MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

HP and the Full-Blooded Dish

It was all Harry 24/7 as the sixth installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, stormed the box office with an estimated $79.7 million box office ($159.9 million for 5½ days). It was the most fierce debut in the series history (inflation unadjusted) and all the more incredible in light of a paucity of Imax playdates (just three).

The session also afforded a torrid debut for the youthful romance (500) Days of Summer of $850,000 from a scant 27 screens. Otherwise niche bows were largely subsumed by the Hogwarts deluge.

Anticipation was rabid for the latest chapter in the money-printing franchise with some pundits spit-balling the prospects of a $200 million opening week gross. And while its opening salvo was bigger than past efforts, the film’s box office curve proportionally was a virtual carbon copy to the prior episode, Order of the Phoenix. The difference, at least domestically, was the absence of large-format dates that won’t enter the picture significantly until the third weekend and should be a large carrot for fans anxious to repeat the viewing experience.

While a number of box office records for an individual film were broken, one Potter wasn’t enough to carry the marketplace. Overall revenues pushed close to $165 million and that represented a 13% upturn from last weekend’s Bruno debut. But it plummeted 38% from 2008 when The Dark Knightvirtually equaled the current session with a $158.4 million debut and second spot added $27.7 million for freshman Mamma Mia!

As the summer grinds on there’s little question that the steam’s escaping faster from the seasonal bullet train. There’s little chance short of unrelenting catastrophe that a new summer box office record won’t be reached. But there might still be a good news/bad news scenario for ticket sales. Continued erosion through Labor Day could well translate to a marginal boost in ticket sales of 3% or 4%. But in light of fewer wide releases any increase in attendance sustains the contention that the size of the audience remains consistent even with fewer choices at the multiplex.

The verdict on where the money’s being spent (and not) will just have to wait for the dust to settle.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – July 17-19, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (averag % change * Theaters Cume
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince WB 79.7 (18,430) 4325 159.9
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Fox 17.6 (4,620) -36% 3817 151.9
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Par 13.6 (3,540) -44% 3857 363.7
Bruno Uni 8.4 (3,060) -72% 2759 49.6
The Hangover WB 8.4 (3,150) -15% 2667 236
The Proposal BV 8.3 (2,720) -22% 3043 128
Public Enemies Uni 7.6 (2,430) -45% 3121 79.5
Up BV 3.1 (1,820) -34% 1706 279.5
My Sister’s Keeper WB 2.7 (1,390) -36% 1967 41.4
I Love You, Beth Cooper Fox 2.7 (1,420) -46% 1872 10.3
Du Pere en flic Alliance 1.0 (9,370) -22% 111 3.7
The Taking of Pelham 123 Sony .89 (1,460) -42% 610 62.9
(500) Days of Summer Fox Searchlight .85 (31,480) 27 0.85
The Hurt Locker Summit .75 (8,060) 17% 93 2.2
Night at the Museum 2 Fox .73 (1,420) -50% 515 171.8
Star Trek Par .67 (1,330) -42% 505 253.1
Moon Sony Classics .51 (2,020) -24% 252 2.6
Away We Go Focus .50 (1,670) -31% 299 8.3
Whatever Works Sony Classics .44 (1,810) -35% 244 3.9
Angels & Demons Sony .39 (1,070) 16% 365 132.4
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $158.00
% Change (Last Year) -38%
% Change (Last Week) 13%
Also debuting/expanding
Cheri Miramax .28 (1,480) -18% 191 2
Humpday Magnolia 26,700 (5,340) -7% 5 0.07
Kalavaramaye Madilo Adlabs 18,800 (320) 58 0.02
Death in Love Screen Media 14,300 (3,570) 4 0.01
A Woman in Berlin Strand 11,200 (11,200) 1 0.01
Homecoming Paper Street 6,100 (3,050) 2 0.01
The Poker House Phase 4 4,700 (1,570) 3 0.01
Off Jackson Avenue Group Ent. 2,900 (2,900) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share – January 1 – July 16, 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (12) 1125.9 19.10%
Warner. Bros (22) 1100.9 18.60%
Fox (12) 813.2 13.80%
Buena Vista (12) 706.1 11.90%
Sony (13) 617.7 10.50%
Universal (14) 568.3 9.60%
Lionsgate (7) 237.4 4.00%
Fox Searchlight (6) 194.3 3.30%
Summit (7) 148.8 3.50%
Focus (5) 103.3 1.70%
Paramount Vantage (2) 52.4 0.90%
MGM (3) 42.3 0.70%
Miramax (5) 40.4 0.70%
Weinstein Co. (6) 34.5 0.60%
Other * (165) 121.7 2.10%
* none greater than 0.45% 5907.2 100%

Top Global Grossers – January 1 – July 16, 2009

Title Distributor Gross
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Par 733,174,657
Angels & Demons Sony 478,266,878
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Fox 450,422,134
Night at the Museum 2 Fox 379,629,917
Star Trek Par 378,103,399
Monsters vs. Aliens Par 373,459,691
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fox 362,212,338
Terminator Salvation WB/Sony 357,365,257
Slumdog Millionaire * Fox Searchlight 357,237,152
Fast & Furious Uni 349,433,766
Up BV 329,614,470
The Hangover WB 305,974,416
Curious Case of Benjamin Button * Par/WB 276,124,938
Gran Torino * WB 267,520,992
Watchmen WB/Par Intl 183,393,190
Paul Blart: Mall Cop Sony 182,874,488
Knowing Summit 170,669,247
Marley and Me * Fox 169,182,604
He’s Just Not That Into You WB/New Line 168,325,492
The Proposal BV 160,618,427
* 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