MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Whole in One

March 14 , 2010

Alice in Wonderland didn’t quite fall by half but its estimated $61.9 million was more than adequate to lead weekend movie sales.

Four new releases followed the leader with the most potent being the Iraq War-set thriller Green Zone, which grossed $14.5 million. The beauty and the geek comedy She’s Out of My League debuted with $9.4 million and the romantic Remember Me launched with $8.4 million. The multi-racial nuptials of Our Family Wedding added $7.6 million to the mix.

Activity in the niches was slim and mostly bland with acclaimed Korean import Mother the bright spot with a $30,200 tally from five initial exposures.

A couple of Oscar winners received a post-event boost but they contributed no more than a ripple toward a big bounce from 2009 box office results.

Alice was expected to embody the old adage of the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Some trackers anticipated as much as a two-thirds drop, so its 53% hold proved to be comparatively hardy as it passed $200 million domestically in its tenth day at the multiplex.

The crowded field of newcomers appeared to blunt the opening force of Green Zone. Pundits had pegged its bow at close to $20 million and while the film arrived with respectable results its hefty price tag will be difficult to recoup. It debuted better internationally with approximately $10 million from 14 territories including a $3.2 million top position in the U.K.

Both She’s Out of My League and Remember Me largely played to expectations for first quarter fungible releases. Conversely Our Family Wedding didn’t quite cross over to black and Latino audiences with the hoped for vivacity that had been anticipated.

Overall revenues for the frame edged toward $145 million that translated into a 26% decline from Alice’s opening salvo. It was nonetheless 49% better than last year when the debut of Race to Witch Mountain opened with $24.4 million and freshman The Last House on the Left ranked third with $14.1 million.

With the dust settling from award’s season, The Hurt Locker experienced a theatrical boost but with the film already at video stores, it was only a comparative victory and a fraction of Avatar’s weekend business. More significant were the bump for the resilient The Blind Side and an almost unchanged gross for Crazy Heart. And with no great surprise the overlooked including Up in the Air and An Education pancaked in the aftermath.
-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: March 12-14, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Alice in Wonderland BV 61.9 (16,610) -47% 3728 208.6
Green Zone Uni 14.5 (4,820) New 3003 14.5
She’s Out of My League Par 9.4 (3,180) New 2956 9.4
Remember Me Summit 8.4 (3,780) New 2212 8.4
Shutter Island Par 8.0 (2,370) -40% 3356 107.8
Our Family Wedding Fox Searchlight 7.6 (4,710) New 1605 7.6
Avatar Fox 6.4 (3,710) -21% 1718 730.1
Brooklyn’s Finest Overture 4.3 (2,200) -68% 1939 21.3
Cop Out WB 4.2 (1,470) -54% 2882 39.4
The Crazies Overture 3.7 (1,560) -56% 2359 33.4
Crazy Heart Fox Searchlight 3.1 ((2,250) -7% 1361 34.2
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox 3.0 (1,380) -41% 2175 82.2
The Blind Side WB 1.6 (1,960) 25% 803 252.7
Valentine’s Day WB 1.5 (870) -64% 1703 108.9
The Ghost Writer Summit 1.2 (5,450) -5% 224 4.3
Dear John Sony 1.0 (820) -63% 1249 78.5
The Hurt Locker Summit .81 (2,600) 91% 311 15.7
The Tooth Fairy Fox .69 (940) -59% 737 57.2
Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Fox .45 (1,110) -17% 408 218
The Last Station Sony Classics .43 (1,780) -41% 242 5.3
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $141.30
% Change (Last Year) 49%
% Change (Last Week) -26%
Also debuting/expanding
Up in the Air Par .26 (960) -57% 274 83.5
A Prophet Sony Classics .16 (3,740) -27% 43 0.63
A Single Man Weinstein Co. .15 (990) -60% 153 8.8
An Education Sony Classics .13 (1,010) -63% 133 12.3
Mother Magnolia 30,200 (6,040) New 5 0.03
Severe Clear Sirk 7,800 (3,900) New 2 0.01
Children of Invention Variance 3,100 (3,100) New 1 0.01
Tales from the Script First Run 2,100 (2,100) New 1 0.01
Stolen IFC 1,200 (1,200) New 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – March 11, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Fox (5) 674.6 31.80%
Warner Bros. (10) 452.8 21.30%
Buena Vista (5) 209.8 9.90%
Paramount (4) 193.1 9.10%
Universal (5) 160.1 7.50%
Sony (10) 130.9 6.20%
Lionsgate (5) 86.6 4.10%
Overture (3) 47.8 2.20%
Fox Searchlight (2) 34.5 1.60%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.2 1.60%
Sony Classics (7) 20.8 1.00%
Summit (4) 17.1 0.80%
CBS Films (1) 12.5 0.60%
Apparition (2) 10.1 0.50%
Other * (77) 38.1 1.80%
2123 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