MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Toy Boys and the Billion Dollar Babies

To no great surprise Toy Story 3 retained top position in weekend ticket sales with an estimated $58.7 million. The frame’s two national freshmen also landed in anticipated order with the arrested development comedy Grown Ups performing better than expected with $40.5 million and the star driven action comedy Knight and Day underwhelming with $19.4 million.

Action in the niches was sparse but a couple of docs looked potent in exclusive runs. The war-embedded Restrepo bowed in two venues with $31,200 while Oliver Stone’s engaging look at contemporary Latin America, South of the Border, scored $17,700 from a single screen. French import Wild Grass proved just OK with $7,100 at a pair of outlets.

Overall weekend revenues took a hit from last weekend and last year as 2010 domestic box office passed $5 billion. In the current climate of haves and have nots, Paramount movies passed the $1 billion mark on Thursday while Fox hit that level the following day. Domestic box office (abetted by premium prices for Imax and 3D engagements) is running almost 2% better than last year while admissions are lagging by 6%. Following its record breaking debut some fretted that Toy Story 3 might take a 60% hit in its sophomore session. Thankfully it declined slightly less than half and is likely to emerge the season as the year’s top grossing individual title.

As the weekend neared, tracking and advance ticket sales made it crystal clear that the clash of the freshman was unlikely to be competitive. The ensemble comedy Grown Ups was first choice among movie avids while movie goers in general were taking a wait and see attitude toward Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in Knight and Day. Pundits pegged Grown Ups in the low to mid $30 million range. Exit polls revealed that 53% of the audience was female and that tilt goes a long way to explain that film’s improved picture and Knight and Day’s not quite up to snuff performance. Less surprising was the 52% tilt to viewers under 25-years-old.

Considerable effort was put behind Knight and Day with the initial hope to replicate the success of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. But tracking quickly lowered the bar and sneak previews and a Wednesday opening were added to buttress the equation. The $7.5 million generated pre-weekend was encouraging but the film’s five-day gross was more in line with the type of grosses Cruise’s pictures have done in their opening three-day weekend. Fingers are crossed that the response will be considerably better internationally while buzz has already begun that if Mission: Impossible 4 happens it will be as a result of J.J. Abrams’ involvement and not that of the former biggest movie star in the world.

Overall weekend revenues generated slightly less than $165 million that translated into a 19% slide from last weekend’s Toy Story 3 bow. It was a peg lower with 20% erosion from 2009 when the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen juggernaut struck with gale force of $108.9 million.

The battle of the titans 2010 version continues to be good news for alternative fare. The current frame’s expansions of such films as Winter’s Bones, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, I Am Love and Solitary Man all experiencing box office upturns in a still relatively malleable marketplace.

-by Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: June 25-27, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Toy Story 3 BV 58.7 (14,580) -47% 4028 226.3
Grown Ups Sony 40.5 (11,450) New 3534 40.5
Knight and Day Fox 19.4 (6,270) New 3098 26.7
The Karate Kid Sony 15.4 (4,110) -49% 3740 135.6
The A-Team Fox 5.9 (1,830) -59% 3242 62.8
Get Him to the Greek Uni 3.0 (1,360) -51% 2189 54.4
Shrek Forever After Par 2.9 (1,220) -49% 2340 229.3
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time BV 2.7 (1,470) -51% 1851 86.1
Killers Lions Gate 2.0 (870) -61% 2271 44
Jonah Hex WB 1.6 (550) -71% 2825 9.1
Iron Man II Par 1.4 (1,170) -52% 1169 306.9
Sex and the City 2 WB 1.2 (1,310) -51% 901 93
Marmaduke Fox 1.0 (880) -60% 1110 30
Robin Hood Uni .65 (970) -55% 669 103.3
How to Train Your Dragon Par .47 (1,410) 183% 333 215.4
Solitary Man Anchor Bay .46 (2,590) 7% 177 2.05
Winter’s Bone Roadside .43 (5,970) 23% 72 1.1
Letters to Juliet Summit .40 (790) -49% 509 49.5
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work IFC .32 (3,670) 43% 88 0.91
Cyrus Searchlight .30 (17,820) 66% 17 0.57
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $156.35
% Change (Last Year) -20%
% Change (Last Week) -19%
Also debuting/expanding
Please Give Sony Classics .26 (1,240) -45% 211 3.1
I Am Love Magnolia .24 (8,860) 97% 27 0.43
Restrepo Nat.Geo 31,200 (15,600) New 2 0.03
South of the Border Cinema Libre 17,700 (17,700) New 1 0.02
Wild Grass Sony Classics 17,100 (8,550) New 2 0.02
The Servent CJ Entertainment 5,500 (2,750) New 2 0.01
Dogtooth Kino 5,300 (5,300) New 1


Domestic Market Share: January 1 – June 24, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (8) 1001.1 19.60%
Fox (11) 990.9 19.50%
Warner Bros. (17) 847.4 16.60%
Buena Vista (10) 732.1 14.40%
Universal (10) 373.6 7.30%
Sony (14) 364.4 7.20%
Lionsgate (8) 238.2 4.70%
Summit (7) 117.8 2.30%
Overture (4) 67.4 1.30%
Fox Searchlight (4) 63.5 1.20%
MGM (1) 50.4 1.00%
CBS (2) 49.6 1.00%
Sony Classics (12) 36.6 0.70%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.7 0.70%
Other * (174) 126.6 2.50%
* none greater than 0.4% 5094.3 100.00%

Top Global Box Office Grossers: January 1 – June 24, 2010

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 1,906,675,911
Alice in Wonderland BV 1,020,922,345
Iron Man 2 Par 607,206,946
Clash of the Titans WB 487,709,208
How to Train Your Dragon Par 475,895,585
Shrek Forever After Par 314,820,840
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time BV 302,437,443
Shutter Island Par 299,200,598
Robin Hood Uni 299,113,208
Sherlock Holmes * WB 295,759,663
Sex and the City 2 WB 258,612,516
Toy Story 3 BV 234,254,807
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox 226,045,753
Valentine’s Day WB 217,593,116
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Fox 206,004,824
It’s Complicated * Uni 169,758,671
The Book of Eli WB 157,231,732
Date Night Fox 150,427,237
The Wolfman Uni 142,633,978
The Princess and the Frog * BV 138,877,378

* 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