MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Night at the Bistro

April 11 , 2010

The Titans didn’t clash but there was considerable jostling at the top of the box office charts with fierce competition for win, place and show positions. Freshmen entry Date Night scored the lead in its opening day with $9.1 million but lost ground as the session proceeded. The final frame scoreboard saw Clash of the Titans prevail with an estimated $27 million, followed by Date Night with $26.5 million and, with a better than anticipated hold, How to Train Your Dragon nipping at heels with $25.5 million.

The weekend’s other wide release was the inspirational Letters to God, which just made the top 10 cut with a less than devout $1.1 million. The news was also grim for the cheapie thriller The Black Waters of Echo Pond, which eked out a $540 theater average from 404 skinny dips and the results for American indies After.Life and Who Do You Love were comparably spare.

Bollywood’s latest Prince was far from regal and that also applied to kid targeted A Shine of Rainbows that premiered in Canada. The only comparative bright spots in the niches were for Danish import Everyone Else with $10,300 from a solo engagement and $15,800 tally for Australian thriller The Square from two engagements.

Overall revenues saw a sharp decline from Easter weekend and a modest dip from 52 weeks back.

Date Night, the antic rom-com romp, was pegged to be competitive against the 3D behemoths. The pairing of TV favorites Steve Carell and Tina Fey was considered a real asset along with a paucity of comedies with broad appeal in the marketplace. While critical response was mixed, the box office results were pretty much on target.

Overall revenues generated about $130 million with domestic box office passing $3 billion on Saturday – 13 days faster than occurred in 2009. Box office saw a 28% slide from the immediate prior weekend and a modest 3% erosion from last year. Twelve months back The Hannah Montana Movie debut led with $32.3 million; followed by Fast & Furious with $27.2 million and Monsters vs. Aliens with $21.8 million.

Current movie going is trending toward fewer and fewer films selling a disproportionate amount of tickets. This weekend’s top five accounted for roughly 75% of sales and with summer in the wings, don’t expect a shift until at least Labor Day.

The session also saw The Runaways expand and re-focus but the results for the musical drama continued to be commercially tepid. Conversely the slow roll out of Swedish thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo proceeds unabated. The first chapter in the bestselling trilogy added 38 playdates and maintained a solid $4,180 venue average. One can only ponder given its pedigree how wide the film can expand and sustain its momentum.
-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: April 9-11, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Clash of the Titans WB 27.0 (7,100) -56% 3802 110.6
Date Night Fox 26.5 (7,860) New 3374 26.5
How to Train Your Dragon Par 25.5 (6,370) -12% 4007 134.1
Why Did I Get Married Too? Lions Gate 11.1 (5,140) -62% 2155 48.6
The Last Song BV 10.1 (3,770) -37% 2674 42.5
Alice in Wonderland BV 5.6 (2,200) -32% 2540 319.3
Hot Tub Time Machine MGM 5.4 (2,070) -33% 2611 36.9
The Bounty Hunter Sony 4.3 (1,480) -30% 2901 56
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fox 4.1 (1,660) -23% 2453 53.7
Letters to God Vivendi 1.1 (1,260) New 897 1.1
Shutter Island Par .89 (1,020) -40% 869 125
Avatar Fox .86 (1,890) -12% 454 743.7
The Ghost Writer Summit .84 (1,490) -26% 565 12.3
She’s Out of My League Par .66 (860) -56% 765 30.1
Green Zone Uni .55 (900) -56% 614 34.2
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box .52 (4,180) 15% 125 2.2
The Runaways Apparition/E1 .45 (2,200) 172% 204 2.5
Greenberg Focus .43 (2,530) -40% 171 3
Hubble 3D WB .39 (9,510) -11% 41 2.8
Our Family Wedding Fox Searchlight .34 (1,030) -59% 331 19.3
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $125.00
% Change (Last Year) -3%
% Change (Last Week) -28%
Also debuting/expanding
The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond Parallel .22 (540) New 404 0.22
City Island Anchor Bay .21 (4,640) 46% 44 0.52
Prince Viva 84,100 (1,560) New 54 0.08
Vincere IFC 74,600 (2,570) -9% 29 0.29
After.Life Anchor Bay 58,700 (1,430) New 41 0.06
La Mission Screen Media 45,400 (3,030) New 15 0.05
The Greatest Paladin 33,500 (1,860) 0% 18 0.08
A Shine of Rainbows E1 23,600 (2,360) New 10 0.02
Women Without Men IndiePix 21,200 (4,240) New 5 0.02
La Cite Seville 18,300 (2,610) New 7 0.02
The Square Apparition 15,800 (7,900) New 2 0.02
Everyone Else Cinema Guild 10,300 (10,300) New 1 0.01
Who Do You Love Intl Film Circuit 2,360 (1,180) New 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – April 8, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Fox (6) 755.5 25.70%
Warner Bros. (12) 558.2 19.00%
Buena Vista (7) 411.1 14.00%
Paramount (6) 356.2 12.10%
Universal (7) 208.9 7.10%
Sony (11) 184.9 6.30%
Lionsgate (6) 124.9 4.20%
Overture (4) 66.3 2.30%
Fox Searchlight (3) 61 2.10%
Summit (5) 46.7 1.60%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.7 1.20%
MGM (1) 31.5 1.10%
Sony Classics (8) 24.5 0.80%
Other * (100) 74.3 2.70%
* none greater than 0.45% 2938.7 100.00%

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