The Hot Blog Archive for December, 2012

Friday Estimates by More Hobbitses Klady

Trying to analyze a day like yesterday is nor just hard, it’s a bit foolish. This time of year is subject to many odd angles. For instance, Christmas Eve can be a bad day, Christmas Day tends to be great. But this year, Christmas Eve is on a Monday, so this weekend should be relatively normal… but is it? “People are out shopping” is the mantra when a film seems to do less than wished for.

When Tom Cruise opened to a number like this Jack Reacher number with A Few Good Men or Jerry Maguire, we were all 15 years or more younger… as was the nature of the domestic box office. This number is not a car wreck… nor is it very good. Girl With The Dragon Tattoo opened to $5.1 million on December 21 last year, which led to $50m by the end of the year and another $52 added to its domestic total in early 2012. So $100m is still quite achievable for this film. Or $80m. Time will tell.

This is 40has even less clear precedent. Little Fockers opened on a Wednesday and its first Friday was Christmas Eve. Yes Man opened a full week before Christmas to a $6.5m Friday, but still came in just short of $100m. It’s just hard to know where to place this number. If I was forced to guess at gunpoint, I’d say $60m – $80m domestic. Big range. And still not so sure. The one big advantage is that besides The Guilt Trip, the only impending competition is Parental Guidance on Christmas Day/Tuesday. So 40 is the likely first choice of people over 30 looking for a laugh while the other two will fight for “everyone can go” business.

Speaking of Guilt, $1.5m is a rough start.

On the exclusive release/awards chasing side, Zero Dark Thirty is looking at $90k per-screen on 5, The Impossible around $7k per-screen on 15, Amour around $19k per on 3, and Not Fade Away around $5400 per on 3. The history of the big per-screen is all over the place. Yes, this will be a better weekend for ZD30 than Lincoln had last month. On the other hand, it is right on line with The Tree of Life, There Will Be Blood, and The King’s Speech. So which movie does it line up with? Being Oscar nominated doesn’t seem to be a question mark. So we’re all looking at positioning now for the post-nomination argument.


Zero Dark Torture Timeline

Now, with a copy of the film and the screenplay in hand, I have decided to break down the torture that is so much at issue.

I will put it all after the jump for the sake of anyone who wants to know nothing about the film before watching it.

Read the full article »


Leon Panetta Acknowledging The “Enhanced Interrogration Techniques” That Led To Finding Bin Laden

This footage was posted by a hater of liberals, it seems. But that doesn’t make what Panetta admits, at the time of the events, false.

Panetta does say, at the end of this interview, that there may have been better ways to get the intel. But he doesn’t deny that “enhancer interrogation” was used and that some fo the bin Laden information came from those who were interrogated.


BYOB: The Day The World Didn’t End


DP/30: Django Unchained, actor Samuel L Jackson

Many DP/30s this year have been with Oscar-worthy actors and actresses. But in this case, at this moment in the year, I am taking the unusual step of noting here that This Actor Deserves It. None of the awards groups have recognized his performance in Django Unchained so far. But for me, it is the home run performance in this film… and one of the great turns of the year.

And as you can see in this interview, a consummate muthafucking pro….


Feinstein/Levin/McCain Embarrass Selves On ZD30 Controversy In A Teapot

Let’s not even get into whether there is any sane situation in which government officials should have the big, hairy testicles to ask a producer of artistic product to adjust the artistic product to reflect their political belief. (Disgusting. And anti-American. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

But let’s go to the facts… which have been abused through this whole mess. Quotes from the Senators’ letter in italics.

Pursuant to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recently-adopted Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program, Committee staff reviewed more than 6 million pages of records from the Intelligence Community. Based on that review, Senators Feinstein and Levin released the following information on April 30, 2012, regarding the Usama Bin Laden operation:

The CIA did not first learn about the existence of the Usama Bin Laden courier from CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques. Nor did the CIA discover the courier’s identity from detainees subjected to coercive techniques. No detainee reported on the courier’s full name or specific whereabouts, and no detainee identified the compound in which Usama Bin Laden was hidden. Instead, the CIA learned of the existence of the courier, his true name and location through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program.

The movie Zero Dark Thirty NEVER, by any interpretation, says that the CIA learned of the courier’s true name or location through means related to the CIA detention and interrogation program.

Honestly, the question of whether Maya did or didn’t have any notion about the existence of a courier before the lunch with the accused terrorist in the film, I would need to revisit with the film (which is due to be delivered tomorrow.)

Information to support this operation was obtained from a wide variety of intelligence sources and methods. CIA officers and their colleagues throughout the Intelligence Community sifted through massive amounts of information, identified possible leads, tracked them down, and made considered judgments based on all of the available intelligence.

As is shown in the movie, Zero Dark Thirty.

The CIA detainee who provided the most significant information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.

I can’t argue with that, as I don’t have that information.

“In addition to the information above, former CIA Director Leon Panetta wrote Senator McCain in May 2011, stating: “…no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means.”

And again… nothing in Zero Dark Thirty is contrary to this statement.

AND NOW… a few more selected embarrassments from this note…

“[T]he fundamental problem is that people who see Zero Dark Thirty will believe that the events it portrays are facts.”

You mean like reality TV?

“The use of torture should be banished from serious public discourse…”

Do we do that in the United States now?

“[T]he film graphically depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees and then credits these detainees with providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the Usama Bin Laden.”

Actually, only one person is tortured in the film. Only ONE detainee. And “critical lead information,” if you wish to believe that describes it, is a passing comment about bin Laden’s courier which is without a useable name.

If, as the Senators—who do not seem to have seen the film—claim, the first inspiration for this angle in the search for bin Laden came from someone who had not been tortured, then that fact—and only that fact —is factually inaccurate. But without further information about that turn of events, there is no way for an objective person to assume that this assertion is true just based on the testimony that’s been offered.

This one fact is the only true bone of contention—aside from a philosophical one—in this entire discussion.

And if you feel that is the beginning and the end of the all things important, so be it. Very few people I have spoken to who have seen the film understand what all this fuss is about. And given the extremely narrow definition of the significance this one fact, I don’t think that actual filmgoers who have not been pre-politicized ever will.


My new nickname…

What with The Prize Fighter and The Carpetbagger and the Aging Sphincter, I decided it was time for my own nickname.

I couldn’t think of anything self-aggrandizing enough to really, really piss other people who write about Oscar season until young Glenn Kenny made an off-handed comment on Twitter and… KISMET!

I had to reject the initial design because it was even to over the top for me to think it was funny…

And now the branding begins. We’re going to put this up on every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in the awards voting area. We will budget it as a DVD marketing spend, but it will really be about winning the hearts and minds of, well, every human being on earth.


DP/30: The Hypnotist, director Lasse Hallstrom

A Louis CB Christmas (NsoSFW)

What The HELL Has GQ Done To Channing Tatum?

Unless this very handsome 32-year-old dropped by the plastic surgeon and asked for “The Joan Rivers with Balls,” I would have to make this GQ cover a leading candidate for Worst Airbrushing Of The Young Century.

Or maybe they couldn’t get Mr. Tatum and photographed his figure at Madame Tussaud’s.


DP/30: Django Unchained, re-recording mixers Mike Minkler & Tony Lamberti and production sound mixer Mark Ulano

If you want perspective on how Tarantino works, these guys offer a lot, above and beyond their own work on this and other QT films.


Weekend Estimates by The Big Hairy Feet Of Klady

So… not only didn’t The Hobbit get to $100m this weekend (as endlessly hyped by some outlets), it performed slightly off of reasonable expectations based on the Friday number. (Personally, I was thinking more like $90m.) However, it’s still a December record, still a monster opening for December, and still not a big statement on 48 fps.

As expected, the kids’ movie, Rise of The Guardians, bounced up the leaderboard, as kids movies’ worst weekend day tends to be Friday with big Saturday bumps and smaller Sunday ones. But DWA also has a history of overestimating, so the final line-up could change again.

Lincoln had another strong hold—an estimated 22%—and has finally passed Argo‘s domestic total.

Skyfall is now The Biggest Bond by more than 50%, racking up $951m worldwide and still knocking out $20m worldwide weekends. $1 billion looks to be in range by the end of the holiday.

Life of Pi is having a solid, but unspectacular run.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 is already the biggest worldwide Twilight film (already 10% or so higher than any of the previous entries internationally), but the domestic, still kicking, looks like it will land as the #3 grosser of the series. Fortunately, even though most media seems not to care, international money spends the same way domestic does.

Domestically, Wreck-It-Ralph is the #4 animated film of the year. Tangled‘s $200m is not likely in the cards, but the bar is now pretty high on Disney Animation, much like the rising tide of Sony Animation. The big question is whether DreamWorks Animation, now to be distributed by Fox and accelerating to THREE animated released a year will help the animation business, start to kill the goose that’s been laying golden eggs, or be a non-issue.

(ED Note: Corrected for missing movies with higher grosses than Wreck-It Ralph.)

Silver Linings Playbook seems to be waiting for Oscar nominations to expand, though as perplexing as this release pattern is for some, it may work. The per-screen is the fourth highest for the weekend (behind Hobbit, the 6-screen release of the great Rust & Bone, and 36 Hyde Park on the Hudson screens). Does this interest ever convert to a wide release? This is the big question.


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