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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by Kladyman


A weird weekend. Fury is a win, for sure. It’s a better number than some expected, but it’s not a sensational Brad Pitt opening or a giant commercial number. It’s good. (First person who mentions Cinemascore as though it matters gets shot.) There was a sense going into the week that the film was going to underperform and that it was out of the awards race as a result. That presumption can no longer be made. This launch is about 20% better than Moneyball, which got 6 nominations. So a hard push for the movie, the screenplay, Ayer’s direction, Logan Lerman, Brad Pitt – if he’ll push – and a slew of below-the-line nominations (sound, costume, and production design, particularly) can be expected.

Gone Girl remains solid, dropping under 35% again. There was a sense of waning Oscar prospects there, too… that may be turned around as the film heads north of $150m domestic, by far Fincher’s biggest commercial hit.

The Book of Life, a personal beloved, got off to a weak start for an animated film. As noted before, I think Fox was shy about the age issue on the film – which they had no reason to be – and also didn’t sell as intensely to girls as they might have. It really is a love story. For all the very, very, very smart people in big studio marketing departments, movies that get a little complex are often a problem for them. You would think it wasn’t so, but it keeps getting proved, over and over and over again.

Speaking of which, the board looks a bit painful for Warner Bros lately. There is no question that the studio is great with big movies. But right now, they have The Judge, This Is Where I Leave You, Dolphin Tale 2, and The Good Lie all underperforming. (The decent number on Dolphin 2
is 20% behind where the first film was at this point.) The only hit is Annabelle, a horror movie. But more so, no other studio has as many films on the big board this week. Fox and Sony each have 3. Disney and Par, 2. Universal only 1. Every movie has its own life and there have certainly been times when WB having a lot of movies in play has worked well. But with the studio in some transition again, at least strategically on spending, you have to wonder whether the further avoidance of middle and small movies will be a natural reaction for the company moving forward.

Warner Bros has four more movies left to release in this calendar year. One is a guaranteed mega-hit (Hobbit 3). One is a sequel to a cash cow (Horrible Bosses 2) that was driven by brilliant marketing the first time around, so expect big profits there. There is an Eastwood movie (American Sniper), which looks commercial, though awards people are hopeful as well. And there is the challenging title, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, a comedy that seems to be made for the very smart and those who think they are very smart. It’s going to be an excellent quarter for WB… but the story to look at will be whether they can get Vice past the $20m mark domestically. The future of smaller films at the studio may depend on it.

One last note. I have to laugh at those who are so dazzled by Marvel/Disney’s commercial success that they assume that Batman vs Superman is guaranteed to be a lightweight in comparison to Captain America 3… now with Downey! They assume that because Superman did okay, but not a billion, that it’s soft. But Batman is the key and that is why he has top billing. Batman films still own the #4 and #5 all-time best openings and of the 5 other Batman films, 3 were the biggest opening weekends in history when they happened. Warner Bros knows what it is doing with Batman. 100% The only opening of the franchise that can be remotely considered soft was Batman Begins, which was a reboot.

Warner Bros really needs a team that specializes in the smaller and middle budget movies that require more intimate hand-holding. It’s not a slap about the team that’s there. It is just the reality that it is rare that a team that does big releases is equality expert with smaller films that are more challenging. This was the real – and long lost – value of Warner Independent as a concept. Paramount is really the only big studio team in town that shrinks well, but a lot of that is that they don’t release nearly as many movies as WB. Screen Gems, Searchlight, and the evolving Focus all report up, but have their own strong voices in releasing specialized films. I’d hate to see WB completely out of that game, but… well… we’ll see…

The Equalizer – which I keep thinking is a WB film – is on its way to $100 million. It’s not going to get to the $126m domestic that Safe House did, but it will be Denzel’s #4 or #3 film of his career. He hasn’t has d a film gross less than $130 million in the last 5 years and this will be his third time over $160m worldwide in the last 3 years. If you’re looking for a consistent movie star out there, Denzel’s high on your list.

Nice expansion for Weinstein with St Vincent to 68 screens. An estimated $9880-per is a really strong number at that screen count. But it’s not clear what happens next. This film isn’t making a serious awards run, so… we’ll see.

Birdman is the big new indie release in exclusive release. 4 screens at over $105k per. Strong. What will expansion look like? We really won’t know until it happens. But a happy weekend in Century City.

Also doing great in exclusive releases are Dear White People ($32k per on 11), The Tale of Princess Kaguya ($16.5k per on 3), and Listen Up Philip ($12.5k per on 2).

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34 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Kladyman”

  1. movieman says:

    I’m baffled by the complete and utter failure of “M, W & C.”
    It strikes me as the type of movie that would have been both a critical and financial slam dunk in the ’70s (a halcyon period when movies by and for adults weren’t treated like lepers).
    For my money, it’s as well-directed as any Jason Reitman film to date, and as skilled an adaptation of its source novel as, well, “Gone Girl.” The cast is pretty much beyond reproach, too.
    Kind of remarkable how the majority of critics have seemingly turned against Reitman as vociferously as they did another former crix darling (Cameron Crowe) a decade (or so) ago.
    Yet I’ll gladly take “M, W & C” and “Labor Day” (a movie that I insist will be hailed as a minor classic in 20-30 years when it’s on permanent TCM rotation) over “Elizabethtown” and “Vanilla Sky,”
    Crowe may have earned the critical spanking he got back then, but Reitman doesn’t deserve the flogging he’s currently receiving.
    P.S.= And when Crowe finally made a good movie again (“We Bought a Zoo”), few of his former bashers even bothered to take notice.

  2. EtGuild2 says:

    It’s preachy and out of touch, in my opinion. Also, there was a better version of M W & C that came out just a year ago (and it wasn’t even that good):

    As for critics turning on Reitman, I think it’s Reitman who turned against Reitman. “Labor Day” and this movie seem to have been made by an entirely different person than his first four films.

  3. movieman says:

    I guess this is one of those rare occasions where we’ll have to agree to disagree, Et.
    I stand by my assessment of “M, W & C” and “Labor Day.”
    The former strikes me as much of a zeitgeist film as Reitman’s “Up in the Air.”
    And I predict that sociologists will be studying it many years hence to help them understand life in early 21st century America.
    It amuses me to no end that crix will bend over backwards to applaud, say,
    “Fast and the Furious 6” or “The Conjuring” as guilty pleasures (of their “kind”) while turning their nose up to “Labor Day” which is as well-crafted (and certainly as well-acted) an old-fashioned chick flick as we’ve seen in many a moon.

  4. movieman says:

    “Disconnect” was OK, but “M, W & C” is as superior a version of the “Look what the internet has done to our society!” film as “Big” was to “Vice Versa” re: the father/son body-switch movie.

  5. movieman says:

    And I’m quite frankly shocked that a piece of shit like “Annabelle” could evince such sturdy legs.
    James Wan has been as detrimental an influence on 21st century horror movies as Marvel Corp. has been on movies in general.

  6. Gustavo says:

    “James Wan has been as detrimental an influence on 21st century horror movies as Marvel Corp. has been on movies in general.”

    Jesus Christ, basically the only filmmaker – apart from Derrickson – who actually knows the genre and grabs it by the balls is now accused of destroying current cinema.

    I long for the day when you will make a shred of sense.

  7. EtGuild2 says:

    GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, which “will wind up as only the 4th or 5th highest grosser of the summer worldwide” now looks like a lock to be #2.

  8. movieman says:

    I didn’t say Wan destroyed cinema (that would be Marvel), Gustavo; just contemporary horror movies.

  9. movieman says:

    …Marvel Corp. and “Shrek” actually.

    It always kills me when a movie I love (e.g., Lucas’ original 1977 “Star Wars” and/or “Shrek”) ultimately becomes a bludgeoning force of evil.
    The sins against art committed in an attempt to replicate the elusive magic of those films both saddens and disgusts me.

  10. Geoff says:

    Just saw Fury and thought it kicked major ass….but you can’t tell me this opening is not disappointing. I think the best comparison is Lone Survivor and that had Mark Wahlberg instead of Pitt…..actually you could make a very strong case that Wahlberg is a bigger draw at this point.

    I have a feeling that Sony was ALWAYS counting on international to save this one.

    And yeah you can’t really underestimate Marvel at this point – even with an unproven title, ‘Guardians is likely going to break $800 million worldwide which is a bit disappointing because that it looks like it’s going to now out-gross X Men: Days of Future Past.

    But the whole Downey-in-Cap 3 IS curious – it honestly seems like a change in strategy. And the fact that they’re giving him as much cash as he wants even though The Judge is really under-performing has me wondering if Feige is hedging his bets…..this COULD be Marvel’s peak and they might be getting bad vibes about Ant-Man and Dr. Strange which they are likely going to end up spending well over a combined $400 million on, not including marketing.

    Just as DC knows Batman is its golden goose, the folks at Marvel are probably realizing that Downey as Iron Man is theirs.

  11. JS Partisan says:

    Batman is the golden goose. When he’s not saddled by nonsense from the Superman side of things. Seriously, that movie is being released in March, and that’s not going to help it. It’s also following up, a piece of shit Superman movie, that seems to be loved by people, that can’t wrap their head around Superman.

    If you want to keep beating on DC David, then good luck with that, sir. Warners and DC, are doing everything wrong with these films. They will be lucky to make these movies 3/4 as successful as Marvel.

    Oh yeah, Geoff, you’ve been going on about Marvel’s peak for a while now. RDJ being in Cap America, seems like a good indication, that the we are getting those split Marvel films in 18 and 19.

  12. movieman says:

    It depresses the hell out of me that a sturdily well-crafted, albeit imperfect (it’s a half hour too long for starters) star vehicle like “The Judge” is having trouble finding a theatrical audience in 2014.
    This is the type of movie that used to be the industry’s bread and butter.

    Gawd, I feel so freaking old today.

  13. Joe Leydon says:

    Movieman: I wonder if movies such as The Judge are now viewed as long-term investments for studios. Seriously. In this case, you have a film that will be leggier than most popcorn flicks. And while, of course, it will gross less than most comic-book movies or teen-skewing comedies, it will have a much longer shelf life, as home-video and cable fare. And if Robert Duvall gets the Oscar nomination I feel he richly deserves, that will boost its value a bit in home-screen platforms. To say nothing of Robert Downey Jr.’s ongoing popularity.

  14. EtGuild2 says:

    “actually you could make a very strong case that Wahlberg is a bigger draw at this point.”

    Worldwide, it’s Pitt in a landslide. Domestically, yeah, it’s pretty close.

  15. leahnz says:

    i haven’t seen ‘men, women and children’ but ‘labor day’ is such an odd little movie – kind of tonally all over the place, it seems Reitman couldn’t quite decide what he wanted or was trying to do with the story and mood (the ‘sensual’ family cooking sequences are so bizarre and dorky in the midst of the slow, rather heavy-handed romance, ‘missing daddy’ issues and leaden manhunt) but it has some lovely moments and i don’t even really dislike it. in a weird way i kind of give reitman credit for coming out with such a strange romantic drama – clearly he was trying for something different for himself, to stretch out, and in this age of fear-based generic film-making i kind of applaud him for doing so, ‘failure’ (as subjective as that is) as an artist is important because ideally you learn and grow from it; not having seen MW&C it’s hard to gauge reitman’s ‘trajectory’ if there is one, but somehow i doubt the world of commercial medium-sized film-making is going to be better off without reitman and seeing him crash and burn. i guess i can just watch ‘young adult’ forever if that happens (to see someone handle a sociopathic protagonist cleverly and with a true dash of subversive black humour, wicked satire and social commentary, cody, Reitman and theron nailed it), but still.

  16. Geoff says:

    Etguild, is it really Pitt in a landslide on a worldwide basis now?? I mean Ted made as much worldwide as World War Z….I think it’s pretty close at this point.

    And you have a good memory JS, but that WAS just about four months ago when I said that. 🙂 And I admitted right away that I was dead-wrong about Guardians…..Disney sold the shit out of that movie and the public really liked it. I just thought it was ok.

    Who knows what’s behind Marvel’s plans?? But it sure seemed like every other film up until Guardians was leading up to the Infinity Gauntlet…..and it does seems like they’re changing course all of a sudden.

    I’m not a DC-fanboy in the least….I loved The Avengers and I enjoyed the hell out of Iron Man 3, but it seems as though these Marvel films are just episodes of a very expensive TV anthology at this point. Man of Steel was not an exceptional film by any stretch, but at least it felt like a MOVIE. It’s the overpraise of these Marvel films and the fan-boys that have kind of turned me against them……it’s like how it was truly a kick to pull for the Red Sox as an underdog, until “Red Sox Nation” became as obnoxious as Yankee fans.

    And part of it is how I keep hearing EVERYWHERE how DC is “playing catchup” to Marvel…..last I checked The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises were released since the first Iron Man and both of those films made over $1 billion. And you have at least 20 million viewers clamoring every week now to watch Gotham (though a mediocre show), The Flash, and Arrow….and as for Agents of Shield, well.

    Look BOTH studios are making mad cash and I really don’t think that Warners/DC is gonna lose much sleep over whether the Justice League brings in another $1 billion in 2017 OR 2012.

    And you can be a fan-boy of either if you’d like but we have to admit the success of Marvel-based films and DC-based films are NOT mutually exclusive – they’re going to be feeding off of each other no matter which studio is on top. I can remember back to 2008 and from my recollection, it seemed as though the success of the first Iron Man and The Dark Knight only helped each other.

  17. Zoetrope Ziti says:

    Thanks Geoff for this post. I believe you can like whatever you like, but this need to root for one billion dollar corporation’s quarterly spreadsheet over the other billion dollar corporation’s needs to be dialed back. Your Red Sox comparison is apt. I’m starting to skip over comic book movie click bait articles because I know the comment sections are going to be loaded with folks slamming movies that won’t be made in three to five years, treating rumors as gospel and accusing people who may have issues with their favored franchise as envious nitpicking haters. Some confuse their film appreciation with sharp insider intuition.

    A sizable number of fanboys rate Michael Keaton as their favorite Batman, but I can recall 25 years ago fans were protesting the casting choice and writing letters to WB demanding he be terminated. If the studio listened to the people who “knew best” and backed down, we would have missed out on Keaton’s take.

    It’s great to express passion for these films, but people need to dial it back and not predetermine what’s going to be awesome or disastrous. If you spend two years criticizing a film based on choice of director, casting news or a few set photos, you’re only setting yourself up to hate it even if the movie turns out to be exceptional.

  18. Bitplayer says:

    Reitman claims Labor Day was mis marketed. He said the movie wasn’t a romance but was mostly about the child and was some kind of coming of age story. He said all this on WTF. Couldn’t it just be that Brolin is box office poison? Everything he’s been in has underperformed.

  19. EtGuild2 says:

    @Geoff, THE TREE OF LIFE made more internationally than LONE SURVIVOR, BROKEN CITY, PAIN AND GAIN, CONTRABAND, or THE FIGHTER. THE COUNSELOR was on par with 2 GUNS. No doubt TED had major appeal worldwide, but studios are still hesitant to even release a lot of Marky Mark movies outside North America.

  20. Geoff says:

    That’s a good point Etguild – Tree of Life and The Counselor are certainly testaments to Brad Pitt’s big overseas track record, as is 12 Years a Slave which doubled its domestic gross overseas. I’m sure the Oscar wins made a big difference as well, but Pitt’s promotion as producer (ah such alliteration!) played a big part in that as well.

    But… can’t deny his stock might be rising. Let’s not forget that Wahlberg just starred in what is probably the biggest overseas performer of the year – Transformers has done over $850 million overseas. Obviously the brand plays a bigger part but considering the dude camped out in markets like China for full weeks to promote the film, I’m sure the studios are getting more comfortable with his overseas appeal. I think part of it is how damn prolific Wahlberg is – seems like he’s making at least two to three big budget pictures per year lately. We’ll probably find out more next year with Ted 2…..

  21. EtGuild2 says:

    You can’t really pin TRANS4MERS on Wahlberg at all…it was a reboot, and I think the main appeal was Optimus Prime riding on a Dinobot waving a sword. In fact, this wasn’t really a great result given the higher profile cast all around in my opinion. I think “The Gambler” is a good gauge too. Unless it sucks, it should at least be matching “The Counselor” since it’s an easier sell.

    Btw…this is the first weekend since April, 2011…THREE AND A HALF YEARS, where there isn’t a 3D movie in the Top 10.

  22. Edward says:

    As good as those numbers are for Dear White People, the vast majority of the weekend gross comes from a single Los Angeles playdate.

    Also, someone should remind EtGuild2 that Book of Life is a 3D movie, and is definitely in the Top Ten.

  23. EtGuild2 says:

    Thanks Edward, a user named Edward just told me this! For some reason it’s not in 3D here, which is surprising given half the screens in my area are 3D. Thanks for the heads up!

  24. Stella's Boy says:

    Part of The Judge’s problem was the marketing. Every single TV spot I saw seemed to be pitching a different film. Was it a father-son story? A courtroom drama? A romance? A comedy? All of the above? I guess it’s fitting since the movie is a mess, too. I imagine a lot of people were left confused and figured they could wait for home viewing. I enjoyed it and RDJ is good, but it’s not an Oscar-worthy performance. Not even close. He’s sort of coasting in it, and it’s not a very challenging role.

  25. palmtree says:

    Men, Women, and Children is not good even though it has some excellent performances and innovative visuals. But overall the script doesn’t work and falls apart in the third act big time. Reitman co-wrote the script so this is still mostly a critique of him. Worst of all, it doesn’t even begin to cover how the internet has changed our lives. I’m not surprised it’s not doing well.

  26. storymark says:

    The Marvel grudge continues….

    One could argue that BvS faces some of the challenges of Batman Begins, since as far as the key character is concerned, it IS a reboot.

  27. Stella's Boy says:

    Also Man of Steel is awful, so that is working against BvS a little bit.

  28. Hcat says:

    Didn’t have as much of a problem with man of steel as I did dark knight rises. But overcoming either will be an easier sell than they were facing with begins when bats where coming off of a much ridiculed installment and a drastic shift in tone. I don’t think general audiences where expecting comic books films to be quite that dark.

    And unrelated but with Netflix stock taking a dive and HBO announcing HBO announcing GO for everyone, I have to imagine that the only reason David hasn’t mentioned anything is that he can’t get the post below two million words.

  29. Stella's Boy says:

    You’re probably right Hcat. I just really loathe Man of Steel and Snyder. Not many movies I’d rather see less than his BvS.

  30. Pete B. says:

    I know I’m in the minority here, but as someone who loved Man of Steel, I was more psyched for MoS 2 than the upcoming BvS. Looks like that will be a bit of a wait now. It just seems like BvS will be crammed with too many characters.

  31. storymark says:

    I loved about 80-85% of Man of Steel, but the remaining 15-20% was so wrong, it killed the whole thing for me.

  32. Hcat says:

    I agree with your ratio Storymark, but the negatives didn’t spoil it as much for me. I actually agree with Pete as well that mos 2 would be preferable to the big hero stew they’re concocting.

    I don’t see why studios can’t simply be themselves instead of trying to imitate each others successes. This whole creation of five different universes stuff may finally be what overloads the publics interest

  33. Bulldog68 says:

    But aren’t Superhero team ups part and parcel of the genre? It’s a staple of the comic book universe. I think it was inevitable that they would all graduate that way.

    Now when you hear stuff like they want to build a Ghostbusters universe, Avengers style, then that’s pushing it IMO.

    But could you imagine the ripples in the space time continuum that would be created if Captain Kirk showed up with Obi Wan Kenobi? They have the same Director now.

  34. storymark says:

    I think that the DC heroes are well suited to a “cinematic universe,” and aside from Marvel and maybe Star Wars, is the only universe in development that has a chance at making it work.

    But – I don’t think they’ve gone about it very well. A MoS 2 might have course corrected some of the errors of the first, but cramming a half dozen other heroes into it… I have a feeling will only amplify those issues.

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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