MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Step Lively

The (Dark) Knight remained box office king with a weekend estimated at $76.5 million but there was significant room for laughs as Step Brothers debuted in second place with a potent $30 million. Doubting Thomases plaguedX-Files: I Want to Believe – the frame’s other national bow – with the franchise attracting a fan base of $10.1 million to rank fourth.

Activity was fierce in the niche and limited arenas with Brideshead Revisited getting a commercial thumb’s up just shy of $330,000 from 33 venues. The tightrope act of Man on Wire was applauded to $47,400 on two screens but two new Bollywood entries were moribund. Also on the plus side were pop doc American Teen with a $41,200 tally at five and Brit social drama Boy A generating $11,400 at two sites.

Last weekend’s one-two punch of The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia! had excellent sophomore frames with respective drops of 52% and 36%. The gloomy Bat set a new speed record as it passed the $200 million milestone in its 10th day in theaters with Imax sites particularly buoyant with screen averages triple those of conventional engagements.

The other film benefiting from unconventional exhibition is Journey to the Center of the Earth in its roughly 800 3-D exposures. While critical response was mixed, reviewers urged filmgoers to see the enhanced version if they opted to buy a ticket. Theater owners and distributors only complaint is the paucity of 3-D outlets that essentially limit the marketplace to a single stereoscopic release at a time.

Pundits sensed that summer viewers were ready for seasonal silliness but unconvinced by a new tale of the paranormal and both predictions proved valid. The Ferrell-Reilly comedy redux of Step Brothers effectively touched the national funny bone and its strategic arrival should ride out the rest of the summer.

The new X-Files, despite claims of non-cognoscenti appeal, played to the choir and that may for bottom lines be just enough to break even. However, die-hards may have been a bit non-plused as the new big screen yarn played more like CSI than The Outer Limits.

Weekend box office approached $180 million and experienced a not unexpected 32% decline from the prior record setting session. It was also slightly off the 2007 pace by 3% when The Simpsons Movie bowed to a staggering $74 million.

Industry trackers were skeptical of the summer placement of Brideshead Revisited but the historic record for niche upscale fare has plenty of positive precedent to support an audience for alternative fare. Mongol and The Visitor have already effectively mined the hot months and the current roll outs of Tell No One and The Wacknessare also contributing to the expansion of the summer crowd.
– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – July 18-20, 2008

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
The Dark Knight WB 76.5 (17,520) -52% 4366 315.1
Step Brothers Sony 30.0 (9,690) 3094 30
Mamma Mia! Uni 17.8 (5,940) -36% 2990 62.6
X-Files: I Want to Believe Fox 10.1 (3,160) 3185 10.1
Journey to the Center of the Earth WB 9.3 (3,470) -24% 2688 60.1
Hancock Sony 8.0 (2,420) -43% 3309 206.2
Wall-E BV 6.2 (2,043) -38% 3044 195.1
Hellboy II: The Golden Army Uni 4.8 (1,600) -52% 3018 65.8
Space Chimps Fox 4.3 (1,700) -40% 2538 15.9
Wanted Uni 2.7 (1,520) -47% 1754 128.6
Get Smart WB 2.1 (1,490) -49% 1420 124
Kung Fu Panda Par 1.0 (1,110) -45% 917 209
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Picturehouse .62 (1,160) -35% 535 15.3
Indiana Jones: Kingdom of Crystal Skull Par .57 (1,190) -40% 477 313.6
Sex and the City WB .51 (1,470) -29% 347 150.9
The Incredible Hulk Uni .39 (970) -38% 403 132.5
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian BV .38 (1,180) 171% 322 140.1
Meet Dave Fox .37 (740) -78% 503 10.8
Tell No One Music Box .36 (4,910) -8% 75 1.6
Brideshead Reisited Miramax .33 (9,970) 33 0.33
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $174.40
% Change (Last Year) -3%
% Change (Last Week) -32%
Also debuting/expanding
The Wackness Sony Classics .19 (1,690) 24% 111 1.01
Mongol Picturehouse .16 (1,120) -37% 144 5.2
Man on Wire Magnolia 47,400 (23,700) 2 0.05
American Teen Par Ventage 41,200 (8,220) 5 0.04
CSNY: déjà vu Roadside At. 38,800 (1,620) 24 0.04
Money Hai To Honey Hai Eros 20,300 (810) 25 0.02
Mission Istanbul Shemaroo 14,100 (830) 17 0.01
Boy A Weinstein Co. 11,400 (7,200) 2 0.01
Bustin’ Down the Door Screen Media 10,500 (2,620) 4 0.01
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer Anchor Bay 4,800 (1,200) 4 0.01
No Regrets Regent 3,900 (1,950) 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share – To July 24, 2008

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (12) 1109.1 19.50%
Warner Bros. (18) 1028.9 18.10%
Universal (14) 695.4 12.20%
Sony (16) 681.8 12.00%
Fox (15) 678.8 11.90%
Buena Vista (10) 603.9 10.60%
Lions Gate (8) 204.1 3.60%
Fox Searchlight (5) 150.8 2.60%
Par Vantage (9) 71.9 1.30%
New Line (4) 61.8 1.10%
Focus (5) 60.1 1.10%
Miramax (5) 48.1 0.80%
MGM (9) 46.5 0.80%
Summit (2) 34.9 0.60%
Picturehouse (6) 32.7 0.60%
Other * (194) 180.5 3.20%
* none greater than 0.5% 5689.3 100.00%

Top Limited Releases – To July 24, 2008

Title * Distributor Gross
Under the Same Moon Weinstein Co. 12,590,147
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Focus 12,413,165
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure nWave 10,601,018
U2 3D nWave 8,942,770
The Visitor Overture 8,891,128
In Bruges Focus 7,800,824
The Orphanage Picture/Christal 6,894,612
The Counterfeiters Sony Classics 5,463,111
Shine a Light Par Vantage 5,421,098
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Mrmx 5,064,793
Mongol Picturehouse 5,008,741
The Savages Fox Searchlight 4,795,616
Persepolis Sony Classics 4,266,064
Young@Heart Fox Searchlight 3,847,606
Then She Found Me Thinkfilm 3,679,854
Jodhaa Akbar UTV 3,440,718
Dolphins and Whales 3D 3D Entertainment 3,341,856
The Band’s Visit Sony Classics 3,054,457
Cruising Bar 2 Alliance 2,776,340
Space Station Imax 2,679,134
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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