MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Diary of a Wimpy Weekend

March 21 , 2010

There was good response for national freshmen releases Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Bounty Hunter but the third weekend of Alice in Wonderland prevailed at the top of the box office with an estimated $34.6 million. Diary, based on the teen lit favorite, ranked second with $22.1 million; followed by a $20.9 million Bounty bounty.

Repo Men, the third national opener, pretty much flamed out with a $6.1 million debut.

The floodgates opened for limited, regional and exclusive entries. The bygone rock opus The Runaways garnered fair results of $770,000 from 244 gigs. In Canada, The comic culinary Cooking with Stella simmered to $31,600 at 13 kitchens while the concert musical Neil Young Trunk Show was far from S.R.O. with $22,400 from 12 bandstands.

The weekend standout in the niches was Swedish import Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, the first of a thriller trilogy. The film engraved a screen average of $10,370 from 32 locations. A global phenomenon, the first entry grossed more than $2 million in Quebec last year and an additional $85 million internationally to date.

Other exclusives with heat included the offbeat Greenberg with $118,000 from three screens and the warmity City Island that generated $32,700 at two venues. There was also momentum for a pair of Italian imports — Vincere with $18,800 on two screens and a $9,300 Manhattan solo for Mid-August Lunch.

The Imax doc Hubble 3D bowed on 39 institutional sites with excellent returns of $440,000.

Overall ticket sales pushed to roughly $127 million that amounted to a 15% decline from seven days past. It was 22% stronger than the 2009 comparable when the incoming trio of Knowing, I Love You Man and Duplicity entered with respective grosses of $24.6 million, $17.8 million and $14 million.

Both Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Bounty Hunter debuted roughly to industry expectation though the latter was believed to have a slight edge. In the end audiences perceived Bounty as more rom-com than actioner and lost a chunk of the young male crowd. However, that attrition appeared to provide little benefit to Repo Men, which was predicted to gross about $10 million.

Last weekend’s freshmen quartet generally experienced 50% plus casualties and that was particularly battering for Green Zone. Slightly sturdier was She’s Out of My League, though it hardly shapes up as a breakout comedy.

And the vestiges of Oscar are disappearing fast. Avatar admittedly was taking its biggest loss from the loss of 3D venues while the likes of The Hurt Locker, The Blind Side and Crazy Heart received an immediate boost (not that The Blind Side required a second wind) that has rapidly dissipated.

-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: March 19-21, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Alice in Wonderland BV 34.6 (9,250) -45% 3739 265.9
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fox 22.1 (7,170) New 3077 22.1
The Bounty Hunter Sony 20.9 (6,810) New 3074 20.9
Repo Men Uni 6.1 (2,420) New 2521 6.1
Green Zone Uni 5.9 (1,980) -58% 3004 24.7
She’s Out of My League Par 5.9 (1,980) -40% 2958 19.8
Shutter Island Par 4.8 (1,760) -42% 2704 115.8
Avatar Fox 3.9 (3,180) -40% 1236 736.8
Our Family Wedding Fox Searchlight 3.8 (2,340) -51% 1609 13.6
Remember Me Summit 3.3 (1,500) -59% 2212 14
The Ghost Writer Summit 2.0 (2,470) 39% 819 6.7
Brooklyn’s Finest Overture 1.6 (1,230) -54% 1311 24.8
The Crazies Overture 1.5 (1,010) -59% 1495 36.4
Cop Out WB 1.4 (910) -67% 1563 42.6
Crazy Heart Fox Searchlight 1.3 (1,150) -56% 1154 36.4
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox 1.3 (970) -57% 1348 85
The Blind Side WB .83 (1,380) -48% 602 254.3
The Runaways Apparition .77 (3,160) New 244 0.77
Hubble 3D WB .44 (11,330) New 39 0.44
Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Fox .41 (1,080) -11% 380 218.7
The Hurt Locker Summit .39 (1,440) -58% 273 16.6
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $122.00
% Change (Last Year) 22%
% Change (Last Week) -15%
Also debuting/expanding
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box .33 (10,370) New 32 0.33
A Prophet Sony Classics .16 (2,550) -30% 62 1.04
Greenberg Focus .18 (39,270) New 3 0.18
Mother Magnolia 50,300 (2,960) 40% 17 0.1
City Island Anchor Bay 32,700 (16,350) New 2 0.03
Cooking with Stella Mongrel 31,600 (2,430) New 13 0.03
Neil Young Trunk Show Shakey 22,400 (1,870) New 12 0.02
Vincere IFC 18,800 (9,400) New 2 0.02
The Red Baron Monterey 12,900 (1,080)


12 0.01
Mid-August Lunch Zeitgeist 9,300 (9,300) New 1 0.01
See What I’m Saying Worldplay 5,100 (5,100) New 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – March 18, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Fox (5) 690.1 29.70%
Warner Bros. (10) 464.1 20.00%
Buena Vista (5) 295.3 12.70%
Paramount (5) 218.7 9.40%
Universal (6) 179.8 7.70%
Sony (10) 132.2 5.70%
Lionsgate (5) 86.9 3.70%
Overture (5) 59.2 2.60%
Fox Searchlight (3) 48.4 2.10%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.4 1.50%
Summit (5) 30.9 1.30%
Sony Classics (7) 22.1 1.00%
CBS Films (1) 12.5 0.50%
Other * (81) 49.8 2.10%
2324.4 100.00%

Top Domestic Releases – January 1 – March 14, 2010

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 448,956,762
Alice in Wonderland BV 231,243,668
Shutter Island Par 111,014,632
Valentine’s Day WB 109,476,616
Sherlock Holmes * WB 105,360,425
Alvin & the Chipmunks: Squeakquel * Fox 97,535,916
The Book of Eli WB 93,875,054
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox 83,670,296
Dear John Sony/Alliance 79,005,278
It’s Complicated * Uni 72,105,040
The Wolfman Uni 61,623,250
The Tooth Fairy Fox 57,697,442
The Blind Side * WB 56,932,927
Up in the Air * Par 49,912,345
The Lovely Bones * Par 43,709,823
Edge of Darkness WB 43,052,908
Cop Out WB 41,154,113
Legion Sony 40,112,294
The Crazies Overture 34,907,940
Crazy Heart * Fox Searchlight 34,556,286

* does not include 2009 box office

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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