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David Poland

By David Poland

Sunday Estimates by Klady – Aug 19

The stat is a little silly, but Superbad‘s opening is the 2nd best 3rd weekend of August opening ever… behind Freddy vs Jason. Of course, Superbad could be retitled, Seth vs Vag (pronounces vashhhh).
And reviews had dick all to do with it… as they never have anything to do with a wide opening weekend. The tracking was, simply, poorly read intentionally. Had the evidence that the movie was strong with teens been emphasized and the film come in under 20, the trackers would have been embarrassed for overlooking the precious overall numbers… the ones that everyone who isn’t reading the tracking in great detail obsess on and end up being gossiped about. Or, in other words, overestimating the film would have been more problematic with the trackers’ employers – the studios – than underestimating.
Once again… all this tracking reporting is fool’s gold. It does give you the lay of the land in rough terms. Knowing awareness is important. How it translates is actual numbers is often unknowable… which is why each studio, exec, producer, director, star, and others still hold their breath that first Friday. I wouldn’t mind people reporting tracking if the context was emphasized. But it is not. Just as Sunday numbers barely use the word “estimate” anymore and almost no one reports “finals,” media wants to “report” tracking as though it is a different fact than it is, I think because it makes them look like they know something and people forget all about the incorrect information of any individual when the story becomes the “surprise” opening.
The much bigger story than Superbad this weekend, in terms of tracking, is tracking being 40% higher than the estimate for The Invasion. Again… it had nothing to do with reviews. It was a complete marketing failure… a dump by the studio, which hated the picture and the production of the picture. (Note: Rumors of The Wachowskis shooting on the film are apparently incorrect… it was their First AD.)
So… we have two movies opening this weekend… one is off by 50% of the tracking estimate and one is off by 40% of the tracking estimate… in different directions. And next weekend, people will still be talking about the tracking as though it is going to tell us everything. If the studios expected tracking to predict box office, they would stop paying for it. But in spite of the problem

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42 Responses to “Sunday Estimates by Klady – Aug 19”

  1. The Carpetmuncher says:

    $31.4m? Holy Superbad!

  2. anghus says:

    to me, the story is once again Weinstein related.
    If i had the time or the inclination, i’d love see a film by film breakdown of the films they’ve released, how many prints, and how much it made.
    I mean right now, is 1408 Their only certifiable hit.
    Hannibal Rising probably made it’s money back. But when i look at their release list from 2005, it seems like they have one solid stinker after the next.
    The last legion, i mean, why even bother with 2002 screens for a dump?

  3. David Poland says:

    The Weinsteins, in this incarnation, are pretty much finished. No one seems to know exactly where they will land, but they will sure land in different circumstances by Christmas.

  4. grandcosmo says:

    but is much better than the boo birds thought and it will pass Dreamgirls to be the 4th highest grossing musical domestically next week and has a shot at passing the ever-playing Rocky Horror Picture Show (at $113m) to become #3.
    What does that actually mean when the number of viable musicals that have been released in this era of high ticket prices is probably in single digits?
    If you look at the all-time musical box office chart there are outright bombs in the Top 25 like Rent, The Producers, Xanadu, New York New York.

  5. anghus says:

    dave, i don’t see much in print about the decay of the weinsteins when it seems pretty evident even to someone casually looking at the numbers like myself.
    any theories?

  6. David Poland says:

    Well… I would say it means more to be at #3 than in the Top 25. If you want to make it about “this era,” it will be #2 to Chicago.
    $51 million for Phantom is the high for the tier of musicals of this era considered flops… the hits being Dreamgirls, Hairspray, and Chicago. So I think the group that did double the business of the others is distiguished.
    I also think is it a little disingenuous to throw around Xanadu and The Producers as comparitives when both did under $23 million, barely 20% of the others in the top group.

  7. bmcintire says:

    I’m still a bit mystified about THE INVASION. There were problems with the director, re-writes, re-shoots, a lack of faith from the studio – fine. But the average moviegoer had no idea this was happening. Response from the trailer was okay (at least it never got booed the four or five times I saw it), and $10M this weekend would have been tanking hard enough. Who would have thought that marketing these two (Kidman, Craig) for THE GOLDEN COMPASS would become a hurdle?

  8. David Poland says:

    Angus – The media is wimpy, scared, and often ignorant.
    Everyone in town knows that The Weinsteins are basically out of money in this venture. They are already separating from MGM, but that deal will be completely over when MGM’s Showtime output deal ends in December.
    But people are scared of crossing or doubting Harvey. I think that a lot of the enthusiasm for the funding they got – which again, people in town knew was mostly smoke and mirrors – was anti-Eisner and – again – “Harvey can’t fail” thinking.
    My guess would be that TWC is either going to hook up with Overture – they have a strong relationship with Chris McGurk, but they will have to agree to certain boundaries that they won’t like there – or they will suck in one of the studios into an output deal with some production funding, which would have to be Paramount (a desperate Brad Gray), Sony (where they don’t mind a lot of production entities under their roof), or long shot Warners (where WIP isn’t working and they are backing away from anything that requires them to spend money of their own on production).
    There are other stories that the media knows about and are staying away from. A big one is at Paramount, which it looks like the NYT will tip its toe into in the weeks to come.

  9. bmcintire says:

    I’m just waiting for Universal to pillory themsleves ala THE PRODUCERS and release the film version of the Broadway play of the movie – XANADU! THE MUSICAL, Christmas 2010!

  10. David Poland says:

    Universal has two bigger musical challenges before that… coverting Wicked to a movie, which will have to be distinctly non-theater to work, and getting Billy Elliot to Broadway, converting a brilliant Brit show to something that Americans who aren’t Thatcher obsessed (or aware) will appreciate.
    Xanadu: The Musical: The Motion Picture will end up being produced for $20 million (which is twice as much as it should be made for) and be a cult classic that never plays on HBO.

  11. Joe Leydon says:

    But David, wouldn’t you agree that these rankings are essentially meaningless in terms of numbers of people who actually saw the movies? Sure, Hairspray may be poised to become “the 4th highest grossing musical domestically” of all time. But — and I know you hate to do this — if you make allowances for inflation, well, hell, never mind The Sound of Music, was Hairspray seen even by as many people who saw Camelot or Thoroughly Modern Millie during their respective theatrical runs?
    And BTW: If we’re looking at numbers, after Friday night, High School Musical 2 probably is well on its way to being one of the most-seen filmed musicals of all time.

  12. fnt says:

    >There are other stories that the media knows about >and are staying away from. A big one is at >Paramount, which it looks like the NYT will tip its >toe into in the weeks to come.
    Ah Dave, don’t be such a tease. What’s the story? And if other media “is wimpy, scared and often ignorant” why don’t you let us know about it first, rather than letting the NYT do that?

  13. bmcintire says:

    “Xanadu: The Musical: The Motion Picture”
    LOVE it. I think you have just given birth to the double-colon title, Mr. Poland.
    Hilariously, things seem to be just the opposite in direct-to-videoland. Witness SPECIES THE AWAKENING and WARGAMES THE DEAD CODE. Not even so much as a dashmark.

  14. grandcosmo says:

    I also think is it a little disingenuous to throw around Xanadu and The Producers as comparitives when both did under $23 million, barely 20% of the others in the top group.
    Its not disingenuous to point out the shallowness of the sample size. #5 on the list did more than double the business that #10 did and once you get past #11 you’re looking at movies that were released 25-30 years ago and weren’t even hits then.

  15. David Poland says:

    fnt – Because I am not a gossip columnist.
    The price for not being a gossip is appearing to be scooped. The price for being a gossip is to swim in a cesspool with the self-delusion that I am made important by hurting others because I “am breaking news.”
    But I am pretty sure I have made my feelings on this clear for… well… about a decade now.

  16. Chicago48 says:

    Talk to me is limping along…does anybody know the story about what’s happening there? Are they trying to go wide? or is this their strategy?

  17. anghus says:

    come on dave, just give in.
    start posting things the minute you hear them, without any kind of corroborating facts or sources. you can just yank it from the site and kill the link if you’re wrong.
    i mean, it works for every other site, doesn’t it?
    sorry, i forgot my [sarcasm] brackets.

  18. David Poland says:

    I don’t disagree, grandcosmo. It is a small sample. But we live in a niche universe.
    I could write that 300 was Gerard Butler’s biggest worldwide hit ever. But that is not a stat that many people will take into account when looking at his future promise. His next films will be watched more closely and if he remains at the front of the pack, it will mean something.
    Likewise, studios considering the funding of musicals do care about how Hairspray did in the pack of recent choices to produce musicals. Hairspray will not be as big as Wild Hogs… but it doesn’t live in the same universe as Wild Hogs for anyone who wants to think about it.
    In the last 6 years, there have been ten studio-released, well-finded musicals. Three have made over $100 million domestic. Two have made $50m-$60m. One made $29m. And four have made under $20 million.
    There have also been six micro-musicals in the last seven years, none of which cracked $4.2 million.
    And yes Joe… and what is fascinating about High School Musical 2 is that Disney chose not to do a theatrical release for the film. It is the first true Cable-to-DVD phenomenon. It looks like it might have been the highest rated cable TV show EVER. And DVD sales will be monstrous. A very special example of how niche programming can work at its highest level.

  19. Joe Leydon says:

    You know, David, I have to wonder: If Disney had chosen to release HSM2 this weekend, how would it have fared against Superbad? I suspect Superbad still would have made it to No. 1, but who knows? Maybe the audiences aren’t as mutually exclusive as we might think.

  20. David Poland says:

    BTW – Reading the comment back, it seems a little glib, fnt.
    I do struggle with the issue. I have an ego (surprise!) and I like attention like anyone else.
    I had a moment this summer, as a story broke, where I had been discussing the event that finally “broke” for so long and in so many details (most of which went unreported even after the break) that I really didn’t know whether I had written about it or kept it to my personal conversations in the previous months. That is head rattling.
    I made a decision back when the ParaWorks merger was happening to really draw a clear line for myself about what was news and what was just hurtful gossip. I decided not to be the guy who wrote about every dead body on the way out of the studio. Especially because of how Par was handling the exits… they just dragged on and people were on edge and making it public was almost as unkind as how they were being treated by the studio. Having stuck to this rule carefully in the last year-plus, I feel like a better human being and, really, a better journalist. And in the end, that matters to me more than being the most feared gossip in town.
    It hasn’t kept me from being a hard ass or offering depth as stories develop. But I have seen the human toll of recklessness and of kindnesses that don’t cost me anything as a journalist. And I prefer kindness that doesn’t infringe on what I feel really is news.
    It hasn’t always been this way. But we all grow up, I guess.
    In spite of what some seem to believe, I don’t need to tear anyone down to build myself up. But my personal hot button has always been hypocrisy and people claiming to be journalists running malicious spin as news that I know others will repeat without thinking too much about whether it is true drives me fucking nuts. I won’t read Wells anymore because his decision to do the Wild Man Of Hollywood thing was too much for me and he has marginalized himself more and more. Nikki is ascendent in terms of popularity, so I feel compelled to be vigilant… which is a soul sucking situation. She will burn out in short order, but until then, I will pay attention to the crazy person in her self-assigned cage if only because I feel someone needs to respond when she goes way off the ranch. (To her credit, she seems to be acknowledging her sources more often now instead of just calling her studio keepers her “gurus.”)
    As for the Paramount thing, I actually think that the NYT will soft sell the most explosive gossip. It is something that the gossip types must know by now. But it is personal and embarrassing, involving at least half a dozen industry people, and I’d like to think that it hasn’t run because even the whores have souls… but it’s probably because they fear the backlash.
    It’s the kind of thing that could define the studio, even though it is not all that unusual… it’s just kept quiet. And if you are in the business of trading “scoops” for your occasional silence, you do what you have to do. My guess is that squelching this story was Janet Hill’s last major assignment before exiting Paramount. And she did an excellent job.

  21. David Poland says:

    Joe – I think if Disney decided to go up against Superbad – the Underdog slot would be much more likely if they went theatrical – Sony would have moved their movie… as much as they like the film and saw its upside. It would have cost them at least $10 million at the till.

  22. MattM says:

    The question now is if Disney can get everything lined up to have HSM3 in theatres next year, and who blinks for a release date. If everything’s locked, I fully expect a teaser trailer (no new footage or material) tacked on to “Enchanted.” Maybe Columbus Day weekend ’08?

  23. Joe Leydon says:

    I have no doubt that, if the studio really wanted to, Dinsey could get a HSM3 into theaters by Valentine’s Day. The question is: Why bother? Premiering these movies on The Disney Channel only serves to boost ratings that already are high, and calls attention to other network programming that already appeals to a phenomenal number of tweens and teens. (The Hannah Montannah gal broke all attendance records this year for her performance at the Houston Rodeo — an event that has showcased biggies like Selena and George Strait.) Think long term: When Disney inevitably asks for a rate increase from cable and satellite providers, you know these numbers will be bandied about. Then add in the DVD money. Then ask yourself: What more is to be gained by spending the money on P&A for a theatrical release? I mean, are they leaving any money on the table now? Seriously, I’d like to know. It looks to me like they got a goose that lays golden eggs already.

  24. Rob says:

    “LOVE it. I think you have just given birth to the double-colon title, Mr. Poland.”
    Have we forgotten Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life?

  25. David Poland says:

    Well, Joe… I think that HSM2 coming out on cable confirms that they see it that way.
    This is, ironically, at the core of the upcoming strike of actors and writers as well. Disney has a variety of ways of handling product that maximize their overall business. And there is no abiding reason for them to consider what is best for the talent that has an interest via residuals or backend.
    I obviously don’t know what the contracts on the two HSMs to date are. But Zac Efron could make an argument to get gross points on HSM3. On the flip side, his TV agents might be looking for a DVD deal. He is likely to be taken care of either way. But like you said, Disney can benefit from a cable launch in different ways than a theatrical launch. And the people who are not Zac or whatever couple of other kids who are considered key or Kenny Ortega can be affected by that choice.
    Frankly, I don’t know what the residual structure for network TV vs cable is now… but there used to be a significant difference in pay scale and residuals. And if the studio can get network ad dollars from a cable show… again, a financial upside if that still stands.
    People always jump to “studio accounting,” but it is a lot more than that in play when you have studios that own networks, cable nets, DVD distribution, international distribution, etc, etc, etc.
    As many hundreds of millions as Sony is paying out ot Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David on Seinfeld DVD sales, the show is still more bottom line profitable to the studio than Spider-Man.
    When you own all the means of distribution, the tools of value are different… and you can bet that the studios (and especially their parent companies) want everyone else to pay for that vulnerability.

  26. MattM says:

    Disney has said that High School Musical 3 will be a theatrical release. And there’s no way they could have it in theatres by Valentine’s Day. While there’s a concept, there’s no script, no songs, and no contracts signed. There are six actors they have to lock down, and at least one (Tisdale) has a signed movie deal shooting in the fall. Ideally, they’re going to try to do “start of summer” release, though with Narnia and Wall-E locked into dates already, that may be tricky.

  27. Wrecktum says:

    Dis summer schedule is locked for next year. A High School Musical 3 would have to go in fall. With the prospective title of “Haunted High School Musical” a Halloween release makes total sense. Assuming they can shoot it in time.
    This brings up an intriguing idea. Bob Iger, as Poland painfully knows, has been wanting to explode the DVD window for a while now. HSM3 would be a perfect property to do experiment with: A theatrical release at the beginning of October, a Disney Channel special screening on Halloween, and DVD street date in time for Christmas. Makes perfect sense to me. Maybe I’ll pitch it.

  28. IOIOIOI says:

    Dave; Kyra Sedgewick gets paid pretty good money for The Closer. I believe Holly Hunter and Michael Chiklis get paid a lot as well for cable. Also; the biggest contract in TV history went to a cable performer. So Cable — on occassion — gets people paid. Nevertheless; HSM makes enough money for Disney that it may be worth the gamble to take it to another level. Clearly it could turn a profit if only half of those 17 million or so who turned Friday, would see the flick in theatres.
    That aside; Superbad has nothing on HOT ROD. It does not even have the heart of HOT ROD. I will be alone on this one. So be it. As a man; I’d rather go with COOL BEANS over the guy who DREW COCKS. It was a well shot film. Good on Greg M. for that one.

  29. seattlemoviegoer says:

    for HAIRSPRAY to make comparable numbers to the tuners of old, the whole release pattern would have to change. and the audience. theatrical windows are geared for the teen audience mindset (see it now or never). SOUND OF MUSIC and MARY POPPINS stayed in theatres for 4-5 years…and the whole family went. now the “whole family” watches the DVD at home. passing $100 million is pretty great, actually. it will wind up besting other “sure” hits like OCEANS13. but today’s all-er-nuthin releases of 1-2-months-then-pulled-forever doesn’t give a movie much of a chance to grow and develop an audience.

  30. Don Murphy says:

    I said it would be the number one film of the year.
    I said nothing about a number.
    We come out with a new cut on IMAX in 5 weeks
    I am NOT wrong yet.

  31. Bennett says:

    If the numbers are right at 17 million people watched HSM2 on Friday, then why wouldn’t you release it in theaters. I am surpirsed that a movie that has all to do with “summer lovin” waited until the end of summer to release it. It would have covered it’s P&A especially if they could have moved up it’s release date. Think of all the summer days where the tweens would watch it several times over a summer. Plus, I am sure that they would have sold more DVDs if they followed a Christmas release DVD pattern.
    Also, I don’t remember Disney selling ads for the show, I am sure that all the HSM fans know all about the Disney Channel programs.
    I am not saying that it was a great movie(though much better than the similar “summer lovin” themed From Justin to Kelly), but it seems like Disney left tens of millions on the table.

  32. anghus says:

    anyone who thinks High School the Musical 2 wouldn’t have opened at #1 theatrically no matter what weekend it opened is probably not paying too much attention to the total saturation it has in the market.
    I think a theatrical High School the Musical would be looking at 50 million dollars. Of course, that would have been for the second one. Now that they’ve flooded the market with product, i can’t see the third doing that much.

  33. anghus says:

    50 million dollar opening, not total. sorry, didn’t clarify that.

  34. David Poland says:

    Well… watching a few moments of HSM2 this afternoon, I noticed that at least this showing (a sing-a-long) was 100% sponsored by Wal-Mart.
    Wonder what the numbers on that deal look like…

  35. IOIOIOI says:

    Heat; it’s a reciprocal thing. They sponsor the sing-a-long showing, and get to use nothing but HSM stuff to promote their back to school sales. Fun times all around. Nevertheless; Anghus… the kids love HSM and HSM2. The repeats of HSM did awesome for Disney channel and the repeats of HSM2 will do awesome as well. Disney has to worry about striking when the iron is hot.

  36. bmcintire says:

    Not to be a complete nerd, but the official party line was “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” (just the one colon).

  37. bmcintire says:

    While journeying home to visit my niece and nephew, I was made to sit through a community theater production of HIGH SCHOOL THE MUSICAL. I was clearly the only person in an audience of over 2000 to not go completly apeshit over this pile of trash. Disney could easily open a threequel to over $40M theatrically, but as has been said above, why bother? Save the $360,000+ on prints alone and boost your own channel’s revenue and subscription base. At this rate, we’ll be seeing THE DISNEY CHANNEL’S NURSING HOME – THE MUSICAL before this well has run completely dry. And humankind will be all the worse for it.

  38. I love how people are comparing the gross of Hairspray (a mighty $100mil) to movies from the 1950s as if it matters. If we’re going to start doing that then we should be comparing every movie to movies from 50 years ago.
    It’s just a matter of fact that musicals since the 1970s have been scarce and back when they were popular tickets cost a pittence. Something like West Side Story – if sold the same amount of tickets – would be, what? $250? Estimated guess. $300mil? I dunno. But so would many other movies from that period and we don’t go around comparing them to movies from 2007.
    Musicals are a different beast all together today and as someone already said movies would routinely get rereleased “back in the day”.
    On the matter of High School Musical. It would be a natural progression, but it’d feel like Disney were taking their audience for granted with a theatrical release of the next musical.
    Funnily though though, it would be one of the only theatrically released musicals to have it’s entire score made up on original music. Right?

  39. Oh, and also:
    “(Note: Rumors of The Wachowskis shooting on the film are apparently incorrect… it was their First AD.)”
    I thought it was widely known that the guy that directed V For Vendetta directed the reshoots. I mentioned the other day, at least.

  40. jasonbruen says:

    But didn’t EW state that the Wachowski’s edited the script and reshot part of the movie? Then it can’t be a rumor, but a false statement entirely. You would think that EW would have sourced that information correctly.

  41. Cadavra says:

    In my never-ending defense of the film, and since we are nit-picking, I feel compelled to point out that at its widest point of release, PRODUCERS was only on 978 screens, so comparisons with films playing on 3000 screens are a tad unfair.
    Also, at one point, Universal was indeed referring to it as THE PRODUCERS: THE MUSICAL: THE MOVIE. Sanity eventually prevailed.

  42. David Poland says:

    Be careful what you believe, Bruen. Majors get details like that wrong all the time. It goes something like:
    Q: Weren’t there reshoots?
    A: Yeah, The Wachowski’s guy did them.
    And it ends up in the magazine as “The Wachowskis did them.”
    Kami is correct. The guy who shot V is/was their 1st AD.

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