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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Hurricane Len

The problem with going to the movies during a hurricane is that the electricity tends to be spotty.

How much damage is Irene causing the box office? Hard to be sure. 15% – 25% would be my estimate. The good news is that it’s late August and no one really cares.

The Battle For Women is solidly The Help‘s. The film passed Eat Pray Love earlier this week and should pass Julie & Julia by the end of this weekend. The Top August drama (unless you include Shyamalan, whose movies aren’t really straight dramas) is Unforgiven with just over $101 million. true, that was 20 years ago. But The Help should pass that number easily. The question at this point is, how high can it go?

The Battle For Boys has been won by Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark. even though it estimates $100k behind Columbiana. Why? Marketing budget. FilmDistrict does it more cheaply than Sony. Also, the movie is cheaper. That said, how much more could Dark have done with a big studio marketing budget… or without another movie targeting almost exactly the same audience (boys and girl ride-alongs).

Our Idiot Brother should land right around the opening numbers for The Goods and for Little Miss Sunshine (both opened on a lot less screens)… which one will it more emulate. (Final totals: $15m/$60m)

In the face of this weather, Vera Farmiga’s directing debut, Higher Ground, opened nicely. And Roadside did a nice job on Circumstance. The question will be whether they can re-launch next weekend when things are normal in the east and build up instead of starting the natural slides. It’s a good weekend to be in the VOD business in NYC.

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32 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Hurricane Len”

  1. Gus says:

    Saw Idiot Brother last night and was surprisingly moved by it. Felt the beginning was pretty pedestrian and especially pat in the shot selection and music choices but the concept eventually won me over, and seeing how destructive and completely out-of-sync with the world such a guileless person could be was pretty affecting for me. Still think they could have done a lot more with it (and reading about the abbreviated development period this went through made it clear it could have used a number of revisions) but overall I was taken with it.

    Given that I see LOADS of movies I was pretty embarrassed to have gotten through the ENTIRE movie only to find out that Elizabeth Banks was, in fact, not Parker Posey, as I thought she was for the entire movie. I am also still pretty shocked to see that Hugh Dancy was in this movie. I didn’t realize he was in it either, until I got home and looked at the imdb page. Who did he even play? The douchey artist guy? Why would he appear in what is literally like an eighth-billing position?

  2. bulldog68 says:

    Looking forward to a Steven Kaye impersonator doing the vanquished list for The Help. This 3rd weekend take puts it in the vicinity of Thor, Cars 2, Captain America and Bridesmaids.

    Based on its current trajectory, its outpacing Bridesmaids, so is $170M in the cards? It won’t have the strong weekday numbers of summer to help, but solid numbers dictate that it will be in the top3 summer box office stories. I’m kind of a list whore so I look forward to seeing the top10 summer box office stories posted by various outlets. (hint to Dave.)

  3. mary says:

    Little info:

    Sony don’t need to pay for the US marketing cost of “Columbiana”; Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp paid for it. Because Sony is releasing “Columbiana” via a service deal with EuropaCorp.

    It is sad to see that no US distributor is willing to pay the marketing cost for a Luc Besson actioner, even after the successes of “Taken” and “Transporter” series.

  4. bulldog68 says:

    Hate to pull the race card but if it starred Kate Beckinsale, would that have been a problem Mary? Granted the list of a black actress in a lead action role is not very long, but coming off of Avatar, Star Trek, Taken, and Losers, she has a very good trajectory going, and I’m sure the budget for this film was not huge.

  5. EthanG says:

    The Story of the weekend for me: does Zoe Saldana have opening power? This would have been 15 mil without Irene…..better than Conan, Rob Rodriguez’s franchise, Fright Night, Hathaway/Sturgiss, or Del Toro’s project. At that level, it would be the biggest top-lined African-American female opening since “Dreamgirls..” and Dreamgirls had two big names and a massive marketing campaign.

    Saldana might actually have some traction…at least Milla Jovovich style traction….and she’s actually a fanstastic actress..seems like a feel good story in a time that’s been lacking good news:) Other than Pam Grier’s farces, the world has been waiting years for a strong black female actress who can kick ass as well as act with authority.

    Saldana proved both, by being the best thing in “Avatar.” “Columbiana,” with great reviews at least regarding her performance, bolsters her further.

  6. JK says:

    No, Saldana doesn’t have drawing power. More like fans of Luc Besson and the oft-mentioned in ads “Taken” showed up to deliver a decent opening but still something that is going to fade away having made less than 30M most likely.

  7. LexG says:

    Do you guys always have to be so damn negative?

    SALDANA RULES, RULES, RULES, and kicks SO MUCH ASS in “Colombiana,” which is more fun than 90% of the overblown dogshit comic book movies we just suffered thru four months of. It’s even better than “The Mechanic,” as down-and-dirty B-action goes. And Saldana in her LITTLE DRESS pretending to be drunk in her big introduction is the hottest thing ever. There will be only BOWING. She kicks ass at a JOLIE LEVEL among hot-chick actresses who are fun to watch doing action.

    Also good to see LORD VARTAN continuing his streak of following up his Godlike awesomeness on ‘Alias’ by somehow never being awesome again, at all.

    And, yes, Jordi Molla has now given this exact same performance at least four times in big-dick action movies, but it NEVER, EVER gets old.

  8. berg says:

    there was a couple behind me raving all throughout Colombiana, and when it was over I heard them say it was the best film they’d ever seen. They either don’t get out much or they are in the witness protection program

  9. LexG says:

    That couple was right.

  10. EthanG says:

    So Luc Besson has drawing power…like for the Arthur movies and “Angel-A?” Are you effing joking?

    Besson hasn’t had as strong an opening in DECADES. And this movie pushed all of the effort on Saldana.

  11. bulldog68 says:

    This was Saldana’s opening all the way. Besson’s drawing power certainly didn’t help From Paris with Love, starring the much more famous John Travolta, which opened to $8m. And his top opening as a producer with Taken. And well the Transporter series is on Statham’s able bodied shoulders. And as a director, his only opening over $10m was The Fifth Element. So where is his drawing power again? Not knocking the guy, but just stating a fact.

  12. bulldog68 says:

    I’m also trying to think of any other film since the Foxy Brown era to star an african american actress in a lead action role, and not playing a superhero. I’m coming up empty thus far. Closing thing in finding is Sanaa Lathan in Aliens vs Predator and that was still part of a franchise.

  13. Colin says:

    Set It Off?

  14. yancyskancy says:

    bulldog: I guess Whoopi Goldberg in FATAL BEAUTY might qualify, but even that was way back in 1987. I guess we don’t count Halle Berry in DIE ANOTHER DAY, ’cause Bond is the lead. Surely we’re forgetting somebody?

  15. Joe Leydon says:

    Does Catwoman count?

  16. Chris says:

    Zoe Saldana is half Puerto Rican and half Dominican. Just saying. Get the facts right, guyzos. She’s a smoking hot Latina.

  17. The Pope says:

    Anyone seen THE GUARD?

  18. bulldog68 says:

    Well the Dominican part certainly qualifies her as black also.

  19. bulldog68 says:

    But 50% latina and 50% black means 100% sexy. That deserves one of Lexg’s trademark “look at her”s.

  20. bulldog68 says:

    I remember having a serious thing for Gabrielle Union too, and thought she would make an excellent Storm for Xmen. After her solid action in Bad Boys 2, I thought she would go on to bigger things, but she has faded. Couple of TV shows that failed, and movies that bombed. Though she was in Daddy’s Little Girls. Somebody should find something good for her to do. I thing she’s a solid actress.

  21. Chris says:

    The Dominican Republic is a Spanish country. That makes her 100% Latin.

    Saw The Guard earlier this afternoon. Fun movie. Brendan Gleeson is the man.

  22. Philip Lovecraft says:

    Well, I saw “Colombiana” because of Zoe Saldana. Loved her in it (the movie less so). She did remind me of a Latina Pam Grier (from her ’70s golden years). The movie could have used more of that. And why was “Colombiana” made (or released) as a PG-13 movie? That may be its biggest weakness, as at times it feels like its (literally) pulling its punches. Anyway, for “Colombiana” Zoe Saldana is worth the price of admission (as are a number of action set pieces).

  23. chris says:

    Zoe doesn’t claim to be black but black people. Tend to consider her black. You’d thInk a movie like this that barely ran ads and has a good opening would inspire other studios to do similar projects but it won’t. They lean on the tired excuses. Put some black or Latino leads in an action film and the audience will come.

  24. bulldog68 says:

    Quote from Zoe Saldana courtesy IMDB: “When I go to the D.R., the press in Santo Domingo always asks, “¿Qué te consideras, dominicana o americana?” (What do you consider yourself, Dominican or American?) I don’t understand it, and it’s the same people asking the same question. So I say, time and time again, “Yo soy una mujer negra.” (“I am a black woman.”) [They go,] “Oh, no, tú eres trigueñita.” (“Oh no, you are ‘dark skinned'”) I’m like, “No! Let’s get it straight, yo soy una mujer negra.” (“I am a black woman.”)

  25. Bitplayer says:

    She’s been pushing her latina heritage in other interviews, I don’t blame her it’s good for business.

  26. Geoff says:

    You know, I can’t believe I’m the first one to bring this up: whether Saldana is actually black or not, she has been MARKETED as a black actress definitively over the past few years.

    She was featured heavily in the marketing campaign as the new Uhura, formerly played by Nichelle Nichols, an black actress who was iconic in that role. And in “Guess Who,” she was marketed as the African American half of that culture clash as the daughther of Bernie Mac (and his African American wife). I’m not saying this as a criticism, just an observation – I honestly don’t care.

    You could chalk it up just another Hollywood actor utilizing his/her ethnic features to play a variety of characters from different ethnicities: John Turturro, Tony Shalhoub, etc. More contemporary female comparison would probably be Jessica Alba who has played Latinas and……sisters of Chris Evans.

  27. Triple Option says:

    Classification has been a issue for Major League Baseball. There had been a growing desire among Latin-born players to be able to self identify themselves to also include people of African descent. Baseball was criticized for indeterminately classifying players and coaches as Black or Latino to serve their purposes.

    I think the ads sorta sell Taken to play up the revenge story aspect of the film. This of course is just opinion but I think people are familiar with the name Luc Besson. They know the movie Taken and even though it’s been 17 years I think they know the movie The Professional. I don’t think they’d know all three were penned by the same dude. I’m not sure how much of a draw Saldana is. I would’ve thought The Losers would’ve opened bigger based on her name. The one sheet for Colombiana is a rip off of Wanted. The ads I’ve seen just portray it as a woman kicking ass, so I wonder if guys aren’t sitting this one out?? Honestly, nothing about the trailer made it look like anything above something I’d stumble across on cable late on a Saturday night.

    Even though people may have awareness of Zoe, and know that she was the leading smurf in Avatar, I don’t think she’s had an identifying role yet for people to hang their hat on. I think people “know” who Julianne Moore is, or who Reese Witherspoon is, or who Juliette Lewis is. Of course, there’s no guarantee that she’ll be able to open a film but I’d think the #1 priority for Saldana’s peeps is to get her known or establish her brand until she’s as recognizable as Jessica Alba or Rosario Dawson. Get her from staring in a film to having it be “her film.” Well, let me rephrase. That would be my #1 priority. Really press for identity. I don’t think people immediately picture her if you were to say name a hot (optional) Latina actress but more likely JLo or Selma Hayak or Black actress Halle Barry or Queen Latifah. To ensure longevity or clout, I’d think that’s gotta be the next move.

  28. cadavra says:

    Saldana is excellent in COLOMBIANA, and is quite believable kicking ass, unlike Lex’s toothpick fantasy Jolie, who makes Taylor Swift look fat.

  29. JK says:

    Yeah because Saldana is so strong. You can see her bones when her chest is at all exposed yet she supposedly can kick anyone and everyone’s butt? She also terribly overacts in the movie. “They killed my parents…IN FRONT of ME.”

  30. EthanG says:

    “The Dominican Republic is a Spanish country. That makes her 100% Latin.”

    Uh huh. Just like Louisiana and Quebec are French, and Bolivia is latin even though it’s over 60% Native American, right?

  31. Jose Yapur says:

    What makes latinos is not their Latin-American heritage. A latino would be everyone whose language had roots in Latin.

    Making every Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian (and other romance languages) speaking person, a latino.

    Nevertheless, the term has been adopted by Americans who in fear of being politically incorrect, brand all Latin-Americans as Latino.

    The reasons why Zoe Saldana considers herself a Black Woman can be many and varied. From it being merely good for business to the way she was raised and the community that surrounded her. She might even have rejected her heritage, like many “latinos” do, to identify with the African-American minority due to it being a more accepted one.

  32. bulldog68 says:

    Or she may just have a father that was black.

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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.”
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“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