MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates from Klady Island

If it gets to $30 million for the weekend, Shutter Island would be the sixth $30m+ opening in the first quarter of a year, a new record. Five has been done three times before. When people talk about inflation as an issue with the box office, this stat may be one that really is affected by that kind of incremental change. On the other hand, this year may be an early indicator of a box office sea change, with a lot more movies opening strongly, but having shorter and shorter legs… something we’ve seen more as a summer phenomenon in past.
What’s been missing from Q1 this year to date is the big family movie. It’s usually animation. And this year, we had Percy Jackson try to be that film. It may fight its way to $100m domestic, but is no threat to get to $200m. “That” movie may be Alice in Wonderland, which is pretty sure to be a seventh $30m+ opener. And there is still How To Train Your Dragon coming at the tail end (get it?!?!) of the quarter. Threatening to make is ten Q1 films opening to $30m domestic are Green Zone and The Bounty Hunter. (I think Hot Tub Time Machine, if it flies, will be more of a build-up movie, gaining momentum from word of mouth.)
In the end, it is always about the movies and their marketing. Q1 is no longer the weak sister of the year. January, February, March have become prime time (March returning to prime time) , leaving very little time in the year as naturally “soft.” April… a bit of September… early October… but even those can be programmed carefully and if you put a movie people wanted to see in those periods, there is no reason why they could not be as productive as any months outside of the “hot” six months of the year.
ADD, 11:40a – Paramount marketing did the job for Shutter Island. Make no mistake. But let’s not buy into the lie that the move to 2010 was “strategic” in any way that spoke to improving the gross of this movie. It was a fiscal decision by the studio to shut down spending in the fall… period. Shutter was not the only movie affected, though it was the high profile move of the moment when it happened. Major spending was all but frozen until Dec 1, allowing revenues from the big Home Ent titles and, as it turned out, Paranormal Activities, to reload the cash bladder.
This is all just a footnote in industry history, but the idea that Paramount made a brilliant choice to shift the movie from October – where they could easily have had the same opening – to February and that this made the movie stronger at the box office is a big load of… bunk. The move was under duress. And the good people who work at Paramount made it work in spite of the choice, not because of it.
(EDIT – 12:10a – numerical typo in first graph.)

Be Sociable, Share!

31 Responses to “Friday Estimates from Klady Island”

  1. EthanG says:

    Klady’s Shutter estimate is VERY low compared to the trades and Finky.
    Soo..can we agree now that good opening weekend for a werewolf movie or whatever..”Wolfman” is going to lose major money??

  2. EthanG says:

    Also…what a stinker opening for Bledel and the director of Teeth=( Go Polanski though.

  3. marychan says:

    I think that the so-so opening of “Happy Tears” should be in line with Roadside Attractions’ expectation; Roadside Attractions probably know what would happen when they bought “Happy Tears” (several months after this film had its world premiere).
    I guess Roadside Attractions would eventually make some profit on ancillary markets.

  4. Gonzo Knight says:

    “But let’s not buy into the lie that the move to 2010 was “strategic” in any way that spoke to improving the gross of this movie. It was a fiscal decision by the studio to shut down spending in the fall… period. Shutter was not the only movie affected, though it was the high profile move of the moment when it happened.”
    Oh come on, Poland. If the movie actually was BETTER RECIEVED that it would be THE OTHER MOVIES that would be moves in it’s place. There is an element of strategy in everything.

  5. Gonzo Knight says:

    “And the good people who work at Paramount made it work in spite of the choice, not because of it.”
    Now that, I can actually agree with.

  6. Just like The Wolfman before it, Shutter Island would have made the same $30 million+ opening pretty much whenever it opened. At least Paramount didn’t spend an extra $60 million getting Shutter Island ready for its Feb 2010 release.

  7. Gonzo Knight says:

    I disagree with that, Scott. I think Wolfman would have opened to 20 million at most and Shutter Island would have struggled to get higher than $25. In any case, it’s not all about openings. Both of these movies will clrealy benefit from extra breathing room.

  8. Dellamorte says:

    Paramount may have also seen that Shutter Island was not an academy picture, and putting it out in the fall season would open it to criticisms that had little to do with the movie. Seeing as how the film was received, I think saying the only reason it was moved was a fiscal freeze is underrating Paramount, especially when you look at what happened w/t/r The Lovely Bones.

  9. Geoff says:

    Dave, I respectfully disagree about whether this helped Par strategically – are you saying they could have still nudged Paranormal Activity to over $100 million away from October and having to open Shutter at the same time??? No way.
    Paranormal would have been lucky to have made half that much against tougher competition, from the same studio, no less. From this move, they probably made at least $50 million in extra box office.

  10. Geoff says:

    That said, they have cost themselves money with Up in the Air the way they placed it – it is probably going to be the highest grossing film ever to never place in the top 5 and this was a George Clooney vehicle. Don’t get me wrong – $90 million is damn strong for this kind of movie and strong for Clooney, too.
    But seems to me that they never got this thing over 2,000 screens, which is just crazy – if they took it wide a month earlier like planned, it could have sailed past $100 million. Thoughts?

  11. EthanG says:

    Im not sure either way. “Up In the Air” had a very weak trailer compared to Reitman’s previous work, and like you said, Clooney hasn’t been a box office star outside of Oceans for a long time. It just had tremendous word of mouth… anecdotal, but most people I know who saw it were perplexed by the trailer until I or others kept talking about it and forced them to see it.
    Id tend to think Paramount did the right thing…Lionsgate pushed too aggressively too soon with “Precious” and it ended up with half of what “Madea Goes to Jail” did.

  12. Geoff says:

    Ethan, I see what you’re saying, but when a major studio picture starring George Clooney can barely crack 1,500 screens in its widest release, I have to believe that some money was left on the table.
    Bottom line is that there were probably just were not enough screens to go around that Christmas Weekend – Avatar was huge, plus Squeakuel, Sherlock, and It’s Complicated all opened. Even taking Avatar out of the picture, you had well over $500 million in business from just those three movies and I’m sure the screens were scarce.
    I have to think that in late November, there would have some more room.
    And it’s interesting that you bring up Precious – I actually believe that if you switched the wide release dates for those two movies, they BOTH would have been better off. Precious was never going to be a super-wide film nor had the potential to be one, like Up in the Air.
    If Lionsgate was able to secure about 1,000 screens for a wide release in mid to late December, I think it might have held better. Honestly, Lionsgate probably did the best they could – there was one thing they could not have predicted: The Blind Side (fitting title).
    That film was basically going for the same audience, but seemed much more entertaining than Precious from the trailers – no one could have predicted how huge it would have been in November, but it opened just when Precious was expanding and I’m sure that killed it more than anything else – stopped the film dead in its tracks just when it was expanding.

  13. David Poland says:

    Guys… I am not offering an opinion on this, in terms of the reason for the move. It is a fact.
    Hindsight being hindsight, you can rationalize it all you like. But there was no strategic thinking in the move other than to deal with a cash crunch at the studio.
    This is a typical example of backwards analysis… and some of you folks are very bright. Just because you have an opinion about something does not make the facts different. And this is the fact.
    Paramount released no movies except for the low-budgeted release of Paranormal Activity from August 7 to Dec 4. Get it? A major studio went a full 1/3 of a year without releasing a movie… one, if you count the one that was an experimental effort that worked.
    In the same period, WB released 10 wide releases, Disney 7, Sony 5, and Universal and Fox released 4 each. I’m not including the 4 small releases from the majors.
    Even with Shutter Island on the schedule, Par was thin. And the dating on both December releases were adjusted on the run as well… not they they ever doubted UITA.
    This is not a blanket condemnation of Paramount. It was a strategy they wanted to use and they used it and now they are moving on. Great. All I am saying is, don’t believe the lie… know the truth.
    Would the financial result for Shutter Island have been exactly the same… better… worse? No one can ever say for sure. Like who will come in second at the Oscars, no one – except for a couple of accountants – will ever be able to prove it.
    Regardless, I am happy for Paramount and the movie and the filmmakers that it is working out this well. Had the movie been released in October, it would have done strong business, in my opinion… there hasn’t been a $100m grosser in October since The Departed. And I do think it would have certainly been Oscar nominated for Best Picture and been a controversial – and unlikely – choice as a spoiler for the win.

  14. EthanG says:

    Valid points Geoff. I still tend to think that adult-oriented dramedies fare better as slow burns in general though. Regardless of this debate Paramount probably got close to as much out of Paranormal, Lovely Bones, Up in the Air and Shutter Island collectively by making the moves they did. All four movies performed/are performing much better than they should have.
    Poland…you’ve got to be kidding that “Shutter Island” had a shot at a Best Pic slot…this is a case where the reviews simply aren’t there…they’re well below “Crash” collectively. Unless you’re suggesting that it would have been better received better had it been released in October…which is preposterous.

  15. Geoff says:

    Ethan, The Lovely Bones is barely going to crack $50 million (probably about the same as Precious) and it was a big budget Peter Jackson film based on a best-selling book – couldn’t they have made more?
    I haven’t seen the movie and from what I have heard, it doesn’t deliver the goods – not sure what the answer would have been, but they were originally planning on releasing it in March, maybe it would have at least had more breathing room.
    And I agree that Shutter Island didn’t have much shot at a Best Picture shot – Where the Wild Things had equal levels of buzz, was released about the same time, probably will make about the same as Shutter Island when all is said and done, and had equally divisive reviews and it didn’t make the cut.
    I really dug the film, but have a feeling that word of mouth will be on the level of The Village – it’s not going to crack $100 million, as deserving as it is. When all is said and done, it could actually be the lowest grossing Marty/Leo collaboration, though I’m hope I’m wrong.

  16. leahnz says:

    ‘the bones’ hasn’t done well but has already cracked 60mil, has only just opened in the UK and some of europe, and most certainly is not a ‘big budget’ picture
    (yes, money apart from the greenback is actual money)

  17. David Poland says:

    Not really worth arguing the point, but District 9 and Inglourious Basterds are nominated for Best Picture.
    This is a Martin Scorsese movie that has split the critics, it seems, but the pro group is quite passionate. Scorsese’s films almost always split the room… and his last three pictures all got nominated with just 5 slots.
    You’re both dead wrong.
    Not only would it have been nominated, but it would have at least 7 nominations and Scorsese would have been the 5h Directing nominee.
    But as noted… no way to prove it. So if Theoretical World, you are just as right as I am.
    What will probably not happen is the film being nominated from February 2010. However, don’t be surprised when it gets 3-5 nominations next year, in spite of the date. Just not Best Picture.
    And I love WTWTA and Spike, but it was not WB’s focus movie, they were not looking to invest more in it, and Spike is not the Oscar shoo-in that Scorsese tends to be. Not a reasonable comparison.

  18. Geoff says:

    Ok, Dave, I’ll bite – when will we be getting your Top Ten (or more) list for 2010? It’s never too late, as we are still talking about these films for the Oscars – I’m sure having a baby threw your timetable off.
    Trying to guess, but I gather that The Hurt Locker, Collapse, Avatar, and WTWTA would be within your top five.
    You have a point about Scorcese’s last few films making the Best Picture cut and I’m pretty sure that Gangs of New York divided audiences/critics as much as this film will.

  19. EthanG says:

    DP I think you’re way off base here but like you said, no way to prove it.
    In order to be nominated as a genre film you’ve got to have crazed support not just from the blogs and web-based critics but mainstream press as well…genre flicks don’t ride waves of populist Blind Sidish support to noms without outstanding reviews…and that just doesn’t look like the case here. Only a single 100 on Metaritic (from the Charlotte Observer). Seemingly meaningless but the main reason D9 and Basterds were nominated was the level of foaming at the mouth support it got from some…look at the number of top 10 lists both films got on and unbridled raves from guys like Ebert, LaSalle, the LA Times, Time, WaPo etc. Also notice those films largely didn’t get panned at all from major publications and that Shutter Island got hammered from the likes of AO Scott, LaSalle and others.
    Any chance Shutter Island would have of snagging a nom would die quickly in the critic award circuits…name me a SINGLE top notch overall reviews.
    @Geoff…Lovely Bones was 2 performances (Ronan, Tucci) away from being a stinking pile of shit. They’re incredibly lucky to have gotten $42 million out of it here and 100 million WW. It will hit that level if not more, having not yet opened in Russia, South Korea etc and having either just opened or not yet opened in most of Europe.

  20. EthanG says:

    Re: “Gangs of New York…” the Oscars tend to be a lot kinder to historical epics than pulpy thrillers. Plus it’s easy to forget now because it was so divisive at the time…but Gangs of New York got far better reviews and no real outright nasty pans.

  21. hcat says:

    Gangs of New York’s nominations were simply a valintine to Scorsese. There was no way to release his dream project without giving him some due. But honestly there had to be a better cut out there of that film. Just as there is probably a four and a half hour of Thin Red Line on some cutting room floor, there were plenty of rumours of a superiour cut of gangs. David?

  22. “If it gets to $30 million for the weekend, Shutter Island would be the sixth $20m+ opening in the first quarter of a year, a new record.”
    Or if it gets to $20mil, even. Yeah? I’m sure that’s just a typo, but it reads quite funny anyway.
    Marychan, can you say “Roadside Attractions” just one more time?
    Ethan, you’re really comparing Precious with Madea Goes to Jail? Seems logical that the former would only gross half of the latter, no matter the critical praise and Oscar buzz.
    While I’m sure Shutter Island may have gotten a Best Picture nomination if it were released last year, I think the Scorsese/Best Director talk is a bit of a leap. But, as you even admit, no way to prove it.

  23. LexG says:

    Need to see this ASAP, since GOOD GUY is all but SURELY one of those movies that plays in theaters for seven days before it’s pulled from every single venue. I hope she wears a lot of SEXY OUTFITS and HEELS in it.

  24. Chucky in Jersey says:

    @EthanG: Spot-on re “The Lovely Bones”. When you’ve got Oscar Bait out there and the trailer says “From Academy Award Winning Director …” the movie has the stench of death.
    @Geoff: For “Precious” Lionsgate targeted black folk first and snooty whites second. Lily-white cities like Scranton didn’t play the movie until just before Xmas.
    @hcat: “Gangs of New York” was released by Miramax, hence its nominations were bought and paid for. Plus the ads featured a not-so-subtle American flag to stir up nationalist feelings in a run-up to a US military invasion of Iraq.

  25. Gonzo Knight says:

    “Guys… I am not offering an opinion on this, in terms of the reason for the move. It is a fact.”
    Not a big fan of this type of rhetoric. If it’s one of those “I know something you don’t” moments then it simply doesn’t come through.
    Still, I think we sort of agree as long as one thing is established first.
    Seems like there was *some* strategy on the part of Paramount execs:
    I’m not saying that Paramound didn’t have a cash crunch. It seems clear to me, however, and clear as day, in fact, that if the movie REALLY was Oscar quality another movie would have been moved in its place. I don’t think that was the case.
    Even allowing that Shutter Island would have gotten a few nods (Cape Fear got nominated too, after all), it is hard to deny that moving it to February would have lowered (what I consider) already shaky film’s chances for the really top nominations (or, at the very least, been risky for a film that really isn’t viewed as a high caliber work, loud supports and all).
    (Here I can also start speculating that the delay impacted Oscar perceptions negatively in itself, how it’s easier to get nominated in the first year with 10, how Shutter Island was a different project from “Gangs of New York” and was delayed for very different reasons, how all these things speak against the decisions of moving Oscar Caliber film to February etc, but it’s just blind speculation)
    Notice, however, that this only really matters if one viewed Shutter Island primarily as an Oscar film (why risk early date?)
    I don’t think execs really viewed Shutter Island as such so this was basically a long way of saying that Shutter Island really wasn’t a priority project (and the fact that it was by Scorsese and still got moved makes me believe that rather strongly – certainly seemed like a suprise to Scorsese at the time).
    So they dealt with it as crunch (and logic) dictated. And did a pretty good job selling it, too. I am also, perfectly willing to allow that any other year it would have been released among all the other films.
    What really interests me, however, David, is whether you believe that THIS year, Shutter Island has any Best Picture/Director prospects?

  26. Geoff says:

    Shutter actually went up on Saturday, which is a surprise to me – looks like it will open to $40 million, this weekend. Guess I underestimated it, just yesterday – this thing now looks like a potential $100 million movie if word of mouth is not toxic.
    And am I the only one surprised that Dear John seems to be fading so fast? It’s not even going to break $80 million at this point – is it bad word of mouth or just too much competition?

  27. The Big Perm says:

    “It seems clear to me, however, and clear as day, in fact, that if the movie REALLY was Oscar quality another movie would have been moved in its place.”
    Except that, as Poland said, they didn’t realease AANY other movie that quarter. So it wasn’t a case of choosing one movie over another to move, it was about moving the only release they had scheduled…except for Paranormal Activity, and I wouldn’t argue that October wasn’t the best time to release that one.

  28. Gonzo Knight says:

    I’ll grant you this point but both Up In the Air and Lovely Bones (a DW movie, I know) were released in Decemeber, which, while it doesn’t fall in the same quarter as Shutter Island’s original release date is still well within the same, albeit more aggressive) Awards release period.
    Still, that point does have merit. There wasn’t much there to move. I understand and agree (besides, swapping it with, UITA would have been hella stupid). For the record, I didn’t see that comment from Poland – must’ve have skipped over it or something.
    That said, a bigger point about it not being viewed as an Awards type of picture stands (not that’s there is a lot of debate about that around here). If they were planning to move the release, why move it to February?

  29. The Big Perm says:

    Well, Scorsese’s last pulp thriller actually took the award home…so I figure it’s likely to predict that this would have been nominated, especially with the ten slots. There’s no we’d be talking about District 9 as a Best Pic nominee if there were only five.
    But still…if the studio absolutely 100% thought Shutter Island would have been nominated for a Best Pic nom, I do think they wouldn’t have put it in Feb. Although maybe there wasn’t another slot and they even would have had to split their marketing for several other movies, that has to be figured too.

  30. Gonzo Knight says:

    Absolutely. And now Scorsese gets a $40 million opening and the the highest grossing start of his and DiCaprio’s career.
    Not to sound all cynical but I wonder to what extent the fact that the entire trailer played during Scorsese’s Golden Globes tribute helped them get there.

  31. Gonzo Knight says:

    Found that paragraph, can’t believe it didn’t regiester the first time I read it. And I actually agree with this “But let’s not buy into the lie that the move to 2010 was “strategic” in any way that spoke to improving the gross of this movie”. It wasn’t strategic in that sense, no.

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