MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

The Weekend Report: March 25, 2012

Starved For Inattention

The Hunger Games set a slew of records and debuted to a jaw dropping estimated $153.6 million. Nuff said.

The competition decided there was little point to even consider a counter-programmer. But in the niches Bollywood offered Agent Vinod that bowed to an OK $440,000 at 121 venues.

There were also a few limited freshmen that showed signs of life. The Raid: Redemption, an urban shootout, grossed $219,000 from 14 locations while the Brit period drama The Deep Blue Sea fared fair with $113,400 on 28 screens. The frame’s handful of exclusive generated generally disappointing results.

The anticipation for The Hunger Games was palpable. The popularity of its series of young adult novels was likened to the Harry Potter books … albeit slightly more sophisticated and unquestionably more sober sided. Pundits could not image anything less than a $100 million debut and tracking pegged it at between $130 million and $135 million in the days leading up to its release.

Neither the film’s Thursday midnights of $19.7 million nor Friday additional box office of $48.5 million indicated that the prognostications were off track. Saturday was expected to experience a downturn but (previews aside) stunned the industry with a slight boost and estimates quickly shot up by $20 million.

As for records Hunger can claim the biggest domestic opening for a non-sequel and slots third all-time behind the Harry Potter finale and The Dark Knight. It also fueled the biggest weekend box office outside a holiday session. It also opened day and date in 57 international territories and scored an impressive estimated $60 million that should eventually provide it for the sort of business experienced by the recent Twilight installments.

Exit demos also provided a bit of a surprised. While its 61% female tilt wasn’t really a shocker what stood out was that less than half the crowd was under the age of 25 years; specifically 44%. All this ultimately bodes well in the coming weeks as the current momentum is likely to bring in a younger male crowd.

The Hunger Game accounted for more than 70% of weekend admission that should add up to roughly $212 million. That was sufficient for a 97% boost from last weekend’s tally and 79% better than last year’s gross when debuts of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules and Sucker Punch opened respectively to $23.7 million and $19 million.

Holdover titles generally took 50% hits in the wake of The Hunger tsunami. The weather notwithstanding, summer definitely arrived early in 2012.

Weekend Estimates: March 23-25, 2012

Title Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
The Hunger Games 153.6 (37,130) NEW 4137 153.6
21 Jump Street 20.4 (6,550) -44% 3121 70.2
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax 13.0 (3,540) -43% 3677 177.3
John Carter 5.0 (1,570) -63% 3212 62.4
Act of Valor 2.0 (910) -46% 2216 65.9
A Thousand Words 1.9 (1,050) -40% 1787 14.9
Project X 1.9 (920) -53% 2065 51.7
Safe House 1.4 (1,020) -50% 1330 122.5
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 1.3 (1,000) -44% 1340 97.1
Casa de mi Padre 1.0 (2,170) -55% 475 3.9
This Means War 1.0 (830) -54% 1188 52.3
The Vow .83 (660) -60% 1258 122.8
Friends with Kids .80 (1,440) -45% 556 5.5
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen .68 (5,480) 47% 124 1.6
Silent House .63 (520) -70% 1202 11.9
Good Deeds .59 (950) -57% 621 33.7
Jeff Who Lives at Home .57 (2,240) -33% 254 1.8
The Artist .47 (820) -55% 576 43
Agent Vinod .44 (3,640) NEW 121 0.44
A Separation .34 (1,320) -27% 261 6.1
The Iron Lady .25 (770) -41% 327 29.1
Hugo .24 (850) -50% 283 73.4
Alvin & the Chipunks: Chip-Wrecked .24 (960) -14% 248 132
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $206.60
% Change (Last Year) 79%
% Change (Last Week) 97%
Also debuting/expanding
The Raid: Redemption .22 (13,670) 14 0.22
Footnote .16 (6,920) 137% 23 0.32
The Deep Blue Sea .11 (4,050) 28 0.11
We Need to Talk About Kevin 94,300 (1,180) -6% 80 1.3
Being Flynn 72,100 (990) -51% 73 0.4
In Darkness 58,700 (1,130) -20% 52 0.79
Comme un chef 41,200 (2,750) 15 0.04
Un Heureux evenement 11,400 (540) 21 0.01
One Life 8,700 (2,900) 3 0.01
4:44: Last Day on Earth 8,400 (2,800) 3 0.01
Musical Chairs 7,300 (810) 9 0.01
The Trouble with Bliss 4.950 (4,950) 1 0.01
Brake 4,600 (2,300) 2 0.01
Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – March 23, 2012)
Distributor (releases) Market Share
Universal (6) 17.50%
Sony (10) 15.30%
20th Century Fox (8) 13.20%
Warner Bros. (11) 12.90%
Paramount (10) 9.90%
Buena Vista (7) 7.80%
Relativity (3) 3.70%
Lions Gate (4) 3.70%
Weinstein Co. (6) 3.30%
Open Road (2) 2.50%
CBS (2) 2.40%
Summit (4) 2.10%
Fox Searchlight (3) 2.00%
Focus (2) 1.00%
Sony Classics (8) 0.60%
Other * (76) 2.10%
Top Limited Releases (Jan. 1 – March 22, 2012) *
Title Box Office
A Separation 5,746,324
Friends with Kids 4,696,681
A Dangerous Method * 4,131,966
Pina * 3,712,244
Goon 3,689,726
Albert Nobbs 2,864,761
Casa de mi Padre 2,848,252
Born to Be Wild * 2,219,802
Carnage * 2,217,733
Shame * 2,049,382
Agneepath 1,990,856
Monsieur Lazhar * 1,748,051
2012 Oscar Nominated Shorts 1,693,261
We Need to Talk About Kevin 1,252,363
Jeff, Who Lives at Home 1,187,358
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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