranger [yeah, I don’t get that pairing at all] and one screen of Spidey by itself, two shows a night.)

  49. jeffmcm says:

    More than 3/4 of the screens in this country playing _3_ movies? That’s beyond ridiculous.

  50. Luckily for the studios, though, they’ve conditioned filmgoers to see these films out of the gate, so they’ll be plenty of Spidey-freed screens ready to pick up Knocked Up on 6/1 and plenty of Shrek and Spidey-freed screens for Surf’s Up on the 8th and plenty of Spidey and Shrek and Pirate-freed screens for Silver Surfer on the 15th.

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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