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By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Klady – 12/29


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47 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady – 12/29”

  1. Joe Leydon says:

    OK, I have to ask: Could Alvin go all the way to $200 million?

  2. Hopscotch says:

    That is rather remarkable, The Chipmunk resilience.
    Charlie Wilson’s sticking around, good for them. It’s not a great movie, but it works good enough.
    Juno Sky-Rocketing surprises me very little. Great little movie, I tell everyone to see it.
    Sweeny Todd, ain’t seen it. Looks like others are sticking away too. bummer man.

  3. Botner says:

    ‘Charlie’ seems to be holding well after a mediocre start and looks to break the box office curse of 2007’s ill fated ‘war movies’ (though this one is much easier going down than the others). I imagine it’s getting great WOM with the over 30 crowd.
    Juno is officially a hit, as if there was ever any doubt.

  4. Joe Leydon says:

    BTW: Don’t know if this means anything or not, but the Thursday evening preview screening of 27 Dresses that I attended was very nearly a complete sell out. No kidding.

  5. movieman says:

    Oh, hell yeah it will!
    And beyond, too, probably.
    I’m a little stunned that Fox hasn’t already announced a sequel for Indie Day ’09.
    Otherwise, not a whole lot of surprises on the chart.
    “Sweeney” should’ve opened on more screens (like Dave said earlier): I’m a little worried that it’s momentum could get stalled.
    “AVP” is already losing its Xmas Day steam: big surprise.
    I guess it won’t even be a 1-week wonder, sob.
    And the flameouts of “Water Horse,” P.S.” and “Great Debaters” are hardly surprising. “CWW” isn’t doing bad if you weren’t hoping for “Pretty Woman Meets Forrest Gump” numbers (and, c’mon, nobody at Universal expected that: they were probably just hoping it does better than “Primary Colors” did nine years ago).
    “Juno” has a long life ahead of it as does “TWBB” in “upscale,” i.e. arthouse, locations. It’ll never (never ever) crossover to the ‘plexes, though.
    Not sure about “Bucket List.” It seems like an audience flick (and is surprisingly tolerable for a post-“American Prez” R. Reiner flick), but the terminal illness storyline could be as much of a turn-off to audiences as Iraq movies were this fall.
    Maybe WB should consider sneaking it next weekend before going wide on January 11th.

  6. movieman says:

    Yep, my “27” sneak was full, too.
    That thing is going to make major change for Fox.
    It’s Heigl’s “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”
    The lady has most definitely arrived!

  7. MattM says:

    27 Dresses will make bank for the same reason Alvin is making bank–empty sector. The only romantic comedy/date movie out there is “P.S. I Love You,” and I suspect that skews older. “Alvin” has similarly an empty field–there’s nothing kiddie safe out there except “Enchanted” (which, while it’s doing nicely, I’m surprised isn’t doing better) and “Water Horse” (a period British film is a tough sell to the 5 year olds). Also, there’s apparently a fair amount of affection for Alvin, judging from iTunes, where it’s got 4 of the top 100 songs (“Bad Day,” “Witch Doctor,” “Funkytown,” and “Chipmunk Song”), and the album is #2. (The “Juno” soundtrack is #1, and “Sweeney” is #7.)
    Sweeney just seems like they got the worst of both worlds in marketing it–it’s too bloody for the older crowd that usually drives a musical, and urban “gory horror” crowds are shocked to discover it’s a musical. And, man, “Walk Hard” has gotta be a big disappointment.

  8. William Goss says:

    Our Orlando sneak was fairly full, after the theatre had moved it into one of their biggest auditoriums of 450-ish seats. Also heard that the Long Island sold out as well.

  9. movieman says:

    I think Matt is discounting Heigl’s enormous appeal (to both women and men) which should make “27 Dresses” a date movie smash.
    It may be a tad premature, but I’d suggest Reese, et al start looking over their shoulders cause there’s a new rom-com superstar in town.
    If it was only an “empty sector” thing, “P.S.” would’ve done a helluva lot better than it’s doing. That movie sucked and the target demographic could smell the stench from the TV spots alone. And women moviegoers are a LOT pickier than “Alvin + the Chips”/”Game Plan”-loving kiddies.
    But what do I know, lol? “27 Dresses” could very well tank and all this talk could look awfully foolish in 2 weeks. Nobody knows anything in this biz, right?

  10. eugenen says:

    I saw a sold-out “27 Dresses” sneak. Mediocre flick (dumbest ending of 2008?) but holy shit, Heigl is funny. Her reaction as she’s cleaning the stove and Akerman comes in to brag about the night she had with Burns is just classic. I’m a fan.

  11. doug r says:

    Saw Alvin, Simon and Theodore the day after Xmas with the family. Surprised how much it didn’t suck.

  12. Joe Leydon says:

    I hate to sound like a broken record on this, but… If Sweeney Todd is indeed under-performing, then it’s under-performing for the same reason Into the Wild under-performed: Once people learned what it was about, most folks decided to stay away. Sorry, but it’s that simple.

  13. Maybe Joe…but I saw SWEENEY TODD and agree with the earlier thread which mentioned how….underwhelming the whole affair is. In fact I saw it like, Wednesday and just remembered I had seen it earlier today. I think that might have something to do with it’s drop as well.

  14. LexG says:

    “If Sweeney Todd is indeed under-performing, then it’s under-performing for the same reason Into the Wild under-performed…”
    Wait, Sweeney Todd’s under-performing because Fox News has convinced the ‘wingers in flyover that Sean Penn is un-American?
    I kid, obviously, but I don’t really see how Penn’s film was deceptively marketed, beyond the usual perception issues that befall what I call “in-between films”: Essentially boutique films that arrive with huge critical buzz and enough mainstream-looking elements to draw curious six-packers once they go wide… only to completely confound them when they lack an A-B-C story structure.
    Anywaym maybe I should check the mouth-breathing boards on the IMDB for my answer to this question, but:
    Are there REALLY people going to Sweeney Todd completely unaware that it’s a musical?
    That’s kind of AWESOME.

  15. Hopscotch says:

    and notice Walk Hard’s departure from the Top 10. That’s gotta hurt. There were those rumors so recently that said it was funnier than Superbad. Just rumors it turns out.
    Atonement isn’t really catching either.

  16. Good, I’m glad ATONEMENT is bombing…it’s not a good movie.
    WALK HARD slipping is surprising….seems like the word of mouth never took off for it.

  17. MattM says:

    “P.S.” wasn’t really sold as a romantic comedy or date movie, but more a uplifting “life goes on”/relationships dramedy, targetted at older women (and even decent to excellent specimens of that genre have not done well in recent years). “27 Dresses” is flatly and openly being sold as a romcom/date movie. And while Heigl certainly is a burgeoning star (and is gorgeous), I have doubts about her ability to open a movie on her own:
    1. Aside from “Knocked Up,” her highest grossers? “Under Siege 2” (50M) and “Bride of Chucky” (30M).
    2. Her plotline for the past 6 months or so on “Grey’s Anatomy” has been universally HATED by fans and her character rapidly becoming loathed.

  18. David Poland says:

    Really not that simple, Joe.
    As I wrote a few days back, the marketing strategy for Sweeney and the release strategy did not match. I don’t why. But if “hide the salami” is the gameplan, don’t release the movie in 1250 theaters.
    I also think there is a bit too much drama about the film’s box office. It isn’t doing Juno business or one of the $150 million-plus movies, but it is on 1249 screens, not the more than double that which every film grossing more other than Juno is.
    That said, this is clearly not what “they” were looking for. Under $30 million by the end of the holiday REQUIRES a Best Picture nomination to re-launch towards any hope of $100 million or even $80 million. But “just” $30 million may knock the film out of the BP race.
    On the other hand, Atonement is only $2.5 million off of the Brokeback number as of Friday… which is the template Focus is clearly using.
    What really should be said – and I will – is that this should remind us how phenomenal Dreamgirls’ opening was, even though it was pilloried by every idiot who held a grudge against the film. By this time last year, it had done $27 million on 853 screens in 5 days (Mon-Fri). Juno is doing GREAT… and its numbers don’t come close.
    Finally, Joe’s idea that Into The Wild is something other than what they sold strikes me as a pretty borderline call. Yes, there is no tragedy noted in the ads. But the spirit of the film is pretty well reflected. Also, at $17 million, Into The Wild is not a bomb, never having gone past 660 screens.

  19. IOIOIOI says:


  20. Joe Leydon says:

    Excuse me, David, but I never said Into the Wild was anything other than what it was being adverised as. All I am saying – and I know you strongly disagree with this, but you are mistaken — is that people all across America already knew what you claim you didn’t — i.e., that this is a story about a guy who goes out into the wilderness and dies. Sorry, but too many people knew this. And the scoreboard indicates that, again, I am right, you are mistaken. But, trust me, there are times in this life when I don’t WANT to be right.

  21. IOIOIOI says:

    Hold on… universally hated? I hate to double post, but the storyline is only hated by people who do not get the reasons behind the storyline. The execution has sucked for Izzie and George, but Shonda had to take them in this direction. If she did not. It would be something festering for the next few seasons. Now she has gotten it out of the way, the characters will move on for now, and have a grand ending when the show ends. Seriously… fans can be some pithy motherfuckers.

  22. Joe Leydon says:

    As for “Sweeney” — too many people know that this is a movie about someone who kills people, and someone else who turns the corpses into pies. Go ahead and laugh. But, again, look at the scoreboard.

  23. IOIOIOI says:

    Sweeney should have been an OCTOBER movie. Yet the folks wanted to make it Oscar bait, and looked what happens. As if the folks want to see blood and guts at Xmas. They do want to see it in October.

  24. lazarus says:

    As someone who was defending Gilmore Girls in the other thread, I can’t believe we’re talking about fucking Gray’s Anatomy plotlines.
    That’s definitely worthy of getting your Guy card revoked.

  25. IO, as someone who adored Grey’s Anatomy for the first two and a half seasons, half the second half of season three and now is not sure if he can stomach a fourth (much like all my friends, actually, but I hate that argument “my friends say so!”) I gotta say the Izzy/George storyline was, if not “shark jumping”, definitely some form of watersport/storyline metaphor.
    It was a disaster. Heigl’s Izzy spent the first half of season three mourning the death of the love of her life (apparently) and then almost instantaneously after donating his $7mil check (or however large it was) she starts going all googly eyes over George and now says he is the love of her life all while George is married to the likable best character on the show (now that Addison has left). Although the writers even turned her into a loon by the end of the season. Not to mention Derek and Meredith are eternally miserable.
    That show just went off the rails. I hope it recovers.
    Having said that, I’ve suspected 27 Dresses would be another How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days success. And James Marsden has had a killer 2007 so he’s back in the good graces of audience goers.

  26. “half the second half of season three” should read “hated the second half of season three”.

  27. brack says:

    I hated Gizzy as well, I can’t imagine anyone really believing that they are soul mates. But it’s over, thank god.
    I hope when the show does come back that Derek says tough cookie to Meridith. She’s jerked him around way too much.
    But there’s so many other characters that are getting more screen time that these quibbles really don’t matter.

  28. David Poland says:

    So when a film does poorly, by your standards, it is proof that your theory – however negligible on its face – is correct?
    All the other factors, like no actors who open movies, a soft campaign in the style of the movie, competition, etc are irrelevant? The primary factor is knowledge of… what? Death? An unhappy ending?
    Do you really think it’s that simple? Would you care to explain the many deviations from the theory each year?

  29. It was funny watching Enchanted. It made me remember that Patrick Dempsey is very good looking, but that he always looks so miserable with that horrible ugly permanent five o’clock shadow.

  30. movieman says:

    I don’t think anyone would argue that “P.S.” was sold as a “chickflick” plain and simple: it was just a really terrible movie that chicks (and most everyone else with good taste) rejected.
    yes, “27” is pure rom-com, but women are its biggest demographic (and I’m speaking as one of the only 2 penises–peni?–inside an sro multiplex auditorium on thursday nite, lol), and they will respond to this movie in a big way.
    the “27 Dates” concept is cute and catchy, but i think that it’s heigl’s innate likability and non-threatening, girl-next-door spunkiness that really drew them in, and will draw them in when it opens next month.
    i wouldn’t discount her ability to open a romcom just yet, matt.
    (never having watched a single episode of “GA,” i have no opinion on that other matter, lol).

  31. IOIOIOI says:

    Guy card? Arent some of you folks a bunch of butch mofos up in here.

  32. tfresca says:

    Haven’t seen Juno yet but does anybody else think that it will lose steam because of the deceptive marketing. By all accounts this is Page’s character’s movie but it is being marketed as a teen version of Knocked Up with Sera in place of Seth. Just asking. I think Todd could be bigger if Burton wasn’t the director. I’m probably in the minority here but all his movies look the same and have the same lifeless color scheme. I mean he made the Willy Wonka movie a sad deal.

  33. Wrecktum says:

    Someone mentioned that they were surprised that Enchanted hasn’t done better at the boxoffice. Just remember, Disney “princess” movies are never explosive hits on the big screen (Beauty and the Beast, with its Academy run, is the princess money winner at $145m). The real money for a movie like this is in ancillaries.

  34. Joe Leydon says:

    David: I think that, in the immortal words of Sam Goldwyn, “If people don’t want to go see a movie, there’s nothing you can do to stop them.” It really is that simple. I fully agree that some movies under-perform because of faulty advertising, or ill-timed release dates, or charisma-free lead players. But I also think there are some movies — and Into the Wild, in my view, is one of them — that will never reach a wide audience, regardless of cast, advertising or release date, because most people don’t like what they hear when they ask that most basic question: “What is it about?” Sad endings? Sometimes a factor, sometimes not. Didn’t seem to hurt Titanic (or, for that matter, The Perfect Storm). But Into the Wild is the movie about that guy who went out into the Alaskan wilderness and starved to death. If Sweeney Todd does indeed under-perform — and, mind you, I’m not yet entirely convinced that will be the case — it will be because it’s a movie about a guy who slits the throats of people, and a woman who turns the corpses into pies. David, you are a smart guy and you know a lot about the industry. But like many experts who get so caught up in their field of expertise that they over-analyze minute details — like certain sportscasters I try to ignore while I’m watching a ball game — I think you lose sight of some very basic things about human nature. Sometimes, Team A beats Team B simply because Team A plays better that day. Sometimes, a movie under-performs simply because most people don’t want to see a movie about what that movie’s about.

  35. David Poland says:

    I think it is absolutely possible to get caught up in the trees and miss the forest, Joe. But it is also easy to decide that one tree is all the forest is about.
    The reason I discount your notion is that there are plenty of movies with unhappy endings that are doing just fine, thanks… even this season. When you, if you ever do, explain No Country’s success to date, I assume it won’t be because “people know the ending.”
    The other thing is that you claim “everyone knows,” when the people who know are a very small part of the marketplace. This is, actually, the mistake studios make with musicals and book-based films all the time…. the notion that there is a built-in awareness that there just is not. This was also true of Snakes on a Plane, where they sold the phenomenon and not the movie… because the people involved with the phenomenon all went and it still was not enough to be seen as a hit, because it is the conversion past that base that makes a hit. As popular as The Da Vinci Code was as a book, it was seen as a film by a lot more people than read the book. As popular as The Kite Runner was, it just hasn’t mattered.
    It is a bit shocking, really, that someone who has reviewed films for as long as you and understands the complexity of making films (I assume) is so quick to reduce ANYTHING to “it’s just that easy.”
    Horrible movies are sold well every week… great movies not so much… and everywhere in the middle. Covering box office for all these years, I see very, very few cases of the movie itself as the key issue in a film’s box office failure or success. In the Sweeney case, I have no doubt that they missed the release window that would have worked better. But it’s EXACTLY the crowd that would go see a movie about a guy who makes people into pies who hasn’t been showing up in large enough numbers, not the people who are turned off by that notion, who the studio wrote off six months ago.
    And in the case of Into The Wild, it may well be that they found most of the people who wanted to see that story. I think they certainly did with Babel last year. But again, we are back to the whole discussion of sane expectations, not the simplistic “people don’t want to see that kid die… and they know… they know!!!” YOU know.

  36. The Big Perm says:

    If audiences don’t want to see movies about people being chopped up in horrible ways, why are the Saw movies sucessful or Halloween has a big opening weekend?

  37. movielocke says:

    I finally went and saw Sweeney Todd. Now, I know nothing about the show, except the concept, because I’ve never seen it. I’m vaguely familiar with God that’s Good because of Jersey Girl, and I downloaded the first track “Ballad of Sweeney Todd” off iTunes to get a feel for the music. But other than that, I knew nothing about the story other than what’s in the trailers. And I was excited to see it. annoyed that the holidays had prevented me from seeing it until yesterday.
    And I saw it.
    And it was dull. It was incredibly tedious. people walked out of a matinee showing not because of the gore but because they were bored.
    There is no life to the film, there’s no soul or heart or interesting characters, it’s sort of like watching the puppet play from being John Malkovich for two hours. self important, dour, and pitiful/pathetic. it’s neither a drama nor a musical, not a musical parody or a black comedy. It’s a big nothing.
    So I completely understand why it’s underperforming.
    it’s not any good, plain and simple.

  38. movielocke says:

    and Depp sings about as well as an American Idol reject, one of the mediocre ones, not one of the teeth-grinding awful ones. But the sort of singer that wanders throughout a random range looking for pitch but only occasionally discovering it for a second or two.

  39. Joe Leydon says:

    OK, David, I can always tell when you’re losing the argument: You start putting words in people’s mouth. Please don’t do that with me, because, frankly, it makes you, not me, look silly. Also, please go back and read all of my postings on this subject. I never — repeat, never, and if you say I did, you are deliberately misrepresenting me — said that people stay away from movies with unhappy endings. I said people are staying away from this particular movie because of this particular story with this particular unhappy ending. In other words, I am talking about Into the Wild (and, to a lesser extent, Sweeney Todd), not No Country for Old Men or any other title you want to bring up as a distraction. And I will go one step further: I cannot conceive of anyone at any time with any actors making a movie of this particular story (a story that, I’m sorry, was pretty well known, whether you knew about it or not, so much so that early trade paper stories gave away the ending in the first or second grafs of their production announcement stories) and that movie drawing a much bigger crowd than Penn’s movie did.
    I don’t know why it’s so hard for you to accept something I’ve learned after nearly 40 years of writing for professional publications and getting feedback from readers, co-workers and friends who are civilians, not industry insiders: There are some movies that will NEVER draw big crowds, even by art-house standards, because of what those movies are about. You can have big stars, great reviews, crafty ad campaigns, anything and everything, and it won’t help. There is just something about the plot, something about the subject matter, that is a turn-off, and nothing a moviemaker can do will enable his/her movie to overcome that resistance. It really is just that simple. It’s like, there are people, smart people, out there — and, yes, I know some of them — who will NEVER go see a subtitled movie. Under any circumstances. Period.

  40. The Big Perm says:

    Steven Spielberg directs Will Smith in Into the Wild. I’d bet on that.
    Joe, you ignored my query…what about the horror movies that do well? If the subject matter of Sweeney, meaning the violence, is the problem, then why do violent movies do well all the time? Halloween was nastier than Sweeney Todd in my opinion.

  41. tfresca says:

    Burton can suck the fun out of anything. As a filmmaker he’s a one trick pony. Also, I must say, this is proof that his new girlfriend is a career killer. Kenneth hasn’t been the same since their hookup and the only tolerable movie Burton’s made is Big Fish.

  42. Joe Leydon says:

    Halloween wasn’t a musical. And, no, I am not being sarcastic. I’m not the first person to say this: People who like musicals may have a hard time buying the plot of Sweeney. (Yeah, I know, it’s been very big on stage. So was A Chorus Line and The Producers. So what?) People who might like the plot — like, say, torture-porn fans — may have a hard time buying a musical.
    Look, I still say we might be jumping the gun here by branding Sweeney a b.o. disappointment. But if it does wind up under-achieving, I think the subject matter (especially the way Burton handles that subject matter)will be a major reason.

  43. CaptainZahn says:

    Aside from the musical aspect, there’s the fact that Sweeney deals with horrific things in a thoughtful way. That’s not what everyone likes in their horror.

  44. The Big Perm says:

    Joe, I would agree with that. You had just made it sound like the subject matter in general was the problem, not the gory subject matter as it relates to a musical. I think the mix is a tough sell, and that either a straight musical or a horror movie would be easier to market.
    I just went to see the movie and I had been thinking that I’d rather it not be a musical, although I ended up loving it.

  45. “And it was dull. It was incredibly tedious. people walked out of a matinee showing not because of the gore but because they were bored.”
    Did you ask them as they left?

  46. Joe Leydon says:

    Big Perm: You might want to keep an eye out for The Tale of Sweeney Todd, a 1998 made-for-cable movie (with Ben Kingsley and Joanna Lumley, directed by John Schlesigner), which airs next Saturday (Jan. 5) on the ION Network. No one sings in that one. Or check out the 1936 Demon Barber of Fleet Street with — no kidding — Tod Slaughter. Decades ago, while I was in college, I stayed up late one night to watch this one with a girl I was dating at the time — and it creeped out both of us.

  47. jeffmcm says:

    Joe, your text and your subtext seem to be making two different points. One is a very easy-to-understand ‘you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’ concept which I don’t think anyone disagrees with. The other implies that you’re glad that Sweeney and Into the Wild haven’t set the boxoffice on fire, and I think that’s why you’re receiving friction.

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