The Hot Blog Archive for January, 2011

John Barry Was 77

Best known for The Amorous Mr. Prawn, John Barry…

Actually, Barry did that film when he was 28. It was released the same year as his first Bond film, which was also the first Bond film, Dr. No, for which he didn’t receive credit. Monty Norman did. Barry went on to score, with credit, all the Broccoli Bond films through The Living Daylights in 1987.

He won 5 Oscars, but was never even nominated for a Bond, the thing for which he was best known. His Oscars were bookended, in a striking coincidence, with animals… his first for Born Free and his last for Wolves and those who Dance With Them. He also won for The Lion In Winter and Out of Africa… and the song, Born Free. His last credit is for Madagascar 2 (they used his song).

For a guy who was known for soaring themes (and animal films), he also worked a lot with the playful Richard Lester. Donner, Roeg, Yates, Vadim, Coppola, Attenborough, Pollack, Wenders.., the list is wide and varied. There are cult classics like Somewhere In Time and The Black Hole There are career starters, including the most surprising omission from his Oscar resume, his unforgettable score for Lawrence Kasden’s debut, Body Heat. And there are some of the great bombs, from Dino’s King Kong to The Scarlet Letter to Howard The Duck.

He made some beautiful music for us to consume while our eyes were occupied and our hearts were open. He went right for those hearts… some said too much. But he made those strings sing and helped us get lost at the movies. He will be missed.


BYOB Sunday Night


Sundance Sales

To my eye, Sundance sales went very much along with the tone of this year’s festival… consistently good, but nothing truly epic. (A few docs could be on a list of exceptions.)

There are a few Actual Surprises

1. Searchlight Rampage – Searchlight loaded the coffers for 2011. The year was looking to be one of those 6 release years going into Sundance with very little between mid-March and September. What they grabbed were two movies that will be marketed heavily to teen girls (Homework and Martha Marcy May Marlene), one tiny movie that will get a ton of media attention for its lead actress (Another Earth), and a film that fits into the company’s Asian bent, Bengali Detective, which will join their Wayne Wang film and their John Madden project, loaded with British stars, set in a Bangalore nursing home.

It makes sense, though the only film I think they really see as a big commercial opportunity is Bengali Detective, which could be a franchise in a growing worldwide market.

2. Focus Picks-Up Pariah – Do they think they can turn this film into the next Precious? Are they just mining the director, who they have signed for a tentative next film? A real surprise that this film ended up at a studio dependent.

3. Paramount picks up Like Crazy. Like Searchlight, one has to assume that they think they can make hay with a less musical, more brooding version of (500) Days of Summer. And they might. But it’s going to be a challenge for a marketing department that came from Vantage, but is now in Iron Man mode.

Less Surprising

1. Documentarians are getting into the VOD option in a serious way. IFC’s deal for Buck and Magnolia’s for Page One really spoke to the filmmakers’ interest in getting a theatrical, but extending the conversation with VOD. Don’t be surprised to see Being Elmo go that way when it lands either, though the popularity of the film at the all-adult fest may inspire someone to treat it more like a mainstreamed film, able to cross the $10m theatrical mark. (Whether it actually can is another conversation.)

2. Sony Classics actually bought one movie at Sundance, The Guard. Brenden Gleason is funny and beloved and the studio will hope that his following wants to see him before those DVD sales start. Take Shelter, from Jeff Nichols, was bought before the festival. So was Morgan Spurlock’s Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

3. Lionsgate goes Oscar chasing with The Devil’s Double, a movie that looks bigger than its budget and which features Dominic Cooper in a performance that we should still be talking about next year this time, as we wait to see if his Oscar nomination has landed.

The Rest

For The Weinstein Company, Dinner For Schmucks‘ $73 million would be a massive hit. So… they buy the Paul Rudd comedy My Idiot Brother. Pay no attention to the Wet Hot American Summer, The Shape of Things, and The Ten behind the curtain. Jacob Aaron Estes’ second film – after Mean Creek – is Maguire/Banks/Linney/Haysbert/Liotta’ed up… which means there is some bait to work with for the Brothers.

Roadside Attractions is the hot indie of the moment, having brought Oscar luster to Winter’s Bone and Biutiful. But Sundance 2011 is actually a little soft, even though the distributor is credited with 3 pick-ups. Project Nim is a great HBO doc that needed a distribution partner, so the guys who made The Cove happen make sense. Margin Call is a mainstream movie looking for indie cred (see: The Company Men) and got a little in a split deal with Lionsgate. And on the Miranda July… the one completely straight pick-up… is of the “They did $4m with her last film… we should be able to do a little better this time” variety. Plus, they have Hamish Linklater, a great theater actor with TV credentials, who will eventually be a name-remembered star.

IFC and Magnolia probably have some more films to buy on their list. But they’ll sell VOD arty sex with Perfect Sense and I Melt With You, intellectual debate with Liv Tyler’s face on it in The Ledge, and a constituency of serious movie fans with These Amazing Shadows.

After that, it’s new kids on the block. Dan Battsek’s Nat Geo is the senior member of this group, though picking up Life In One Day, which streamed on YouTube during Sundance, presents an interesting challenge. And with due respect to the rest – Anchor Bay, Dada Films, Liddell Entertainment, Motion Film Group, and Participant clearly have some cash, but none are theatrical distributors.

So… God bless to all who want to count numbers and make proclamations. And there are more titles heading to distribution deals. Being Elmo and The Interrupters are sure bets. There will be others that are pretty sure for at-least VOD deals, like The Lie, The Black Power Mix Tape, Happy, Happy, and Tyrannosaur.

It certainly was a better market than in the last two years. But the biggest ticket was $4 million and the heavy lifting on the “titles most likely” came from Searchlight, Paramount, and Focus.

I am pleased that Cassian Elwes is excited, but it feels a little more like someone who survived a near drowning and is really, really happy to be on the beach, even if the lifeguards dropped him right on a jellyfish. In terms of models, we definitely didn’t see The Future (aside from Ms July’s) at Sundance this year. But we did see some good films, some good young filmmakers, and perhaps 3 or 4 of next year’s doc Oscar nominees. But I just hate when things like this get overstated and people relax, thinking that indie is now safe and healthy. There were a handful of actual surprise sales. And yes, in years past, companies didn’t load up with cheap buys and this year they did. Some great buys. Let’s just keep our heads. Please.


20 Weeks Extra: Could There Be One More Turn?

While there is a narrative out there that The King’s Speech is the next Ordinary People, there are three big problems with the claim. First, there is the perception of groupthink inside The Academy that is wildly overstated and oversimplified. Second, if The Academy thought like that – “we screwed up before.. let’s fix it!” – they would have nominated more commercial product last year after The Dark Knight was the alleged reason for the move to 10 nominees. Third, what is the Raging Bull of this season? I would say that it’s pretty clear that there is none.

Perhaps your comparison is Rocky winning over Network, All The President’s Men, Taxi Driver, and Bound For Glory.

The full column


Weekend Estmates by Pro Bowl Klady

Ah, Riiiiite. WB did a Screen Gems movie and opened, probably, $4m or $5m short of where Screen Gems would have opened it and about $15m short on what will be the total domestic gross… because Screen Gems is really good at that kind of marketing. On the other hand, Screen Gems probably left $20m or so on the table for Easy A domestically because big studios tend to do a better job of marketing that kind of movie. Everyone has a skill set. And the more success a marketing team has with a certain kind of movie, the more they seem to do better and better with that kind of movie and less so with other kinds of films.

But hey… is $14.7m for The Rite something to be unhappy with? No.

Peaking of that, give Sony a lot of credit for taking a film that looked like a $30 million writedown for a long time and making it in to a $100 million domestic grosser with some real upside in the Asian markets in particular.

No Strings Attached is no Norbit… which is to say, unlikely to slow Portman’s Oscar role and unlike to gross more than 2/3 of the Eddie Murphy comedy.

The Mechanic is CBS Films’ 2nd best opening, just an estimated $700k behind The Back-Up Plan. It’s not great, but you know, aside from the Twilight phenomenon, it took Summit more than 2 years to get to its third 9-figure opening. CBS Films, thus, has more than a year to get to #3. Yes, it is leap to eliminate Twilight from the conversation. On the other hand, shouldn’t a hit of that size have made it easier to grab some 9-figure openings? Summit is on its way, heading into its fourth year of distribution, now making hits that are not such phenomena that the job is to stay out of its way. (And that’s not always so easy for distributors to do.) And I guess my overall point it, CBS Films has not had a beautiful start and they don’t have a phenom to hide behind… but there is still a chance to turn the ship around to a successful direction. (Some other time, we can discuss whether Sumner Redstone needs a brain exam to understand why he allows the two sides of Viacom to continue to compete with one another this way.)

The Oscar Racers dominate the rest of the Top Ten: Speech, Grit, Swan, Fighter. The King’s Speech expansion is excellent, though do note that the per-screen is still behind the second weekend of Portman/Kutcher. Black Swan is showing the most sign of slowing, albeit as it passes $90 million, which is a figure that I don’t think Fox ever thought was possible. (Aronofsky definitely did not.) True Grit, nearing $150 million domestic, is clearly finding some stragglers thanks to Oscar nods, estimated off just 1% in the sixth weekend of its very commercial run. The Fighter also benefited from its nods, in spite of losing screens for the fourth straight weekend.

Also, a spark of life for 127 Hours, which had its first $2m weekend after 13 weekends in theaters… 916 screens, which more than doubles the previous high count of 433.

The Current Oscar BP Box Office List
Toy Story 3 – $415m domestic (out of theaters, in Home Ent)
Inception – $293m (oot, in HE)
True Grit – $148m ($7.2m this weekend)
The Social Network – $96m (367 screens, around $500k a week, in HE)
Black Swan – $91m ($4.9m tw)
The Fighter – $79m ($3.9m tw)
The King’s Speech -$72m ($10.4m tw)
The Kids Are All Right – $21m (oot, in HE)
127 Hours – $13m ($2m tw)
Winter’s Bone – $6m (oot, in HE)

And though obviously a very rough set of numbers… why not?

Projecting End Of Next Weekend
Toy Story 3 – $415m
Inception – $293m
True Grit – $162m
Black Swan – $100m
The Social Network – $96m
The King’s Speech -$90m
The Fighter – $87m

Projecting Feb 13 grosses
Toy Story 3 – $415m
Inception – $293m
True Grit – $175m
Black Swan – $107m
The King’s Speech -$106m
The Social Network – $97m
The Fighter – $94m

Projecting Feb 20 grosses
Toy Story 3 – $415m
Inception – $293m
True Grit – $185m
The King’s Speech -$120m
Black Swan – $112m
The Fighter – $99m
The Social Network – $98m



I am regretting writing this as I write it… I have enormous respect and admiration for Tom Hooper. I like the guy. And unlike other directors in the race, he has been generous with his time and thoughts.

It also SUCKS to begrudge someone who has won an award their pleasure from that moment.



The inherent ambition of at least 3 of the other 4 nominees is simply on another level.

I have no problem when people vote for a movie they like or love, but this is directors voting for achievement in direction. Hooper did excellent work and is responsible for a movie people love. But the list of people who could deliver with that cast and script vs the singular visions of the other films…

My feeling this season has been that the guilds have become even more enslaved by the idea of being seen to influence Oscar by trying to match the Best Picture winner… more noms a product of timing than ever before…

Making the movie “they” most like is no mean feat. When I see Mr Hooper this week, I will pat him on the back and honestly say, Good on ya.”

But for Fincher and Aronofsky and Nolan and Russell, they have to feel a little brutalized, but should realize that it’s not about pushing for new levels, but a movie popularity contest amongst a narrow base of movie lovers.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just not The Answer most of the time. It’s A answer.


Saturday 2 LA

So we are in the middle on nowhere in Utah, nursing.

Sundance is near an end and OscarVille sings its siren song.

Box office, from the Blackberry, is neither great not horrible. The Oscar movies are strong, as The King’s Speech goes to the front of the pack this weekend, passing True Grit, though Grit still has a pretty unsurpassable $80m lead. Black Swan will probably pass $90m this weekend, just ahead of The Fighter on the day, but about $10m ahead domestically. By next weekend, Swan will pass The Social Network’s box office, the 4th film in the race to do so. Both The Fighter and The King’s Speech will probably get there by mid-Feb too.

And now, back to the Utah highways…


BYOB Wednesday


Gurus Go Regal

With 9 of the 15 Gurus voting so far, every single one is picking The King’s Speech for the win…


Oscar Morning Coming Down

It’s still dark in Park City. There are a few surprises from the Oscar nominations, but they are limited.

Roadside Attractions is the happiest group this morning, scoring for Winter’s Bone in Best Picture and getting in not only the expected Jennifer Lawrence nod, but John Hawkes too. And the even bigger get… Bardem. Academy members should be thankful that Roadside kept pushing so hard for him and that he spend the holidays telling his story at screenings. Had he not been nominated, it would have been a black eye for the organization. Still, a real big deal, given how scared people were of that film.

Perhaps the biggest single surprise is one that was left out. Christopher Nolan NOT getting nominated for Inception when some (confused) people actually thought he could be an upset winner is a shocker. It also dampens the WB hopes for the film winning Best Picture.

Nearly as surprising… no nod for Effects for Tron Legacy, which got pushed out by Iron Man 2 and Hereafter.

All the talk about The Academy getting younger remains comedic, give or take 4 years on the median age. The Illusionist is one example. How did it get in ahead of Despicable Me? Old people. I would also attribute the failure to hand Robert Duvall a deserved nomination to the same thing. His character in Get Low seemed to put older voters in a sad place. A shame.

Also left out was The Town for Best Picture, supplanted by 127 Hours, which had lost steam with weak box office. (That should change this weekend.) Actor non-nods included Julianne Moore, Andrew Garfield, and Aaron Eckhart (all of whom will be back many times in future years). Plus a late surge of Mila Kunis expectation was not met… nor were any of the other Swan co-stars nodded. It’s all Natalie, all the time.

Nominations for I Am Love (costume), The Tempest (costume) are one-off surprises, as is the make-up nod for Barney’s Version.

Sond Mixing nods for The King’s Speech, True Grit, and The Social Network define the range of legit candidates for the win. But True Grit‘s lack of an editing nom is a very bad sign for that film. So it looks like a 2-film race to the end… kinda. I don’t think Social ends up getting close to Speech at the end.

The King’s Speech, 12 nods. True Grit, 10 nods. The Social Network, 8 nods. Inception, 8 nods. The Fighter, 7 nods. 127 Hours, 6 nods. Black Swan, 5 nods.

Here is the current gross list… this weekend’s number and the current domestic total. I think it’s more than fair to say that King’s Speech will be accelerating up this list starting this weekend. But it will have some challenges from Fighter and Swan, which should pass $90m and $100m respectively in the next 12 days (probably sooner). Speech will likely pass $100m and Social Net within 12 days. Expect Grit to hold onto the #3 slot firmly, with an outside shot now of getting with shouting distance of $200m domestic.

True Grit
$7,330,092 $137,963,519
The Social Network
$444,086 $95,408,473
Black Swan
$5,869,744 $83,250,375
The Fighter
$4,164,504 $72,680,740
The King’s Speech
$7,854,910 $57,313,881

And there you have it. A few surprises, but pretty much as expected.


BYOB – Pre-Oscar…


The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

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