The Hot Blog Archive for March, 2014



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BYOB: Is The Light Winning?



Weekend Estimates by Mr Klady & Themistokles

Weekend Estimates 2014-03-09 at 10.59.33 AM

302 pretty much had a weekend to match its opening day, off 37% from the original film… which projects out to a $133m domestic gross or almost exactly 3x opening weekend. That’s probably a reach, considering that the response to this film is not an event of cultural zeitgeist, which the first one was. But $100m domestic seems sure. And internationally, the number could be bigger for this one than the first. That’s where the commercial success of this film will ultimately be defined.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman scored a significant uptick from the Friday estimate, now estimating more than 4x Friday for the weekend. This was critical for DreamWorks Animation, as they almost has another Rise of the Guardians or Turbo on their hands. Personally, I really enjoyed Turbo, but the stock market did not. And it isn’t going to love this either, but it probably will not punish DWA for a $32m opening and likely $100m+ domestic gross as much.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is an impressive start… and really easy to overstate. You may recall The Master doing $736k on 5 screens in 2012 before grossing $16.4m domestic. I love the movie and would be happy to see it crack the Wes Anderson record of $52.4 million, grossed domestically by The Royal Tenenbaums 13 years ago. That may well happen. But what you can take from this opening with overhyping it is that Wes Anderson has established a bigger audience than he used to have. For a long time, Tenenbaums was the exception and $20 million or so domestic was the rule. The new rule for Wes seems to be $40m+, which is a great thing for truly independent-minded cinema.

Son of God had a big ol’ drop, as the religious right seemed to line up against the film and filmmakers. It will still be plenty profitable.

12 Years A Slave, by way of estimate, got a slightly bigger bump than Friday indicated… but still, the number is small. Likewise for Frozen, which dropped only 19% by estimate. The one part of this that is important for 12 Years is that when it hits $55m domestic, it will become the #6 highest grossing (domestic) of the last decade of Best Picture winners, outgrossing Crash, The Hurt Locker, and The Artist. The rest of the recent BP winners all grossed over $100 million.


Friday Estimates by Klady: Rise of an Umpire

Friday Estimates 2014-03-08 at 8.46.17 AM

So 300: Rise of an Empire opened well enough… albeit 38% off the original. It’s the best opening day of the year so far, but will likely do about half the business today (Saturday) that The Lego Movie did on its first Saturday. Mostly, that’s the difference between family films are hard-R movies. Interestingly, 300: Rise is only off 17% on the Tomatometer from the original.

In the end, I would expect 300 Jr. to do about the same or a little less than Ride Along for 4x the price and considerably higher P&A. That’s the domestic picture. The real question, as it always is with bad movies that look really cool, is what the international will be. On the first film, the international was slightly higher than domestic. But the international market has expanded dramatically since 2007, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see this one do $250m internationally again, making the picture pretty profitable.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman pushed the Dogfather line really, really hard for a really, really long time and it may have killed the pooch… as it makes no sense and certainly is not a draw for children and parents of small children. On the high end of the DreamWorks’ Animation catalog, able to entertain both the little ones and the parents dragged to the theater, Peabody may need to get into the Wayback Machine to get this one past $100m domestic, which is the low bar for animated success these days. Internationally, I have no idea at all whether it will play, how they will see a dog in charge, whether there is any Jay Ward legacy value, etc. DWA had a case last year with The Croods making more than double a somewhat disappointing domestic and Fox’s Ice Age movies do more than triple domestic overseas. So, long view… ???

Oscar holdovers Frozen & 12 Years A Slave got bumps, albeit small ones. Frozen is off just 12% when it might otherwise be expected to drop in the high 20s. And 12 Years is up 156%, though its only to a $1.5m weekend or so.

Also worth noting, The Monuments Men, hit with pretty rough reviews, should get to $70m domestic this weekend and is still in range of (or will be pretty close to) the grosses of Clooney’s lavishly reviewed, Oscar-nominated non-blockbusters Up In The Air and The Descendants. This is a reminder of what Mr. Clooney is as a movie star… and what he is not. But you can color me impressed. This movie has all the earmarks of fading fast and has held tight. Foreign is still a question mark with a lot of territories yet to open.

And in limited, the story is all Wes Anderson. $65k per screen on 4 yesterday should lead to over $175k per for the weekend. Impressive. Did you know that Mr. Anderson has never launched a film on more than 28 screens… and that was Bottle Rocket, his first? All the rest have started on 5 screens or fewer. This is the biggest start he has ever had, following the 2nd biggest domestic grosser of his career, Moonrise Kingdom. Extrapolating out… a long way… this could well be Wes Anderson’s biggest domestic grosser, topping The Royal Tennenbaums’ $52.4 million. (If you are wondering about international, Anderson has been a surprisingly mixed bag, but never has done big numbers overseas. His biggest was Fantastic Mr. Fox with just over $25m.)


New Dirty Words Posters… Not As Smart As The Movie

Kubrick’s Selfie

Kubrick // One-Point Perspective from kogonada on Vimeo.


BYOB: About Anything But The Oscars



Hollywood Isn’t Really Misogynist… It Just Hates The Middle Class

Just ran into the “How Can Women Gain Influence in Hollywood?” op-ed thing in the NYT again and it struck me… the point is being missed.

It’s not about women being undervalued by Hollywood. It’s not about female executives assimilating. And it’s not about sexism.

As always in Hollywood, it’s about money.

So here is how to give women more perceived influence in Hollywood… Convince a studio or all studios to be happy with singles and doubles and occasional triples and not worry about hitting home runs all the time.

If this happened, somehow, the issue of women in Hollywood would become moot. So would racism and xenophobia.

Putting women aside for a moment (insert sniggering comment here if you like, ladies) and look at 12 Years A Slave. The movie cost about $20 million. The money came from outside of Fox, though Searchlight did pitch in for sweat equity and some of the cash for distribution and marketing. But it was a studio release. A period drama about slavery did $50m+ domestic and $140m+ worldwide. There is no defining this as anything but a hit movie. But the New York Times is still defining it as a less than one.

“While Oscar vote counts are not publicly revealed, ticket sales are monitored closely; it was glaringly apparent that 12 Years a Slave climbed into the history books without ever having truly ignited the audience. Through the weekend, the film had only about $50.3 million in domestic ticket sales, though it has performed well internationally.

Mr. Gilula disagreed. “The American public has embraced the movie far, far more than anyone thought,” he said, noting that some box office analysts were initially doubtful that 12 Years a Slave could take in much more than $10 million.

Still, ticket sales for 12 Years a Slave are now less than half those for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, a similarly black-themed, reality-based movie.”

First, may I say, yet again, to the New York Times, which took an offensive, inaccurate position on the box office of this film before it went wide and has continued to repeat it as though the paper of record is infallible… “Fuck off.”

But more to the point, if a heavy, racially-themed, demanding drama can be highly profitable and win the Oscar, but still has to eat crap from the New York Times, perceived racism in Hollywood is not really the problem. The problem in this case is in the media.

Does the New York Times know that 12 Years A Slave is right in the middle of the pack if the 9 nominees in domestic box office, not sitting on the bottom? Does the New York Times know that 12 Years A Slave cost less than half of any of the movies above it in that Best Picture box office list? Does the New York Times know that 12 Years A Slave will surely be more profitable than Captain Phillips and could be as if not more profitable than American Hustle?

If they have a brain in their collective NYT head, they know all these things… and just don’t care.

But back to the women and all non-four-quadrant films.

Cate Blanchett was completely wrong and completely right in her speech. Movies about and for and by women can and do make money. But they don’t make the kind of money that big studios are looking for. Not as a rule. This is why her Oscar-winning film was released by Sony Pictures Classics, not Columbia (with all due respect to the long and very successful relationship Barker & Bernard have had with Woody Allen).

2005 was the last time Best Actress went to an actress whose film was primarily funded by and released by a major Hollywood studio (Walk The Line, Reese Witherspoon). Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side was 100% funded by Alcon and released by Warner Bros in an output deal. And Natalie Portman in Black Swan was released by Searchlight, a division under big Fox, but which was mostly funded by indie money (Cross Creek Pictures, Dune, and Phoenix).

The reason that Disney, WB, Paramount, and now Universal have shut down their arthouse operations is that the return on investment does not fit into the corporate mindset that studios now hold.

When studios were making $100m grosses on rom-coms and massive profits on DVD, they ALL did them… didn’t matter that the audience was mostly women or that there was a natural cap on the total gross.

Now the profits on DVD are relatively insignificant and movies have to make their money in worldwide theatrical before then becoming part of bigger package deals… pink ooze in HD. International is a much bigger part of the picture, so all comedies, including rom-coms, have been squeezed. And the math has changed dramatically so the major studios do not, for the most part, want to invest the effort capital on movies with limited returns.

Why did “black comedies” make a comeback? Because after years of success, the budgets had gotten high enough that the DVD money was their only profit stream and that stream dried up. So after years of drought, the budgets dropped back down and those films are now being made for very small budgets, have a committed, built-in audience, and are often making a profit in theatrical, even with little or no international audience.

There were six female-driven films in the Top 20 for 2013. There is a business there. But two were Sandra Bullock, two (one shared with SB) were Melissa McCarthy, one was Jennifer Aniston stripping, one was animated, and one was Oz. You could argue that American Hustle was female-driven, but might get some pushback. The only film of those 7 that was directed by a woman was co-directed and animated.

That is a problem that is very different than the “getting films made” problem. Put that weight on Bullock and McCarthy and Aniston if you like… or don’t. Gravity was an auteur film and only that one person could have made it, really. You can say that Oz happened with Raimi and something on that effects level might not find a female equivalent, so give it a pass. The other 3… at least 1 or 2 could probably have had female directors if the talent insisted.

But the real problem isn’t who is directing the biggest female stars. (All 5 Best Actress performances were directed by men.) The big problem is getting more female directors working on the vast middle of the studio business. And that issue is loaded with all the details that make a lot of people uncomfortable.

But I say the biggest remains basic profit motivations. Women are not gaining a reputation as making movies that generate big, big bucks. But a $30m movie that makes $30m in profit should be okay… but not so much to the majors right now.

With an opportunity to make those low-for-majors-budgeted films, successes will happen (as will flops) and riskier choices will come with them. But women need to get a chance to make those middle movies. And studios just do not want to be in the business of making those middle movies right now. It’s a middle-class that has all but disappeared.

All the talk in the world about opportunity and sexism and industry malaise, will never lead to anyone directing movies. Making movies is actually an affirmative thing, not an avoidance of discomfort. The stakes are too high. If you start with, “Let’s hire a woman because there need to be more female directors working at studios,” there will always be a cloud over the projects and the directors.

Betty Thomas and Penny Marshall became red-hot directors for a while because of their movies, not because of their gender. And their careers stalled for much the same reason.

Rebuild the middle class of American movies at studios and the change will come without being forced, without politics, and without much resistance. But until then, it is almost impossible, Don Quixote stuff.


48 Weeks To Oscar: Reviewing The 2014 Oscar Show


The best thing I can say about this year’s Oscar show is that there isn’t a whole lot to say.

Ellen was good. Someone on Twitter found exactly the right note… it was like a sleepover. The only real downside is that only about a dozen people in the room were really included. Meryl Streep and Brad Pitt were at the center of it all. Kevin Spacey was the camera hog who found a way into every picture. Lupita Nyong’o’s brother was the kid from another school who found a way to fit in. Ellen didn’t dance. Smart.

Was this great? No. Was it lacking discomfort? Pretty much.

I always say about movies that I don’t start picking apart the details unless the movie hasn’t really grabbed me. And in this case, once we got past the very long first half of the show, the second half connected and was, really fine.

The opening monologue was meh, but not distractingly bad or anything. The set design was often great, though the plastic gummy Oscars were ugly enough to be outside at LACMA. (Keep them out of the space ship… uh, museum, please.)

Read the full article »


DP/30s with 12 of the Oscar Winning Categories

Matthew McConaughey, Actor, Dallas Buyers Club

Cate Blanchett, Actress, Blue Jasmine

Lupita Nyong’o, Supporting Actress, 12 Years A Slave

Jared Leto, Supporting Actor, Dallas Buyers Club

Alfonso Cuaron, Directing & Editing, Gravity

John Ridley, Adapted Screenplay, 12 Years A Slave

Paolo Sorrentino, Foreign Language, The Great Beauty

Morgan Neville, Documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom

Steven Price, Score, Gravity

Bobby Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez, Song, Frozen

Special Effects, Gravity, Neil Corbould

Oscar Nominated Movies… In Coffee (by Michael Breach & Illy)


Weekend Estimates by Oscar The Klady Grouch

Weekend Estimates 2014-03-02 at 9.55.06 AM

Son of God, why has thou forsaken me?

Son of God apparently was frontloaded on Friday, making my assumption that it would get stronger over the weekend as the churchgoers showed up for it was wrong. Still, this is the second best opening ever for a “Christian film,” aside from the Narnia films, which were big-budget spectaculars seeking a 4-quadrant audience. Next up, Noah.

The Passion of The Christ also figures into The Lego Movie‘s weekend, which saw the film become the fourth fastest film outside of the summer or holiday corridors to hit $200 million, behind only The Hunger Games and The Passion, and Alice in Wonderland.

The Monuments Men, in spite of tough reviews, is closing in on the top George Clooney non-group, non-big-action, domestic grossers, The Descendants and Up In The Air in the low 80s. (The bigger titles that seem to be competing in a different category are Oceans, Storm, Batman & Robin, and Gravity.) This is pretty impressive, really. Of course, one could argue that TMM is a group movie… a drama, period Oceans… especially given Clooney’s limited role in the film. But still… I am surprised by the solid hold for this film. An older audience has found it and is sticking with it.

As the Oscar weekend is here, there are 7 Best Picture nominees in theaters and all but 1 is up for the weekend… and that 1, Nebraska, is only down 3%. Still, the top grosser in the group (American Hustle) is estimated at only $1.9m. All 7 films combined grossed under $7.5 million. So while it is clear that there is an audience out there trying to catch up, it’s hardly the material of headlines.


Friday Estimates by Non-God Klady

Friday Estimates 2014-03-01 at 8.55.04 AM

Liam vs Jesus. It’s a Beatle-tastic showdown.

First round (Friday) goes to Non-Stop, but I expect Son of God to end up taking the weekend… or at least making it a very, very close race.

Oscar weekend tends to be a little soft, especially for holdovers. Basically, it kills the Sunday because if you are a frequent moviegoer, you are likely an Oscar watcher. But this weekend, we have a religiously themed film in the game, so Sunday may be a strong day for that film. And The Lego Movie may score family dollars early in the day and not lose much on a softer Sunday afternoon and evening.

About Last Night will pass the opening weekend gross of Ride Along today (day 16 of the run). The film opened to $25.6m, which felt like a show of strength by Kevin Hart, but this gross, while a success, feels more stuck in the niche. There is no question that a white guy generating similar numbers would get HUGE opportunities. We’ll see how this works for Mr. Hart.


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