MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Green… With Envy

The not so jolly green giant – The Incredible Hulk – pulverized the marketplace with an estimated $54.9 million to top the weekend moviegoing charts. In another upbeat session, the debut of The Happening exceeded expectations with a $30.8 million bow that ranked it third; a shade behindKung Fu Panda.

There was also fierce activity in niche and exclusive debuts. A good title proved an asset for Young People F*cking that generated $108,000 from 36 engagements in Canada while Mere Baap Pahlegrossed a disappointing $94,800 from 55 Bollywood screens. Non-fiction titles of every stripe were prominent among the freshmen including Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the Worldwith a potent $15,100 from a single site, Guy Maddin’s faux doc My Winnipeg with a $13,900 box office from two venues and the gay couple Chris & Don scoring $9,300 from a solo encounter.

Box office bumped slightly from last weekend and again was significantly ahead of last year’s tally.

Skepticism surrounded the decision to take another kick at the can on The Hulk following the disappointing but not unprofitable 2003 attempt by Ang Lee. However, reticence diminished as its opening approached and tracking among core young males proved strong. Still estimates going into the weekend pegged the film at $45 million on the high side.

The chasm between predictive and actual biz was even greater for The Happening. The latest fromM. Night Shyamalan was largely written off as a quick fader with an initial salvo around $20 million. The knives were out but that had little effect on fans that provided the filmmaker with what appears to be a second wind for his eerie tales of doom.

Internationally both films were also potent with The Incredible Hulk estimating a $31 million tally from 38 countries and The Happening marginally higher with $32 million in a wider release of 88 territories. In head to heads, including Russia, Mexico, Brazil and the U.K., the green thing prevailed. Shyamalan’s event topped the charts in such first tier nations as France, Italy and Spain.

Domestic box office was inching toward $180 million overall that represented a 2% bump from the prior weekend. It was 23% improved from 2008 when The Fantastic Four sequel debuted with $58 million and Ocean’s Thirteen held the place position with $19.7 million.

Holdover titles generally experienced hits of between 40% and 50% with the second weekend of You Don’t Mess with the Zohan off by a not unexpected 57%. The American indie The Promotionexpanded from six to 81 theaters but evinced little staying power with a $1,570 engagement average. Conversely Oscar-nominated Mongol held fast with five playdates and remained potent with a slight 27% decline.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – June 13-15, 2008

Title Distributor Gross (average) % chang Theater Cume
The Incredible Hulk Uni 54.9 (15,670) 3505 54.9
Kung Fu Panda Par 33.8 (8,160) -44% 4136 117.4
The Happening Fox 30.8 (10,300) 2987 30.8
Don’t Mess with the Zohan Sony 16.4 (4,730) -57% 3466 68.8
Indian Jones & Kingdom of Crystal S Par 13.2 (4,290) -42% 3084 275
Sex and the City WB 10.3 (3,270) -51% 3155 120.1
Iron Man Par 5.1 (2,130) -32% 2403 297.4
The Strangers Uni/Alliance 4.1 (1,710) -54% 2410 45.4
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian BV 3.1 (1,340) -45% 2308 131.8
What Happens in Vegas Fox 1.7 (1,170) -51% 1422 75.8
The Visitor Overture .43 (1,690) -10% 254 6.6
Baby Mama Uni .41 (910) -49% 453 58.8
Made of Honor Sony .33 (1,020) -59% 324 45.4
Forgetting Sarah Marshall Uni .30 (970) -38% 309 62.1
Speed Racer WB .22 (850) -49% 260 42.5
Horton Hears a Who Fox .19 (880) -25% 217 153.9
The Fall Roadside Attract .15 (2,050) -40% 73 1.4
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $173.40
% Change (Last Year) 23%
% Change (Last Week) 2%
Also debuting/expanding
The Promotion Weinstein Co. .13 (1,570) 316% 81 0.17
Young People F*cking Maple Pics .11 (3,150) 36 0.11
Mongol Picturehouse .10 (19,800) -27% 5 0.3
Mere Baap Pahle Shemaroo 94,800 (1,720) 55 0.09
Encounters at the End of the World ThinkFilm 15,100 (15,100) 1 0.02
My Winnipeg IFC 13,900 (6,950) 2 0.01
Chris & Don Zeitgeist 9,300 (9,300) 1 0.01
Love Comes Lately Kino 8,800 (2,870) 3 0.01
Baghead Sony Classics 8,100 (4,050) 2 0.01
Quid Pro Quo Magnolia 7,200 (1,800) 4 0.01
Beauty in Trouble Menemsha 6,100 (6,100) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share – To June 12, 2008

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (11) 879.3 21.80%
Fox (12) 584.5 14.50%
Warner Bros. (15) 574.4 14.20%
Sony (15) 435.5 10.80%
Buena Vista (9) 402.9 10.00%
Universal (10) 317.9 7.90%
Lions Gate (8) 203.1 5.00%
Fox Searchlight (5) 150.1 3.70%
Par Vantage (8) 71.5 1.80%
New Line (4) 61.8 1.50%
Focus (4) 59.9 1.50%
Miramax (5) 47.9 1.20%
MGM (9) 46.3 1.20%
Summit (2) 34.9 0.90%
Overture (3) 27.1 0.70%
Other * (154) 135 3.30%
* none greater than 0.45% 4032.1 100.00%

Top Global Grossers – To June 12, 2008

Title Distributor Gross
Indiana Jones & Kingdom of the Crys Par 600,931,854
Iron Man Par 540,026,315
Horton Hears a Who Fox 291,955,572
I Am Legend * WB 270,507,723
10,000 B.C. WB 269,253,549
National Treasure: Book of Secrets * BV 263,704,304
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Cas BV 238,987,233
Jumper Fox 212,525,723
Sex and the City WB 211,896,830
Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis Pathe 205,322,718
Juno * Fox/Mandate 200,693,977
What Happens in Vegas Fox 185,942,782
The Bucket List WB 172,551,917
Alvin and the Chipmunks * Fox 171,654,900
Cloverfield Par 170,532,188
The Spiderwick Chronicles Par 162,698,911
27 Dresses Fox/Spyglass 157,784,284
Vantage Point Sony 151,585,100
Step Up 2: The Streets BV 144,930,409
21 Sony 142,917,767
* 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