MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Pyromaniac’s Revenge

In a hotly contested weekend race, the political comedy Burn After Reading emerged as the box office leader with an estimated $19.2 million. Two other debuting titles were right behind with Tyler Perry’s relative drama The Family That Preys grossing $18 million and the DeNiro-Pacino cop meller Righteous Kill posting a $16.4 million box office. The session’s fourth freshman – an update of 1939’s The Women – had to settle with leftovers of $10.8 million.

The weekend was also crowded with regional and exclusive bows including near moribund results for the non-fiction Proud Americans of $103,000 in 750 theaters. Best of the limited openers was the darkly comic Towelhead that grossed $54,100 at four sites with an OK return of $17,700 for the doc Flow for start up distributor Oscilloscope. Other debuts including Greetings from the Shoreand Tired of Kissing Frogs appeared on the fast track to DVD and VOD.

Following last weekend’s movie going burn out attendance rallied, bolstered by the flow of seasonal product. Still, one could see sharp declines for the summer holdovers with the most profound drop of 70% experienced by last weekend’s leader Bangkok Dangerous.

The Coen Brothers Oscar follow up Burn After Reading wasn’t expected to top the charts and with critical response generally tilting to the negative its supremacy was all the more surprising. It wound up being the siblings best ever opener and edged ahead of the crowd as a result of wider general appeal than the competition.

The latest Afrocentric mix of comedy and angst from Perry – The Family That Preys – that was expected to lead the frame opened with comparable strength but not quite the $20 million that was being tracked. Similarly the older aud appeal of Righteous Kill played to anticipated business. ButThe Women came up short and pundits were at a loss to explain why the cast and subject matter didn’t translate to the fall equivalent of Sex and the City or Mamma Mia! And there’s not any talk of the possibility of a second act for this second act.

Weekend revenues bounced back to roughly $100 million for a sizeable 54% improvement from last weekend. It was also 33% better than the 2007 session when the bow of The Brave One led with $13.4 million; 3:10 to Yuma held well with $8.9 million and the freshman Mr. Woodcock followed with $8.8 million.

Holdover movies largely took it on the chin with erosion rates ranging from 40% to 60%. The only niche that bucked the trend was family fare and especially the 3D engagements of Fly Me to the Moon and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

While there’s little question that the industry wants to push on from the prevailing doldrums of late summer, it’s atypical that audiences should be in lock step. Neither mainstream nor niche movies that caught the last part of the seasonal wave seem likely to have much of a presence by month’s end.

It’s not surprising that anxiety levels have ramped up as the release schedule through Thanksgiving offers little with definitive commercial appeal. Summer box office just scraped by and the prospect of significant drops in attendance through the end of the year would inject a significant psychological shakeup; particularly among theater owners.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – September 12-14, 2008

Title Distributor Gross (avera % chang Theater Cume
Burn After Reading Focus 19.2 (7,250) 2651 19.2
The Family That Preys Lions Gate 18.0 (8,720) 2070 18
Righteous Kill Overture 16.4 (5,210) 3152 16.4
The Women Picturehouse 10.8 (3,400) 2962 10.8
Tropic Thunder Par 4.2 (1,430) -42% 2927 103
The House Bunny Sony 4.1 (1,490) -25% 2763 42
The Dark Knight WB 4.0 (1,840) -27% 2191 517.7
Bangkok Dangerous Lions Gate 2.4 (890) -70% 2654 12.5
Traitor Overture 2.1 (1,030) -52% 2014 20.7
Death Race Uni 1.9 (940) -49% 2007 33.1
Mamma Mia! Uni 1.8 (1,170) -38% 1517 139.3
Babylon A.D. Fox 1.7 (810) -60% 2062 20.2
Disaster Movie Lions Gate 1.5 (850) -50% 1802 12.6
Fly Me to the Moon Summit 1.3 (1,930) 0% 698 9.8
Vicky Christina Barcelona MGM 1.2 (1,690) -42% 726 18
Pinapple Express Sony 1.1 (1,040) -53% 1030 86
Journey to the Center of the Earth WB 1.1 (1,410) -14% 751 98
Mirrors Fox .87 (860) -51% 1008 29.1
Star Wars: The Clone Wars WB .81 (800) -52% 1005 33.8
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Uni .61 (890) -59% 750 101.5
The Longshots MGM .58 (680) -58% 858 10.7
Wall-E BV .53 (1,050) -32% 504 220.1
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $96.10
% Change (Last Year) 33%
% Change (Last Week) 54%
Also debuting/expanding
Elegy IDP .24 (1,770) -50% 136 2.8
Bottle Shock FreeStyle .22 (890) -57% 250 3.6
Proud American Slow Hand .10 (140) 750 0.1
Towelhead WB 54,100 (13,520) 4 0.05
Greetings from the Shore FreeStyle 44,300 (1,430) 31 0.04
Il y a longtemps que je t’aime Mongrel 28,800 (4,800) 6 0.03
Flow Oscilloscope 17,700 (8,850) 2 0.02
Tired of Kissing Frogs First Look 9,300 (660) 14 0.01
Moving Midway First Run 6,700 (3,350) 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share – To September 11, 2008

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Sept. 11, 2008)
Distributor (releases) Gross Mrkt Share
Warner Bros. (20) 1435.9 20.50%
Paramount (13) 1221.3 17.50%
Universal (16) 946.1 13.50%
Sony (19) 936.4 13.40%
Fox (19) 773.2 11.10%
Buena Vista (11) 652.9 9.30%
Lions Gate (11) 225.5 3.20%
Fox Searchlight (5) 150.9 2.20%
MGM (12) 77.8 1.10%
Paramount Vantage (10) 72.9 1.00%
Focus (5) 64.6 0.90%
New Line (4) 61.8 0.90%
Miramax (6) 54.5 0.80%
Overture (5) 50.6 0.70%
Summit (3) 43.4 0.60%
Picturehouse (6) 36.3 0.50%
Other * (236) 191 2.70%
* none greater than 0.4% 6995.1 100.00%

Top Domestic Releases – To September 11, 2008

Title Distributor Gross
The Dark Knight WB 513,664,611
Iron Man Par 318,039,924
Indiana Jones & Kingdom of the Crystal Par 316,286,130
Hancock Sony 228,056,698
Wall-E BV 219,549,391
Kung Fu Panda Par 214,301,367
Horton Hears a Who Fox 154,529,439
Sex and the City WB 152,619,616
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian BV 141,659,011
Mamma Mia! Uni 137,573,335
The Incredible Hulk Uni 134,592,596
Wanted Uni 134,211,795
Get Smart WB 128,635,792
Juno * Fox Searchlight 115,568,583
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emper Uni 100,917,725
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan Sony 100,042,437
Step Brothers Sony 99,709,149
Tropic Thunder Par 98,790,664
Journey to the Center of the Earth WB 96,949,173
10,000 B.C. WB 94,819,450
* does not include 2007 box office
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