The Hot Blog Archive for October, 2010

Weekend Estimates by Klady Sawed


DP/30: 9 Minutes Of Uncut Hickenlooper From TIFF


Friday Estimates saw Klady

22. 20. 11.

aka The Last Three Fridays.

A cult series from which new content is rare, now in 3D, which seemed to fit. A sequel to a film that felt like an exciting discovery to audiences. And a dead franchise making a run at resurrection via 3D.

You can’t really blame Lionsgate marketing or any LGF management – though a frustrated Carl Icahn will – for this uninspired opening. The franchise was clearly body-bagged last year, with Saw VI managing about half, domestically, what any of the previous five Saws had done before. The fall-off was less severe overseas, but it was still the lowest international grosser of the series.

Did 3D matter? Yes. The first day was up about 50% from the last Saw. But still, both opening days for 6 & 7 are lower than any of the previous four sequels. 3D is not a savior. And film by film, everyone is figuring that out.

57% is a pretty good Friday-to-Friday hold – welcome to post-millennial box office – for Paranormal Activity 2. It’s hard to compare to the first film, since that one opened tiny and never ended up in as many theaters as this one opened in. But after a $20 million midnight/opening day launch, I think 57% off – which will make for a lower weekend drop – is solid.

Hereafter‘s 50% Friday-to-Friday drop is less encouraging.

Red‘s 25% drop is strong, leading a parade of 20somethings: Secretariat, the shocking Life As We Know It, and The Town.

The big limited opening is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, which is opening better than the 100+ expansion of Dragon Tattoo, but not as strong as the mid-summer launch of Played With Fire.


DP/30 Sneak Peek: Two Winklevosses Sitting In A Tree


Unstoppable, director Tony Scott


BYOB Weekend


18 Weeks To Oscar: In The Shadow Of The Hurt Locker

A big part of the “not the way it’s done” last year was the strategy of sitting on the summer release, in terms of sending out screeners and running ads for a movie not too many voters had seen, until December.

And guess what the most popular trend in Oscar advertising is this year… yup… waiting until December to start your campaign. Waiting as late as possible to launch your campaign.

The Whole Column & A New Best Picture Chart

Uh… Toldja? Lionsgate Sues Icahn

I guess blowing my own horn is obnoxious, but if you have been reading my coverage of Lionsgate/MGM, this lawsuit today wouldn’t be much of a shock. Analysis, not regurgitation.

What I don’t buy, in terms of the lawsuit, is that Icahn was setting Lionsgate up for the fall here from the beginning. I do think he completely believed that Lionsgate was being mismanaged. His argument, whether you agree with it or not – that Lionsgate should not be in the over-$30 million movie business – makes sense to a lot of people. And the lawsuit is clearly coming from LGF leadership that sees their exit becoming inevitable if Icahn buys up enough MGM debt to control the merged business… today at a much better price!.

What really changed in the last few months was the economics of the deal. When MGM debt holders decided to take the “No Merger” road, treading water with Spyglass, waiting for the market to improve, the map changed dramatically. Combine that with the ferocity with which the LGF Kings were fighting him off there and BOOM!, eating the whole thing to create value for himself was easily the best way out.

And then, yeah, he fucked over the guys at Lionsgate by agreeing to do what they asked him to do. Support a merger… a merger they have wanted to make happen for a long time.

They just missed one little thing. If he couldn’t buy up any more Lionsgate to take that company over, he was and is free to buy as much of MGM as he likes.

Scoreboard: Pissed Off Billionaire 3, Feltheimer/Burns/Drake 2

And the game plays on…


DP/30 Sneak Peek: Driving Mr Andrew

BYOB Thursday


Oy, Is This Dumb

I love dumb pronouncements!!!

Patrick Goldstein came up with a doozy today, slapping at Jim “Terminator 2” Cameron for doing Avatar sequels and grandly pronouncing – very Nikki – that if Jim were sitting in his office, he’d be trying to convince Patrick that… blah, blah, blah.

Does anyone actually believe that Jim Cameron can’t do an small original if he wants… with a studio’s money or not? How about a $100m original?

Are we going to discuss the gun Paramount put to the head of Spielberg and Lucas to do Indy 4 next?

The reason I hate these kinds of stories so very much is they spread lies. “The LA Times said…”

Yes, studios are wary of spending $90 million on a drama with no serious action story and actors who don’t draw. But they will still make dramas… on a budget… in the very much the same way they did for the last couple of decades in which most drama shifted to TV. The insanity of recent years was that budgets for original dramas got oversized because DVD revenue created a cushion that disallowed – for the most part – failure. So suddenly, you had movies that could reasonably expected to do $40 million budgeted at $80m and $90m. And even when those movies did $40m domestic and $40m international, they were suddenly completely capable of losing money.

The mythology of the end of originality is being spread by frustrated filmmakers, who want to make less than completely commercial films, and media, which loves bashing Hollywood for being unoriginal. Thing is, even eliminating the four animated films in the Top 20 this year, only seven of the Top 20 were remakes or sequels. But no one wants to embrace The Other Guys, The Expendables, and Grownups as great original successes.

Apparently, your originality only counts if it is taken seriously by the media. So Inception and maybe… maaaaayyybe Shutter Island are allowed to be thought of as successful originals… but then get written off because of budget and pedigree.

Getting back to Patrick’s blather… he goes off the rails by showing no memory of movie history, as he narrows his list of “favorite filmmakers” to those “filmmaking gods who are currently free from the stench of sequelitis.”

On the bad list, Chris Nolan, who just made a $200 million budget original that grossed $800 million worldwide, but dares to return to a third Batman film. Brad Bird, who has never made an animated sequel or a live action film, period. Bird turned down a lot of original live-action scripts that were ready for green lights, but has chosen – again, for his FIRST live-action feature – to work in the safe environment of Team Abrams at Paramount. Ridley Scott, whose only sequel until he starts the Alien prequels was Hannibal and whose last two complete originals- which is to say, not based on specific history – both failed at the box office. Michael Mann, who has always looked to history for more than half of his films. John Lasseter, who has run the most original producer of original films in the last decade, but has now allowed Pixar to start making sequels. And The Coen Bros., who… you know… why even bother… sod off, Patrick… how dare you stamp unoriginality on the men who aren’t remaking True Grit, but going back to the source material, which you would put off limits because someone adapted it 40 years ago. Fuck you, Shakespeare! Julie Taymor has no imagination, doing The Tempest with Helen Mirren as Prospero… off with her head!

And the ones he likes.. who are still pure? FIncher, who is about to start a 3 movie series of what won’t feel like remakes, but do follow in the current series of Swedish productions of the books. Scorsese… making a 3D movie… who has rarely left enough characters alive for a sequel… and won the Oscar for a remake, got Newman an Oscar for a sequel, remade Cape Fear, dug into Wharton, etc. Jim Brooks, who has directed 2 films in the last 13 years, only one of which anyone wanted to see. Danny Boyle, who has always had an original eye, but who has sequelized. Paul Thomas Anderson, whose last two movies both lost a bunch of money in spite of great romances with the critics. Bully for him that he wants to keep his originality and is willing to not work to do so. But hardly a standard for the industry. And of course, Eastwood, the only insider who is really clean these days, but whose five Dirty Harry films sit on my shelf.

And don’t get me wrong. I love almost all of the directors on Patrick’ “pure” list. I also love and like a lot of directors who aren’t on his list or in his frame of reference. There are even directors who make great films who live in foreign countries and work on budgets of under $50 million… even under $15 million.

And note this… of ALL 10 major studio non-animated wide releases this month… ONLY Harry Potter 7 is a sequel and you can only touch one more, For Colored Girls, as being based on a well-know piece of material.

I am curious to see who wants to argue the other side, beyond, “Of course studios don’t want originality… they turned down my favorite project!” The studios suck, sure. They make a lot of crap, yeah. I am not raising them on my shoulders for a rousing cheer. But let us condemn them for what they actually do and not continue to maintain and promote the lazy mythologies that we have committed to over the years.

Just last night on The Daily Show, they showed 20 years or so of a politician complaining about how The System is broken… while he was a leader of the system. Go deeper. Your readers deserve it.


I Love This Game… (I)Cahn He Mate His Lions?

Word from LAT today that Carl Icahn is upping his effort to buy MGM debt at a better price than is in the current plan, but still a giant discount over the valuation of just a few years ago. He’s willing to pay 53 cents vs the 45 cents currently proposed.

And this is when it gets fun. Because after Lionsgate’s current management worked to build a bridge to Icahn and to promote LGF offering a merger, not only has Icahn taken the bait… he’s clearly positioning himself to be completely in control.

As I wrote yesterday, as things go today, Icahn would have about a third of The Merged Lion if the deal went through today. But he’s looking to nearly double the MGM that was reported just days ago, which would put him at about 28% ownership in the The Merged Lions via MGM and another 13.5% of so via his LGF position. Of course, these estimates are based on a variety of reports floating around, so 41.5% could be real… it could be closer to 50+%. Or perhaps he doesn’t need that much. Perhaps a bigger stake in MGM would lead to a couple more seats on the 11 person board of directors and more control from there.

But it has to be about control, doesn’t it? He hasn’t liked where Lionsgate leadership has taken that company in the last couple of years. He certainly can’t be thrilled with recent MGM management. So ask yourself… is Carl Icahn going deeper into this morass in order to have another management team – whether the current group at LGF or anyone else – tell him how the business should be focused? At 40%+ ownership? No way.

The plot gets thicker every day.

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