MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Nice Age 3

It was a box office photo-finish for Independence weekend with sequels to Transformers and Ice Age going toe-to-toe and estimates giving the former a slight edge of $42.4 million to the latter’s $42.1 million. The session’s other major release was vintage gangster opus Public Enemies, which was next in the lineup with $26.1 million.

Other newcomers included the Bollywood-goes-Hollywood Kambakkht Ishq with a $560,000 tally from 100 Hindi-circuit screens. Limited and exclusive bows saw an okay $84,900 gross for French import The Girl from Monaco at 23 venues and a dynamic $18,700 for the non-fiction The Beaches of Agnes at a solo L.A. launch. Nia Vardalos’s directing debut I Hate Valentine’s Daysputtered out with $4,700 at three exposures.

The weekend portion of the holiday frame experienced a significant box office ebb from the immediate prior session and was ever so marginally improved from last year’s performance level.

Expectations going into the July 4 celebration favored Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs to lead in ticket sales with prognosticators crystal balling a $75 million salvo for its five-day opening. It was also anticipated that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen would see a precipitous drop of around 70% from its mammoth bow. But a few percentage points in both directions turned the frame into a horse race with the strong prospect that Sunday actuals could reverse weekend bragging rights around noon Monday.

The much-ballyhooed Public Enemies with Johnny Depp taking on the role of John Dillinger raised industry anxiety levels in light of recent under-performing adult tilted movies. However when the dust cleared its roughly $41 million gross was in line with high-end hopes and now fingers are crossed that the picture can hold its own against more youthfully targeted movies.

The session generated just shy of $165 million in sales and that translated into a 20% recession from seven days earlier. It was no more than a flicker (0.08%) better than Independence weekend ’08 when Hancock was the sole newcomer with a $62.6 million gross for the three-day segment.

The summer box office advanced to $2.16 billion, which rates 12% better than where it stood last year at the half-way seasonal point.

Bollywood is trying to make up for lost time with Kambakkht Ishq. Superstar Akshay Kumar limbs a Hollywood stuntman with the likes of Sylvester Stallone showing up as himself.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – July 3-5, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (averag % change * Theaters Cume
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Par 42.4 (10,020) -61% 4234 293.4
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Fox 42.1 (10,280) 4099 67.1
Public Enemies Uni 26.1 (7,820) 3334 40.9
The Proposal BV 12.8 (4,120) -31% 3099 94.2
The Hangover WB 10.7 (3,490) -37% 3070 204.5
Up BV 6.7 (2,530) -49% 2656 265
My Sister’s Keeper WB 5.4 (2,070) -57% 2606 26.1
The Taking of Pelham 123 Sony 2.4 (1,270) -55% 1908 58.4
Year One Sony 2.2 (990) -63% 2240 38.2
Night at the Museum 2 Fox 2.1 (1,460) -43% 1419 167.7
Star Trek Par 1.8 (1,600) -50% 1148 249.9
Away We Go Focus 1.1 (2,050) -37% 506 6.1
Whatever Works Sony Classics .94 (2,810) 161% 334 1.9
Kambakkht Ishq Eros .56 (5,570) 100 0.56
Angels and Demons Sony .48 (1,360) -56% 352 131.1
Cheri Miramax .38 (2,730) -6% 140 1
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fox .32 (1,060) 3% 303 178.3
Under the Sea 3D WB .31 (8,080) 21% 38 11.6
Terminator Salvation WB .29 (940) -73% 311 122.7
Land of the Lost Uni .28 (740) -76% 385 47.6
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $157.30
% Change (Last Year) 1%
% Change (Last Week) -20%
Also debuting/expanding
Moon Sony Classics .25 (5,360) 103% 47 0.93
The Hurt Locker Summit .13 (14,780) -8% 9 0.37
The Girl from Monaco Magnolia 84,900 (3,650) 23 0.07
The Stoning of Soraya M Roadside At. 69,500 (2,780) -40% 27 0.24
Tetro Zoetrope 25,700 (2,430) -43% 11 0.23
The Beaches of Agnes Cinema Guild 18,700 (18,700) 1 0.02
Local Color Monterey 5,900 (840) 7 0.01
I Hate Valentine’s Day IFC 4,700 (1,570) 3 0.01

Domestic Market Share – January 1 – June 28, 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (12) 966.5 18.50%
Warner. Bros (21) 944.6 18.10%
Fox (10) 662.5 12.70%
Buena Vista (12) 628.2 12.10%
Sony (13) 597.9 11.50%
Universal (12) 452.3 8.70%
Lionsgate (7) 237.4 4.60%
Fox Searchlight (6) 194 3.70%
Summit (7) 147.2 2.80%
Focus (5) 99.6 1.90%
Paramount Vantage (2) 52.4 1.00%
MGM (3) 42.3 0.80%
Miramax (5) 39.1 0.80%
Weinstein Co. (6) 34.5 0.70%
Overture (3) 27.1 0.50%
Other * (151) 80.2 1.50%
* none greater than 0.35% 5205.8 100%
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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