MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Iron and Steal

May 9, 2010

Iron Man 2 signaled the start of the summer season with a blockbuster-like debut gross estimated at $134.1 million. With the comic book sequel fusing more than 70% of the marketplace, holdovers generally experienced 50% plus erosions and other debuts were confined to the niches.

The non-fiction Babies bowed at 534 theaters with a decent $1.5 million while Bollywood entry Badmaash Company managed an OK $106,000 tally at 50 venues. Limited and exclusive newcomers bowed with fair to poor results with a couple of exceptions. The family drama Mother and Child touched a nerve with a $59,700 gross at six screens and the resurrection of the 1928 seminal science-fiction epic Metropolis (in a now virtually complete version) was at S.R.O. levels with a $20,400 box office at solos in Manhattan and Los Angeles.

Overall revenues ballooned with weekend business generating about $185 million in ticket sales. That translated into a 79% uptick from last weekend and a 20% improvement from 2009 figures. Last year the re-conceived Star Trek led the frame with a $79.2 million debut.

Expectations were high for the Iron Man sequel with torrid tracking and business from advance ticketing outlets accounting for more than 90% of their trade. Midnight screenings paved the way with an estimated $7.5 million tally and the Friday to Saturday bump was a modest 5%.

Predictions by industry pundits were generally in the area of $150 million but it would be stretching the point to say a 10% short fall from crystal balling was a disappointment. While critical response was generally positive, most reviewers felt chapter two was less successful than the original. The real disappointment would be a more than a 60% decline next weekend.

The alternative marketplace meanwhile was gobbling up as many available screens as possible in the knowledge that upcoming event releases will be closing off opportunities. The successful earned expansions of the likes of City Island, Exit Through the Gift Shop and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have likely reached their zenith and recent entries such as Harry Brown and Please Give will be struggling to translate initial momentum into playdates as the season proceeds.

-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: May 7 – May 9, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Iron Man II Par 134.1(30,620) New 4380 134.1
Nightmare on Elm Street WB 9.3 (2,790) -72% 3332 48.6
How to Train Your Dragon Par 6.5 (2,160) -39% 3003 200.8
Date Night Fox 5.3 (1,920) -31% 2734 80.8
The Back-Up Plan CBS 4.6 (1,530) -37% 3003 29.7
Furry Vengeance Summit 3.9 (1,300) -41% 3002 11.5
Clash of the Titans WB 2.3 (1,080) -60% 2157 157.8
Death at a Funeral Sony 2.0 (1,150) -52% 1706 38.2
The Losers WB 1.8 (750) -69% 2450 21.5
Kick-Ass Lionsgate 1.6 (890) -65% 1759 45.4
Babies Focus 1.5 (2,830) New 534 1.5
Oceans BV 1.4 (1,170) -44% 1232 16
The Last Song BV 1.1 (850) -51% 1303 60.3
Alice in Wonderland BV .66 (1,130) -55% 582 330.8
City Island Anchor Bay .61 (2,470) -17% 247 2.9
Hot Tub Time Machine MGM .52 (650) -54% 802 48.6
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance .51 (2,490) -16% 205 6
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fox .44 (700) -55% 625 61.5
Why Did I Get Married Too? Lionsgate .42 (1,040) -48% 404 59.4
Avatar Fox .40 (1,230) -36% 328 747.9
The Secret in Their Eyes Sony Classics .36 (4,750) 9% 77 1.55
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $177.70
% Change (Last Year) 20%
% Change (Last Week) 79%
Also debuting/expanding
Please Give Sony Classics .23 (9,320) 97% 25 0.39
Millennium III Alliance .18 (4,070) -20% 45 0.53
Harry Brown IDP .14 (3,280) -19% 43 0.38
Badmaash Company Yash Raj .11 (2,110) New 50 0.11
Mother and Child Sony Classics 59,700 (9,950) New 6 0.06
The Human Centipede IFC 33,400 (2,390) 169% 2 0.05
Casino Jack and the United States of Money Magnolia 24,800 (2,910) New 9 0.02
Metropolis (reissue) Kino 20,400 (10,200) New 2 0.02
Multiple Sarcasms MAC 17,100 (1,140 New 15 0.02
Trash Humpers Drag City 3,700 (3,700) New 1 0.01
Happiness Runs Strand 1,950 (1,950) New 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – May 6, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Fox (7) 849.5 24.10%
Warner Bros. (14) 694.2 19.70%
Buena Vista (8) 468.9 13.30%
Paramount (6) 446.1 12.70%
Sony (12) 235.3 6.70%
Universal (7) 210.9 6.00%
Lionsgate (7) 190.6 5.40%
Overture (4) 67.1 1.90%
Fox Searchlight (3) 62.8 1.80%
Summit (6) 58.1 1.70%
MGM (1) 48.1 1.40%
CBS (2) 37.6 1.10%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.7 1.00%
Sony Classics (10) 28.4 0.80%
Other * (130) 85.2 2.40%
* none greater than 0.4% 3517.5 100.00%

Top 2010 Limited Releases: To April 29, 2010

Title Distributor Gross
The Ghost Writer Summit 14,162,462
The Young Victoria * Apparition/Alliance 11,130,143
A Single Man * Weinstein Co. 7,935,872
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus E1/Sony Classics 7,382,072
The Last Station Sony Classics 6,517,037
An Education * Sony Classics 4,962,771
The Hurt Locker * Summit 4,531,548
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance 4,516,395
Hubble 3D WB 4,196,117
My Name is Khan Fox Searchlight 4,018,204
Greenberg Focus 3,784,695
To Save a Life IDP 3,777,210
The Runaways Apparition/E1 3,332,424
Broken Embraces * Sony Classics 3,316,910
3 Idiots * Big Pictures 2,279,902
Chloe Sony Classics/E1 2,800,621
Under the Sea 3D * WB 2,316,463
The White Ribbon Sony Classics 2,197,888
A Prophet Sony Classics 1,926,344
Celine: Through the Eyes of the World Sony 1,897,831
* 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