The Hot Blog Archive for May, 2011

Shouldn’t An Average Of A $500m Gross Per Movie Be Enough For Wall Street?

I continue to be astonished by the Wall Street analysts becoming Twittiots.

Today, the issue is DreamWorks Animation, one of the few public companies that is solely dependent on the revenues of their movies (including licensing) to remain in business and attractive to stock speculators.

I have zero problem with analysts or anyone else questioning whether DWA is a growth business or if it will be stagnant at best and sliding at worst. There are all kinds of opinions and my opinion of them is not the point of this entry.

The Hollywood Reporter did this story.

When you have the Peter Travers of Stock Analysts, Rich Greenfield, pushing his Agenda Of The Week and you get, ““The key drivers of DWA’s troubles are that its movies have not lived up to expectations and the global DVD market is in free fall as consumers continue to shift from buying to renting,” in response to the biggest Memorial Day opening of an animated film in history, you have to wonder why this one movie changed any of that. (To be as fair as possible to Greenfield, who seems to be perpetually auditioning for a CNBC or Fox Business daily show, he was a “sell” on DWA before the release of the film.)

When you have Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible talking about how KFP2 didn’t meet HIS expectations of opening because its PROJECTED domestic gross is $20 million than his guess, which translates to about $9 million in net revenue to DWA (after exhibitors and Paramount take their cuts), you scratch your head an wonder… really? Less than $10 million off of his GUESS and so the company needs a kick in the balls?

Doug Creutz, analyst at Cowen & Co. seems to be the only non-jackass in the game, keeping his DWA position at “neutral,” taking international grosses seriously, and fairly considering whether a company with 2 films a year and no ongoing blockbuster franchises is in very good shape. He’s not rooting for them, but he is thinking about all the factors and not smelling his own farts.

You want my personal take? DWA is a little overvalued, but is a very solid business and should probably be taken private again.

There have been 22 DreamWorks Animation films in 14 years. Only 3 of the brands, representing 7 titles (projecting KFP2 into this group) that have cracked $500 million worldwide; Shrek, Madagascar, and Panda. The last DWA movie to do under $200 million worldwide was the first film with Paramount, Flushed Away, in 2006. There are 6 of those titles. And there is the middle class of this business, 9 films, grossing $200m – $500m, with 3D or without.

So excluding The Big Three brands, DWA’s last three films for Paramount grossed $382m, $495m, and $322m worldwide… all three in the Top 20 of worldwide grossers for 2010 and 2009. The weakest grosser for the company in the last 5 years grossed $288 million worldwide, #18 in the world that year.

So tell me… does that business suck? Is there a problem?

Well, the problem is that Wall Street is interested in growth and quarterlies and two film products a year is not enough to sustain either on a consistent basis. In a now aggressively competitive marketplace for animation, sustaining is hard enough, but growing in the way Wall Street wants growth is pretty much impossible. Getting lucky with a particular film is not really a sustainable stock market model.

But it was NEVER a sustainable stock market model.

If you can’t make a go of it with movies that gross $300 million or more every time out of the gate, you have a problem.

If The Market thinks $300 million every time out, with an average gross for your last five releases of just over $500 million worldwide, The Market has a problem… OR you don’t belong in The Market.

And I don’t just blame the analysts. It is the whole overhyped mentality about opening weekend. A little bit of information is a profoundly dangerous thing.



I don’t mind the LAT riffing on an idea I offered up repeatedly in the last few days… that The Hangover: Part II has opened so big because audiences were happy to see the guys back, doing pretty much a minor variation on what they did last time (ratcheting up the harshness), and that WB marketed to exactly that.

But I wish they didn’t make such mincemeat of the idea, trying to turn it into a trend piece.

Just the facts…

Zeitchik offers, “Those (sequeled comedies) that succeed tend to hew very closely to their originals.”

Of course, Zeitchik already threw away Sex & The City 2, last year’s example of a carbon copy of a well-known product whose opening dropped 46% from the first film domestically.

Last summer was light on sequels AND comedies, but note that non-comedy sequels Iron Man 2 opened better than the first with pretty much the same schtick, but The Karate Kid hit the jackpot by changing up the formula dramatically.

Evan Almighty is as freaky a possible example as you could come up with (aside from Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans), as the second movie not only was without the then biggest comedy star in the world, but completely dumped the original’s successful premise. If you remember, the pitch for Bruce Almighty included Bruce getting the power of God from God, but endlessly pushed him blowing a girl’s skirt up, making Jennifer Aniston’s breasts bigger, and a dog peeing in a toilet on his own. The sequel was about a good man called on to save the world and going all The Santa Clause as he becomes Noah. DQ!

Night At The Museum 2 wasn’t a major variation from the original… except by date. It went from being a holiday movie to being in the heat of summer competition. But all the major characters were back… they just added a couple more. The sequel also suffered from something many sequels of all stripes suffer from… a great idea that was a bit played out. NATM is still an important film to museums. But the idea of the stuff in the museum coming to life was exciting… once.

Bruno also suffered from a chance in the playing field. Borat was completely unexpected. Bruno was unavoidably anticipated. Borat indulged our xenophobia, but was also quite gentle. Bruno was about homophobia and media insanity, but all that really got notice was the gay… which also, by the way, turned some homophobic audiences off. Audiences could think Borat was an ass, but not feel concerned that they would be called out for it. Hate Bruno and you could be on the wrong side of political correctness. But on the most basic level, Bruno was NOT a sequel to Borat… at all… anymore than Bridesmaids is a sequel to Get Him To The Greek.

On the flip side, Meet The Fockers was not a direct copy of Meet The Parents. In fact, it was strongly driven by love of the original, but the very strong addition of Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman, who not only added star power, but added a whole new set of character relationships. They were as accepting of their son’s new family as DeNiro was not. Third time around, when they moved forward without Hoffman, they went back and added him at the last minute because his absence was not testing well.

Look… ALL sequels… and most “originals” are variations on a very, very familiar theme. This was the key to “high concept” fillmmaking… a phrase you rarely hear these days.

There are two kinds of sequels, those that extend the story and those that repeat the story with some variation, usually a small one. American Pie extended the story the second time, which meant a big opening, and then a third time, when it opened well, but not nearly as well as the first sequel.

In the Austin Powers films, which Zeitchik mentions as a repetitive, things changed in a copy of how Bond changed, changing female leads both times. But in the third film not only added Michael Caine (hat tip to Indiana Jones), but loaded up on celebrity cameos for the first time.

Ghostbusters II did less than half of what the original did domestically, though it opened to double.

The king of comedy sequels, Eddie Murphy, has been all over the place with sequels to 48 Hrs, Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor, and Doctor Dolittle. Only Dr. Dolittle 2 did less on opening weekend the second time around. But only Another 48 Hrs grossed more than the original domestically… by $2 million… 8 years later. I don’t think anyone can say that any of these sequels changed much at all.

Martin Lawrence did it three times (House Party, Bad Boys, Big Momma’s House), but only the one in which his partner, Will Smith, emerged as one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, did better the second time around. Again, all were near carbon copies. Bad Boys 2 doubled its gross domestically but cost at least 8 times as much to produce and market.

Three Men & A Lady… getting the gang back together led to a bigger opening and less than half the domestic gross. Rush Hour was much bigger the second time around… and grossed less than the original the third time around. Analyze That couldn’t match the original in opening or total. Miss Congeniality 2 opened bigger, but grossed less than half the original domestically. Crocodile Dundee II had triple the opening and 40% of the domestic total. Porky’s 2 opened about the same as the original, but grossed less than a third of the first. Wayne’s World 2 opened to less and grossed less than half the first film. City Slickers 2 opened weaker than the original and grossed about a third. Even the Ocean’s movies… all started about the same domestically… and each made progressively less.

And I think I have now covered every sequeled comedy in which at least one of the films grossed at least $100m domestic. (Please feel free to offer any films I might have left out. But I think I got them all.)

It’s kind of amazing, really, how few comedy sequels there are. Twenty-one in history on this list with one of the two films being a 9-figure grosser. And I will tell you why, in general. A big comedy hit is magic in a bottle… not just concept and effects. Sequels almost always cost a lot more than the original, the odds of hitting again are low, and making the second movie reasonably good is even less likely.

What you see a lot more of is the repetition of teams and leaders. So you have Apatow, Ferrell, Carrey, Sandler, Farrelly, Murphy, etc. Adam Sandler has NEVER made a sequel… yet many would say that every Sandler movie is virtually a sequel. Same with Will Ferrell. Carrey’s only sequel was to Ace Ventura, early in his movie career.

I’d love to see the Anchorman sequel… but I understand the studio’s position. It would likely cost a LOT more and the odds are that it would, no matter how good, make a little less than the original.

The times you do see them take the leap is when the first film was a wildly overachieving underdog, like Meet The Parents or Ace Ventura or, for that matter, Sex & The City. Then the more expensive sequel is, say, the normal price for a comedy with a big comedy star, and the hope for it to be a much bigger film is there. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes not.

And interestingly – I just arrived at this notion as I was writing – this fits The Hangover too. A $35 million movie that grossed $475m worldwide with three non-box-office-names is catnip. According to reports (unconfirmed by me) the sequel still cost less than $100 million to make. So cut the gross in half and there is still no money lost. Match the gross and make very good money (given the back end). Top the gross and make mega-bucks.

Each movie is its own proposition. There are good decisions and bad. But there is no trend.


BYOB 53011


4 Day Estimates by Wolfpack Klady


Fallacy first… the idea that this is some kind of bad number for Kung Fu Panda is silly. It’s the biggest Memorial Day opening for an animated film, about a million over Madagascar. Were you hoping it would break that record AND show a 25% 3D bump? Okay. But that isn’t really reasonable. Memorial Day Weekend is not a great animation weekend, which is why so many of the big summer animated openings are the week AFTER Memorial Day.

Animated grosses are about the multiple. Panda has 3 more weekends until Cars 2.

Hangover 2 shows the power of a well loved original, whip smart marketing, and sequels. ‘Nuff said. Let the record show that this idiot estimated a $110 million launch before it came on tracking.

Pirates 4’s drop was… not good… not hideous. International saves Disney’s bacon.

Another strong hold for Bridesmaids, even against The Hangover. Remember when movies got roll over business from sell outs? Not so much anymore. Bridesmaids deserves credit for strong word of mouth.

And Thor is still swinging, so far the 3D success story of the domestic summer.


Dragon Tattoo Trailer Appears… Stolen Or Styled?

This does seem to be a legitimate red-band trailer for Sony’s David Fincher-directed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (aka The Feel Bad Movie Of Christmas). But as you’ll notice, this YouTube entry, which is what is up everywhere, looks like someone in a theater taped it off the screen… or is that part of the fun?

Unless CARA gave it the red band for pervasive darkness, the only actual nsfw-style “offense” in the trailer is about half-a-second of Mara Rooney’s right nipple. But I guess that is really enough. (Her prominent ribs were of more concern to me.)

It’s the only video on the YouTube account, which claims to be from The Netherlands. The second most viewed version – which is the same movie screen capture – is another one-video-only account, wich claims to be from Indonesia. And all the other versions of the red band trailer on YouTube have been pulled down or are claiming to be pulled down, trying to get you to click to another site to see the footage.

Smells like a stunt. But a smart one, if it is.


Sunday Estimates by Klady (3-Day, Fri/Sat/Sun)

I don’t have time to do any real analysis this morning… more later today/tomorrow.

However, I want to say it again… “the box office slump” isn’t over, isn’t forgotten, hasn’t been turned around by one movie. The issues that are of real concern are still of real concern. The huffing and puffing of media about slumps while they/we refuse to see the facts that are right in front of our faces is still of real concern.

What is incalculable in this situation is that media, repeating a false idea over and over and over again as fact, can make it fact in people’s heads. Just ask anyone about “why people aren’t going to movie theaters anymore.” We have Sharon Waxman and The New York Times to thank for perpetuating that lie 5 years ago. And it is still spoken of as though it really happened. But it did not. Teen boys are still driving the movie economy first. Texting hasn’t destroyed any film’s Saturday yet. Week-vs-Week analysis of box office is a fool’s errand and always has been, except for the 7 or 8 annual landmark weekends/weeks.

Meanwhile, reduced numbers of tickets sold have been more than made up for by other revenue streams that didn’t exist in 1939. Avatar will generate more cash, even adjusted for inflation, than any movie ever made. But in the media, always too hungry for a story and really uninterested in whether the truth is really being gotten to in a good negative spin on success, we got the obsession about “tickets sold,” when in fact, we don’t have accurate numbers about how many tickets were actually sold for, say, Gone With The Wind, and at what price points. But, hey, print the myth. No one’s reading the damned papers anyway! (another myth)

Thanks to the excesses of this industry, in which new ideas inevitably mature, but are often murdered before they have that chance by oversaturation by the quarter-by-quarter interests of global corporate interests, 3D seems to already have become a hit or miss proposition in the US, while the rest of the world is just getting enough 3D to start them down the road to the same place. A serious discussion of the whys and wherefores should be had… and not just murky “gotchas” about projection issues thrown about simply because critics object to the format being shoved down the throats of both movies that don’t need it and moviegoers. There is value in 3D for filmmakers, studios, and film lovers… just not 25 times a year or more. When it becomes mundane, 3D is a disaster for audiences, unlike sound or color.



Friday Estimates by Hungover Klady

The Hangover, Part II is reaping the rewards of a near-perfect marketing campaign that offered audiences, not critics, exactly what they wanted… more of the same. This was the refrain of critics everywhere… which may have made TH:PII one of the most positively influenced by critics openings of the last few years.

And I will say again… WB did the same thing with The Dark Knight. They did a campaign that was very, very similar to the Burton Batman films, of course with the added visual excitement of the elements that Nolan had created. It was the same, but “better.” And if it turned out that many people found the movie to actually be better, great. That’s not what opening weekend is about.

Using the Pirates weekend as a model, Hungover will get close to $130 million for the 5 days and around $98m for the 4 days, making it the 4th biggest Memorial Day weekend in history… technically. This is where the stat parade gets silly, as some movies launched Memorial Day on Thursday and some did not. For me, the opening stat, in the current era of distribution, is always about where a movie landed at the end of their opening weekend. There are advantages and disadvantages to a Wed or Thursday opening. There are always benefits to a holiday weekend with Monday off. But what you get at the end of that first “weekend” is the sampling that is going to push the film forward, keep it in neutral, or slow it down.

For a 5-day opening, at any time, Hangover 2 looks to be #21 or #22. For Memorial Day, Hang Two is well behind Pirates 3 and Indy 4, any way you cut it. And it’s competitive with X-Men 3.

Could it get to $139 million over the 5 day, as “reported” by Deadline? Sure. But I would take that with a grain of salt, as the estimates being sold to C. Nikki by her keepers started with claiming that $10m on Wed midnight was a disappointment, then went wildly low for the weekend, then just low, and are now swinging to what is probably $5 million or more high. At this level of gross, nothing is definitive until the tickers are sold.

In this case, you’re looking at, roughly, a $75m 3-day. So the goal, at minimum is to triple that. But the $130m 3-day… the goal would be just to double that… which is a higher gross goal. $277.4m is the target for the sequel to top the original domestically. $190.2 million is the international on the first film. I think all involved would love to see the domestic number grow, but that is where it has a good chance of coming close or topping it incrementally. But international is where you could surely see this sequel take in $100 million more than the first time around.

The director of the film felt that $85m domestic might be high for the opening weekend. I had predicted $110m. And once again, I was underestimating The Hangover. And I was pretty much the high predictor out there. Can’t win.

Kung-Fu Panda II is getting a little lost of all the excitement over Hangover II. (Note to media: If you thought there was “a slump,” you were myopic. If you think this “ends the slump,” you are an epic moron. It’s the movies, stupid. If you sell people movies they want to see, they will come. The day-n-daters at studios are not done trying to destroy this historic reality, but I expect they will next argue, in the face of a failed Premium VOD launch, that if theatrical survived Just Go With It two months early, they can survive the next crop just 30 days after release. Insanity.)

But with a Thursday launch, Panda 2 is running $4.7 million (or 39%( ahead of the biggest Memorial Day opening animated film in history, Madagascar… and well behind the 2nd weekend of Shrek 2. Point is…they’re doing fine. It’s just not a shocking launch. It will be the biggest animated Memorial Day Weekend opening ever.. should be over $70n if it continues along that Madagascar trajectory.

Btw, all that bull about colleges being out or elementary schools not being out… all spin and excuses.

Pirates 4 dropping 68% Friday-to-Friday is not shocking. What is shocking is that the film is running just barely ahead of Fast Five after 8 days in the domestic market place. Right now, it looks like the film could be #4 or #5 for the summer (not including F5.) Of course, Disney has the foreign on the film, already over $350 million, just short of triple the domestic number. Who knew that Pirates 4 would be Prince of Persia all over again… on a bigger scale?

And a note on the 3D situation with the film. The studio lost about 150 3D venues this week. But more interestingly, it is turning out that the stat of last weekend, reported by Klady, is not screen count, according to Disney, but venue count. I am working on a more complete picture, but so far, the studio seems uninterested in getting into the details, answering specific questions only in the broadest of terms.

At Paramount, both their 3D releases are currently reporting that 69% of their venues are running 3D. Pirates is now in the low 60s.

But what does this actually mean? There are people fighting against 3D and people fighting for it, but the reality of how ubiquitous 3D is… that’s a real blur. Just looking around LA, the balance of 3D showings and non-3D showings on these big 3D films is all over the place. At The Grove, for instance, both Pirates 4 and Panda 2 are on 3 screens each… 2 of which are now in 2D. Thor has 2 screens, one of each. But at Century City’s 15-plex, Panda 2 has 2 screens, one of each, with a couple extra early shows in 2D… Pirates is on 3 screens, one 2D, one 3D, and one FauxMAX… and Thor is now on 1 screen only, in 3D. Meanwhile, at The Arclight Hollywood, no Pirates, and Thor & Panda are running one 2 screens each, split between 2 and 3D. Over the hill, at Universal Citiwalk, Panda is on 4 screens, split evenly between the formats, Thor is on 2, split evenly, and Pirates has an even split between 2D and 3D, plus their real IMAX screen. And in Santa Monica, the combine pair of AMC theaters in the 3rd street promenade are running Thor only in 3D, Panda is running 2-1 in 3D and Pirates is running 2-1 in 2D.

I am going to try to tell the 3D story this summer, movie by movie. But I am not sure how much cooperation I am going to get from the studios. The overall percentages are interesting, but the real story is in the percentage of actual showings they are getting in 3D… even more so, how many available seats they are filling in each of the 2 formats.

There is a double edged sward here. 3D haters might be less enraged if it turns out that the biggest 3D releases are really just being shown in 3D about 40% of the time.. or less. On the other side, the mythology of 3D being ubiquitous in the marketplace is part of the must-go pitch.

More to come on this issue…

Nice hold for Bridesmaids as it chases the $100m domestic mark.

And the Woody Allen, multiplying their screen count by almost 10x, multiplied their Friday gross by about 1.5x. Normal expansion, but not a sign of a big breakout. Only 3 of Allen’s last 10 movies have done more than $5.3 million. The two big ones each grossed $23m domestic and opened wider faster and were already on their way to bigger numbers by now. Scoop, which did just over $10m domestic, also opened faster, but started declining quickly. This film looks to be right in between the smaller films and the bigger ones, over $5m, but under $10m domestic.


DP/30: Eva Marie Saint


Review – X-Men: First Class (non-spoiler)

Matthew Vaughn has crafted a superhero movie, complete with all the computer effects, that is as revo/evo-lutionary as Bryan Singer’s X-Men and Nolan’s Batman films. Basically, he made a Bond film with good guys and bad guys alike who just happen to have super powers.

Is it as good or impactful as The Dark Knight? No. But it’s a very solid, completely watchable movie for people who are comic book geeks and for those who are not. Who knows whether anyone will get their granny and grandpa to go… but if they did, they would be entertained by this concoction.

In the broadest sense, there are three ways to look at a film like this. 1. Is it sensational or terrible? 2. Was it often flawed? 3. Does it break out beyond its niche?

1. The film is completely enjoyable and expertly delivered… easily Vaughn’s most skilled work as a director so far in a young directing career. But it is missing the kick of greatness. There are all kinds of pleasures offered. It’s a grudge film, it’s a coming of age story, it’s a Mad Lib of X-Men history. There are surprising and fearless choices. There’s great music, production design, and cinematography. The acting is good across the board, even January Jones, who shows yet again that she can’t act, but is well cast as a diamond-encrusted stiff whose leather panty lines and push up bra do most of the work for her. (Why do I feel like she’ll be out of the business by 2015 and writing a great book at 55, living in some Arizona mansion with her billionaire husband, about what it was to be so blonde in Hollywood?) Some of the effects stuff is done with combinations of “real” footage and CG that is clever and freeing and beautiful. There is a lot to like. If you have any interest at all, you are not likely to be disappointed.

So why isn’t it sensational? I think it’s the villain. All the best old Bond movies have the best villains, no? Here, the one element that doesn’t quite soar is the villain. He’s fine. But he’s not a world beater as a character. And we also know, having been in X-Men Land before, that he is espousing much of what Magneto will espouse in the future. That idea is fascinating, but there is no room for a serious discussion of this “why is one race-hater right and another one wrong… or is he?” as we fly through the action movie we’re watching. And so we don’t get a howler… the scenes and explanations work. They just lack the home run shot. Nolan was somewhat more successful with the issue of “who to save” in The Dark Knight, but there too, there just wasn’t quite enough room to do the discussion justice, no matter how beautifully presented. (My position on TDK has always been that it was either 45 minutes too long or 90 minutes too short… pretty much for this reason.)

2. I only noticed 3 things I would consider real flaws in X-Men: First Class. That’s very unusual in a movie with this much exposition and so many moving parts. The biggest problem goes back to the first issue, above… Kevin Bacon as The Villain. I love watching Kevin Bacon act. He does the part justice. But… you are always watching Kevin “Six Degrees Of” Bacon. When he first showed up, I actually gasp/laughed audibly. Here is a movie loaded with unknowns and relative unknowns and the bad guy is Kevin Bacon? Sorry. I don’t care if it was a completely emotional, “I love this guy” hire… it is a major mistake. It takes you out of the movie, in no small part because we know the guy’s moves. What we needed was Bardem in No Country For Old Men or Alan Rickman in Die Hard or Hugo Weaving in The Matrix. In other words, we needed much of what the casting in the rest of the film was doing. (One casting note: Was Jason Beghe appearing in the movie some kind of finger to Tom Cruise from Bryan Singer?)

The only place for Bacon to go was small and relatively subtle in this role. And again, he acquits himself well. But as the reflection of a dry Michael Fassbender, it didn’t quite work. Ironically, Ian McKellen would have been great in this role, adding just enough camp to make it work. Geoffrey Rush, though he’s a pirate this summer. Liev Schreiber would have been perfect if he wasn’t already Wolverine’s brother. Gabriel Byrne? Billy Crudup? Mark Rylance? Jared Harris? Guy Pearce would have been epic.

The other two issues were one truly horrible looking effects shot in the last big sequence, which is otherwise quite excellent and keeps building against expectation, and finally, a bit too little of the transition from teenagers to superheros for the kids… who all pay off beautifully in the third act.

3. I don’t know if this film breaks out beyond the niche. The niche has expanded… and much of this movie’s fun is what we bring to it… even the cheesy hair jokes. But anticipation of how Vaughn and the other screenwriters are going to get some of these characters where we know they are going is a part of the experience, which obviously non-X-fans cannot play along with. Still, I think the movie probably works quite well for those people, even without the history. They have made it about personal emotion. When a kid loses a parent or feels like an outsider or has body image issues, everyone can relate.

Take the superpowers out of the this film and you have a pretty good foundation for a Bond or Mission:Impossible. And that is a pretty revolutionary idea for the comic book niche. Most of the time, audiences are just waiting for the suit or the big effect. Here, you have that ensemble feel, but the powers actually give the characters a stronger definition. Mystique/Raven has so much story that has nothing to do with shape shifting that when she actually uses the power, it’s a bit of a surprise (even though we know she can do it) and a minor story point.

I really enjoyed this film. Nothing in it really has the simple, raw intensity of Hit Girl in Vaughn’s Kick-Ass. Vaughn has been a little denuded here. He is great at filthy fun. But still, he shows that he has the chops. Look for the masterfully artful effects sequence early in the film and some of the great ways Vaughn has his characters manifest their powers. And while it makes you wonder how much better X-Men 3 could have been, it also makes you happy that he didn’t do an X-film until he had the opportunity to do it his way fully.


Trailer: I Don’t Know Why She Does It


16 Weeks Of Summer Charts, Take 2


Top Ten Comedies Since 2000

This started in another thread, but let’s give it some room to breathe.

Jesse, who suggested the idea, offered this list:

1. The Royal Tenenbaums
2. Superbad
3. Anchorman
4. Wet Hot American Summer
5. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
6. Napoleon Dynamite
7. The Life Aquatic
8. Step Brothers
9. Funny People
10. maybe Mean Girls for sheer rewatchability

Geoff countered with:

Wonder Boys
High Fidelity
40 Year Old Virgin
Role Models
Exit Through the Giftshop (suck it, Banksy killed in that movie!)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Knocked Up

Your turn….


Hangover At Midnight

I’m loading up with another look at summer today, but in the meanwhile, I though I’d note the reported $10.4 million 12:01a launch of The Hangover, Part II.

Besides setting a record for R-rated Midnight launches, the number suggests that the Thursday opening will surely break the $20m mark and could even hit $30m. Even at $20m, it would be the #5 Thursday opening of all-time, after 2 Star Wars, a Matrix, and Indiana Jones 4.

Of course, there are studios out there who would try to spin a $10.4m Midnight launch as underperforming. This would be obvious spin.

All this said, Hangover is still not a lock to win the 5-day weekend vs Panda 2, though it’s looking pretty good. Both films are looking to step up in class, with Panda 1 having opened to a $60 million 3-day and Hangover 1 having opened to $45m. Both films are also moving from the first week of June in their previous incarnations to the Memorial Day power slot.

There is something a little creepy about looking back at Summer 2003, when both Matrix Reloaded and Finding Nemo, R-rated and animated predecessors to this weekend’s new combatants launched. Also opening that summer were a Pirates, an X-Men, and A Fast/Furious film. Deja vu all over again. Also that summer, the only comedy that The Hangover couldn’t top… on Memorial Day Weekend… Bruce Almighty.


The only $100m 5-day openings for animation are two Shreks and Toy Story 3, all over $128m in 5. Do we think KFP is now in that class? No. Next on the list is $84m in 5 for Finding Nemo. Given frontloading as sequelitis, KFP2 could beat that number. But $100m would be a new landmark.

$100m in 5 for The Hangover, Part Ii seems assured now. The question is, how high will it go? Indy 4 is really the only film with a 5 day that took advantage of both opening a day early and having Memorial Day Monday on the other end. $152 million in 5. $127m, Fri-Mon. There are only three films to do a Memorial Day 4-day of over $90.2 million… Pirates, 2, Indy 4, and X3. Bruce Almighty did $85m in 4 in 2003.

I like Hangover 2 to just beat Bruce with $89m in 4… and $114m in 5… which btw, is within $4m of my guess for the film’s open that I made 3+ weeks ago. I also predicted an $85m launch for Panda 2 back then… and while it might be a smidgen low… feels pretty close still.


Po The Panda Has Them Now…

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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