The Hot Blog Archive for August, 2014

Weekend Estimates (3-day) by Labored Klady

3-Day Estimates 2014-08-31 at 10.33.04 AM


Friday Estimates by Klady of the Galaxy

Friday Estimates 2014-08-30 at 9.04.53 AM

Is this the worst weekend of the year?


Most boring.


The first week of December is competitive. But this weekend is usually pretty horrid.

The November Man looks like a direct-to-DVD title with a marketing budget. As Below/So Above is from the cheapie horror school, made to look even cheaper and less worthy of attention by its release date.

Summer is over.

As I have been noting for weeks, Guardians is now the #1 domestic film of summer and the year-to-date and is still unlikely to hit $300m. Internationally, it is still #9 for the summer with a few big markets left, but a likely ceiling of around $600 million (depends on China and their funny money).

The Last of Robin Hood will be the top per-screen of the weekend… but on only 2 screens. The #2 per-screen title will be Lionsgate’s latest hit in the Spanish-language market, Cantinflas, which is also much more impressive overall with $2120 per-screen on 382 yesterday and a likely spot in the Top Ten come Monday-Tuesday.


Gurus Preview

Gurus o’ Gold is back.

The statistic of real note here is that every Oscar winner in the last seasons, the pre-TIFF chart has had the eventual winner of Best Picture selected as part of the field by all or all but one Guru. It’s not such a high bar to reach, but it does reduce what seems to be the field to a handful before most of the movies have even been seen.

On the other hand, there have been a few movies every year that end up nominated that aren’t well represented on the chart, as no doubt there will be this year.

And of course, statistics only exist to be proven wrong. It’s just knowing when they will be wrong that’s complicated.

Anyway… the seven films with each Guru mentioning them or all but 1 are:

Gone Girl

Let the games begin!


Weekend Estimates by Good Holds Beat Mediocre Openings Klady

Weekend Est 3 2014-08-24 at 9.55.59 AM

As noted yesterday, there is no shame in a $16m+ opening for a big-head-poster Chloë Moretz film. This weekend’s slotting—argh, slotting!—is about the good holds of Guardians and Turtles much more than any kind of failure on the part of the incoming YA weepie. Guardians is now #1 for the summer and will be #1 for the year by sometime next Saturday. (One gets the feeling that Disney-Marvel will push hard to get to that $300m domestic landmark.)

No point in beating a dead Sin City 2. What was fresh and interesting a few years ago feels warmed over and “so what”  now. When Sin City came out, the comic book movies that year were Elektra, Constantine, Fantastic Four and an underperforming Batman Begins. The movie world changed a lot when Batman became the Dark Knight and even more once Marvel found a killer app in Downey as Iron Man. The most compelling thing about going back to Sin City this year is that Mickey Rourke needed less make-up to play Marv and that Rosario Dawson can still pull off a bondage look without looking silly at 35. (I lie… mask looked a little silly.)

When The Game Stands Tall is the relative success on the board. Football and Jesus and a nice opening, in perspective.

Boyhood is holding like a champ. It’s up to $16.4 million, with $20 million now a lock. It’s behind only The Grand Budapest Hotel and Chef in the indie/arty niche that it holds in my head, just a beat ahead of A Most Wanted Man, but more likely to keep holding into the fall.

Great little number for Ira Sachs’ Love Is Strange. $28,840 per on 5 is behind about a dozen other films opening on fewer than 5 screens this year… but it does suggest that it could be Sachs’ biggest grosser, contending to knock off the star-studded Married Life, which did $1.5 million with the same distributor, Sony Classics, in 2008. There is a real chance to keep building audience for a movie that hits a certain zeitgeist that is truly of the moment, not gay or straight, but for people in their 40s and above dealing with aging family, with the gay marriage part an additional compelling element. And it doesn’t hurt to have two of our most likeable veteran actors out there in the leads.

The Trip to Italy also had a nice start. IFC is rolling out this sequel to The Trip a little bit more slowly and generating, so far, a little less money. But there is no reason to think that the sequel won’t catch up to the original.


Friday Estimates by Yeah, He Stayed Klady

friday estimates 2014-08-23 at 8.53.13 AM

Welcome to the dregs of August. And even so, a $16m-plus opening for Chloë Grace Moretz is pretty good. It ain’t The Fault In Our Stars, but then again, Chloë doesn’t have a YA franchise she is fronting, nor is this based on material that had such a strong position in the culture. It is a better opening than Endless Love. And it’s a 5% improvement (on the day) over the other film in which Ms. Moretz had an above-the-title role, Carrie.

Meanwhile, Sin City 2 turns out to have box office to be killed by. Opening day is a massive 78% off the original film, which is a fairly good sign that the Geek Middle Class bailed on this one. I suspect that the vast majority of the weekend audience for the film will be Hard Core Geek. And as with most cases of that happening, look for a steep fall off on the film in weekend two, after having squeezed all the blood out of that group. I don’t see it reaching $20 million domestically. The first film had a better number overseas than here, so it is possible that international will pull the fat out of the fire for Weinstein.

Beating SC2 was When The Game Stands Tall, a half-ass pre-Rothman Tri-Star release, with an inspirational football coach played by former Jesus, Jim Caviezel. Is the crown for the film of faith? Could be. There was apparently a reach-out to that community. I am not a believer in chart placement as an issue, but the irony of turning the other cheek beating out showing every possible cheek is amusing.

Holds are looking quite good in this weekend of pretty soft, niche releases. Guardians 31%, Fri-to-Fri. Turtles, 44%. Cops, 44%. Hundred Foot Journey, 23%. The films that got smushed (Giver, Expendables, Storm… 57%, 68%, 54%) were all actioners with unhappy critical response and, apparently, word of mouth.

Guardians will become the #1 domestic film of the summer today and could be #1 domestic for the year as soon as next weekend. Ironically, international is its weak point. It’s unlikely that the film will crack the Top 5 for the year-to-date worldwide, even with some big markets yet to open. It would need to do $200m internationally, doubling its current figure, to get to $700 million worldwide and $100 million is a lot more likely. No shame in that. Iron Man also took time to get hold internationally, then finally blew up to over $800 million overseas alone for #3.

Love Is Strange is the indie opening winner of the week, looking to average better than $20k per on 5 screens. All the other openers will be in four-digit per-screens.


Things In Clumps

It’s funny how things happen in clumps.

Today, my Kickstarter got funded, I think I may have a decent cut of my first short film ready to submit to Sundance on Monday, and a guy who has been harboring a raging grudge against me for years finally told me what his issue really is.

(Ed Note: It also turns out that the day I wrote this and all this other stuff was happening was also the 17th anniversary of The Hot Button/Hot Blog. Woo-hoo!)

I guess I should be celebrating the first two things… and I am. But the third one is where my mind is right now.

Don Murphy has been shitting on me for years now. On the blog. Off the blog. Wherever he can. I have kept asking, online and off, what the rage is about. Variations of, “You know,” was usually the answer.

I scoured my mind. What did I do that could upset him so much? We had had a minor verbal wrestle over the cost of Transformers, but when he insisted, I publicly withdrew from claiming to know better. He had shown me a film early which I didn’t much like… but I didn’t write about it, either early or on release. I had caught him trolling, though he swore it wasn’t true, even though the troll happened to have the same IP address as his office. Whatever. Classic Don Murphy.

It had to be something else. He was claiming he would destroy me… that he spent 15 minutes every day of his life trying to do harm to me and my business… he attacked people who worked for me online… he tried to bring his acolytes to group-troll MCN for a few days until they gave up.

The one thing that stuck with me as a possibility was something off-handed and stupid I said to a filmmaker who had worked with Don. But when I offered that up as a possibility, I was told by Don that I was wrong… it wasn’t that.

But it was that.

He admitted a few months ago that, according to him, I wished his wife ill as she has been fighting cancer. I insisted that I had not. And I have not.

But today, he finally got specific and claimed that we had the following conversation. “I said let’s stop fighting, my wife has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and I am very upset and in bad shape. Your reply was ‘That’s what she deserves for being with you.'”

That conversation never took place.

Don has never come to me looking to bury the hatchet. I have been asking him to do so for years. (And he started being a jerk to me, turning on what was a casual professional friendship, before this moment he is now so focused on ever took place.) He has never explained to me that his wife was ill, much less diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

But… at an event where I was actively avoiding Don after some run of shenanigans, someone did tell me that his wife had cancer. And I did say, “That’s what you get when you hang around Don.”

A terrible thing to say. I am embarrassed that I said it. No amount of harassment by Don excuses saying something so nasty about someone he loves who has nothing to do with his bad behavior. And when I saw a look of horror in the face of the person I said it to in a very loud room, I quickly backed away from the comment. But yes, I said that. And no, I can’t make that fact go away. I can apologize for it, but I can’t make it go away.

But I did not wish cancer upon her or say that she deserved it. Just didn’t. And no amount of playing “telephone” can change that fact either.

As I say, the harassment that had provoked me to say something idiotic had started long before the comment. But from that event on, Don used it as his battering ram in his mental prosecution of me. He had his cause. I became the great oppressor of all (“Kingo”), so arrogant that I think I know everything and every thought I have had the power of a monarch’s decree.


So that is the tale. Truthfully, I am more relieved to have Don put a name on his rage towards me than to have a successful Kickstarter or to be in a good place with my first short film. Most rage comes from pain and though I can certainly piss off my share of people (or more than my share), his pain and my concern that somehow I am actually responsible for it weighs on me.

I am comfortable with my enemies. I have fewer real enemies than I can count on a hand. There are plenty of backbiters and people who make up stupid stories about me (I have AIDS… I am passing for white… I masturbated at work at EW in NY… etc) that I hear now and again and just have to laugh, because really, why would anyone care enough to make stupid shit up about me? I am not important. And I am not a big keeper of personal secrets. If I were gay, I’d be way out. If I were dying, I would not be blogging. And I have never even been in the NY offices of EW, where I allegedly worked out the bathrooms and had child porn on my imaginary computer.

But real enemies who have really tried to do real harm to me? Small group. And I am fine with having them. Kinda like it, really. I have a handle on what ideas are harbored by the three people other than Don who have actively threatened me. Two of them are just in denial about themselves. One is just a liar who doesn’t care what destruction comes of it, plain and simple. And then there is Don, who I think is genuine in his pain and anger… but thinks I said something that did not. And the distinction of language matters a lot in this case.

Of course, what I actually said might be enough to make Don hate me anyway. And I can live with that.

But after a few years of this popping up like herpes every few months, never becoming a serious problem, but always a unpleasant, embarrassing experience, I am happy to close this chapter. (Did I think Don was really going to send people to hurt me and my family while we were on vacation overseas? No. Did being threatened by e-mail ruin a portion of a day for me? Of course.)

And now, it is out. Not just between Don and I, but for anyone who cares to read about it here.

It is toxic sludge that I have to take some blame for… but which has been blown significantly out of proportion.

I don’t harbor anger towards Don. I’m not happy to be the focus of his mania, but he has done no real damage outside of wasting a lot of his time and mine. But he believes what he believes. And if he never chooses to believe me, there is not a thing I can do about it. My powerlessness frees me.

And now, on to the happier events of the day…


20 Weeks Of Summer: The New Normal?

It’s been a weird summer.

There have been 37 films released on 1000 screens or more. Only 1 of those films failed to get to $10m at the domestic box office. 33% of the films grossed $100m or more domestic. 43% of the films were between $25 million and $100 million.

The two grossers from non-studio distributors that were in that $25m-plus group were Earth to Echo (Relativity) and Chef (Open Road). But it is worth noting that Echo launched on 3230 screens and Chef, which launched on 6, never got to more than 1298 screens.

Indies were in the majority in the under-$25m group of 10 films (I’m including Expendables 3 and The Hundred-Foot Journey in the over $25m group). Two Lionsgate, two Weinstein, two from newcomer Clarius, one each from IFC, Roadside, and studio dependents Searchlight and TriStar.

Five films that launched in limited release (each under 7 screens) have gotten to $10m domestic theatrically. In 3 of those cases, distribution expanded at some point to over 1000 screens. The other two are Boyhood and Belle, neither of which has hit the 775 screen mark.

But let’s get back to the new normal…

Every single film in the domestic and worldwide Top Seven for this summer will have grossed at least $500 million and cost at least $150 million.

The only movie released this summer which cost over $150 million that won’t gross $500 million-plus is Edge of Tomorrow. It will “just” gross $370 million, which makes it the #9 film worldwide for the summer.

The film that stopped the string of $150 million-plus movies at the Top 7 domestically is 22 Jump Street, which was the biggest “cheap” hit of the year with $190 million domestic and $304 million worldwide on a studio-claimed $50 million budget. It beat worldwide #6/domestic #9 How To Train Your Dragon 2 domestically, though Dragon 2 did $235m more worldwide.

So there were 9 films costing over $150 million… and 8 of the 9 will have scored better than $500 million worldwide by summer’s end (Guardians is the one still working to get there).

Looking back at last summer, there were (at least) nine $150 million budget releases and the results look a little less attractive. Only 6 films got to $500 million worldwide last year. On the other hand, the highs were higher ($1.22 billion last summer to 1.05 billion this summer… and a 2nd film at $970m million ww to this summer’s 2nd best $744m).

But what corporate studios seek is not the maximum profit from movies, but the most stable business model possible that leads to predictable, repeatable profits.

This was the same issue with sell-thru DVD. By trying endlessly to frontload movies to maximize the first few weekends so that the DVD window could be shortened, they left tens of millions in theatrical revenue on the table… per big movie, not overall. Hundreds of millions each year. But the return from DVD was so massive that it became the much higher priority. The focus on increasing DVD sales, including quickly inflating marketing budgets, was first priority… until the bubble burst.

In Summer 2012, there were 9 movies with a cost of over $150 million. Only six grossed $500m ww or better. Again, the highs were higher (Avengers and Dark Knight 3), but three of those $150m+ movies made less than $400m worldwide… and one of them is getting a sequel!

Media keeps getting distracted by their perceived shiny objects – overall domestic grosses, individual achievements, and the $300 million domestic total that eluded every film this summer – and forgets what the reality of this business is. Making money. And not losing money. A big fat hit looks great on the cover of the annual report and can even drive revenue in other divisions. But corporations love stability… incremental growth… predictability.

But it gets better!

How many movies this summer do you suppose cost (at least, as admitted) between $50 million and $150 million? Five. Last summer? Nine. The summer before? Ten.

The four this summer were (from least expensive to most); 22 Jump Street, Planes: Fire & Rescue, Into The Storm, Hercules, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And the range of grosses on these films are from $94 million to $304 million. Two are guaranteed to be profitable, one is borderline but a merchandise franchise (Planes) and the only two where there is any real chance of a loss are Hercules and Into The Storm.

So… of all 14 films that cost over $50 million released by majors this summer, only two are likely to suffer small losses, Edge of Tomorrow and Hercules and one is likely to take a decent-sized writedown.

And films under $50 million?

The majors and their dependent arms released 20 such films. There are some money losers. But there are some cash cows too. The Fault in Our Stars, Neighbors, and Lucy. Blended and Tammy to a lesser extent.

There are some smaller budget films that will, indeed, lose money. But not a lot. And not the majority.

I must admit, I am still chewing on all of this. Has the industry landed almost exactly where it wants to be? Obviously, more is always better. But there isn’t any real pain at the majors this summer. And all of the majors have hits, with Universal being the only one not to have a $300 million ww movie… but making money on every film except Endless Love and the borderline A Million Ways To Die In The West, which was primarily funded outside of the studio and hitting well with Neighbors, Lucy, The Purge: Anarchy.

Have we come to the place where companies investing $300m plus in production and marketing can be comfortable that 88% of the films made at that price will return over $500 million at the box office alone? Because that’s a big deal.

Or is this summer an illusion, singing the siren song to drive big spenders to their doom? Remember, in the next three years, studios are planning 6 – 8 comic book movies every year with budgets in excess of $150m… and that is before getting to all the other big, expensive films in other genres, including 3-5 animated movies with these big budgets every year.

This is the question…


Weekend Estimates by Reshelled Klady

Weekend Estimates 2014-08-17 at 9.46.39 AM

The box office oddities keep on keepin’ on….

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will pass the domestic gross of last summer’s GI Joe reboot with The Rock sometime during the week and is now pretty much assured to push Neighbors out of the summer Top 10, leaving only Guardians as a domestic Top 10 original.

Guardians of the Galaxy will be the #1 domestic grosser of the summer, but could miss the Top 5 worldwide and not hit $300m domestic.

Let’s Be Cops is a certifiable hit, whether critics like the notion or not. For perspective, the only Lorne Michaels-produced comedy that opened as well or better in 5 days was Mean Girls… and only by $600,000. To be fair, a lot of LM’s hits were many years ago. But this ain’t no MacGruber or Hot Rod. It is the 2nd cheapest studio release of the summer (Fault… also from Fox) and it will make reasonably good money, even with minimal international revenue.

Expendables 3 is waiting on international. It has been pointed out that the leak of the film could have damaged the opening. I say 15% (which ain’t nothing) or less. The second film dropped too. But this one feels like the clever gimmick Stallone came up with is now a parody of itself and the audience knows it. Self-parody is a genre killer.

The Giver is more weak sauce, reminding us that the hit YA franchises are not a gimme.

Boyhood is holding strong with a nice expansion.

Universal missed with Get On Up, but The Purge: Anarchy has now out grossed the original both domestically and internationally. Like Tammy, it was written off too fast and too intensely this summer.

On the indie side, The Trip To Italy is the strongest new release. Nice (if not overwhelming) numbers for Frank, Life After Beth, and Yves Saint Laurent.


Friday Estimates by Still Shelled-Again Klady

Friday Estimates 2014-08-16 at 8.06.31 AM

I hate this time of year.

Good indies that are commercially challenging get “launched.” Bad studio movies that they’ve given up hope on get freed. (Go into the light, Giver.)

There is a good chance that Guardians of the Galaxy will end up beating Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before the weekend is over (not that slotting matters). Both films have landmarks this weekend… Guardians at $200m and Turtles at $100m.

There are three $10m – $20m openers this weekend. Degrees of disappointment vary. For all of the profound navel-ga… uh, deep, profound insight about the real-life horrors of Ferguson, Mo occurring in the same week  Let’s Be Cops is released, it’s having the best opening vs production costs. If the reported $17m production price tag is true, a $40m gross – which it looks like it’s headed for – is a win.

The Expendables 3 is yet another franchise dying domestically, but continuing because of international. The sequel was off about 17% domestically from the first film… but up 29% internationally. Friday is off 45% from Ex2’s opening Friday. That extrapolates to $47m domestic. But the eyes are still on what they hope will be a $200m gross internationally. But even if the film does gross $250m worldwide, don’t expect them to be in a rush to make Expendables 4. Of course, if international is off anything close to the domestic, the film will lose money and that will be that.

The connection of Let’s Be Cops to the horror show in Ferguson is nonexistent. But it allows for plenty of pretentious writing. The timing is clearly less of a problem for audiences than for film critics. I can’t imagine that this opening number would be any different if Ferguson wasn’t happening. Meanwhile, if this universally-panned film really just cost $17 million to make, its crappy $15m likely 3-day will be okay, suggesting about $40m total domestic to go with TV sales overseas and a small profit on the film. This is the kind of situation where Fox’s fiscal discipline makes Shinola out of shit.

Phillip Noyce is a true high-quality director. The Giver got onto Charlie Rose. But the opening number… ugh. I haven’t seen the film. I won’t be seeing the film. But again, if the reported cost of $25m is real, the movie has certain already covered production with international dollars, leaving some price and P&A to The Weinsteins. So it may not be a total car wreck for the company.

It’s a particularly ugly scene on the bottom half of the Top 10. 65%, 74%, and 67% drops, combined with 43% off for the adult-focused The Hundred-Foot Journey, and the one okay drop, for Lucy.

Okay $15k range per-screens for indies The Trip To Italy and Frank. (I love Frank, BTW. Weird, indie, smart, fun.) A24’s experiment with an early DirecTV-only VOD release of Life After Beth will generate about $7,500 per on 2. The aggressive young indie announced this week that it will continue to experiment with DirecTV on another film. Everyone’s looking for The Answer.


The Parkinson’s Thing

I cannot say enough about what Michael J. Fox has done for Parkinson’s awareness, research, and for those suffering with the disease.

But there is a distinction between what Mr. Fox has been going through (Muhammad Ali, too) and what was the case with Robin Williams, assuming there was a recent diagnosis, as suggested by his wife’s statement.

According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, both Fox and Ali suffer from what they call Young Onset Parkinson’s. This is when people are diagnosed before 50. Unique to this diagnosis are:

* A slower disease progression
* An increased rate of dystonia (sustained abnormal postures, such as turning in or arching of the foot and toes) at onset and during treatment
* A lower rate of dementia
* An increased rate of dyskinesias in response to L-DOPA treatment.
* As is the case with older-onset Parkinson’s disease, the speed and severity of the progression of Young-Onset Parkinson’s disease can vary greatly among individuals.

The average age at which a Parkinson’s diagnosis is made is 62. Robin Williams was 63.

I went down the Parkinson’s track about 30 years ago. My godfather, for whom my son is middle-named, was diagnosed at around 60. He was wealthy… well cared for… family quickly active in the Parkinson’s community. One of the smartest men I have known. I wasn’t there every day. Not close. I lived in other cities as he battled through that last decade of his life.

I remember the shuffle. I remember the bursts in which I could see “him” inside the slowing body. I made the trips to the men’s room, when that was still possible, and had the conversations with his wife and the increasing issue that bathing and all other bathroom activities became. I remember the increasing lack of frequency of those moments where “he” showed in the conversation. The increasing frustration… belligerence even.

I watched, from some distance, a person who I loved almost like a parent, go slowly, block by block, gesture by gesture, loss by loss.

And I saw a man’s wife, desperate to care for him as she committed to back when marriage was a more solemn thing for more of the population, literally killing herself to do right by this man. Would she have developed dementia practically on top of his passing had she not gone through the stress of this decade? No one can ever know. But I think it contributed. Whatever propensities she had were certainly not as closely examined and cared for while her focus was all outside of herself.

And I have watched the process again since. And I have known others who lived through this wholly undeserved horror.

Am I condoning suicide as a choice for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s or other diseases primarily of the over-60s that are painfully debilitating? Not as broadly as that.

But I think of how I would feel. I think about my father, who at 80 decided that his medical challenges so overwhelmed his quality of life that he allowed himself to die without medical assistance (except pain meds) by way of allowing his failed kidneys to kill him over the course of a week or so… painless, but fatal.

And I think of a man like Robin Williams, who had such power over his body and his mind, considering a future with diminishing power. I think of what it must be like to imagine your legacy being overwhelmed by your illness.

I think of Roger Ebert, who lost so much so fast, but who still had the power to communicate in a way that really was his most comfortable form. He made the most of it… but it was a gift, really. Not being able to speak or eat or travel easily was a real and profound loss. But he could still be Roger.

Could Robin Williams be Robin Williams with his motor cut by half, much less with it cut by 90%? And when, in that inevitable deterioration, would he lose control… not just of his body and his mind, but the ability to pull the plug when he, somewhere in his soul, decided enough was enough.

I have been avoiding writing about Robin Williams for the last few days because I felt like too many people were writing with too little actual information, and with too little insight into what the man’s pain really was. There have been some really beautiful pieces. But a lot of click bait and wild hypotheses.

And this morning, Robin Williams’ death, which could well have been fueled by many issues aside from Parkinson’s, became a little less blurry to me. I am fortunate not to suffer from depression. I am not famous. I have not earned enormous wealth, nor do I carry the pressures of it.

But facing inevitable, sped-up, profound deterioration. That is not treatable. That is not something to work through. That is, in my view, a door that you walk through consciously, knowing that you may soon lose consciousness or the power to express yourself.

Remember, Robin Williams watched Richard Pryor battle with Multiple Sclerosis for almost 20 years before Pryor died. The last six years of his life, Pryor didn’t perform.

(Added, 3:28p) As someone smartly pointed out, Williams also spent years watching his close friend Christopher Reeves deal with a catastrophic injury and the repercussions in his life.

Anyway… there is probably nothing that could happen to me physically that I fear more than constant, harsh, inevitable deterioration. (The next 30 years of my life will include a lot of deterioration. But it will hopefully be slow enough and incremental enough that I can make the adjustments as it comes… until I can’t.) So this announcement not only hit my personal history button, but my intimate fear button. And I wanted to be as clear as I could… more than 140 characters clear.

Getting old ain’t for sissies. And even horrible, painful choices can be brave.


RIP Robin Williams



Weekend Estimates by “What The Shell?” Klady

weekend estimates 2014-08-10 at 9.10.07 AM

So pretty happy weekend for both Paramount and Disney – and Michael Bay and Marvel – as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles launches about as well as Paramount could have hoped for the reboot and Guardians drops a solid-for-a-second-weekend-after-a-mega-opening 56%. Win-win.

In fact, the Guardians drop is dead on with the Captain America 2 drop from April, which in finals was 56.6%. Might be the same for Guardians as today has not happened yet. Could be better. Previous best drop this summer from a $90m+ opener was Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s 61.2%. (Don’t let that stop you from presuming that audiences hated it because you don’t like it, journalistic seekers of truth.)

The Ninja Turtles open is right there between 22 Jump Street and Maleficent for the summer. Of course, this means absolutely nothing, aside from spin over word of mouth, to the people who paid for and made the movie. Each film comes into the market within its own universe of cost and potential returns and each one will be right back there within 6 weeks. Between now and then, sound and fury signifying hype.

The real story of this weekend is the three movies from three different studios who thought they had some room to work. This date for Into The Storm suggests that WB must not have expected Guardians or Turtles to do these numbers. The movie is not Grade A, but you can fool some of the people some of the time yet this was not that time. I have no idea what the real budget of the film is, but it claims to be rather cheap, so maybe it will be able to find enough cash internationally to get into the black based on the effects, which are not unimpressive.

The Hundred-Foot Journey seeks to counterprogram with food and Indian culture and Helen Mirren getting her groove back in what used to be the Meryl Streep summer romance slot. What Disney found out the hard way is that Helen Mirren isn’t Meryl Streep or Julia Roberts and no amount of Oprah thrown at the marketing – which by the way, is not selling what the movie IS, which is a problem – could make her so. Of course, the last Meryl Streep effort in this slot opened to $14 million, which is why there hasn’t been one in a couple years. This open is “only” 20% off that.

And Step Up: All In, a franchise discarded by Disney after 3, picked up as a piece of business by Lionsgate, took another step backwards that couldn’t have been too much of a surprise to LGF. It’s kind of fascinating. There has been a drop with each film in the series and the drop on opening weekend has grown each time, from 8% to %16% to %25% to 44% this time. This suggests that “Step Up 6 would open to something like $2.6 million… which is why VOD beckons.

Lucy‘s hold looks pretty good considering the hurricane of the last two weekends in its target demo. Universal can’t love 49% in weekend three, but it could be a lot worse. It should hit $100 million on Wednesday or Thursday.

Hercules is also holding reasonably well against the August rush, but at a lesser level with a higher budget. There’s already $73m in from international. They’ll need more. But that is the route.

Get On Up is done. No one likes to talk about it, but black audiences, when they turn out in numbers, are heavily first weekend customers… often opening day heavy. So when you see a 63% drop for a well-reviewed film about a great performer, you know that the white audience just isn’t showing up much and much of the black demand has been sated. Universal also got smacked by the media distraction over Guardians. This should have been a fall or spring movie. Just got lost here, except with its core constituency.

A Most Wanted Man crosses the $10m plateau running neck-n-neck with Boyhood. It’s only fair to point out that And So It Goes, Rob Reiner’s summer rom-com for over 50s released by newcomer Clarius and FreeStyle Releasing, is ahead of both of those films. I wonder what that film could have done with a more mainstream distributor.

Also, Open Road’s Chef is a million away from $30 million. Impressive.

Soft weekend for new indies. Jim Cameron’s latest undersea exploration didn’t draw much. What If, which has a lot of love and goodwill floating around it (including Zoe Kazan charming the sweet bejeezus out of everyone), found a modest $6700-per on 20. And The Dog, which has taken about a year to land in theaters from the festival circuit, managed just $5050-per on 2.

And a very strong single-screen number for South Korean film, The Admiral: Roaring Currents… for the record.


Friday Estimates by Not Teenage Mutant Ninja Klady

Friday Estimates 2014-08-09 at 9.07.37 AM

So the Ninja Turtles opening day is right in line with the second tier of summer openings, between 22 Jump Street and Maleficent. That leaves about a $20 million range for the opening weekend number, which is completely a product of how the movie holds on Saturday. Did the must-sees blow up the Friday number or is it more of a normal opening Friday? We shall soon see… as it actually happens… you know, when it takes the step from being speculation to being news.

A summer-best Friday-to-Friday drop for Guardians of the Galaxy still leaves its 8-day total a bit behind Transformers 4, but looking like it has a good chance of topping Tr4‘s likely $245m domestic. Does that mean $260 million or $280 million or closer to this summer’s elusive $300 million? No one could know. The advantage Guardians has is open space. Expendables 3 and Sin City 2 are in the way of the next two weekends, but there is room to stretch the legs out after that. One thing is pretty clear. If $300m domestic for Guardians does happen, it will likely be in late September.

Into The Storm is low-budget high-CG, but this opening day and what could well be a $15m weekend is not a winner. International is its only hope… even at this relatively low budget.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is an oddball. It’s on 1,000 fewer screens than Million Dollar Arm (which should have starred Kurt Russell), but it’s landing with a similar box office number. Relatively inexpensive, but with a big ad buy pushing the Oprah/Spielberg angle. This is why you had Dependent arthouse arms, because they worked the margins on a movie like this and a big studio just isn’t built to do that. So I have no idea, really, whether $30 million domestic for this film is a win for DreamWorks and Disney. If it were Searchlight or SPC or Weinstein, you would naturally assume “yes.” Here, it’s a “maybe.”

Step Up: All In is all out of gas. Opening day is 47% off the worst Step Up opening day prior to this. A domestic total around $20 million probably signals that the next film will step into the VOD space, where it will be hailed as a breakthrough if it does over $10 million.

Get On Up is already getting on out. The core audience that was going already went. This is a classic “bad date” situation. If it opened, say, next weekend, then more people would be out looking for movies to see and this one might have stuck out more. As is, lost in the sauce. And if they really thought Chadwick Boseman had a shot at awards, they should have taken the awards route. Instead, this one is over before it really began.

Soft weekend in new indies. Jim Cameron’s latest undersea doc is drowning with what looks to be a $400 per-screen for the weekend. The Millennial romance, What If… is doing an okay $7k per-screen on 20. And the glorious doc The Dog looks like it will squeeze out $5k per on just 2 screens. Not enough.


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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