MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

35.1 Million B.C. (Big Cume)…

History be damned, 10,000 B.C. went to the head of the class with an opening weekend estimated at $35.1 million. In an otherwise depressed frame, there was also positive spin for College Road Trip that debuted in second spot with $13.8 million and a rather respectable $5.4 million launch for the ripped from the headlines The Bank Job.

The session also featured fair returns for the period dramedy Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day of $2.4 million in a high end limited bow. Additionally, local boxing drama La Ligne Brisee wasn’t quite a knockout with a $230,000 opening jab in Quebec and Gus Van Sant’s Cannes-prizedParanoid Park raised anxiety levels to $55,000; again primarily from 11 Quebec playdates. There were also encouraging initial results for independents Married Life, Last Stop for Paul and Snow Angels in exclusive starts but there was nothing distinctive about the Bollywood entry Black & White.

Weekend revenues experienced an OK 9% bounce from the prior frame but got comparatively clobbered when placed beside the anomalous 2007 session that was led by the unexpectedly huge $70.9 million debut of 300. Combined with Wild Hogs strong hold, the current session is down 32% and the current 13% improved box office pace is expected to continue to shrink at least into early April.

Critics delighted in making sport of the scientific inanities of 10,000 B.C. but clearly the intent was not to replicate the success d’estime of bygone caveman epic Quest for Fire. The inside studio (and theater owner) projection was optimistically nudging $40 million but came up shy as its audience proved to be tilted toward ogling males (61% according to exit polls) rather than evolving as a date movie. Its $25 million gross in 20 overseas markets including Spain, Mexico, Germany and Australia also reflects a slightly softer than expected start but the situation is hardly on the catastrophic scale of, shall we say, Poseidon.

Also slightly below expectations was College Road Trip and one can speculate that audiences may not have been quite ready for another ride with Martin Lawrence with Roscoe Carmichael still on screen. It’s also likely that Raven-Symone required a stronger vehicle to make the transition from television.

The weekend critical darling was unquestionably The Bank Job that was marketed to an action crowd likely mystified by the low-tech antics of the period heist film. The prospect of the film becoming a crossover success remains a long shot theatrically though it does appear to have met minimum commercial benchmarks for the U.S.

Holdover titles largely experienced 50% declines with a not unexpectedly steeper drop for last week’s leader Semi-Pro. It was also clear – apart from foreign-language winner The Counterfeiters – that Oscar got out of town faster than usual.

It may be no more than coincidence that the exit of award season fare saw an unusually brisk number of niche entries entering the marketplace. None of the dozen or so titles evinced signs of breakout potential but at least a few appeared to have sufficient appeal to hang around for a weeks on the circuit.

CJ7, Stephen Chow’s E.T.-inspired follow up to Kung Fu Hustle was deemed too specialized to push his appeal outside his formidable Asian fan base. And the cable saturation marketing for mockumentary Last Stop for Paul has yet to prove its effectiveness … though it remains early in the film’s theatrical penetration.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – March 7-9, 2008

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theater Cume
10,000 B.C. WB 35.1 (10,290) 3410 35.1
College Road Trip BV 13.8 (5,090) 2706 13.8
Vantage Point Sony 7.6 (2,390) -41% 3163 61.8
Semi-Pro New Line 5.8 (1,870) -61% 3121 24.7
The Bank Job Lions Gate 5.4 (3,350) 1603 5.4
The Spiderwick Chronicles Par 4.7 (1,440) -46% 3246 61.6
The Other Boleyn Girl Sony 3.9 (3,360) -52% 1167 14.5
Jumper Fox 3.7 (1,440) -51% 2563 72.5
Step Up 2: The Streets BV 3.1 (1,380) -46% 2251 53.1
Fool’s Gold WB 2.8 (1,210) -36% 2322 62.8
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Focus 2.4 (4,430) 535 2.4
Penelope Summit 2.1 (1,710) -46% 1207 6.7
Juno Fox Searchlight 2.0 (1,460) -40% 1350 137.9
Definitely, Maybe Uni 1.7 (1,080) -50% 1556 29.4
No Country for Old Men Miramax 1.6 (1,320) -62% 1201 72.6
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins Uni 1.1 (1,180) -57% 954 40.8
Be Kind Rewind New Line 1.1 (1,500) -46% 746 8.9
The Bucket List WB 1.0 (980) -40% 1040 89.2
There Will Be Blood Par Vantage .68 (1,060) -56% 643 38.8
In Bruges Focus .52 (2,310) -33% 225 4.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $100.10
% Change (Last Year) -32%
% Change (Last Week) 9%
Also debuting/expanding
The Counterfeiters Sony Classics .31 (6,160) 66% 50 0.7
La Ligne brisee Alliance .23 (3,380) 67 0.23
Paranoid Park Filmop/IFC 55,000 (4,230) 13 0.06
Married Life Sony Classics 53,100 (5,900) 9 0.05
CJ7 Sony Classics 46,800 (2,600) 18 0.05
Black & White Eros 28,800 (960) 30 0.03
Girls Rock Shadow 15,800 (3,950) 4 0.02
La Rondine Bigger Picture 13,900 (220) 62 0.01
Snow Angels WIP 11,200 (5,600) 2 0.01
Last Stop for Paul Mandt 8,500 (4,250) 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share – To March 5, 2008

Distributor (releases) Gross Mkt Share
Warner Bros. (11) 272.1 16.60%
Fox (7) 263.2 16.10%
Buena Vista (7) 214.7 13.10%
Paramount (5) 164.5 10.00%
Sony (10) 150.7 9.20%
Fox Searchlight (3) 112.7 6.90%
Universal (5) 109.3 6.70%
Lions Gate (4) 76.6 4.70%
Par Vantage (6) 62.1 3.80%
New Line (4) 43.6 2.70%
Focus (3) 43.3 2.70%
Miramax (3) 34.3 2.10%
Overture (1) 20.3 1.20%
MGM (6) 19.9 1.20%
Other * (63) 49.3 3.00%
1636.6 100.00%

Top Limited Grossers – To March 6, 2008

Title Distributor Gross
The Orphanage Picture/Christal 6,785,399
U2 3D nWave 5,928,939
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Mrmx 4,658,936
The Savages Fox Searchlight 4,439,120
In Bruges Focus 4,029,929
Persepolis Sony Classics 3,668,394
Jodhaa Akbar UTV 3,114,658
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventu nWave 2,908,041
Cassandra’s Dream Weinstein Co. 978,515
The Band’s Visit Sony Classics 970,389
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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