MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Take A Vantage…

The twisty little thriller Vantage Point ascended to the top of weekend movie going with an estimated $24.4 million. In a softish frame running up to Sunday’s Oscar telecast, another trio of pictures bowed in modestly wide release with the off kilter comedy Be Kind Rewind attracting a respectable $4 million. However, neither the $2.1 million tally for Larry the Cable Guy in Witless Protection or the coming-of-ager Charlie Bartlett’s $1.8 million displayed signs of box office stamina.

There was no great Oscar box office surge, though No Country for Old Men at least registered a modest upward bump. Also, foreign-language contender The Counterfeiters from Austria was the sole limited opener to demonstrate significant niche appeal.

With snow storms in the East and raindrops falling on western heads, movie going proved generally overcast. Business fell 21% from the President’s Day frame and was 5% behind last year’s business when the second weekend of Ghost Rider led with $20.1 million and the debut of The Number 23nudged out Bridge to Terabithia with a $14.6 million gross.

A kind of pastiche of political thrillers, Vantage Point’s tale of Presidential peril tilted more toward In the Line of Fire than Air Force One. The film benefited from a momentary distribution lull and a type of homogeneous appeal. Meanwhile, last weekend’s leader Jumper took a sharp dip while The Spiderwick Chronicles appeared to be benefiting as one of the few family oriented pics at the multiplex.

It’s perhaps reading too much to ascribe Be Kind Rewind’s modest promotional push to structural/leadership changes in the wing at New Line. More credible would be Cable Guy Larry having a financial investment in his third feature – otherwise there’s no balance that makes fiscal sense in the equation.

Oscar nominated Juno became the first film to gross $100 million in calendar 2008 on Saturday. It also posted the best gross among Sunday’s nominees and regardless of its score card already has won the industry’s really big prize – a golden reel that will generate revenues close to $300 million on a $10 million negative.

It’s also lining up as an Oscar edition that won’t be of much benefit to the winner in the foreign-language category. The most likely to take the award are either The Counterfeiters that opened Friday in the U.S. to a not too shabby $12,000 plus per engagement from seven sites or Russia’s submission 12, based upon the vintage 12 Angry Men. Counterfeiters has largely played out in Europe to good but hardly exceptional theatrical business and the Russian film has yet to play outside of the CIS and will need the statuette as the commercial hook to secure international distribution.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – February 22-24, 2008

Title Distributor Gross (averag % change Theater Cume
Vantage Point Sony 24.4 (7,760) 3149 24.4
The Spiderwick Chronicles Par 12.6 (3,280) -34% 3847 43.6
Jumper Fox 12.6 (3,670) -54% 3430 56.1
Step Up 2: The Streets BV 9.4 (3,800) -50% 2480 41
Fool’s Gold WB 6.3 (2,040) -51% 3075 52.4
Definitely, Maybe Uni 5.1 (2,310) -48% 2220 21.7
Be Kind Rewind New Line 4.0 (4,990) 808 4
Juno Fox Searchlight 4.0 (2,330) -13% 1727 130.3
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins Uni 3.9 (2,100) -54% 1873 35.4
There Will Be Blood Par Vantage 2.6 (1,840) -15% 1402 35
The Bucket List WB 2.5 (1,300) -38% 1902 85.1
No Country for Old Men Miramax 2.2 (2,020) 18% 1101 64.1
Witless Protection Lions Gate 2.1 (1,560) 1333 2.1
Charlie Bartlett MGM 1.8 (1,590) 1122 1.8
27 Dresses Fox 1.6 (1,160) -50% 1367 73.1
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Conc BV 1.5 (2,490) -53% 613 61.9
The Eye Lions Gate 1.3 (1,060) -60% 1211 28.8
Atonement Focus 1.1 (1,470) -24% 755 49.3
U2 3D nWave 1.0 (1,520) 155% 686 4.9
In Bruges Focus .76 (4,660) -22% 163 2.8
Alvin and the Chipmunks Fox .72 (1,030) -33% 698 212.8
National Treasure: Book of Secrets BV .64 (1,120) -51% 571 215.9
Rambo Lions Gate .63 (870) -68% 727 41.7
Michael Clayton WB .62 (1,460) -35% 425 48.5
Untraceable Sony .52 (950) -70% 548 28.3
Jodhaa Akbar UTV .51 (5,730) -61% 89 2.3
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $104.50
% Change (Last Year) -5%
% Change (Last Week) -21%
Also debuting/expanding
Persepolis Sony Classics .33 (700) -19% 475 3.4
Diving Bell and the Butterfly Miramax .23 (1,440) -34% 161 5.3
The Signal Magnolia .13 (840) 160 0.13
The Counterfeiters Sony Classics 86,300 (12,330) 7 0.09
La Riviere aux Castors Alliance 55,100 (1,310) 42 0.06
Cover ACI 29,500 (2,100) 14 0.03

Domestic Market Share – To February 20, 2008

Distributor (releases) Gross Mkt Share
Warner Bros. (11) 250.3 18.20%
Fox (7) 231.9 16.90%
Buena Vista (7) 190.9 13.90%
Paramount (5) 137.1 10.00%
Fox Searchlight (3) 102.5 7.50%
Sony (8) 94.2 6.90%
Universal (5) 89.5 6.50%
Lions Gate (4) 68.9 5.00%
Par Vantage (6) 55.9 4.10%
Focus (3) 39.1 2.80%
Miramax (2) 24.3 1.80%
Overture (1) 20.2 1.50%
New Line (2) 16.6 1.20%
MGM (5) 16.1 1.20%
Picturehouse (2) 6.6 0.50%
Other * (46) 28.1 2.00%
1372.2 100.00%

Domestic Grossers – To February 14, 2008

Title Distributor Gross
Juno * Fox Searchlight 91,538,337
National Treasure: Book of Secrets * BV 80,102,102
Cloverfield Par 76,773,236
The Bucket List * WB 76,232,361
27 Dresses Fox 66,761,871
Alvin and the Chipmunks * Fox 61,187,876
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Con BV 55,127,562
I Am Legend * WB 54,979,314
Rambo Lions Gate 38,199,768
First Sunday Sony 37,627,592
Meet the Spartans Fox 34,776,211
Atonement * Focus 34,761,980
Fool’s Gold WB 28,954,687
P.S. I Love You * WB 27,837,545
There Will Be Blood * Par Vantage 27,581,368
Charlie Wilson’s War * Uni 27,440,875
One Missed Call WB 26,569,730
Untraceable Sony 25,388,456
Sweeney Todd * Par 23,842,967
The Eye Lions Gate 23,145,696
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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