MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Leathertails … Oops!

The thrill of victory eluded the debut of Leatherheads as its estimated $13.4 million weekend trailed the $15.4 million sophomore session of 21. The frame’s other freshmen releases also opened on the dull side with the family friendly Nim’s Island grossing $13.2 million and the horror entry The Ruinsbowing to $7.6 million.

In the continuing movie going slump the Stones rolled but didn’t rock with the limited release concert film Shine a Light tallying $1.4 million. Other specialized newbies included two from last year’s Cannes festival receiving some initial traction. The Noah Jones starrer My Blueberry Nights had a tuneful $68,300 at six venues while The Flight of the Red Balloon sailed to $34,900 in two exclusives. There was also good response of $23,300 from three screens for the Israeli importJellyfish but American indies Meet Bill and Sex and Death 100 were commercially D.O.A.

Overall business experienced another significant decline, ebbing 9% for the immediate prior weekend. Measured against 2007 box office sank by 25%. Last year’s premiere pictures were also dull including Are We Done Yet? with $14.3 million and Grindhouse cranking out $11.6 million while the second weekend of Blades of Glory led with a $22.5 million frame.

After a fast start with double-digit box office increases from 2007, the past month has seen steadily decreasing revenues. The current weak weekend finally did the trick and the year has dipped below last year’s pace by 1.5%

The long-gestating Leatherheads lost its vintage as it came short of goal posts set somewhere between $15 million and $20 million. The saga of the early years of the NFL evolved from a comedy of social conscience a la Slap Shot into more knockabout fare in hopes of extending beyond adult viewers. The strategy failed both commercially and with the country’s critical community.

While Leatherheads did a media blitz, the session’s other freshmen appeared content to wage generic campaigns aimed at the obvious suspects. The box office results for both Nim’s Island andThe Ruins were at top spin “respectable” but as the old guru has often observed: since when has the film industry been about breaking even?

All things considered, the second weekend for the card counting intrigue of 21 was sturdy with business at 64% of its premiere performance but the brunt of hold over titles experienced drops generally between 45% and 50%.

The sixth Stone – Martin Scorsese – opened his lens on Jagger, Richards, et al with Shine a Lightand scored best from 93 large format engagements. Those venues accounted for 34% of the playdates but 79% of the box office. It’s easy to understand why the industry remains keen on such enhancement as Imax and 3-D and, preferably, both. However, the added costs of digital conversion in the current recessionary climate have created fits and bursts in such growth.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – April 4-6, 2008

Title Distributor Gross (aver % change * Theate Cume
21 Sony 15.4 (5,790) -36% 2653 46.8
Leatherheads Uni 13.4 (4,850) 2769 13.4
Nim’s Island Fox 13.2 (3,770) 3513 13.2
Horton Hears a Who Fox 9.2 (2,570) -48% 3571 131.1
The Ruins Par 7.6 (2,690) 2812 7.6
Superhero Movie MGM 5.3 (1,790) -44% 2965 16.8
Drillbit Taylor Par 3.4 (1,250) -41% 2707 25.5
Meet the Browns Lions Gate 3.3 (2,100) -56% 1554 37.5
Shutter Fox 2.9 (1,350) -45% 2125 23.2
10,000 B.C. WB 2.7 (1,170) -45% 2335 89.3
Stop-Loss Par 2.2 (1,720) -51% 1291 8.1
The Bank Job Lions Gate 1.7 (1,400) -40% 1189 26.7
Under the Same Moon Weinstein Co. 1.6 (3,670) -28% 437 8.8
College Road Trip BV 1.6 (960) -53% 1705 40.9
Shine a Light Par Vantage 1.4 (5,180) 276 1.4
Run Fat Boy Run Picturehouse 1.4 (1,230) -41% 1115 4.4
Vantage Point Sony 1.1 (990) -51% 1128 71.1
Never Back Down Summit 1.1 (900) -54% 1209 23
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Focus .72 (1,430) -38% 503 10.5
The Other Boleyn Girl Sony .58 (820) -54% 706 26
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $98.50
% Change (Last Year) -25%
% Change (Last Week) -9%
Also debuting/expanding
The Counterfeiters Sony Classics .38 (3,130) 3% 123 2.9
My Blueberry Nights Weinstein Co. 68,300 (11,380) 6 0.06
Flight of the Red Balloon IFC 34,900 (17,450) 2 0.03
Meet Bill First Look 30,500 (850) 36 0.03
Jellyfish Zeitgeist 22,300 (7,430) 3 0.01
Sex and Death 101 Anchor Bay 14,100 (2,820) 5 0.01
Water Lilies Koch Lorber 3,400 (3,400) 1 0.01

Global Grossers – To March 30, 2008

Title Distributor Gross
I Am Legend WB 270,214,778
National Treasure: Book of Secrets BVI 258,452,003
10,000 B.C. WB 230,668,896
Jumper Fox 198,747,514
Horton Hears a Who Fox 197,609,863
Juno Fox/Mandate 185,142,982
Alvin and the Chipmunks Fox 168,679,687
Cloverfield Paramount 157,903,442
Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis Pathe 157,314,114
The Bucket List WB 148,939,032
27 Dresses Fox/Spyglass 134,783,157
Asterix aux jeux Olympiques Pathe 130,521,428
Vantage Point Sony 126,507,378
The Spiderwick Chronicles Paramount 118,422,878
Sweeney Todd Paramount/WB 125,045,246
Step Up 2 BV/Summit 110,504,896
No Country for Old Men Miramax/Para 110,232,834
P.S. I Love You WB/Summit 109,635,887
Enchanted BV 107,450,510
The Golden Compass New Line 106,921,784
Rambo Lions Gate/NuI 103,202,282
* does not include 2007 box office

Domestic Market Share – To March 27, 2008

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Shar
Fox (9) 419.8 18.70%
Warner Bros. (12) 371.9 16.50%
Buena Vista (8) 265.4 11.80%
Sony (11) 223.6 9.90%
Paramount (7) 206.2 9.20%
Lions Gate (7) 137.9 6.10%
Universal (6) 127.2 5.70%
Fox Searchlight (3) 119.2 5.30%
Par Vantage (6) 64.4 2.90%
New Line (4) 61.3 2.70%
Focus (4) 56.1 2.50%
Miramax (3) 38 1.70%
MGM (7) 31.9 1.40%
Summit (2) 31.6 1.40%
Overture (2) 20.8 0.90%
Other * (88) 73.7 3.30%
* none greater than 0.45% 2249 100.00%

Top Domestic Grossers – To March 27, 2008

Title Distributor Gross
Juno * Fox Searchlight 113,564,674
Horton Hears a Who Fox 99,849,148
The Bucket List * WB 90,378,651
National Treasure: Book of Secret BV 84,668,814
10,000 B.C. WB 80,045,351
Cloverfield Par 79,868,530
Jumper Fox 77,984,874
27 Dresses Fox 75,941,603
Alvin and the Chipmunks * Fox 68,973,565
The Spiderwick Chronicles Par 68,646,009
Fool’s Gold WB 67,524,778
Vantage Point Sony 66,948,480
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Co BV 64,547,158
Step Up 2: The Streets BV 57,001,753
I Am Legend * WB 56,933,914
Rambo Lions Gate 42,754,105
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins Uni 42,093,210
Atonement * Focus 39,617,946
There Will Be Blood * Par Vantage 39,438,070
First Sunday Sony 38,182,387
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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