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David Poland

By David Poland

Fridday Estimates by The Klaze Runner

Friday Estimates 2014-09-20 at 8.43.05 AM

Well, it doesn’t look like there will be a feeling other than “blah” about the theatrical box office between the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy on the first week of August and the opening of Interstellar and Big Hero Six the first weekend of November. There are likely hits and nice openings (Gone Girl, The Equalizer, Book of Life, maybe Fury), but $50 million-plus openings look to be at least another 7 weekends away.

The Maze Runner (“we called it margarine”) will be the best opening since the Mutant Turtles resurfaced on the weekend of August 8. But it’s still looking like it will come up short of the first Percy Jackson film, which was not a big event. Interestingly, looking at the Box Office Mojo chart of YA Adaptations, there is a big gap between Percy‘s opening ($31m) and the next opening, which is The Fault in Our Stars with a $48m launch. The Top 17 titles, all opening at that $48m or better, all did at least $125m domestic. In the lower half (30 titles opening to $31m opening or less), only two films were leggy enough to get to the $100m domestic mark, Lemony Snicket and The Princess Diaries. It is also worth noting that in that Top 17, it’s all Potter/Twilight/Hunger Games except for the two bottom titles, Divergent and Fault.

Speaking of overworked franchises, the Liam Neeson Whispering Threats genre may be coming to an end. A Walk Among The Tombstones is going to be his weakest wide opening since Taken, with the exception of The Next Three Days, a Paul Haggis film that Lionsgate allowed to escape more than released. Or maybe this is just a fluke. Perhaps Neeson will bring new life to the tough guys turned nanny genre next. “I know you don’t want to put away your toys. But I have special skills in dealing with naughty children. I’ll give you one last chance…”

And This Is Where I Leave You seems to be in the Don’t Tell Them It’s About Jews category and the Sell The Ensemble Not The Movie oeuvre. Neither really draws well. It certainly was the quietest big studio premiere in recent TIFF memory. And indeed, with a boatload of talent (though with due respect to Adam Driver, the hot name of the moment has never sold a movie ticket), a marginal number of people bought tickets yesterday. I saw a Tina Fey interview in which she mentioned Admission and noted, “But nobody saw that.” Expect her to use the line on this film in future interviews.

Not a lot of redemption at the arthouse. The big per-screen in limited release will be Yellow Day, which is not another “New Girl” spin-off, but rather another spiritual film. Right behind it will be Hector & The Search For Happiness, a film that I found charming, if imperfect. Lots of new titles riding that $4000 to $5000 per-screen mark this weekend.

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29 Responses to “Fridday Estimates by The Klaze Runner”

  1. Kevin says:

    Solid start for Xavier Dolan’s MOMMY, should be the best opening weekend for a Quebec film this year.

    Did DR. CABBIE really earn that much?

  2. EtGuild2 says:

    The MOMMY opening is Quebec only…how have it, and TOM AT THE FARM, not gotten a US release date set?

    Surprising and disappointing result for THE DROP 🙁 It appears DP called it…no word of mouth result.

  3. Chucky says:

    James Gandolfini’s final feature, promoted with the standard Hollywood practice of name-checking barely remembered movies.

    And people wonder why Hollywood is out of ideas!

  4. chris says:

    You don’t think “Gone Girl” will have a $50 million? I thought that was a slam dunk.

  5. Gustavo says:

    “You don’t think “Gone Girl” will have a $50 million? I thought that was a slam dunk.”

    Has a David Fincher thriller ever even come close to opening that high? It’s not a slam-dunk at all.

  6. ThriceDamned says:

    His largest opening ever is Panic Room at $30m, so I wouldn’t call a $50m for Gone Girl a slam dunk by any means. But, popular source material, so who knows?

  7. Hcat says:

    Very popular source material, but it’s geared to an older audience which is not an opening weekend crowd, could have massive legs though it was big book club fodder and those ladies go en masse and often multiple times.

  8. YancySkancy says:

    I suspect most of the people going to see GONE GIRL opening weekend will have no more idea who David Fincher is than Tyler Perry apparently did before getting the gig.

  9. YancySkancy says:

    David: They called it corn, not margarine (unless I’m missing an extra layer of meta in your little pun).

  10. movieman says:

    Who else was elated when the great Patricia Clarkson turned up in the 11th hour of “The Maze Runner”?
    A grown-up…and a woman to boot!

  11. EtGuild2 says:

    It reminded me of Diane Lane at the end of “Jumper”….sequel bait to expand the audience. Nothing more.

    But goddam did Fox sell this. What a knockout year marketing wise.

  12. Jermsguy says:

    ‘Tusk Tanks’, amirite?

    Maze Runner compared to Percy why? Cuz Dylan O’Brien kinda looks like Logan Lerman?

  13. doug r says:

    Yeah, but when Patricia Clarkson leaves Shutter Island, the movie goes downhill. No high hopes for Maze Runner by extension.

  14. movieman says:

    Et- It kind of did the job for me.
    If Clarkson is involved in a sequel (that is, if there’s even a sequel), and if her role is enhanced (which is hinted at), I won’t entirely be dreading “Maze Runner 2,” lol.
    In comparison with some other YA dystopian movies (last month’s godawful “The Giver” included), “M.R,” isn’t “bad” per se: just kind of monotonous/one-note. It wore me out after awhile.
    Clarkson’s entrance, however, perked me up like a double espresso.
    At least it was shorter than “Divergent”

  15. leahnz says:

    ‘maze runner’ is one of the few movies my son is super-keen to see because he really loved the book series, so here’s hoping they do some sort of justice with the films, sounds ok anyway so far

  16. dinovelvet says:

    “Speaking of overworked franchises, the Liam Neeson Whispering Threats genre may be coming to an end. A Walk Among The Tombstones is going to be his weakest wide opening since Taken, with the exception of The Next Three Days, a Paul Haggis film that Lionsgate allowed to escape more than released.”

    I think it’s probably more to do with oversaturation. This is Neeson’s fourth movie of 2014, and that’s not counting animated/voiceover stuff. It’s kind of a deceptive film that canny editors made look like a sorta-Taken riff in the ads, but the end result is a much more low-key private eye walking the streets kind of thing with not much fighting and shit, which probably puts off a certain sector of the audience. It’s also in the curious position of opening right before the most Liam Neeson-looking movie of the year, The Equalizer.
    However, I really enjoyed it, its got an awesome downbeat ‘first adult movie of the fall’ kind of vibe, and Neeson is awesome in it. One thing I found odd/interesting though, other than Liam himself there was NOBODY else in the thing who I even recognized. Usually you can expect a Colm Feore or Zeljko Ivanek type showing up for a few minutes in this sort of thing, but nope, all new faces at least to me (I did figure out late in the game that one of the goons was the sarcastic asshole CIA guy in Quantum of solace, here playing a sarcastic asshole).

  17. LYT says:

    Does the Giver have a Christian/right wing angle? I ask because it seems like every rightie talk-show host is running ads and live spots for it.

  18. LexG says:

    Dino, yeah, wouldn’t say there was “NOBODY” else of note in Tombstones; Indeed, that one killer is David Harbour, the Solace guy you thought who was also in “Revolutionary Rd” as the second husband guy, and in tons of “End of Watch.” Also that was Big Evil from “End of Watch” in the prologue as Liam’s partner…

    And I think the big “new” guy in the cast is Dan Stevens, who I don’t know from Adam but is apparently huge from “Downton Abbey” and is also the lead in that THE GUEST thing that everybody’s on about. Also the junkie brother is Boyd Holbrook, who I don’t know much about but is also front and center in ‘Skeleton Twins,’ so it’s good to know Stevens and Holbrook are observing the ironclad ALWAYS BE IN TWO BIG MOVIES SIMULTANEOUSLY RULE for actors big and small, new and old.

  19. LexG says:

    LYT: Sarah Palin endorsed “The Giver” and a few conservative pundits have found something vaguely to their liking about its negative depiction of a sterile, “PC” Utopia where innocent babies are regularly dispatched. It’s REEEEEALLY a stretch and something that didn’t occur to me while watching it, but I guess you could take the “you take the bad with the good” theme of liberation as mildly libertarian, though you could also easily say the movie’s really arguing for a diverse, noisy, sexual, multicultural, multiracial melting pot vs a blandly white future Mayberry, and thus “liberal.” It’s not that profound a movie to begin with and is vague enough to appeal to anyone, but, yeah, some right-leaning op-eds have run with it.

    I would guess, though, that its surprisingly decent “legs” are half due in part to the “conservative” push, and the other half from the presence of Bridges and Streep, who bring out the older audiences slowly.

  20. movieman says:

    I’m glad you brought up Dan Stevens, Lex.
    I haven’t seen “The Guest” (which I hear is pretty good), but his “American” accent in “Tombstones” made my ears bleed whenever he opened his mouth.
    Get thee to a dialect coach, Mr. Englishman. Yikes!
    I know everybody wants to make Stevens The Next Big Thing, but seriously.
    Weren’t there 1,000 American actors who could have played that role and wouldn’t have had to work (so damn hard and to little avail) on an accent?
    Otherwise I liked the movie, even if it felt maybe a little too beholden to David Fincher’s oeuvre for its own good.

  21. dinovelvet says:

    Oh yeah Dan Stevens. Huh weirdly he looks completely different (blonde) in the trailer I saw for The Guest. Though props for actually leaving a tv show to get into movies, when it seems a lot of actors are doing the exact opposite…

  22. MAGGA says:

    About Maze Runner: Do they have a knock-out explanation for the maze? If the twist is bad or non-existent that kind of movie is worthless.

  23. Triple Option says:

    I thought the “they called it margarine” was perfect! I thought maze runner was a film seeking to contain a lot of ingredients of a profound thriller, only geared towards a younger set, but faux elements ultimately contained nothing of substance. A cheap imitation that left me wondering what are we brain feeding our kids??

    I didn’t get the Percy comparison at first either. I guess it fits. I would’ve put Percy’s prime demo as middle school or pre-drivers vs late high school/recent grads for Maze. It seemed more along the lines of Chronicle in terms of tone. Though quality wise, maze wasn’t close to Chron. Have not read the source material. I could imagine what structural points were kept in but it seems whatever soul or internal themes prevalent in helping the book series gain so much success weren’t brought over. In fact, I wondered if they even cared to attempt that. Pretty friggin’ basic, if you ask me. But, apparently, I wasn’t the only one with a few extra bux burning a hole in my pocket this w/e either.

    What do you think Liam Neeson would be doing today if he hadn’t done Taken? Would he be in TV? Would he be working at all? Think he’d be in the Marvel universe? Unseen in festival hitting dramas? Would’ve found action films regardless?? Maybe a police commissioner? Theater? Hanging out in Ibiza?

  24. Triple Option says:

    Magga, if by knockout you mean lengthy-snooze inducing explanation, then yes, maze had it. It reminded me of Clerks 2. If you have to spend that much time at the end explaining everything that’s happened or not happened thus far, you need to go back and stick some of that stuff in earlier on. Not everything can have a “ohhhh, that’s why” revelation like Usual Suspects or 6th Sense but a film should be a little better plotted than the equivalent of a 4th grade social studies teacher reading her class the summary of notes when she’s unable to get through the film strip projection before the bell rings.

  25. jesse says:

    I confess I also had the “wow, I don’t know ANY of these character actors” reaction during Tombstones, then amended to “well, except that dude who looks like an older Garet Dillahunt” (Harbour) — and THEN he turns up in The Equalizer, which is sort of a reverse-class in why Tombstones is a pretty solid movie (I liked the first half or so of Equalizer pretty well, but even at its best it sometimes plays as an instructional video about how well Frank shot Tombstones). So yeah, Harbour gets points for being in BOTH 60ish-movie-star potboilers that are inexplicably opening on top of each other. Imagine the somewhat stupider Equalizer is going to hasten Tombstones decline this weekend (normally I’d guess Tombstones would hold up OK, even if some audiences don’t like it, because it probably appeals to an older crowd). But Wwhoever wins, HARBOUR TRIUMPHANT!

    Also, I dug most of the “new” faces I saw in Tombstones; looking forward to seeing them as That Guy in many more movies.

  26. KrazyEyes says:

    I’m a little disappointed DP didn’t offer any analysis on the failure of TUSK. Buzz seemed to be huge but I thought it looked absolutely horrible in virtually every trailer or clip I saw.

    Genre “critics” and festivalgoers are just about the most unreliable reviewers out there. I’ve gotten to the point that I can’t read any of the reviews on those site anymore without a huge grain of salt.

  27. PcChongor says:

    It’s not necessarily because the film itself is good or bad, but because you can’t platform release stoner cinema. “Tusk” was pretty much made for a word of mouth VOD release, and with SMODcast and The Nerdist promoting the ever loving shit out of it and “Yoga Housers” for the foreseeable future, it’ll probably do just fine in the long term.

  28. YancySkancy says:

    Wait, KrazyEyes, does this mean there are also “reliable” reviewers whose raves automatically translate into big box office?

    Rhetorical. 🙂

  29. Stella's Boy says:

    The buzz for Tusk on select sites did indeed seem to be huge, but how much reach do they have? Smith’s fan base seems to grow smaller by the minute. Plus, even most genre critics weren’t fond of Red State, and most of them liked Tusk even less than that one.

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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.”
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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.

~ David Simon