MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady


A modicum of laughter propelled Funny People to the top of the weekend box office chart with an estimated $23.2 million. The frame also saw a complete miss for the family targeted Aliens in the Attic of $7.7 million and an OK $3.3 million for the thriller The Collector.

The session also included a flood of specialized fare including sturdy bows for Love Aaj Kal of $702,000 on the Bollywood circuit and a $323,000 tally for Les Doigts Croches in the Quebec marketplace. Limited openers also had strong initial forays with the oddball romance Adam grossing $68,100; Korean vampire yarn Thirst biting into $56,200 and non-fiction dolphin expose The Coveflipping $55,300. Each of the trio bowed on four screens while Cannes-prized Lorna’s Silencegrossed $33,700 from six venues.

Still the glut couldn’t stave off summer’s viewing attrition with box office experiencing significant declines from both last weekend and last year.

While Funny People was being positioned as a comedy, the reality was a more sober-sided yarn of comics with tsoris. Exit polls also revealed that the film was drawing in a primarily young male audience rather than what was perceived as a broader appeal picture. Business dropped 15% from opening day and some invoked the newly coined “twitter” effect as a factor keeping it from opening to more than $30 million.

There wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for Aliens in the Attic especially with both G-Force and the latestHarry Potter still potent box office attractions. HP6 finally launched its Imax playdates and the 166 large format venues accounted for about $3.2 million (18%) of its weekend earnings.

Buoyed more by word-of-mouth than marketing The Collector generated a respectable return. One can well understand the reluctance of a small distributor to compete against the seasonal behemoths but there’s also the inevitability that a perfunctory ad buy will leave millions on the floor.

Weekend box office shrank to about $125 million for an 18% decline from last weekend. It was a slightly steeper 19% behind 2008 when the third weekend of The Dark Knight edged out the debut of The Mummy sequel with $42.7 million to the latter’s $40.5 million.

To date summer 2009 has generated revenues of roughly $3.2 billion and the current weekend results have put it behind last year at this point by 0.5%. G.I. Joe can’t come too soon or too big.

One largely unseen summer success story is taking place in Quebec where the local action-comedyDe Pere en flic has grossed more than $6 million – the first indigenous blockbuster since Bon Cop, Bad Cop in 2006. That venue has also seen a couple of other Canuck films do well in the current hot season as well as the Swedish nail-biter import Millennium.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: July 31 – August 2, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (averag % change Theater Cume
Funny People Uni 23.3 (7,770) 3007 23.2
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Pr WB 17.6 (4,010) -40% 4393 255.4
G-Force BV 17.2 (4,650) -46% 3697 66.6
The Ugly Truth Sony 12.8 (4,430) -54% 2882 54.2
Aliens in the Attic Fox 7.7 (2,490) 3106 7.7
The Orphan WB 7.2 (2,610) -44% 2750 26.7
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Fox 5.2 (1,900) -38% 2757 181.8
The Hangover WB 5.0 (2,040) -22% 2071 255.7
The Proposal BV 4.8 (1,970) -25% 2435 148.8
Transformers: Revenge of the Fall Par 4.6 (1,740) -44% 2626 388.1
The Collector FreeStyle 3.3 (2,510) 1325 3.3
(500) Days of Summer Fox Searchlight 2.7 (10,300) 67% 266 6.8
Public Enemies Uni 2.3 (1,430) -47% 1620 93
The Hurt Locker Summit 1.8 (3,520) 28% 523 6.7
Up BV 1.1 (1,500) -35% 726 286
Bruno Uni .88 (1,180) -59% 747 59.1
Love Aaj Kal Eros .70 (6,890) 102 0.7
My Sister’s Keeper WB .66 (1,010) -51% 656 46.7
Du Pere en flic Alliance .63 (9,520) -26% 105 6.4
Night at the Museum 2 Fox .53 (1,520) -19% 349 174
The Taking of Pelham 123 Sony .35 (1,010) -28% 348 64.4
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $120.00
% Change (Last Year) -19%
% Change (Last Week) -19%
Also debuting/expanding
Les Doigts Croches Alliance .32 (4,970) 65 0.32
In the Loop IFC .26 (8,160) 36% 32 0.54
Moon Sony Classics .24 (1,280) -38% 188 3.9
Away We Go Focus .15 (1,050) -48% 142 9.2
Fifty Dead Men Walking TVA 68,820 (3,130) 22 0.07
Adam Searchlight 68,100 (17,020) 4 0.07
Thirst Focus 56,200 (14,050) 4 0.06
The Cove Roadside Attrac 55,300 (13,820) 4 0.06
Lorna’s Silence Sony Classics 33,700 (5,620) 6 0.03
Flame & Citron IFC 10,400 (5,200) 2 0.01
Gotta Dance Dramatic Force 7,300 (7,300) 1 0.01
You, the Living Palisades 5,900 (5,900) 1 0.01
Not Quite Hollywood Magnolia 4,400 (4,400) 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – July 30, 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (23) 1312.9 20.50%
Paramount (12) 1162.5 18.20%
Fox (12) 864.7 13.50%
Buena Vista (13) 788.6 12.30%
Sony (14) 663.5 10.40%
Universal (14) 605.2 9.50%
Lions Gate (7) 237.4 3.70%
Fox Searchlight (7) 198.5 3.10%
Summit (7) 152.3 2.40%
Focus (5) 104.5 1.60%
Paramount Vantage (2) 52.4 0.80%
MGM (3) 42.3 0.70%
Miramax (5) 41.1 0.70%
Weinstein Co. (6) 34.5 0.50%
Other * (172) 133.4 2.10%
* none greater than 0.45% 6393.8 100%
Medea Goes to Jail Lions Gate 91,092,583
* does not include 2008 box office

Top Domestic Grosses: January 1 – July 30, 2009

Title Distributor Gross
Transformers: Revenge of the Fall Par 383,500,991
Up BV 284,878,665
Star Trek Par 254,334,469
The Hangover WB 250,696,417
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Pr WB 237,762,860
Monsters vs. Aliens Par 197,895,942
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fox 179,556,048
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Fox 176,542,789
Night at the Museum 2 Fox 173,454,677
Fast & Furious Uni 155,206,768
Paul Blart: Mall Cop Sony 146,777,505
Taken Fox 145,000,989
The Proposal BV 144,033,677
Gran Torino * WB 142,251,852
Angels & Demons Sony 133,185,462
Terminator Salvation WB 124,182,894
Slumdog Millionaire * Fox Searchlight 119,092,566
Watchmen WB 107,599,799
He’s Just Not That Into You WB 93,953,653
Medea Goes to Jail Lions Gate 91,092,583
* 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

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~ David Simon