The Hot Blog Archive for June, 2012

Friday Estimates by Old Klady Bear


As I noted a while back on Twitter, Ted will be the Bridesmaids of 2012… only bigger. There is a good chance that this film will become the #2 opener of the summer-to-date, as I think we’ll see a significant Saturday bump as the film is the must-see comedy that audience over 13 have been waiting for all summer. It’s a better comedy than Bridesmaids, in my opinion. My only reservation about the film is that there is so much topical comedy, it may keep the film from truly being a “forever” title.

Another strong movie, Magic Mike, opened very well for WB, even though the movie has a brain in its head. Brilliant marketing. Truly. There is some bait & switch, which Soderbergh approves of (hear: DP/30), but this is a box office column and the trick isn’t offensive when the movie is really good. (Maybe it should be. But I’m in Scotland, where the bus ads feature C-Tatum with a giant grin and no shirt. Bet it works here too. Also, there is plenty of beefcake, so it’s not an overt lie.)

And Tyler Perry opens to Madea form, if not her top form.

And now, I’m heading back into the film festival…. more later…


DP/30: Brave

Brave, producer Katherine Sarafian

Brave, composer Patrick Doyle

Brave, director Mark Andrews

Review-ish: People Like Us

People Like Us is the best screenplay with which Alex Kurtzman has ever been associated. It’s not perfect. It’s not even Cholodenko-level, much less the Mazurzkian comedy/drama at which he seems to have been aiming. But it’s pretty damned good. Interesting idea, reasonably solid story structure (too much repetition, not enough of the mother, not enough response to events)… you could do a lot worse than to see this film coming out of the studio system.

The performances are excellent. Chris Pine finally delivers another gear and he makes it look like he’s been navigating this range of skills and emotion forever. Pfeiffer is great… albeit a little underused. Elizabeth Banks is solid, though is forced to spend a lot of time reacting or being pensive. The kid is quite good too.

The biggest problem with this film is a first-time director who is trying SO HARD that it actually distracts from the script. It’s like Kurtan has seen so much Bay and Tony Scott that he thought he could make a movie that topped theirs by having all the visual and real emotion on top of it. He was wrong.

This is the kind of script that a good indie director could have made a grand meal of. It doesn’t call, in any way, for the attempted visual fireworks. The editing – and it’s a very good editor – made me insane. Stop already!

I truly wish Kurtzman had the $3 million that this film is normally made for and not whatever Disney gave him to keep him happy blowing stuff up elsewhere. His vision would have been better served.

The movie is still serviceable. Quite good at times. This is a career changer for Pine, who will be seen differently by quality filmmakers after they see his work here. And I, for one, will look forward to Kurtzman’s next effort behind the camera… so long as it’s as light in CG and heavy on humanity as this film.


DP/30: Louie, guest star Dane Cook


BYOB: Glasgow



Nora Ephron Passes… And A Generation Loses One Of Its Defining Voices

Nora Ephron was not Woody Allen. But she was every bit as much a living definition of a time and place in New York… a woman of an era… a liberal of a time… A Westsider… satisfied with her place in life yet never quite satisfied. She was a successful Boomer, and all that goes with that… the almost smug self-assurance and the endless self-examination.

During the last presidential election, she was passionate about a Democrat winning the White House, but she came to define the fear on the Left that Democrats can’t win. That fear continues into this election season, making the greatest vulnerability of the incumbent the fear of his primary constituency that “right” is not might. Can a progressive centrist win the case for hope against cynicism and extremism when his base is terrified to lose what it has gained? My generation, the one just behind Ms. Ephron’s, must become radical centrists. True believers that we can share a diverse vision of our daily lives and still come together as a nation over something besides war.

As a writer and sometimes director, Ephron’s defined a decade of rom-coms (ironically, the weakest period of Woody Allen’s career, both financially and artistically) and wrote relationships that women used to define their own status. If Mazursky was her precursor, Sex & The City was her aftermath, a generation unlikely to read Ephron’s recipes as they were to line up at a bakery for $4 cupcakes.

By every appearance, she was a good person. She didn’t have a rep as a diva, except amongst those who see all strong women as divas.

Even though I don’t count her work amongst my personal favorites, I always got what she was doing and why audiences most often responded with great pleasure.

I will still think of her every time I walk NY’s upper west side. She will be missed… and in her perspective, an entire generation.


BYOB: Off To Scotland

The bags are packed and we’re ready to go…

I am told they now have the internet in other countries (HA!), so I will not be completely gone. I’ll even stop off at the Edinburgh Film Festival during the journey. (I”m sure I’ll even see The Amazing Spider-Man just as soon as I get off the ferry when we return from the Isle of Lewis.) But the plan is to breathe deeply.

Be nice to each other while I am gone.


Weekend Estimates by Len Who’s Been Doing This For More Than 20 Years Klady

SLUMP! This is your weekly reminder, so that when someone does throw out some stupidity about an alleged slump on a whim, just how stupid stats can be, This is the fifth of the last six domestic weekends to be DOWN against the year before… off an estimated 5%! Previous negatives were estimated at 24%, 7%, 11%, (+32%), and 18%. On the other hand, this is the highest grossing Start Of Summer until June 24 in history, with an estimated $1.82 billion, up 6.5% from last summer. About $495m of this summer’s domestic total so far has come from movies with 3D compared to about $550m from movies with 3D last summer to this point. The domestic year, btw, is up an estimated 10.5% from last year.

So if you were to believe the logic/lie that argued that there was slump in The Paper of Record starting in 2005 (and to which the paper has continued to commit, when convenient, infecting other media), you would have to be raging about the horrible box office summer we are having. And the cost of some of these movies is a different issue that’s reasonable to discuss in context. But slump hyping is not about that context. It is about the notion that “people aren’t going to the movies anymore,” which is just a straight lie, up and down.

And now back to this weekend…

Brave is Pixar’s 10th release since 2001 and all but two of those releases opened to between $60.1m and $70.5m (Toy Story 3 above and Ratatouille below). That’s led to domestic grosses between $191m and $293m. Worldwide, it’s between $462m and $848m. The opening grosses and the totals do not really coordinate in any clear way.

So the answer on Brave is, “who knows?.” 200/500 is a fair bet. 250/650 is a fair bet. There is just no way of knowing until the film has played longer in the US and then, around the world.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter just never got sticky, beyond the core audience. Personally, I think that there is a problem for marketing with a premise that clear and that wacky that takes itself so seriously. The publicity for the film was often fun. But the marketing felt a bit like Wanted, which was way over the top, but predicated on that self-seriousness to be campy fun. Jolie is, in a way, a signal that it will be over the top, as she is visually over the top. “Someone you’ve never seen before in your life is Lincoln… and he’s going to kill vampires in slow motion” is a tough f-ing sell to all but the ComicCon Core…or as it has evolved, The Geek 15 (formerly the Geek 8 and the Geek 12).

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a bad title for a studio under new ownership.

Moonrise Kingdom expanded to 394 screens (+217) and added about 52% to its gross. It also passed Marigold Hotel, now descending, on a weekend for the first time. The film isn’t going to catch up to what will be Marigold’s $40m+ domestic haul. However, it’s within a few days of being in the upper half of Wes Anderson grossers and with these solid numbers, has a good shot at Anderson’s $20m – $30m domestic club, which is the top for all of his movies except for The Royal Tenenbaums.

To Rome With Love has a nice, but not thrilling 5 screen opening with a $75k per-screen. It’s pretty much impossible to know whether Sony Classics will find a significant audience outside of the big cities, as they did for MiP last summer. My sense is that SPC will be doing well to get more than a third of the audience from last summer for this one.

(edit 11:23a)


Friday Estimates by Kilted Klady

Keep your overwriting pencils handy, because we still don’t know exactly where Brave is going. We do know that it’s not Toy Story 3 and not going to become Toy Story 3. Aside from that, this is the 2nd best non-TS3 opening day in the animation giant’s history and it could easy be their 2nd best opening weekend ever (a slot currently held by The Incredibles‘ $70.5m launch). It certainly will be the 2n best opening of the summer so far and given Pixar’s history, is a near-lock for $200m domestic. But the top group of Pixar movies start at 4250m domestic… which is also quite possible. Based on the last 3 years, the weekend number could range from 2.6x Friday ($67m) to 3.2x Friday ($77m). We’ll see.

(corrected, 12:22p Saturday, for a missed Cars 2 opening day number.)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has got a well-known title character, but no star power. As a result, we have yet another movie this summer that found its core audience, but little else.

Focus kinda ole’d Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, which seems like sad lost lamb out there.

The new Woody launched on 5 screens to $24k per for Friday, a bit behind the launch of Midnight in Paris, which did $28k per on 6. I don’t think word of mouth is Sony Classics’ friend this time around. So while Midnight did $100k per in their 6-screen opening, Rome should be more like $80k for a $480k start. It’s a good number, but SPC is going to have to count on the starvation diet for movie loving adults over 50 to get them through this one. Low to mid teens would be a happy result for this film at this point.

It’s not much of a box office story, but go see The Invisible War, a powerful reminder that we haven’t come that long a way, baby. Also out there with the potential to surprise grown up audiences with its intimate charms is Safety Not Guaranteed.


Is This The Most Stupid Of The Stupid White Papers On Film This Summer?

It’s early… and no doubt, Deadline and The Wrap will publish stories all August long giving credence to a parade of moronic insights from the industry analysts working for the money movers. But this could be the early winner, with such a lead on stupidity that it can’t be caught from behind.

The Hollywood Reporter published this doozy on Monday without a hint of disbelief and it escaped my notice until AV Club decided to mock it, but not clearly debunk it. Japanese Scientists Produce Mathematical Model to Predict Box Office From Social Media Activity

Every year, someone comes along to claim to be able to predict box office based on pulling a feather out of their ass in some way. But this one is misses on its fundamental conceit… the idea that heightened awareness, whether an increase in ads (which 98% of wide releases choose in the week of release) or Social Media buzz, can be used to predict box office results in anything but the broadest ways. (And there is plenty of proof that even broad assumptions based on Social Media are inaccurate most of the time.)

Should we be taking an analysis on Social Media and box office popularity that is using movies from 2006, pre-Twitter and very early in the history of Facebook, seriously? (Were they studying AOL chat rooms?) And then they leap to Asian openings from this year, where the marketing and publicity strategies can be quite different.

It’s really simple. Garbage in, garbage out. Lack of insight into the market they claim they have a new tool to analyze combined with limited, mismatched info = stupid.

I know the news cycle is relentless. These white papers can be news since they are being offered by brokerage houses and might influence how people invest. But why any journalist or journalistic outlet would take the provocative finding from these papers and turn them into headlines without analyzing what’s been said is just beyond me. Shocking.

Does the Hollywood Reporter or any reporter there really believe for a second that advertising only matters the week before opening and that Social Media buzz would – with very few exceptions – exist to be measured without the studio marketing departments… must less the silly suggestions in this paper? Show of hands!

It’s a rhetorical question. Everyone at THR is smarter than that.

And yet, they printed it.

Oy to the 8th power.

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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