MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

To Finity … And Beyawned

June 20, 2010

The highly anticipated Toy Story 3 arrived right on target with an estimated $110.2 million debut, which marked the biggest (unadjusted) opening for a Pixar movie. The week’s other incoming title Johah Hex wound up with an accursed $4.9 million that ranked it seventh in the weekend lineup.

The session also featured strong activity in the niches including Bollywood entry Raavan, which scored a hefty $710,000 (including Tamil-dubbed versions). Among exclusives Cyrus was a much-appreciated problem child with a brisk $44,450 average from four exposures while Italian import I Am Love had an impressive $16,090 average in its eight venues. Additionally Saturday sneaks on the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz action-comedy Knight and Day attracted 85% overall capacity and strongly positive exit polling.

It all added up to close to a $200 million weekend that translated into a significant box office boast following a month of eroding expectations.

In industry circles, Toy Story 3 had been pegged to open with better than a $100 million weekend and its $42 million Friday gross had trackers predicting an initial tally between $120 million and $125 million. But to great surprise box office dropped 10% Saturday leaving pundits scratching their collective heads. Historically family animated films virtually never take a second day dip (Wall-E a rare exception with a 5% Friday to Saturday slippage).

Disney distribution chief Chuck Vian explained some of the difference to the fact that Friday figures reflected Thursday and Friday midnight shows of roughly $4 million. Factoring that out of the equation would mean the film was flat on Saturday when one would expect family audiences to pick up the slack. Vian likened the skew to see the film on opening day to the more adult oriented The Simpson Movie. The argument is somewhat buttressed by the fact that 83% of U.S. schools were on recess on Friday but it still sounds like a lot of on the spot spit-balling that won’t become more clearly appreciated until second weekend grosses are collected.

Weekend revenues climbed 31% from both last weekend and the comparable frame in 2009. Last year the debut of The Proposal led the field with a $33.6 million bow while The Hangover and Up took place and show positions with respective box office of $26.7 million and $23.5 million.

After months of lackluster returns Bollywood has been bouncing back with strong openings for Housefull, Raajneeti and now Raavan. The Hindi sector obviously took note of the increasing significance of the Tamil audience in North America with 24 dubbed prints as part of its domestic debut that out-performed original language versions on a pound for pound basis.

The summer session, while hardly the richest vein for alternative fare, has been in 2010 appreciably open to provide commercial traction for a handful of movies that have filled in the cracks for mainstream fatigue. The on-going strength of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo should shortly pass $10 million domestically – a rare feat for a non-English language film. It’s also afforded the likes of Solitary Man and Please Give to expand to an unexpected degree and bodes well for Winter’s Bone, Cyrus and The Kids Are All Right to get more than a foot in the door in the coming weeks.
-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: June 18-20, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Toy Story 3 BV 110.2 (27,370) New 4028 110.2
The Karate Kid Sony 29.1 (7,950) -48% 3663 106.4
The A-Team Fox 13.9 (3,920) -46% 3544 49.9
Get Him to the Greek Uni 6.1 (2,360) -38% 2592 47.9
Shrek Forever After Par 5.5 (1,710) -65% 3207 222.9
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time BV 5.2 (2,010) -19% 2605 80.5
Jonah Hex WB 4.9 (1,750) New 2825 4.9
Killers Lions Gate 4.8 (1,840) -40% 2619 39.1
Iron Man II Par 2.7 (1,650) -41% 1612 304
Marmaduke Fox 2.6 (1,050) -56% 2495 27.9
Sex and the City 2 WB 2.4 (1,450) -55% 1680 90.2
Robin Hood Uni 1.3 (1,250) -50% 1046 102
Splice WB/E1 .87 (920) -70% 944 15.5
Letters to Juliet Summit .82 (1,020) -52% 806 48.6
Raavan Big Pictures .71 (5,970) New 119 0.71
Please Give Sony Classics .45 (1,780) 59% 255 2.6
Solitary Man Anchor Bay .42 (3,900) 13% 107 1.4
Date Night Fox .34 (990) -43% 344 96.9
Winter’s Bone Roadside .32 (8,470) 279% 38 0.44
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance .27 (1,660) -23% 161 9.3
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $191.10
% Change (Last Year) 31%
% Change (Last Week) 31%
Also debuting/expanding
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work IFC .21 (7,310) 29% 29 0.46
Cyrus Searchlight .18 (44,450) New 4 0.18
I Am Love Magnolia .13 (16,090) New 8 0.13
Micmacs Sony Classics/E1 .09 (1,790) -17% 52 0.56
Le Baiser du Barbu Alliance 64,400 (1,260) New 51 0.06
8: The Mormon Proposition Red Flag 34,300 (2,450) New 14 0.03
Villain Big Pictures 19,900 (1,810) New 11 0.02
Let It Rain IFC 16,300 (8,150) New 2 0.02
Stonewall Uprising First Run 14,700 (3,920) New 4 0.01
The Killer Inside Me IFC 8,500 (8,500) New 1 0.01
Year of the Carnivore E1 7,200 (2,400) New 3 0.01
Nature of Existence Walking Shadows 3,100 (3,100) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – June 17, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (8) 987.6 20.60%
Fox (10) 957.9 20.00%
Warner Bros. (16) 833.3 17.40%
Buena Vista (9) 555.9 11.60%
Universal (10) 361.6 7.60%
Sony (14) 320.9 6.70%
Lions Gate (8) 230.4 4.80%
Summit (7) 116.2 2.40%
Overture (4) 67.4 1.40%
Fox Searchlight (3) 63.2 1.30%
MGM (1) 50.4 1.10%
CBS (2) 49.4 1.00%
Sony Classics (12) 35.1 0.70%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.7 0.70%
Other * (169) 121.2 2.60%
* none greater than 0.4% 4785.2 100.00%

Top Domestic Box Office Grossers: January 1 – June 17, 2010

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 465,765,579
Alice in Wonderland BV 334,006,337
Iron Man 2 Par 301,338,077
Shrek Forever After Par 217,456,527
How to Train Your Dragon Par 214,597,215
Clash of the Titans WB 162,136,264
Shutter Island Par 128,051,522
Valentine’s Day WB 110,509,442
Sherlock Holmes * WB 106,967,985
Robin Hood Uni 100,656,790
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Fox 98,887,330
Date Night Fox 96,522,353
The Book of Eli WB 94,885,859
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox 88,731,293
Sex and the City 2 WB 87,759,076
Dear John Sony/Alliance 80,092,214
The Karate Kid Sony 77,253,944
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time BV 75,234,110
It’s Complicated * Uni 72,531,877
The Bounty Hunter Sony 66,541,264

* 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