MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Caspian Sees Wave…

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian crested with an estimated $56.7 million to rank as the weekend’s top movie attraction. The anticipated commercial potency of the franchise had competitors large and small avoiding a head on and giving the youth appeal adventure a clear shot among debuting national releases.

Debuting niche and regional newcomers were eclectic including an 84 print launch for the Hispanic targeted How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer that barely managed to generate a $1,000 per engagement average. In QuebecLa Piege Americain had a passable $980,000 box office at 44 venues and the Bollywood entry Jannat was soft with a $26,600 tally from 17 outlets. Exclusives proved more potent with the Norweigan import Reprise grossing $46,500 from three playdates and Mexico’s Sangre de mi Sangre generating $8,500 from a single screen.

Despite a strong bow for Prince Caspian, its box office was dwarfed by last year’s $121.6 million preem of Shrek the Third and that translated into a significant overall box office drop.

The second installment of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia screen adaptations entered the marketplace with high expectations with some industry trackers predicting out-sized figures of between $85 million and $90 million that say more about methodology than results. More level heads anticipated a $65 million opening comparable to the first episode’s gross in December 2005.

While there’s an argument to be made that the film’s debut was disappointing in light of expectations, the strategic placement in the summer schedule could well pay off in the coming weeks. The teens and tweens that account for the series core appeal are still largely in school – roughly 85% – but that number will drop to less than 50% by June and next weekend’s Memorial holiday 4-day could generate comparable returns.

Internationally Prince Caspian launched in 12 countries including Mexico where it grossed $5.2 million of an estimated $20.7 million aggregate. It also bowed in Korea and Russia and secondary markets largely in Asia. Buena Vista International president Mark Zoradi noted that the film debuted 27% higher overall in those initial territories.

Holdovers generally experienced 30% to 40% drops with more severe erosion for the likes of Speed Racer and Redbelt. With a string of high profile movies in the wings the marketplace experienced considerable thinning among national releases with a mere 11 grossing in excess of $500,000 for the frame.

Weekend box office was inching toward $130 million for a modest 4% boost from seven days earlier. As noted 2007’s Shrek 3 was impossible to top and grosses overall fell 29% by comparison.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – May 16-18, 2008

Title Distributor Gross (average) % chng Theas Cume
Prince Caspian BV 56.7 (14,420) 3929 56.7
Iron Man Par 31.0 (7,460) -39% 4154 222.3
What Happens in Vegas Fox 13.9 (4,270) -31% 3255 40.4
Speed Racer WB 7.7 (2,140) -58% 3606 29.9
Made of Honor Sony 4.6 (1,620) -44% 2816 33.8
Baby Mama Uni 4.5 (1,810) -27% 2503 47.2
Forgetting Sarah Marshall Uni 2.6 (1,610) -33% 1601 55.1
Harold & Kumar 2 WB 1.8 (1,300) -41% 1403 33.9
Forbidden Kingdom Lions Gate 1.0 (980) -55% 997 50.3
The Visitor Overture .67 (2,990) -8% 224 3.4
Nim’s Island Fox .53 (590) -64% 894 45.2
Prom Night Sony/Alliance .45 (790) -56% 567 43.5
Then She Found Me Thinkfilm/TVA .39 (3,120) -17% 125 1.4
21 Sony .38 (860) -55% 444 81.1
Young@Heart Fox Searchlight .34 (2,010) -12% 170 1.9
Redbelt Sony Classics .33 (350) -68% 932 1.9
Horton Hears a Who Fox .32 (770) -48% 415 151.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $125.00
% Change (Last Year) -29%
% Change (Last Week) 4%
Also debuting/expanding
Son of Rambow Par Vantage .23 (2,550) 51% 91 0.52
La Piege Americain Alliance .1 (2,250) 44 0.1
How the Garcia Girls Spent Their S Alliance 84,300 (1,040) 84 0.08
Reprise Miramax 46,500 (15,500) 3 0.05
Jannat Shemaroo 26,600 (1,570) 17 0.03
Sangre de mi Sangre IFC 8,500 (8,500) 1 0.01
Yella Cinema Guild 6,900 (3,450) 2 0.01
Edge of Heaven *

Domestic Market Share – To May 15, 2008

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Fox (12) 532.1 17.20%
Warner Bros. (14) 437.7 14.10%
Paramount (9) 431.1 13.90%
Sony (14) 363.5 11.70%
Buena Vista (8) 272.2 8.80%
Universal (9) 254.1 8.20%
Lions Gate (8) 199.9 6.40%
Fox Searchlight (5) 147.9 4.80%
Par Vantage (8) 69.9 2.30%
New Line (4) 61.8 2.00%
Focus (4) 59.6 1.90%
Miramax (4) 47.3 1.50%
MGM (9) 46.1 1.50%
Summit (2) 34.7 1.10%
Overture (3) 23.5 0.80%
Other * (133) 118.1 3.80%
* none greater than 0.55% 3099.5 100.00%

Top Global Grossers – To May 15, 2008

Title Distributor Gross
Iron Man Par 381,951,713
Horton Hears a Who Fox 289,915,034
10,000 B.C. WB 267,200,300
I Am Legend * WB 250,954,579
Jumper Fox 211,531,632
Juno * Fox/Mandate 199,452,286
Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis Pathe 198,054,681
Cloverfield Par 169,710,890
National Treasure: Book of Secrets BV 168,113,955
The Bucket List WB 163,026,520
Alvin and the Chipmunks * Fox 162,328,406
The Spiderwick Chronicles Par 160,593,212
27 Dresses Fox/Spyglass 153,852,373
Vantage Point Sony 151,162,895
Step Up 2: The Streets BV/Summit 143,673,250
Asterix aux jeux Olympiques Pathe 131,462,687
Sweeney Todd * Par/WB 126,172,473
21 Sony 122,671,389
P.S. I Love You * WB/Summit 117,099,782
No Country for Old Men * Miramax/Par Int 116,882,361
Fool’s Gold WB 105,932,915
Enchanted * BV 105,273,924
Rambo Lions Gate/NuI 104,753,184
The Forbidden Kingdom Lions Gate/Wei 97,146,975
The Golden Compass * NLC 93,863,603
* does not include 2007 box office
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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