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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Deja Vu Klady

Opening a horror/thriller in this slot – first weekend after the holiday – has become a bit of a tradition. Daybreakers last year… The Unborn the year before… One Missed Call… and so on. Season of the Witch will deliver, it seems, about 60% of the least impressive opening of this group.

Also opening is Country Strong… which is… who knows? This All About Crazy Heart Eve is opening on more screens than Crazy Heart saw at any time of its run last year and this will, in turn, be a bigger weekend than Crazy Heart ever had last year. But logically, this film is headed, at best, to a similar neighborhood as its predecessor… or less. It’s still only 1425 screens. And there is no way of knowing whether the Bible Belt will make this movie as leggy as its star. Meanwhile, the less happy comparison is Youth In Revolt, which had a similar opening day and just $15m total domestic.

The movies that are suffering most from the transition from a holiday Friday to a non-holiday Friday are the kids movies. Yogi and Narnia have 66%+ drops and Potter has fallen out of the 10. I would expect somewhat of a comeback for those titles over the rest of the weekend. Not huge, but more in the 50s than the 60s.

We’re still dealing with a lack of the kinds of massive December holdovers that we’ve had in the past. So, while Avatar and Sherlock Holmes outgrossed everything on the chart on this relative date, the smaller scale hits are doing okay heading into 2011. True Grit sits on top of the chart, as it has in 6 of the last 8 days. By the time I write this, it’s passed $100 million and will look for a boost when Oscar nods hit, by then likely to be in the $2m or $3m weekend range.

Little Fockers remains the shining example of why making the third in a series is often a bad idea, though it looks like it will find its way to black ink someday, if you believe the price tag the studio has put on it. I don’t. I have no direct insight or evidence. But reports about the process suggest that the $100 million figure may be as much as 25% low. Either way, the gross is a significant disappointment, with the film scraping to get to 50% of the last film in the series’ gross, both on the domestic and international side. For comparison, the disappointing Sex & the City sequel did about 70% of the prior film’s gross.

Tron: Legacy could find its way to $300 million worldwide… but just by the hair of its chinny chin chin.

Black Swan, The Fighter, and The King’s Speech are back-to-back-to-back on today’s chart, in that order. Swan is looking like a comeback kid this Friday, up 24% from last Friday, but part of that is the odd drop it suffered last Friday, about which I still haven’t been able to get a satisfying explanation. This is the 6th day in a row that Swan has been in front of Fighter. Meanwhile, King’s Speech is doing the least business of the trio, but with the best per-screen average. All three are poised to be in the 60s or 70s, depending on awards reaction.

And here’s an awards note that should be taken with a little salt… but not too much. Last year, the first year of 10, the lowest pre-nom grosser was at $8.8m when it was nominated. I don’t think that Academy members are looking at the box office before casting their nominating ballots, so I wouldn’t count out Winter’s Bone ($6.2m) or Another Year, which has really just done a qualifying run so far. But it’s an uphill fight. A big part of that is that grossers are somewhat of an indicator of how many potential Academy voters have seen the film. In the case of Bone and Year, their studios have been screening the heck out of them for month… and are still screening. (Tomorrow night, Winter’s Bone with John Hawkes at Harmony Gold… get out those Guild cards!)

And again, this would be one of my arguments for The Ten, an idea I pooh-poohed when I had a passionate discussion about it before it went to the Academy board 20 months ago. Like others, I feared that it would put junk into the race. Instead, we are seeing a relaxing of prejudices about “success: of some films and it is the Winter’s Bones and the The Kids Are All Rights that get to play in the big sandbox because of the larger group of nominees. And I am good with The Pixar Slot too, though it would be nice to see it just be The Animation Slot in future… Pixar just keeps doing such great stuff. (I suspect that next year, we will not be assuming that Cars 2 is in… so the door is open to some other animated film.)

If this were a 5 horse race, i would bet on it being True Grit, The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Black Swan, and The Fighter. Would we really like that better?

Toy Story 3 – $415m
Inception – $293m
True Grit – $114.4
The Social Network – $93.4m
The Town – $92.1m
Black Swan -$55.5
The Fighter -$52.9
The King’s Speech – $28.2
The Kids Are All Right – $20.8m
127 Hours – $10.6m
Get Low – $9.1m

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40 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Deja Vu Klady”

  1. Murdocdv says:

    With all the historical box office data your sitting on, why aren’t final grosses forecast in these tables? Surely you could get something like 95% confidence on actual based on using previous movies data.

    Would be sweet then to have a chart to see forecast vs actual.

  2. Great Scott says:

    I think the 5 “real” Best Picture nominees are the ones with Best Director nominations.

    I guess Black Swan just wasn’t a New Year’s Eve kind of movie. The movie’s target audience of under 40 women probably had other plans that day.

  3. movieman says:

    I actually thought “Witch”–a dreadful movie that can’t decide on a tone– would have opened stronger.
    My Friday afternoon performance was packed.
    Go figure, right?

  4. Proman says:

    The problem with Poland is that he is AMPAS retarded. The Kids are alright, it NOT as sandbox title and would get Best Picture play regardless. It is a far more liked film that he makes it seem, but then, of course, he is too busy comparing it to Winter’s Bone and missing the fact that it’s a much different indie animal.

  5. chris says:

    Actually, I think he might be dead-on. If he’s wrong, I’d say “Black Swan” is out (horror movie) and “Inception” is in (intelligence, success, style, track record).

  6. David Poland says:

    Murdocdv – I can only speak for myself, but after projecting box office for over a decade, I have become much more conscious that there are too many guessing games going on and history is not always relevant. Foreign is much more important than it used to be and in most cases is not in sync, in terms of schedule, with domestic releases. Also, information is sketchy… including on most of the sites that claim to have that information.

    Even post-theatrical dollars are much harder to read now, in spite of a couple of sites that pull numbers out of their asses.

    Even six months in, really, estimating can be done within about 10%, maybe a little more, maybe a little less.

    So I try to stick closer to what we actually know instead of assuming what the future will bring.

    And Proman/Maxim – You remain a troll with no discernible insight other than your own tastes. Your insistence on misstating what I think can be irritating, but of course, you are welcome to post all you like. Angry fools need attention too. (HATE SPEECH!!!!)

  7. Sarina says:

    “Winter’s Bone” might not have made blockbuster numbers, but considering its budget and type of release, the film is a big hit. It not only made its money back, but made a profit. Can we say the same thing about those big-budget films which barely broken even?

  8. movieman says:

    ….if “Winter’s Bone” squeaks out a Best Picture nod, does that mean “Frozen River” would have been nominated two years ago?
    I’m just thrilled to see Aronofsky and Russell both have films with a legitimate shot at reaching $100-million domestic by Oscar nite.

  9. Joe Leydon says:

    Look, there is no way I can say this without it sounding like a snarky dig at David, but: On today of all days, I don’t think the first words anyone really wants or needs to see on this blog are “Essential Killing.”

  10. chris says:

    Look, there is no way I can say this without it sounding like a snarky dig at Joe Leydon, but: Do you think today is something it isn’t?

  11. Joe Leydon says:

    Chris: Please explain.

  12. Joe Leydon says:

    Chris: Or do you not know what’s just happened in Arizona?

  13. David Poland says:

    It doesn’t sound like a dig at me… just silly.

    We are grown ups here, aren’t we? We can differentiate behind a horrible real life attack and a movie interview, no?

  14. Joe Leydon says:

    Of course. But I would argue that seeing “Essential Killing” as the first words on this blog right now is… rather unfortunate. Not bad taste, but spectacularly bad timing.

  15. Joe Leydon says:

    Well, that changed pretty damn quickly. Good on you, David.

  16. chris says:

    No, I’m aware. I just figured you had to be talking about something else because why would you expect an unrelated headline — that went up before that news even came out — to be instantly changed on a movie blog?

  17. Joe Leydon says:

    For the same reason movies and TV dramas relating to terrorism were immediately rescheduled within hours of the 9/11 attacks — bad timing.

  18. IOv3 says:

    The King’s Speech is it. Seriously, it’s it, and W.Co. needs to wide release that sucker as soon as possible. It’s just tremendous and should win going away.

    That aside, Legacy is Begins and while the next one will most likely not be a TDK, it will be a different situation all together from the box office for this film. Why? It plays. Much like the Brody, it plays.

  19. Joe Leydon says:

    On the lighter side of the news: Did you folks see that Jeremy Irons will be on Law & Order: SVU this week? Cowabunga!

  20. Even as someone who rather enjoys SVU (ten times more so when Munch is actually let out of the squad room), I’m sure Jeremy Irons is whispering under his breath that John Malkovich or John Hurt never had to stoop to this. On that note, how did Irons manage to avoid being cast in a Harry Potter film all these years? Still, a good time will be had, and I’m sure it will be the least mysterious Law and Order SVU since Kal Penn guest-starred as ‘that janitor in the corner who doesn’t even show up until the 3/4 mark’.

  21. leahnz says:

    i am obsessed with jeremy irons (would somebody please write a cracking good brainy heist flick prequel starring those oh-so-smooth-and-deadly siblings hans and simon gruber so i can have my beloveds irons and rickman sneer-it-up good and proper together before they mature out of the possibility? thank you in advance)

  22. Joe Leydon says:

    I dunno, Scott. I am beginning to think that guesting on L&O: SVU has become something of a status symbol. Have you noticed who’s been on this show in recent years? Everyone from Leslie Caron (who won an Emmy) to Ellen Burstyn to Ann-Margret to Shohreh Aghdashloo.

  23. yancyskancy says:

    Joe: Burstyn and Ann-Margret won Emmys for their SVU appearances, too.

  24. chris says:

    …but none of those people probably have a current career status that Irons would aspire to.

  25. IOv3 says:

    Irons just needs to move back to England. If he lived in England, he would have another Oscar already.

  26. The Pope says:


    Jeremy Irons divides his time between Oxfordshire, UK and Co.Cork, Ireland. I don’t know how living elsewhere would improve his chances. Daniel Day-Lewis has never lived anywhere near Hollywood or even America for that matter.

    I could go on, but honestly, what’s the point?

  27. IOv3 says:

    Pope, that’s such a dick fucking response, that it’s sort of bewildering to me that you didn’t edit it. Seriously, you know where he lives, do you want a fucking medal? Good fucking lord man, the fact that you get all high and mighty about this, is just fucked up.

    Your response to me being incorrect like a fucking ass aside (Oh yeah, some folks move to New York, and the career slows down. Excuse me for being incorrect with my assumption), the dude has been doing mostly shorts and TV for the last five years. I guess this is what he wants to do now. Good for him and good for Pope for knowing where Jeremy Irons lives. Wow. JUST FUCKING!

  28. Joe Leydon says:

    Evidently, Jeremy Irons is very, very happy to be on Law & Order: SVU.

  29. shillfor alanhorn says:

    IO: Hate to break it to you, but there ain’t gonna be a TRON sequel. Studios aren’t usually in the habit of greenlighting sequels to movies they take a $150 million bath on. (NOTE: THIS IS A QUANTITATIVE FACT, NOT A QUALITATIVE JUDGEMENT ON THE FILM’S RELATIVE ARTISTIC MERITS, SO AN IMPASSIONED REBUTTAL IS UNNECESSARY).

  30. yancyskancy says:

    Irons should play Karloff in something, or at least a Karloff-originated role like ARSENIC AND OLD LACE. Could be a hoot.

  31. jerryishere says:

    @shilfor alanhorn:
    Just curious… how is that $150mil bath a quantitative fact? Really curious how these economics work.
    T:L seems about to pass $300mil any day now, and looks headed to $400. Then there’s tv, cable, blu ray, toys, video games, etc.
    If it cost 170. 120 to market. That’s a 290 cost. If the studio gets half of that 400 mil, that’s 200 right there. Looks like 90 in the hole before all those other streams. Am I crazy or does it seem like T:L will actually make a profit? What am I missing?

  32. cadavra says:

    Well, you’re assuming there are no gross participants. If none, then yes, it will end up in the black–but not by a lot.

  33. shillfor alanhorn says:

    Jerry: I may have misspoke somewhat. The quantitative fact is: “Studios aren’t in the habit of greenlighting sequels to films they take a bath on.” As for the numbers, if you ask around, you’ll hear a much higher budget figure than $170M and I would bet $120M is very low for worldwide marketing, as well, particularly for one of the most long-lead/omnipresent campaigns I’ve seen for a film in a long time. Currently, the film is at $150M domestic and $120M foreign and has already opened in 70% of foreign markets. While it will definitely cross $300 worldwide, there is not a chance in hell it will cross $400. So let’s split the difference and call the eventual worldwide total $350M. Generously assuming 50% for rentals, that makes $175M to the studio, which doesn’t even cover the negative cost. There are, of course, ancillaries — cross-marketing with new rides at the parks, the toys (which aren’t selling all that hot, as the movie hasn’t caught on the way they hoped), an eventual video game, accounting trick TV and cable showings on networks already owned by Disney, Blu-Rays (which should sell somewhat well, given the film’s awesome visuals, but not nearly as well as your typical Disney-branded family or animated title) and there probably AREN’T any gross participants, with possible exception of Jeff Bridges. So when all is said and done, you are correct — they may not quite lose $150M — but they certainly won’t be in the black. Bottom line: they aren’t going to lose SORCERER’S APPRENTICE type sums, but, for all the hype, they aren’t going to do appreciably better than they did on PRINCE OF PERSIA. Of course, SORCERER’S and PRINCE were old-regime Disney and not the brainchild pet projects of their new head of production, so that may have something to do with fact that those latter two movies were spun as disasters and this is spun as some sort of triumph.

  34. IOv3 says:

    Shilli, thanks for writing out all of my criticisms I had from your previous post for me. Seriously, it is a triumph given that it’s basically a new property, that barely anyone knows, and it’s still going to do decent. Wow, it’s not a world beater, but the cartoon is already in development. The second script has already been written. The guy who runs Disney now produced this film, so sorry Farci fan, but there will be a sequel. Why? The film plays.

  35. hcat says:

    Shill makes a lot of sense but we will have to see how the blu-rays sell before they Disney makes a decision. The biggest hurdle for a Tron sequel might be if Thor and its merchindise takes off. If Disney knows they have the young boys with Marvel they may give up on Tron theatricals and just concentrate on keeping it a television and Video property.

    And the toys not selling shouldn’t be a huge suprise, I thought it was strange that they would have a big merchindise push for a film that opened a week before Christmas. Don’t most kids make out their lists in the weeks before Thanksgiving?

  36. shillfor alanhorn says:

    IO: I wasn’t actually criticizing the film at all. I’m just talking numbers. Of course they developed a cartoon and a sequel script ahead of time — they were hoping to jumpstart a new franchise. Unfortunately, as impressive or “playable” as the film may or may not be, in purely economic terms, relative to what they spent, they bet too big and they failed. Spending $300M-plus making and marketing, in your words, “basically a new property that barely anyone knows” is as insane in its own way as spending $150M on a James Brooks rom-com. Nothing personal, just business.

  37. hcat says:

    Now you’ve done it shill. Proman wants to meet you in the parking lot.

  38. Triple Option says:

    I thought they were opening up some Tron ride? Maybe something on the lines of Captain EO or whatever the MJ light and sound thing they had going?

    Hey, I saw Black Swan over the w/e and the thing got a few unintended laughs. Anyone else happen when you saw it?

  39. IOv3 says:

    Shilli, oh I know man but it reminds me of a Batman Begins situation. Where Begins did not beat the world but it played well on cable for a couple of years, people really dug it, and TDK happened. Again, I would love to live in a world where a TDK level TRON movie happens, but a sequel should make slightly more.

    That aside, they did not fail. They did the best they could but they made more than other films that cost just as much but made twice as less. Seriously, every fucking film in Hollywood cost too much these days. They are spending money as if it’s going out of style and that alone should be reason enough to not look at Tron in the same mindset of the past.

    If the Killers cost as much as Tron Legacy and made half as much. Wouldn’t you want to make another TRON film just on that basis alone?

  40. hcat says:

    Batman is a strange comparison since there will never be a time when there is not a Batman movie in development.

    If this franchise continues it might be something closer to Bourne, where the first did adequate in theaters but barnstormed DVD turning it into a franchise. While uninterested in anything that has come out so far, I can recognize the potential Disney might see in a Tron franchise.

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