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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates By Fireworks Klady

“You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run. You never count your money while you’re sittin’ at the table. There’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done.”
We all realize, don’t we, that Summit doesn’t count the money for Twilight: Eclipse against what the last one took in on each day… right?
When, at the end of the first weekend, Eclipse is at more than $150 million, Summit will not be crying about not doing $165m in 5 days like the last one. And when they don’t get to $178m in 6 days, not a tear. They will be thanking the lord that they got away with it again, that they decided to accelerate the series, and wondering whether they can actually get the next film, the first of a two-parter, into theaters next summer – instead of Thanksgiving – and to push the finale’ into the Thanksgiving ’11 slot.
Now that the bar has been raised so high – too high – for the film’s box office, it will be interesting to see if the media shows its teeth at the end of the weekend. Of course, it’s possible that the film will push hard and get to the bigger numbers. But assuming it doesn’t, anything but celebration over a nine-figure opening is stupid.
For all the beating up of The Last Airbender, its box office, while not world-beating or exciting – especially next to Twilight – is not horrible. If it ends up with a $44 million 3-day or better, it will go into the books as one of the ten best July 4 weekend grosses ever. Still, it’s hardly what Paramount was hoping for… even without the 3D ticket price bump they paid $5m or so to get.
The sad part? The 3D conversion will more than pay for itself this weekend… so keep writing those “3D is ruining movies” stories and studios will keep looking at the bottom line until the audience responds to 3D as critics now are. And let’s keep in mind that Jeffrey Katzenberg’s alarm bell going off – as it did, accurately, at Disney – should be taken more seriously at studios than critics complaining. At first, i felt he was being greedy for his own benefit… and he is, a bit… but in the end, audiences won’t distinguish “good” 3D from bad “3D.” If they decide to reject the form, it will be across-the-board, only allowing for exceptional exceptions, like Avatar 2.
Toy Story 3 continues to be way out in front on previous Pixar product. And it has a good chance of passing Up as the biggest third weekend ever for a Pixar movie.
Grown Ups is holding reasonably well, looking to land somewhere between the gross of Click and The Longest Yard. The picture has a unique position in the market until Dinner For Schmucks and The Other Guys land at the end of the month.
Knight & Day is done. Lots of conversations about it, but I have to say, my feeling forever has been that the only real effect media can have on a movie’s box office is when people are on the fence and the media goes all one way or the other. In this case, the intense negativity about the opening weekend, combined with mixed reviews that spiked much more intensely for those who were very negative than those who were very positive, killed whatever chance this movie had to accelerate.
If I were Cruise and Paramount, I’d be reconsidering Mission: Impossible 4 with Ethan Hunt as the bad guy. Put together an old school I:M team to stop him. And no excuses for him going bad. Let him work on getting missile codes for Al-Qaeda or something harsh. Make a movie ABOUT the Bond villain. Hire someone like Michael Fassbender to lead the team that stops him and keep the series moving forward, with Cruise as a producer, to 5 and beyond.

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34 Responses to “Friday Estimates By Fireworks Klady”

  1. IOv2 says:

    Say it with me now, “BY THE POWER OF CULLEN… I HAVE SPARKLE POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!” Happy 4th weekend fellow Americans and happy weekend to you folks who make the international box office gross so interesting.

  2. Anghus Houvouras says:

    So the last airbender will not bomb despite being one of the worst reviewed blockbusters of all time?
    Critics. Dont. Matter.
    But how bad is it? Worse than phantom menace? Worse than transformers 2?

  3. IOv2 says:

    Anghus, never forget that we live in a world where some people still like Phantom Menace. Seriously. How bad is The Last Airbender? Well it seems that the horrible 3D post conversion did not help the reviews. This, however, once again demonstrates a big problem with what M. Night and Paramount created this weekend. This show has a enough of a fan base to make the movie moderately successful but what do Paramount and M. Night do? They spend a ton of money and make a crap film that could kill this franchise before it starts.

  4. Glamourboy says:

    Expect Airbender to take an amazing Airdive though after this weekend. The TV show has many fans so I’m not surprised that they’d turn up…and they’re not the type to read reviews.
    I’m not a Twilight fan (whatever they call themsevles), but I did catch Eclipse and was surprised to find that I liked it. Being gay, I found the movie to be very homoerotic and I think the true love story is between the two guys. In the audience I saw it with, there was 60% screaming girls, 20% cougars and 20% screaming gay guys.

  5. chris says:

    Much like the rush to get the subsequent “Twilight”s into theaters, I’m curious about the impact of Summit’s attempt to rush repeat viewers into the opening weekend, to further beef up these opening numbers by promising “a ‘Twilight’ actor will be appearing at X theater in your town Friday.’ I know of people who saw it Wednesday, then heard about the Friday thing and saw it again. It’ll probably make the fall-off in the second weekend, when those Twihards might ordinarily have been counted on to take in a second viewing, even more precipitous. But it seems like a brilliant way to make the opening enormous.

  6. a_loco says:

    Glamourboy, that tent scene was certainly Brokeback-esque. I also enjoyed watching Eclipse, but not because it was a good movie (it was pretty awful), but rather because the audience was kind of hilarious.
    Also, I was pleasantly surprised by Knight and Day, the plot was full of holes, and the middle dragged at times, but the action was very well-staged (a rare occurrence this summer) and Cruise and Diaz had some great chemistry going on, aided by the fact that we’re supposed to think Cruise is crazy.

  7. ERIC MAYHER says:

    Right now the smart thing for Tom Cruise and the MI franchise would be for him to step down completely as the star, and I say this as somebody who thinks he is really getting a bad rap. I mean what what has he done that is anywhere as bad as what Mel Gibson has been accused of lately. But back to the topic, Paramount can’t spend 100-150 and take a chance that fox marketing killed Knight and Day not cruise. He should stay on as a producer with J.J work with Brad Bird on making the best movie possible and cast an up and comer to take his place. Chris Pine would be the obvious choice. He has the J.J connection and he hasn’t really capitilized on his post star trek heat yet other than the denzel- tony scott movie coming out in november. It would fit his schedule as star trek 2 most likely would not start shooting until next summer. Assuming a heavy rewrite on mi doesnt delay production to next year.I am sure I am not saying anything that Paramount has not already considered.

  8. christian says:

    “In the audience I saw it with, there was 60% screaming girls, 20% cougars and 20% screaming gay guys.”
    And 1% Lex. Happy 4th!

  9. counthaku says:

    There was a huge crackdown on the movie-streaming sites:
    Wonder if that’ll make a difference for weekend box office.

  10. Geoff says:

    Wow, what a weird summer – yes, Toy Story 3 is amazing and it truly deserves the mega-grosses it’s getting.
    But how come just about every fun action movie is completely underperforming? Over the past two weeks, I have seen The A Team and Knight and Day – both movies are far from perfect, but they were both absolute blasts and I’m convinced that 20 years ago, both movies would have been blockbusters.
    What’s the deal – I thought the summer was made for movies like that. Sorry, you can’t tell me that any Twilight movie is that kind of fun.

  11. The Pope says:

    I think that David’s idea for MI4 is an interesting one. One way Cruise could possibly reboot his career/image is to play a villain… and to do so in his own franchise would be nigh on spectacular. A bit like my first impression of Knight and Day. I think it would have been more interesting had Cameron Diaz played the agent and Tom the stay-at-home husband. More comedy. Also makes him more of a family guy. Which could have upped his image with female audiences.
    He really needs to diversify if he is to keep going.

  12. Geoff says:

    There is about as much need for another Mission: Impossible movie at this point as there is for another Beverly Hills Cop – Paramount should just give it up.
    And how many franchises do they need? They have Star Trek, Iron Man, Transformers, maybe another Indy, probably GI Joe now….and that’s not even including the Dreamworks animation stuff, including Kung Fu Panda and ‘Dragon. If anything, they should try to revitalize the Jack Ryan franchise – do THAT with Chris Pine and probably spend half the money you would on another MI.

  13. Geoff says:

    Shoot, that’s not even including the other Marvel franchise stuff for Paramount – am I the only one who see them pulling off a big launch for Thor?

  14. Eric says:

    Geoff, you might recall they tried the Jack Ryan reboot already with Affleck and The Sum of All Fears. It was… not very good.
    The Jack Ryan, Indiana Jones, and Beverly Hills Cop movies are all franchises that probably can’t and shouldn’t be rebooted. They all work because they’re the perfect match of star and material, and their stars are just too old to keep them going. They need to be left alone. (I know that Baldwin played the part before Ford, but the Jack Ryan part belongs to Harrison Ford and there’s no chance they’ll top Clear and Present Danger.)
    Anyway, I don’t think Mission Impossible really falls into the same category. The source material was always about a team and that lends itself well to cast changes. Look at how different each movie in the series has been already– that’s kind of proof that various approaches could work as long as they’re done with care. I’d be happy to see another Mission Impossible movie, with or without Cruise.

  15. Geoff says:

    Eric, I completely agree with you on you Indy – the last one was just god-awful.
    But there are about four remaining unfilmed Jack Ryan novels that they could pull off with the right casting – no doubt, Sum of All Fears was a mess, but they were probably just blinded by Affleck.
    And sorry, Alec Baldwin OWNED as Jack Ryan in Red October – still a shame that he had to leave the franchise, though the Harrison Ford ones were not bad.

  16. IOv2 says:

    Geoff, Twilight is a lot of fun with the right audience. Few things are better for a great audience reaction then Lautner taking off his shirt or not having a shirt on. It’s freaking hilarious. I also disagree with anyone who says the last Indy sucked. Go here and watch James latest review about sequels that get a bad rap. If that does not sway you haters… HOLLA… a little bit then you are just no fun.
    Oh yeah, as the official biggest Beverly Hills Cop fan on this blog, I hope we get another film in that series for the same reason we got another Rocky film, because the previous film just sucked so bad, that you need to give those characters a better ending. Axel Foley deserves a better send off and it may even give Eddie a bit of his swagger back.

  17. Hallick says:

    “I think it would have been more interesting had Cameron Diaz played the agent and Tom the stay-at-home husband. More comedy.”
    Running every clip I’ve seen from the movie with the roles reversed like that just makes the damn thing work. It would have revitalized both their careers.

  18. Geoff says:

    IO, I loved the first two Beverly Hills Cop movies as much as any one.
    But sorry, that ship has sailed…..Eddie Murphy hasn’t had any real swagger since ’99.

  19. Anghus Houvouras says:

    Yes, there was a huge crackdown on the sites.
    I doubt it had much impact. One of the sites in question was back up with a modified url within an hour.

  20. gradystiles says:

    “Still, it’s hardly what Paramount was hoping for… even without the 3D ticket price bump they paid $5m or so to get.”
    It’ll get around $70 million for the 5 day. Given what the movie actually turned out to be, trust me, Paramount is happy.

  21. IOv2 says:

    Geoff, you can always get your swagger back, especially if you hang out with ROSEWOOD and TAGGART! Seriously dude, you can always go back. Always.

  22. IOv2 says:

    Oh yeah Geoff, 20 years ago people were not as savvy. I am really going to go with this: kids and some younger adults are have seen so many action films that the action film has to be something very special or be sold as something special to get those people in the theatre. This is what happens when everyone is online all the darn time and everyone has some clue as to how so many people feel about something.

  23. Joe Leydon says:

    I can’t see Paramount allowing Cruise’s Ethan Hunt go over to he dark side — for the simple reason that it might color audience reaction to the previous three MI movies. Judging from how often all three appear on basic and pay cable, I would think they’e drawing more than just reapeat biz.

  24. IOv2 says:

    Get rid of that “are” in my last post and it should work. Joe, happy 4th to you sir and I liked your post about all the people you have met. You have indeed come far sir and you look like Santa Claus. You cannot beat that with a wiffle ball bat.
    Why exactly are they so eager to make another Mission Impossible movie? Seriously? Does Paramount need international business that bad? If they just need to do one of those films, they might as well make Cruise the leader of a new team of people, sort of like with 3, but not as stupid. Wow. That’s a suggestion right there.

  25. Hallick says:

    They can make another Beverly Hills Cop movie on the one condition that Lisa Eilbacher comes back to movies. She, JoBeth Williams, and Annette O’Toole were the coolest actresses around back in the day. Not that any of them could ever THE PART that would make them a star.

  26. Joe Leydon says:

    Geoff: Saw Knight and Day and The A-Team today and thoroughly enjoyed both. And I agree: Both seem like perfect summer movies. Don’t get the harsh reviews and audience indifference.
    BTW: This is a first time for me: Saw a trailer for Dinner for Schmucks before A-Team, and when it ended — I could hear a fortysomething couple seated behind me audibly GROAN in response.

  27. Joe Leydon says:

    IO: Also saw Last Airbender today. It’s not quite as awful as its worst reviews indicate. But the pseudo-3-D is unimpressive, to put it politely, and the lame dialog is occasionally giggle-worthy. I have never seen the TV show, so I can’t say how true it might be to the spirit of the series. But let me put it like this: After seeing the movie, I’m in no great big hurry to rent DVDs of the original.

  28. Joe Leydon says:

    Hallick: Request permission to add Bonnie Bedelia to that list.
    Oh, and IO: These days, I don’t get Santa Claus as much as Col. Sanders.

  29. IOv2 says:

    Bonnie Bedelia is on Parenthood and she still does it for me. That aside, this should explain to you the difference between the movie and the show Joe:

  30. Joe Leydon says:

    I knew I was getting old when I started seeing movies in which the hero’s mother looked smokin’ hot to me. One of the first instances: The Prince of Pennsylvania, which had Bonnie Bedelia cast as Keanu Reeves’ mother. I looked at this and thought: “Oh, mama!!!!!”

  31. Hallick says:

    “Hallick: Request permission to add Bonnie Bedelia to that list.”
    Permission granted (although I do have to note that she didn’t rock that 80’s perm she wore in “Die Hard” a tenth as much as Eilbacher did in “Beverly Hills Cop”).
    And seeing as how I’m sitting here and watching ID4 right now, I’m throwing Margaret Colin into the mix too.

  32. Lota says:

    “I think it would have been more interesting had Cameron Diaz played the agent and Tom the stay-at-home husband. More comedy.”
    That would have been awesome.

  33. Geoff says:

    You know, I find this talk of making Cruise a villain for MI very interesting – let’s not forget that Paramount was more than willing 15 years ago to turn the show’s hero, Jim Phelps, into the movie’s villain – there were a LOT of fans of the show who were definitely pissed off about that and completely justified. I mean, why not just do a Star Trek movie and make Kirk an enemy of the Federation while you’re at it?
    Probably the best course of action is to make Tom Cruise a team-leader and put some attractive up-and-coming costars under him – Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, heck just put the new Star Trek cast in!
    Still see no real value to even trying to relaunch the franchise – the financial upside just isn’t there, any more. You can still make a very reasonably priced Jack Ryan movie and maybe aim for Bourne numbers on the high-end.

  34. LexG says:

    PESCI P… Eh, I can’t even work up a bullshit spiel about it. Anyone see this? THRILLED to see Pesci back, Mirren rules, I love the ’70s sleaze backdrop, good director, good supporting cast, but… kind of boring, no?
    And Joe Pesci sucking on Scout Taylor Compton’s nipples has to be one of the top 10 things NOBODY ever asked to see.
    And where’d they get that Edgar Ramirez clone who played the prizefighter? Shit, check out AWESOME Helen Mirren working quadruple-overtime to cover for that guy’s shitty acting in their scenes together.
    And since OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN is one of my all-time favorites, I don’t ever wanna say Hackford is losing the touch, but how do you fuck up a Scout CT/Taryn Manning catfight?

Quote Unquotesee all »

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