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Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Friday Estimates by Battle: kLAdy

Analysis by David Poland

The question at the box office this weekend will be whether Battle: LA plays well on Saturday or fails to hit $40m for the weekend. Are people seeing enough destruction on TV to send them looking for something else at the movie theater. Or does a Godzilla movie (of sorts) comfort us when faced with real disaster? Hard to know.

Red Riding Hood offers a combination of “Is she really a rising star?” and more f-ing werewolves. WB added a dewey-camera, pillow lips parted shot of Seyfried entranced by the werewolf to the TV campaign late in the game… a piece of red meat for teens of both sexes. The result looks to be slightly stronger than Letters to Juliet and about half of Dear John. I personally think – having not seen the film – that the element missing from the sell was a claim of powerful romance in the piece. That’s what got girls to Twilight and Dear John alike. Though there was day that this wasn’t true, the prospect that Ms. Seyfried could suddenly look up at the face of a newly defanged suitor and find that she’s been diddling Gary Oldman, not Stud Boy McSteroid, is not as attractive to girls. Seyfried seems to be a one-quadrant player for now… and trying to sell two may have been one too many.

Mars Needs Moms looks okay. But it seems to be in Zemeckis-vision, which still leans to Scary Eyes instead of Giant Eyes. And unless it’s R-rated and the Joan Cusack being save is the one in Shameless, there isn’t enough being done to make that interesting. The marketing seems to lean on the cute elements and the wow factor.. and it obviously never took. What is the story?

I am not a fan of trailers and ads that tell you everything. But I am convinced, year after year, that a successful marketing campaign is, at the core, about telling the audience what experience they are being asked to buy tickets to feel. What is that central idea? If it’s Mars Needs Moms, is Mars benign or hostile? Why do they need moms? Is the kid going to be a hero and save another planet by finding a way for them to have what they need and for earth to keep it’s moms? Is it all just an excuse for the kid to have an adventure?

Rango‘s hold should end up in the mid-high 30s before the weekend is over. Beastly will pass Extraordinary Measures today, so it won’t be CBS Film’s worst grosser, but it may have a hard time cracking $20m or passing Faster, the current #2 worst.

If you want to know where we are with all the “box office slump” shite, here are some details. We never had a single $35m opening in March before Ice Age in 2002. There wouldn’t be another one until 2005, when there were two. There would be just one in 2006 and 2009 and two each in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2010. After two weekends this March, we will have two. And we have a chance for a record-breaking third one with Sucker Punch.

Yes, you heard that right. March may have more $35m+ openers than any year in history. But week-by-week, 2011 has an Alice in Wonderland problem, the way 2005 had a Passion of the Christ problem. The analysis is so skewed by a freak success that people who want to see a big problem can pretend, with this one misused stat, that there is a big problem. And then, when the numbers turn back up and we end the year with the normal 2% or 3% drop in box office, they will return to the bottom of their rocks until they can come out and scream, “Slump!” again.

The thing it is time to start understanding about television’s threat to movies in the 50s and 60s was that it was different programming. What you got at the movies, you couldn’t get at home and vice versa. Still, the world changed, because you could get something visual in your home. The challenge now, more than ever, is that the same content as is in theaters is widely available for home viewing in a shorter and shorter window… one that most adults aren’t driven to overcome. So it is truly remarkable that, against a wave of availability of the same product, theatrical has held up as well as it has. The only real threat to this is studios trying to further break down the windows… because then they are messing with how the product is valued from the start. What is TV and what is film… and why would you care anymore?

But as things now stand, it’s the movies, stupid. If Alice was in the market now, it would be doing all that business. If Battle: LA was in the market last March, it would likely be doing about the same business it’s doing now. Why would anyone really think differently? It’s like journalists are so anxious to report that “the next thing is finally here” that they gild the lily, selling the idea of the last thing being dead. And they get all exciting about Inception on Facebook, as though it wasn’t just another way -the second (r)evolutionary step in the last month – the very aggressive Warner Digital team is finding to do exactly the same thing… charge people to have a movie delivered and viewed on a variety of platforms. It’s fine, but it’s not an important moment in and of itself. It won’t kill Wal-Mart, but retail DVD is dying and digital delivery is coming. The question is not whether a movie is available through Facebook, but whether WB and everyone else can get more people to pay for Home Ent content and at what price point. The same question that’s been on the table for YEARS.

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28 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Battle: kLAdy”

  1. Anghus says:

    Mars Needs Moms looked awful. That creepy animation style… I just never understood its appeal.

    With its budget could it challenge Pluto Nash for biggest money loser?

  2. bulldog68 says:

    Mars needs Moms opened to what we thought Gnomeo & Juliet would open to. Somewhere, Elton John is smiling.
    Meanwhile, Jennifer Anniston provides absolutely no boost to Adam Sandler. For those who argue that she’s such a draw, well where is it? Adam could have saved the paycheck for Jen and hire any second tier actress and would have gotten the same result with this flick. Not hating on Jen, just saying she’s not a draw.

  3. IOv3 says:

    Bulldog, you’ve got a point. Just Go With It, however, is a complete and utter piece of crap, sold on a blonde’s tits, and it’s probably going to get to 100m. Seriously, with or without Aniston, that’s pretty impressive for Adam Sandler aka The White Tyler Perry!

  4. actionman says:

    poland — did u see Battle: LA?

  5. Proman says:

    Adam Sandler is not white Tyler Perry. And I highly doubt many people go see Perry the actor.

    In any case, can someone explain Cedar Rapids to me? Seems like a good comedy (though I admit I haven’t seen it yet). Where they *that* pressed to put it in more theatres?

    It just seems so arbitrary that something like Hall Pass gets thousands of screens wheres this just a handful. I’m over simplifying a bit, of course but the point stands.

  6. Proman says:

    Then again, Take me Home Tonight downright bombed.

  7. cadavra says:

    Except that Sandler usually lands between 125 and 150 million. JGWI is gonna end up just over 100, despite being a little better than his norm. I like Aniston, but this just seems to be further proof that she’s become a negative.

  8. botner says:

    Cedar Rapids should have been released wide (2000+) at the onset. Even a ‘just okay’ opening weekend could have brought in twice it’s total gross so far. Unlike Take Me Home Tonight, it’s actually funny enough to find an audience…it just doesn’t strike me as a platform release title.

    Pretty good opening for Battle: LA despite some harsh reviews. I haven’t read that bad (or entertaining) of an Ebert review in quite some time…half of a star!

  9. LYT says:

    “I highly doubt many people go see Perry the actor.”

    Seems like the Madea movies do better than his other ones — but not knowing the actual figures I could be wrong. Would be interested to know.

  10. Proman says:

    LYT, Madea is clearly a strong driving force behind the popularity of those films but Madea is a character. My point was that Perry the actor doesn’t seem to have as much drawing power when he’s not in drag.

    I do admit that it’s a sort of unique case.

  11. David Poland says:

    No, actionman. Why?

  12. JKill says:

    CEDAR RAPIDS is a great, little funny and warm movie that played well with the audience I saw it with. It’s off-beat but accessible, and I agree it easily could have went out wide or at least taken less long to get there. I’m sure it will eventually find its audience. The WIN WIN trailer was before it, and I’m now curious how they’re going to release that one…

    Oh, and I saw BLUE VALENTINE finally too. Devastating. God, what performances and direction!

  13. Chris says:

    Saw Cedar Rapids last night and was pleasantly surprised. Good old R-rated comedy fun, and I’m down with any movie that features Stephen Root, John C. Reilly and Kurtwood “Bitches leave!” Smith. Definitely TONS better than that hunk of crap Hall Pass.

  14. Sarina says:

    I must admit I am not concerned with the success of films that are apparently mediocre. Mars Needs Mom? I would have stayed at home watching Miyazaki. I wish you would have discussed the opening of Jane Eyre.

  15. JKill says:

    JANE EYRE doesn’t scream like a limited release to me either, but I’m sure there’s a reason behind these patterns.

    MARS NEEDS MOMS looks atrocious from the trailer. Wretched and grating. I wonder if its failure has to do with parents being wary of spending two hours watching it in the theater, especially with the much more appealing RANGO out at the same time.

    Also, if it has a sub-8 million dollar opening weekend, isn’t this like a PLUTO NASH level bomb? It’ll probably do better overseas, but still…

  16. Anghus says:

    Sub 8 million dollar launch with 3d inflated prices….. that’s a bigger bomb

  17. chris says:

    “Mars Needs Mars” is not even close to “OK.” And a big part of the problem is that it doesn’t answer most of the questions you ask about the trailer, DP. I kinda hope it’s the death knell for this sort of motion-capture animation where everyone looks like Greta Van Susteren.

  18. actionman says:

    I was just curious if you’d seen it because I’m always interested in what you think of movies, expecially genre fare like Battle.

    I dug it.

  19. Triple Option says:

    Guess I’ll cast the dissenting vote against Cedar Rapids. While I’ll admit there wasn’t really anything that made it so far afield from a main stream, broad comedy, it was near funny enough to wide release. I thought there were some interesting things introduced that for the most part barely played out with a fizzle. Even the main premise of the guy’s who’s never been outside of his small town, taking his first plane ride to the big metropolis of Cedar Rapids is kinda left with a “and so…?” residue that never gets answered.

    Cast I thought did well. It just SEEMS AS IF they were hoping on Steve Carrell to come through and carry the film based on his natural wit & charm but then when they couldn’t get him they got his stand in to take over not realizing or not having enough time to see how much the story was really lacking.

    Not that I mean to knock the lead. If you ever saw that Canadian series Corner Gas, I would’ve rather watched three episodes of that back to back to back than Cedar Rapids. I didn’t think it was a turd, just a little below meh to waste anyone’s time.

  20. torpid bunny says:

    David, do you see the market for digital books as being in any way comparable to the developing market for digital versions of movies? Seems like with the Ipad and imitators that the portable delivery system for each is now the same thing.

  21. Krillian says:

    Finally caught Rango. Loved it. DP was right.

    Doing Blockbuster online, but they don’t have any of the titles I wanted to get. Exit Thru the Gift Shop, Inside Job, Dogtooth, Client 9… If they’re on Netflix, I’ll switch next month.

  22. IOv3 says:

    Yeah, Rango is a fucking work of art. I really hope it’s not forgotten during Oscar time, because a film like that should be rewarded with nominations (and hopefully some Oscars.)

    I also do not get the criticism of the movie having no story. It’s a hero’s journey set in the west. What more do some people need?

  23. actionman says:

    krillian — netflix has all of those.

  24. LexG says:

    Probably still banned, so who knows if this’ll post:

    Guess I was off by a mere 60 MILLION DOLLARS on my RRH prediction.

  25. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Sorry, Lex. Looks like you’re still banned.

  26. Joe Leydon says:

    Just like a grade schooler who’s repeatedly warned by the substitute teacher to behave. LOL.

  27. Chris says:

    “Doing Blockbuster online, but they don’t have any of the titles I wanted to get. Exit Thru the Gift Shop, Inside Job, Dogtooth, Client 9… If they’re on Netflix, I’ll switch next month.”

    Not only does Netflix have them all, but Exit, Dogtooth and Client 9 are all available for streaming. Blockbuster is a joke in comparison.

  28. Nick Rogers says:

    At a local Blockbuster that’s going out of business, I got three free movies to keep in exchange for a free one-month trial of its online rental service. Not a bad deal. I got home, input five titles and found they were either on order or had a four-week wait to be shipped to my home. I canceled immediately. Blockbuster – dying in the real world and sucking in the virtual one.

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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.

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