MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Clash of the Lilliputians

June 6 , 2010

There wasn’t sufficient love for a quartet of new national releases and virtually by default Shrek Forever After emerged as the top title at the weekend box office with an estimated $2x.x million. Among the debutante set comedy prevailed with Get Him to the Greek ranking second with $17.3 million while Killers, an uneasy mix of romantic comedy and lethal mayhem, was close behind with $16 million. Funny papers staple Marmaduke pupped out at $11.4 to open in sixth position while the genetic chiller Splice was a cut below with $7.4 million.

On the Bollywood beat Raajneeti had an upbeat bow of $790,000 from 112 venues. Newcomers in exclusive bows were largely uninspired with Neil Jordan’s adaptation of Ondine a less than classic $27,800 from five screens and the non-fiction Living in Emergency focusing on Doctors Without Borders hemorrhaged $22,100 at seven projection rooms.

Overall business took another dip as the industry ramped up the spin of a late summer surge. Box office sagged by 15% from last weekend and was a further 23% behind revenues from 2009. Last year the debut of The Hangover nudged out Up with respective grosses of $44.9 million and $44.1 million. The opening of Land of the Lost was a distant third with $18.8 million.

Entering into the weekend, industry mavens had anticipated generally soft business but not quite as limpid as the final numbers revealed. Shrek was expected to top the field with, as occurred, Get Him to the Greek in the place position with close to $20 million. Pundits also had Marmaduke competitive with Greek but its appeal seemed dubious in light of a handful of international debuts a week ago that failed to spark much audience interest.

Splice, theoretically, seemed like a surefire $10 million opener in light of the paucity of horror movies at this time of year. While not a seemingly review driven film, the science gone wrong yarn truly split top critics and that may cushion next weekend’s fall.

While the season’s high profile releases are definitely going through the meat grinder process (most holdovers experienced 50% drops this weekend), the alternative titles that include Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, City Island and The Secret in Their Eyes have been consistent for two months and longer.

-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: June 4 – June 6, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Shrek Forever After Par 25.9 (5,900) -40% 4386 183.6
Get Him to the Greek Uni 17.3 (6,430) New 2697 17.3
Killers Lionsgate 16.0 (5,610) New 2859 16
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time BV 13.8 (3,770) -54% 3646 59.4
Sex and the City 2 WB 12.6 (3,660) -59% 3445 73.4
Marmaduke Fox 11.4 (3,550) New 3213 11.4
Iron Man II Par 7.8 (2,600) -53% 3007 291.3
Splice WB 7.4 (3,010) New 2450 7.4
Robin Hood Uni 5.1 (1,970) -51% 2599 94.2
Letters to Juliet Summit 2.9 (1,490) -50% 1962 43.2
Date Night Fox .82 (1,250) -55% 658 95.4
Raajneeti UTV .79 (7,050) New 112 0.79
Just Wright Fox .78 (1,510) -64% 518 20.2
How to Train Your Dragon Par .51 (1,490) -56% 343 213.9
The Secret in Their Eyes Sony Classics .35 (2,340) -23% 151 3.9
Alice in Wonderland BV .31 (1,120) -47% 277 333.6
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance .31 (1,800) -22% 173 8.3
City Island Anchor Bay .29 (1,650) -29% 177 5.3
Please Give Sony Classics .26 (3,110) 30% 84 1.7
Babies Focus .24 (1,340) -49% 181 6.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $123.10
% Change (Last Year) -23%
% Change (Last Week) -15%
Also debuting/expanding
Solitary Man Anchor Bay .18 (8,050) 111% 22 0.44
Micmacs Sony Classics .12 (4,170) 192% 30 0.19
Ondine Magnolia 27,800 (5,560) New 5 0.03
Living in Emergency Bev Pics 22,100 (3,160) New 7 0.02
Rosencrantz & Guidenstern Are Undead Indican 5,700 (5,700) New 1 0.01
Cropsey Purgatorio 4,900 (4,900) New 1 0.01
Double Take Kino 4,500 (4,500) New 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – June 3, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (8) 908.6 20.80%
Fox (8) 892.2 20.40%
Warner Bros. (15) 790.7 18.10%
Buena Vista (9) 525.1 12.00%
Universal (9) 308.2 7.00%
Sony (13) 242.6 5.50%
Lionsgate (7) 195.7 4.50%
Summit (7) 108.1 2.50%
Overture (4) 67.4 1.50%
Fox Searchlight (3) 63.2 1.40%
MGM (1) 50.1 1.10%
CBS (2) 49.2 1.10%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.7 0.80%
Sony Classics (11) 32.8 0.80%
Other * (157) 110.2 2.50%
* none greater than 0.4% 4378.8 100.00%
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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

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~ David Simon