MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

There Goes the Neighbor, Hood

May 16, 2010

Iron Man 2 took a 60% tumble but retained the top spot at the weekend box office with an estimated $51.9 million. A trio of new national releases followed in its wake, most noticeably the new millennium Robin Hood, which was pretty close to the bullseye with $37 million. A pair of distaff targeted movies split the crowd with Letters to Juliet opening with $13.4 million and the more jocular Just Wright just behind on an $8.3 million tally.

Among niche debuts the Tamil Rama Rama Krishna Krishna proved a disappointment with a $33,500 gross at 21 outlets. More encouraging were the historic Princess Kaiulani and Mao’s Last Dancer, which each scored screen averages in the neighborhood of $5,000 in limited exposure. Also bowing in exclusives were a clutch of non-fiction entries that failed to stir up a significant ripple.

Overall ticket sales experienced a significant dip from last weekend’s Iron Man 2 launch but were a hair better than 2009 when the debut of Angels & Demons prevailed with a $46.2 million box office.

Lukewarm reviews and anxiousness about audience interest saw a broader than usual range of pundit predictions for Robin Hood. The more reasoned analysis tagged it at best hitting $40 million. The studio meanwhile anticipated more feverish response internationally and spring boarding from a Cannes Festival opening night, rang up roughly $70 million from openings in 50 nations.

The session’s curiosity was the arrival of two pictures that appeared to have the same sort of audience appeal. Letters to Juliet is a road picture where the destination is true love and Just Wright has a plot that copiously culls from such disparate romantic fare as Georgy Girl, The Prince of Tides and many more. Though the former secured more than 1,000 screens better than the latter, ultimately the films generated virtually the same screen average with not much hope of the onslaught of summer releases; especially Sex and the City 2.

Despite figures to the contrary there’s something inexplicably logy about the 2010 start of the summer season. Perhaps it will identify itself more plainly as early as next weekend.

-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: May 14 – May 16, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Iron Man II Par 51.9 (11,820) -60% 4390 211
Robin Hood Uni 37.0 (10,570) New 3503 37
Letters to Juliet Summit 13.4 (4,500) New 2968 13.4
Just Wright Fox 8.3 (4,550) New 1831 8.3
How to Train Your Dragon Par 5.1 (1,940) -24% 2620 207.7
Nightmare on Elm Street WB 4.6 (1,490) -50% 3075 56
Date Night Fox 3.9 (1,580) -28% 2481 86.6
The Back-Up Plan CBS 2.3 (920) -54% 2497 34
Furry Vengeance Summit 2.2 (820) -50% 2695 15.1
Clash of the Titans WB 1.2 (930) -52% 1300 160.1
Death at a Funeral Sony 1.1 (1,060) -51% 1062 40.5
Babies Focus 1.0 (1,860) -53% 543 3.9
Oceans BV .75 (770) -53% 973 17.7
The Last Song BV .53 (660) -55% 802 61.2
Kick-Ass Lionsgate .52 (850) -65% 609 46.6
The Losers WB .45 (650) -75% 2450 22.7
City Island Anchor Bay .44 (1,740) -28% 253 3.6
Alice in Wonderland BV .41 (1,020) -42% 403 331.5
The Secret in Their Eyes Sony Classics .39 (3,780) 2% 104 2.1
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance .38 (2,020) -21% 189 6.5
Hubble 3D WB .34 (7,170) 19% 48 5.8
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $133.80
% Change (Last Year) 1%
% Change (Last Week) -23%
Also debuting/expanding
Please Give Sony Classics .26 (5,260) 9% 50 0.75
Princess Kaiulani Roadside .17 (5,210) New 33 0.17
Harry Brown IDP .14 (2,390) -2% 59 0.59
Mao’s Last Dancer Mongrel 44,200 (4,910) New 9 0.04
Rama Rama Krishna Krishna Blue Sky 33,500 (1,590) New 21 0.03
Metropolis (reissue) Kino 30,600 (7,650) 53% 4 0.06
Daddy Longlegs IFC 9,300 (9,300)


1 0.01
A Surprise in Texas Rosen 7,700 (1,280) New 6 0.01
Looking for Eric IFC 7,400 (3,700) New 2 0.01
Here and There Purgatorio 6,200 (6,200) New 1 0.01
Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo Argot 5,900 (5,900) New 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – May 13, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Fox (7) 858.1 22.90%
Warner Bros. (14) 713.2 19.00%
Paramount (7) 614.1 16.40%
Buena Vista (8) 473.6 12.60%
Sony (13) 238.9 6.40%
Universal (7) 211.1 5.60%
Lionsgate (7) 193.5 5.20%
Overture (4) 67.3 1.80%
Summit (6) 63.7 1.70%
Fox Searchlight (3) 63 1.70%
MGM (1) 48.9 1.30%
CBS (2) 44.2 1.20%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.7 0.90%
Sony Classics (11) 29.4 0.80%
Other * (138) 93.7 2.50%
* none greater than 0.4% 3747.4 100.00%
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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