MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Still Crazies (After All These Years)

February 28, 2010

The tremor continued in the marketplace as Shutter Island prevailed over two incoming missiles with an estimated $22.3 million weekend. Still the freshmen entries were close behind with buddy flics in Cop Out entering (but not breaking) the scene with $18.4 million and the redo of the 1972 apocalyptic thriller The Crazies wigging out with $16.1 million.

Limited and exclusive openers were highlighted by strong openings for France’s Oscar-nominated The Prophet with a gross of $121,000 at seven cells and the documentary The Art of the Steal generating $40,300 from three galleries. Teen Patti on the Bollywood circuit had a disappointing $47,500 at 50 venues and American indies Formosa Betrayed and The Yellow Handkerchief dabbed no better than passable initial box office.

Overall business experienced an upturn from last year while dipping behind last weekend’s revenues.

Tracking was pretty much on target for both freshmen entrees entering the weekend. No one expected Cop Out to exceed $20 million while The Crazies performed right into the anticipated $15 million to $17 million range that’s virtually pro forma for the genre and sensibility it inhabits. The two films definitely gave off the whiff of the fungible for any young male looking for an Olympic diversion. The marketplace could definitely do with a little bit more on the distaff side.

Ticket sales pushed to roughly $117 million that translated into a 12% decline from seven days past. It was however 9% improved from 12 months back when the second weekend of Medea Goes to Jail trumped The Jonas Brothers 3D Concert Experience with respective weekends of $16.2 million and $12.5 million. Show spot with $12 million went to Slumdog Millionaire in the seconds leading up to its Oscar glory.

This year’s contenders aren’t expected to receive any sort of domestic theatrical boosts regardless of their statuette outcome. Avatar has been holding beyond belief from day one and its future now has less to do with awards than the loss of stereoscopic screens as Alice in Wonderland usurps those playdates next weekend. The Hurt Locker continues to do token business on 100 plus screens and the likes of The Blind Side, Up in the Air and An Education continue to experience modest weekly declines as the big day counts down from seven.

By dint of the process of elimination the ironic Oscar beneficiary remains Crazy Heart, a likely winner for actor and song. Still one suspects its larder could have been fattened with more attention accorded the film’s myriad qualities rather than its almost exclusive attention to music and performance. It ought to have been in the discussion for direction, screenplay and picture.

-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: February 26-28, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Shutter Island Par 22.3 (7,440) -46% 3003 75.2
Cop Out WB 18.4 (5,850) New 3150 18.4
The Crazies Overture 16.1 (6,490) New 2476 16.1
Avatar Fox 13.8 (5,630) -15% 2456 706.7
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox 9.8 (2,980) -36% 3302 71.2
Valentine’s Day WB 9.3 (2,600) -44% 3578 100.2
Dear John Sony 4.7 (1,570) -34% 3006 72.3
The Wolfman Uni 4.1 (1,340) -59% 3043 57.2
The Tooth Fairy Fox 3.5 (1,540) -20% 2249 53.9
Crazy Heart Fox Searchlight 2.5 (2,160) -16% 1148 25
The Blind Side WB 1.3 (1,330) -13% 945 248.8
Book of Eli WB 1.1 (1,140) -41% 975 92.5
From Paris with Love Lionsgate 1.0 (800) -61% 1278 23.3
When in Rome BV 1.0 (1,100) -41% 930 30.9
Edge of Darkness WB 1.0 (820) -54% 1225 42.2
The Last Station Sony Classics .92 (2,620) 65% 351 3.3
Up in the Air Par .84 (1,430) -20% 586 82.1
The Ghost Writer Summit .83 (19,300) 353% 43 1.1
Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Fox .78 (1,100) -17% 707 216.6
Sherlock Holmes WB .61 (1,320) -28% 462 206.4
It’s Complicated Uni .52 (1,120) -26% 462 111.5
The Princess and the Frog BV .43 (1,120) -20% 385 103.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $114.40
% Change (Last Year) 9%
% Change (Last Week) -12%
Also debuting/expanding
An Education Sony Classics .31 (1,540) -12% 203 11.5
A Single Man Weinstein Co. .29 (1,200) -14% 242 8
The Hurt Locker Summit .17 (1,580) -3% 107 14.1
The White Ribbon Sony Classics .13 (1,730) -25% 77 1.5
A Prophet Sony Classics .12 (17,310) New 7 0.12
Ajami Kino 68,400 (4,280) -7% 16 0.25
Formosa Betrayed Screen Media 67,200 (4,480) New 15 0.07
Teen Patti Viva 47,500 (950) New 50 0.05
The Art of the Steal IFC 40,300 (13,430) New 3 0.04
The Yellow Handkerchief IDP 39,600 (5,660) New 7 0.04
La Derniere fugue Seville 24,100 (2,190) New 11 0.02
Prodigal Sons First Look 6,250 (6,250) New 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – February 25, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Fox (5) 618 36.20%
Warner Bros. (9) 391.3 22.90%
Universal (5) 150.9 8.80%
Paramount (4) 143.7 8.40%
Sony (10) 120.4 7.10%
Lionsgate (5) 83.6 4.90%
Buena Vista (4) 59.6 3.50%
Weinstein Co. (4) 32.9 1.90%
Fox Searchlight (2) 25.4 1.50%
Sony Classics (6) 16.1 0.90%
Summit (4) 12.7 0.70%
CBS Films (1) 12.3 0.70%
Apparition (2) 9.5 0.60%
Other * (65) 32.8 1.90%
1709.2 100.00%
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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