The Hot Blog Archive for July, 2008

Friday Estimates by Klady

What can one say about The Dark Knight‘s number? The film is about $477 million ahead of the previous highest 8 day grosser in history.
In spite of what seened to many to be a low key campaign, Step Brothers will open in the top group of Ferrell numbers, really only overshadowed by Talladega Nights.
X-Files 2: I Want To Know Why They Thought Someone Was Coming is a bit of a wreck. Patrick Goldstein’s obsession with Fox’s Rotten Tomato scores will continue and be supported by another lame box office showing. Still… this is the tough walk of all studios. Last year, tehy scored a massive worldwide hit with a TV show that was still on the air, The Simpsons. This year, they get Chris Carter and a franchise that once had a cult behind it… and boom. (Perhaps the first question is why the studio released a film to this demo during ComicCon… the crowd there represents as much as another million at the box office… which in a situation like this, actually matters.)
Mamma Mia! is now edging out Hairspray for bragging rights to being #3 muisical of all time… and more importantly, a gross of over $120 million. People keep wanting to lazily blame the popularity of the musical on stage, but that has not been a sure bet in the past. I still give Universal marketing ALL the credit. They have positioned and continue to position the film as a light, happy alternative for women in a very dark summer. Yes, it sucks. But if you are a woman and you want to go to the movies and want something light, what the hell else is there for you in theaters?
Hancock passed $200m and Wall-E is almost there, but they seem to have had some life sucked out of them by The Dark Knight. Hellboy 2 passed the first film’s total gross, domestically, in the last couple of days… but Batman and a market that seems to be just about at the limit – between $70m and $90m for the franchise, max, even though Guillermo is brilliant and created some of the summer’s finest images – make the box office somewhat of a dissapointment for Universal, which ended up kicking in a lot more (30%+) to make the film than oriiginally intended. International on the first was 2/3 of the domestic… U will hope to build on that this time out with a bigger visual feast.
The folks left at Paramount Vantage and their bosses who moved to The Big Show pushed hard on American Teen… but it seems to be a prank call. The film will be fortunate to do $7000 per screen on 5 screens. To offer perspective, the company’s Shine A Light (the Scorsese Stones doc) opened on 276 screens to $5391 per screen. Trumbo opened a few weeks ago on 3 screens and did $9375 per. Young @ Heart opened to $12,734 per screen on 4 this spring. So we don’t know exactly where Teen is going from here. But with some scathing critical reviews – too scathing, too unkind, too suspicious – and no apparent luck in getting around art house habits (where critics still matter) to find an audience of teens, it doesn’t look good. Fortunately, if it loses money – and there’s always DVD – it will be a minor note on the Lesher list of cash drains (which includes money-loser Babel, which some blooger credited with being past the red ink the other day). Deck chairs on the Titanic, folks.


Box Office Hell LIVES!



ComicCon To Go

As they did last year, Paramount sent their ComicCon package out to journalists around the country this morning… I ran into it as I opened the door shortly after writing the last entry. It’s just like being there… except without thousands of screaming, cranky people in Hall H waiting hours for 2 minutes of footage for Mega Movie X, Y or Z, $5 sodas you have to wait on line for, fighting one’s way through the convention floor, and trying to find another way of explaining why the most entertaining moments at the event are not the scripted dog & ponies, but the crazy questions that some Con-ers ask… a practice which The ‘Con has been cutting back on harshly in the last two years as personal publicists whined…
Brilliant. Let’s throw credit to Mike Vollman, who is on his way out to UA/MGM, where the “Tom Cruise Is A F**king Nazi!” T-shirts can’t be far behind. (It’s actually a good idea… lower the flame on that pot.)
And they finally decided it was time for one last Air Bud movie. Cool T. The guys from Pineapple Express would dig it.


Luke Y Thompson's Deadline ComicCon Daily

I’ve been enjoying reading Luke Y Thompson’s coverage of ComicCon for the LA Weekly. (Does anyone think Nikki has seen a single entry before Luke has posted them to the site? My guess is her first glimpse is to see it on the site and then to call and SCREAM at the LA Weekly web folks to tell them to post the notice that Luke works for her. And to remove the images of the Nikki Finke dolls that are on the convention floor this year. She did get an e-mail from someone telling her that The Weinsteins were mocked at the Fanboys press conference… and those fans won big… the movie, which was shot 2.5 years ago is actually going to be released and forgotten this fall, before the 3rd anniversary. WOW! And I have a surge I can sell you as rationalization that the Iraq War was a good idea too!)
(CORRECTION, 8p, Fri: Luke was kind enough to return an e-mail from the ‘Con floor and corrects my notion that Nikki never even sees his entries. She does, as he sends them to her. My apologies all around.)
But the coverage reminds me… I am so happy NOT to be there.
ComicCon is a great experience for the 125,000 or so people who go down there every year. It is what a convention in any industry is. And has such, has become pretty much as irrelevant and unavoidable.
How ironic is it that every studio in L.A. is scrambling to get to San Diego this week/weekend, but The Dark Knight barely did anything (except for very basic viral marketing stunts) last year and underperformers Beowulf, Halloween, The Incredible Hulk, Shoot ‘Em Up, Southland Tales, Drillbit Taylor, Spiderwick Chronicles, Hot Rod, and others all had a big presence at The ‘Con.
Yes… Iron Man was there. And Iron Man did huge business. Does anyone really think that a dime of that business was garnered at ComicCon? Was the no-footage appearance by Indiana Jones the reason why that film got slammed by so much of the geek-edia?
Really… party on… commuinity comes together… good food, good drinks, good times… and as long as most studios are there, most other studios will argue to the bosses paying the bills that it’s a million bucks well spent. And if you have a low profile film, it surely is. But does Watchmen need Comic-Con? Well, you got the answer loud and clear last week… no… or they would have held the trailer release until The ‘Con. Yeah, they’ll all be down there, pushing it out to the geeks. But that trailer, which is being watched all over the world right now, is what will sell the movie. People walking through the Owl ship will not.
Of course, the greatest irony is that most of the geek-edia that is down there has already experienced a significant percentage of what they will encounter on sets over the last year. Grease is the word.


Calling Dr Freud's… Janitor, Barber… Anyone, Really…

Sometimes a sword-covered-in-sticky-drippy-blood-that-El-Kabob’s-35-year-old-actress-top-should-be-smart-enough-to-know-is going-nowhere-and-the-actually-seeing-of-which-in-print-(complete-with-chainmail-push-up)-should-remind-her-that-she-should-be-chasing-Wes-Anderson-movies-and-not-licking-someone’s-mid-life-crisising-38-year-old-daddy-who-is-more-clever-than-talented is just a sword.
And sometimes, it’s a penis substitute for unsophisticated children, some of whom direct movies.
I have always held out hope that Rose McGowan, who has always shown signs of being more smartly earth-bound than the image, would find her place as a Bette Davis styled S&TC character. (The trouble is that as on-screen maneaters go, she makes


If It's Friday, It Must Be BYOB

Here’s a little grist for the mill…


Hot Button – Forbes' List Is A Disaster

Why are journalists who know better talking about this idiotic Forbes value list as though it made sense?
And then I realize


Bat Bucks

A blog regular asked about the dollars on The Dark Knight and, frankly, my head hadn



Two things that has stuck out for me in the Ebert Show exit coverage. First, there is very little discussion taking into account that Roger has now been off the air for two years. His exit from the show, given his physical limitations (specifically his lack of voice), has been a reality for a while. There has been hope, but Roger has been


Two Buds Up… Way Up!

Smoke to the left…
Smoke to the right…
The device… one barrel for each dude



This one is only for sane, sober commenters, thanks.


Better Days


The Unfired

As the studio continues to shutter Paramount Vantage, a few of the survivors are being moved into a Shiny New Division…. Paramount Worldwide Acquisitions Group.
In other words, they dumped Amy Israel and the rest of the group is going to go look for movies, same as before, except that they really don’t want more than a half-dozen acquisitions a year, so they are offering up the idea that Focus was built on, that Sony is Crouching Tiger and Stephen Chow deep in, and that WB has started chasing a bit… that there is money in films that are funded, made, and distributed with the US as a secondary market. And if the movie turns out to be viable in the US, you already have the rights in house. Team Focus was already strong in international distirbution and Sony has doen really well in the Asian market.
So, good luck to the “Mounters, congrats on keeping your jobs for another 18 months (they way things are going, any one of you could be in change by 2010)… Go PWAG!!!

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Insult To Injury

Disney, apparently stuck with 2 years to go on syndication contracts and dreaming the dream that their systematic destruction of The Ebert Show – starting with the choice of Roeper, but getting much much worse with the dumbing down of the show with less actual discussion of the films and narrowing of its core idea into a gimmick – is not really their fault, but the fault of an antiquated idea or the hosts.
The thing you learn in this business is that no ideas – like Batman movies – are antiquated, just the execution of them. But as someone who does a lot of TV feeds into programs with a voice in my ear ad a 1/2 second time delay, I can promise you that doing “roundtables” via satellite is not going to improve anything. It will continue to muddy the waters and miss the point. If you want to engage people who love movies enough to watch a show like this, you need people on the show who REALLY care.
We all remember the fighting between Roger & Gene. But in retrospect, it was more than fighting… it was real arguing over different ideas of what made a good or bad movie. And we, as an audience, were invited to take sides.
But now the geniuses at Buena Vista will offer what is sure to be a hyped up imitation of the NBC O&O flailer, Lyons & Bailes, starring Ben’s once-worthwhile now complete hack father, Jeffrey and a very attractive host with an accent and little to say, Alison Bailes. The show is so successful that Anne Thompson didn’t even know it existed, apparently.
Moreover, what “respected critic” would ever show such disrespect to Ebert and such a desperate need for airtime as to participate in a show with one of our great emerging quote whores and movie ignoramuses (anyone who has seen him live on E! knows that he has as much movie knowledge as most other Taco Bell employees), Ben Lyons? (I have never once seen the other guy, but TCM is legitimately interested in movies, so I will assume, for now, that he is going to be the smart one on this set.) That is so what I want to watch


Bat Mess

How does one speak to the Christian Bale situation with anything other than pained sympathy for all involved?
What does “assault” mean? What kind of confrontation led to the conflict? What drives family members to a place where they will go to the police, knowing that their family member, a public figure, will be dragged through the mud, perhaps for teh rest of his life?
There is not going to be a happy answer here.
And I think it ranks up there with Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and Heath Ledger’s death in term of meda frenzy’s that need not be. But that won’t stop anyone, will it?


The Hot Blog

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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