MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Green Moon, Emerald Moon


Twilight: New Moon set a clutch of records as it rocked weekend movie going with an estimated $141.6 million debut. It was the biggest fourth quarter debut of ALL-TIME. In what ranks as the second biggest grossing weekend box office EVER, there was also a potent second place bow for the inspirational race drama The Blind Side of $33.8 million and an OK $12.3 launch for the animated comedy Planet 51.

The frame was also busy with award season openers including a heady $104,000 for Spain’s Broken Embraces on two screens and an impressive $263,000 first salvo for the re-imagined Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans from 27 exposures. China’s Red Cliff bowed with $12,300 at two venues and The Sun from Russia scored $11,900 from a Manhattan solo. Kurbaan, the latest from Bollywood, was also good with $281,000 on the circuit.

Overall business boomed with smiles aplenty from distribution and exhibition sectors.

Anticipation was certainly high for the first sequel in the vampire lust saga Twilight. However, no one expected New Moon to hit stratospheric heights even after it scored a record $26 million from its midnight screenings on Friday. Following an all-time opening day gross of about $45 million pundits expected biz to drop about $10 million but it held up with a $43 million tally and the rest is history.

New Moon ranks as the third largest box office debut behind summer releases Spider-Man 3 and The Dark Knight. International estimates were also impressive with $118 million expected from 25 territories including $19 million in the U.K., Australia with $14.5 million, Spain adding $13.5 million and $7 million in Mexico.

The Twilight 2 tidal wave largely subsumed the dynamic bow of The Blind Side, a complex real-life inspired tale of a black youth adopted by a white couple and his struggle to ascend in pro football. Its ability to sustain the onslaught in view of a significant shared demographic with New Moon makes it all the more remarkable and not simply a successful counter-programmer.

Planet 51 was no better than OK with the family crowd exacting caution in light of recent disappointments targeted at parents and kids.

Overall box office should bust $255 million; just shy of the record $260 million achieved mid-July 2008 when The Dark Knight was the debuting juggernaut. It was an 86% improvement from last weekend and 58% better than last year when Twilight bowed to $69.6 million (New Moon’s Friday was $72.7 million with Midnights) and freshman Bolt ranked third with $26.7 million.

Domestic box office passed $9 billion Thursday and at that point was running 6.5% better than the pace set in 2008.

On the awards beat Precious continued to be the season’s improbable popular success with the addition of 455 playdates and an unbowed $17,460 theater average. The session also had good but hardly vigorous expansions for An Education and The Messenger as they position for placement on voting lists. And though unlikely to be a prize contender, Law Abiding Citizen passed $70 million, surpassing all initial box office expectations.
by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: November 20-22, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (avg) % change Theaters Cume
Twilight: New Moon Summit 141.6 (35,200) New 4024 141.6
The Blind Side WB 33.8 (10,870) New 3110 33.8
2012 Sony 26.2 (7,680) -60% 3408 107.9
Planet 51 Sony 12.3 (4,050) New 3035 12.3
A Christmas Carol BV 12.1 (3,380) -46% 3578 79.7
Precious Lionsgate 11.0 (17,460) 87% 629 21.4
The Men Who Stare at Goats Overture 2.7 (1,320) -54% 2056 27.6
Couples Retreat Uni 1.9 (1,090) -55% 1712 104.9
The Fourth Kind Uni 1.7 (1,040) -63% 1648 23.3
Law Abiding Citizen Overture 1.6 (1,180) -59% 1327 70
This is It Sony 1.5 (930) -70% 1640 70.2
Pirate Radio Focus 1.4 (1,620) -51% 883 25.1
Paranormal Activity Par 1.3 (700) -67% 1902 106
An Education Sony Classics .84 (2,710) 27% 311 4.3
Where the Wild Things Are WB .63 (620) -74% 1010 74.6
The Boondock Saints II Apparition .52 (2,540) -49% 205 3.5
The Box WB .51 (530) -84% 965 14.5
A Serious Man Focus .42 (2,130) -36% 198 7.4
Astro Boy Summit .38 (530) -78% 724 18.6
Kurbaan UTV .28 (3,330) 83 0.28
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $251.60
% Change (Last Year) 58%
% Change (Last Week) 86%
Also debuting/expanding
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans First Look .26 (9,590) New 27 0.26
Fantastic Mr. Fox Fox .20 (49,500) -26% 4 0.46
The Messenger Oscilloscope .12 (4,030) 166% 29 0.17
Broken Embraces Sony Classics .10 (52,100) New 2 0.1
Red Cliff Magnolia 12,300 (6,150) New 2 0.01
The Sun Koch Lorber 11,900 (11,900) New 1 0.01
Mammoth IFC 4,400 (4,400) New 1 0.01
M. Hulot’s Holiday (reissue) Janus 4,300 (4,300) New 1 0.01
Defamation First Run 4,100 (1,370) New 3 0.01

Domestic Market Share: To November 19, 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross Mrkt Share
Warner Bros. (30) 1730.9 19.20%
Paramount (14) 1440.7 16.00%
Sony (21) 1300.1 14.40%
Buena Vista (20) 1040.2 11.50%
Fox (16) 965.3 10.70%
Universal (20) 841.2 9.30%
Lionsgate (13) 348.9 3.90%
Fox Searchlight (12) 262.1 2.90%
Summit (10) 197.7 2.20%
Weinstein Co. (8) 188.1 2.10%
Focus (10) 155.3 1.70%
Overture (8) 146.2 1.60%
Paramount Vantage (4) 67.6 0.80%
MGM (4) 64.7 0.70%
Miramax (7) 53.1 0.60%
Other * (294) 211.6 2.40%
* none greater than 0.4% 9013.7 100.00%
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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