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David Poland

By David Poland

Why September 9 Sucks…

There are some weak release dates in the world. Things change. More of August has been colonized. Mid-January. This year, late April was turned upside down by Fast Five.

Gutsy people doing great work can break through almost any clutter or date. Others, not so much.

The first two weekends of September are not completely dead. But there does seem to be a glass ceiling on movies opened then… $75 million domestic. Two films have gotten then from that release perch. Barbershop and The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

Two more films have managed to hit $60m… Burn After Reading and Resident Evil: Afterlife.

And six others have done between $50m and $57m domestic. Once Upon a Time in Mexico, 3:10 to Yuma , Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself , Sneakers, Resident Evil: Apocalypse , and Stigmata .

In two weeks, there are two movies that I think are enormously commercial and perhaps even awards candidates. I believe that Warrior is a modern-day Rocky, complete with all the complex character relationships that Stallone tried to explore – to yawns – in Rocky II. As with Rocky, some critics scoff. But the movie is made for audiences, not critics. And guess what? The Academy is made up of audiences, not critics. Meanwhile, Contagion, which is still under embargo, is a very commercial piece.

There have never been two $50m domestic grossers released in the same year in the first two weekends of September.

So what’s the hope here? Burn After Reading, I guess. Of course, it wasn’t a drama. It was a comedy. And it was riding the coattails of an Oscar win for the Coens… and a quirky Brad Pitt performance… and Clooney… and Malkovich.

That’s probably what Focus was thinking about when they slotted The American here last year and were thrilled with a $35m domestic gross… though the movie joins a long list of films released in this time period that didn’t become part of the award season in spite of a great deal of passion from some quarters. The Constant Gardener, which opened August 30, breaking new ground at the time, got to $34 million and eventually got four Oscar nominations, winning with Rachel Weisz. (The other nominations were screenplay, score, and editing.) But no picture, director, or lead actor.

For me, Warrior is an underdog movie that needs to ride award consideration to bigger box office as it’s discovered by a wide audience, not unlike Slumdog Millionaire, but has little room to maneuver from this berth.

And Contagion should blow Outbreak‘s numbers away. But “should” and “will” are different issues. I like Outbreak, but this is a better movie. But more to the box office point, it’s been 16 years. To give you some perspective. in Outbreak‘s year of release, 1995, there was no $200m domestic movie at all and just ten $100m domestic grossers. This year we have five $200m+ movies and twenty over $100m domestic already.

Strong box office could lead Contagion to some awards nominations (especially score and editing). But Outbreak‘s $67.7m would be the #3 gross in history for a release during the first two weekends in September… and just $8.2m from a new record.

Every single $100m grossing September release opened on or after September 18. Moreover, the films that have hit bigger numbers later in September seem to have more in common with these two films than the biggest grossers from the first half of the month. Neither film is primarily for “urban” audiences or are extreme genre. But just a couple of weeks later and you see successes like Fatal Attraction, Double Jeopardy, Eagle Eye, and Se7en, seemingly closer to the Contagion movie genre vibe than those in the earlier slot. And Remember The Titans and The Town reflect Warrior.

I hope to be wrong. Sometimes, things break out. But I don’t consider either of these movies to be easy sells to a broad audience. They’re just exceptionally good genre films with arthouse skills on display. They deserve better berths.

There is so much crap out there. I don’t hate the studios for that. This is a business. And making good films is not easy, even with the very best intentions. So when two movies come along that I know will please a lot of audiences of a lot of ages if only they have a chance to see them… and I see them in a slot that makes it that much harder… it’s frustrating.

I have no idea what these two films’ Rotten Tomatoes scores will be… and I don’t really care. There is plenty to turn critics into skeptics and who knows these days what will set them off. Like True Grit last year… like The Help this summer… some movies are not about deconstruction (though I personally think both will hold up well to it), they are about The Movies and what people just plain like.

I am very hopeful about Toronto this year, even on the more commercial level. And this has been a week of really good movies. But the idea of any quality film not getting the best shot possible… sigh…

Please prove me wrong.

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55 Responses to “Why September 9 Sucks…”

  1. Proman says:

    “And it was riding the coattails of an Oscar win for the Coens… and a quirky Brad Pitt performance… and Clooney… and Malkovich.”

    And it was also a phenomenal and smart comedy.

  2. actionman says:

    September is STACKED:

    Straw Dogs
    Money Ball
    Killer Elite
    Machine Gun Preacher
    50/50 (which I’ve already seen and plan on seeing again)
    Take Shelter

    IT’s a good time to love movies.

  3. David Poland says:

    The thing about that, Proman, is that if phenomenal and smart equaled that box office number, it wouldn’t have been their second highest grosser at the time and third now.

    There was a cache that attached with the Oscar win and the box office of No Country that seems to have helped find them a wider audience.

    However good Burn was, it still only did slightly better than 3x opening. It was, at the time, their biggest opening by about 50% or so over any other.

  4. bulldog68 says:

    Slightly off topic but related to release dates as well. Wasn’t Real Steel originally carded for a late August release. August seemed to be really crowded with Captain America and Apes. Do you think the October 7th move is now a good one?

  5. berg says:

    I will say this about Contagion … after seeing it you’ll want to run to Whole Foods and buy a shitload of Forsythia

  6. Sideshow Bill says:

    Will the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 on that Sunday have any effect, you think? Will people be in the mood for something like Contagion? I don’t know if it will have any effect at all. Just throwing it out there.

    Plus NFL season kicks off on 9/11 too. Gonna be a hell of a weekend.

  7. film fanatic says:

    I’m just stunned that anyone would admit to having liked OUTBREAK.

  8. Monco says:

    I like Outbreak.

  9. Don Murphy says:

    bulldog – why do you speak when you are so damn ignorant? Real Steel was NEVER in August and Captain America was in July. It’s like you are a special needs child acting like Einstein or something.

  10. Don Murphy says:

    Are you still so afraid of someone who actually has the facts of the business at hand like myself that you keep me on “moderation?” You remain a coward and a clown.

  11. berg says:

    I like Outbreak too and oddly I was sick as a mofo the night I saw that screening many many years ago. It was one of those moments where you think you can get through the rest of the night with what seems like allergies only by the time I was at the movie and sitting there I was coming down full scale with an incredible flu, complete with raspy cough and fever. At the moment in the film when they’re in a movie theater and the guy coughs and then the camera floats upward almost as if to indicate that everyone in the theater will be infected I had a phlegm ridden coughing fit that must have sent shivers down the rest of the aisle. That and Amistad are the only films I have ever seen (in a theater) when I was full on deathly delusional sweat soaked sick ….

  12. anghus says:

    i think we all know that the breakout hit of September is going to be BUCKY LARSON: BORN TO BE A STAR

  13. Krillian says:

    Bucky Larson makes me sad that Christina Ricci and Stephen Dorff and Don Johnson and Edward Herrmann all had nothing better to do.

  14. cadavra says:

    As long as we’re discussing contagious-disease movies, no love for THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN and my fave THE SATAN BUG?

    My two big must-sees for this month are Tsui Hark’s DETECTIVE DEE and John Landis’ BURKE AND HARE. Sadly, I fear neither will run more than a week.

  15. berg says:

    there is actually a bit of a nod to Andromeda Strain in Contagion .. not so much Satan Bug which was more about set design rather than the reality of disease … wasn’t there a film that got ditched by Fox called Crisis in the Red Zone with Redford and Foster that got 86’d when Outbreak was into production

  16. LexG says:

    Shit, based on Twitter and EVERY MOVIE SITE IN THE WORLD, it seems like anyone who was primed to see “Warrior” already HAS seen it; Not just the pro critics who’ve been talking it up or kicking it around for nearly a MONTH already, but even everyday schmos have been kicking it around for weeks as if it’s already on to 2nd run theaters; It was one of my most-anticipated of the year, but strangely I feel like I’m the last person in America to see it.

    And I know people hate this argument, but REALLY, no one in America knows who Joel Edgerton or Tom Hardy are.

    September 23rd is a fucking NIGHTMARE of a clusterfuck; Wasn’t Moneyball originally to drop on the 30th? Why move it up a weekend, to a weekend with roughly 40 new release? And WHY RELEASE ALL OF THOSE on a weekend where I have to attend some wedding and won’t be able to go to the movies? Pissed.

    When that Bucky Larson trailer comes on, I laugh like Max Cady… looks hilarious.

  17. scootrzz says:

    the weekend of September 9 could be the best thing for box office or the worst…it all depends on the reception that the countless/endless television specials devoted to the anniversary of 9/11 get…i liked ‘warrior’ a lot (not as much as dp but a lot…way too many ‘family issues’ fo me), ‘contagion’ was very effective (sci-fi?, no…sci-fact?, not really…still, kinda scary)…i watched ‘burke and hare’ via vod (not so hot) and ‘we were here’ is pretty dour…
    i’m thinkin’ tv programming might be why ‘September 9 sucks’ for b.o. …

  18. film fanatic says:

    what happened to your “e” and why do you now punctuate like sanj?

  19. LexG says:

    Oh and another thing:

    This is one of those Poland Perennials that I have to take it on faith he’s right about, because he’s a Svengali at this kind of date-parsing. But I’ll reiterate for the umpteenth time that I don’t think there’s something in the communal ether on certain weekends of the year where the general public is all, “WHY HELL, I WOULD go see Contagion if it came out July 22, but HELL NO if it’s September 9.” That’s kinda taken to its “logical” PolandExtreme by the fact that he name-checks “Fatal Attraction” (!!!) from 24 years ago to make his case for the more lucrative late September; Always makes me kinda wish some studio would one time drop a big-time property like Harry Potter on some random September or February weekend just to prove DP’s nutty obsession with their being some supernatural hex on certain dates…

    I guess the more likely scenario is certain weekends, it’s a conflation of big sports events, school issues, holidays, weather patterns, etc etc etc, which I guess is kind of unspoken in the ongoing argument… But, yeah, mostly it always seems like David’s just ‘August 7th is JINKED because GONE FISHIN’ didn’t open well in 1997 on that date, and 2 billion Americans REMEMBER AND KNOW IN THEIR HEARTS that they DO NOT GO TO MOVIES on the anniversary of GONE FISHIN’ and THE GOODS!”

  20. JS Partisan says:

    Lex, it’s an analytical thing. If you look at certain dates for a long enough time, and David has for years. You start to see a pattern. There are just some points in the year where there’s just not as much money to be made as in others. It’s just analysis and when it comes to this sort of long term BO analysis, Poland usually knows what he’s doing more than almost anyone else out there.

    My main problem with opening that much stuff on September 9th is that it’s THE NFL OPENING WEEKEND!!! Hollywood expecting to compete with that, on any level, is just incredibly fucking asinine.

  21. scootrzz says:

    really?…none of you think 9/11 plays into this at all?..

  22. JS Partisan says:

    Quite possibly but it’s also opening weekend for the NFL, and that’s pretty much sets up box office problems for any film opening that weekend.

  23. Mike says:

    Is there really anyone sitting around saying, “You know what I’m looking forward to? Watching the ENDLESS amount of overblown, yet facile coverage of the 9/11 anniversary!”

    Wasn’t that the entire Bush presidency?

  24. JKill says:

    There’s an alarming amount of exciting stuff coming out in September, to the point where I almost have to create mental tiers of what are MUST SEES vs. WANT TO SEES in the case that I can’t keep up with it all. There’s no way I’ll miss CONTAGION, WARRIOR, DRIVE or MONEYBALL but then there’s also stuff like STRAW DOGS or KILLER ELITE that appeal to me and that I’m excited for. But having too many cool looking movies coming out is a problem I’ll gladly have.

    Also, I think Swardson is very funny (who BTW, also, is shockingly good and almost reserved in 30 MINUTES OR LESS) but BUCKY LARSON looks like the most paintful comedy to come out since BOAT TRIP.

  25. scootrzz says:

    “Is there really anyone sitting around saying, “You know what I’m looking forward to? Watching the ENDLESS amount of overblown, yet facile coverage of the 9/11 anniversary!”

    probably not (i certainly wasn’t)…but then saw the previously unreleased movie, ‘the space between’ with melissa leo, paul mccartney’s ‘the love we make’, showtime’s ‘rebirth’ and the history channel’s ‘voices’ and ‘days after’…and, don’t even get me started on the 9/11 series finale of ‘rescue me’…i’m just thinking there may be a few folk willing to forgive the ‘facile and overblown’….

  26. hcat says:

    September is more exciting to me than the entire summer slate.

    As for the NFL, not sure if they are scheduling Friday or Saturday games but since most the action happens on Sunday afternoon it shouldn’t take much a bite out of the weekend. The core of the business is still teens on Fri-Sat night.

    Though it does seem like it would be a good weekend to open a smallish romantic movie going for the older female ‘book club’ audience. Maybe starring Anne Hatheway. But I am sure Focus knew what they were doing placing it one weekend after a wider release going for the exact same audience.

  27. Martin s says:

    It’s not NFL that keeps people out of theaters this early, it’s college football. NCAA hits the movie quad sweetspot and kicks off the college party scene to suck a few million people away. That’s why things return to optimal only a few weeks later. The novelty wears off, weather officially changes and classes begin to move into the first testing phases.

  28. sammy says:

    hey LexG, that was a classic comment. laughed

  29. Chucky says:

    Like it or not “Contagion” and “Warrior” are being released to coincide with 9/11. The MBAs who can’t figure that out are just like the pinhead patriots who support the TSA, the Nanny State and the ever-growing Police State — and to this sometime moviegoer MBAs means Mouth-Breathing A$$holes.

    FWIW, college football starts next weekend and the NFL kicks off 9/8.

  30. JS Partisan says:


  31. David Poland says:

    Do I need to make a list for you, Don?

    1. You prefer to detract from the conversation rather than add to the conversation… and have made clear that this is your ongoing intention.
    2. You’re a bore.
    3. You have threatened me and my business repeatedly.
    4. You have some sort of brain injury that makes you forget the shite behavior you have imposed on others. (You share this problem with most of the people who I have a serious problem with.)

    But outside of that, let the good times roll!

    You’re worse than a bully, Don, you’re a weak person (who has done very well in your field) who just wants to instigate trouble for others. In this case, me. It doesn’t require cowardice to keep you moderated… it requires a functioning brain.

    I believe I have put through every one of your comments since you were put on moderation… even the one that compared me to Ted Bundy. Thing is, I don’t really care what blather you blather. But like a child, when given too much freedom, you can’t keep yourself from testing the boundaries.

    You’re a grown up, very successful person. I haven’t done anything bad to you. You claim I did, but will not tell me what it is… because god forbid you allow me an explanation… what if – GASP! – you realize that I haven’t actually done anything wrong.

    That’s the weirdest part of all of this… even though you have been such an asshole, I am pretty confident that you want to be on the right side of whatever your issue is. If you think I did bad, you want me dead. If you thought I did good, you’s want to raise me up.

    Again, you share this with Wells. Others are not moral at all or think that morality shifts to what they think is right. I believe you are driven by a real need for justice. The problem is, your passion is perverted by false notions. And it is so powerful that you go way off topic and it becomes a series of personal vendettas, many of them way out of proportion.

    So… Bulldog asked a question… doesn’t really deserve a boot in the mouth for it. And I assume that his Captain America error was meaning that it was late in July and that it would be right on top of that first August weekend. Thanks for the 911 that Real Steel was never destined for that slot. Would have been better without being a prick.

  32. sanj says:

    i’m not this chucky guy. plus i don’t watch any football.

    if September is slow month for movies – just have 2 for 1 movie deal .

  33. Don Murphy says:

    People on the internet who state questions as if they have actual knowledge deserve a STFU for acting that way. He didn’t get a boot in the mouth, he isn’t a real person he is just an internet name. I haven’t done anything to attack your alleged business in months, being busy and all, but thanks for reminding me that I need to. And note, any prickishness to you was only AFTER I saw that you still moderated the comments. This interlude started out simply correcting some moron who stated lies as fact.

  34. Joe Leydon says:

    David: I know you’re trying to tempt us by mentioning He Who Will Not Be Named. But I’m not going to take the bait. I’m not. Uh-uh. No.

    On the other hand: Is there anything more callous than expressing disappointment that more people weren’t killed, and more damage wasn’t caused, by a hurricane?

  35. Martin s says:

    I know when it starts Chuckles, but it takes a week or two for the student population to be in full swing.

  36. David Poland says:

    Lex… it has nothing to do with magical dates or hexes. Movies have failed (relatively) on the first weekend of the summer and movies have hit on traditionally bad weekends.

    But as I wrote – since you are in a simplifying mood – if you want to break out of the entire history of the film business, you need to be doing something more than “same old, same old.” That would include putting Harry Potter on the first weekend of December or Labor Day weekend.

    The Todd Phillips rant was, indeed, a response to me guessing at his first Hangover based on historic numbers. I was wrong, obviously. Happens. But the same historic analysis was why I was the only one right about Hangover 2… including Todd, who thought I was too high.

    There are reasons why early September is weak for movies aspiring to go from acorn to oak. First, it’s what the studios put there. But that’s the vicious circle. Studios never want to admit dumping stuff, but they do and they pick slots with plausible deniability. And even when they are not 100% clear that they are pulling their punches, they often do. And sometimes, when it is too late, they realize that maybe there was something there that could have worked and you see late shifts in campaigns, anxiously seeking to recover.

    As for audiences, there is the start of the school year. And this speaks to the forgotten part of the summer, the weekdays. There is an opportunity for a lot of business during the week in the summer that just isn’t there, except during Christmas/New Years. The summer has eaten focus. Another reason why Sept 9, for instance, sucks, is that there is so much media focus on Toronto going into and out of that weekend… free media is harder to control. They get stuff this weekend and next in Fall Previews, though those have become so generic and like newspaper inserts that I am not sure how much effect they have… but the industry loves talking amongst themselves about them.

    Both movies I am talking about in this piece need all the help they can get. Quality doesn’t open wide release movies. Marketing does. And both of these films are challenging. But both are also doable, in my opinion. But from that slot, if they want to get to “90,” they need to do the same thing that would get them there on, say, August 14 or September 23, plus another 30% (weird made-up number) on top of it. They start is a slight pit.

    And I hadn’t even thought about the 10th anniversary of 9/11, which a bunch of people smartly brought up.

    It’s funny to make it about “2 movies did this in 1936,” Lex, but it’s a vast history of movies. And yes, it can all be blown up by the right film at the right time. Just as “Exorcism of Emily Rose,” which may not be a great movie, but found the right niche audience in that slot. Great number for that film. Not so great for Contagion or Warrior… at least not in the macro view.

  37. bulldog68 says:

    For the record, it was a question. And yes, I was wrong about the initial release date, but right about Real Steel being moved, just from November and not August as I incorrectly stated. You have a nice day Don.

  38. David Poland says:

    Joe –

    Some people simply cannot see past their own personal bubble. It is not an affectation, but rather, an illness.

    Without suggesting that anyone in particular is anything more than sad, it is not an exaggeration to say that rapists and serial killers often have this same issue… they do not see themselves as responsible for their “whims.” It’s always the fault of the attacked.

    And specifically, the reason Wells and I do not have any interaction – including me not going to read what you are hinting about or anything else he writes – is because he is sick enough not to realize the impact of his behavior. And what negative he does recognize is done to himself… which tends to be okay by him because he thinks this makes him honest and it is a victimless heinousness.

    Bottom line… you’re still there reading him, contributing to his livelihood by participating in his illness. And you are certainly not alone. Some people want to save him. But most are happy to watch the car smash into the wall on a weekly basis. Not I. For one thing, as someone who was a real friend to him, it hurts me to see him crash endlessly. (And what’s in print is the the top 1/3 of the iceberg.) And frankly, because I get sucked down to his level far too easily for my own good.

    And with that…

  39. Don Murphy says:

    bulldog Lie better. Your original comment is still up above. It has no question mark. No question was ask. You were talking out of your ass and you were talking bullshit.

    David to you everybody is sick except you. A true sign of mental illness.

  40. David Poland says:

    Thanks for rolling out your standard spin about bad behavior, Don. As with most of your delusions, it wildly exaggerates the reality and fails to take into account the specific details of the issues you don’t want to face.

  41. Storymark says:

    Quick – everyone raise your hand if you are capable of recognizing a question sans a question mark….

    In bulldog’s defense (not that he really needs one for a question)but a quick google of “Real Steel release change” brings up a release mentioning several shifting dates, lumping together real Steel and War horse (which was moved from August), so I could see the mistake being made fairly easily.

  42. Joe Leydon says:

    You don’t want to get Bulldog angry. You won’t like Bulldog when he gets angry.

  43. bulldog68 says:

    So let me get this straight, a guy post an inaccurate release date for a movie, and starts his sentence with the word ‘wasn’t’, thereby implying a question, and then admits he was wrong when corrected, and more than 36 hours later, Don still has a hard on about it. I’m just glad you’re keeping yourself busy Don.

  44. yancyskancy says:

    Yeah, bulldog asked a question; the lack of a question mark was clearly a typo. These things happen. For instance, from Don’s post:

    “No question was ask.”

  45. LexG says:

    Back on topic:

    Is it my wrongheaded imagination, or was MONEYBALL –aka this year’s Social Network in every way, shape and form– originally slated for 9/30? Why did they move that UP to the MOST OVERCROWDED DUMP WEEKEND EVER?

    Shouldn’t MONEYBALL be the first serving-notice OSCAR FUCK YEAH release of the fall, staked out on ITS OWN WEEKEND, no competition, like a fucking Harry Potter or Will Smith movie? Who thought it was a good idea to drop THE NEW SOCIAL NETWORK on the same day as 14 other wide releases, most of them targeting the lone-male sadsack solo viewer demographic that would probably like a baseball movie, but sure as shit isn’t going to see MULTIPLE movies in one weekend, and probably wants to see De Niro and Statham kicking ass, Taken-style?

  46. jesse says:

    Lex, I get the impression they’re trying to at least partially court the female audience for Moneyball, at least based on the posters and ads that largely feature Brad Pitt back in “pretty” mode after the weirder looks of Basterds and Benjamin Button. They must figure that the sports/dude crowd isn’t automatically going to show up for a talky, literally inside-baseball drama, and a good part of Pitt’s base is ladies, right?

    It also may look too Social Networky to come off as its own fresh Oscar movie (especially considering Social Network didn’t win).

    Also: it’s worth mentioning that in the time between Pitt being anointed, perhaps prematurely, a next big thing movie star and entering his Clooney-ish only-do-interesting-movies phase, Pitt actually became that big a star. I mean, offhand this doesn’t seem so strange because Pitt has been considered some kind of a star since 1995 or so. But after Legends of the Fall and Seven and 12 Monkeys, he had a long stretch of movies that diminished his box office rep: Devil’s Own, Seven Years in Tibet (has anyone seen this movie anywhere ever?), Meet Joe Black, Fight Club… even movies like The Mexican and Spy Game that did fine with their $60 million ish grosses, but were probably hoped for $100 millioners.

    But post Ocean’s 11, Pitt is the one from that crew who actually has the box office record of a movie star. Besides the Ocean’s movies, there’s Troy, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Burn After Reading, and Inglourious Basterds. That is like a nineties-style diverse slate of Hanks/Cruise esque hit movies that seem like they would not have made quite so much without Pitt. Yeah, Babel and Jesse James and Tree of Life were all on the smaller side, but Clooney and Damon (who seem to operate with a similarly awesome ethos post-Soderbergh encounters) have experienced far more of the $34-million grossing Babel type of movies than Pitt (Men Who Stare at Goats, Green Zone, The American, Leatherheads, Good Night and Good Luck, Intolerable Cruelty, Hereafter, Invictus, The Informant — seriously, these guys are the masters of the $35 million and change gross). And Tree of Life/Jesse James both got smaller releases than even some of the artier Clooney/Damon projects.

    So maybe Moneyball will make a bunch of money just because Pitt is in it?? I know that’s not supposed to be true anymore (and is still hard to parse with guys like DiCaprio and Pitt who work on a lot of high-profile projects that don’t rest entirely on them), but it’s pretty damn impressive in this no-stars-but-Will-Smith era.

  47. JKill says:

    The one difference between DiCaprio, Pitt and Damon, though, in regards to Clooney is that Clooney’s movies generally cost much less. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think he’s made a non-OCEAN’S 60 million plus movie since SOLARIS…

    But I do agree with everything you say about Pitt, Jesse. He has great taste in material, and he’s a big enough to draw to make those movies, however risky, financially successful. (BEN BUTTON and BASTERDS probably being the best examples…) Also, I still maintain that, Malickesq western that it is, TAOJJBYCRF would’ve had a respectable gross along the lines of THE AMERICAN if WB wasn’t so afraid of it and would’ve given it a proper release. (I probably should say that all those guys mentioned are probably my favorite current movies stars because they have make such good, quality driven choices.)

  48. Don Murphy says:

    Thanks for rolling out your standard spin about bad behavior, Don. As with most of your delusions, it wildly exaggerates the reality and fails to take into account the specific details of the issues you don’t want to face.

    1- please point out my bad behavior. Somebody on your blog made a knowingly false comment and I smacked them down for it. This is not bad behavior. After commenting I then saw that you had kept my comments on moderation like a cowardly asshole. This is not bad behavior .
    either. Unless all behavior that you disagree is “bad”.
    Which I now believe to be true.
    2- Please point out any delusion you believe I have. You said delusions, plural, so it should be easy for you to list a delusion I have.
    3- Please list one issue I refuse to face. ANY one will do.

    Nikki Finke. Jeff Wells. Drew McWeeney. Devin Faraci. Don Murphy. Many more. There is a very long list of people you think are crazy or bad. Of course the reality is that you are bugfuck insane and facing that is mighty hard. Good luck David.

  49. Not David Bordwell says:

    MLB is already posting elimination numbers on their standings page…disgruntled baseball fans might be ready for another baseball movie if their teams aren’t making it to October.

    By Sept. 9, that will include Cubs Nation.

  50. Joe Leydon says:

    Jesse: Seven Years in Tibet was the official closing night film of a Toronto International Film Festival. Yet one more reason why TIFF closing night films have such a legendarily bad reputation.

  51. jesse says:

    JKill, yeah, it’s especially cool to see Pitt develop such good taste after his younger years, when his presence in a movie would not entice me much at all. It’s probably not fair to credit the conversion of Pitt and Damon to a Clooney/Soderbergh intervention but it does seem like all of those guys got with the program after doing Soderbergh pictures.

    And I don’t want to be hyperbolic, but sometimes it seems like Clooney, Pitt, Damon, and DiCaprio are doing a lot of the heavy lifting in making sure big studios still sometimes produce excellent, ambitious non-superhero movies. (I mean, yes, filmmakers actually are the ones doing this, but Soderbergh isn’t nearly so commercial without his stars.)

  52. David Poland says:

    Don – Last things first… I don’t know that I have ever had any real beef with Devin aside from fights over movies. As best I can recall, I’ve never really said he was bad or crazy.

    And I certainly have never called Drew crazy. He and I have been having the same argument for a long time. I would say that he loses his shit – collecting it pretty quickly – and remembers AICN history differently than I do. I am certainly not alone in my view of that history. But no, Drew is neither crazy or bad.

    You (based on recent behavior), Jeff, and Nikki? I think you’d have a hard time finding anyone in town who wouldn’t suggest “crazy or bad” about at least 2 of the 3.

    If that makes me “bugfuck insane,” so be it. I won’t ever be lonely.

    Your bad behavior is being an asshole… not correcting errors… not knowing things others do not… but being a fucking jerk. Your bad behavior towards me is more direct and more aggressive. Threatening me for no apparent reason? Not good behavior.

    Delusional behavior? Well, if you think DreamWorks likes the idea of you threatening me – or any other journalist, for that matter – you are delusional. Thinking I have done something to damage you? Delusional. Thinking Kim Voynar suggested that your partner should not direct because she is a women? Delusional. The start of our list.

    When I mention “issues you don’t want to face,” it is not some grand issue. It’s you parsing things every time you seem to get into the scrum, picking out the narrow item you want to obsess on while utterly disregarding the issues offered in context.

    Thing is, Don, you feel free to be very clear about your intent, as currently regards me and this blog. It is destructive. And you expect your behavior and words to somehow be put aside so you can continue to behave badly.

    Noun: A person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.

  53. theschu says:


    I request you take your nasty, childish, bitter attitude to some other website that gives a shit about your comments. You’ve produced some of the biggest movies of the last few years and could probably provide some wisdom and insight for people who dream of accomplishing what you have. Instead, you come off as the same kind of bullying, egotistical, arrogant asshole producer that gets sent up on shows like Entourage.

    It’s quite funny that you give bulldog such shit for something that to EVERYONE ELSE was clearly a question and it was obvious he forgot the question mark and then commit a ridiculous typo yourself in the very sentence you are bashing him in.

    Nothing you’ve said in your posts about how David is SO BAD relates in any way to this column. So really, what do you have to add to the conversation that gives you any credibility? What insight do you have about movies that could be of any interest to anyone who loves movies?

    So far Don, it seems quite clear that you truly have NOTHING to add to this conversation and like a little boy who never got enough attention, you’re just going to keep yelling and insulting people and writing nasty shit just so someone will notice you.

    Well I noticed you Don. Bulldog noticed you. David noticed you. LexG noticed you. Joe Leydon noticed you.

    We all read you loud and clear Don.

    Now take your own advice and STFU.

  54. Don Murphy says:

    I guess you told me! Wow how will I ever wake up and look at myself again!

  55. David Poland says:

    I’m going to give Don the last word here… I think I’ve wasted enough time on whatever he thinks I did to him or to his. My guess is that he has bought into something as true as the nasty and absurd gossip spread by morons that I got fired from EW for masturbating in the office restroom or that I straightened my hair to pass for white or that I have done a single thing to damage Jeff Wells or that I have AIDS.

    Regardless… here’s the platform, Don. Let’s put your truth on the record.

    I got this e-mail from Don tonight at 8:52p.


    Well, if you think DreamWorks likes the idea of you threatening me – or any other journalist, for that matter – you are delusional.

    If you think any studio cares what I say to David Poland, you are delusional and self important.

    If you think when I asked Disney to not advertise on your site anyone stuck up for you you are delusional.

    If you think when I showed Warners your articles calling them all idiots they took your side you are delusional.

    If you think when I made it part of my contract language that no paid promotions can be placed on your sites any business affairs person cared to object you are delusional.

    If you think you will prevail against me you are delusional.

    There, 5 to 1 without even trying.

    I have a conscience. Anyone that knows me well knows me as a good guy. Dozens of your “friends” know me as a good guy. I just have no patience for liars and bad guys. Like YOU.


    And so it goes.

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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.”
~ 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