MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

I Want to Live ’til Monday

A trio of new titles couldn’t catch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs for the weekend box office crown. Cloudy was hardly overcast as it dipped a modest 20% in its sophomore session to gross an estimated $24.4 million.

But it was disappointing returns for the freshman class. The science-fiction thriller Surrogatesranked second with $14.7 million and a slot behind the resurrected Fame clocked in with $10 million. Further down the list Pandorum was lost in space with $4.3 million.

Regional and niche activity proved to be more buoyant. In Canada, the big screen sequel to the TV hit The Trailer Park Boys raised significant laughs of $1.4 million and in Quebec Coco Before Chanel contributed about half of the North American box office of $340,000. On the Bollywood circuit there was OK response of $163,000 for What’s Your Raashee? At 77 sites.

Exclusives were dominated by a rousing $58,000 per screen for Michael Moore’s provocativeCapitalism: A Love Story at four venues. There were also initial signs of strength for the dramaThe Boys are Back of $48,700 from six screens and the spooky Paranormal Activity raised $85,300 at a dozen specialized sites. Also notably was the $21,700 Manhattan exclusive of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

Still, the alternative stream couldn’t stave off overall box office downturns.

Tracking had anticipated roughly a $20 million bow for Surrogates and the stylish marketing and intriguing premise appeared to be raising audience interest. However, there was some concern that ad images might be confused for a fashion or perfume promotion and the b.o. result suggest that there may have been some mixed messages.

Similarly Fame had some advance predictions at $15 million on the high side. And while the film displayed core appeal with a younger, female demo, there was limited response from the generation that remembered the 1980 original or its television spinoff.

The session also featured 502 Saturday sneaks for the upcoming distaff roller derby opus Whip It. It also attracted younger women and studio exits indicated an encouraging 65% overall capacity. Also of note, the latest Harry Potter crossed $300 million domestically.

Weekend revenues pushed toward $95 million that translated into a 7% erosion from the prior weekend. It was a slighter steeper 8% drop from 2008 when debuts of Eagle Eye and Nights in Rodanthe led with respective tallies of $29.1 million and $13.4 million.

The spectacular if limited first blush for Capitalism might just bear out that Michael Moore’s partisan political tilt fares better when examining the aftermath of catastrophe rather than getting into the fray as his prior effort Sicko did on health care. Regardless, he remains the rare bird as the preeminent non-fiction commercial dynamo.

by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: September 25-27, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (avg) % change Theaters Cume
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Sony 24.4 (7,820) -20% 3119 59.8
Surrogates BV 14.7 (4,990) New 2951 14.7
Fame MGM 10.0 (3,220) New 3096 10
The Informant! WB 6.6 (2,530) -37% 2505 20.7
I Can Do Bad All By Myself Lionsgate 4.7 (2,220) -52% 2120 44.5
Love Happens Uni 4.3 (2,260) -47% 1898 14.7
Pandorum Overture 4.3 (1,710) New 2506 4.3
Jennifer’s Body Fox 3.3 (1,210) -52% 2738 12.1
9 Focus 2.8 (1,370) -50% 2025 27.1
Inglourious Basterds Weinstein Co. 2.6 (1,320) -32% 1960 114.3
All About Steve Fox 2.2 (1,120) -35% 1965 29.8
Trailer Park Boys 2 Alliance 1.4 (6,980) New 202 1.4
The Final Destination WB 1.4 (1,160) -43% 1175 64.6
Julie & Julia Sony 1.2 (900) -38% 1328 90.5
District 9 Sony 1.1 (1,150) -45% 925 113.5
Sorority Row Summit 1.0 (660) -60% 1523 10.6
G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra Par .70 (780) -49% 895 147.3
Bright Star Apparition .66 (5,090) 248% 130 0.95
The Time Traveler’s Wife WB .53 (650) -48% 810 61.7
Gamer Lionsgate .51 (650) -64% 780 20.1
The Hangover WB .44 (1,240) -6% 355 274.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $88.40
% Change (Last Year) -8%
% Change (Last Week) -7%
Also debuting/expanding
(500) Days of Summer Fox Searchlight .36 (880) -44% 414 31.6
I Hope They Serve Beer in Heaven FreeStyle .35 (2,900) New 120 0.35
Coco Before Chanel Alliance/Sony Class .34 (8,670) New 39 0.34
My One and Only FreeStyle .27 (1,060) -3% 256 1.9
Capitalism: A Love Story Overture .23 (58,010) New 4 0.3
What’s Your Raashee? UTV .16 (2,120) New 77 0.15
Paris IFC .12 (3,970) 164% 31 0.19
Paranormal Activity Par 94,200 (7,850) New 12 0.09
The Boys Are Back Miramax 48,700 (8,120) New 6 0.05
The Providence Effect Slow Hand 29,300 (2,090) New 14 0.3
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men IFC 21,700 (21,700) New 1 0.02
The Blue Tooth Virgin Regent 2,240 (1,120) New 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share: To September 17, 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross Mrkt Share
Warner Bros. (27) 1592.2 20.40%
Paramount (13) 1331.5 17.10%
Sony (17) 951.1 12.20%
Fox (15) 948.9 12.20%
Buena Vista (16) 898.1 11.50%
Universal (17) 691.2 8.90%
Lionsgate (10) 296.8 3.80%
Fox Searchlight (9) 234.3 3.00%
Weinstein Co. (8) 177.9 2.30%
Summit (9) 175.5 2.30%
Focus (8) 137.1 1.80%
Paramount Vantage (4) 67.5 0.90%
Miramax (6) 51.8 0.70%
MGM (3) 42.3 0.50%
Other * (237) 187.9 2.40%
* none greater than 0.4% 7784.1 100.00%

Top Limited Releases – January 1 – September 24, 2009

Title Distributor (releases) Gross (millions)
The Wrestler * Fox Searchlight 25,068,864
Under the Sea 3D WB 17,528,485
Milk * Focus 17,246,974
The Hurt Locker Summit 12,441,192
Sunshine Cleaning Overture 12,062,558
Away We Go Focus 9,552,776
Du Pere en flic Alliance 8,874,944
Whatever Works Sony Classics 5,280,054
Deep Sea 3-D WB/Imax 5,261,884
Moon Sony Classics 4,843,670
Entre les murs (The Class) Sony Classics 3,766,810
The Brothers Bloom Summit 3,531,756
Two Lovers Magnolia 3,149,034
Magnificent Desolation * Imax 2,808,748
Cheri Mrmx 2,715,657
Rachel Getting Married * Sony Classics 2,696,170
Easy Virtue Sony Class/Alliance 2,653,621
Sin Nombre Focus 2,536,665
Space Station * Imax 2,534,006
* 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