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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Klady

iPhoning this in, but as I consider Fox’s second $20m+ opening this month, it strikes me that the way that the attack on Rothman will continue is through the Rotten Tomato score and not the box office… not unlike the perameters of the false “box office slump” story were changed from overall gross to by-the-weekend gross to ticket sales (an estimated irrelevance that has now become a feature of any negative bo story) in order to keep the negativity going.
The real negative story on Taken is that Fox let B13 get away.

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42 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady”

  1. a_loco says:

    So this is what happens when you cut a fucking awesome trailer. Maybe the folks behind that awful Seven Pounds trailer should take notes. Not bad for a movie that came out in France almost a year ago.

  2. Krazy Eyes says:

    Did anyone expect TAKEN to have an opening weekend in the low- to mid-20s? I thought Banilieu 13 was pretty great but from all the trailers this looked like just another one of Besson’s B-grade Euro-thrillers. I can’t imagine Neeson has the appeal to the same group who go to see stuff like the Transporter films. I guess people are still jonesing for more Bourne films.

  3. movieman says:

    Gotta say I didn’t see–and don’t really understand–that big opening for “Taken.” Is Liam Neeson a bigger star than I realized?
    Or was it the kickass trailer that did all the heavy-lifting?
    While skillfully done, I found it to be a real xenophobic horrorshow. Wouldn’t it have been more interesting (and resonant) if the kidnappers had some beef with Neeson’s character for crimes he committed while working for the CIA (or whatever the fuck U.S. government agency he supposedly worked for)? The racial/cultural stereotyping of the heavies really stuck in my craw. Plus, Maggie Grace is completely unbelievable as a 17-year-old. There’s such a disconnect between actress and role that she almost comes off as quasi-retarded…sort of like the teenaged Pamelyn Ferdin when she was still playing juveniles in “The Mephisto Waltz” and “The Beguiled” despite the fact that the strapping Ferdin looked about 6-feet tall and had heaving, womanly bosoms.
    Also puzzled by the tepid opening for “Uninvited.” If teenage girls are really the biggest demographic for PG-13 horror movies, shouldn’t they have been lining around the block for this thing? “The Unborn” had a substantially bigger opening earlier this month, and the trailers didn’t make it look nearly as Miley-Cyrus-fanclub-member-friendly.
    Interesting how “Paul Blart” is playing like your typical Disney live-action comedy (“The Game Plan,” “The Pacifier,” etc.) despite being a Sony release. I wonder if the Mouse House has signed James for a starring vehicle yet?

  4. christian says:

    NEWSFLASH: Nobody knows nothin’. Still.

  5. mutinyco says:

    Or maybe the cycle has turned and, like Gran Torino, people just wanna see some old school ass-kicking…
    “Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?…”

  6. mysteryperfecta says:

    “So this is what happens when you cut a fucking awesome trailer.”
    Agree completely.

  7. Jeremy Smith says:

    Careful where you move those goalposts, David. Fox obviously deserves credit for a surprisingly strong opening, but they’re just the distributors here. The problem with Rothman has *always* been that he wrecks films in development (and, in many cases, throughout production). TAKEN was spared such interference.

  8. CaptainZahn says:

    People like Liam Neeson. He’s just isn’t often at the forefront of a film that has the potential to make a lot of dough.

  9. sloanish says:

    Remember that Ransom trailer? Same thing (although I enjoyed Taken more). Fun genre stuff that could have used an R-rating for quality (and would have scared away 10 of that 20 mil in the process). I encourage Fox and Rothman to continue to stay in the marketing business and out of the movie-making business.

  10. a_loco says:

    I’m with Jeremy here, Taken was a Besson film, not a Rothman one. Just like the first two Transporter movies.

  11. Chicago48 says:

    Off topic: Has the Wrestler peaked? That was a damn good movie, it’s not getting any love at all….very few screens; what happened?

  12. gradystiles says:

    “The real negative story on Taken is that Fox let B13 get away.”
    Care to enlighten us, David? If you’re talking about the original, not sure why it was a big deal to let it get away. Besson and crew have also as of yet not agreed to sell the remake rights, so unless you have some inside info, there’s nothing to “let get away.” The original grossed about a million bucks, and wouldn’t have done much better if Fox, Screen Gems, Lionsgate, etc. would have distributed it instead of Magnolia.
    They’ve already filmed a sequel, which is also in French, and does not have a U.S. distributor yet.

  13. mutinyco says:

    BTW/ in case nobody else was paying attention, by the end of the weekend, at the age of 78, Clint Eastwood will have directed and starred in his highest-grossing movie ever.

  14. Rothchild says:

    B13 has a stunning first ten or fifteen minutes, then the rest is a chore to sit through. This is another example of Poland knowing nothing about genre movies.

  15. Aladdin Sane says:

    Taken was a ridiculously fun film. It’s a revenge film that doesn’t try to rationalize or apologize for the techniques the protagonist uses in his effort to find his daughter. Would it have worked without Liam Neeson? No. I don’t think Neeson brings a large fan base usually, but in this case it helps because people know him and like him. He’s usually the teacher/mentor. Now he gets to let loose. It’s exhilarating at parts. I’m not a father (yet), but what father wouldn’t want to have the skills Neeson possesses to do the things he does if the shit hit the fan with his kin?

  16. LYT says:

    The problem with The Uninvited may be that people are confusing it with The Unborn. Similar names, similar premises (hot young girl haunted by scary images).
    It maybe wasn’t the best name, since no-one in the movie is actually “uninvited” from anything.

  17. Taken opened well because it’s the kind of mid-budget, star-driven action thriller that studios have inexplicably abandoned. It’s bad enough that the ‘drama’ has been regulated to Oscar season and/or cable, but even the old fashion action thriller is now an endangered species. Movies like Along Came A Spider, Double Jeopardy, The Hunted, etc. Maybe most of them were lousy, but they had moderate budgets and had lots of quality character actors in supporting roles. They opened decently and made their money by being comfort food for adults.
    I’ll never understand why studios (especially Paramount) stopped making this stuff. Paramount could have made film after film for the profitable and potentially infinite Alex Cross franchise (I’m sure Poland has a regime-change related story).
    We’ll be lucky to get three of these types this year, they’ll all open and perform well in relation to budget (after which they’ll live forever in the rental isle), and the studios will just keep risking the farm on GI Joe instead.

  18. District B13 basically climaxes in the first act. The first thirty-five minutes are astounding (the opening chase and the casino battle), but then the film just stops being all that exciting. On the other hand, the upcoming ‘Chocolate’ is pretty bland until an incredible action climax. It really must be seen just for the finale.

  19. a_loco says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember that B13 had one of the most mind-bogglingly stupid and non-sensical endings that I’ve ever seen, right next to Running Scared.

  20. jeffmcm says:

    I was under the assumption that the Running Scared ending was one of those studio-mandated ‘happy endings’ that come up sometimes (not that Wayne Kramer’s original ending was much more bright either).

  21. lawnorder says:

    I’m amazed that no one has mentioned that “Taken” WAS meddled with by the studio — it’ has an 18 rating in the UK (already out on DVD if you want to import the uncut version) and Fox has chopped it down to a PG-13 from an obvious R-rating. I hear the director is extremely unhappy with the watered down U.S. version now playing.

  22. lawnorder says:

    What was Kramer’s original ending to Running Scared? I didn’t hate the ending like a lot of people (taking into account the happily ever after resolution to a dark Grimm’s fairy tale – which is what the film was).

  23. sloanish says:

    Running Scared is crazy bad for the most part, but the one purely crazy scene (and if you’ve seen it you know what it is) is GREAT.

  24. jeffmcm says:

    Actually, I might be totally wrong. It just seemed to me that (Spoilers?) it felt like Kramer’s intended ending was to have Paul Walker get shot and die, and the coda after that – ‘he was faking his death to hide from the mob’ – was plastered on in reshoots.
    I could be completely off but it felt like that kind of situation since it was so out of tune with what had come before.
    Sloanish, I love that one crazy scene you’re talking about.

  25. a_loco says:

    I actually thought Running Scared was pretty badass up until the end. The part I thought was ridiculously stupid wasn’t the “happily ever after” coda,which was bad, but not illogical. What I didn’t like was that, if he was a cop, then he wouldn’t have had to go after the gun at all, making the entire story negligible.

  26. Hallick says:

    The first stretch of B13 is like that one stone you skip on a lake or a river than goes 20 or 30 skips farther than any other stone you ever flung before. After that…I’m fuzzy on remembering it. But Bibi Naceri does deliver one of the better villain performances in the last ten years.

  27. David Poland says:

    I love when people disagree with me on a movie and then decide that it defines my right to an opinion.
    I first saw Banlieue 13 at a midnight screening at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2005. I was pushed to go by a member of the Fool Serious group, which is made up of people who see at least 100 films over the 25 days of the Seattle fest. The film came in second with the group only to Howl’s Moving Castle and fourth overall in the fest’s audience award.
    The film was completely ripped off by Casino Royale’s opening sequence. And it is a favorite amongst many film critics I know who are into genre.
    Of course the film could have done better had it been released by a larger company with more money to market the thing. It could also have easily been dubbed.
    I think that in just the last couple of years, with the market changing dramatically, B13 would be snapped up by a Dependent in a hurry, relatively inexpensive and not terribly hard to market if a $12m – $15m opening is good enough for you.
    Still, some studios are still gunshy about genre product that isn’t an obvious winner going in. So, who knows?
    The movie was flirted with, even before Seattle, but no one wanted to take the leap, so to speak. So Fox was not alone in passing on the film, which would have surely done better for Searchlight than Nightwatch did.
    Besides… it is ALWAYS the marketing and never the movie on opening weekend. How many moviegoers knew the history of Taken this weekend? I would guess less than one out of ten thousand.

  28. jeffmcm says:

    Yeah, and Casino Royale did it better, too, so where does that leave us?

  29. Scott, there were A LOT of them in quick succession (mostly starring Ashley Judd and/or Morgan Freeman) and after a while they just stopped making money. But, I agree, if they popped up every now and then like Taken then they’d make money. $50mil is good for this sort of movie.
    Although, could this have had a strong Friday because the core audience (men, right?) will be busy on Sunday?
    And this weekend is further proof that Renee Zellweger is even bigger “box office poison” than people like Nicole Kidman.

  30. jeffmcm says:

    Oh – and what, really, does a French-language gymnastics movie with no stars from a puny distributor have to do with a Euro-revenge thriller with a heavy marketing campaign and a well-known, second-tier star? Maybe it’s not quite apples and oranges, but it’s still not really a proper comparison. Tangerines and Limes maybe.

  31. Joe Leydon says:

    Scott: Add to that list of mid-budget, star-driven action thrillers — Four Brothers, one of my favorite popcorn movies of recent years. It’s the kind of unpretentious but professonally crafted popcorn entertainment that, you’re right, is in inexplicably short supply these days. You may disagree, but I would add Appaloosa and the Assault on Presinct 13 remake to the group, too.

  32. Joe Leydon says:

    Er, Assault on PRECINCT 13.

  33. a_loco says:

    Joe, I agree with you on Four Brothers, definitely worth seeing. Otherwise, I’m not really sure if Appaloosa fits into that category, wasn’t it made with independent money?

  34. Joe Leydon says:

    Well, actually, it was a New Line movie that WB wound up releasing, but maybe you’re right.

  35. marychan says:

    You are right, Jeremy.
    TAKEN is financed and produced by EuropaCorp. Fox only acquired the rights to distribute TAKEN in North America and some other territories.
    Fox had re-edited TAKEN for getting PG-13 rating, though.
    By the way, Liam Neeson was paid around $5 million for starring in TAKEN.

  36. IOIOIOI says:

    Scott: you make a great point about Paramount. They used to thrieve on those sort of pictures. Now we are lucky if they make something on the same scale of John Singleton’s The Son of Katie Elder ever again.
    It just seems like the studios are all about the moderately priced comedy, but balk at moderately priced action films. Unless you are the WWE, then you are all about the moderately priced action picture! DA CHAMP in RICOCHET PART 2: THIS TIME IT’S PERSON! COMING SOON!
    Nevertheless; Taken is a phenomenal flick. It’s simply tremendous to see Liam Neeson having the chance to unleash his inner NEXT of KIN on motherfuckers. Who you can be upset by the supposed stereotyping, but one of the vilest motherfuckers is an American. So the film is an equal opportunity offender.
    It should hopefully have earned enough this weekend to garner an UNRATED EDITION DVD/BD. If not; Rothman is still an asshole. If so; Rothman is a clever asshole who wants to make some bucks!

  37. LexG says:

    I am a big fan of MAGGIE GRACE.
    Someone above said it, and they are right: Despite all the wishy-washy liberalism of the new administration and the supposedly progressive nature of our times, the MASSIVE of success of Torino, Liam’s newest, and even, in a strange sort of way, Paul Blart, suggests that American audiences — at least those away from the coasts — are in the mood for testosterone, aggression, vengeance, revenge, and FUCKING ASS-KICKING.
    If they released a Rambo or Saw movie next week it would do 400 Mil.
    In a way it’s like the OPPOSITE of the common film studies logic, which is that jingoistic times make for jingoistic movies (the 80s), and troubled, uncertain times make for cynical movies (the 70s.)
    I always thought that line was bullshit anyway, and a stretch like the one we’re in proves the futility of suggesting a parallel between culture and the dominant politics of the day.
    It’s only a couple of random weeks, and yeah, maybe it was just the trailer or “hook,” but despite all the “up with the people” positivity we’re being force-fed, it looks like AMERICANS are in the mood for carnage.

  38. IOIOIOI says:

    Lex: you do not want me to turn on you. Think of me as a preventer. If you think about me that way. You might refrain from silly political discourse, and realize that people like anyone kicking ass in the name of righteousness. That’s how we roll. We love some righteous buttkicking.
    Oh yeah: District B13 is awesome, and the ending is awesome. It pretty much establishes in a rather over the top way the problems the French people have. That’s not a missle! It’s a FUCKING METAPHOR ABOUT IMMIGRANT RELATIONS!

  39. LexG says:

    Er… okay?
    Are you actually trying to talk me, of all people, into downplaying the overriding importance of CINEMATIC OWNAGE?
    It transcends politics, because it is THE BEST FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT EVER, the visceral enjoyment of seeing some awesome warhorse rain down some massive ass-kicking on people WHO DESERVE IT.

  40. IOIOIOI says:

    Lex: it’s righteous asskicking featuring an actour people still like. You know he’s the MAIN STAR of one of the biggest films in history? It’s him. So people like him, he’s fighting to save his daughter, and he’s doing it with righteous authority.
    I would buy your whole liberalism nonsense. If it were not for the guy in charge. He’s a go-getter, and could probably handle himself. He definitely does not come across like the computer expert in Die Hard.

  41. jeffmcm says:

    Lex, that’s stupid.
    For one thing, I think Gran Torino can easily be described as a liberal film, in the classic sense of the word – especially because it’s a film in which (Spoiler) the promised catharsis of revenge and violence DOES NOT OCCUR.
    I am also curious to know how Paul Blart and “testosterone, aggression, vengeance” can be logically connected.

  42. christian says:

    Lex, like other confused closet repubs, needs excuses to enjoy their breads and circuses.

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