MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Klady

What’s fascinating from the start is that Box Office Mojo has both What Happens In Vegas and Speed Racer at least $300k or about 5% lower… and has Iron Man a whopping $2.8 million higher than Klady.
Meanwhile, Brad Grey’s #3 Girl has Iron Man at $15m – avoiding the 65% drop that Klady estimates – and was actually $500k higher on the Friday estimate for Speed last night… and lower on Vegas last night than this morning. (Of course, some people can’t do math either. A $15 million Friday is a 57% drop, not 62%.)
What does all this mean?
It means that box office obsession and confusion are now in charge and that people who don’t actually know much about box office, but who are being “sourced” by people with vested interests, are going to make Saturdays interesting all summer long.
Meanwhile, Iron Man dropping anything less than 55% for the weekend after that opening is a very strong showing. And anything more, a pretty average showing. We’ll see.
Speed Racer and What Happens In Vegas, not so much.
We really don’t know the future of either film yet. The slot is more promising for legs for Vegas than for Speed with Narnia coming up next weekend. But the question of who Speed Racer is playing to is really the issue at hand.
Both films are in line with Monster-in-Law, which opened in this slot 2 summers ago. Thing is, for Fox, that is comforting. M-i-L got to $83 million and it’s hard to imagine that Fox was expecting more from their comedy. This is not comforting to WB, where they are well behind Daddy Day Care, a movie that got slaughtered by the critics from the same summer slot, but still managed to crack $100 million with family audiences. But again… the question is whether the under 12s are going to see this film or if their parents are going to push them off and make them wait for DVD, since the adults don’t want to go.
Even a strong Saturday rebound and great word-of-mouth has $100m for Speed Racer quite unlikely. As I have said forever, it’s not the movie on opening weekend… it’s the marketing. And in trying to sell this thing to older teens instead of just getting to the kids core – the strongest single demo in summer, period – they seem to have missed both. They are not the first and they won’t be the last. But the fact that they find themselves in the same position as Poseidon was – a undisputably horrible film – is tragic and sick-making. Once they blinked and moved off of Memorial Day, they would have been much better off on August 8 than May 9… maybe even July 18 as a light alternative to The Dark Knight. But kids, kids, kids was the answer to the question WB marketing never answered.

Be Sociable, Share!

80 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady”

  1. abba_70s says:

    One word for Speed Racer: OUCH!

  2. LexG says:

    That Iron Man drop is steeper than expected, no?

  3. LexG says:

    I was kinda (sight-unseen) pulling for Redbelt, and Mamet and Eljiofor are awesome… but it might have been a good idea to, I don’t know, let folks know the movie was coming out; Surprised it opened that wide, since aside from a Roeper/Phillips review, I haven’t seen a single trailer or spot for it ANYWHERE.

  4. Josh Massey says:

    Guess it’s time for Bound II.

  5. marychan says:

    Sad…. It looks like “Redblet” will become one of Sony Pictures Classics’ biggest flopa in recent years.. (Sony Pictures Classics fully finance this $10 million film.)
    Maybe it is kind of movies that would do better if they were released by major studios(not their arthouse divisions). (I don’t mean that “Redblet” has chance to do well at box office; but at least it would do less worse if it was release by major.) In theaters, “Redblet” wouldn’t grossed higher than “Spartan”, which was released by Warner Bros in only 832 theaters.
    David Mamet’s films tend to do much better on Home Video rentals, though. (It was the case for “Heist” and “Spartan”.)

  6. Lynch Van Sant says:

    NO, Speed Racer, NOOOO!!!
    A dubious property to make a movie of + directors with free reign = an astounding flop of epic proportions. You can’t sell a movie based on a kitschy cartoon to a mainstream audience without some appeal to adults.

  7. Blackcloud says:

    I’ve seen plenty of commercials for Redbelt over the last week. Mostly on ESPN, I guess. No interest in seeing it, though.

  8. Bart Smith says:

    Every other Friday estimate I’ve seen for IRON MAN is at least $2 million higher.

  9. martin says:

    To be fair, Dave has been cautioning about a weak opening for Speed Racer. With Narnia coming next week, it may not have great legs either. I do think it will perform very well on DVD though.

  10. christian says:

    SPEED RACER is a film for children, not adult critics. The same critics who give a pass to awful crap like SHREK, MADAGASCAR, etc. It’s got more heart and imagination than ten recent kid films.
    And given that the VEGAS film opened in 600 more theaters than SPEED RACER…To paraphrase Frank F. Furter, “They didn’t make him for YOU!”

  11. marychan says:

    “What Happens In Vegas” is doing well, since it was cost $35 million to make.

  12. bmcintire says:

    Is SPEED RACER opening internationally day-and-date with the US in any markets? I’m very curious to see how this does overseas.

  13. mutinyco says:

    Frank N. Furter…
    But, of course, as Riff Raff sang:
    “Frank N. Furter it’s all over… your mission is a failure…”

  14. christian says:

    Because in this deluded day and age, if people don’t flock to a film THE FILM MUST NOT BE GOOD.

  15. Josh Massey says:

    “The slot is more promising for legs for Vegas than for Speed with Narnia coming up next weekend.”
    That sentence gave me a headache.

  16. Joe Leydon says:

    Again, I ask: If “kids, kids, kids” were the target — did the Speed Racer brand really mean anything to them? I’m not trying to be argumentative, I’m genuinely curious: Do kids 12 and under have any connection to this cartoon? Comparisons to Alvin and the Chipmunks aren’t really vaid, because there have been many CDs, DVD movies and TV specials over the years to keep that franchise alive. But Speed Racer?

  17. Nicol D says:

    It cannot be overstated how bad this early May opening is for Speed Racer.
    I was just talking to my significant other today about what movies I would like to see in this busy time. I said, while I would see Speed Racer in a slow season, given there are only so many hours in the week, Indy, Narnia and Iron Man are the films I will find time for.
    If Speed Racer came out in August they could have had a late summer sleeper. Even in the doldrums of the winter season, this could have been the pre-summer razzle dazzle film that the original Matrix was while everyone waited for the Phantom Menace. I can even see the rich colors making it play well during the holiday season where family films do well.
    If this decision was the Waschowski’s they should lose a lot of influence from it. If it was the studio’s then that person shoudl be fired.
    As for Redbelt, I agree that Mamet’s work always seems better on video. I don’t know why. I always look forward to his name on a film but never see it in the theatre. Perhaps because his films never really have a defined audience. Too mainstream for art-house but too art-house for mainstream.

  18. brack says:

    Somehow I doubt the Wachowskis had anything to do with the release date. That all of us know that it was a terrible release date only shows how inept the studio is.

  19. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Come on and sing it.
    iiiiiiiiiiiiii WANT CANDY!
    Guess not.
    The ‘future of film’ as one walking corpse said recently, died at birth. RIP candied nightmare.

  20. David Poland says:

    1. Christian… no one is saying that… at least no one on this blog.
    2. Joe – Alvin meant nothing to kids either… but kids love talking rodents and they sold it to them hard… plus the song they are known for is “Christmas, Christmas…”
    3. WB has five movies this summer, one each month but Aug, which has 2. But I think the reasonable idea would be counterbalancing Dark Knight. However, WB clearly thought they were going to find teen boys and geeks… nope. But that left them with no good slot.
    4. JBD… when this film outgrosses any Coen Bros movie ever, will you declare them dead too? I love when people get giddy over box office opening like they define anything other than the ability of movie marketers to sell it.
    You dislike the movie, fine. Dislike it. But make actual arguments. And sorry you can’t see past the candy. Maybe you can get a taste doctor to look at that.

  21. jeffmcm says:

    No Coen movie has ever cost as much as this one, either.

  22. Crow T Robot says:

    Wow. What a catastrophic opening.
    But this talk of bad marketing is crap. Marketers can only do so much. In this case they sold the film that was being released. Those 700 geeks who saw it yesterday got exactly what they expected. But let’s face it, people generally weren’t up for a two+ hour trip toy. Like every other movie this year but ONE, America didn’t want to see this thing.
    I have a feeling given the still lingering burnout from Threequel-Summer ’07, we’re going to see a lot more of these dismal openings. Batman and that’s it. Prepare yourselves.

  23. IOIOIOI says:

    Speed will be fine. It will find it’s audience on DVD. The Europeans may like it more than the Americans… who need their little hands held whenever something DIFFERENT comes along.
    The thing of it is: IT’S NEVER BEEN ABOUT THE POPULARITY OF THE CARTOON! It’s always been about the Wachowskis taking that property and rolling with it. If you keep going on about a cartoon that’s airing right now somewhere on this planet, then infer no one cares about the cartoon. You’ve obviously missed the point.
    This is bad marketing 101 by Warners. Luckily the next Wachowskis’ film features NINJAS. I am sure Warners can figure out how to market that film, but I would worry about Watchmen. If they cannot figure out how to sell wholesome family entertainment to families. How in the hell are they going to be able to sell… THE WATCHMEN?

  24. IOIOIOI says:

    Oh yeah… Crow… bollocks. Speed had a crap slot. Narnia has a slightly better slot. While INDY has the best slot. So do not start crying about the sky is falling. When we have an entire season of films about to be upon us.

  25. David Poland says:

    Crow, you really don’t know shit.
    Movies CANNOT, by definition, open this wide on anything BUT marketing.
    No one knows whether they are going to like a film before they see it. And critics’ opinions do not corrolate to box office openings.
    And your theory about 2007 burnout is just false on its face. I will be happy to bet you large amounts of cash right now that there will be at least five openings to come that are bigger than Dark Knight’s. And that has nothing to do with tearing down Dark Knight… it’s just reality.
    We didn’t even see fatigure from the three-quel summer IN the three-quel summer! We had five other $50 million-plus openings, besides the three 3-peaters, and until last summer, only 2004 had as many $50m-plus openings and only one other year has as many as five total.
    And of course, people WERE up for a 2 hour+ toy trip just a week before, because that is all they sold about Iron Man. Cool suit. vrooom! And our opinions about that film are not the issue there either… it is what they sold.

  26. MASON says:

    Saw both movies this weekend. Thought the first hour of Iron Man was great and the rest was just okay. Speed Racer just didn’t work for me at all and it felt like it was four hours long.

  27. Re – Dark Knight opening…
    As much as I would love to see Dark Knight shatter every box office record in the book and allow Batman to reclaim his title as box office king, I can’t see it happening.
    The best case scenario is that it performs like The Bourne Supremacy. Like Dark Knight, that was a sequel to an adult film that was a solid hit in theaters, but it didn’t open huge because people didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. Additionally, Bourne rode its wave of good word of mouth to be a monster on DVD. Thus, we had a critically acclaimed sequel to a movie that critics and audiences all really liked, but didn’t all discover at once.
    For the sequel we had everyone who liked the first one going all at once to see the sequel over the opening weekend. Thus you had an almost doubling of the opening weekend from $29 million to $52 million (a 1.7x increase). If The Dark Knight follows a similar pattern, as it has thus far, we could see a near doubling of its opening weekend, which would amount to about $86 million over three days. Plus the morbid curiosity factor and the geek factor could theoretically put it over $100 million.
    Again, that’s best case scenario. And although it also had the same slow build to respectability that Pirates 01 had, as well as identical opening five day numbers, there is one huge strike against it even coming close to that comparison or any other records of note: kids.
    Ironically, considering the release and fall out of Batman Returns (I know, I seem to bring that up every season for one reason or another), the very marketing campaign that is building such buzz for The Dark Knight is the very thing that will prevent it from reaching any record heights.
    First of all, a quick digression, the ad campaign is built around fans of the mythology as opposed to casual observers. No one in either trailers ever calls The Joker by his nickname. And nowhere are we told just who Harvey Dent, like the fact that is he the new district attorney. So far, the two trailers feel like inside baseball. But that’s a minor issue (easily rectified in June) compared to the big problem.
    The entire ad campaign (trailers and posters) is basically daring parents to bring children. It’s all about darkness, fear, despair, failure, and mass death.
    For reason right or wrong, parents felt comfortable bringing their kids to Pirates 2 or Iron Man. I can’t imagine most parents of a seven or eight year old not thinking twice before bringing their son or daughter to watch a most terrifying Joker as he blows up hospitals, slaughters police officers, drops women out of windows, and basically does his best to give your kids nightmares (and that’s just what the trailers reveal).
    It’s the Achilles heel that will prevent The Dark Knight from opening as high as Iron Man or Indiana Jones 4. Heck, even The Incredible Hulk looks more colorful and less frightening. Even The Matrix Reloaded was basically sold as harmless R-rated sci-fi kung-fu. From a protective parent’s viewpoint, I’d imagine The Dark Knight basically looks like a horror film that happens to feature well known comic book characters.
    And that may be a great thing for adults and action fans and geeks. And as a hardcore Batman fan, there’s an outside shot that it could be my new favorite movie ever. But in order to set records, you need to at least trick families into thinking that your movie is appropriate. The marketeers have spent the last several months doing just the opposite. And it will most certainly cost them a shot at the title. But, gosh, I’d love to be proven wrong.
    Scott Mendelson

  28. brack says:

    Scott, You seem pretty on point about TDK.
    That said, I wish parents would give their kids some credit and think they can handle the movie. I’m not talking about very small children, but I think kids can handle the Joker.
    Though I’ve been watching horror flicks since I was very young, and that’s probably not the norm.

  29. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Why does Scott Mendelson have to sign his name each time when it’s in plain sight for all to see? Does it make what he states more believable?
    DP that Coen analogy went way over my head. I actually agree with you though, I thought the marketing of SPEEDRACER was poor. But at least it was being honest.
    Jeffrey Boam’s Doctor

  30. It’s force of habit, the name thing. I’ve always been very formal (my friends’ parents always knew it was me calling back in the day because I’d ask for their kids by their full names). Truth be told, I once actually signed a birthday card for my own mother using my full name (now I do that all the time, as a joke).

  31. brack says:

    you sound like those people in “Demolition Man.”

  32. Well, if Brack is talking about me, I for one would love to find a way to insert the phrase ‘murder/death/kill’ into more conversations. Be well.

  33. Monco says:

    I agree with the above opinion on The Dark Knight’s box office potential. Forget that they don’t mention the Joker by name in the trailer, the movie’s title dosen’t even have Batman in it. Add to that the rumor that the movie is 2 hours and 45 minutes long.
    The main piece of footage in the trailer that has me most amped is when you see who is driving the van before Batman crushes it. That is something the mainstream won’t care about. This movie is not going to set records. I only hope that it makes enough to allow Christian Bale and Nolan to complete a triology.

  34. jeffmcm says:

    I thought it was more like 185 min.
    Granted, if we expect the movie to behave like Pirates 2, that’s an unreasonable expectation for the movie to live up to. Isn’t Matrix 2 territory good enough?
    I think DP may be going a little overboard with the ‘Marketing is all that matters on opening weekend’ argument. I mean, I’ve agreed with the idea in principle since the first time I heard it, but seriously: even the best salesman in the world can’t sell cow turds to a pig farmer. (Not that I’m saying Speed Racer falls into that category). But the point is, marketing will only take you so far – the thing being marketed actually matters at some point in the decision-making process.

  35. gradystiles says:

    Klady has the screen counts switched for Speed Racer and What Happens in Vegas. Speed had the wider release.

  36. Crow T Robot says:

    If life gives you lemons, you can’t make apple juice, Dave.
    JBD & J-Mac are on it… love or hate, the marketing was true to the theater experience. The film was built on its style. The trailer sold that exact style. And for whatever reason THE STYLE was the thing that was rejected. More than anyone would have thought.

  37. doug r says:

    Dick Tracy at 105 minutes was enough for me.
    I don’t think I can take 135.

  38. “Is SPEED RACER opening internationally day-and-date with the US in any markets? I’m very curious to see how this does overseas.”
    It’s out in UK and a bunch of European and Asian nations this weekend. Out in Aus on June 12 and Japan on July 5. THAT will be very interesting, no?

  39. LYT says:

    This is bad marketing 101 by Warners. Luckily the next Wachowskis’ film features NINJAS. I am sure Warners can figure out how to market that film, but I would worry about Watchmen. If they cannot figure out how to sell wholesome family entertainment to families. How in the hell are they going to be able to sell… THE WATCHMEN?
    Speed Racer has ninjas in it too, even though the other characters call them the worst ninjas they’ve ever seen.
    As for Watchmen, I’m just glad it got made. It’s not like there’ll be a sequel if it does well anyway. And WB did fine marketing V for Vendetta and 300.

  40. brack says:

    “And WB did fine marketing V for Vendetta and 300.”
    Because they looked “edgy” and “cool.” Apparently pretty colors doesn’t bode well with Americans these days. We pigeonhole ourselves by not trying anything too different than the next superhero movie that comes along.

  41. Wrecktum says:

    Who won the 10 year olds this weekend? Well, a gaggle of them (probably a birthday party) was at my 5:35 screening of Iron Man today. Speed Racer was on two screens at the same theater, but Iron Man was the one they wanted to see.
    One of them spazzed to the Indy trailer, for what it’s worth.

  42. modernknife says:

    The key problem with the marketing of SPEED RACER is that it never introduced the characters and THE CAR to new younger audiences who may have never heard or known about Speed Racer. The trailers just threw you into the blender and asked you to hold on and say WOW.
    Think of the original T2 trailer with the building of a new Arnold T-800 model. Perfect teaser and re-introduction of the character.
    For Speed Racer, I think the first teaser trailer should have been nothing more than an introduction of the Mach 5 and all the cool things it can do. Sell the car first — then the character — then the story of film.
    So yes, I do think Warner marketing dropped the ball on this one. But I also think the filmmakers have a wild card in their pocket: foreign box office. It should be just fine.

  43. brack says:

    modernknife, a very good point, that idea is definitely more creative than the trailer that came out (even though I still liked it since I “got it”).

  44. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    DP just because you yell it from the rafters doesn’t make it gospel. Films sometimes don’t open and there are factors that have nothing to do with marketing. Factors like market place, timing, casting and sometimes just a little anti-zeitgeist or bad mojo will derail a film opening. Sometimes people just don’t want to go see a film en masse – no matter how well it was marketed and the awareness of said title. This is why we have things called bombs David. You give things a pass by blaming marketing but guess what Dave – they test these campaigns til they get the results they want to see. Have you seen the early SPEEDRACER marketing materials where it focused on heart warming family drama and the like? You know, the ones that tested lower than the eventual candy cane sells that were used?
    I agree in principle with what you have said above but not without reservation. There is no exact formula to bring em in.
    If it wasn’t the case, then McDonalds wouldn’t be losing so much market share each year. Because there marketing works and people are aware of their product but guess what – there’s thing called taste. Thank god for taste.
    Too much candy makes you sick.

  45. scooterzz says:

    not sure how credible nikki finkes ‘sources’ are but she’s updating that ‘speed racer’ is tanking in many of the foreign markets too…#6 in the uk…#9 in germany….

  46. Joe Leydon says:

    Maybe Speed Racer would have done better in Germany if David Hasselhoff — the real Nick Fury — had been in it?

  47. THX5334 says:

    Well, I saw the 2:00pm IMAX show of Speed Racer here in Los Angeles at Universal City Walk.
    First of all, I had NO DESIRE to see this flick.
    Racing for me is the most boring of all Sports, and something I’m not into at all.
    I have no affinity for the cartoon, and although know it fairly well, it never took for me.
    I was going because I wanted to check out the Wachowski’s visual design and how it compares to a project I’m developing
    The IMAX Theatre?
    It was a sold out show 3/4 of it were KIDS. I saw everywhere from 4 years old to 14.
    Bottom line – They fucking loved it.
    (I do give that it is 10 minutes too long to the seven and under crowd. That said, I’ve never seen so many seven year olds, boys and girls stick around for the end credits in my life. I will give that maybe they were waiting for an easter egg; But they were enthused and chatting up the film.)
    The movie is an awesome envelope pusher in terms of visuals, and it has a very well written narrative to back it.
    And another film featuring strong performances in front of a Green screen. Actor’s are starting to figure out how to work in this new digital medium.
    ( Although I did get a little wary of the use of all the actor close-ups wiping to the next scene or sequence. I wanted to remind the Wachowski’s there are other transitions one can use)
    I really, really dug this movie and as I said, I wasn’t a fan of the cartoon at all.
    I haven’t seen Iron Man yet, so I can’t compare.
    The visuals rocked, but the story and the narrative is what made it. A great family film without being cheesy or kitschy.
    There’s a couple of regular trolls on here that deserve some smackdowns for judging this film sight unseen & then professing themselves as trying to be “artists” or “players” in this game called Hollywood…
    (Or the sad one that insists he’s a “failed” artist, & then proceeds to type everything in caps in an attempt at humor. You know who you are..And why diss the kid & the chimp? First, you call him fat. Hmm…I remember Jerry O’Connel being much chubbier than this kid, and look how he turned out? And then you diss the chimp. Perhaps there’s some talent envy? I mean, you don’t see them clamoring to be on Reality Shows…)
    Man, you don’t have to love the movie, but SHAME on all of those Hot Bloggers here for not seeing it for what it is.
    Many of you, even those that don’t live here in LA, are out of touch and need to get out of the “bubble”
    I hadn’t been to a theater in awhile because of work, and I had a really good experience with this film.
    (Those that are just judging the marketing and not the product, this is not for you. I agree, it’s a shit date and a shit campaign. I agree with the above, there is a very awesome winter market for this kind of film and they always miss that)
    Is this movie going to change your life?
    But it is a very well spent $15 ticket at IMax and the movies.
    And for this burgeoning filmmaker, the movie definitely sparked my imagination enough and reminded me why I’m passionate still for this Art form;
    Even though other mediums such as Television and Videogames have been taking more of my leisure time.
    I can’t really ask for more.
    And for anyone that would choose Narnia over this?
    I am really sorry for you. If the recession is hard enough that you can’t afford this experience, than get my email from Poland, and I’ll buy you a couple of tickets..
    Anyone that wants to play in this game, should see this film just to see what others are doing with these new tools.
    Because they are definitely doing SOMETHING, while some others are just talking shit.
    This movie will find it’s legs and have a good life.

  48. Geoff says:

    You make some very good points about Dark Knight and I think some are expecting it to be huger than it will be. I have very much enjoyed the marketing and am pumped beyond belief to see it, but you are absolutely right – Warners is not making any effort to sell this to kids.
    Of course, why should they? This is an adult superhero film as was ‘Begins. Batman Returns is a very apt comparison, here, and I believe Warners is trying very hard to avoid that – if the film is dark, then sell it that way.
    But that said, dark, edgy films have opened big – remember Hannibal, 300, Passion, I Am Legend, Da Vinci Code. If you have the right mix of branding and goodwill from the predecessor, then you can pull it off. The Bourne trajectory is a great example, as those films were never marketed to kids, despite the summer release dates. And it’s not as if this film is R-rated – it might push the boundaries, but so did the Pirates movies and Episode III.
    I would expect an opening over $80 million and a final gross around $250 million – at this point, it will probably fall behind Iron Man, which is nothing to be ashamed of.
    Still, you have two months – there’s no reason Warner’s can’t do a bunch of spots highlighting the “Badpod” and how cool it is. Dave’s been talking about all of these “toy” movies and Warners has grown-up toys to sell. And the Heath Ledger-curiosity factor is such a wild card – I could see this MAYBE doing around $100 millino if the Ledger hype is really strong. Then again, it could hurt the film – who knows?

  49. scooterzz says:

    i would say 30-40 minutes too long (seriously)…but you’re certainly right about visual innovation and ‘doing SOMETHING’….. i didn’t hate this movie and would never wish it ill….but, the fanatics who maintain that ‘if you don’t like it, you don’t get it’ are just begging for the big neener-neener when this thing is ultimately labeled a ‘bomb’….
    i’m not sure that it will ‘find its legs’ but i’m positive it will have ‘a good life’ as a demo dvd used to sell hd-tvs come holiday time…..

  50. Well, for people hoping that Speed Racer would do better in Europe, from Italy I can tell you that here it’s a disaster. An exhibitor friend of mine, who is in touch with other colleagues, called it “a flop of epic proportions”…

  51. jeffmcm says:

    “very well written narrative”?

  52. Nicol D says:

    The notion that this is way too dark and will not appeal to kids or is the studio daring parents to take kids to it, is just more fan boy wankery saying “look how cool we are to like Batman”.
    The modern summer season has a long history of having dark, edgy films that end up selling well to families and getting branded as such in the home video market.
    Rememeber Gremlins from 84. It had all kinds of articles and controversy over how dark and mean spirited it was. Families loved it and it is currenly sold on Warner’s family label.
    Howabout Temple of Doom? I’m sure I do not need to refresh you on that film.
    I remember Siskel and Ebert doing an episode on whether or not the original Raiders should have been R. Family classic.
    Howabout the original Batman? When it came out in the summer of Ghostbusters 2, Last Crusade and Honey I Shrunk the Kids countless news stories centered on how mean spirited and misogynistic it was. Was this for kids they cried? Families went in droves.
    Batman Returns was only perceived a disappointment because because it did less in 92 dollars. Convert for today and it went over 200 million and was one of the top tickets of the year.
    When Superman 2 came out, Zod was considered by many too mean-spirited for kids.
    And let’s not forget Bambi.
    Internet geeks thinking that Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight is going to be slicing off people’s faces with a straight razor, raping women, and engaging in massive bloodletting are fooling themselves. They are acting like children daring their – own – parents to take them to it.
    If you do not think families will be gladly paying to see a new Batman film…you are living in fantasyville. If you do not think Warner’s is aware of that you are living in fantasyville surrounded by a mote. If you do not think Nolan and Bale are aware of that…you are living in fantasyville around a mote reading too much AICN.
    The Dark Night is – not – an R rated film and I promise you, will be nowhere near as dark as you think or want it to be. It will be solid PG-13 fare through and through. Nothing wrong with that and I can’t wait to see it…but get a grip.
    Sorry if having to watch Heath Ledger as The Joker next to a family with lil kids dampens the cool factor for the geek crowd…but get used to it.

  53. Nicol D says:

    Yeah…I know it’s The Dark Knight.

  54. movieman says:

    While I can’t say that that “Speed Racer”‘s dismal opening was much of a surprise–before seeing it, I was predicting another “Poseidon”-like May bashing for Warner Brothers–it is something of a downer. As (apparently) one of the few crix to wholeheartedly embrace the film, it saddens and frustrates me that audiences have so resoundingly rejected what’s surely one of the most original, imaginative and non-formulaic tentpole-style pictures in years. That can only mean safer, blander, more stultifying franchise hopefuls in our collective future.
    Of course, as someone who didn’t love “Batman Begins” (too long, too ponderous) and has zero enthusiasm about “Crystal Skull” (sorry folks, but 19 years between Indy installments is at least a decade too long in my book), I’m probably not the best judge of what constitutes a proper “blockbuster.” And while I loved “Iron Man,” “Speed Racer” is the type of “you-ain’t-seen-nuthin’-yet!” thrill ride I would have happily rushed out to see a second time back in the days when I was a civilian and didn’t have 7+ new titles to worry about seeing every week.
    Btw, can anyone confirm the 135-minute “Sex and the City” run time posted on Filmjerk? Cleveland doesn’t get to see the film until May 27th at one of those ghastly promotional “screenings.”

  55. I agree with many of Nicol D’s points. But again, it’s about perception, not the actual content of the film.
    Chris Nolan has implied in a couple interviews that it won’t be nearly as violent or blood-drenched as some of the geeks are hoping. And if you look at Nolan’s previous films, they all feel more violent than they actually are (Batman Begins had the lowest on screen body count of any Batman movie, if I recall).
    And yes, you’re right, there are some moviegoers that will be disappointed when the Joker doesn’t spend the whole movie bombing orphanages, raping underage vixens, and machine-gunning wounded war vets. If you recall, there was much consternation back in 1999 when Darth Maul only killed one person during Phantom Menace (never mind that that person was the fricken lead character of the film).
    The alleged darkness and violence of Batman Returns did hurt the business and did cause a major uproar. And yes, those panicking parents forgot all about how violent the first Batman was. Just as, when The Dark Knight comes out, critics and the like will trip over themselves babbling about how scary and evil and murderous Ledger’s Joker is, while forgetting about the fact that Nicholson’s Joker killed about 100 people in his go-around. Moviegoers and pundits have short memory spans.
    Again, this isn’t a question of whether The Dark Knight will be a success, but rather whether it will be one of the highest grossing films of the year. The problem is, at this point in time, the ad campaign is selling itself as something inappropriate for kids, regardless of whether it will be or not. It IS a problem that Warner can fix (if they choose to care), but a new kid-friendly ‘adventure’ campaign needs to start sooner rather than later.

  56. Nicol D says:

    I agree that there was an uproar over the sexual content and violence of Batman Returns but I think the box office was as much hurt by the fact that it had a very choppy story line and did not play as well as the original Batman. Too many characters, not enough focus. It had major script problems and it showed.
    I love Batman Returns from an aesthetic and character perspective but I remember my first rection coming out of the theatre were…
    …wow, that thing played like the script was written in crayon and the final print edited witha hacksaw. It was not very well received and it is only over the years that it grew its fanbase in context of Burton’s growing body of work.
    My point is, I can see how TDK’s ad campaign with it’s promise of carnage plays darker than most, but in the era of parents buying their kids Grand Theft Auto 4 to the tune of half a billion dollars I do not think that will hurt it.
    I actually think the fanboys are building it up to a point where they will be disappointed. If you read the web-boards, they really are expecting an R-Rated Killing Joke rape and murder bloodbath.
    They are not gonna get it. Even the IMAX trailer that was described before I am Legend was nowhere near as intense as the intial fan boy descriptions were. I felt very underwhelmed after I saw it.
    I still think it will be a great film mind you…just not the film the geek crowd wants. It will be more old-school serious blockbuster, which is fine with me.

  57. Tofu says:

    Considering Speed Racer’s reception, I doubt Warner Bros. will be marketing the Dark Knight for children anytime soon.

  58. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one underwhelmed by the IMAX footage. It wasn’t the lack of violence (I mean, they did kill five people on screen), but it seemed all rather mundane. William Fichtner was way too over the top and cartoonish, and the whole thing felt blah. I mean, our big intro to The Joker, and he’s a garden variety bank robber? Visually it was gorgeous, but had I not seen the actual trailer that afternoon, I would have been very concerned.
    PS – any idea where I can find the Siskel/Ebert Raiders debate you mentioned? That sounds fascinating.

  59. Nicol D says:

    Sadly, the Siskel & Ebert show I am referencing I only remember from my childhood. It was done in the 80’s and it was the two of them analyzing the work of Spielberg. When they came to Raiders they mentioned that the intensity and level of the violence made it suitable for an R rating. I wish I could be more specific.
    If you look on IMDB it actually has Raiders listed as R (original Rating). I can believe that. The trick that Nolan has learned is not to make his work more graphic…but to make it more serious. Then any violence you show even if it is not graphic has more gravitas.

  60. Eric says:

    I couldn’t find anything on Raiders of the Lost Ark, but years and years’ worth of Siskel and Ebert reviews are available at

  61. According to several sites, there was fire added around Belloq’s head as it exploded, which lessoned the gore and won a PG from an original R.
    Scott Mendelson

  62. THX5334 says:

    It is snark like that which is why most here find you so unappealing.
    Have you seen the film?
    Better yet, I want to read one of your screenplays.
    Until that day comes…
    Just shut the fuck up and keep logging footage like you’re supposed to.

  63. Joe Leydon says:

    THX: You’re so… brazen.
    (OK, quick: Which Mamet movie is THAT from?)

  64. THX5334 says:

    I can be snarky too. It’s not cool.
    Granted, yours was more passive agressive so you could leave that opening to retreat back to that sad defense of using an objective correlative…
    i.e. “What? All I said was Yeesh!”
    But we all know well and full what the intent of the comment was.
    At least IO and Lex Man up and come loud with the gloves on ready to get smacked, instead of pulling passive aggressive bitch comments like that.
    I am serious about wanting to read your screenwriting.
    If it’s solid, I’ll be the first to come here and eat crow and tell everyone your shit rocks, while I take it to my Lit Managers for them to go sell and then make some money off your ass.
    Then it will be confirmed what many here already know.
    I am the Pimp…
    And you are my Bitch.
    (And not even a bottom bitch, but just one I make walk the track…)

  65. THX5334 says:

    Okay, much of that reads harsher more than humorous,
    and I admit I’m going for the laugh… (Playing to the audience!)
    So; Let’s go back to playing nice Jeff, and I’ll buy you a bottle of ’82 La Tour when you buy me a drink.
    Except, I am still serious about the screenwriting until you either show me a writing sample or go see Speed Racer and recant and own that it is a well put together narrative for it’s respective genre.

  66. THX5334 says:

    And I am sure that is the wrong use of “objective correlative” and many more intelligent people are having a laugh at my expense.
    I have no excuse, other than to say, I am very slow today from an impromptu night of drink.

  67. THX5334 says:

    Joe, I’m embarrassed to not know the Mamet reference.
    But I have to admit, he’s kinda hot or cold with me.
    Sometimes I think he’s an overrated pretentious douchebag (even though I’ve read most of his books on various parts of the craft)
    And then I watch Kilmer do that monologue in Spartan to the President’s daughter with that ending line “Are you tough honey? I think you’re pretty tough”
    And then I get why he’s a genius.

  68. jeffmcm says:

    THX…I’m not a screenwriter.
    And I thought Lex had made it clear that his career as a logger was honorable and not to be sneered at?
    My (yes, curt and offhand) point is that, while I think the movie succeeds on the level of its visuals and the action sequences, it’s in the narrative that it has severe problems. For example, the mid-movie sag that many people besides myself have noticed, plus the inability of the Wachowskis to trust the audience to root against the bad guys to the point of almost having Allam twirl his moustache, plus the relative weakness of Speed’s inner dramatic conflict.
    Sorry for the snarkiness, but I think you overreacted a little.

  69. Joe Leydon says:

    THX: It’s from Homicide. I figured since everyone was talking aboit that movie on another thread today…

  70. THX5334 says:

    You’re right. I did over react. I’ve been short fused all day. Some people are dicks when they drink, a few others are dicks who are great people when they drink, and I tend to be a dick the day after, hangover or not.
    (via Moto Q) Which is true, but Kidding Dave!

  71. brack says:

    I dunno, Speed and Racer X fighting each other kinda displayed everything Speed was conflicted about. While predictable that neither was going to really hurt the other, it appeared Speed didn’t give a shit about messing up Racer X one bit. At least I was taken aback a little.

  72. christian says:

    I thought Speed racing his brother’s ghost was pretty unique. Maybe too much so, but it’s very Japanese. It should be rated G and aimed straight at the 8-12 crowd, who will eat this up.

  73. Lota says:

    Jeff–I think that is misjudging Speed Racer–it is modeled on the cartoon of course and attempting to keep the original cartoon’s characteristics, which is not your standard script you read in film school.
    The cartoon was a Japanese cartoon from the 60s which had some peculiarties and charms of that period of time in which it was created, that they left in the movie–cookie cutter villians (not the Ws trying to ‘lead’ the audience), and very blocked out simple leading storytelling. Moreover, ghosts and internal turmoil and flashbacks in an over-the-top way is all part of the Speed Racer cartoon vibe. I didn’t notice any midstory sag at all–kids around me were on the edge of their seats and no one seemed to be leaving early.
    If they wanted to cut 10 min I suppose they could have cutout some of the extended racing sequences (even though again, that’s what the cartoon does) and cut out the great detail on Royalton’s tours and lectures.
    I would have preferred it rated G as well but it is almost impossible to get a G these days.

  74. jeffmcm says:

    Lota, I’m not really familiar with the original cartoon, so my frame of reference is to compare it with other similar movies, from Pixar and whatnot. And let me repeat, I liked the movie. I just don’t think it’s perfect. Especially as regards the bad guys – if they had left a lighter touch regarding Allam’s character instead of (for me) really forcing us-the-audience to loathe him, I would have had a much better time.

  75. Chucky in Jersey says:

    The bad opening on “Speed Racer” might be a bad omen for “Get Smart”. Both are based on TV shows from the 1960s — and both are released by Warner Bros.
    Which makes the decision to shut down Picturehouse and Warner Independent unwise from a moviegoer’s worldview.

  76. jeffmcm says:

    Probably not. Get Smart is going to be a star-driven comedy opening. Speed Racer’s marketing was visuals-driven. Not sure what either of them has to do with Picturehouse or WIP.

  77. Cadavra says:

    Plus GET SMART always appealed to adults (which was and is not the case with SPEED RACER) and theoretically will do so again.

  78. hendhogan says:

    “And of course, people WERE up for a 2 hour+ toy trip just a week before, because that is all they sold about Iron Man. Cool suit. vrooom! And our opinions about that film are not the issue there either… it is what they sold.”
    i disagree. sure, they sold the suit, but they also sold robert downey, jr. he had some great lines in the trailer.
    the “speed racer” trailer sold the cgi. no real story elements, no sense of the characters, just the cgi.

  79. Reginald_Applegravy says:

    Speed Racer here in the Uk has bombed big-time. In like a bullet at number 4 behind a comedy that has been out 3 weeks!

Quote Unquotesee all »

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