MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Law Abiding Wild Thing

The weekend surprise was not the estimated $32.6 million grossed by Where the Wild Things Are that led ticker sales but the torrid $21.4 million debut of the legal thriller Law Abiding Citizen, which had high end expectations of a $15 million bow. The session’s third national launch generated a respectable $12.2 million for the remake of The Stepfather.

The frame also saw a spate of limited and exclusive bows including OK results of $383,000 for the omnibus New York, I Love You at 119 venues and $142,000 for the spoofish Black Dynamite from 70 retro houses. Neither of the new entries on the Bollywood circuit — Main Aur Mrs. Khanna andAll the Best — displayed much strength nor the majority of incoming exclusives with the exception of Chilean import The Maid that arrived with $17,100 from a Manhattan solo.

But the sum of all tears provided a significant box office boost from last weekend as well as the comparable frame of 2008.

The adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s beloved 1964 kid lit classic Where the Wild Things Are had long been anticipated as a major release and an easy box office champion. However, its expected skew toward a family audience proved incorrect. Exit polls revealed that families comprised half the audience with 43% of sales credited to patrons older than 18 years old. How quickly the studio can reconfigure an ad campaign will become clear around Wednesday. The picture’s 145 Imax engagements accounted for almost 10% of the gross with an estimated $3.1 million.

The Jamie Foxx-Gerard Butler thriller Law Abiding Citizen was largely viewed as programmer fodder and buyer’s response and buzz exceeded initial tracking. Still it faces the challenge of maintaining a profile as the flow of fall releases continues in the coming weeks.

Weekend sales should pull up just shy of $140 million and score an impressive 28% hike from seven days back. It was also an eye-popping 40% better than last year when the launch of Max Payne led the field with a $17.6 million gross and freshmen entries The Secret Life of Bees and W. each added $10.5 million to the aggregate.

The frame also saw some impressive expansions including the imperiled to be over-hyped Paranormal Activity. But the verdict remains so far so good in terms of audience appreciation as its limited wide exposure maintained close to a $26,000 theater average. Also holding their own were the widening but still limited A Serious Man and An Education.

Meanwhile losing traction or peaking early appears to be the fate of such early award season favorites as Bright Star, Capitalism: A Love Story and the basketball saga More Than a Game.

by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: October 16 – 18, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (avg) % change Theaters Cume
Where the Wild Things Are WB 32.6 (8,730) New 3735 32.6
Law Abiding Citizen Overture 21.4 (7,400) New 2889 21.4
Paranormal Activity Par 19.7 (25,950) 150% 760 33.3
Couples Retreat Uni 17.9 (5,950) -48% 3009 63.3
The Stepfather Sony 12.2 (4,450) New 2734 12.2
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Sony 8.0 (2,640) -30% 3037 108.2
Zombieland Sony 7.7 (2,440) -48% 3171 60.7
Toy Story 1 & 2 (3D) BV 3.0 (2.040) -62% 1467 28.5
The Invention of Lying WB 1.9 (1,180) -43% 1624 15.5
Surrogates BV 1.9 (800) -56% 2326 36.3
Whip It Fox Searchlight 1.5 (930) -48% 1582 11.3
Capitalism: A Love Story Overture 1.4 (1,440) -46% 991 11.6
The Informant! WB 1.0 (800) -56% 1228 31.8
Fame MGM .91 (590) -64% 1555 21.8
A Serious Man Focus .84 (10,240) 83% 82 1.9
I Can Do Bad All By Myself Lionsgate .58 (720) -62% 807 51.4
Love Happens Uni .57 (550) -61% 1043 22.4
Coco Before Chanel Alliance/Sony Class .43 (4,350) -8% 99 2.3
Bright Star Apparition .41 (1,390) -34% 295 3.5
Good Hair Roadside Attraction .39 (2,110) -62% 186 1.7
New York, I Love You Vivendi .38 (3,220) New 119 0.38
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $133.10
% Change (Last Year) 40%
% Change (Last Week) 28%
Also debuting/expanding
An Education Sony Classics .24 (12,740) 52% 19 0.48
More Than a Game Lionsgate .21 (1,950) 65% 107 0.61
Blue Viva Ent. .21 (3,780) New 55 0.21
Black Dynamite Apparition .14 (2,030) New 70 0.14
The Boys Are Back Miramax .15 (1,510) -15% 101 0.56
Main Aur Mrs. Khanna UTV .10 (1,840) New 53 0.1
All the Best Yash Raj 78,300 (1,420) New 55 0.08
Opa! Cindigm 57,600 (230) New 250 0.06
The Maid Elephant Eye 17,100 (17,100) New 1 0.02
Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story Salient 7,300 (7,300) New 1 0.01
The Janky Promoters Weinstein Co. 5,380 (240) New 22 0.01
The Ministers Maya 2,220 (1,110) New 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share: To October 15, 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross Mrkt Share
Warner Bros. (28) 1631.7 19.90%
Paramount (14) 1348.4 16.40%
Sony (18) 1075.4 13.10%
Fox (15) 963.1 11.70%
Buena Vista (18) 961.1 11.70%
Universal (18) 748.2 9.10%
Lionsgate (11) 309.2 3.80%
Fox Searchlight (10) 245.2 3.00%
Weinstein Co. (8) 185.8 2.30%
Summit (9) 177.8 2.20%
Focus (8) 144.9 1.80%
Paramount Vantage (4) 67.6 0.80%
MGM (4) 63.2 0.80%
Miramax (7) 52.6 0.60%
Overture (6) 48.4 0.60%
Other * (258) 180.8 2.20%
* none greater than 0.4% 8203.4 100.00%

Top Global Grossers – January 1 – October 1, 2009

Title Distributor (releases) Gross (millions)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince WB 939,170,821
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Fox 874,475,356
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Par 832,853,278
Up BV 506,756,659
Angels & Demons Sony 486,350,865
The Hangover WB 460,777,025
Night at the Museum 2 Fox 412,152,472
Star Trek Par 384,953,618
Monsters vs. Aliens Par 381,132,686
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fox 371,840,331
Terminator Salvation WB/Sony 371,719,162
Slumdog Millionaire * Fox Searchlight 357,237,152
Fast & Furious Uni 349,491,760
The Proposal BV 303,711,993
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Par 297,673,977
Curious Case of Benjamin Button * Par/WB 276,124,938
Gran Torino * WB 268,526,915
Inglourious Basterds Weinstein/Uni 248,791,398
G-Force BV 210,760,707
Public Enemies Uni 196,364,789
Knowing Summit 185,845,792
* 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