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David Poland

By David Poland

Klady's Friday Estimates

As so often happens these days, the boo birds started shitting on The Golden Compass a little prematurely. The opening could be anywhere between $26 million and $29 million

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28 Responses to “Klady's Friday Estimates”

  1. Wrecktum says:


  2. eugenen says:

    Wait — I thought the LotR movies were filmed all at once, (at least mostly) before any of them were released. Are you just talking about the post-production budget? I guess Gollum must have been expensive…

  3. Citizen R says:

    The Golden Compass won’t be the biggest bomb of the year – Finke is scratching her anti-Shaye rash by proclaiming it as such – but it’s doubtful that His Dark Materials will have any more installments. It won’t be the franchise New Line was hoping for.

    I don’t think $ 140 million is the minimum for The Golden Compass. It wouldn’t surprise me to see it play out like Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, another wannabe franchise based on a series of best-selling children’s books, which opened in mid-December 2004 to $ 30 million and ended up with $ 118.6 million domestic. The Golden Compass could conceivably end up making in the range of $ 100-110 million domestic.

    Night at the Museum made it to $ 250 million domestic from a $ 30 million opening, but it connected strongly with kiddies, and the family audience saw it over and over again. I don’t think The Golden Compass is going to come close to those kind of legs. I expect it to make four of five times its opening, which means that $ 140 million is, in my opinion, more likely to be at the upper range of what it’ll make rather than the minimum.

    Foreign box office, however, is sure to be stronger for The Golden Compass than it was for Lemony Snicket. But foreign is going to have to make up for a lot of ground.

  4. Devin Faraci says:

    To ‘over 200 million’?
    Chris Weitz confirmed to me that the movie cost 250 million. That’s more than ‘over 200 million.’

  5. IOIOIOI says:

    Their might be sequels to this film, but I doubt Weitz is helming them. Some people play above their heads. Weitz seems to have played above his head by a good six feet. Hopefully the next film will be helmed by someone that can reign it in. So to — figuratively — speak.

  6. David Poland says:

    I stumbled into His Dark Materials not being what they hoped for when I suggested it would do $500m worldwide and that was taken as a dissapointment.
    I think the movie will play much better with kids and families than Snicket, which was death-heavy and very Carrey, which mixed the message. I think TGC is much more like a more layered Narnia, which will work for kids – especially girls – and better for people over 8… which Disney says Caspian is as well.
    And indeed, Devin, you seem to have the only reporting of Weitz on the record with that number… can you please give us the link or the quotation so we can all use it in future? Not doubting you… just want to have the fact in hand.

  7. Aris P says:

    David – I couldnt believe my eyes after reading that post from Nikke a few days ago. She’s a pig for writing that. I thought she had taken it down though.

  8. Devin Faraci says:
    At the small roundtables for TGC here in LA Sam Elliott said it was a 250 million dollar movie. When asked about that, Weitz agreed.

  9. I wonder what would have happened if Weitz had remained off the picture. Because he was hired and then quit because he thought he couldn’t handle it and then came back. But was bringing him back a big mistake? Hmm…
    Also, from Box Office Mojo
    Domestic: $38,373,235 28.8%
    + Foreign: $94,680,406 71.2%
    = Worldwide: $133,053,641
    I wouldn’t expect Golden Compass to do that sort of domestic/foreign ratio but this sort of mystical movies always do better overseas. The LOTR movies (I see Compass as being like a cross between LOTR and Stardust, strangely) had international grosses of 64/63/66 per cent of their worldwide totals.

  10. LYT says:

    this film is not likely to be the biggest bomb of this year by any standard
    Indeed — I just saw YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, and I think it’s going to be a massive train wreck. Don’t know exactly how much it costs, but it’s HEAVEN’S GATE-level bad.

  11. Citizen R says:

    Eragon made 69.9% of its worldwide gross of $ 249 million in foreign markets, which further confirms the strength of fantasy films internationally. Speaking of Eragon, it’s got to smart for New Line that The Golden Compass’s opening won’t be much higher than Eragon’s $ 23.2 million.

    So, what’s the ballpark threshold in worldwide box office that’ll get a sequel made? $ 400 million certainly wouldn’t be a great return on a $ 250 million budget. That would put it close to Superman Returns territory (and I’m by no means certain that a Superman Returns sequel will actually come to fruition).

  12. PastePotPete says:

    Stardust isn’t necessarily a good example as far as domestic/foreign gross ratios go. Paramount essentially dumped Stardust domestically. It still managed a 4x multiplier(it opened around $9mil) despite that, imagine if it had been promoted well. The trailers and scant commercials were poor and didn’t reflect the quality of the production.

  13. brack says:

    I still think Stardust was a pretty second-rate story.

  14. MattM says:

    The other thing to remember here is that the His Dark Materials books are beloved in the UK (and not just as kidlit)–they’re on the level of Harry Potter there. Also, New Line is assuredly getting some kickback from the massive licensing program from Golden Compass, which will add to the income from the film. I fully expect New Line will ultimately break even, even with the underwhelming US box office.
    That said, at least one person left the theatre at the end of Golden Compass when I saw it loudly shouting “that sucked! I want my money back.” I wouldn’t count on WOM to keep this one going.

  15. Can we all start officially blaming Dakota Blue Richards for this not making a billion dollars worldwide? DON’T LET FEMALES STAR IN YOUR BIG EXPENSIVE MOVIE!!!!!omg!

  16. mutinyco says:

    This is off topic.
    But I finally watched Superbad the other night. And one line stuck in my head, so I just did a Google search on it. Well, apparently “Iron Chef of Pounding Vag” has become a fairly popular screen name/nickname across the internet.

  17. 4nkate says:

    I hear one of the victims in Final Destination 4 is an entertainment blogger too large to leave her apartment. Considering the movie is in 3D, it might be pretty damn cool when she implodes with the building.
    And what about Even Almighty, did she forget about that one. Yes it finally got to 100 million and another 72 million oversees for a 172 million total compared to Bruce Almighty’s worldwide total of 484 million. Toldja, thats the biggest bomb of the year.

  18. GayAsXmas says:

    Chris Weitz is the main reason that The Golden Compass failed – his script and direction were forgettable at best. If New Line decide to make the sequel, would Alfonso Cuaron be too expensive for The Subtle Knife (a more violent and visceral tale)?

  19. otakuhouse says:

    David, thank you so much for writing this. I very desperately hope you can get a lunch with david with Weitz to talk about this movie. I have to disagree and say that the Golden Compass is not a good movie, not in its present form, but Weitz did a tremendous job.
    I usually disagree with you but it’s high time someone did call out Nikki Finke. While journalism about the business side of Hollywood is needed, I can’t shake the fact that she seems to outright hate movies, or show them no love. What is to celebrate over Michael Clayton’s poor loss given it’s one of the most unequivocally well reviewed movies of the year (albeit with a terrible marketing campaign)?
    Unfortunately, those numbers are not good by any means. And I feel it’s especially tragic for Weitz. Because he’ll take heat for this but from what I can see, as a director he nailed it. Unfortunately, I have never in my life seen a great film destroyed by editing. And it’s high time director’s stopped kowtowing to the promise of a DVD engineered to get fans to pay twice. Director’s have got to start fucking fighting for their cuts in the theater.
    I went to the Saturday sneaks last week and obviously those who love the book were in attendance, and the ending induced louder groans than No Country for Old Men.
    Here’s what I instinctually infer as someone who gets paid to direct for a living (albeit and humbly with hardly any experience compared to most) – the film was brutally chopped to incomprehensible shreds. You do not build a set of a beautiful London restaurant and costume everybody up in it for a quick scene of a little girl showing distaste for wine. Granted, you reduce things to make a cut work. But they did not get the pace and intention of how it was shot in its edit, nor that this story required. These books are more like Harry Potter than LOTR in that they are not about action scenes but ideas. Except for the polar bear scenes – the scenes which work best for people. The ones where Emmerich said to a reporter as to the books religious ideas “I saw it as the story of a girl and her polar bear”. Ahem.
    New Line bought these books hoping to turn them into visualizations of action fantasy scenes, bolstering their pedigree by buying a well respected, prestigious book. They blew it. The first LOTR mentioning trailer turned people off, and they tried to treat this movie like LOTR instead of a property respected and loved on its own by different people than LOTR. They also missed the fact that the Harry Potter movies especially draw teenage girls, just as manga for teenage girls has become one of the fastest growing book markets (laced as it often is with fantasy elements). With Lyra they had a heroine for them – she lies, is confused, tough and resourceful. Promotional materials for the film had Dakota meekly talking quietly.
    I’ve been so sad about this film for the past week because I feel like I saw one of the greatest fantasy films ever made, but only glimpses of it. And before you think I’m a lunatic, there’s proof.
    NYmag ran an item today about how they got their hands on Stoppard and Weitz’s script and they say that Chris Weitz wrote the better script and that had that movie been filmed…
    I think that script was filmed… Especially reading this…
    Where Weitz hints at what was left out and there you go – the dinner party scene was a full scene. People overlook constantly that editing is one of the absolute most important parts of a movie; what we have here is a great movie with the wrong edit. I just directed my first commercial and had a giant learning curve on how finely diced you chop things up. Every lesson I learned flashed before my eyes while I sat through this movie. Had it allowed its world and its amazing design (gassner deserves the oscar hands down for doing something familiar and yet not) the atmospheric space and character moments it needed then people would’ve connected with this film. Had New Line sold it as a work and event in its own right deservng a long epic movie they would’ve had a better response. And had they kept the fucking end of the book on they wouldn’t have had the books fans telling their friends the movie is horrible; plus they woulld’ve had people desperate to read the books to find out what happens next as well as see the next movie.
    I know this is long winded but I dearly love these books because growing up without religion they were few books that gave you an archetypal journey that challenged that notion while also surmising that human responsibility towards one another is important. Yes the books are anti religion but not nihilistic. And I really do feel that with all the trepidation I had Weitz fucking nailed it until those very last moments when he and the studio must’ve been bickering.
    I’m certain that a year from now New Line will release the second DVD, two disc extended version of this film. And we’ll be amazed at how actually that was a decent movie.

  20. ployp says:

    I wasn’t aware that Stardust did that well internationally. I watched The Golden Compass on opening day at about 3 pm and the theater was almost full. Most of the audiences were teenagers. I expect it to do quite well here in Thailand.

  21. Stardust was very big in the UK.

  22. bipedalist says:

    1. They should never have sold it as a Nicole Kidman movie. That made no one want to see it, myself included. Special effects should have been front and center, they were not. It was just her. I saw one trailer with cool effects that made me want to see it – every other bit of news was the Christian story and a picture of Kidman.
    2. I don’t see a lot of bloggers in this biz ever taking anyone’s feelings into account, yourself included.
    You write:
    “Nikki Finke is, simply, a piece of shit. If someone had the dumb courage to say things she writes to people

  23. Aris P says:

    Yeah dude, anyone who’s a media whore and loves the attention she’s getting on her blog site, and who writes “oh! i know a few people who are dying! but i cant tell you”, like it’s some kind of juicy gossip, is a piece of shit.

  24. David Poland says:

    Uh, no, BiP. And you are a classic example of someone indulging someone who does horrible things because you like the idea of the overall idea of what she does.
    Of course, you have never been the subject of one of her jihads. You have not even been collateral damage in one of those situations. Certainly, you have never had her make shit up and call studios trying to convince them not to do business with you.
    I understand how people who feel they are using Nikki or are getting “truth” from Nikki find it appealing. But Nikki is using them… and Nikki gets it wrong as often as she gets it right… and Nikki has no problem lying or not asking any questions to reach her personal best interests. And other journalists won’t challenge her because she is such a remarkable pain in the ass and beyond that, will lie privately to damage you.
    Say what you will about me, but there is nothing I say in private about Nikki that I won’t say in public… because I am actually kinder to her than most. Heck, I have defended her on the issue of her weight – which is really irrelevant and unkindly offered and basically untrue – a half dozen times this weekend alone. That tells you how much of a topic she is… and how gross things are around her.
    The dangerous part is that she works on a much higher level than someone like Roger Friedman. And she is smarter than Roger. But she has no moral focus except “ge Nikki attention… get Nikki respect.”
    A lot of people accuse a lot of other people of being that way, but I have to tell you, I don’t know many “journalists” who are really like that. I could criticize Sharon Waxman’s work all day, but I don’t think she was ever acting as she did in order to self-aggrandize. I think she sincerely felt she was doing important work.
    Nikki is a failed journalist who has never been able to keep a job. She keeps finding new outlets hoping to rein her in… and they stand her as long as they can, holding their noses, because the copy gets attention. We all know people like this. Burn bright, burn out, burn everyone around you. There is a reason why no one at the LA Weekly was quoted in praise of Nikki in that NYT blowjob last month.
    Nikki and I have had our ups and downs. She is not a single note played endlessly. But in the end, she cannot help herself. It’s not that she IS a piece of shit… it’s that she chooses to be a piece of shit… because she has such low self-esteem that it is the only way she knows she can get the positive attention she craves… and she has learned how to put the negative in the rear view and to blame everyone else for it. It is misogyny or personal or jealousy or whatever excuse she makes up on that day. She thinks of herself, like so many people like her do, as a vampire, sure to be burned by the actual sunlight. And so, she chooses the dark. And sometimes thrives. But make no mistake…

  25. Cadavra says:

    Let’s put Nikki and Wells in a deathmatch cage and see what happens…

  26. David Poland says:

    Nikki would spend a week trying to get Ron Meyer to fight Wells for her before finally threatening, privately to Wells, to disclose his real age to everyone in town – which she had already done, claiming that she hadn’t – and neither would show. Both would claim victory.

  27. joe donnelly says:

    I’m the editor of Nikki’s LA Weekly column. In my five years of working at the Weekly, I’ve never had so many people tell me so often that reading someone’s coverage of something, in this case Nikki’s coverage of the strike, is essential. Why not give props where props are due?

  28. joe donnelly says:

    I’m the editor of Nikki’s LA Weekly column. In my five years of working at the Weekly, I’ve never had so many people tell me so often that reading someone’s coverage of something, in this case Nikki’s coverage of the strike, is essential. Why not give props where props are due?

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