The Hot Blog Archive for October, 2007

Just Saying…

“When I was a child, my mother lectured me on the evils of ‘gossip.’ She held a feather pillow and said, ‘If I tear this open, the feathers will fly to the four winds, and I could never get them back in the pillow.’ That’s how it is when you spread mean things about people.”
John Siegenthaler Sr


Gurus of Gold – 19 Weeks To Oscar



An Oscar Lock?

It seems that the smart folks at Fox Searchlight did qualify the short, Hotel Chevalier, for Oscar before releasing the film on iTunes.
And so the question… how could the film not be nominated? And how could it not win? There are often some terrific shorts out there, but Wes Anderson did the best work of his year in this short… and he is one of our most talented, even when at his most self-indulgent.


BYOB – October 22



More on The Heartland Film Festival in the next couple of days. But first


Strikingly Wrongheaded

Without the real threat of SAG and or DGA refusing to cross WGA picket lines, there is no chance of WGA


Sunday Estimates by Klady – Oct 21

I think it’s worth pointing out, though no one seems to much care – could it actually be a race thing… a quality thing? – that Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married is holding better than any Tyler Perry film to date and that it will be no worse than his #2 film (of 4) and could actually pass his #1, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion, if it keeps holding. Is this a sign of some crossover? Are adult white women, clearly rejecting Rendition and Elizabeth 2, showing up for this one as a colorblind alternative that speaks to their lives in bigger numbers?
30 Days of Night is one of Sony’s weaker openers in the teen/action/horror categories. But was there much more there to get? Like Lionsgate, Sony’s efforts in that arena that target boys and not really girls seem to be fading. It’s not quite the shock some make it out to be. Even the tne boy demo gets tired of being fed the same thing over and over. They’ll come out for Beowulf, but their next group obsession has yet to come clear.
$5 million plus for The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D reminds us that the theatrical experience is still valued… especially when the kids market is being underserved. It will be interesting to see if WB can get any screens for The Polar Express in the next 2 months.
Across The Universe continues to hold strong on the grrrrl power tip. $25 million is not impossible. But the whole experience has to be much more exciting (and pressure filled) for the DVD release, where they will hope to become a phenom and make back the money the film cost.
Anyone who thinks that a $3500 per screen for Gone Baby Gone is a bad result was smoking the pipe going into the weekend. It’s the third best per screen amongst 1000+ screen titles, which is amazing considering that Casey Affleck is not a star and the film is being sold almost exclusively on positive media energy.
Into The Wild took some more lumps as it expanded from 153 to 658 screens. As a point of reference, it did a similar per-screen to GBG while being on about a third of the screens. I don’t know why this film, which is beloved by a high percent of viewers once they see it, isn’t quite catching.
The Darjeeling Limited is playing it closer to the vest, doing better in per screen, but finding a smaller audience in actuality. Logically, Searchlight is mining all the money that is out there for the film… a limited opportunity once they knew lightening wasn’t striking.
3:10 to Yuma has been forced to give up screens, essentially ending the theatrical run, but $53 million is quite an excellent haul.
Lars & The Real Girl is limping along, hoping for a word of mouth push to come. The $8800 per screen is second only to Nightmare 3D in the Top 30. Nice. But that next step has been the killer this season… let’s hope they figure out how to turn that trick. The film is running on a similar track to Half Nelson so far… but this one not only deserves better (so did HN, for that matter), but it is a much more audience friendly film… they just need to let audiences know that.


Friday Estimates by Klady – 10/19

Another week, another four new movies with expectations. (The complaining in New York about the number of new movies that needs to be reviewed each week is understandable, but the truth of every other city is that four newbies from studios with real hopes is still a pretty busy week.)
Did Sony see 30 Days of Night as being soft as The Messengers? Probably not. But it might be interesting to note Sam-Raimi-as-producer produced that soft seller as well as the more unexpected, but still not $20m opening Boogeyman. I



Ironically, I just saw Hard Candy on my TV this last week, in hi-def. Given the positive buzz, I was not surprised by it. But I thought it was an effective little off-Broadway piece of theater with very stylized production values. Smartly shot in a tiny box of a space, the film worked. Bravo to director David Slade.
But given a little more space and budget, it turns out that Slade really can


Wristcutters Finally Lands

One of my beloveds from Sundance 2006, Wristcutters, is finally landing in theaters. Boy they took their time.
Here is what I wrote back then.
If you have the chance and you don’t mind working through the kink, see it. The time will be not only pleasant, but give you that kick of movie joy that comes only when you are truly surprised by how charmed you are.

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By Request: What Movie Would You Actually Like To See Remade?

Yes…. people hate the idea of remaking films. But Spacesheik reminded us that some people would like to see some films remade.
My personal take is that film is now a mature enough art form that remakes can be, as in theater, something wonderful. Someone needs to have a reason to do it other than just money… but something like riffing on Citizen Kane with a internet billionaire who goes mad after investing in the internet, high-def, and basketball might be fascinating. And so long as the masterpiece original exists, who is hurt?





Box Office Hell – October 19

I usually don’t comment on this feature, but I feel the urge today… WHAT A MESS!
I don’t recall as much of a blurry, heaving group of guesses in the history of Box Office Hell. Maybe it’s that the trades and the LA Times seem to want to join the prediction business lately. Maybe it’s that some “box office geniuses” have stopped embarrassing themselves weekly by running hard numbers. Maybe it’s that EW isn’t tracking indies… though I have to say, their guesses on the indies are closer to my personal notions while their notion on one studio release has my head swimming.
The top new title has guesses with a range of $3.9 million or 17%. The Comebacks has an $8.1 million spread. Rendition, $3.7 million or 34%. $3.2 million or 35% on Gone Baby Gone. Only Things We Lost In The Fire seems to have relative consensus.
So what will the people who love to write, “Movie X didn’t meet industry expectations,” either higher or lower, write on Sunday afternoon?


Whose Tracking Is It Anyway?

In trying to offer some perspective on box office prediction madness, the Los Angeles Times’ John Horn, a guy who has been around and smart for a long time, takes us further down the rabbit hole.
He writes:
Every weekend, the studios turn to three research firms to help predict upcoming box-office numbers. The companies — IAG Research, OTX and the National Research Group — conduct different surveys, but their numbers all try to answer the same question: Are moviegoers interested in a new release?
The data is called tracking, and throughout the week (but especially on Thursday and Friday), marketing and distribution executives sift through the numbers as closely as a desperate 49er panning for gold.

First, instead of getting into why tracking from all three companies is inherently flawed, he just kind of accepts that they are chasing a goal. But their goal is not primarily to find out if moviegoers are interested in a new release. The primary goal is to find out if the tens of millions in marketing and publicity is hitting the mark as it rolls out.
The simple reason for the Tyler Perry being so drastically off of the tracking number is that telephone surveying does a piss poor job of finding black audiences and hispanic audiences, just as it fails to find the audience under 22 week after week after week. Smart studio execs with a history with tracking can read around those numbers and see how they are doing with their marketing… which again, is the only real goal. Everyone likes to know the future… but studios need to feel they are spending millions and millions of dollars as efficiently as they can. It’s not about being Carnac.
Alleged journalists who now want to tell everyone they “have tracking” and that they know what it means are simply misleading the public for their own self-aggrandizement. This brings me to Horn’s second terrible misstep in his piece.
Again, “The data is called tracking, and throughout the week (but especially on Thursday and Friday), marketing and distribution executives sift through the numbers as closely as a desperate 49er panning for gold.”
They are panning on Thursday and Friday the week BEFORE opening. If they are sifting for anything on the day of release or the day before, it is only for their upcoming success or humiliation. But the real work of tracking is done when marketers can do something with the information. If you are “panning for gold” on opening day, it is, as any marketer will tell you, fool’s gold. Too late. The ship has sailed. Moreover, on opening day, execs are getting reports from actual business on the east coast, then across the country as the day progresses. And even at 7p, when the east coast has early evening numbers coming in, it’s still not anything more than 80% sure. And even on Saturday morning, when Friday estimates are pretty clear, the weekend still has major variations to come.
Of course, reading the story, perhaps all of that soft information about tracking is just a rationalization to allow the LA Times to start sifting through the numbers as closely as a desperate 49er panning for gold each week. Historically, sifting like that would be embarrassing to a savvy veteran like Horn. I can’t say I disagree with that sentiment.


20 Weeks – Rest of the Charts

A bit of a screw-up in technoland… here are all the first week 20 Weeks charts, which are now linked to one another, so you only really need to click on one to navigate.
Actor/Supporting Actor
Actress/Supporting Actress
Screenplay/Adapted Screenplay


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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