MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Slice and Nice

Weekend box office ballooned as two iconic vehicles found avid fan bases lining up in force. High School Musical 3 led the frame with an estimated $42.3 million and the runner-up slot fell to Saw Vwith a not too shabby $30.6 million. The third national launch was the cop meller Pride and Glory, which opened to no-more-than-okay results of $6.3 million.

Debuts in specialty and regional configurations were once again boisterous. The first wave for the period drama Changeling generated an impressive $33,400 theater average from 15 venues. There was unexpected potency for the gay-themed drama Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom, which generated $144,000 from five exposures, and the hard-to-define Synecdoche, New York leaped its first hurdle effectively with a $162,000 gross from nine playdates.

Additionally, there were solid returns of $164,000 for Heroes on the Bollywood circuit and the Quebec bow of Le Deserteur with a $64,600 initial foray. The horror import Let the Right One Inwas also encouraging with a $36,300 tally on five, but a couple of animated entries came up short. The seasonal perennial The Nightmare Before Christmas — now in digital 3D — had a listless $1,310 average in 284 locations and Roadside Romeo — the first joint venture of Disney and Bollywood– was comparably soft with an $1,120 average at 29 sites.

Overall business spiked by 35% from both last weekend and the comparable frame in 2007.

For those scratching their heads about the prior editions of High School Musical … suffice it to say this movie’s not likely for you. The HSM brand has been nurtured by Disney on the small screen and has already generated successful theatrical versions in Argentina and Mexico. For its core youth audience this was the season’s hot ticket and advance sales on catapulted the tuner into its top 20 all-time list. In the days leading up to release, the film accounted for 70% to 80% of daily sales on the various ticketing outlets.

Whether it was confidence or bluff, Saw V continued to be a potent horror franchise much in the way that Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street provided October surprises in the past. One can be assured that eventually a new scare franchise will emerge and this one will fade away or be reinvented.

Early fall niche fare, including The Duchess and Appaloosa, have peaked but continue to retain a toe-hold as award season draws closer. Meanwhile, Rachel Getting Married continues its slow and steady expansion effectively and better than pundits’ predictions.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – October 24-26, 2008

Title Distributor Gross (average % chh Theas Cume
High School Musical BV 42.3 (11,680) 3623 42.3
Saw V Lionsgate 30.6 (10,010) 3060 30.6
Max Payne Fox 7.7 (2,290) –56% 3381 29.8
Beverly Hills Chihuahua BV 6.8 (2,140) -40% 3190 78.1
Pride and Glory WB 6.3 (2,430) 2585 6.3
The Secret Life of Bees Fox Searchlight 6.0 (3,660) -43% 1630 19.1
W. Lionsgate 5.3 (2,560) -50% 2050 18.7
Eagle Eye Par 5.2 (2,020) -27% 2558 88
Body of Lies WB 3.9 (1,820) –43% 2150 30.7
Quarantine Sony 2.5 (1,130) -59% 2228 28.7
Fireproof IDP 2.0 (2,270) -21% 898 23.5
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist Sony 2.0 (1,250) -47% 1571 29.5
Sex Drive Summit 1.8 (780) -49% 2358 6.9
Nights in Rodanthe WB 1.3 (1,040) -51% 1240 39.2
The Duchess Par Vantage 1.2 (1,340) -45% 873 11.1
Appaloosa WB 1.1 (1,240) -44% 920 16.3
Religulous Lionsgate .96 (2,120) -34% 452 10.6
Rachel Getting Married Sony Classics ,83 (7,090) 26% 117 2.7
Burn After Reading Focus .77 (1,820) -30% 422 58.3
Passchendaele Alliance .64 (3,170) -25% 202 1.9
Changeling Uni .50 (33,400) 15 0.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films $129.70
% Change (Last Year) 35%
% Change (Last Week) 35%
Also debuting/expanding
Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D (reissue) BV .37 (1,310) 284 0.37
Passengers Sony .18 (1,450) 125 0.18
Heroes Eros .16 (2,740) 60 0.16
Synecdoche, NY Sony Classics .16 (18,060) 9 0.16
Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom Open Door .14 (28,840) 5 0.14
What Just Happened? Magnolia 1.2 (3,370) -39% 35 0.38
Le Deserteur TVA 65,650 (2,430) 27 0.07
Let the Right One In Magnolia 36,300 (7,260) 5 0.04
Roadside Rodeo Yash Raj 32,500 (1,120) 29 0.03
Heaven on Earth Mongol 30,400 (4,340) 7 0.03
Fears of the Dark IFC 6,800 (6,800) 1 0.01
Stranded Zeitgeist 3,500 (3,500) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share – To October 23, 2008

Distributor (releases) Gross Mrkt Share
Warner Bros. (25) 1539.4 19.70%
Paramount (15) 1330.6 17.10%
Sony (22) 1044.9 13.40%
Universal (18) 972.8 12.50%
Fox (21) 809.7 10.40%
Buena Vista (14) 735.1 9.40%
Lionsgate (16) 313.4 4.00%
Fox Searchlight (7) 167.1 2.10%
Focus (6) 122.4 1.60%
MGM (14) 105.7 1.40%
Overture (6) 94.7 1.20%
Paramount Vantage (11) 82.9 1.10%
Picturehouse (7) 63.1 0.80%
New Line (4) 61.8 0.80%
Miramax (8) 58.3 0.80%
Summit (4) 51.9 0.70%
Other * (270) 239.6 3.00%
* none greater than 0.4% 7793.4 100.00%

Top Domestic Grossers – To October 16, 2008

Title Distributor Gross
The Dark Knight WB 526,944,204
Iron Man Par 318,338,993
Indiana Jones & Kingdom of the Cry Par 317,023,851
Hancock Sony 229,288,873
Wall-E BV 221,761,836
Kung Fu Panda Par 215,573,112
Horton Hears a Who Fox 154,529,439
Sex and the City WB 152,647,258
Mamma Mia! Uni 143,159,980
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian BV 141,682,713
The Incredible Hulk Uni 134,617,678
Wanted Uni 134,512,024
Get Smart WB 130,199,503
Juno * Fox Searchlight 115,568,583
Tropic Thunder Par 109,786,868
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon E Uni 102,922,809
Step Brothers Sony 101,076,923
Journey to the Center of the Earth WB 100,570,180
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan Sony 100,112,110
10,000 B.C. WB 94,819,450
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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