MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

King of the Box Office

Avatar continued to fend off all contenders as b.o. champ with an estimated $54.1 million over the four-day Martin Luther King holiday stanza. Its closest rival was the incoming science-fiction allegory Book of Eli that racked up an impressive $38.3 million. The session’s other national debut was the Jackie Chan action comedy The Spy Next Door that grossed a disappointing $12.9 million that ranked it fifth in the lineup.

Also notable was the wide expansion of The Lovely Bones with a $20.5 million tally that surpassed expectations and breathes new life into the downbeat tale.

Niche and exclusive premieres included a buoyant $96,500 bow for The Last Station at three venues and a not too shabby $33,100 two-screen for British independent Fish Tank. However, Bollywood entry Chance Pe Dance withered on the vine with $116,300 from 68 circuit stops.

Overall box office expanded to about $209 million for a tidy 6% boost (3-day to 3-day) from last weekend. It nonetheless dipped by 11% from 2009 when the opening of Paul Blart: Mall Cop scored with $39.2 million. Last year’s other freshmen My Bloody Valentine, Notorious and Hotel for Dogs were closely packed with respective first laps of $24.1 million, $23.1 million and $22.9 million.

This time of year one expects some additional traction from the scrum of award contenders but that’s little in evidence apart from Avatar and the still limited exposure for Crazy Heart. Up in the Air is maintaining itself but the likes of such films as Invictus and Nine are approaching the exit door and efforts to theatrically re-launch The Hurt Locker have been met with indifference. Perhaps, the latter will experience a spike in interest with its imminent DVD launch.

Anticipation was high for Book of Eli with top end estimates of around $40 million and the hope of a sharper decline for the very resilient blue folk that might translate into king toppling status. Next weekend sees Tooth Fairy taking a shot by trying to replicate Dwayne Johnson’s past success at poking fun at his tough guy image. Still in light of Chan’s _ someone who’s always mixed comedy and action _ just fair results with The Spy Next Door, Avatar could well make it six weekends at the top and counting.

by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: January 15-18, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Avatar Fox 54.1 (16,460) -15% 3285 505.5
Book of Eli WB 38.3 (12,320) New 3111 38.33
The Lovely Bones Par 20.5 (7,990) 2563 20.9
Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Fox 15.2 (4,620) -30% 3296 196.3
The Spy Next Door Lions Gate 12.9 (4,420) 2924 12.9
Sherlock Holmes WB 11.6 (3,660) -41% 3173 181.8
It’s Complicated Uni 9.5 (3,570) -26% 2673 90.1
Leap Year Uni 7.0 (2,770) -36% 2512 18.7
The Blind Side WB 6.5 (2,720) -27% 2408 227.7
Up in the Air Par 6.5 (3,100) -24% 2107 63.9
Daybreakers Lions Gate 5.8 (2,290) -68% 2523 25
The Princess and the Frog BV 4.0 (2,240) -40% 1777 97.5
Youth in Revolt Weinstein Co. 3.5 (1,880) -57% 1873 12.7
Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus E1/Sony Classics 1.4 (2,280) -41% 606 6.1
The Young Victoria Apparition/Alliance 1.2 (2,740) -14% 449 7.1
Twilight: New Moon Summit 1.1 (1,530) -46% 724 292.4
Carmen Live Fathom 1.1 (3,300) New 332 1.1
A Single Man Weinstein Co. 1.0 (4,660) 136% 219 3.5
Invictus WB .95 (1,580) -53% 602 35.1
Crazy Heart Fox Searchlight .78 (16,600) 41% 47 2.2
Nine Weinstein Co. .67 (1,590) -64% 422 18.2
Broken Embraces Sony Classics .51 (2,520) 11% 202 3.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $203.90
% Change (Last Year) -11%
% Change (Last Week) 6%
Also debuting/expanding
Chance Pe Dance UTV .12 (1,710) 68 0.12
The White Ribbon Sony Classics .10 (8,500) 211% 12 0.3
The Last Station Sony Classics 96,500 (32,170) 3 0.13
Fish Tank IFC 33,100 (16,550) 2 0.03
High Life Union 11,800 (5,900) 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share: 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross (millions) Mkt Share % Change Rank ’09
1 Warner Bros. (34) 2099.1 19.70% 19% 1
2 Paramount (15) 1477.8 13.80% -6% 2
3 Sony (24) 1459.6 13.70% 14% 3
4 Fox (18) 1388.1 13.00% 37% 5
5 Buena Vista (22) 1233.1 11.60% 22% 6
6 Universal (21) 890.7 8.30% -20% 4
7 Summit (11) 483.9 4.50% 114% 8
8 Lions Gate (14) 407.8 3.80% -7% 7
9 Fox Searchlight (13) 263.4 2.50% 23% 9
10 Weinstein Co. (11) 205.8 1.90% 306% 17
11 Focus (10) 161.7 1.50% 16% 11
12 Overture (8) 157.8 1.50% 53% 12
13 Paramount Vantage (13) ** 67.6 0.60% -23% 13
14 MGM (17) 64.8 0.60% -60% 10
15 Miramax (8) 62.3 0.60% -24% 14
Other (316) 253.2 2.40% N/A
10676.7 100% 0%
Other Distributors
16 Sony Classics (20) 45.4 0.40% 11% 20
20 Apparition (4) * 16.2 0.15% N/A
*New Distributor
**Close distribution during 2009

Top Domestic Releases – To December 20, 2009

Title Distributor Gross
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Par 402,195,608
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 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