MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Butt, Butt, Butt …

April 18 , 2010

The seemingly unending potency of 3D fare continued with How to Train Your Dragon a winner by a snout with a weekend estimate of $19.9 million. The debut of Kick-Ass — the session’s presumed winner based on early tracking — had to settle for a second place position with $19.2 million and the frame’s other wide release Death at a Funeral slotted fourth with $16.5 million.

A couple films opened without distinction on a limited wide. The baseball opus The Perfect Game was a no-hitter with $471,000 at 417 dig ins and the tongue-in-cheek The Joneses tittered to $502,000 at 192 ‘burbs.

Activity in the niches was more encouraging with a surprisingly potent $168,000 from seven sites for the offbeat documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop with Brit artist Banksy serving as subject and provocateur. Also strong was the $23,600 solo launch of the upscale drama City of Your Final Destination and an OK start of $171,000 for this year’s foreign-language winner The Secret in Their Eyes.

Additionally their was indifference for Bollywood’s latest Paathshaala but the smaller, albeit proportionately avid, Filipino circuit generated a socko $20,230 average for the comic fave Babe, I Love You.

Overall box office exceeded $120 million that translated into a dip of 6% from last weekend and an 11% uptick from 2009. Last year the debuts of 17 Again and State of Play led the field with respective openings of $23.7 million and $14.1 million.

It was a head scratcher for pundits that Kick-Ass fell considerably short of estimates generally in the $25 million to $30 million range. Awareness certainly wasn’t the problem and those that might have taken exception to the picture’s violence and profanity were hardly its target audience. Add to the conundrum the fact that the marketplace is light on action movies for young males and one’s forced to sift through tweets for clues to its disappointing start. A too nerdy protagonist? A pre-teen girl heroine?

Perhaps ironically another kick-ass heroine that’s having no problem drawing crowds is the sexually ambivalent Lisbeth of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The film continues to add handfuls of screens weekly and maintain a consistent screen average. Still there’s no indication of significant broader crossover and its distributor’s limited war chest makes that prospect extremely unlikely.

The re-invention of the cult favorite Death at a Funeral from the tweedy climes of England to an urban middle-class black America might have raised the anxiety level several degrees for the cognoscenti. But the translation proved to even out on its pluses and minuses and produced respectable returns.

In general one can see the marketplace thinning out as the industry gears up for the summer launch with next month’s Iron Man II. There’s little in the immediate offing that threatens to create the sort of screen crunch recently experienced by the jostling for 3D screens and the situation for alternative movies is unabashedly Darwinian.

-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: April 16-18, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
How to Train Your Dragon Par 19.9 (5,190) -20% 3825 158.5
Kick-Ass Lionsgate 19.2 (6,270) New 3065 19.2
Date Night Fox 17.1 (5,050) -32% 3380 49
Death at a Funeral Sony 16.5 (6,710) New 2459 16.5
Clash of the Titans WB 15.8 (4,210) -41% 3753 133
The Last Song BV 5.8 (2,090) -41% 2767 50
Why Did I Get Married Too? Lions Gate 4.2 (2,250) -62% 1859 54.9
Alice in Wonderland BV 3.5 (1,730) -34% 2024 324
Hot Tub Time Machine MGM 3.5 (1,520) -35% 2308 42.5
The Bounty Hunter Sony 3.0 (1,220) -28% 2475 60.2
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fox 2.7 (1,270) -31% 2149 57
Avatar Fox 1.0 (2,040) 21% 500 745
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box .74 (4,330) 34% 171 3.1
The Ghost Writer Summit .66 (1,380) -20% 480 13.2
Letters to God Vivendi .59 (830) -46% 713 2
Shutter Island Par .51 (850) -42% 602 125.8
The Joneses Roadside Attract. .50 (2,610) New 192 0.5
The Perfect Game Slow Hand .47 (1,130) New 417 0.47
Hubble 3D WB .31 (7,660) -12% 41 3.3
Greenberg Focus .31 (1,810) -26% 172 3.4
The Runaways Apparition/E1 .30 (1,240) -36% 243 3
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $115.20
% Change (Last Year) 11%
% Change (Last Week) -6%
Also debuting/expanding
City Island Anchor Bay .25 (4,420) 25% 57 0.83
Exit Through the Gift Shop Abramorama .17 (23,910) New 7 0.17
The Secret in Their Eyes Sony Classics .17 (17,130) New 10 0.17
Babe, I Love You ABS .12 (20,230) New 6 0.12
The Square Apparition 37,500 (3,750) 109% 10 0.06
Paathshaala Eros 28,300 (1,770) New 16 0.03
City of Your Final Destination Screen Media 23.600 (23,600) New 1 0.02
Handsome Harry Paladine 11,200 (2,800) New 4 0.01
Cheech & Chong: Hey Watch This D & E 4,150 (100) New 41 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – April 15, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Fox (7) 793.9 25.60%
Warner Bros. (12) 593.3 19.10%
Buena Vista (7) 429.7 13.90%
Paramount (6) 388.3 12.50%
Universal (7) 210.1 6.80%
Sony (11) 190.5 6.10%
Lionsgate (6) 138.2 4.50%
Overture (4) 66.5 2.10%
Fox Searchlight (3) 61.9 2.00%
Summit (5) 48.1 1.60%
MGM (1) 38.9 1.30%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.7 1.10%
Sony Classics (8) 25.1 0.80%
Other * (100) 80 2.60%
* none greater than 0.45% 3099.2 100.00%

Top Global Grossers: January 1 – Aprl 1, 2010

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 1,640,936,254
Alice in Wonderland BV 691,286,223
Sherlock Holmes * WB 304,763,633
Shutter Island Par 249,199,787
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox 220,433,446
Valentine’s Day WB 216,111,980
Alvin & the Chipmunks: Squeakquel * Fox 205,739,161
It’s Complicated * Uni 162,701,912
The Book of Eli WB/Summit 141,423,653
The Wolfman Uni 137,977,273
The Princess and the Frog * BV 137,899,466
Up in the Air * Par 128,709,969
How to Train Your Dragon Par 105,864,658
The Tooth Fairy Fox 100,160,177
Invictus * WB 96,996,268
The Lovely Bones * Par 92,475,508
Dear John Sony/Alliance/LGF 90,590,605
The Blind Side * WB 81,201,468
Edge of Darkness WB/GK 78,664,631
Green Zone Uni 61,881,814
* 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