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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Lee Daniels’ The Klady

Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 9.04.28 AM

I can’t really estimate the final domestic number for Lee Daniels’ The Butler (LDTB). It’s not your traditional wide release. It isn’t playing like a phenom. But it has unique upside opportunity. The biggest question is where it will be in 10 days, after Labor Day Weekend. After that, it will start seeing much more aggressive competition in theaters. My guess on that would would about $70m-75m. $100m should be doable by the end of its (initial) run. This box office success – LDTB will pass the total domestic gross of Lee Daniels’ Precious this weekend – makes this the likely awards horse for The Weinstein Company in the “serious and ethnic” category that we all wish no longer existed in the mind of the industry or awards voters, but that we know does.

We’re The Millers is yet another raunchy comedy hit for Warner Bros/New Line (a genre Seth Gordon took to Universal this year for Identity Thief). Reviews aren’t good… audiences aren’t intensely enthusiastic… but the need for a big, loud comedy wins the day for millions of people. Do you know how many straight-out comedies there were this entire summer? Five. Do you know that every one of them will gross over $95 million domestic? They are the cheapest five films on the Top 18 for the season.

The World’s End is the third of three intended films from Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg and Nick Frost about guys in England faced with change in their lives and an overwhelming external force. With steady growth of interest in the first two films through Home Entertainment, each film has made more than the last and this one will easily be the biggest open of the trilogy (opening day is bigger than Shaun‘s total opening weekend). It is still niche material in the big picture, but a good example (and reminder) of a film that will be beloved by a lot of people and last forever while some much bigger comedies open to a multiple of this one and will rarely be thought of again by film lovers.

The Mortal Instruments is the latest non-starter franchise for tweens. The first Percy Jackson movie got a bailout by the international market. This film would need to get an even more help to not be a loss. The crazy thing is, they will keep trying and eventually, one of these non-Twilight/non-Hunger Games things will hit. But in the meanwhile, pain.

You’re Next seems to have been a happy collaboration between the filmmakers and distributor Lionsgate. But the number still ends up looking like The Devil’s Rejects. And maybe that is enough for this to feel like a success. I believe this is Adam Wingard’s first release from a top-end distributor as a stand-alone director. So it may be a very happy number for him, even if others write it off as irrelevant in the context of the big release universe.

Leading Indieville, it’s pretty close per-screen battle between The Grandmaster & Short Term 12… but I give the win to ST12, which had a small fraction of the marketing that the gorgeous, rich, layered Wong Kar-Wai ass kicker. Also, there is the expanding Blue Jasmine, which should have a $3m weekend. Sony Classics can’t be overly thrilled with a 1000 screen expansion leading to less than double last weekend’s gross. But still… pretty good.

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53 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Lee Daniels’ The Klady”

  1. movieman says:

    What a disappointing bow for the flat-out terrific “You’re Next.”
    Can’t say that I’m terribly surprised, though.
    I’d love to think the tepid bow for “Mortal Instruments” (possibly the worst movie I’ve seen all year) will put the kibbosh on any sequel plans.
    But that’s probably wishful thinking, huh?

  2. Chris says:

    I’m no marketer but those “You’re Next” spots are flat-out horrible. Ideally, they should have found a way to hint that the movie is more than it appears to be. They didn’t do that AND they didn’t even make it look like a good version of the run-of-the-mill shocker they were selling it as. Lionsgate has made garbage into hits and they can’t figure out how to sell a movie that’s actually good? (And is there inability to figure out how to sell it out why it’s been sitting around so long?)

  3. djk813 says:

    On the other hand considering that a lot of movies in You’re Next’s shoes get a VOD release only these days and the budget was in the million dollar range, this is a big win. I wish it was doing better too though. I loved it, but my Friday night audience was kind of sparse. I think it would have been even more fun in a packed theater.

  4. YancySkancy says:

    People probably thought “I just saw a movie about masked home invaders a few weeks ago; why would I want to see another one this soon?” I don’t know what the WOM is on the film, but Bilge Ebiri just slammed it on, saying he doesn’t get the hype.

  5. Etguild2 says:

    “They are the cheapest five films on the Top 18 for the season.”

    Er…”The Conjuring?” Also NYSM was less expensive than “Grown Ups 2” or “Hangover” supposedly…..

    Well, Sony certainly is freeing up its release schedule as I’m assuming MORTAL 2 and SMURFS 3 won’t be happening after all….

    DIVERGENT is going to be the next YA franchise that sticks.

  6. movieman says:

    That’s a decent, but hardly remarkable opening day figure for “The Grandmaster.”
    My dream that it might actually open at a theater closer than 100 miles away is now officially dead.

  7. Ray Pride says:

    While the distributor is the most mercurial in the business about screen counts, the last plan I heard was 800 screens next weekend.

  8. Bulldog68 says:

    Agree with Chris on the trailers for You’re Next. While you don’t want trailers to be spoilers, I paid no attention to it until I read and heard some of the feedback. The thing is, I read and heard the same great things about The Conjuring and was brutally let down. You’re Next trailers look like something that is a new release on Netflix that didn’t get a theatrical release.

    Decisions…decisions…should I use one of gift coupons and go see this thing? Is it great, or merely just better than the norm for the genre? Should I start an online petition to the White House if I don’t like it?

  9. movieman says:

    Even 800 isn’t wide enough break for my podunk town, Ray.
    “Fruitvale Station” was on 1,000+ screens July 26th, but didn’t make it here until two weeks later (when it promptly died).
    I’m constantly puzzled by what opens (and doesn’t open) here.
    We got “Blue Jasmine” (although it WAS the largest Woody break ever), but not “To Rome With Love” (speaking of Woody), “Before Midnight” or “The Way, Way Back.”
    Yet “The To-Do List”–which opened on less than 600 screens the same day “Fruitvale” went “wide”–did open here on July 26th. (BFD, I say.)
    Different distributers, different screen count rules perhaps.
    It’s still inordinately frustrating.

  10. christian says:

    (In Best Stephen Kaye Voice) And where are the folks who said THE WORLD’S END was gonna tank today?

  11. anghus says:

    “I’d love to think the tepid bow for “Mortal Instruments” (possibly the worst movie I’ve seen all year) will put the kibbosh on any sequel plans.
    But that’s probably wishful thinking, huh?”

    And yet, im staring at a Percy Jackson sequel on the box office listings…

  12. Jack1137 says:

    christian is that number for WE good? Doesn’t to me well for what is maybe.In Europe it Tanked which includes U.K.

  13. Jack1137 says:

    Yes but”Mortal Instruments” still has Intl and if Mortal Fails that means more Antman, Batffleck and Superbrit

  14. Manuel says:

    I liked The Mortal Instruments more than I thought I would but it felt like the first movie in a series instead of its own film. It relied way too much on cheap-looking CGI and that vampire fight scene set to EDM will seem incredibly dated by the time it starts airing on Starz in February. I did enjoy Lily Collins (who I usually confuse with the other girls with prominent eyebrows) and I thought the costumes were fantastic. I think it is interesting that Screen Gems used to be able to market so many cheap teen movies to $20 million-plus three-day openings and now they have this movie that you know they wanted to be a big blockbuster and it won’t even do $15 million in 5 days.

    I think the difference between the success of Twilight and the Hunger Games and all these other YA adaptations is that those two movies were marketed as EVENTS. Five years ago, Summit formed a “Twilight Tuesday” partnership with MTV and released a piece of promotional material each Tuesday beginning in APRIL leading up to the release. Both of those movies got magazine covers months before their release date. When the Twilight cast did a mall tour before the release of the first movie, they did 12 or 13 cities. When the Mortal Instruments cast did a mall tour, they did 4 cities. If studios want the public to view a smaller movie as a big deal, they have to create the perception.

  15. Fitzerald says:

    That’s definitely not a good number for WE. I guess it isn’t terrible, but you don’t do a global campaign and spend real release money for a less than 10 open in NA. But as David says, it probably doesn’t matter for Edgar Wright. He is pretty bulletproof (Scott Pilgrim, while a movie I like a lot, is an all time massive money loser) and his fans love his movies and they do enough to let him keep making films at that scale.

  16. movieman says:

    Just watched “Drinking Buddies.”
    Wow, what a terrific film.
    It’s my “Celeste and Jesse Forever” of this summer.
    At its best–which is pretty much all of the time–it reminded me of a
    French movie (albeit one in English and minus the subtitles, lol).
    Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson are both fantastic, and I didn’t even
    know Jason Sudekis was in it. (Isn’t he dating Wilde?)
    Always liked Ron Livingston. I remember thinking he could become the
    next Tom Hanks after seeing him in the first “Band of Brothers.” (I
    thought: He’s an “everyman” type like Hanks and they have similar noses. Plus, both are instantly likable and can do comedy and drama w/ equal ease.
    But it never really happened for him. Not sure why.
    Loved how the movie makes Wilde and Johnson’s brewery jobs an integral part of the narrative: it really helps us get to know them as characters.
    (It’s the kind of thing Andrew Sarris used to complain most
    American movies left out.)
    I hope Swanberg continues making more Demme-style “humanist” films like this and leaves his, uh, experimental/fringe type stuff behind.
    (And I’ve liked some of his echt Mumblecore-y movies.)
    35 years ago it would have opened at NY’s Cinema 11 and played for 8 months.
    Today it’s mostly a VOD “release” w/ theatrical an afterthought.

  17. Ray Pride says:

    movieman, check the Swanberg interview from Filmmaker magazine that’s linked on the front page.

  18. movieman says:

    Thanks for the head’s-up, Ray.

  19. Amblinman says:

    Didn’t think You’re Next was anything special. A few cute bits but otherwise eh. Initial crossbow attack was so badly filmed. Why won’t directors figure out that the whole shaky-cam-to-suggest-chaos-thing just doesn’t work? The final commupance was a dud too.

  20. doug r says:

    The World’s End spoiler thread?

  21. Jack1137 says:

    doug was it Good?

  22. leahnz says:

    fuck off ya big lamp!

    (still haven’t been able to work that into a convo somehow so i’ll randomly post it here)

    and looking forward to ‘drinking buddies’ (i guess ron livingston always has ‘office space’ to keep him warm at night, it’s practically on a loop in our house)

  23. Gus says:

    Short Term 12 gets a solid A+ from me. I was overwhelmed.

  24. movieman says:

    Olivia Wilde was a revelation for me in “Drinking Buddies.”
    It kind of has the feel of Jessica Lange’s “Postman Always Rings Twice” calling card to Hollywood.
    “Attention, people. This is what I’m capable of. Start giving me some juicy roles I can sink my teeth into, please. I’m more than just a pretty robot.”
    If “DB” had opened at year’s end and been released by a major (or mini-major like Searchlight or Focus), I could definitely see Wilde receiving some much deserved awards traction for her performance.
    And the film itself definitely has the warm, humanistic, casually sexy vibe of early Demme–along w/ Demme’s non-condescending respect for the average working joe (and josephine).
    The movie was a real discovery for me in a lot of ways.

  25. leahnz says:

    wow movieman that makes me want to see ‘drinking buddies’ even more

    (and where is the ‘next demme’ – i actually kind of hate that expression, as if there could be another jonathan demme – or cronenberg or lynch, the great risk-taking oddball stylists, is mainstream cinema never to see their ilk again? depressing)

  26. anghus says:

    loved the worlds end. funny, bitter, and a surreal ending that didnt let everything revert to the status quo. it reminded me in parts of two other wonderfully weird movies: Hot Tub Time Machine and Cabin in the Woods.

    I agree with whoever said it was 20 minutes too long. There was a monologue towards the beginning where they get to the bed and breakfast and Pegg rattles off the name of the pubs in rapid succession (for the second time) and i was thinking ‘why on earth did we need that bit again?’. Wright’s films are so wonderfully constructed and put together. The unneeded bits feel very obvious. Wright is like Tarantino in that his films feel like unique compositions. There’s a level of construction to them from the writing to the music to the staging. As much as i liked all three Cornetto films, im looking forward to the band breaking up. I want to see what Wright does without the original crew. I love Spaced and everything after, but what i dont want is for Wright to turn into Kevin Smith.


  27. Etguild2 says:

    “Short Term 12” was fantastic. What is wrong with Hollywood releasing 6 great films (YN, World’s End, Grandmaster, Drinking Buddies, Short Term 12 and Una Noche) on the last full August weekend, when I can’t recall another weekend with more than 3 decent releases the entire year? Other than “I Declare War,” and maybe “Salinger,” nothing of interest coming out for another 3 weeks.

  28. Chucky says:

    “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” made news and not in a good way. The liberal media might brush it off but the story’s out there thanks to the MCN homepage and the rest of the Web.

    @movieman: Which city are you speaking of? “Blue Jasmine” isn’t playing (yet) in Knoxville, where Regal Cinemas has its main office.

  29. movieman says:

    Anghus- It was me who opined last weekend that “WE” felt 20 minutes too long. I really do think Wright needs an editor as badly as Peter Jackson. He’s too talented to let the occasional indulgences sabotage his work.

    Chucky- I’m in Youngstown, Ohio which is in the northeastern part of the state.

    Leah- Cronenberg’s son sure ain’t the new David Cronenberg, lol!
    Have you seen “Antiviral”? Bleuch! It takes all the deliberate unpleasantness of great Cronenberg (“Crash,” “Dead Ringers,” etc.), but leaves out the artistry, skill and sensibility. All you’re left with is revulsion on top of uber-Canadian pretentiousness.

  30. Tuck Pendelton says:

    We watched Drinking Buddies on VOD this weekend as well. I enjoyed it, and I’m NOT a “mumblecore” fan at all. The main quartet cast members were stellar from top to bottom. Being around late 20’s people who drink too much, some Wilde’s mannerisms were so spot on it was kinda spooky.

  31. YancySkancy says:

    Really looking forward to DRINKING BUDDIES, which we added to our iTunes rental queue the other day (along with WHAT MAISIE KNEW and, um, THE HOST). Feel kinda bad that it will be my first Swanberg–I intended to see a couple of his earlier efforts when they were streaming on Netflix, but didn’t get around to it before they expired. He and I went to the same film school (though he was there after me), so I feel like I should be supporting a fellow alum.

    I’ve always liked Olivia Wilde and never quite got the “pretty robot” knock, except when that seemed to be an aspect of the character she was playing. With RUSH yet to come, looks like it could be a breakout year for her.

  32. Chucky says:

    @movieman: “Blue Jasmine” IS playing in Youngstown — visit Fandango and enter a Youngstown zip code.

  33. HarryWarden says:

    You’re Next was phenomenal; Sharni Vinson gets an A+ in the Jaimie Lee Curtis School for Scream Queens. On the other hand, Drinking Buddies wasn’t anything special. I really don’t like Olivia Wilde though. Comes across as something of a pretentious jerk in interviews and she isn’t attractive either (gasp!) with her “Under the Dome” forehead and horrible complexion that only Hollywood makeup can make look decent.

  34. movieman says:

    I know it’s playing in Youngstown, Chucky.
    Saw it here Thursday nite.
    Re-read my original posting:

    Even 800 isn’t wide enough break for my podunk town, Ray.
    “Fruitvale Station” was on 1,000+ screens July 26th, but didn’t make it here until two weeks later (when it promptly died).
    I’m constantly puzzled by what opens (and doesn’t open) here.
    We got “Blue Jasmine” (although it WAS the largest Woody break ever), but not “To Rome With Love” (speaking of Woody), “Before Midnight” or “The Way, Way Back.”
    Yet “The To-Do List”–which opened on less than 600 screens the same day “Fruitvale” went “wide”–did open here on July 26th. (BFD, I say.)
    Different distributers, different screen count rules perhaps.
    It’s still inordinately frustrating.

  35. Etguild2 says:

    I love when Chucky forgets to take his meds.

  36. leahnz says:

    movieman: i haven’t seen ‘antiviral’ or any of cro jr’s work, but your description, “All you’re left with is revulsion on top of uber-Canadian pretentiousness” sounds pretty dire (though in a weird way ‘uber-Canadian pretentiousness’ sounds like a car-wreck i might like to see haha) – perhaps further evidence that artistic style and ability are not hereditary.
    in that vein i had hopes for ami mann; i’ve seen little of her fairly sparse directorial TV work but was keen for ‘texas killing fields’ with its good cast and fascinating, grim subject matter, but found it really frustrating – some tense moments here and there when it felt like it might take off but instead of getting gripping just fell flat, like a mistimed soufflé, a pity. i hope that misfire didn’t effectively end her film career though, because while i found the end result a strangely turgid mess i thought there was a decent story lurking in there that she didn’t quite manage to put together and coax out in a compelling way, but the unsettling feel and conceptual look of the movie was promising, so here’s hoping ami gets another go.

  37. movieman says:

    I thought “Texas Killing Fields” was kind of an interesting miss (and interesting mess), too, Leah.
    One famous director’s offspring whose work i really like is David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer’s. That serial killer movie she did w/ Vincent D’Onofrio
    was absolutely bone-chilling and really quite brilliant.
    Also really like Jason Reitman who had already surpassed his old man’s entire ouevre around the time of “Juno” as far as I’m concerned.

  38. Mike says:

    On the subject of offspring, I fell instantly in love with Zero Effect by Jake Kasdan, and had high hopes of him living up to his dad. But the more he’s gotten in with Apatow, the less interesting he’s become to me. To this day, I wish he would turn Zero Effect into a series of modern Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Though, I guess that need has been filled by two current tv series.

  39. Joe Leydon says:

    Jennifer Lynch directed a serial killer movie with Vincent D’Onofrio? When? Surely you’re not talking about the wretched Surveillance (which, come to think of it, did not feature D’Onofrio)?

  40. leahnz says:

    mike, i agree about jake kasdan (very fond of ‘zero effect’ too), he does have a bit of flair and his old man’s sense of dark comedy, plus he’s still quite young so here’s hoping he has a chance to develop and forge ahead with his own unique style and not get sucked into conforming to the ‘flavour of the day’. i guess jason reitman is probably ‘the golden child’ at the moment in terms of mainstream cinema (sofia is far more arthouse – i still haven’t seen ‘bling ring’, which i gather many didn’t really care for so i’m a bit scared now, it doesn’t really look like my cup of tea but i’ll try to keep an open mind); ‘young adult’ was recently on cable quite a bit and i found myself watching it compulsively – it’s really grown on me and i rather fiercely love the fact that the protagonist (can you be both the protagonist and antagonist in one, the schitzo-tagonist?) is such a flawed, self-absorbed unrepentant delusional douchebag, and the fact they had the guts to go with a female lead in this context gets major kudos from me (and charlize nails a great cringeworthy perf. great cringeworthy comedy has long been a staple of british humour but there’s some notable instances of good ‘cringe-comedy’ coming out of the US).

    movieman, were you referring to ‘surveillance’? i actually still haven’t seen that, i borrowed it from someone on dvd but the disk wouldn’t play in my machinery (not legit i suspect) and i haven’t seen it here anywhere to rent or buy, but i take it joe wouldn’t want me to send him my copy when i’m done for a repeat viewing, if i ever find one haha

  41. cadavra says:

    Actually, ZERO EFFECT was a riff on Nero Wolfe, not Sherlock Holmes, so it could certainly be a series today (though I’d prefer the Real McCoy, preferably played by Ed Asner).

  42. movieman says:

    The knockout Jennifer Lynch serial killer movie I mentioned is “Chained.”
    (And I rather liked “Surveillance,” too, come to think of it. And “Boxing Helena” as well.)
    Jake Kasdan hasn’t had the success connecting w/ audiences (and, apparently, most critics) that, say, Jason Reitman’s had.
    But I also loved “Zero Effect,” and thought “Orange County” was pretty terrific.
    (His kid brother’s “The First Time” is also very good.)

  43. movieman says:

    With all the talk about so many current movies gilding the lily, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” is only 91
    Good for him, but I wonder what everyone anticipating another top-heavy
    (and long-winded) sci-fi “epic” are going to think. That ultra-lean run
    time might prevent them from treating it as seriously as they might otherwise.
    Of course, it is one person stranded in space, right? Of course,
    “Cast Away” ran 143 minutes, and was essentially the same basic set-up (albeit on earth versus outer space).

  44. YancySkancy says:

    cad: I suppose a Nero Wolfe played by 83-year-old Ed Asner would be housebound as much by age as weight? 🙂

    Somewhere there exists an NBC pilot for ZERO EFFECT starring Alan Cumming, directed and co-written by Kasdan.

  45. Etguild2 says:

    Cuaron has a history of editing restraint. Other than Potter, none have his films have run more than 111 minutes, and that length was for “Great Expectations.” “Children of Men,” and “Y Tu Mama Tambien” feel much longer and involved than they actually are.

  46. movieman says:

    Et- You’ve got to admire Cuaron’s remarkable restraint, no?
    It’s immensely gratifying that he’s continuing to rage against the bloat machine which is crippling so many contempo tentpole-ish movies.
    I wish more directors would follow his lead.
    Lean and mean beats fat and sluggish every time, people.

  47. Joe Straatmann says:

    “Actually, ZERO EFFECT was a riff on Nero Wolfe, not Sherlock Holmes, so it could certainly be a series today (though I’d prefer the Real McCoy, preferably played by Ed Asner).”

    Zero Effect is heavily based on the Sherlock Holmes story “A Scandal in Bohemia” with many tropes of a Holmes story (Disguises, drug addiction, a Watson character, Holmes being a bad musician), so even if the Nero Wolfe influence is there, so is very much the Holmes influence.

  48. Joe Leydon says:

    The year I saw Boxing Helena at Sundance, all I could think of afterwards is, “Somewhere tonight, Kim Basinger is laughing.”

  49. Mike says:

    I’ve wanted to see that Zero Effect pilot for a long time, but could never find it.

  50. cadavra says:

    Well, the basic set-up is Wolfe: Housebound detective who sends younger leg-man out to do all the actual heavy lifting and then figures it all out from what’s handed him. The “Bohemia” connection is valid, but in a way, almost all detective fiction can be traced back to Doyle one way or another.

  51. Mike says:

    Thanks leahnz! I never thought I’d get a chance to see this.

  52. leahnz says:

    you’re welcome (i haven’t had a chance to watch it yet)

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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.

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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.

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