MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Train Wreck

March 28 , 2010

Opening numbers for weekend freshmen How to Train Your Dragon and Hot Tub Time Machine fell below expectations and for the first time in two months frame revenues lagged behind the comparable 2009 session. Dragon topped the charts with an estimated $41.7 million while Hot Tub slotted third in the lineup with $13.3 million.

The session also featured a passable $882,000 bow for the offbeat thriller Chloe in a limited wide release in 351 venues while there were ironic returns of $14,400 for Cash from 23 underused ATMs. Limited bows saw some weight for Lbs. of $10,900 at a single scale as well as French import Bluebeard that also went solo with $7,700. And there was OK response for non-fiction Waking Sleeping Beauty of $32,500 in an initial five cels.

The target for How to Train Your Dragon was to post a comparable opening gross to last year’s Monster vs. Aliens and by that yardstick the new 3D animated offering came up 30% short. There was considerable spinning prior to the film’s bow about a paucity of 3D venues with some available sites preferring to hold Alice in Wonderland and Avatar. However, Dragon bowed with a comparable number of stereoscopic screens to Alice’s opening weekend and, obviously, considerably less potency.

Next weekend’s launch of Clash in the Titans in 3D is likely to create a much greater strain on the vaunted screens. The roughly 750 lost screens between Avatar and Alice in Wonderland this weekend will ramp up and the following week is apt to see a lot of split screen engagements.

Considerable marketing energy was accorded the launch of Hot Tub Time Machine and expectations pegged a bow of about $20 million. Again its performance was about one-third as potent as the crystal ball outlook _ a double rather than a home run.

Frame revenues clocked in at roughly $127 million for a modest 1% decline from seven days back. It was 14% lagging behind 2009 when the debuting combo of Monsters vs. Aliens and The Haunting in Connecticut topped the charts with respective bows of $59.3 million and $23 million.

The 3D log jam is about available screens but the diminution of films in the marketplace that’s long been predicted will just have to wait. The first quarter of 2010 has seen just five fewer releases than were tracked in the prior year and that translated into an insignificant 3% decline. Pundits continue to predict a sharp drop in film releases before the end of the year but judging from headlines, there’s scant indication that acquisition of independent product is on the decline. In fact, it appears to be on the ascendant.

-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: March 26-28, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
How to Train Your Dragon Par 41.7 (10,280) New 4055 41.7
Alice in Wonderland BV 17.4 (5,130) -49% 3384 293.2
Hot Tub Time Machine MGM 13.3 (4,820) New 2754 13.3
The Bounty Hunter Sony 12.2 (3,980) -41% 3074 38.6
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fox 10.0 (3,260) -55% 3083 35.8
She’s Out of My League Par 3.5 (1,440) -40% 2432 25.6
Green Zone Uni 3.3 (1,290) -46% 2557 30.4
Shutter Island Par 3.2 (1,490) -33% 2123 120.6
Repo Men Uni 3.0 (1,190) -51% 2519 11.3
Our Family Wedding Fox Searchlight 2.2 (1,930) -42% 1132 16.8
Avatar Fox 2.0 (2,170) -50% 930 740.4
Remember Me Summit 1.9 (990) -41% 1935 17
The Ghost Writer Summit 1.7 (2,040) -19% 819 9.2
Greenberg Focus 1.0 (5,740) 575% 181 1.2
Chloe Sony Classics/E1 .88 (2,510) New 351 0.88
Crazy Heart Fox Searchlight .82 (960) -41% 849 37.8
Brooklyn’s Finest Overture .75 (1,010) -54% 739 26.2
The Crazies Overture .69 (810) -54% 851 37.6
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox .65 (820) -53% 790 86.1
Cop Out WB .51 (780) -64% 655 43.6
The Blind Side WB .46 (1,030) -48% 445 255.1
The Runaways Apparition .45 (1,880) -45% 237 1.6
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $120.70
% Change (Last Year) -14%
% Change (Last Week) -1%
Also debuting/expanding
Hubble 3D WB .37 (9.380) -11% 39 1.05
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box .31 (7,430) -7% 42 0.8
The Hurt Locker Summit .20 (1,030) -55% 195 17.1
Mother Magnolia 74,300 (2,120) 40% 35 0.21
Waking Sleeping Beauty BVI 32,500 (6,500) New 5 0.03
Cash Roadside 14,400 (630) New 23 0.01
The Eclipse Magnolia 12,200 (2,030) New 6 0.01
Lbs. True Indie 10,900 (10,900) New 1 0.01
Bluebeard Strand 7,700 (7,700) New 1 0.01
Dancing Across Borders First Run 4,600 (4,600)


1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – March 25, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Fox (6) 724.1 29.10%
Warner Bros. (11) 469.1 18.80%
Buena Vista (5) 340.3 13.70%
Paramount (5) 233.4 9.40%
Universal (7) 196.8 7.90%
Sony (11) 159.2 6.40%
Lionsgate (5) 86.9 3.50%
Overture (5) 63.5 2.50%
Fox Searchlight (3) 55 2.20%
Weinstein Co. (4) 38.9 1.60%
Summit (5) 34.6 1.40%
Sony Classics (7) 23.1 0.90%
CBS Films (1) 12.5 0.50%
Other * (89) 53.6 2.10%
2491 100.00%
* none greater than 0.45%
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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