MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

The B Team …

April 25, 2010

The entry of some short timers did little to energize the movie going bug and through the rubble How to Train Your Dragon emerged as the weekend favorite with an estimated $15.1 million. Top among newcomers was J-Lo’s rom-com The Back-Up Plan that slotted second with $11.7 million. The other national debs also proved soft boiled with the action-packed The Losers posting $9.2 million and the eco-friendly doc Oceans ebbing to $5.9 million following an Earth Day (Thursday) bow of $2.5 million.

In niche and regional arenas the sole picture of note was the Quebec bow of Le Journal d’Aurelia La Flamme that was the local chart topper with $327,000 from 71 locales.

Weekend revenues experienced downturns as the industry girded for box office hosannas from the imminent release of Iron Man 2. Que la fait commence.

There certainly wasn’t a great deal of anticipation for the new crop of pictures entering the current session and at least in that regard there was scant mention of disappointment. Following several unreleased or marginally exposed ventures, few expected a dramatic turnaround for Jennifer Lopez in The Back-Up Plan. Critical response was dire and her core fan base of young women turned out … just not in sufficient numbers.

Similarly it was young men that attended The Losers, a beat ’em to the gate comic book adaptation with more than a couple of similarities to the forthcoming The A Team. It proved to be a fleeting distraction until the arrival of the heavy hitters.

Ticket sales for the frame fell short of $100 million by about $3 million and fell by 20% from seven days earlier. It was 15% reduced from 2009 when the debut of Obsessed topped the charts with $28.6 million. Last year’s bows also included the singularly titled Fighting, Soloist and Earth with respective box office of $11 million, $9.7 million and $8.8 million.

National holdover titles generally experienced declines of 40% to 50% and that allowed for some expansion for niche players including the recent slow builders The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and City Island. New to the fold is recent foreign-language Oscar winner The Secret in Their Eyes that tripled its initial compliment and maintained an energetic $9,450 average at 31 venues.

-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: April 23-25, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
How to Train Your Dragon Par 15.1 (4,110) -23% 3665 178.1
The Back-Up Plan CBS 11.7 (3,580) 3280 11.7
Date Night Fox 10.2 (3,090) -39% 3294 63.1
Kick-Ass Lions Gate 9.3 (3,040) -53% 3065 34.7
The Losers WB 9.2 (3,140) 2936 9.2
Clash of the Titans WB 8.9 (2,730) -42% 3271 145.6
Death at a Funeral Sony 7.7 (3,140) -52% 2459 28.2
Oceans BV 5.9 (4,920) 1206 8.4
The Last Song BV 3.7 (1,330) -38% 2794 55.4
Alice in Wonderland BV 2.2 (1,620) -39% 1385 327.5
Hot Tub Time Machine MGM 1.9 (1,070) -45% 1787 45.6
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fox 1.7 (1,070) -38% 1605 59.5
Why Did I Get Married Too? Lions Gate 1.7 (1,370) -58% 1251 57.5
The Bounty Hunter Sony 1.5 (960) -51% 1581 62.7
Avatar Fox .93 (2,210) -7% 421 746.4
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance .67 (3,380) 6% 198 4.1
The Ghost Writer Summit .47 (1,060) -31% 445 14
Hubble 3D WB .42 (8,940) 36% 47 3.9
Le Journal d’Aurelia LaFlamme TVA .33 (4,630) 71 0.33
The Secret in Their Eyes Sony Classics .29 (9,450) 74% 31 0.51
City Island Anchor Bay .28 (3,600) 6% 77 1.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $92.30
% Change (Last Year) -15%
% Change (Last Week) -20%
Also debuting/expanding
Exit Through the Gift Shop Abramorama .13 (13,200) -23% 10 0.37
The Square Apparition 39,200 (2,180) 4% 18 0.11
Dark Crossing Amadeus 5,900 (1,970) 3 0.01
Paper Man Vitagraph 5,800 (1,930) 3 0.01
Behind the Burly Q First Run 4,300 (4,300) 1 0.01
Boogie Woogie IFC 1,600 (1,600) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – April 22, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Fox (7) 820.4 25.20%
Warner Bros. (12) 614.1 18.90%
Buena Vista (8) 444.5 13.60%
Paramount (6) 413.7 12.70%
Sony (12) 215.1 6.60%
Universal (7) 210.5 6.50%
Lions Gate (7) 168.8 5.20%
Overture (4) 66.6 2.00%
Fox Searchlight (3) 62.4 1.90%
Summit (5) 49.2 1.50%
MGM (1) 43.7 1.30%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.7 1.10%
Sony Classics (9) 26.8 0.80%
Other * (117) 86.3 2.70%
* none greater than 0.4% 3256.8 100.00%

Top 2010 Domestic Grossers: To April 22, 2010

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 461,820,723
Alice in Wonderland BV 325,272,926
How to Train Your Dragon Par 162,995,714
Clash of the Titans WB 136,639,377
Shutter Island Par 125,976,678
Valentine’s Day WB 110,377,598
Sherlock Holmes * WB 106,858,873
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Fox 98,916,096
The Book of Eli WB 94,652,399
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox 87,514,717
Dear John Sony/Alliance 79,951,246
It’s Complicated * Uni 72,506,473
The Wolfman Uni 62,136,741
The Bounty Hunter Sony 61,171,328
The Blind Side * WB 59,403,995
The Tooth Fairy Fox 59,176,700
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fox 57,741,944
Why Did I Get Married Too? Lions Gate 55,756,916
Date Night Fox 52,871,596
The Last Song BV 51,698,671
* 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