MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Hi Trek!

It was another weekend of “how big?” Short of a mass flu epidemic sweeping the nation, nothing was going to get in the way of the Star Trek juggernaut. Though tracking and trekking were buoyant along with advance sales, the gut instinct was that it would not open quite as vigorously as X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The guestimators were trotting out somewhere in the low to mid-$60 million range and those forecasts proved to be on the light side.

Sunday’s estimated weekend take (including a reported $7 million gross from Thursday midnight screenings) for Star Trek was $73.5 million. The only other national release was the action-comedyNext Day Air that charted sixth overall with a not terribly impressive $3.9 million.

The session also featured a number of limited and exclusive premieres that ranged from fair to good but nothing remotely extraordinary. The hit Mexican film Rudo y Cursi bowed with an aggressive 70 theater break and passable $172,000 gross while the oddball historic drama Little Ashes had box office of close to $79,000 from 14 locations. Atom Egoyan’s lastest, Adoration, was OK with $41,400 in 10 venues.

There’s no escaping the Star Trek legacy on the small screen but its 28-year history at the multiplex has been less assured. Historically it’s been in the Star Wars’ shadow and struggled to build an audience as well as an identity. But it’s tenacious and pliant and the latest incarnation appears to have strong initial traction as a more visceral, less contemplative version of its inspiration. Die hards may find this all a bit shocking but the avids only know the series from re-runs and spin offs.

Weekend revenues pushed toward $150 million for a slight 6% fallback from the prior weekend. It was however 20% improved from 2008 when Iron Man’s second weekend led with $51.2 million and the $20.2 million debut of What Happens in Vegas surpassed last year’s first seasonal casualtySpeed Racer’s $18.6 million gross.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – May 8-10, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (avera % change Theaters Cume
Star Trek Par 73.5 (19,090) 3849 73.5
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fox 27.1 (6,610) -68% 4102 129.7
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past WB 10.5 (3,300) -32% 3175 30.3
Obsessed Sony 6.7 (2,560) -45% 2602 56.3
17 Again WB 4.3 (1,470) -33% 2903 54
Next Day Air Summit 3.9 (3,430) 1138 3.9
The Soloist Par 3.7 (1,760) -35% 2090 23.6
Monsters vs. Aliens Par 3.1 (1,410) -47% 2185 183.51
Earth BV 2.5 (1,400) -42% 1794 26.1
Hannah Montana: The Movie BV 2.4 (1,060) -42% 2301 74.1
Fighting Uni 2.1 (1,070) -48% 1933 20.1
State of Play Uni 2.0 (1,280) -47% 1541 34.1
Fast & Furious Uni 1.3 (900) -54% 1409 151.8
La Cenerentola Fathom .70 (2,310) 303 0.7
I Love You Man Par .44 (1,080) -40% 407 70
Taken Fox .38 (990) -57% 385 144.1
Knowing Summit .29 (780) -49% 373 78.4
Is Anybody There? Story Island .27 (1,700) -8% 157 0.89
Sunshine Cleaning Overture .26 (810) -38% 328 10.9
The Haunting in Connecticut Lions Gate .21 (690) -50% 303 55.3
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $143.80
% Change (Last Year) 20%
% Change (Last Week) -6%
Also debuting/expanding
Rudo y Cursi Sony Classics .17 (2,460) 70 0.17
Little Ashes Regent 78,900 (5,640) 14 0.08
Limits of Control Focus 47,100 (4,280) -16% 11 0.13
Adoration Sony Class/E1 41,400 (4,140) 10 0.04
Outrage Magnolia 29,700 (5,940) 5 0.03
Love N’Dancing Screen Media 24,500 (700) 35 0.02
Julia Magnolia 11,600 (3,870) 3 0.01

Domestic Market Share – January 1 – April 30, 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross (millio Mrkt Share
Warner Bros. (17) 544.1 17.30%
Paramount (8) 438.7 13.90%
Sony (10) 346.2 11.00%
Universal (10) 336.1 10.70%
Fox (8) 317.7 10.10%
Buena Vista (10) 280.1 8.90%
Lions Gate (7) 233.9 7.40%
Fox Searchlight (5) 185.7 5.90%
Summit (4) 131.1 4.20%
Focus (3) 93.8 3.00%
Paramount Vantage (2) 51.3 1.60%
MGM (3) 42.3 1.30%
Miramax (4) 37.9 1.20%
Weinstein Co. (6) 34.5 1.10%
Overture (3) 25 0.80%
Other * (108) 49.2 1.60%
* none greater than 0.4% 3147.6 100.00%
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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