MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Bang Bang Man Moron

It was déjà vu all over again as funny buddy cops and stereoscopic hip hoppers joined the summer box office fray. The cruiser bruisers of The Other Guy debuted at the top of the movie charts with an estimated $35.7 million while the foot stompers of Step Up 3D slotted third overall with a disappointing $15.4 million.

A couple of new entries from the majors fulfilled contract obligations sans distinction. Middle Men bowed with $323,000 at 252 venues and the young love Flipped entered three markets to a gross of $233,000 on 45 screens. Both have little chance of more than token expansion.

In the niches there were solid returns of $394,000 for local hero Filiere 13 in Quebec and impressive response for Telegu-lingo Don Seenu of $224,000 while Hindi entry Aisha … Don’t Be Cupid was tepid with box office of $153,000. The dissolute twentysomethings of Twelve failed to register a pulse with just $87,800 from 231 playdates.

Among a raft of exclusive freshmen the best results included Cairo Time with $66,500 at five sites; a $16,100 tally on two screens for Venice prize-winner Lebanon; and a dozen venues posting $68,200 for large screen pictorial The Wildest Dream.

The fragmented marketplace experienced its first downturn in two months and the prognosis for the rest of summer fails to brighten as a handful of wide releases are poised in the wings next Friday. The current weekend added close to $135 million in sales that amounted to a 10% slip from last weekend and an 11% decline from 2009 when debuts of GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Julie & Julia led with respective B.O. of $54.7 million and $20 million.

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg dusted off the buddy cop genre effectively and got essentially anticipated results for The Other Guys. But it’s generally been a brutal season for comic fare and as competition ramps up in August side-stepping commercial pitfalls will only escalate.

Step Up 3D hoped to expand its audience by extending its perspective. But exit polls indicated that the film played to the core crowd who embraced 3D playdates with those engagements comprising 80% of ticket sales that out-distancing conventional showing with averages two and half times more potent.

It’s been 57 years since Kiss Me Kate employed 3D for dance and earlier this year the British StreetDance plumbed Step Up terrain and grossed an impressive $46 million in European and Asian engagements.

“3D is ideal for dance,” observed Step Up choreographer Jamal Simms. “There was very little that had to be altered for the process because you’re always working with foreground and background movement to provide perspective. But when you start to factor in the elements — dust, water — the emotional component ramps up.”

Step Up 3D had day and date openings in 11 countries via Summit and UPI. In the UK it grossed $3.2 million to rank second to Toy Story and was just behind Inception in Australia with $3 million.

Studios appear to be having a tougher time selling movies not targeted toward audiences under the age of 25 … or perhaps they’ve simply given up. Both Middle Men, an unconventional fact-based look at pornography and the internet and the first love Flipped needed a TLC approach the majors seem loathe to devote to make the difference between write off and success d’estime.

One can also disregard the notion that the marketplace is going to thin out anytime soon with news this week of new companies with capitol to produce and distribute films. The volume of movies this summer combined with at least a dozen alternative pictures playing well and holding screens has translated into a very fragmented marketplace. Next weekend’s release of five new national openings should apply the hammerlock to a lot of mainstream titles currently on screen as well as specialized fare that managed to crossover. As one mainstream distributor noted, forget about finding 3,000-screen launches until after Labor Day … there’s no room at the inn.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: August 6 – August 8, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
The Other Guys Sony 35.7 (9,780) New 3651 35.7
Inception WB 18.5 (5,420) -33% 3418 227.6
Step Up 3D BV 15.4 (6,340) New 2435 15.4
Salt Sony 10.9 (3,290) -44% 3317 91.8
Dinner for Schmucks Par 10.4 (3,470) -56% 3004 46.7
Despicable Me Uni 9.4 (2,740) -40% 3413 209.4
Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore BV 6.8 (1,840) -44% 3705 26.4
Charlie St. Cloud Uni 4.6 (1,700) -63% 2725 23.4
Toy Story 3 BV 3.0 (1,730) -42% 1714 396.2
The Kids Are All Right Focus 2.6 (2,600) -27% 994 14
Grown Ups Sony 2.4 (1,370) -47% 1769 155.7
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice BV 2.3 (1,310) -48% 1766 57
Twilight: Eclipse Summit 2.3 (1,330) -43% 1704 293.1
Ramona and Beezus Fox 1.5 (1,040) -59% 1478 21
The Last Airbender Par .67 (1,050) -63% 639 128.9
The Karate Kid Sony .63 (1,460) 6% 432 173.9
The Girl Who Played with Fire Music Box/Alliance .45 (2,600) -17% 173 4.2
Shrek Forever After Par .43 (1,400) -25% 308 237.2
Predators Fox .41 (900) -62% 454 50.5
Filiere 13 Alliance .39 (4,610) New 85 0.6
Middle Men Par Vantage .32 (1,280) New 252 0.32
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $127.10
% Change (Last Year) -11%
% Change (Last Week) -10%
Also debuting/expanding
Flipped WB .23 (5,180) New 45 0.23
Don Seenu Great India .22 (8,960) New 25 0.22
Get Low Sony Classics .21 (8,210) 143% 26 0.34
Aisha … Don’t Be Cupid Viva .15 (3,260) New 47 0.15
Restrepo Nat.Geo .11 (2,270) 48% 49 0.81
Twelve Hannover .09 (380) New 231 0.09
The Concert Weinstein Co. .09 (3,470) 95% 27 0.19
The Wildest Dream National Geo 68,200 (5,680) New 12 0.07
Cairo Time IFC 66,500 (13,300) New 5 0.07
Disappearance of Alice Creed Anchor Bay 49,700 (4,140) New 12 0.05
Lebanon Sony Classics 16,100 (8.050)


2 0.01
The Sicilian Girl Music Hall 5,900 (5,900) New 1 0.01
Death of Alice Blue Toothin 3,300 (3,300) New 1 0.01
Brotherhood Olive 2,250 (2,250) New 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – July 23, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (10) 1144.1 17.30%
Fox (13) 1143.3 17.30%
Warner Bros. (18) 1024.5 15.50%
Buena Vista (11) 1003.5 15.20%
Sony (18) 615.1 9.30%
Universal (10) 560.1 8.50%
Summit (9) 408.4 6.20%
Lionsgate (8) 242.9 3.70%
Fox Searchlight (4) 69.9 1.00%
Overture (4) 67.4 1.00%
MGM (1) 50.4 0.80%
CBS (2) 50 0.80%
Sony Classics (12) 40.4 0.60%
Weinstein Co. (4) 34.7 0.50%
Other * (201) 159.8 2.40%
* none greater than 0.4% 6614.5 100.00%

Top Domestic Grossers: January 1 – July 23, 2010

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 466,085,966
Toy Story 3 BV 370,499,039
Alice in Wonderland BV 334,191,110
Iron Man 2 Par 310,401,894
Twilight: Eclipse Summit 272,641,092
Shrek Forever After Par 234,620,150
How to Train Your Dragon Par 217,581,231
The Karate Kid Sony 170,612,858
Clash of the Titans WB 163,214,888
Despicable Me Uni 137,600,845
Grown Ups Sony 134,812,086
Shutter Island Par 128,051,522
The Last Airbender Par 119,091,769
Valentine’s Day WB 110,509,442
Sherlock Holmes * WB 106,967,985
Robin Hood Uni 104,945,305
Inception WB 100,158,412
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Fox 98,887,330
Date Night Fox 98,344,369
The Book of Eli WB 94,885,859
* does not include 2008 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?

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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