MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady


The great Easter egg hunt delivered record breaking numbers with Hannah Montana: The Movieleading the charge with an estimated $34.3 million. The holiday session also included two other national debuts. Anti-Paul Blart: Mall Cop Observe and Report ranked fourth overall with a middling $11.1 million while the live-action manga adaptation Dragonball: Evolution eked out $4.6 million.

Limited freshmen releases ranged from passable to poor. The Punjabi Mera Mera Ki Rishta was among the buoyant with close to $100,000 at 16 sites while on the flip side, the Sundance-preemed big screen version of author Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh generated a listless $34,500 from 18 venues.

Overall box office pushed close to $140 million to better past Easter frames by 8% though admissions lagged behind.

The nation’s trio of movie tracking companies made predictions that were again unanimous … and wrong with estimates for Hannah Montana that ranged from the high teens to the low 20s. Last week they were shy roughly $20 million on expectations for Fast & Furious and put the lie to the theory that competition would improve methodologies from the terrible days of market research monopoly. It’s a situation that wouldn’t be tolerated in political polling but in the film industry this long tradition tends to get a shrug as a response.

The trackers were also a tad high on Observe and Report, so anticipation was that the two debutants would be more competitive as well as poor seconds to both F & F and Monsters vs. Aliens. Both advance ticketing outlets showed Hannah selling in excess of 50% of their sales and should either create a viable template that translates pre-buys to box office, a more viable box office barometer could be in the offing.

The weekend tally dipped back by 11% from last weekend’s Fast salvo but exceeded the 2008 total by 50%. It was however 25% improved from Easter weekend 2008 when the second weekend of Horton Hears a Who outpaced the bow of Meet the Browns with respective grosses of $24.6 million and $20.1 million.

The alternative arena continues to be lean and sparse with just Sunshine Cleaning and Sin Nombre– which had its first significant expansion this weekend — propping up a significantly more exploitable viewing segment than is currently being tapped.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – April 10-12, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (average % change Theaters Cume
Hannah Montana: The Movie BV 34.3 (11,010) 3118 34.3
Fast & Furious Uni 28.7 (8,270) -60% 3472 118
Monsters vs. Aliens Par 22.5 (5,450) -31% 4136 140.9
Observe and Report WB 11.1 (4,060) 2727 11.1
I Love You Man Par 6.5 (2,440) -17% 2643 59
Knowing Summit 6.4 (2,180) -22% 2925 67.7
The Haunting in Connecticut Lions Gate 5.7 (2,090) -40% 2721 46.3
Dragonball Evolution Fox 4.6 (2,120) 2181 4.6
Adventureland Miramax 3.4 (1,820) -40% 1876 11.4
Duplicity Uni 3.0 (1,510) -28% 1965 36.8
Race to Witch Mountain BV 1.9 (890) -40% 2172 62
Sunshine Cleaning Overture 1.8 (2,960) -2% 598 7.2
Taken Fox 1.1 (1,250) -29% 872 141.1
12 Rounds Fox .78 (860) -65% 908 10.7
Watchmen WB .57 (1,260) -47% 453 106.4
Last House on the Left Uni .54 (870) -56% 623 31.7
Paul Blart: Mall Cop Sony .51 (1,240) 37% 411 144.7
Sin Nombre Focus .33 (5,050) 79% 65 0.81
Under the Sea 3D WB .32 (7,440) 25% 43 5.4
Slumdog Millionaire Fox Searchlight .27 (890) -46% 304 140.7
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $133.40
% Change (Last Year) 50%
% Change (Last Week) -11%
Also debuting/expanding
Tera Mera ki Rishta Bollyada 98,300 (6,140) 16 0.1
Anvil! The Story of Anvil Abramorama 36,100 (7,220) 261% 5 0.05
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh Peace Arch 34,500 (1,920) 18 0.03
Lymelife Screen Media 28,100 (7,020) 4 0.03
Adrift in Tokyo Evokative 6,300 (6,300) 1 0.01
In a Dream Intl Film Circuit 5,400 (5,400) 1 0.01
Empty Nest Outlander 4,600 (2,300) 2 0.01

Top Domestic Grossers – January 1 – April 5, 2009

Title Distributor (releases) Gross (millions)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop Sony 143,162,362
Gran Torino * WB 140,355,806
Taken Fox 139,416,323
Slumdog Millionaire * Fox Searchlight 118,017,360
Watchmen WB 105,346,566
Monsters vs. Aliens Par 104,799,387
He’s Just Not That Into You WB 92,901,114
Madea Goes to Jail Lionsgate 89,869,224
Curious Case of Benjamin Button * Par 74,561,249
Coraline Focus 74,255,387
Hotel for Dogs Par 71,651,821
Fast & Furious Uni 70,950,500
Marley and Me * Fox 70,640,439
Friday the 13th WB 64,877,692
Bride Wars Fox 58,570,609
Race to Witch Mountain BV 58,249,111
Knowing Summit 58,219,770
Bedtime Stories * BV 54,991,653
My Bloody Valentine 3D Lionsgate 51,700,492
I Love You, Man Par 49,159,559
* does not include 2008 box office
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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