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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Klady – A Very Special Episode Of 227

Not much to say. Shutter has a nice hold off of a big opening, no matter what critics wrote. Somehow, it’s not surprising to people when big dumb movies survive the critics because audiences want to have fun. But when Scorsese has to be attacked for making an entertainment that also happens to blow the roof off of the craft in ways obvious and subtle… oh well.
Bruce Willis can still open a movie.
Horror-thrillers still open.
Avatar likely hits $700m domestic today… and $2.5b worldwide by the end of the weekend.
Nice and well-deserved opening for A Prophet (Un Prophet)… let’s hope it’s contagious.

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32 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady – A Very Special Episode Of 227”

  1. mutinyco says:

    I’ve started to consider that, in a sense, Shutter Island is akin to Minority Report. Both movies are paranoid thrillers inspired by ’40s/’50s noir, featuring a cop who’s motivated by the loss of a child/children and believes he’s being setup.
    Whereas Scorsese very much made his a homage to the earlier era, Spielberg used it as a launch pad to the future. In that respect, you can see their similarities and differences as filmmakers.
    Personally, I vastly prefer Minority Report.

  2. Geoff says:

    Good comparison, Mutiny – though I prefer Shutter because it didn’t have a cop-out ending.
    Speaking of Cop Out, doesn’t Tracey Morgan deserve as much credit for this opening? His bits dominated the ads and I guess he cculd be considered a new draw, at this point.

  3. marychan says:

    No opening BO result of “Defendor”? (it just opened in LA on yestearday.)
    I’m glad that “A Prophet” opened well; this kind of films that is the good fit for Sony Pictures Classics. (And the film itself is really good.)
    Good to see that “The Art of the Steal” also has respectful opening. But I’m little disappointed by the opening result of “The Yellow Handkerchief”, since it has Kristen Stewart and better-than-expected reviews.
    By the way, two OT news about Kristen Stewart and Sony Pictures Classics…. from HSX
    1) Apparition has changed the release plan of “The Runaways”; the film will open in limited release on 3/19 firstly, then it will receive a wide release on 4/9.
    2) It looks like Sony Pictures Classics will opens “Chloe” in multiple cities on 3/26.
    I suspect the scale of “Chloe” opening will be similar to “Southland Tales”; wishing the US box office result of “Chloe” won’t be similar to “Southland Tales”. (yes, this film has two bankable stars – Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried; but erotic thriller is a tough sell for US theatrical market.)

  4. The Pope says:

    Geoff, I have not seen SHUTTER (it opens here on the 12th), but I would encourage you to review or at least reconsider Minority Report’s ‘cop-out ending’.
    The entire last act is a fantasy on Anderton’s part: he is lowered into the crypt and Gideon says “the say it is actually kind of a rush. Your entire life flashes before your eyes and all your dreams come true.” Which subverts the entire happy ending… and then some: Spielberg has hoodwinked the audience into thinking justice has been served. Anderton has DREAMED it so he believes it is real and we have SEEN it so we accept it as real. How much more Orwellian can you get? It is a more audacious ending than, but somewhat inspired by, Gilliam’s Brazil (because there, Gilliam let’s us know that Tuttle has dreamed the entire last act).

  5. Geoff says:

    Pope, I have heard that explanation before and it kind of makes sense, because that ending is just too damn perfect – he’s remarried with his wife AND with a baby on the way AND the precogs are living in perfect harmony in the country??? But no mention about what results in DC – in the original storu,there’s just one line about murders increased dramatically in DC, the next year. Simple, but effective.
    Look, I don’t want to fall into the trap of comparing movies to their source materials, but….Spielberg’s ending just did not work for me. In the end, you have to take these stories on face value most of time ESPECIALLY for a Spielberg movie, even though I dig the guy.
    Personally, I found the ending or Brazil more audacious because it doesn’t let you off the hook.

  6. jeffmcm says:

    “Not much to say.”
    This should be another one of those trademarked phrases of yours, DP.

  7. movieman says:

    I wouldn’t expect too much from “Choe,” Mary.
    It’s the sort of tawdry-if stylishly directed and decently acted–exploitation flick that should be going out via Screen Gems (a la last spring’s modest Beyonce hit “Obsessed”) instead of Sony Classics.
    The unfavorable-to-mixed reviews “Chloe” is bound to get definitely won’t help it in the “upscale” theaters SC will no doubt initially slot it.
    Curious that Apparition is now opting to platform “The Runaways.” The reviews out of Sundance were tepid at best, and it seems like the kind of film (see above) that would benefit from a saturation-break-and-hope-for-the-best result. At present, Kristen Stewart is only box-office when she’s headlining a “Twilight” flick (hello, Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson). Banking on her name to “open” the film seems a tad naive on Apparition’s part.

  8. gradystiles says:

    The Pope, that might be an interesting reading of the movie, but that’s not what anyone involved with the movie intended.

  9. Josh Levine says:

    I am not sure I agree that Bruce Willis can “open” a movie in today’s climate. A $16M – $18M opening is not considered strong anymore b/c this makes it at best the 7th best opening of this year (less than 2 months old) and if it makes less than $17M will fall 3 more spots (if you include Lovely Bones first wide weekend).
    In addition, since 2001, Bruce has been one of the main leads in exactly 2 movies that opened to greater than $20M – 1 was a Die Hard sequel and the other was Sin City, which was not his movie to open exclusively. That is out of 11 movies in which he was the main star (not counting Lucky Number Slevin. Alpha Dog, Over The Hedge, or What Just Happened). That means he has not had one big opening for any non-sequel since Unbreakable. For a man who was once a $20M star, that is a pretty sad track record and not someone I would want to pay for as a studio exec.

  10. EthanG says:

    Agree with Josh.
    The only actors I’d give credit to for good openings this year so far are Denzel, Leo, and possibly Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried (also an assist to Julia Roberts…Depp gets added to the list next week).
    “Cop Out” is the first adult mainstream comedy to be released since…”Couples Retreat” in October! You could put Danny De Vito in this role and probably get a bigger opening. Willis is definitely part of the appeal but 17-18 million is not a good opening for Willis isn’t very good given the circumstances..better than “Hollywood Homicide” though..thank god for small victories.

  11. Eric says:

    I’m always interested in chatter about Minority Report. Love the movie, even though I think it has some real flaws.
    I’ve heard Pope’s “fantasy ending” hypothesis before, too, and find it plausible at least. I’ve also read what Geoff said, which is that the ending originally had a tagline along the lines of “The precog program was over. The next year there were x murders in Washington DC.”
    It seems to me those two things are mutually exclusive– you can’t have the murders if the end is a blissful fantasy. In that sense, Spielberg removing such a line is an implicit argument for the fantasy hypothesis.
    On the other hand, there are some bizarre plot holes in the movie, and I’ve never thought it’s a very good script aside from what it got out of the inherently interesting source material. Pulling off the fantasy ending requires a bit more subtlety than the rest of the movie offers.
    Grady says that the fantasy is not what anyone working on the movie intended– Grady, can you provide any links or citations for that? I’d be interested in reading more, I didn’t know any of the creative personnel had actually discussed it.
    I sort of suspect that the “Anderton dreamed the ending” scenario is kind of like “Deckard is a replicant” for Blade Runner. It’s a plausible read of the movie but one that not even the director had considered, but it’s just a neat idea and so the director doesn’t want to dispel the idea that there’s more going on in his work than meets the eye.

  12. marychan says:

    I mostly agree with what you said about “Chloe”, but it seem like that Screen Gems had passed on “Chloe”. (Afterall, Screen Gems focus on making and releasing low-risk films with modest cost; BTW, “Obsessed” was an PG-13 film!)
    On the other hand, Sony Pictures Classics said that they only agree to release the films they know how to market. So maybe Sony Pictures Classics has some good ideas about how to market “Chloe”? (Unlike what happened to other studio specialty units, big Sony and other Sony divisions can’t force Sony Pictures Classics to release anything.)
    On the other hand, 3/19 becomes too crowded for wide releases, so it is smart for Apparition to chage the wide release date of “The Runaways”. Apparition made the critically-lambasted “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” work in platform release, so maybe they can also make “The Runaways” work.

  13. Geoff says:

    Re Chloe: I swear, big and small studios alike seems to have no clue on how to release “adult” dramas anymore to the point of absolute absurdity – if you have Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried, neither of whom could be hotter right now, why not go wide right away? Get a $10 million plus opening and that’s probably your best shot at making any real profit.
    It’s just ridiculous – you see it again and again with movies like Revolutionary Road, Closer, etc. – when you have big stars making the publicity rounds for weeks, why dawdle on the release?
    Think about it – Precious, for all of the criticism about its release plan (which I think was just bad luck going wide against the unexpected Blind Side juggernaut) opened wider when the buzz was a fever pitch – it will make almost $50 million, probably more than four times its budget, amazing for a film with no stars and that kind of subject matter. Kudos to Lionsgate for having the balls to do what most studio can’t seem to do, nowadays – as a result, it will end up grossing about as much as Revolutionary Road, Closer, and The Wrestler combined.
    Just on a rant here, but it seems like most studios delude themselves into thinking every big drama they have can be “platformed” for several weeks or months into the next A Beautiful Mind or Slumdog Millionaire, while if they were smart they could get themselves a solid wide opening and probably make in the $40 to $50 million range if their movie is even halfway decent.
    Revolutionary Road is probably the most extreme example – you have the stars of Titanic, for christ sakes, reunited for the first time after years of further acclaim and success – and you platform the thing to death so you end up making less total domestic than what Titanic made in its opening weekend??? That’s just stupid – even if the movie pissed off half its audience, it could have easily made twice that if they just opened it on 1500 screens in early December.
    This just has to be one of the most jaw-dropping trends in this industry and I am not an industry insider, at all – I have been working in marketing and/or recruitment within the healthcare industry for over five year, I know a few things – have my B.S. in Marketing and MBA – but hell, you don’t even need those to know Marketing 101: strike while the iron is freaking hot!
    Use what you have and utilize it as efficiently as possible to minimize cost and maximize revenue. How hard is that to understand? Just joking, but maybe I should run one of these studios.
    Just mind-boggling – we have some big stars at the peak of the powers who are doing talk shows and magazines and we’re spending significant dollars on advertising, but let’s just pussy-foot the thing on a few hundred screens for a few weeks…..sorry, rant over.
    Needless to say, if Chloe doesn’t make at least $40 million, Sony Pictures Classics only has themselves to blame.

  14. bulldog68 says:

    They have compared these movies enough times, si I guess this was overdue, the Avatar/Pocahontas mashup.

  15. The Pope says:

    Geoff, Re: the ending of Minority Report, I like your line … “In the end, you have to take these stories on face value most of time ESPECIALLY for a Spielberg movie.”

  16. marychan says:

    Re: Geoff
    But “Chloe” is an erotic thriller, a genre that many critics love to hate (so “Chloe” will probably get many bad reviews in US) and many audience don’t want to watch in theaters.
    Mainstream/arthouse erotic film do have audience in US, but most of the audience just want to see them at home. The story of “Showgirls” proved that all; after flopping at box office, the film enjoyed huge home video success in thr US
    On the other hand, audience are very smart; they won’t see ‘unconventional’ films even if those films have their favourite stars (unless the films has Will Smith, who can open any film). Fox example, Zac Efron’s fans will see him in the films like “17 Again” and “High School Musical 3: Senior Year”, but they will just stay home when he stars in the films like “Me and Orson Welles”. On the other hand, many of Adam Sandler’s fans also just stay home when Adam Sandler acts in the films like “Punch-Drunk Love”, “Reign Over Me” and “Funny People”.
    Therefore, “Chloe” is a tough sell for US theatrical market despite of its star power. Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried are definitely more popular than ever, but audience probably don’t want to see them in an erotic film (at least not in theaters).

  17. Geoff says:

    Marychan, I complete agree with you about the genre – I mean, how long has it been since an erotic thriller actually made money? What, like ’93 with Sliver?
    But I still maintain what I said – use what you’ve got and use it, right away. The ONLY way this kind of movie will make any kind of real money theatrical is to go with an instant wide release, it’s just that simple.
    Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson, and heck even Julianna Moore, are probably good for a $12 million plus opening – if the movie has just OK word of month, then you can maybe make three times that and hope for a stronger DVD release.
    And you mention Funny People and yes, it did under-perform and yes, it did lose money – but at least Universal had no illusions about how to launch it and it made $50 million domestic (with a $20 million plus opening). If they had slow-played it, it probably would have made less than half that, a la Spanglish or Punch Drunk Love – that’s the difference between an under-performer and an outright flop.
    Good point about Zac Efron, but unlike Neeson, Sandler, or even Seyfried, I have to think his reach is still extremely limited, as of yet. It’s a tough call and I have to doubt that the studio even had the funds to launch a wide release.
    But we’re talking Sony Pictures Classics, here (backed by Sony) – we have had trailers and posters pretty omnipresent for Chloe for months, now – they just don’t seem timid about this movie, in how they’re marketing it, why start now?

  18. Geoff is right, and I’d argue that the same thing goes for limited-releases for major films. The Princess and the Frog and The Lovely Bones were both (in my opinion) kneecapped by their ‘limited, then wide’ release strategies. I get the mitigating factors for both films. Paramount wanted to save money and revamp the marketing campaign. Disney wanted to redo the 90s platform release of Aladdin/Beauty and the Beast, etc) and give breathing room to A Christmas Carol. But in both cases you had all of the media coverage taking place and moviegoer interest peaking during a span when absolutely no one was able to see the films. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I literally did two radio interviews discussing the racial politics of Princess and the Frog and not a single participant on either side of the booth had seen the film (it spent Thanksgiving weekend and the next week in two screens). By the time the films went wide, it was almost an afterthought. The Lovely Bones was bogged down by a month of mixed reviews while Princess and the Frog went wide the night after the ‘oh-my-God!’ Avatar screening that everyone was talking about (which was ironically the same day that Lovely Bones was supposed to go wide originally). Had both films opened at the peak of their interest, both would have likely opened much better and performed accordingly over the long run. Point being, in this world of instantaneous entertainment coverage and a need to move onto the next big thing, you either strike while the iron is hot or don’t strike at all.

  19. EthanG says:

    You really think “Frog’s” brief prestige release hurt it? Disney has been doing the same with traditional animated films for a long while…I doubt anyone outside of LA and NYC knew it was even out. Princess was undone by putting the word “princess” in its title, thus keeping any boys far far away.
    Really disagree on “Lovely Bones” though. Marketplace was way too crowded in late December for it to be released. Thought the lack of competition in January both domestically and internationally after “Avatar’s” reign has been watered down was perfect.
    Also disagree on “Chloe.” Neeson and Seyfried are draws given the right material but look at “Jennifer’s Body.” Agree that a platform release is almost NEVER the way to go with genre fare (unless it’s a microbudget phenom) though. Trash, even prestigious trash like Notes on a Scandal and Running With Scissors never does very well in limited release. But I wouldn’t expect more than 25 mil here…
    Last note, Julianne Moore is box office POISON in genre films. See Blindness, Next, Freedomland and Children of Men.

  20. a_loco says:

    I think Geoff is absolutely right, and we should be looking at Lovely Bones as an example. Most studios would have let that film die in a platform release a la Revolutionary Road when the reviews killed its awards chances, but Paramount realized that they were leaving money on the table, scrapped the original platform, retooled the marketing campaign to appeal to teenage girls, and now the movie is gonna be a push rather then a flop.

  21. marychan says:

    I agree with you in most points, EthanG. But a wide release would need about $10 million P&A. No distributor would want to take huge risk and spend $10 million to open an erotic thriller in wide release.
    Julianne Moore could open genre films if the films themselves are commercial enough, like what happened to “The Forgotten”.

  22. marychan says:

    Correction: a wide release would need at least about $10 million P&A. No US distributor would want to take huge risk and spend $10 million to open an erotic thriller in wide release.

  23. EthanG says:

    Agree on the P&A…forgot about “Forgotten…” although that was back when she was riding high from her Far from Heaven and Hours success. “Children of Men” is still one of the biggest disappointments of the last several years to me…and I think it says something about Jessica Biel and Moore than Nic Cage could open an almost identical film to Next (Knowing) over twice as much without any recognizable co-stars.

  24. hcat says:

    “Needless to say, if Chloe doesn’t make at least $40 million, Sony Pictures Classics only has themselves to blame.”
    $40 million would make it SPC’s second highest grossing film ever (second only to Crouching Tiger). They will make more money throwing it out on a few screens and waiting for video profits than spending the 10 million and hoping for $25 million box office. Seyfield’s profile has gone up in the past few years but for more slumber party fare like Mamma Mia and Dear John, not an erotic thriller of this nature.
    As for the last erotic thriller, you would probably have to go back to Presumed Innocent and Basic Instinct (Sliver was a high profile flop), both of which had much bigger stars and easy marketing hooks, (famous book, infamous leg crossing).
    I would also argue that Forgotten had more to do with its premise than Moore. She is just not a matinee star, and as good as an actress as she is not bankable on a large scale (and as poorly as her genre stuff does, anytime she does comedy is physically painful to watch).
    And I love SPC as much as anybody but just because they think they can sell it doesn’t mean its going to be good. They released Emogen’s previous movie Adoration and it was a terrible mess, as was his last erotic thriller Where the Truth Lies. They probably thought the could sell The Quiet (another thriller with sexual undertones) a few years ago and it not only underperformed but was one of the worst films they have ever released. Chloe will open small and shrink from there with poor reviews and audience indifference and SPC will take a small hit with the very modest expense of the release which they will more than make up with a long tail of home video where people are less finicky about quality and more curious to check out a film for the sake of seeing famous people neeked.

  25. Stella's Boy says:

    How about Unfaithful? It did OK ($52 million) in 2002. Boxofficemojo also says Obsessed is an erotic thriller ($68 million).

  26. hcat says:

    It might be a matter of opinion if Obsessed would count as an erotic thriller. I haven’t seen it but someone above mentioned its PG-13 rating might make it a little tame to be erotic.
    And I had forgotten about Unfaithful which did alright, on the low end of Lynne’s hits (which is a shame, I thought it was easily his best work).
    And as far as quality goes, I don’t think anything in the genre has topped Body Heat from back in the early early eighties.

  27. EthanG says:

    Obsessed is an erotic thriller through and through. It’s “Fatal Attraction” with an interracial twist!

  28. marychan says:

    For me, “Unfaithful” is too tame to be erotic. (And Fox marketed this film as an erotic drama, which was indeed what the film is. ) It looks like “Chloe” will be much more erotically-charged.
    “Obsessed”? It is a PG-13 film! Even “Titanic” and “The Proposal” are more ‘erotic’ than that film.
    That said, if I’m a head of Screen Gems, I may heavily re-edit “Chloe” to get PG-13, market the film as a “Obsessed”-like thriller and opens the film in wide release. It may be the good way to save the film at box office. (Yes, the film will be much less watchable after heavily re-editing, but the film may also be more sellable. Many audience in US love to watch PG-13 thriller with bankable stars, but most of them don’t want to watch erotic film in theaters.)
    SPC released “The Quiet” theatrically on behalf of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which acquired “The Quiet” after the film was shown at TIFF 2005. “The Quiet” underperformed theatrically and received terrible reviews, but that film made money on ancillary markets. I believe “Chloe” will also make much more money in US ancillary markets than in US theatrical market.

  29. Stella's Boy says:

    I would love to see Egoyan’s reaction to the studio cutting Chloe to PG-13.

  30. EthanG says:

    @marychan I can tell you as someone who got dragged to “Obsessed..” it should not have been PG-13…spoilers….Ali Larter not only spends most of the movie stalking whats his name and trying to kill Beyonce, she drugs the guy, rapes him and then tries to behead Beyonce with an axe. This ain’t “The Proposal…” actually I haven’t seen it but if it is I’m running to Blockbuster then.

  31. But Obsessed was HILARIOUS!

  32. marychan says:

    Very late correction: (Sorry… I didn’t note the mistake until now)
    In US, Fox marketed “Unfaithful” as an adult drama/thriller. (not erotic drama)

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