MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Sorry, Michael

Box office “actuals” have landed and the biggest overestimater… Capitalism: A Love Story. The studio estimate was $4.85m, the MCN estimate was $4.6m, and reality seems to be… $4.45m.
How significant is the weak Sunday?
Well, putting aside any Twitter Effect bullshit, the stat that’s key here is that the expansion to 962 screens actually did less business than Sicko‘s expansion to 441 screens. (The gross there was $4.5m.)
Again, great for a doc… not so great for a Michael Moore movie.
Sicko never had a better weekend than that expansion, even with two increases in theater count. And given that they are already at 962, I don’t expect the film to ever go any wider… and I expect the drops to be modest… but still, in the high 30s and low 40s from here in.
This is one of those cases in which the studio – Overture here – did their job. They bought the ads. They got Michael to do all the press he would do. There just is no proposition in this film that demands that people go out to the movie theater, no matter how much Michael Moore demands that people attend. it joins films like Funny People, The Soloist, The Informant!, and (500) Days of Summer and The Time Traveler’s Wife, which actually found the audience that really wanted to see them… but couldn’t entice anyone else to join in the enthusiasm. Sometimes, that’s just the answer. Sometimes, the niche can’t be expanded very much.
I look forward to Michael’s future films. I remind him, truth is funnier than fiction. My top suggestion would be to do a deal with HBO for a year, delivering one 1 hour Michael Moore film a quarter. Loosen it up. Gamble a bit. Stop trying to change the world and just think about changing one mind, making one person laugh hard, exposing one terrible truth. There is no one better to do it. But you have to stop being MICHAEL MOORE and get back to be Mike.

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22 Responses to “Sorry, Michael”

  1. NV says:

    you mean Overture, not Ovation

  2. martin says:

    I dunno, 4.5 mill opening seems pretty good to me for Capitalism. I know others will say the expectations were higher, and that it had significant marketing for a doc. But I feel like the audience is so polarized on Moore these days, and at least for me since F911 every film has been another retread of things he’s done in the past. From Roger and Me to F911 is one original after another, I even liked The Big One. And admittedly, I have not seen Capitalism or Sicko. These may well be very good films. But the hype around Moore has become too politicized, I found his films to be much more exciting when he was a grassroots guy trying to get out to a larger audience. Now he’s mainstream like McDonalds, and his films feel like just bigger budget and less personal retreads of his earlier efforts. Again, that may not be the case, but that’s my perception and I suspect many others. It just feels like we’re getting “Michael Moore’s thoughts on Health Care” or “Michael Moore’s thoughts on Capitalism”, kind of dry. Whereas the personal element, whether on a book tour, or the economic problems in Detroit, or gun control and Columbine… Smaller = better, at least for me. Bigger = blander.

  3. LexG says:


  4. Aris P says:

    When all you hear about every single day is recession, unemployment, job loss, banks, Madoff, 12%, sub-prime mortgage, executive bonus, Geitner, credit default swap bal abla bla abla bla…. you DO NOT want to see a movie about it. Only the die-hard, true-blue liberal pinkos will see it, followed by a glass of wine with their friends in their brownstones.
    Period. End of story.

  5. I agree with Aris only minus the snark. I think anyone who “cares” and pays attention is sooooo newsed out these days. I mean, MSNBC, Daily Show, Bill Maher and Air America have filled the liberal outrage void over the yearsand it’s made me less interested in what Moore has to say.
    I’m all for a powerful, inspiring doc but Moore had his time and we get that fix elsewhere. Usually while enjoying red wine in friends’ brownstones.

  6. Rodrigo says:

    OK David. Everybody has their perspective, their angle, blah blah blah, but your box office beat has been really wacked lately. Your weekend recap brushed off “Paranormal Activity,” which saw its per-screen average jump from $6,000-range to $16,000 from first frame to the second. Not unprecedented, technically, but it’s happened maybe half a dozen times and only to B.O. phenoms like Blair Witch and Greek Wedding. You obviously know this kind of data — you MUST, right?
    How, then, to explain your inexplicable effort to brush Paranormal off as having no momentum to take off, as “impressive and irrelevant at the same time,” despite the clearest possible evidence to the contrary.
    “But the notion that this film is going to turn into a bigger phenom seems less and less likely each week.” WHAT?! How do you connect the dots here? “Less and less,” explictly implying a decline, “each week.” It’s been two weekends, marked by literally phenomenal uptick in awareness and attendance, but I guess you round up, so maybe the figures are diminished when spread over the “each week” model.
    (500)Days also broke out, not to Juno’s stratosphere or even Little Miss Sunshine, but those movies had much broader appeal and room to expand to families and Middle America. There’s a hipster ceiling, Dave, and Summer hit the top.
    So “Capitalism” overestimated by $400 K…what gives? Happens every weekend, and portends nothing much. I agree with your niche argument about Moore here, but you neglect to mention the diminishing returns that parallel the general public’s tolerance for obnoxious displays of egomania as part-and-parcel with political activism. Was anybody really expecting a movie called “Capitalism: A Love Story,” or any Michael Moore movie for that matter, to hit the box office sweet spot right now? At least you give “Ovation” their due props.
    We’re in the middle of a recession, Dave. People will look this shit up for you; better yet, there are thousands of journalism school grads who might pick up a beat or two without charge. If you really can’t cobble together a simple fact-check (or quick brain scan to ask yourself if Ovation sounds right) before hitting Post, I’m happy to work for free.

  7. IOIOIOI says:

    Rodrigo: this fucking blog sucks. Not the content, not the people, but the blog itself is out of date shit. It lacks a fucking EDIT FUNCTION! Seriously… A FUCKING EDIT FUNCTION, that David and I can both use.
    So, hate on the man if you want, but it’s not his fault he cannot afford people to update this blog to 2010 tech. Until this blog stops being white, red, and black. It will lead to the occasional typo after the occasional typo.

  8. David Poland says:

    Rodrigo… not really sure what you are on about…
    You want me to wet my pants about Paranormal Activity? I have congratulated Paramount. And there is no indication that this is Blair Witch or Greek Wedding.
    First, for all your ranting about my factual accuracy, neither Blair Witch or Greek Wedding ever had any per-screen variation anything like this one. The 3-day per-screen on Greek never once was over $7000 and never went up by more that $1000 or so from one weekend to another. BW had a small (by %) uptick in its second weekend per-screen and then steadily dropped like every other movie.
    The 2 films are also apples & oranges, as Blair Witch was played out after 10 weeks and 10 weeks in, Greek Wedding hadn’t hit 10% of its eventual domestic total.
    Sorry about throwing facts at someone who seems unarmed with anything but passion.
    As clever as PA’s all-Midnight gambit was this weekend, it also spoke quite specifically to the core audience that is interested in the film. I don’t have any reason to believe that the film would have done 4x that gross (as BW did) if it were in a full release in those markets.
    And do you know about a Time Magazine cover on the way (though it is much, much less valuable now) that I don’t know about?
    I actually told a marketing colleague over dinner tonight that Paramount’s work on this film was incredible. But big picture, do I see a $48 million week on the horizon? No. Do I see a $48m total domestic on this film? No.
    Do you?
    As for (500) Weeks, you are making the same point as I did… what’s pissing you off?
    You have an opinion about Capitalism? Great. What’s pissing you off about me having one?
    Thanks for the condescending bullshit, Rodrigo. But you’ll actually have to make a better argument than me making a dumb error as I was running out of the door to make it stick.
    P.S. – Free help is almost always worth what you pay for it.
    P.S.S. IO, the reason the software upgrade hasn’t happened is because the big ass company that bought our server company won’t service the newest Movable Type upgrades. We are considering a move.

  9. LYT says:

    Consider moving to WordPress. I just did. Took my webmaster a couple weeks, in his free time, working for free…but he did one hell of a job. Everything’s much more optimizied for traffic, sharing, comments, links, what have you. Moving the blog archives took the longest.

  10. LexG says:

    Bad timing. Aris P said it above, basically likening it to the spate of Iraq movies that NO ONE wants to go see. Too close to home, too in the news every second.
    Plus, really, taking on CAPITALISM? Aside from the pinko Christian types out there, that’s a pretty hard sell, as even THE POOREST PEOPLE IN AMERICA are banking on getting rich and don’t wanna hear that they’re gonna have to “share the pot” with anyone else.
    Basically, the vast MAJORITY of the country, despite all the crises and scandals, still agrees that CAPITALISM IS AWESOME. And the timing is terrible. It must have seemed like a Zeitgeist slam dunk, but Moore didn’t prepare for the Republican SHOCK AND AWE campaign that’s the turned the pervasive “Palin and teabaggers” mood in this country further right than the Bush II 1st term salad days. Who’d have thought that not even a year removed from the economic fallout and the thrill of a change in leadership, we’d be even MORE right-leaning than… maybe ever?
    I’m generally apolitical, but really, you gotta give grudging props to the Republicans for one-track MANIA in playing to their base and setting the dialogue even WHEN THEY CONTROL NOTHING. Maher is right… Democrats are GIANT PUSSIES, who always take some figurative high road that GETS THEM NOWHERE.
    Even Moore, for such a lunatic bloward, is ultimately kinda wishy-washy and touchy-feely. Like it or not, America is pretty much a yee-haw football nation where the goal is to pummel your adversaries AND spike a ball in their face. How are you going to combat THAT? Moore couldn’t even come up with a viable alternative to the status quo when grilled. As a result, even to those in the choir nodding like trained seals, there strangely didn’t seem like any urgency to this one.

  11. loyal says:

    Though I enjoyed Capitalism: A Love Story, I felt it was a bit unfocused and not angry enough. I know its been said but had Sicko been released now, I think the impact would have been much greater.
    All things said, Capitalism has already outgrossed Food Inc (2009’s top grossing non concert non wildlife documentary) and last year’s Best Documentary winner Man on Wire.
    Capitalism sits at #19 on the all-time top grossing doc list and should eventually give Michael 4 films in the top 10 and 3 films in the top 5. An amazing feat.

  12. Kelby says:

    hey Rodrigo, cool off on DAVID! If you want facts and boring logic go and read another blog like variety or nytimes.

  13. Between The Cove and Food Inc, I’m seriously considering cutting back on my meat intake. I don’t have the strength to go full veggie (I love a good filet too much), but I think I’ll be omitting the meat-for-meat’s sake meals.

  14. IOIOIOI says:

    Thanks for the heads up David. Here’s the the hot blog entering the 21st century as soon as possible!

  15. LexG says:

    Maybe if this dude just got more chicks he’d calm down and stop WHINING ABOUT HIS COUNTRY. Jesus Christ, this is America, where a RICH FILM DIRECTOR can CONTROL WOMEN. Moore needs to just seize on that BLISSFUL FACT OF CAPITALISM and stop worrying about all the poor people that he can just avoid.
    If he made a doc where he says, FUCK ALL THIS LIBERAL ACTIVISM, I’M-A STUFF SOME CLAM, then took his camera crew around to show him convincing L.A.-10 starfuckers that they should do him just because he’s famous? I would see that shit 10 TRILLION TIMES and never leave the theater.
    As soon as I get famous, I’m going to pitch a reality show or feature doc filming me going around banging at LEAST 13 new, different women every single day.

  16. martin says:

    Jenna and Me, in which he investigates the dark and seedy business dealings of Vivid Pictures and the recent closure of a unionized ClubJenna, which has resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs in the San Fernando Valley. Michael has to go deep undercover, balls deep in fact, to get to truth here, which is as slippery as the KY jelly he rubs on his long black ‘microphone’ before each interview.

  17. James Rocchi says:

    Refresh my memory: What purpose do Lex’s one-note bellowed moments of idiocy add, exactly?

  18. martin says:

    Lex? He adds a bit of the old Clarence Carter vibe to this here blog:

  19. The Big Perm says:

    A show about Lex banging 13 women a day ain’t no reality show!

  20. LexG says:

    ^ Mad props where warranted: GOOD JOKE.

  21. IOIOIOI says:

    Lex banging chicks may be one of the more disgusting thoughts ever shared on this blog. Who wants to see a fucking chubby hairy smurf fucking chicks? That’s just disgusting!

Quote Unquotesee all »

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