MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

True Grit: The Sands of Tommy

May 31, 2010

The pre-ordained juggernaut of Sex and the City 2 was naut. Smiling ogre the Memorial holiday weekend was Shrek Forever After with an estimated $55.6 million. The weekend’s incoming box office behemoths — Sex 2 and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time — duked it out for the Miss Congeniality spot with photo finish results of $37.3 million and $37.9 million respectively.

Activity in the niches was restrained and while Bollywood took a pass, both the Tamil Singram with $108,000 at 23 venues and the Telugu Golimar with $36,800 on 12 screens were off to good starts. Exclusives for several imports were also quite encouraging with English-track Agora from Spain posting $42,400 at two sites and French imports Micmacs and Mademoiselle Chambon with opening salvos of $51,400 from four theaters theaters and $24,900 in two playdeates respectively.

The session also served up a new dish of zombies from George Romero with Survival of the Dead supping on a modest $52,600 from 20 screens while the 50th anniversary restoration of Breathless left them gasping with $37,100 from three new waves.

With results of incoming fare several notches below expectations it wasn’t a terribly festive holiday frame. Box office was a meager 1% (3-day to 3-day portion) improved from the immediate prior non-holiday weekend. It also amounted to a 14% decline from 2009 when charts were topped by debuts of Night at the Museum 2 and Terminator: Salvation with $70.1 million and $51.9 million.

Pulling out all the stops with a full bore marketing blitz, Sex and the City 2 was expected to reap a $60 million plus debut and advance sales as well as a pre-weekend Thursday gross of $14.2 million signaled that result. Instead revenues dropped progressively in subsequent days and its 5-day total barely exceeded $50 million.

The film nonetheless set a number of arcane records including topping 1987’s Beverly Hills Cop 2 gross, which had been the top R-Rated Memorial weekend champ. Its 90% female demographic also appears to be a record.

International results were more buoyant with top rankings in Great Britain of $9 million and Germany providing $7.2 million of a $27 million total from 17 territories.

The oft-delayed release of Prince of Persia was also expected to open more forcefully. It bowed internationally last weekend with $18 million in 23 countries. This weekend it ramped up to slightly more than $60 million overseas for a $100 million global weekend.

Meanwhile high profile holdovers continued to lose traction with Robin Hood pushing hard to get to a face-saving $100 million domestic gross. Mature audiences appear to be somewhat desperate for a fix and that’s been of great benefit to the likes of City Island, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Harry Brown and The Secret in Their Eyes, which continue to hold screens despite the onslaught of summer blockbusters.
-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: May 28 – May 31, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Shrek Forever After Par 55.6 (12,740) -39% 4367 145.4
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time BV 37.9 (10,390) New 3646 37.9
Sex and the City 2 WB 37.3 (10,830) New 3445 51.5
Iron Man II Par 20.6 (5,410) -38% 3804 279.2
Robin Hood Uni 13.5 (4,000) -45% 3373 86.2
Letters to Juliet Summit 7.2 (2,550) -35% 2825 37.9
Just Wright Fox 2.7 (2,230) -51% 1195 18.7
Date Night Fox 2.2 (1,980) -39% 1126 93.9
MacGruber Uni 1.9 (750) -63% 2546 7.6
How to Train Your Dragon Par 1.4 (1,730) -45% 825 213
Nightmare on Elm Street WB 1.1 (1,280) -62% 891 61.9
Alice in Wonderland BV .66 (1,940) 7% 341 333.1
Babies Focus .63 (2,090) -35% 301 6.1
The Secret in Their Eyes Sony Classics .57 (3,960) -4% 144 3.4
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance .53 (2,880) 5% 184 7.8
City Island Anchor Bay .51 (2,540) -3% 201 4.8
Hubble 3-D WB .41 (8,660) 11% 47 7.1
The Back-Up Plan CBS .34 (870) -71% 391 36.6
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fox .33 (1,170) -5% 283 62.8
Kites Big Picture .32 (1,780) -73% 181 1.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $184.30
% Change (Last Year) -14%
% Change (Last Week) 1%
Also debuting/expanding
Please Give Sony Classics .24 (4,420) -13% 55 1.4
Harry Brown IDP .16 (3,080) -24% 53 1.1
Singam Sun .11 (4,710) New 23 0.11
Solitary Man Anchor Bay .11 (17,750) -11% 6 0.24
Survival of the Dead Magnolia 52,600 (2,630) New 20 0.05
Micmacs Sony Classics 51,400 (12,850) New 4 0.05
Agora Newmarket 42,400 (21,200) New 2 0.04
Breathless (reissue) Rialto 37,100 (12,370) New 3 0.04
Golimar Ficus 36,800 (3,070) New 12 0.04
Mademoiselle Chambon Lorber 24,900 (12,450) New 2 0.02

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – May 27, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Fox (8) 885.1 21.40%
Paramount (8) 813.5 19.70%
Warner Bros. (15) 741.4 17.90%
Buena Vista (8) 477.9 11.50%
Universal (9) 289.3 7.00%
Sony (13) 241.8 5.80%
Lionsgate (7) 195.2 4.70%
Summit (7) 98.1 2.40%
Overture (4) 67.4 1.60%
Fox Searchlight (3) 63.2 1.50%
MGM (1) 49.7 1.20%
CBS (2) 48.7 1.20%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.7 0.80%
Sony Classics (11) 31.6 0.80%
Other * (149) 105.1 2.50%
* none greater than 0.4% 4142.7 100.00%
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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