MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Contra Klady

Well. Klady’s numbers are,mostly, lower than the ones being given to Nikki Finke by the studios. Len does his numbers directly through Rentrak, so… make of it what you will. However, as stupid as all slump stories have been this last few months, from Len’s numbers, it doesn’t look like this weekend is going to be any bigger than last year’s MLK weekend… and perhaps a percent or two off. Of course, this means almost nothing and even less when you’re not myopically looking at it all through the prism of Avatar‘s holdover into January 2010.

What is seriously different and much more important than the grosses themselves are the costs involved with this year’s crop of MLK Weekend movies vs last year. Contraband is another moderately priced Mark Wahlberg thriller. The Green Hornet, while well over-performing expectations, was a looooong gestating, re-shot, re-cut cash vortex in comparison. Converting Beauty & The Beast to 3D was probably a $25m project, while last year’s The Dilemma cost at least 3x that. Joyful Noise is the additional, relatively cheap, wildcard.

This year’s December holdovers are running a little behind last year’s, with a lot more awards-driven numbers from True Grit, The King’s Speech, Black Swan, and The Fighter all in the Top Ten and adding about $34m in the 3-day last year. This year, 2 Best Picture hopefuls (Dragon Tattoo and War Horse) and 1 Best Actress nomination lock (Iron Lady) are in the Top 10, looking at about $17m between them in 3 days. Tom Cruise, The Devil, and Robert Downey are helping keep things afloat.

So… a decent weekend. Nothing to write home about, either way. Next weekend, however, should be a marked improvement on 2011’s numbers with the return of Beckinsale in latex. It’s February in which we will start reading (idiotic) pieces about theatricals’s comeback. Even if only the three seeming locks, Phantom Menace 3D, Ghost Rider 2, and Safe House perform to expectations, it will make last February look as bad as it was. And if potential breakouts like Chronicle, The Vow, and This Means War do break out…

Of course, that won’t be a comeback any more than 2011 was a slump. Yes, the business is cyclical. But more significantly in slump talk is the willingness to acknowledge seismic events…. like Avatar. 2011 was the highest grossing domestic summer in history (a fact that rarely gets noted by the gloomologists). Can Summer 2012, with Avengers, Prometheus, Men In Black, Spidey, Dark Knight, Ice Age, Adam Sandler, Bourne Redux, and yes, Battleship, be much bigger? Probably not. You couldn’t really ask for a more loaded schedule. Maybe a 6% bump from last year? Maybe 10%? Will that mean “moviegoing is back?” Will is be a reflection of the election season, escapism, an improving economy, or whatever other bullshit people can up with? (I guess the “bs’ makes that a rhetorical question.)

People will want to go see these movies. Period. If enough people want to go to see them on a big screen, The Bump will replace The Slump as The Story. But it will be just as dumb.

There were three $1 billion movies worldwide this last year for the first time ever. Will there be two this summer? Four?

The story, if anyone would care to think seriously about it for a second, is how amazingly resilient theatrical is in the face of all the distractions that journalists love to claim is killing theatrical. People want to go to the movies. And not just for the mega-experiences. Besides the Justin Bieber stunt, there were $4m and $4.6m grossing docs for adults last year. The Help did $170 million. An American animation that was really made for adults did $125m domestic. Hanna. The Descendants. Moneyball. Contagion.

There is a very strong business still in there. It’s just not the business where every movie makes money thanks to DVD revenue and everyone can afford to stand around smelling their own farts all day. But it’s the movies, stupid. Sometime in the next 5 or 6 years, there may well be a seismic event again. But for now… the movies. Deal.

Be Sociable, Share!

44 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Contra Klady”

  1. The Zookeeper says:

    WE BOUGHT A ZOO has defied all the naysaying opening weekend overreactions to become quite a modest hit – earning more in box office than it’s budget, and achieving a multiplier of about 5x opening weekend. Relative to the other films in the Top 10 it’s arguably one of the biggest successes of the Christmas season.

  2. anghus says:

    Zookeeper – Steven Kaye?

    Can anyone seriously post in an industry blog and declare that a movie ‘earned more than its budget’ and not expect to be laughed out of the room?

    It had a good hold. Most holiday releases do. Is anyone doing backflips over those numbers?

    One of the biggest successes of the christmas season?

    Come on man.

  3. Lynch VanSant says:

    “Even if only the two seeming locks, Phantom Menace 3D, Ghost Rider 2, and Safe House perform to expectations…”

    Despite that being three, to think that a re-release of a despised Star Wars prequel and a sequel to an awful comic book movie that no-one wants are the hopes of an industry says how badly in shape movies are. I hope the failure of Happy Feet 2 is finally a sign that audiences are fed up with crappy sequels. Journey 2, Wrath Of The Titans, American Reunion, Scary Movie 5…sheesh, no thanks. Nine of the top ten movies of 2011 were sequels and 15 of the top 20. Where are the original movie hits that will provide future revenue streams? Are all we have to look forward to reboots and remakes of the same properties? The industry is just digging a huge hole which they won’t be able to dig themselves out of when the comic book well runs dry, until they start taking chances on original stories again.

  4. bulldog68 says:

    My question is how come Red Tails wasn’t released on MLK weekend? Did they think Contraband was too much direct competition for the action crowd? Next week they are up against Underworld and Haywire.

    While it think it’s an absolutely fallacy that only black people go to movies with other black people in them, releasing Red Tails on MLK weekend is just good marketing.

  5. movieman says:

    …what he (Lynch VanSant) said.
    (Although “Happy Feet 2” really wasn’t “crappy.” Relatively speaking.)

  6. If “The Adventures of Tintin” and Shlerlock 2 would have been smashes in the US box office, the Slump would not have been surfaced on the Media.

  7. jerryishere says:

    Um, isn’t Sherlock 2 a smash?
    It’s gonna be over $170mil this weekend and should hit $190. With a small outside shot at $200.
    The first one did $209.

  8. JKill says:

    TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is a delectable, suspenseful, gorgeous film. Alfredson is a master at ringing interest and engagement through a quiet, simmering intensity and intelligence. Oldman is genius and subtle, and he’s surrounded by a perfect ensemble who fit right into the movie’s intricate puzzle. Another great 2011 highlight, one I look forward to revisiting soon.

  9. movieman says:

    When did Lukas Haas suddenly morph into Harry Dean Stanton?
    It seems like only yesterday he was that cute, quasi autistic Amish kid from “Witness.”
    Haas should really only be cast as beady-eyed serial killers from now on.
    ****spoiler alert****
    The weirdness he brings to each and every one of his scenes in “Contraband”–strictly by virtue of his creepily funereal visage–almost guarantees that his character is going to turn into another of the film’s (many) unhinged, raving loons before it’s over.
    ****end of s/a****
    That said, “Contraband” itself is a decent enough glorified “B:”
    solidly directed and nicely acted (even by Beckinsale who was surprisingly inoffensive for this non fan).
    My only real beef is that its smuggling scenario–which admittedly is pretty much the entire movie–just isn’t terribly compelling.

  10. Big G says:

    So basically it seems like David believes there is never a dip in moviegoing and there is never a spike. It always stays the same. I think if they want more people to go to the movies, I have one suggestion. LOWER. THE. DAMN. TICKET. PRICES. I’m really gonna pay $12.50 to see Joyful Noise? Uh, no.

    Movieman, why are you so offended by Beckinsale?

  11. bulldog68 says:

    What people also fail to realize re: Sherlock, is that on a year to year comparison, Sherlock 2 contributed $124M to the year end box office of 2011, while Sherlock 1 put in only $71M in 2009. Sherlock 1 made most of its money in 2010.

    And as far all this slump talk goes, the media is full of shit. The box office was actually up for 2 successive quarters last year, the 2nd and 3rd, while it lost ground in the 1st and 4th. And it was Q1 2011 that was the true killer with a 26% loss from Q1 2010. Q4 2011 only had a 4.8% loss. 2011 from Q2 to Q4 actually made more money than the comparable 2010 period.

    So if there was not two consecutive quarters of loss, how can there be a fucking slump? Do some fucking research people.

  12. movieman says:

    Big G- It could be any number of things.
    I’ve found the entire trajectory of her career rather mystifying to say the least.
    From the prissy English schoolgirls she played in period flicks like “Cold Comfort Farm” to….”Underworld” and Adam Sandler comedies.
    There’s also something off-puttingly icy about Beckinsale’s whole demeanor which may have prevented me from ever warming up to her.
    And despite the numerous testimonials to her alleged beauty, I’ve never even thought Beckinsale was especially pretty (too equine-faced and endowed with typically scary English orthodontia for my taste).
    Plus there’s the whole, “Yeah, she can do a serviceable ‘American’ accent, but why not just hire an American actress?” thing.
    While I’m not a fan, I have found Beckinsale adequate in a couple of films, including David Gordon Green’s “Snow Angels” which is probably her best performance to date.

  13. David Poland says:

    “the hopes of an industry says how badly in shape movies are.”


    It’s February, Lynch. Get a little perspective.

    This ridiculous notion that audiences don’t want “crappy sequels” is disproved every single year. Aren’t you bored of hearing it, much less repeating it?

  14. David Poland says:

    Big G – Box office against ticket prices increases tends to dip a little every year. And every year for the last 20, the industry has offered potential ticket buyers more reasons to stay away from theaters. And yet, they still come in droves.

    As I have written before, I believe in having a second tier of pricing in the theatrical window before moving to post-theatrical.

    Lots of people who say they would go if it was cheaper still wouldn’t go. They just like to bitch about pricing.

    it;s not the price. it’s the feeling that you’ve been ripped off. No one likes that… in any industry.

    Theatrical and post-theatrical should not be set up as rivals. Both need to be enhanced and maximized for potential spenders.

  15. sanj says:

    hey DP – any chance of theatres this year going more unlimited movie passess for week or month ..
    more people woould go cause there would be no time limits .
    people can pick any time for any movie.

    also since the devil inside made a lot of money – doesn’t that mean they get a dp/30 ?

  16. hcat says:

    I can’t imagine the price point that would intice me to see joyful noise.

  17. hcat says:

    Not sure what the previous record was for highest grossing debut from a director that never worked again, but Devil Inside must have destroyed it.

  18. sanj says:

    the story of devil inside is the studio paid 1 million for a movie that made 30 + million dollars …
    yeah it got bad reviews but money wise = success….

    wonder if movie critics even know the name of the person who directed devil inside .. dude could be walking around
    with millions ?

    seemed to work for the guys who made blair witch and paranormal and saw movies …

  19. The Big Perm says:

    “Lots of people who say they would go if it was cheaper still wouldn’t go. They just like to bitch about pricing.”

    This may be true, but there are also lots of people who would, and may take chance on movies they wouldn’t normally see. We used to have a three buck theater here and I’d see lots of stuff that I wouldn’t have trusted my full price ticket on.

    Lynch VanSant in his few sentences disproved himself. If audiences are so tired of crappy sequels, then why were 15 of the top 20 hits of the year sequels?

  20. chris says:

    Yeah, sanj, those “Blair Witch” guys have had HUGE careers.

  21. Krillian says:

    The $1 theater was a staple in my teens and early 20’s. Saw as many movies that way as regular price.

  22. Hallick says:

    “Lynch VanSant in his few sentences disproved himself. If audiences are so tired of crappy sequels, then why were 15 of the top 20 hits of the year sequels?”

    Because each and every last one of them was of the highest quality possible. Of course.

  23. Joe Leydon says:

    Movieman: I have not seen each and every movie Kate Beckinsale has ever made, so I suppose it’s entirely possible she has indeed played a “prissy English schoolgirl” in a film or two. But trust me: Cold Comfort Farm ain’t one of them.

  24. Joe Leydon says:

    I wonder if the conversion to digital will make people slightly more likely to frequent discount theaters? Seriously: One reason I’m more likely to wait until homevideo release after a movie’s been out for 3-4 weeks is, even by that time, a 35 mm print may already be in shabby shape. Of course, there’s another problem: It’s been my experience that discount houses — the ones in Houston, at least — are not always maintained very well. Projector bulbs are turned low, auditoriums aren’t always free of debris, other tickeybuyers seem even less uninhibited about texting and verbally responding to action of screen, etc.

  25. movieman says:

    tickeybuyers seem even less uninhibited about texting and verbally responding to action of screen, etc.

    Drop “even less” and that pretty much sums up every experience I’ve had in recent years at a movie theater.
    Hell, it happened twice this weekend alone.
    And the other factor that makes the theatrical experience
    so excruciating these days is the 30-minute preamble of commercials/trailers-you’ve-seen-a-hundred-times-already before the start of every movie.

    I haven’t seen “CCF” since ’96, Joe, so my memories of it are vague. But Beckinsale has just always seemed like a typically prissy, veddy British aristocrat type, and I remain mystified at her apparently successful crossover to American movies (and her playing of specifically “American” roles).
    It’s not that I hate Beckinsale or anything. (As I said, she’s been perfectly adequate if unremarkable/unmemorable in most of her films). I just don’t see what all the fuss is about.

  26. The Big Perm says:

    Hallick, I’m not commenting on quality. But if audiences were so tired of crappy sequels, wouldn’t they be doing something like not seeing them? Obviously audiences are not rejecting sequels. So he’s objectively wrong.

  27. yancyskancy says:

    Well, there are more non-moviegoers than moviegoers. Maybe millions of ’em are staying away because of all the sequels/remakes. Who knows? Also, since most theaters are filled with studio product (i.e., tons of sequels/remakes), those films are more likely to sell tickets.

    I suspect if the average local multiplex were showing only THE ARTIST, THE DESCENDANTS, DRIVE, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, etc., they’d be topping the b.o. charts, but overall revenue would be down because more folks would stay home.

  28. Joe Leydon says:

    Yancyskancy: “I suspect if the average local multiplex were showing only THE ARTIST, THE DESCENDANTS, DRIVE, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, etc., they’d be topping the b.o. charts, but overall revenue would be down because more folks would stay home.”

    Samuel Goldwyn: “If people don’t want to go to the picture, nobody can stop them.”

  29. cadavra says:

    Beckinsale was very sexy in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, UNCOVERED and HAUNTED–and if memory serves, naked in the latter two. I was madly in love with her until she came here and began whoring herself out to crappy horror and action movies. She can still Bring It in a film like NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, but those seem few and far between.

    David, Disney sez the 3-D conversion on B&TB was under $10 million, which seems a far more realistic amount for an 84-minute animated film.

  30. Rob says:

    Beckinsale’s best performance is in The Last Days of Disco. She just devours those Whit Stillman one-liners. I’d love to see her in a comedy again (and not playing Adam Sandler’s inexplicably hot wife).

  31. movieman says:

    I completely forgot about “Disco,” Rob.
    (And I love Stillman.)
    Yeah, that was a movie where Beckinsale worked–even for this non-fan.
    Lest anyone think I’m being sexist (or jingoistic) complaining about Beckinsale “stealing” American roles from Yank actors, I feel the same way about Christian Bale (another Brit interloper who I’ve always considered overrated/overhyped).
    How did the twitty English schoolboy from “Empire of the Sun” and “Newsies” suddenly evolve into every H’wood studio’s #1 choice for (American) Action Hero du Jour?
    Still not sure how Bale avoided the dread Cary Elwes Curse.

  32. The Big Perm says:

    “I suspect if the average local multiplex were showing only THE ARTIST, THE DESCENDANTS, DRIVE, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, etc., they’d be topping the b.o. charts, but overall revenue would be down because more folks would stay home.”

    Well sure…but those movies played in theaters just like all the others, and they’re not making 200 million. They had their chance, but still people would rather see Sherlock Holmes. You think my little clubgoer sister is going to see The Artist?

  33. Lynch VanSant says:

    I never said audiences are sick of sequels…yet. But I hope that they will be. When all the studios are putting their big bucks into ARE sequels and comic book movies then of course that’s what will end up at the top of the box office. But the sheer volume of this generic rehashing is what’s going to lead box office off a cliff. There were only 10 of top 20 in 2010 that were sequels or remakes. There are already signs that young males are getting their violence fix more from video games which now have increasingly life-like graphics…and Hollywood’s blandification of action movies into “safer” pg and pg-13 ratings will drive more of them away. The only hope I see in the past year is the success of adult comedies and fare like Limitless, Contagion, The Help, Moneyball and Midnight In Paris. This past holiday season had such a glut of family rated stuff and so few adult oriented big movies, no wonder Mission Impossible & Sherlock Holmes did well.

  34. The Big Perm says:

    Those movies would have done well no matter what. And while movies like Moneyball and Contagion did well, they still will never make as much as a Fast Five or Transformers.

    Not to say I’m defending that stuff. I’d rather have more adult movies too, I doubt I’ll ever see Sherlock Holmes 2. But my feeling is if you had only ten movies like Transformers 3 or Iron Man 2 released in a year, and two hundred like Contagion or Midnight in Paris, then the top ten would still be those sequels. It has nothing to do with volume, just the kinds of movies that everyone (especially teens) are going to see.

  35. Lynch VanSant says:

    Also, how is the lowest number of movie tickets sold in the last two years since 1995 NOT a worrying sign. Higher 3D ticket prices have offset revenue somewhat but ticket prices have risen 90% since 1998 while rate of inflation overall was only 33% – so movie-going is no longer as affordable as it used to be especially when wages of a majority of people have been stagnant. And are people going to remember a sequel heavy year like 2011 fondly…I hope not. Ghost Rider and Phantom Menace flopping would be a good sign.

  36. The Big Perm says:

    Good luck getting DP to agree with that one, I’ve been arguing that line for awhile. The dollars coming in may be higher than previous years, but if audience erosion is ignored, one day…poof!

  37. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Conspiracy Theory #132
    Have you ever thought that this site lives or dies via ad revenue.

    So is it a leap to guess what the first thing to go if there’s continued talk of a slump in the biz? Dropping benjamins on MCN is what.

    Ergo – no slump.

    It’s not a slump guys.
    It’s just a gradual and perpetual decline.
    it’s the movies dummies!

  38. Joe Leydon says:

    Well, Movieman, looks like Seth Rogen disagrees with you regarding Kate Beckinsale. LOL.

  39. sanj says:

    Beckinsale has a great smile ..

    20 years of acting … no dp/30 .

  40. David Poland says:

    I fell in love with Kate Beckinsale at the Last Days of Disco junket… pre-DP/30.

    She lost my love with Underworld and since. Became too much about what she looks like. The great charm was her not pushing it and just being gorgeous. Her discomfort with Rogen tonight is the sexiest I have seen her in a long while. It was human, not professional.

    I think we’ve tried to shoot her a couple of times.

  41. sanj says:

    DP – did you not like the underworld movies or her acting in them ?

    she has done too many action type roles not enough indie movies …

    she about to get more famous with the comic con crowd with total recall remake and since DP doesn’t do popcorn flicks for dp/30’s ..she won’t get one this year…. am i right ? she might sneak something for tiff 2012 if lucky…

    i’m not sure maybe shes a better actress for not getting awards – she does her thing and gets on with it – doesn’t
    get into tabloids

    her interview style doesn’t seem to change – shes the same on every tv interview…so that does seem a bit dull
    but she does answer questions about her movies and acting..

    overall – Kate should have had 3 dp/30 by now

    Kate talks underworld with her husband – seems real enough

  42. yancyskancy says:

    Me: “I suspect if the average local multiplex were showing only THE ARTIST, THE DESCENDANTS, DRIVE, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, etc., they’d be topping the b.o. charts, but overall revenue would be down because more folks would stay home.”

    Perm: “Well sure…but those movies played in theaters just like all the others, and they’re not making 200 million. They had their chance, but still people would rather see Sherlock Holmes. You think my little clubgoer sister is going to see The Artist?”

    Um…so you agree with me? I thought I was clear, but I’ll rephrase: If theaters showed only non-sequel/non-blockbuster films, such films would naturally top the b.o. charts (because they’d be the only films in theaters), but total b.o. would be less because more folks (e.g. your little clubgoer sister) would stay home. Maybe I’m missing something, but it sounds like we’re saying the same thing.

  43. The Big Perm says:

    We’re not. You seem to think sequels and comic book movies top the charts because that’s mainly what’s released, but I’m saying tons of other kinds of movies are released as well, and they aren’t making Transformers money.

    OF COURSE if you only released non sequel/non blockbuster movies they would top the charts. If you only released home movies of weddings to theaters and that was all, and fifty family members went to see one of them, that would probably top those charts too. That has nothing to do with what people would RATHER see.

    I mean, I get what you’re saying but since that’s a fantasy world, why discuss it? What’s it have to do with the possibilty of viewer fatiigue with big movies since that clearly isn’t the case?

    Let’s just say this…I think that Drive made about what it would have made no matter what the competition was. Everyone who wanted to see that in the theater, saw it.

  44. yancyskancy says:

    “You seem to think sequels and comic book movies top the charts because that’s mainly what’s released…”

    No, I’d say it’s the other way around — I think, like you, that sequels/comic book movies are mainly what’s released because they’re more likely to top the charts. Anyway, I misinterpreted your phrasing. No worries.

    My ‘fantasy world’ scenario was just to make a point; it feels like some people think the box office will be just hunky-dory if the studios drop the sequel/tentpole stuff and make only “good” movies. But of course you’re right, we’ll never know because that will never happen.

    As for “the possibility of viewer fatigue,” I don’t think it’s likely to happen in big enough numbers to make a difference. Even if one generation gets fed up enough to stop going to the theater, another comes along that hasn’t yet grown bored with all the cliches and commercialism. And there probably won’t ever be too many kids who say, “I get my action fix from video games, so I only hit the multiplex when I want a nice human-scaled drama or character-driven comedy.”

The Hot Blog

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