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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Klady (A1)

It’s the fifth best day ever in December. The only better days were opening day and the first Saturday of LOTR: Return of The King and the opening and Saturday of I Am Legend.
This suggests that Avatar may “only” do $68 million this weekend. Horrors. And will the snow that is shutting down theaters on the east coast be an issue? A marginal one… but a few million in ticket sales in this situation can make a difference in perception.
The next key is today, as Legend went down a tick on Saturday, but Narnia and Rings have a history of going up on Saturday. What will Avatar do? We’ll know when we know.
The Princess & The Frog was clearly hurt by the Avatar opening.
Did You Hear About The Morgans? was a bust waiting to happen. Sony bailed on the premise of the movie about a week ago, pushing from the “War of The Roses softened by being forced together” campaign to a classic rom-com about two fish out of water. Unfortunately, neither star is really an opener on their own. They are both strong names and faces in the right vehicle with the right partner.
Twilight still has some juice and though it won’t catch The Hangover this weekend to become #4 for the year, it probably will be next weekend.
On the awards front, Invictus is in a bit of danger of looking like a weak box office sister in the Oscar race. The issue of box office success, which has also come up around pictures like The Hurt Locker. The difference is that Invictus is a wide release and Hurt never got past 535 screens. The opening of Nine on 4 screens, given the massive push by Weinstein, is fine, but not significant. Expect them to string things out on as few screens as possible to avoid box office danger alarms after taking a scalding in the press this week. As you can see, awards groups are still vulnerable to the craft of the film and the mighty team of actors. Too bad the movie doesn’t come together.
And though neither is considered much of a threat for Best Picture, but legit candidates for acting, Crazy Heart and The Young Victoria came out of the gate soft. Ironically, the box office for Heart is probably going to be found in non-awards areas, like the South, where Searchlight can find the country audience, if they don’t get too wrapped up chasing Jeff Bridges’ Oscar.

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71 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady (A1)”

  1. Joe Leydon says:

    Somewhere today, IO is weeping, screaming, and shaking his fist at the heavens.

  2. movieman says:

    Wow. What a shitty opening day figure for “Morgans”!
    For what it’s worth, I’m a little stunned by the savagery of the reviews. Yeah, it’s fairly middling overall, but I was surprised at how generally affable/palatable it was. And for my money, “Morgans” is vastly superior to Marc Lawrence’s last Hugh Grant
    romcom (“Music and Lyrics”), if only because SJ Parker is a far more age-appropriate, and credible, screen partner than Drew Barrymore was.
    It was also nice seeing Elisabeth (“Mad Men”) Moss in a contemporary role/setting for a change. Her romantic subplot was one of the nicest things here.
    Also kind of disappointed at how weakly “The Young Victoria” and “A Town Called Panic” opened. It’s probably best not to read too much into that boff “Nine” figure. The true test (which I’m guessing it’ll probably flunk) will come when it goes wide Xmas Day.

  3. mutinyco says:

    So what’s the verdict? When Sully (Remember when I promised to kill you last?) bangs the blue chick while in the Na’ive body, does that count as bestiality?…

  4. EthanG says:

    Disney continues to eat it. ACC also really suffered the “Avatar” takeover of screens. Thursday it was up 12% week-over-wekk. Friday it was down 45% week-over-week. It looks like it’ll end up in the same range as “GI Joe” after all is said and done. Not the failure I thought it would be, but certainly not worth what it cost to make..
    Frog is running about on par with “Prince of Egypt,” but cost a ton more to make. The problem all along with this film is its lack of quadrants. Little boys aren’t going to want to see a movie called “Princess and the Frog.” Beauty and the Beast had the Beast, and “Pocahontas” was a timeless tale.

  5. torpid bunny says:

    If you have to be a connoisseur of Hugh Grant rom-coms to appreciate the movie…
    “generally affable/palatable” -movieman
    You make it sound like a bagel.
    For my part I’d be amused if someone were as publicly disdainful of that movie as they are of a certain spectaculaire. Like, franticly, openly hating on it.
    I confess, being forced to watch large amounts of HGTV, Discovery, Discovery Health (whipped, in other words), I have seen a good number of ads for “Morgans”. My reaction was slight disgust uneasily shading into willed forgetting. I mean, jesus, our country is in a terrible recession, the globe will cook while well paid sophists and their eager dupes deny their lying eyes, a huge percentage of our national consumption is dedicated to war and occupation in foreign lands, and you want me to give a shit about some paint-by numbers baby-scat sub-cosmo programmer, a Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle? I mean, nothing against her but fuck you just no.

  6. movieman says:

    Gee, Bunny.
    I’ve never eaten an “affable” bagel before, although I have had my share of “palatable” ones. Which, come to think of it, is probably why I ate them. If they’d been even remotely “unpalatable,” I would have spit it out after taking one bite.
    All joshing aside, “Morgans” isn’t nearly the unwatchable trainwreck that everyone and their sister is claiming it is.
    There have been lots of truly rancid-or-worse romcoms this year: “The Ugly Truth,” “Bride Wars,” “Post Grad,” “Couples Retreat,” et al, but this Parker/Grant pairing ain’t one of them.
    Speaking of ghastly-looking romcoms, the trailer for Sony’s upcoming “Bounty Hunter” might have made me lose my lunch if I’d actually eaten lunch that day. I love Jen Aniston and don’t think Andy Tennant is a complete hack, but Gerard frigging Butler!? Aren’t his 15 minutes up by now? Why the hell does he continue getting cast as “Americans” when he can’t fake a Yank accent to save his Scottish ass? I can think of at least 20 homegrown actors and one Irishman (Colin Farrell) who would have been infinitely preferable to Butler costarring with Aniston in a romantic comedy “by the director of ‘Hitch.'”
    If Butler stinks up yet another movie (on the heels of “Law Abiding Citizen,” “Gamer” and “Ugly Truth”), I’m liable to forget I ever liked him in “RocknRolla,” “Dear Frankie” and, yep, “300.”

  7. Che sucks says:

    Looks like “Invictus” is definitely a flop. I guess audiences didn’t go for the Hallmark tv movie meets rugby match formula. Shocker.
    Movieman, right on about Butler. When my wife made me endure “Ugly Truth” back in the summer, the only thing that kept me from complete boredom was the amusement of Butler’s American accent consisting mostly of growling. He makes Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep cockney seem Streep-esque.

  8. Bodhizefa says:

    Am I the only one who thinks Avatar is not going to get $400 million? I actually think it’s going to be moderately lucky to hit $300 million. Am I insane?
    Also, I enjoyed the movie, but I definitely didn’t think it was as amazing as some of the critical responses I’ve read. It was ultra predictable, the characters were poorly-done riffs off of old films for the most part, and even some of the action scenes seemed blas

  9. IOIOIOI says:

    The least intuitive motherfuckers are right here… AT THE HOT BLOG! Joe, it’s going to do what I pretty much stated it would do. It’s a three-hour movie. Someone once stated that proclaiming a three-hour movie as being anywhere near 2nd ALL-TIME GROSSER as looney. I guess times have change. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts.
    1) James Horner’s score rules. I immediately came home and bought it off of Itunes. Why? It’s a classy score.
    2) Leonna Lewis can sing, but she deserves better than a 21st HEART WILL GO ON.
    3) Zoe Saldana should get a fucking Oscar. Neytiri is the highlight of the movie to me. She’s simply amazing. If one virtua-performance has to break the ceiling. I hope it’s her’s.
    4) Cameron is an asshole for one reason and one reason in particular: HE GAVE ME A HEADACHE! A three hour 3d movie with those glasses on, and I feel like shit for another two hours. If anything is viral. It will be; “Hey, cool movie, but it gave me a fucking headache.”
    5) It’s Last Samurai in space.
    6) It’s also Braveheart/Independence Day in space.
    7) It’s another movie about the military/public contractors being uninformed morons. Yes, Blackwater, KBR, and Haliburton exist, but this is a BUSINESS MISSION! Nothing is worse for business than killing the kids!
    8) Oh yeah, Eywa, is pretty much the same technology Dr. Augustine came up with, but it’s more final. If that’s not fucking convenient. I have no idea what its.
    9) Here’s my big beef: THE WHITE GUY SAVES THE DAY! Why is it that these indigenous people NEED THE WHITE MAN? It’s not that the ending is right out of the Last Samurai, and that they get it accomplished by ripping off two films, but the FUCKING WHITE GUY SAVES THE DAY! If I were a brother or sister of colour. I would ask myself; “How is it the white guy always gets to live? How is it that the white guy gets to fix everything all the time? It’s bad enough we get killed in fucking HORROUR MOVIES ALL THE DAMN TIME, but NOW IN THESE TYPES OF GENRE FILMS! REALLY? COME ON!”
    10) I give it three and a half stars. It’s good for what it is, but it’s a story we have seen at least 10 times in this decade. It’s well told, it’s beautifully shot, but it’s NOTHING NEW in terms of storytelling. Thank goodness for Sam and Zoe elevating this movie, and Sigourney Weaver being as awesome as she has always been.

  10. Dr Wally says:

    “She’s simply amazing. If one virtua-performance has to break the ceiling. I hope it’s her’s.”
    Brad Pitt was nominated last year for a performance that was around 60% CGI – i think that was the breakthrough you’re looking for.
    I agree with many of your points, though. The movie could easily lose about ten minutes of the Eywa / ethical stuff. Frankly, when Ribisi’s character rolls his eyes and snorts “What the hell have you people been smoking out there? It’s a TREE!” it’s hard not to have sympathy.
    Imagine if Cameron made Aliens today – we’d get a whole stretch of the Second Act given over to the characters debating whether or not it’s morally right to exterminate a sentient species that threatens the human colony, rather than just carrying on blasting seven shades of crap out of the beasties. Speaking of which – anyone know why Bill Paxton isn’t in this movie?

  11. Eric says:

    IOI, just wanted to give you some props for giving a fair shake to the movie that you’ve been trashing for a look time. Well done.
    I saw it last night and am bothered somewhat in retrospect by the Na’vi cultural stuff and the underdeveloped characters. But as I was watching it, I was just stunned by the action. It simply felt like something I’d never seen before.

  12. Eric says:

    (look time = long time)

  13. doug r says:

    Did everyone’s IQs go down in the last 23 years? Ripley clearly states the Alien species is not indigenous.
    Therefore, no qualms about exterminating it off the planet.

  14. The Pope says:

    Your complaint that the “white guy” saves the day is risible. How do you know for sure that the Na’vi are not the “whites” of Pandora? But more to the point: the point is that the white guy changes. He looks within himself and sees that he has more in common with “the other” than he does with his own people. Sully, like Dunbar in Dances With Wolves, like Lawrence on his camel in Arabia, like Cruise in Crouching Tom, Running Tom, sorry Last Samurai… they all change. That is the point. That is why the mythology is so strong and resonant. It illustrates the transcendental. And that is powerful. Don’t believe me? Well, look at Titanic when Rose changes from a miserable spoiled rich girl to a self-reliant, emotionally liberated, modern woman.

  15. torpid bunny says:

    movieman-no offense is meant. I was being hyperbolic. I fully support your right to two hour bagel of grant and parker.
    James Horner is awesome. His score for the New World was one of the best I’ve ever heard.

  16. jeffmcm says:

    IOI, the highest domestic-grossing movie of all time is 3 hours 14 minutes. #2 is 2:33. Not sure what point you thought you were making.

  17. IOIOIOI says:

    Jeff, if you paid attention to this blog instead of antagonized it. You would get the point. There have been discussion in here for the last six years about run time and how that effects the gross in this day and age. Poland, if I remember correctly, pointed this out from time to time. So that’s what I was referring to, and there’s no reason to be jerky. Oh yeah #1 the real one and the modern one are flukes of what they are. The #2s all time are more sensible terms of run times to make a lot of cash. Again, we have had this discussion in here. I am not shitting you.
    Eric, I liked the cultural stuff more than the action. The action is very video game like, and that’s where I have seen it before. Not that the fx are video game like, but I have been in crazy aerial battles before, and it’s never been about the movie. It’s always been about someone’s reaction to that movie, and my response to that reaction.
    Pope, I get the moral, but it does not change the fact that the WHITE GUY SAVES THE DAY. It just bugs me. We can disagree, that’s cool.

  18. mutinyco says:

    Wait. You LIKED Horner’s score? Damn. Midway through I almost walked out to buy earplugs so I could peacefully watch the remainder is silence.

  19. Nicol D says:

    So Nikki Finke is putting the high end estimate for Avatar on the weekend for 80 million. DP says the low end is 68. Neither is bad.
    On the high end, that puts Avatar with slightly less than X-Men Origins Wolverine, Attack of the Clones and The Passion.
    On the low end it is in line with Twilight, Finding Nemo and The Bourne Ultimatum. There are plenty of films in between.
    For those that think Avatar will be number 2 of all time, or even crest 300 million, how do you arrive at that conclusion? Do you just think it will perform as a true outlier based on word of mouth? Is it really that simple for you?
    “I actually think it’s going to be moderately lucky to hit $300 million. Am I insane?”
    Nope. Based on history and the numbers I am with you. Avatar doesn’t get to 300 million and if it does it barely crests.

  20. David Poland says:

    I guess you don’t care for those pesky little facts I have been rolling out all week, Nicol. You are selecting history without regard to the details.
    You aren’t looking at originals or films without a big built-in core, like Twilight or Nemo.
    You are comparing Summer numbers to December numbers.
    And you know… you could be right. Only 4 movies have opened in December and cracked $300 million domestic. It is distinctly possible that Avatar will open bigger than all of those titles. But that really is a minor consideration. Huge openings do not assure numbers over $300 million… even three of the $100m+ openers have failed to get to $300m.
    History does not show that Avatar needed a bigger number than this to get to $400 million domestic or more. (Note: The #2 thing is worldwide, not domestic. I have never suggested that Avatar would beat Dark Knight domestically.) But getting there would make it a unique proposition indeed.
    But mid-December openings do have a degree of propulsion that other periods don’t have. The weekdays are bigger… even more so than summer. Even at $68m for the 3-day, $200m by the end of the holiday is pretty much assured. But it could be a lot closer to $300m. And that is when the word of mouth issues really kick in.
    And internationally, where I have predicted $700m to $800m, that would be its greater challenge, as $700m international has only been done twice. But I think the film is built for massive international numbers. Jurassic did $560m 16 years ago. Avatar can do $700m.
    Maybe it won’t happen. You could be right. The film could stall out at $800 million worldwide.
    And you know, I have been wrong about movies’ box office before too.

  21. IOIOIOI says:

    Okay. Number 2 all-time international? Huh. I totally missed that, and I apologize to you for my reaction.

  22. Nicol D says:

    As with IO…that Number two international vs. domestic did not seem clear. Much more doable. I think it was because you seem to be using the domestic number to guage it. That’s what threw me.
    I do not however think Cameron is Spielberg with Jurassic Park. Unlike you, I do think inflation must be taken into account and also the higher ticket prices for Avatar. Especially when looking at its opening numbers.
    Domestically I find it hard to believe the film will crest 300.
    Looking at the top international films it would have to beat not only The Dark Knight but Johnny Depp in Dead Man’s Chest, the final Lord of the Rings and a bunch of Harry Potters. Doable…but without a star and a concept that is well known…possible…but
    Word of mouth will determine.
    I will have a better idea myself tomorrow.

  23. Geoff says:

    I think we’re getting way ahead of ourselves, here – the big monkey wrench in this could be Sherlock Holmes, which could ALSO clean up internationally.
    That said, I think Fox is going to push the numbers for this weekend just over Star Trek for ego’s sake and I can see this also doing just over Trek numbers for total domestic – many will write that off as disappoininting, but a very respectable $275 million or so.
    Overseas, there’s no reason this can’t just exceed what 2012 has done, probably over $615 million.
    So total worldwide gross could exceed $900 million – Fox will make profit, Cameron will save face, but no game changer. And let’s face it, besides Titanic, there will be no other worldwide gross that won’t be a sequel or major adaption – the only other ones would be Potter’s, Pirates, LOTR’s, Jurassic Park, and The Dark Knight. So there ya go….not bad for a true orginal. (at least in name)

  24. Nicol D says:

    Exactly. Avatar will be a hit and in the long run nobody will lose their shirt.
    The problem seems to be that the detractors want Cameron to “LOSE HIS SHIRT” while his supporters want it to be “THE BIGGEST FILM IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA”.
    The probability is neither is going to happen.
    Most likely it will perform like a garden variety blockbuster that gets mixed word of mouth.
    And like I said in a post the other day, the true battle that Avatar will have to live up to is…does it stand up in 2D on DVD on a 27 inch screen in 6 months.
    Three years from now, that is what will count. The story, the acting and the theme. On a long enough timeline, all this 3D IMAX talk is just that, talk.
    Cameron’s other films all hold up regardless of format. I am a fan. That will be the true test.

  25. Geoff says:

    Nicol D, you got it – many folks on this blog will be loathe to admit it, but no 2010 film will likely be as profitable as New Moon. That film is looking at $700 million worldwide on a budget of $50 million – Dave, please, if you have numbers to show otherwise, please share them…..

  26. EthanG says:

    “New Moon” will be the second most profitable film of the year, behind “Ice Age 3”

  27. Geoff says:

    You might be right, EthanG – almost $900 million worldwide on a budget of $90 million? Pretty impressive. However, it seems that just about every major CGI animated film costs well over $100 million, nowadays – is that budget number accurate?

  28. EOTW says:

    I think AVATAR is going to benefit from WOM. It will havel ong legs. Yes, there are problems with the story but the EXPERIENCE more than makes up for it. I am looking forward to a 2nd, 3td viewing ASAP.

  29. Nicol D says:

    On some level, Ice Age 3 earing this much kinda shuts down the argument on a films historical worth being determined by international box office.
    Does – anyone – think this film will be remembered in 18 months?
    I am sure, internationally McDonald’s earns more than the average domestic quality beef producer….but…
    I do find it fascinating that during the 80’s and early 90’s when the argument was made that action films by Stallone or Van Damme or Seagal earned more internationally than domestic, it was seen as a sign of unsophistication by international markets. Now that films like Avatar are seen to do the same…crix want it seen as a mark of honour.

  30. IOIOIOI says:

    EOTW, the experience is grand, but the three hours of time with the damn glasses on your head is not. So how does one overcome the other?

  31. Geoff says:

    Nicol D, great points, tonight, and I was never saying it was a mark of quality, but just true business success – I am also finding that many (Dave, especially) just trot out the overseas guff when you want to diminish the success of a film that you are railing against….a la The Dark Knight or Star Trek.
    And what people also forget is that the overseas stuff can be fudged heavily, is not always reliable when it comes to true American dollar value, and it’s not always crystal clear how much return comes from each territory….domestic gross is probably still the purest and standardized measure of success. Reminds of that bullshit that the Weinsteins pulled earlier this year with The Reader – they were proclaiming that it hasd broken “$100 Million Worldwide!” when the thing had not even broken $90 million, yet.

  32. brack says:

    I’m glad Avatar is opening well. I think word of mouth will be strong for this. I don’t get what was weak about the story, other than the fact that, yes, it has been told before. But never like this, and never so awesomely. And am I the only one who doesn’t really care if this blows me away on a 2D, 27 inch screen? Does anyone think Star Wars is as mind-blowing on the small screen as it is the big screen? I most certainly hope not.

  33. Nicol D says:

    “Does anyone think Star Wars is as mind-blowing on the small screen as it is the big screen? I most certainly hope not.”
    No…but it holds up as a mythic story. The characters are rich and the mythology timeless.
    It is wonderful metaphor and adventure.
    Let’s not take Star Wars for granted. It is a classic. If in 32 years Avatar has spawned the culture Star Wars has then cool. But until then…there is no comparison.

  34. brack says:

    I’m simply talking about the effect it has from big screen to small screen. Bringing in its significance in popular culture was not what I was talking about, which honestly has nothing to do with the cinematic experience.

  35. IOIOIOI says:

    Brack, yes it did. It made me run out of my house to tell people that I had Star Wars on my TV. This still ranks as one of my fave movie experiences because the kids looked at me as if I were crazy for needing Star Wars on My TV, at 6:48 on a Friday night.

  36. anghus says:

    im still trying to process people saying Sigourney Weaver was anything other than awful in Avatar. I found her performance awkward, forced, and rather ridiculous.
    I still can’t figure out how people don’t out and out say “James Cameron ripped off the following movies…”
    Do we give Cameron a pass because he’s so damn driven and talented. Do we not point out the movies he obviously cribbed plot points and concepts from? Does he get the kind of consideration that someone like Michael Bay or Brett Ratner wouldn’t? Avatar is a technical marvel with a patchwork story pulled from a half dozen places.
    An IO, i didn’t experience any headaches, but i often will take the glasses off for 30 seconds every half an hour or so. I didn’t find any of it disorienting.

  37. LYT says:

    “I still can’t figure out how people don’t out and out say “James Cameron ripped off the following movies…””
    They do. Have you seriously not heard the Dances With Wolves comparison five bajillion times yet?

  38. leahnz says:

    “Do we give Cameron a pass because he’s so damn driven and talented.”
    who is ‘we’? giving someone a pass implies that deep down we really didn’t like a piece of work but we just delude ourselves that we do because we like the artist’s other work. did it occur to you that just because you don’t like the movie, others do? that they aren’t actually deluding themselves, they just happen to dig something you didn’t? that you aren’t the arbiter of quality or what is or isn’t ‘good’? personally i don’t give cameron a pass on anything, i rather loathe ‘true lies’ and certainly don’t feel inclined to let it slide because he’s the director
    “Do we not point out the movies he obviously cribbed plot points and concepts from?”
    what LYT said, are you deaf and blind? i’ve yet so see anything about ‘avatar’ that doesn’t make some kind of analogy, usually several. every movie cribs concepts and plot points from other movies that cribbed concepts and plot points from movies before that; nothing is new, it’s how you do it that counts. avatar is a hash of archetypes & tropes that have been rehashed and retold in various forms since year dot.
    “Does he get the kind of consideration that someone like Michael Bay or Brett Ratner wouldn’t?
    well yeah, because one is the real deal while the other two are dolts

  39. The Pope says:

    No one should have expected a screenplay one that would break the mold by way of narrative strategies, diegesis and all those other things that would have rendered it too challenging for the target audience (the movie has to make its money back: Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marien-pandora?).
    But my real point is that Cameron, like hundreds of authors, painters, sculptors and composers, he has his preoccupations and concerns, and just like them he examines them through variation. No one really complains about other artists reprising earlier motifs: Renoir said a director just remakes the same movie over and over. I am always amused (and amazed) that cinema appears to be the only medium in which absolute originality is an absolute must absolutely all of the time.

  40. jeffmcm says:

    I didn’t want the movie to be some Tarantinian model of narrative complexity or deconstruction. I just wish I hadn’t been able to predict almost every story beat from the trailer. I didn’t even see the trailer that many times, either.
    On the other hand, I very much liked Sigourney Weaver in the movie.

  41. LexG says:

    I liked the movie, but… man… I agree with something jeffmcm said in another thread.
    For what felt like THE longest movie of all time, it seemed like whole reels were missing; The reels that would “show instead of tell” that the romance between Worthington and Saldana was one for the ages. The way JC kept cutting back to the un-avatar’d Worthington back at the base made it feel like weeks and months were going by in lame montage. Dances With Wolves seemed to unfold in believably real time; Here Saldana’s kind of on his nutsack from first sight. UNLIKE Titanic, there’s no sense of development of the relationship via circumstance, passion, emotion, or excitement. Likewise, say what you will about Billy Zane in TITANIC, but that old chestnut here about Saldana being promised to the CHIEF WARLORD is basically worthless since WE NEVER GET TO KNOW THE GUY AT ALL.
    Honestly, it would take an extra 40-50 minutes of interaction to make us care AT ALL about the central romance, or the relationships amongst the natives, DWW style. Cameron, Poland, Leah, and anyone else who thinks WOMEN are gonna fall for the “love story”? I wish you the best, I ultimately liked the movie, but compared to Reese and Sarah Connor? To Jack and Rose? To Ed Harris and Poodle Hairstantonio?
    Christ, Shia and The Fox have a MUCH more engaging “love story.” ALI/PUBLIC ENEMIES-style Mann wouldn’t skimp on transition scenes like Cameron does here.
    And politically? A coproduction of Michael Moore and Karl Marx wouldn’t be more aggressively Communist, MOTHER EARTH-WORSHIPPY and, yes, off-putting to probably 50% of the country than the un-subtle politics here. I’m entirely APOLITICAL, but the Palin America will hate this movie the fury of a TRILLION SUNS.

  42. leahnz says:

    wow, so your an expert on women now, lex? the guy who NEVER even TALKS to a SINGLE WOMAN for YEARS on end, seemingly observing them only in the 7-11 getting your TV dinners after work?
    so because YOU didn’t find the romance between jake and neytiri compelling, GIRLS WON’T! (are you a girl now? now that would be amusing)
    “Here Saldana’s kind of on his nutsack from first sight. UNLIKE Titanic, there’s no sense of development of the relationship via circumstance, passion, emotion, or excitement.”
    did you black out for much of the movie? about 1/3 of the story is dedicated solely to the development of their relationship via doing all manner of cool and horrendous shit together whereby their reluctant teacher/student relationship blossoms into love. perhaps you are too emotionally stunted to recognise the signs, perhaps they are too subtle for you, but they’re there. if you don’t feel it between jake and neytiri, fair enough, but extrapolating from that that women aren’t gonna fall for the love story is one hell of an assumption (and also refutable anecdotally, with many of the reviews by female critics commenting on the power of the love story as helping to define the film and give it heart)

  43. christian says:

    “but the Palin America will hate this movie the fury of a TRILLION SUNS.”
    Good. They already have TRUE LIES. This one’s for the dirty hippies.

  44. LexG says:

    Leah, no need to make digs… I have been unabashed here in the past about the awesomeness of “Titanic”; I don’t care if its detractors find it corny or “puppy love”; It’s a simple, relatable, moving love story where you feel every moment of Rose’s pain and her predicament, and root on the central duo through the force of their engaging performances.
    I didn’t dislike the romance here, I just thought it was given kind of short shrift, competing with many other elements. And this might just be a personal mental lapse, but the idea of “avatars” kind of detracts; As in The Matrix (and, yes, Gamer and Surrogates), with this plot there’s a certain dissonance where the “avatar” just feels like a puppet or “IM chat box” that can be unplugged at any minute, and we’re back to Sam in a chamber or bald Keanu with a wire in the back of his skull.
    I liked some of the small moments in the forests (especially the cheesy-to-some, awesome-to-me Tangerine Dream/Legend-y synth)… but the montages of Saldana (see, I can’t even remember her name in the movie)… showing him “how to do stuff” just seemed to breeze along in between cuts back to the lab. The flying sequence was beautiful, and their big night in the Tree of Souls (or whatever it was called?) was suitably romantic… I loved the last big action scene where she and the non-Na’Vi Worthington are face to face… But it seemed a lot of “telling not showing” where every moment didn’t feel as “earned” as it did in “Terminator” or “Titanic.”
    I kinda kept wanting Worthington to ditch all this Na’Vi shit and notice SMOKINGLY SEXY Michelle Rodriguez in her awesome tank top, and the two of them could go fly off together and just let Ribisi and Lang take the forest.
    Basically I liked it, loved parts of it, but didn’t enjoy the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO preaching, and felt there were too many jumps in time and narrative shortcuts. It feels almost painfully long in spots as it is, but WHOLE REELS seem to be missing.
    I actually don’t know if the 3D helps to smooth these cracks. It might be that you’re so focused on this or that “cool” trick that sometimes the tinier character moments or expository dialogue SAILS over your head. I spent most of the first half-hour, as apparently jeffmcm did, wondering what the deal was with Worthington’s backstory; You’re so focused on that AWESOME shot of him coming out of cryo that you kind of gloss over, like, what he’s saying about his brother or what his deal is.

  45. Avatar is, perhaps, the only movie of its kind to have people complaining that its story is unoriginal. Duh. 99% of movies are unoriginal in some form, so what’s so different here?
    I agree with IO that Saldana is fantastic. I think she’s even better than Andy Serkis in The Two Towers (also a perf that should have been Oscar nominated).

  46. Chucky in Jersey says:

    The East Coast blizzard is NOT a marginal issue. Four of the top 10 TV markets are affected — Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Boston. New York is also the biggest moviegoing market. A snowstorm that delays two NFL games will definitely put a dent in overall box office.
    Warner Bros. took the Parents Television Council logo off the ads for “The Blind Side”. It’s way too late — WB is in bed with a batch of modern-day McCarthyites.
    The real test for “Avatar” will be between 12/25 and 1/3.

  47. Geoff says:

    Nikki Finke is reporting that Saturday was about even with Friday for Avatar, about $25 million, leading to an estimated $72 million weekend – pretty good and no doubt that the East Coast storm cost it a few million. I have friends out in the DC area and Philly who were saying they have seen over a foot of snow – no one is going to the movies in those markets.
    It probably could have broken $80 million this weekend, without a storm, but that’s always the risk you run in the winter – Fox chose to hold this over from the summer.
    Now a big question will be if they left money on the table, this weekend, as a result – I’m not sure, next weekend will tell the tale. This thing has to clear $45 or $50 million in its second weekend, but can it do that against Sherlock Holmes? I’m almost expecting Holmes to gross that much, too – is there room on Christmas weekend for two $50 million grossers???

  48. Geoff says:

    And another key question – which movie is Fox spending more on for marketing/advertising this week – Chipmunks or Avatar? I’m sure they want to give a big Christmas push to Avatar, but they have to launch the “Squeakquel” too – tough decisions, I’m sure.

  49. Martin S says:

    Chucky’s right. 16 inches in DC, on one day, is not marginal. The airport shutdowns have a countrywide ripple effect through Monday.
    As for “no story is original”…People are forgetting the arm twisting that went on with the exhibitors to upgrade for 3D and most of it was predicated on Avatar. Several years ago, IMAX was supposed to run hog wild and devour the exhibition landscape. That didn’t happen. Around the release of Solaris, Cameron started banging the 3D drum. We’re nowhere near wide accessibility. So defenders can walk it back – Cameron never said this, Fox says Real-D – but it goes against the bulk of what Cameron has worked towards and advocated for the past decade. The guy had no interest in making just another movie and said as much during Ghosts of The Abyss and other publicity. He wanted Avatar to be a theatrical game-changer and it’s not, due to events beyond his control. Without it, the story is more focal.

  50. EthanG says:

    “You might be right, EthanG – almost $900 million worldwide on a budget of $90 million? Pretty impressive. However, it seems that just about every major CGI animated film costs well over $100 million, nowadays – is that budget number accurate?”
    While Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks’ budgets have increased steadily, other studios have managed to consistently stay at 100 million or below. “Horton Hears a Who” had the same supposed budget as Ice Age 3. And Even if IA3 cost $125 million to make, and “New Moon” hits 700 million worldwide, IA3 still is more profitable by virtue of the respective P&A budgets.

  51. IOIOIOI says:
    Viral word of mouth, INDEED!

  52. Martin S says:

    Lex – ALI/PUBLIC ENEMIES-style Mann wouldn’t skimp on transition scenes like Cameron does here.
    That’s interesting to bring up Mann. I felt Cameron would have been better served to crib Mohicans. With Sully as Hawkeye and his going native open knowledge on the ship, it would have made Rodriguez the love interest and played to his strong suit of tough female leads.

  53. The Big Perm says:

    Originality is overrated. You see a Picasso, you know what it is instantly. I can’t imagine Drunken Master 2 if Jackie Chan decided to break the mold and in the end have them sucessfully broker a peace arrangement instead of fighting for 20 minutes.

  54. brack says:

    Complaining about Avatar being unoriginal would be like complaining how Star Wars rips off Kurosowa. Pointless.

  55. IOIOIOI says:

    Brack, no, that’s wrong. Star Wars is archetypal. Avatar is a movie straight up similar to Dance with Wolves and The Last Samurai. There is no denying those similarities, but keep on loving a movie this much. It’s good for you.

  56. brack says:

    No actually, I’m quite right. Lucas has said it many times that he borrowed from other films, specifically The Hidden Fortress for the first Star Wars film. So what if the story is similar? That doesn’t make it a rip off, no matter how much you want to suggest it is. This wasn’t a white guy infiltrating. The Na’vi were rightfully fooled, given the avatar angle.

  57. The Big Perm says:

    No, Star Wars is a rip off of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Sure it’s also an archetypal story…but you you think Dances With Wolves and Last Samurai were the first times those stories were told? What about John Smith and Pocahontus?

  58. IOIOIOI says:

    Brack, there is a difference between inspiration and straight jacking a similar story. It’s a similar story. If you are defending rational, then please go watch The Last Samurai or Dances With Wolves or the other movies from this decade with that premise. It’s nothing new, and that does not help it in my mind.
    Star Wars may have been inspired, but he created a new universe. Avatar is pretty much cobbled together from things we have seen before outside of it having a very similar narrative.

  59. The Big Perm says:

    IO, like how Lucas uses Nazi helmets to create Darth Vader and scenes from Kurosawa to create specific scenes or the spaceships like in countless serials and comics and Star Trek? Come on, Star Wars was only original because you hadn’t seen that type of story done in that way before.

  60. IOIOIOI says:

    Perm, again, I get what you are stating, but I see a difference between inspiration and homage, then similar narratives. It’s not that you and Brack are not making a point, but I see a difference.
    That aside, Vader’s helmet is not German inspired as much as similar to a helmet that existed at the time. I forget where they got the inspiration from, but it’s not entirely German related. I do know that Han’s gun came from a French air-pistol. So, yeah, we disagree, but that’s how it goes.

  61. brack says:

    IO – no one is saying it’s original, but what you’re defending as original isn’t either.

  62. IOIOIOI says:

    Perm, again, I get what you are stating, but I see a difference between inspiration and homage, then similar narratives. It’s not that you and Brack are not making a point, but I see a difference.
    That aside, Vader’s helmet is not German inspired as much as similar to a helmet that existed at the time. I forget where they got the inspiration from, but it’s not entirely German related. I do know that Han’s gun came from a French air-pistol. So, yeah, we disagree, but that’s how it goes.

  63. IOIOIOI says:

    Brack, it is original in terms of what it did. Slamming Star Wars for that, is just weird. Seriously, it’s Star Wars.

  64. IOIOIOI says:

    Oh yeah why exactly is Star Wars derivative? What’s derivative about it? It might not have been inspired by films and paid homage to them, but how is it derivative? Is it derivative of serials? You two feel the way we do, but SW is not derivative. It is it’s own thing. While Avatar clearly is not. Sorry.

  65. IOIOIOI says:

    Take that NOT out of there.

  66. The Big Perm says:

    It IS derivative of serials. Lucas even admits what he ripped off, why can’t you? It’s based on his love of serials. It has a total Saturday matinee serial plot. Specific scenes taken directly from The Searchers and a ton of other Westerns. Saving the kidnapped princess counts as an original story to you? Come on, man.

  67. leahnz says:

    save your breath, perm. it’s like trying to reason with a toddler

  68. jeffmcm says:

    “Vader’s helmet is not German inspired as much as similar to a helmet that existed at the time.”
    What time would that be? Was there a mini-moment of helmet-fashionability in the mid-70s? Or are you thinking of the helmet trands of A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away?
    Anyway, it’s part-Samurai helmet, because a lot of Lucas’s inspiration came from Kurosawa.

  69. jeffmcm says:

    ‘trends’, not ‘trands’.

  70. brack says:

    “Brack, it is original in terms of what it did. Slamming Star Wars for that, is just weird. Seriously, it’s Star Wars.”
    I wasn’t slamming Star Wars, just pointing out, as others have, that the STORY wasn’t original. There are original elements to Star Wars, and there are original elements to Avatar.

  71. Martin S says:

    The first Star Wars is a riff on Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe. I love the first one but after you seen Buster Crabb, it’s sort of mind blowing. Gary Kurtz has laid it out in a few interviews.
    Jeff’s right. Vader’s helmet is Samurai, including the basics of the face mask. I can’t access the book right now, but I’ve seen the suit.
    With Avatar, you have an amalgam of Cameron ideas molded onto a story told several times in big Hollywood productions. Star Wars is the opposite mainly because of what Perm said – Lucas was an unknown dealing with a dormant genre. In that way, Avatar suffers from the same problem as Phantom Menace – stripped-mined genres.

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