MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

The Weekend Report: Float Like a Butterfly … Sting Like a Bee

The debut of Underworld: Awakening led weekend ticket sales with an estimated $25.2 million. Two other films bowed nationally and a fourth platformed after four weeks in Oscar-qualifying exclusives. The saga of the Second World War Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails, ranked second with $19.1 million and the take no prisoners actioner Haywire kicked out with $8.9 million. Wedged in-between was the expansion of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close in position four with $10.4 million.

Despite patches of inclement weather box office was generally spritely and considerably more potent than last year’s weak outset.

A trio of Oscar foreign-language submissions opened strategically but, ironically, none made the short list announced last week. Of the three only Mexico’s Miss Bala showed promise with an $8,070 average from four screens. Conversely China’s The Flowers of War was un-blooming with $51,400 at 30 venues. Also of note were the non-fiction Crazy Horse with $8,700 from a single screen and the modern-day adaptation of Coriolanus that grossed $62,500 from nine engagements.

Overall box office generated roughly $135 million that was flat with last weekend’s three-day portion of the MLK holiday. However, it was 31% improved from 2011 when the debut of No Strings Attached led with $19.6 million and Green Hornet’s sophomore weekend added $17.7 million.

The fourth installment of the Underworld franchise was expected to top weekend charts and managed to exceed the previous edition’s $20.8 million bow. It played largely to loyal fans with exit polls indicating an audience composed 55% of males and 60% of viewers aged 25-years and older.

For many the weekend surprise was Red Tails, the chronicle of the African American flying aces that George Lucas financed when all the majors took a pass. Pundits predicted opening day interest followed by steep drops. But Friday to Saturday posted a sizeable 44% boost. Exit demos showed a crowd composed 51% male and 66% aged 25 years and older but ethnic breakdowns were unavailable. Fingers are crossed that the picture will skew younger in the coming weeks.

With the Oscar slate announcement just days away Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close launched nationally in hopes of capitalizing on Academy attention. So far the yarn hasn’t been a significant award’s contender but Oscar favor is particular difficult to predict this year. The film drew a not unexpected 59% female audience and a whopping 82% aged 25 plus.

Haywire tilted 55% male with 64% of the audience 35 years old and younger. Notwithstanding its results, the movie going crowd is definitely aging and the majors are both mulling a shift toward more mature content and pictures that will ease the erosion of that younger demographic that had dominated ticket sales for decades.

Weekend Estimates

Title Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Underworld: Awakening 25.2 (8,190) NEW 3078 25.2
Red Tails 19.1 (7,620) NEW 2512 19.1
Contraband 12.2 (4,250) -50% 2870 46.1
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 10.4 (3,960) 11350% 2630 11.1
Haywire 8.9 (3,640) NEW 2439 8.9
Beauty and the Beast 8.6 (3,290) -51% 2625 33.4
Joyful Noise 6.0 (2,200) -46% 2735 21.9
Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol 5.5 (2,190) -53% 2519 197.3
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows 4.7 (1,880) -46% 2485 178.5
The Iron Lady 3.7 (3,470) -31% 1076 12
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 3.7 (1,930) -45% 1907 94.7
War Horse 3.0 (1,200) -49% 2525 72.2
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked 2.9 (1,410) -50% 2070 124.5
We Bought a Zoo 2.7 (1,320) -51% 2065 69.5
The Devil Inside 2.5 (1,140) -69% 2207 51.1
The Artist 2.4 (3,590) 99% 662 12.1
The Descendants 2.4 (4,340) 16% 560 51.3
The Adventures of Tintin 2.2 (1,630) -46% 1340 72.3
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy 1.8 (2,420) -45% 730 18.3
Hugo .90 (1,380) -14% 650 55.8
Happy Feet Two .42 (1,270) -13% 331 62.6
A Dangerous Method .41 (3,890) -18% 105 3.4
Puss in Boots .34 (1,160) -18% 292 147.7
My Week with Marilyn .32 (1,430) -32% 225 12.1
Carnage .31 (1,250) -55% 248 2
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn .30 (820) -61% 370 280.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $128.80
% Change (Last Year) 31%
% Change (Last Week) 0%
Also debuting/expanding
Shame .23 (2,440) 61% 95 3
A Separation .18 (13,650) 147% 13 0.55
We Need to Talk About Kevin 72,800 (10,400) 72% 7 0.18
Pariah 63,200 (3,010) -37% 21 0.49
Coriolanus 62,500 (6,940) 9 0.06
The Viral Factor 61,700 (2,800) 22 0.06
Fullmetal Alchemist 59,600 (1,320) 45 0.06
The Flowers of War 51,400 (1,710) 30 0.05
Miss Bala 32,300 (8,070) 4 0.03
16-Love 10,200 (780) 13 0.01
Crazy Horse 8,700 (8,700) 1 0.01
The Front Line 6,800 (1,130) 6 0.01
Carol Channing: Larger Than Life 5,100 (2,550) 2 0.01
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth 4,400 (4,400) 1 0.01
The City Dark 2,900 (2,900) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share:  January 1 – 19, 2012

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (8) 157.8 30.90%
Warner Bros. (9) 78.8 15.40%
20th Century Fox (4) 68.1 13.30%
Buena Vista (5) 63.4 12.40%
Sony (6) 43.7 8.50%
Universal (2) 34.9 6.80%
Weinstein Co. (3) 17 3.30%
Summit (2) 14.3 2.80%
Focus (2) 13.3 2.60%
Fox Searchlight (3) 11.2 2.20%
Sony Classics (5) 2.8 0.60%
Other * (22) 6.1 1.20%
511.4 100.00%
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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