MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Holey Hannah/The Miley High Club…

Hannah Montana in 3-D reigned in its weekend debut with an estimated record-breaking $29.7 million. The singing sensation eclipsed a trio of other freshmen including a tidy second place finish of $13.1 million for the chiller The Eye. However, not many got the joke of either Over Her Dead Bodyor Strange Wilderness that bowed respectively with grosses of $4 million and $3 million.

Activity in limited and alternative arenas was unusually quiet though the Lebanese female empowerment comedy Caramel generated a very sturdy $6,200 theater average from 12 engagements.

Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert in 3-D proved to be quite a mouthful as it bowed in every location with ReelD capability and in an additional 30 sites with comparable 3-D systems. Brushing aside setting a handful of Super Bowl weekend box office records, the film played very much like a Disney family film with the caveat that post 9 p.m. performances were also selling out.

The release was mapped out as a special event, locked one week engagement. Though the distribution community was under the impression that a 2D run would be mounted later in the year, Buena Vista distribution president Chuck Viane insists that makes no sense. What has changed since Friday matinee business is that the 7-day engagements are now open-ended engagements.

The latest horror adaptation from Japan, The Eye, had a better than respectable launch and maybe better than that considering its close proximity to One Missed Call. But familiarity seemed to work against Over Her Dead Body, the umpteenth romantic comedy in which the untimely deceased lover returns to wreck havoc on the surviving partner’s new romance. The questionably eco-humorous Strange Wilderness seemed to slip into the marketplace without much enthusiasm from its distributor.

Overall business was pushing close to $125 million that represented a 14% decline from seven days earlier. However, on the traditionally soft (particularly Sunday) Super Bowl session, box office expanded by a rather amazing 40%. In 2007, the leaders were new entries The Messengers andBecause I Said So that finished their first weekends with box offices of $14.7 million and $13.1 million.

Last weekend leaders Meet the Spartans and Rambo each took sharp 60% plus hits and Cloverfield continues to evaporate rapidly.

The pictures playing the Oscar card are benefiting from Academy attention though one would be hard pressed to say either the individual or collective awards boost is as buoyant or significant as seen in past years.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – February 1-3, 2008

Title Distributor Gross (averag % change Theaters Cume
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Conce BV 29.7 (43,550) 683 29.7
The Eye Lions Gate 13.1 (5,370) 2436 13.1
27 Dresses Fox 8.5 (2,850) -37% 2976 57.2
Juno Fox Searchlight 7.3 (2,960) -28% 2475 110.1
Meet the Spartans Fox 7.0 (2,640) -62% 2643 28.2
Rambo Lions Gate 6.8 (2,450) -63% 2764 29.6
The Bucket List WB 6.8 (2,330) -36% 2915 67.6
Untraceable Sony 5.2 (2,200) -54% 2368 19.3
There Will Be Blood Par Vantage 4.8 (3,190) -1% 1507 21.1
Cloverfield Par 4.8 (1,600) -62% 3007 71.9
Over Her Dead Body New Line 4.0 (2,000) 1977 4
Strange Wilderness Par 3.0 (2,510) 1208 3
Atonement Focus 2.9 (2,140) -25% 1367 42.1
National Treasure: Book of Secrets BV 2.9 (1,680) -41% 1733 209.7
Alvin and the Chipmunks Fox 2.7 (1,390) -40% 1958 207.6
No Country for Old Men Miramax 2.2 (1,760) -8% 1273 55.2
Michael Clayton WB 1.8 (1,740) -21% 1010 44.1
Mad Money Overture 1.7 (1,040) -62% 1665 18.3
First Sunday Sony 1.4 (1,410) -57% 1015 36.5
How She Move Vantage/Mongre 1.4 (970) -64% 1461 6
I Am Legend WB 1.0 (1,330) -53% 777 253.3
U2 3D nWave .77 (12,620) -20% 61 2.2
The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything Uni .60 (790) -54% 765 11.2
Sweeney Todd Par .53 (1,000) -56% 536 51.5
Charlie Wilson’s War Uni .50 (1,210) -46% 412 65.4
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $121.40
% Change (Last Year) 40%
% Change (Last Week) -14%
Also debuting/expanding
Diving Bell and the Butterfly Miramax .43 (2,110) 8% 205 3.7
The Savages Fox Searchlight .39 (1,940) -11% 201 4.7
Persepolis Sony Classics .33 (3,470) -4% 95 1.8
Caramel Roadside At. 74.500 (6,210) 12 0.07
The Witnesses Strand 14,700 (4,900) 3 0.01
Tre Cinema Libre 3,600 (1,800) 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share – To January 31, 2008

Distributor (titles) Gross* Market Share
Warner Bros. (10) 172.1 20.40%
Fox (6) 142.1 16.90%
Paramount (4) 92.8 11.00%
Buena Vista (5) 88.4 10.50%
Fox Searchlight (3) 77.6 9.20%
Sony (7) 76.2 9.00%
Universal (3) 37.9 4.50%
Par Vantage (5) 29.7 3.50%
Focus (2) 28.1 3.30%
Lions Gate (3) 22.9 2.70%
Overture (1) 16.5 2.00%
MGM (5) 15.1 1.80%
Miramax (2) 13.7 1.60%
New Line (1) 8.9 1.10%
Picturehouse (1) 5.3 0.60%
FreeStyle (2) 4.7 0.60%
Other * (21) 11.1 1.30%
843.1 100.00%
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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