MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

The Game’s Afoot

T.S. Elliott be damned, the movie going world is finishing the year not with a whimper but a bang. The fortuitous Friday positioning of Christmas proved to be a nice asset with the weekend generating close to $275 million in ticket sales that establishes a new three-day weekend record.

Avatar once again took bragging rights with an estimated $73.7 million that was no more than a flutter off its opening weekend. Sherlock Holmes scored an impressive $62.6 million and the Chipmunks Squeakquel ranked third with a peep less than $50 million and a five-day gross of $76.4 million.

There was a solid $22 million launch for the adult rom-comIt’s Complicated and 3 Idiots had one of the biggest debuts for a Bollywood film in North America with a five-day box office of $1.5 million. Also buoyant was the limited bow of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus that generated $422,000 from 145 venues and limited expansions of both A Single Man and The Young Victoria held well.

Up in the Air expanded wide and maintained a flight worthy $6,080 average while Crazy Heart added just a few gigs and maintained the applause. Virtually the only sour note in this otherwise viewing love fest was the national launch of Ninethat mustered up $5.4 million to rank eighth in the lineup with a not terribly encouraging $3,840 engagement average.

by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: December 25-27, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (averag % change Theaters Cume
Avatar Fox 73.7 (21,330) -4% 3456 212.5
Sherlock Holmes WB 62.6 (17,270) New 3626 62.6
Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squea Fox 49.9 (13,490) New 3700 76.4
It’s Complicated Uni 22.0 (7,630) New 2887 22
The Blind Side WB 11.6 (4,190) 15% 2766 184.3
Up in the Air Par 11.5 (6,080) 259% 1895 24.2
The Princess and the Frog BV 8.7 (2,510) -28% 3475 63.4
Nine Weinstein Co. 5.4 (3,840) 2112% 1412 5.8
Did You Hear About the Morgans? Sony 5.1 (1,890) -23% 2718 15.7
Invictus WB 4.2 (1,950) 0% 2160 23.2
Twilight: New Moon Summit 2.8 (1,770) -36% 1593 280.7
A Christmas Carol BV 1.3 (1,060) -62% 1245 135.9
Brothers Lions Gate 1.2 (1,430) -57% 858 25.4
3 Idiots Big Pictures 1.0 (8,500) 120 1.5
2012 Sony 1.0 (1,210) -56% 800 161.5
Precious Lions Gate .79 (1,2600 -34% 629 41.7
The Young Victoria Apparition/Allian .69 (3,600) 63% 192 1.2
Old Dogs BV .62 (960) -74% 645 45.8
The Road Weinstein Co. .43 (1,390) -34% 311 5.9
Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus E1/Sony Classi .42 (29,200) New 145 0.42
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $264.10
% Change (Last Year) 34%
% Change (Last Week) 96%
Also debuting/expanding
A Single Man Weinstein Co. .33 (7,130) 139% 46 0.9
Crazy Heart Fox Searchlight .16 (13,170) 90% 12 0.32
Millennium II Alliance .15 (3,350) 46 0.15
Police, Adjective IFC 17,700 (2,530) 7 0.02

Domestic Market Share: To December 17, 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross (in milli Market Share
Warner Bros. (33) 1937.3 19.60%
Paramount (15) 1448.7 14.60%
Sony (22) 1428.2 14.40%
Buena Vista (22) 1174.7 11.90%
Fox (16) 981.9 9.90%
Universal (20) 849.5 8.60%
Summit (11) 468.9 4.70%
Lions Gate (14) 397.3 4.00%
Fox Searchlight (12) 262.9 2.70%
Weinstein Co. (10) 193.1 2.00%
Focus (10) 161.2 1.60%
Overture (8) 157.2 1.60%
Paramount Vantage (4) 67.6 0.70%
MGM (4) 64.8 0.70%
Miramax (8) 61.3 0.60%
Other * (319) 239.7 2.40%
* none greater than 0.4% 9894.3 100.00%

Top Domestic Releases – To December 20, 2009

Title Distributor Gross
Transformers: Revenge of the Falle Par 402,195,608
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Pri WB 301,959,197
Up BV 293,283,811
The Hangover WB 277,334,275
The Twilight Saga: New Moon Summit 274,598,319
Star Trek Par 257,807,784
Monsters vs. Aliens Par 198,377,900
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Fox 196,624,037
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fox 179,883,157
Night at the Museum 2 Fox 177,245,443
The Blind Side WB 164,725,525
The Proposal BV 163,958,031
2012 Sony 159,028,696
Fast & Furious Uni 155,239,768
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Par 150,329,089
Paul Blart: Mall Cop Sony 146,777,505
Taken Fox 145,000,989
Gran Torino * WB 142,251,852
Angels & Demons Sony 133,859,408
A Christmas Carol BV 130,813,354
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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