MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Fly Like an Eagle

There was little ocular strain as audiences focused on the anxiety-raising Eagle Eye with a potent debut estimated at $29.5 million. The weekend leader’s closest competition came from another newcomer, the romantically drenched Nights of Rodanthe that grossed $13.7 million. Two other films bowed nationally with the uplifting drama Fireproof preaching effectively to $6.4 million to rank fourth overall while Spike Lee’s Second World War-set Miracle at St. Anna was commercially MIA with $3.4 million.

New titles opening in limited and regional release were generally soft including the inspirationalForever Strong that bowed in 244 theaters to $250,000 and another independent All Roads Lead Home that tallied to $30,500 from 35 engagements. Slightly better was the unconventional road movie Humbolt County with a $22,700 box office at 10 outposts and Choke, a darkly ironic con game, that totaled up to $1.3 million at 434 locations. The Lucky Ones is the latest victim of the Iraq War with its returning vets holding little ground with a $162,000 gross at 425 venues. Only a couple of non-fiction portraits showed promise in exclusive premieres – the music-themed Wild Combination attracted $11,800 while the political inside Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Storyhad a $5,200 box office.

The onslaught of new titles bolstered the box office by 13% from last week and 11% from one year back. In 2007 the debuts of The Game Plan and The Kingdom topped the charts with respective initial biz of $22.9 million and $17.1 million.

Tracking was strong on Eagle Eye, a nail biter about strangers blackmailed into an assassination plot by a mysterious, disembodied voice. The twisty path to success included 85 Imax engagements that accounted for about 6% of the gross from 2.5% of its commercial bookings. The film pretty much corralled younger and more avid viewers; leaving little room for other incoming product to secure spill over from older target bases.

Still, the bedrock was sufficiently sturdy for Nights at Rodanthe, based on a book by the author of The Notebook and featuring the same sort of passionate longing as Message in a Bottle. The film effectively tapped into an older, distaff audience.

The weekend surprise was Fireproof, a values-oriented saga of a wobbly marriage from the company that made the indie hit Facing the Giants. Marketed via faith-based channels, it largely eluded the radar of mainstream pundits … but not the target crowd. The largely ignored sector has proven to be a sizeable and vocal niche, but its limits were exposed by the head-to-head bow ofForever Strong, which should have found a less competitive berth.

The session also saw an effective expansion of the period drama The Duchess and OK holds for the western saga Appaloosa, which broadens next weekend.

Spike Lee appeared to be recycling the soldiers of Glory with his Second World War black regiment in Miracle of St. Anna. But neither the critics nor the buyers were inspired by the tale. There was an even greater thunderous silence for The Lucky Ones, a generally well reviewed yarn of a trio of Iraq vets on leave from the conflict. There’s no indication that audiences and filmmakers will be in sync on this type of material in the immediate future.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – September 26-28, 2008

Title Distributor Gross (averag % change * Theaters Cume
Eagle Eye Par 29.5 (8,390) 3510 29.5
Nights at Rodanthe WB 13.7 (5,080) 2704 13.7
Lakeview Terrace Sony 6.9 (2,810) -54% 2467 25.6
Fireproof IDP 6.4 (7,620) 839 6.4
Burn After Reading Focus 5.9 (2,240) -46% 2649 45.3
Igor MGM 5.4 (2,320) -30% 2341 14.3
My Best Friend’s Girl Lions Gate 3.7 (1,410) -55% 2636 14.4
The Miracle of St. Anna BV 3.4 (2,850) 1185 3.4
Righteous Kill Overture 3.3 (1,090) -56% 3011 34.3
The Family That Preys Lions Gate 3.1 (1,940) -57% 1604 32.7
Ghost Town Par 2.9 (1,890) -43% 1512 9.1
The Women Picturehouse 2.6 (970) -53% 2642 24
The Dark Knight WB 1.6 (1,160) -44% 1406 524.4
Choke Fox Searchlight 1.3 (3,090) 434 1.3
The House Bunny Sony 1.2 (620) -56% 1918 47.3
Tropic Thunder Par 1.2 (860) -55% 1354 108.7
Vicky Christina Barcelona MGM .66 (1,490) -31% 443 20.4
Mamma Mia! Uni .55 (770) -47% 717 142.2
Journey to the Center of the Earth WB .54 (1,060) -30% 510 99.8
The Duchess Par Vantage .53 (9,640) 179% 55 0.8
Fly Me to the Moon Summit .52 (780) -33% 662 11.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $94.90
% Change (Last Year) 11%
% Change (Last Week) 13%
Also debuting/expanding
Forever Strong Crane .25 (1,020) 244 0.25
The Lucky Ones Lions Gate .16 (380) 425 0.16
Appaloosa WB .14 (10,070) -43% 14 0.47
Hashar Eros 39,900 (2,850) 14 0.04
All Roads Lead Home Waldo West 30,500 (730) 35 0.03
Humbolt County Magnolia 22,700 (2,270) 10 0.02
Wild Combination Plexfilm 11,800 (11,800) 1 0.01
Shoot on Sight Aron Govil 10,400 (270) 38 0.01
Smother Variance 8,300 (330) 25 0.01
Boogie Man: Lee Atwater Story True Indie 5,200 (5,200) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share – To September 25, 2008

Distributor (releases) Gross Mrkt Share
Warner Bros. (22) 1451.1 20.00%
Paramount (20) 1237.7 17.10%
Sony (20) 967.3 13.40%
Universal (16) 955.9 13.20%
Fox (19) 779.1 10.80%
Buena Vista (11) 654.1 9.00%
Lions Gate (13) 273.3 3.80%
Fox Searchlight (5) 150.9 2.10%
Focus (6) 104.2 1.40%
MGM (13) 90.8 1.30%
Overture (6) 85.7 1.20%
Paramount Vantage (11) 73.2 1.00%
New Line (4) 61.8 0.90%
Picturehouse (7) 57.8 0.80%
Miramax (6) 54.6 0.70%
Summit (3) 46.1 0.60%
Other * (249) 197.9 2.70%
* none greater than 0.4% 7241.5 100.00%

Top Limited Releases – To September 25, 2008

Title Distributor Gross
Vicky Christina Barcelona MGM 19,745,774
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adven nWave 13,314,757
Under the Same Moon Weinstein Co. 12,590,147
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Focus 12,413,165
Fly Me to the Moon Summit 11,134,023
U2 3D nWave 9,501,521
The Visitor Overture 9,407,935
In Bruges Focus 7,800,824
The Orphanage Picture/Christal 6,894,612
Brideshead Reisited Mrmx 6,432,256
Mongol Picturehouse 5,705,761
The Counterfeiters Sony Classics 5,488,570
Shine a Light Par Vantage 5,421,098
Tell No One Music Box 5,335,358
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Mrmx 5,064,793
The Savages Fox Searchlight 4,795,616
Dolphins and Whales 3D 3D Entertainme 4,716,902
Persepolis Sony Classics 4,266,064
Young@Heart Fox Searchlight 3,966,690
Bottle Shock FreeStyle 3,890,244
Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.


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