MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Wolverine in Wolf’s Clothing

The question wasn’t whether but how much as X-Men Origins: Wolverine entered the marketplace as the first of the summer tentpoles. The film’s estimated $85.5 million (including approximately $5 million from Thursday midnight shows) resounded with “a lot.” Not a record, not a benchmark but unquestionably a lot of moolah for a franchise that could quite easily have turned moribund.

Meanwhile a couple of other films bowed nationally as counter-programmers and neither quite lived up to expectations. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past ranked a distant second in the line up with $15.4 million and the animated adventure Battle for Terra didn’t reach the top 10 on a gross of $1 million.

Limited openers ranged from an encouraging $52,800 for the offbeat thriller The Limits of Control in three venues to a bland $68,600 for Michael Keaton’s directorial debut The Merry Gentleman on 24 screens. Austrian Oscar nominee Revanche was just OK with an $8,300 gross at two exposures.

There’s little question that Wolverine’s origins had the fans salivating and those avid film goers gobbled up in excess of 80% of the advance tickets sold last week by Fandango. Approaching opening day there were hundreds of sold-out screenings and you couldn’t turn sideways without bumping into an image to remind you of its coming (albeit side-by-side a Star Trek nudge). Some pundits trotted out the possibility of a $90 million plus weekend but there was little evidence to substantiate the spit-balling … once one climbs above the $60 million level, there are too few examples to do a projective survey anyway.

Weekend box office approached $160 million for a demonstrative 40% spike that one anticipates to herald in the summer season. It was, however, 3% behind the 2008 frame when Iron Man bowed to $102.1 million and Made of Honor took the consolation prize of $14.7 million.

The tale of the past weekend … or at least the industry lesson … is how broad Wolverine’s appeal has become. Warner Bros. is the king of counter-programming adult comedies and romances ranging in recent years from Must Love Dogs to Nights in Rodanthe. It’s just as much a formula as the tentpoles and as long as these films open to between $15 million and $20 million, they can be assured of a tidy profit once DVD and pay-cable kick in.

The more curious alternative was Battle for Terra, an animated feature a bit too hip to target the family audience and not quite the visceral thrill that the fan boy crowd demands. It got wedged in some box office Bermuda Triangle and likely won’t reappear until ancillary revenue windows open up.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – May 1-3, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fox 85.5 (20,860) 4099 85.5
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past WB 15.4 (4,860) 3175 15.4
Obsessed Sony 12.3 (4,910) -57% 2514 47.1
17 Again WB 6.2 (1,900) -46% 3255 48.3
Monsters vs. Aliens Par 5.8 (2,210) -32% 2626 182.4
The Soloist Par 5.5 (2,700) -44% 2033 18
Earth BV 4.2 (2,330) -52% 1804 21.9
Fighting Uni 4.1 (1,770) -63% 2312 17.4
Hannah Montana: The Movie BV 4.0 (1,430) -37% 2819 70.8
State of Play Uni 3.6 (1,470) -48% 2445 30.8
Fast & Furious Uni 2.6 (1,020) -58% 2547 149.6
Battle for Terra Roadside 1.0 (870) 1159 1.0
I Love You Man Par .71 (1,040) -64% 685 69.3
Taken Fox .64 (1,290) 80% 494 143.4
Knowing Summit .55 (670) -72% 822 77.9
Crank: High Voltage Lions Gate .46 (640) -82% 724 13.3
The Haunting in Connecticut Lions Gate .44 (730) -71% 603 55.1
Sunshine Cleaning Overture .39 (830) -34% 471 10.4
Observe and Report WB .30 (590) -83% 501 23.2
Is Anybody There? Story Island .27 (2,410) 133% 122 0.51
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $152.10
% Change (Last Year) -3%
% Change (Last Week) 40%
Also debuting/expanding
Sin Nombre Focus .17 (1,960) -17% 87 1.75
The Merry Gentleman IDP 68,600 (2,860) 24 0.07
Tyson Sony Classics 66,500 (5,120) -22% 13 0.2
The Limits of Control Focus 52,800 (17,600) 3 0.05
Revanche Janus 8,300 (4,150) 2 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%
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