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David Poland

By David Poland

Box Office Hell – June 6


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13 Responses to “Box Office Hell – June 6”

  1. mutinyco says:

    I love that while the bottom 5 are all pretty even, there’s a $15M spread going on between the high and low on Panda…

  2. Geoff says:

    Nikki Finke is hearing that Panda did about $15 million on Friday, while Zohan did about $13 million – not bad for either, but I have to wonder if they both would have taken off a little more on separate weekends. Panda could still crack $50 million and Zohan $40 million – I think both will be helped by getting better reviews than any one expected.
    Paramount is just on a ridiculous hot-streak, now – both Indy and Iron Man will crack $300 mill, while Panda has an outside shot at $200 million. Should take the sting out of when Love Guru flops.

  3. David Poland says:

    Yes, Nikki’s keepers at Columbia are happy with the Friday number… which might be off, since the west coast has actually been stronger than other parts of the country.
    Whatever the Friday Zohan number is, it is likely to go down a bit on Saturday, as Panda’s is likely to pop by 40% or more. $35 million is a key target, though they’d rather be up around $38m.
    If Paramount owned any of those 3 movies, there would be no sting. As it is, there still will be some pain. And a big bet on Tropic Thunder.

  4. IOIOIOI says:

    Heat: Paramount should be able to make money from ancillaries? Shouldn’t they?

  5. jeffmcm says:

    Okay, one of the things I find most curious about DP’s constant Nikki Finke rants is her ‘keepers’ that he’s constantly referring to. Is this verified in some way? A paper trail, or some kind of corroboration from other writers? I’m not saying he’s wrong, just that it seems like a story I’m coming into midway through.

  6. IOIOIOI says:

    Jeffy Mac: Heat apparently knows “things”. These “things” have been referred to by Heat long before the strike made Finke all sorts of popular. Hell man, you have been around here as long as me. You should know that the man has people he does not like and when he does not like them. He guns for them. Finke did not pay the toll. So now she must feel… PAIN!
    Also… a lot of people dislike this woman. So it would make sense that they would share their TRUTH with HEAT. Who in turn would state as much on his well-respected and highly read blog.

  7. jeffmcm says:

    Yeah, I’m just asking for the Cliffs Notes background version so I can catch up.

  8. Geoff says:

    Finke’s “keepers” are apparently in agreement with Fantasy Moguls, which is projecting the same number for Zohan, but they are saying that Panda is actually higher at $17 million – $50 million now seems assured.
    Dave, could Par really have expected any more from these films? They have to be making SOME money, especially with more theater rentals than expected from Iron Man. Indy might actually just squeak under $300 million, since it dropped big again, this weekend – the competition is just too fierce and a lot of it is coming from films within the studio. I really have to wonder why Paramount did not give it more space – just two weeks after Iron Man and two weeks before Panda????? Seems like the studio was really boxing them in – does this mean Lucas and Steve no more?
    SATC had the expected big drop-off, but will still end up in the mid-’20’s, this weekend. I think $150 million is pretty solid.
    At this point, I’m not sure whether Guru or Get Smart will not BOTH tank – I love Steve Carell and he seems to be a pretty solid draw (Evan Almighty STILL did $100 million and Dan in Real Life cracked $50 million), but it’s like what Dave said a few years ago about Jim Carrey – this guy’s budgets have to be constrained more. I figure Warners HAS to be spending over $100 million on Get Smart, just foolhardy.

  9. Eric says:

    Dave, when you point out that Finke is fed her information by a competing studio, I’d be interested in knowing how the bias affects the reporting. I don’t care where she gets information from, if it’s accurate. But if you could point out where it’s not accurate, and why her “keepers” would want her to present it that way, it would be rather devastating. Make sense?
    (I know others have harped on you in the past on similar grounds, but I’m making this suggestion in good faith out of genuine curiosity.)

  10. David Poland says:

    There are a few areas of inaccuracy…
    First, the game of trying to be first means that she is running estimates prematurely on Friday night… as is Fantasy Moguls. They both changed their numbers repeatedly last weekend, as the guesses of any one studio are often wrong. What you read on Sundays in places where information is reported and not just recorded is not only info via all the studios, but in the best places, supported by an actual look at the numbers via EDI and/or Rentrack.
    Second, the actual numbers are less of the issue for me than the spin attached. Beyond the inevitable personal biases Nikki brings, she also reflects the motives of the studio execs and publicists who are telling her “the story.” She quotes blindly to maintain the illusion that she’s getting inside information, when in fact, whoever it was at Par who talked to her this morning is surely on the record with a dozen other writers.
    Thirdly, Nikki rewrites her stuff with no indication that she’s changed the story. What went up last night, for instance, which turned to be wrong, simply disappeared his morning. This is the lowest form of hackery… and more importantly, how does anyone know that they got the “right information” when the information simply comes and goes when she had it wrong? (One motive for Nikki is the Drudge link, which may not change as often as she changes her tune.)
    And this is box office, where she is hardly alone in publishing info, so we know when she’s wrong on Friday night. How about all those other stories, when people who have no way of knowing better think they are getting the truth when much of the press corps and the industry connected to the stories know she is wrong.
    But like all gossip columns, people have this remarkable ability to see that many of the stories they have direct knowledge of are wrong… but still quote her stuff as though it was accurate when it suits their baser interests and instincts.
    Journalism has traditionally – less so now, thanks to people like Nikki – had a pact of trust with its readers that the seeking of truth is the first rule. I don’t care whether Nikki runs press releases as news every day. But I do care that she pretends its news. And I point out inaccuracies all the time… and how the keepers are playing her. You, as a reader, deserve to know.
    But you don’t.
    Do which Nikki story on the box office did you read in the last 10 hours and think was “true?”

  11. Eric says:

    That’s the kind of thing I’m looking for. In particular the third point strikes me as grievous and fundamentally dishonest. (One thing I admire about Slate is the way they note every single change made to an article after it’s first published, even if it’s as trivial a change as a misspelling of a name. That should be the norm for online publishing.)
    I can’t point out specific Finke articles because I don’t regularly read her site. I read yours just about every day, though, and you criticize her often, but I’ve often suspected you could make a stronger argument against her than you often bother to make. What you wrote above is the kind of thing that’s more informative to a casual, not-in-the-biz reader like myself. Thanks.

  12. David Poland says:

    J-Mc & IO… I speak to the Nikki keepers because it is important that you and everyone else know the truth, explained in the exchange with Eric.
    The way I “know” what’s going on with her is that I am on the beat and know what people are saying and spinning about all of this stuff. The box office thing – which she always made fun of others for showing interest in – is clearly not of interest to her… but since Da Vinci Code, she has been fed info which she simply prints and which ends up on Drudge. That is the Tinker-to-Evans-to-Chance of that.
    The thing about Nikki that is not understood, until you’re close enough to know better, is that she is swimming in the same pond as everyone else, except her standards are different. As Roger Friedman has record business people who actually do hand him shorter-lead-than-the-papers-print scoops, Nikki has those from TV agents. Her agency stuff always has the same repeated biases. And when you read her movie stuff, if you know what the studios would love or hate to be reading somewhere, you know where the “information” is coming from and how she’s spinning.
    There are 50 people who could be doing Nikki’s blog in the same way… but most of us would never give up standards to that degree. We are all managed by studios in different ways and there are some very good reporters who have been in the tank for this person or that person… or for a free lunch or two. But it often seems than well over 50% of what runs on Nikki’s site carries those strings. And aside from gossip lovers wanting to believe, we also get into the cluster fuck where the industry wants to control her, so they want everyone to believe.
    If I had a dollar for every time a studio person complained about how Nikki had it dead wrong, running spin and inaccuracies, in a story about them and theirs… and about how great it was that she nailed someone else…
    Of course, I don’t trust what any exec says on its face. Nothing is proven by someone saying it is so. But if you are watching these stories, you learn where many of the bodies are buried. And one of the other Nikki oddities is how many times she excitedly “reports” something months after everyone else knew and passed on those stories as minor gossip or simply too much about personal destruction.
    Even someone as smart as Tilda Swinton… she loved Nikki nailing Robinov for sexism… except that Nikki had it wrong and WB has more women’s movies this summer than any other studio AGAIN. Robinov is a mess, but she has no insight as to why, just that sexism crap. Yet Tilda, a very sincere, thoughtful person, rightly believes this is a sexist business, so the idea that someone exposed it pleases her… even if the story was wrong.
    This is the problem with gossip.
    As for Nikki, I don’t care. This is not personal, though I have been assaulted with lies from the women in the real world. Not that big a deal. I write about her because she lowers the bar of truth, which is destructive of the business I am in and care about.

  13. marychan says:

    half-OT: little thing about Jeff Robinov….
    Jeff Robinov did say that he didn’t want to make women movies anymore. (He admitted it to People magazine, even though he insisted that he was just [kidding])
    I also believe that Warner Bros will continue to make women movies. However, since Jeff Robinov did say such unreasonable thing, it is no surprise that he got trashed by that. A production president of Warner Bros should be more careful when speaking.
    By the way, Alan Horn admitted that Warner Bros passed on “Sex and the City”…. (little different than what Jeff Robinov said)

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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