The Hot Blog Archive for January, 2018

Masterclassing With Paul Schrader In Rotterdam (86m)

Thirty Uplifting Seconds With Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves does his own stunts.

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Trailering Soderbergh’s UNSANE

Not a puzzle like last month’s Soderbergh, this one’s a shot-on-iPhone stalker thriller. (Apparently.)


Weekend Estimates by Studio Disinterest Klady

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 10.02.53 AM

Aside from Padmaavat, the Indian film on 324 screens and kicking ass within that niche market as films do every week, and a 1-sceeen release by Strand of Have A Nice Day, and a couple 2 screen releases, there are no per-screens to find that drew over $6500 per. That sucks.

The only upside is that a lot of the holdovers are having per-screens long into their run that are a bit higher than expected. There are no per-screens under $1300 in the Top 25.

Oscar expansions did show improvement, but nothing remotely explosive. The top winner is The Shape of Water, which also had the widest expansion of the Best Picture nominees. All 9 nominees are now in the marketplace, as Dunkirk and Get Out are having Oscar re-releases.

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The last 9 years of the 5+ nominee history suggests that we look to the bottom half of this list for a winner… but of course, rules are made to be broken.

Add in the editing and directing “rules,” and it has to be either The Shape of Water or Three Billboards. But again… one never knows.

The Greatest Showman continues to amaze and now seems guaranteed to pass La La Land domestically, though it won’t catch the worldwide ($446m). The next target is Chicago‘s $171 million domestic and $307 million worldwide.

12 Strong is a misfire at the box office that should have done better. It has the story. It has the celebrity. It should have had a strong audience in middle America. Instead, meh. Was it a result of the churn at WB? Perhaps. It was not going to be American Sniper, but it should have done better than this.

Poor Last Jedi… only $611 million domestic. Only $1.3 billion worldwide. How can they deal with all this rejection?

The Disaster Artist is over $20 million, making it the second straight year that young A24 is over $20m domestic on 2 movies with one of those movies setting the new record for the company at the box office.


Friday Estimates by The Klay Drunner

Friday Estimates 3 2018-01-27 at 12.05.42 PM

Another mostly abandoned weekend by Hollywood. I understand avoiding next weekend – which they are – because the Super Bowl assures a weak Sunday. But starting the week after next, there are seven of eight weeks with potential overload of at least three major, wide releases every weekend. If you have a movie you believe in that has legitimate audience interest, why take on the Thunderdome instead of taking advantage of weeks of open space? After watching the weekly numbers for years, I admit, I have followed the history of things and accepted the arguments of the past. But that was the past. And now there is It. Now you can have an $800m+ movie come out of August, doesn’t have to be May-July. Marketing windows are both longer (launching awareness) and shorter (hard but-tickets-now selling). Old habits die hard. And if you have a big winner, it doesn’t matter what the competition is. But if you are the next level down – interested audience, but not rabid – opening in a war zone can cost your movie tens of millions.

It’s a whole different conversation, but this is happening with Oscar thinking, too. The hope that many have is that we are in a new era of The Academy that will be more diverse and ambitious. At the same time, arguments about what means what cling to earlier ideas of how Oscar voting worked, My favorite is blaming the idiotic voting system for everything. Here’s a news flash… hold two ideas in your heads at once… preferential voting is dumb for The Academy and there is no real indication that it has changed the answers much, except on the nominating periphery.

Maze Runner is following the same path as Divergent, but smaller. Core audience-plus for first movie, lookie-loos drop off with second film, core shrinks and there are no non-fans by the third film. Financial models are adjusted as we speak, and not just for kid-lit films, but for, say, “Bad Moms 3,: which is likely given the $130m worldwide for BM2… even if it was regarded as a box office disappointment. $90 million worldwide for #3 is manageable, because budget will be driven by paying talent, not the costs of chasing unchaseable new CG highs.

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle continues to hold like a champ… partially because the industry has left the month WIDE open. It will pass It this weekend, and even with the Super Bowl, it should pass Spider-Man next weekend. Every weekend with a drop under 30% is like another week added to Tom Rothman’s safe position at Sony.

Also at Sony: Screen Gems has been flat since a strong 2014, when it had four releases, and three of four opened to over $24 million. In the three years and a month since then, just nine movies. 2015 was okay, with two films that opened over $20m and did $57m and $65m domestic. In the last two years and a month, seven openings, just one opening over $15 million and only one grosser over $31 million domestic. A Hollywood movie division that was among the most aggressive (and most successful) in “the black movie market” over the last decade is saying goodbye to Clint Culpepper (who was widely disliked) while being accused of being racist for its handling of Proud Mary. That’s silly. Not reality. Screen Gems suffered, in fact, from others marketing to black audiences as well and even better than they once did… not racism, just failed marketing. And two-and-a-half years without a real hit made Culpepper (and all the potentially embarrassing issues around him) dumpable. Bye bye.

Hostiles expanded to… okay numbers. $10 million is a good number for a Christian Bale indie. And a low-action western to boot. Most of the action in the film is so violent that it can’t be shown  in TV ads or even trailers. It is powerful, adult, and worthy violence… but still, not airable. Even with an excellent movie, the lack of Oscar heat means that Entertainment Studios’ top opening with still be 47 Meters Down. Hard to launch a distributor.

The Greatest Showman is holding incredibly well. It is the family movie of choice, overwhelming Paddington 2. Go figure.

The Post took its two Oscar nominations and dropped like any normal weekend.

The Shape of Water expanded into its Oscar nomination explosion and… is still soft. In context, the movie is doing well. Make no mistake. But this was not an expansion to match being the top nominee. Doesn’t mean it won’t win on Oscar night. (Doesn’t mean it will.)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri also expanded this weekend, by about half as much as Shape. At the end of the weekend, the two Searchlight movies will have almost identical domestic grosses.

Doesn’t look like there will be a $10k per-screen film this weekend.


BYO Oscar

byob oscar 2018


Weekend Estimates by Shut Down Len

Weekend Estimates 2018-01-21 at 11.55.43 AM

12 Strong opens to $100k more than 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

Den of Thieves is STX’s #4 opener of their brief all-time, behind the 2 Bad Moms and Valerian… and comps a little behind last year’s January entry, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage and right on top of 2015’s Jack Reacher: Shadow Recruit. In all of these cases, domestic ends up somewhere between $45 million and $55 million.

Unless Paddington 2 finds a second wind, Insidious 2 or next weekend’s Maze Runner 3 will be the top January release of this year… either way, considerably behind top January movies of the last two years and right around the 2015 topper, Taken 3. January and October remain the only months of the year never to have had a $100 million opening.

For clarity’s sake, there has never even been a $45 million January opening, unless you include expansions of December openings, like American Sniper. The Insidious 4 opening is on the low end of the top group for the month… but January should not be an indicator of the year.

The Post is doing… okay. War Horse is a hard comp because it opened over Christmas, but expect their domestic grosses to be similar – around $80m – unless The Post wins Oscar Best Picture in an upset.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is up amongst Lord of the Rings domestic numbers and chasing Pirates 5 and Wonder Woman worldwide. Now, managing the franchise, which is quite pliable compared to most, is the greatest challenge. Repeating the same, only bigger, could mean just one more film with big earning power. heir best bet would be keeping this cast, but changing the “real life” players that are controlling each character “in the game.” The goal is to make it feel the same, but to mine the character surprises that made this one work, pretty much none of which were based on cool CGI.

The Greatest Showman should push La La Land from its place on the all-time domestic grossing musicals chart. This has to be heartening for the already primed Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again. Musicals get slapped… The Greatest Showman won’t come close to a Best Picture nomination… but they can be a surprisingly strong revenue play, even when live-action.

Is $40m domestic for The Commuter a win or a loss? International will tell. Run All Night did $45 million overseas to make it a moneymaker. This one could end up cracking $100m worldwide. Oy.

Forever My Girl is right on the edge of being better off with theatrical than not.

Hostiles was the top per-screen movie for those making over $150k on the weekend… but still, it was only $360k with that $7,370 per-screen on 49. Entertainment Studios has worked hard to make this happen and I am impressed by that effort, especially versu my reserved expectations… but they were too late and not deep-pocketed enough to get into the awards game the film deserves.

Aside from The Post, the highest domestic gross for a Best Picture candidate was Phantom Thread, expanding, with $3.4m and a $3,750 per-screen.

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Friday Estimates by Shut Down Pussy Hat Klady

Friday Estimates 2018-01-20 at 11.12.07 AM


Minefield of Sunlight: Part 1 – Follow The Money

In the context of show business, if real change is the goal when victims decide to strip away the silence that allows bad actions in the industry, they need also to be willing to expose themselves, not just the alleged victimizers.

I understand the idea that a victim should not be forced to do anything, lest they be victimized again. And when individuals – especially those without significant public profile – expose abuse, this is certainly the right standard. But if the goal is to reshape the world (or at least one industry) rather than to primarily deal with the rights and needs of individuals, the standards change.

The accepted resolution of the All The Money In The World incident did not end up with a public rebuke of Michelle Williams’’ agent, Mark Wahlberg’s agent, or their shared agency, WME. Why? Because they maintained the privacy of all by paying cash to a good cause.

But even that well-intentioned act is an act against progress.

Despite headlines, the real assault was in the details, not the broader idea of pay inequality. Who knew what and when? Did Ms Williams and/or her representative know the circumstances as they played out? What role did budget have in the choice to go ahead with the reshoot and would the effort continued had the re-shoot budget expanded by a couple million dollars more? What was Sony’s position on the added spending and how much of it was out of the company’s pocket? And most dramatically, did Mark Wahlberg and/or his rep indeed threaten to hold up the re-shoot over money regardless of his participation as an actor?

Only with the answers to all of these questions, and more, can the public – and any movement – assess the degree of bad behavior involved.

There is no reason that this won’t all happen again. Today.

Not literally, obviously. There will be no more reshoots caused by the exposure of sexual abusers on this film. But deals are made every day. The entire range of negotiations and results will continue to take place. Some actors will be paid more than actresses, and it will be entirely reasonable, based on status. And there will be other cases in which the spread is greater than reasonable, mostly out of habit… mostly the habits of agents who live within the structure of history. There will also be, to be fair, women who get paid more than men based on status. And there will be cases when the pay imbalance would seem wrong to some eyes if it were to be made public and less so to other. (This will be much, much more rare than the male-over-female example.)

It is possible that the reason why the All The Money situation wasn’t more publicly addressed is that Michelle Williams didn’t want her overall salary exposed, whatever its relation to Wahlberg’s. And perhaps she loves her agent and doesn’t want to fire him. More questions.

When Jennifer Lawrence’s financial back end on American Hustle became public, there was complaining… but not a firing of the agent that made that deal.

I have nothing against anyone’s agent. But complaining about the broad issue does not make change. Specifics need to be offered. Sacrifices need to be made. And when one of the 10 most powerful actors in Hollywood (Ms. Lawrence) complains publicly, but does nothing but get overpaid on her next movie with the studio as a way to make up for past history, nothing changes, aside from her bank account… and her agent’s bank account, who made the bad deal in the first place.

The “lesson learned” lie is one of Hollywood’s favorites. The only lesson here, as with so many pay-offs over the last decades, is that the rich can buy their way out of public trouble.

We must all be willing to be (figuratively) naked if we want our positions to be grounded in reality as well as a new degree of equality when we go back to our individual journeys.

Somehow, we must find a way to protect ourselves and those around us from giving in to the comfort of shifting our collective focus back onto the very real challenges of the work. Time’s Up is building a legal defense fund. (I’ve donated. I hope you have or will.) This is part of the very complicated work of creating a safe space for victims to speak out without fear of being victimized yet again by the financial power of those who have already victimized them. Studios, unions, guilds, and all industry companies need new rules that create safe space for complaints and investigations.

At the same time, the legitimate questions about salary inequality must be addressed head-on.

An actor friend has told me and others the story of one of their female friends of a high status in show biz who was paid a small fraction of her male counterpart’s salary, doing similar work on the same film. This is obviously wrong. But the anonymous story isn’t enough to make change. And I know that the person I know would never expose someone else without their approval. But I am sorry… you want to shake it up? Make it real. Real names. Real numbers. Real change.

I suggest an experiment. Let’s expose the top acting salaries in major studio movies that have big enough budgets to be relevant to the studio conversation for a few months. Here are the upcoming movies I suggest…

Maze Runner 3
50 Shades Freed
Black Panther
Game Night
Red Sparrow
Tomb Raider
A Quiet Place
Avengers: Infinity War
Deadpool 2
Life of the Party

That’s about 30 – 40 salaries of interest to look at, a big enough, complicated enough set of films and salaries to start to get some sense of what the reality is. The deals are already long made, so there is little chance of the deals being done to placate the politics or the public.

Is it fair to ask this randomly picked actors/actresses to expose their personal business dealings? No. But would it help start a fact-based discussion? Absolutely.

Real names. Real numbers. Real change.

If you want a revolution…. even if you want slightly better than incremental change… caution will not do the job.

It’s all hard. Yet it’s all a lot simpler than it feels like it is.

There is only one standard in a moral revolution… truth. Unvarnished… unprotected… unsympathetic… uncontrolled… truth. When we start telling that on a broader context, real progress will be made.


Weekend Estimates by Many LOLs Klady

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Jumanji continues to hold like a champ. The Post has a solid expansion. The Commuter goes on the list of “maybe that thing is over” Liam Neeson movies, which is usually followed by a bigger hit, so go light on the RIPs. The Greatest Showman will pass $100 million domestic next weekend. The Last Jedi didn’t get to $600 million this weekend. (Get out those violins.) Next weekend. Paddington 2 didn’t accelerate as you would expect a family film to accelerate, but word of mouth is good, so keep an eye out. And Proud Mary is a disastrous non-action movie that was sold as an action movie in light of Atomic Blonde, then couldn’t quite get to what it really is after AB underperformed expectations. It probably wouldn’t have done any better being sold as a Gloria-like drama with a touch of action. Phantom Thread is the only $10k+ per-screen film of the weekend.

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Friday Estimates by Still Jungle-y Klady

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BYOB DGA Nominations and more….


Is it a race? Is it a race yet?

What’s up with Disney-Pixar’s Sameth moving to Paramount?

Hey, James Franco has a Critics Choice award!


A Late (But BREAKING) Globes BYOB


Weekend Estimates by Klady ’18

Weekend Estimates 2018-01-07 at 10.50.29 AM

East coast weather on Thursday and Friday seems reflected in the weekend estimates, most with significant bumps that aren’t the norm. That’s fine. But I suspect we will see significant variations in the “actuals” when they land on Monday.

The leap of Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle over Insidious: The Last Key in the top slot isn’t shocking, but the actual amounts projected are.  Jumanji is showing its strength is with young audiences and parents who feel safe taking kids to the film, which is, not coincidentally, the only kid-safe movie in the market aside from Wonder and Coco. Wonder represents the second year that Lionsgate has had a stand-alone original do over $125 million domestic: it and La La Land are the only such titles in the history of the distributor.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will pass $600 million domestic next weekend, in 30 or 31 days. That’s five or six days faster than Jurassic World and more than two weeks faster than Avatar. Those committed to negativity against the film have only the singular success of The Force Awakens, which leveraged a decade of pent-up demand between Star Wars films, to downplay the success of this one. Of course, box office isn’t film criticism. But if you don’t like what Rian Johnson did with the franchise, you can’t claim that you have the zeitgeist on your side.

Both holiday musicals are holding well, even though neither is explosive. But The Greatest Showman is now headed to making the $100 million domestic list 13 deep.

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Friday Estimates: Still Insidious

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The most interesting thing about Insidious 4 is that a major (Universal) took over the franchise after it launched at a now-defunct indie, then went to Universal indie division Focus, and now lands at the big house. Part of this intrigue is a bigger story about Universal splitting product between itself and the Dependent. Earlier this year, U took over marketing on Atomic Blonde while the banner on the film stayed Focus.

Blum exploded at Paramount, with a marketing team that is no longer there. But this relationship with Universal has taken his company’s output to its great success. Last year, Blumhouse had its first $100 million domestic gross since 2011… two of them. So this kick-off to Blum 2018 is not as strong as Split. But for the fourth of a series to have a significant uptick is no small feat. Blum-U has two more releases scheduled for this year, one original and one sequel. Last year’s magic was for two originals. How this plays out this year, we shall see. But a solid start. (The story of Blumhouse’s Amityville release through Dimension got lost in October… 10 screens… oy.)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle appears headed to $300 million domestic, which is undeniably a hit. And Tom Rothman fights on. I find it unfortunate that the entire media focus of the media, regarding Sony, seems to be on Rothman. Like him or hate him, he is a known commodity and does what he has been doing for a very long time. He keeps things tight financially, so there is limited studio exposure and, indeed, often less upside than one would like with successes. He also interferes in the process. And of the film tops at the majors now, he is the only big screamer left.

When Rothman was handed TriStar, he became a loose spender. And it was a disaster for him and Lynton/Pascal, who allowed it. But he managed what he had – what he greenlit – this year very smartly. Ate it often. But only Disney and Warner Bros had any $300 million domestic grossers in 2017… except for Sony… which had two, not just the one with the assist from Warner Bros. The Sony hits are less impressive in the context of the other studios when you look at worldwide, but still puts Sony ahead of Fox and Paramount.

This is not an apologia for Rothman’s record. This studio won’t continue as is with them failing to make more from films like Roman J. Israel, Esq, The Dark Tower, Flatliners, Only The Brave, T2: Trainspotting, etc. There is a variety of quality level in this group, but the feeling is that the studio is giving up on these titles when they expect that they aren’t going to be big hits, instead of digging in and getting every dime they can. $40 million for Roman J, well below the Denzel norm, wouldn’t be a thrill… but would make a real difference to the bottom line of the company. This is how Rothman succeeded so long at Fox. Occasional huge hits, but not a lot of money losers in the line up amongst the middling hits.

And yes, Tom has a lot of enemies. Boring.

Also boring… people suggesting that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a commercial problem. Some outlets made a big deal out of TLJ getting beaten on opening weekend in China. The Force Awakens did $124 million in China, which is the equivalent, financially, of $65m in any other market… or about 5% of the foreign gross. Not nothing. But not a key. The sixth biggest international market for the film.

Make no mistake. The Last Jedi is not doing the business that The Force Awakens did. The Empire Strikes Back was 27% off of Star Wars. Attack of the Clones was 35% off of The Phantom Menace. And TLJ will be somewhere around 35% off of Force Awakens.

The Greatest Showman is holding well. It will get closer to $100m domestic than I expected. The Annie reboot is in its sights.

Molly’s Game expands from 271 screens to 1608, pushing into the $6 million weekend business, heading to around $30 million domestic unless it has a surprisingly strong Oscar footprint.

Darkest Hour also expanded, from 943 screens to 1733. The expansion isn’t as showy at the box office as Molly’s Game, but the film has been in the market longer. No doubt, Focus is relying on a great big speech by Gary Oldman, assuming he wins at the Globes tomorrow… and then Oscar nods. If they miss Best Picture, which seems to be a possibility, the roll-out could stall completely.

Coco should get past $200 million domestic, but it hasn’t had the second wind that Moana did. It would help if Remember Me got some traction as a commercial hit, but it’s a straight ballad, not the power ballad of “Let It Go” or the pop fun of the Moana songs and that’s not helping. A duet by Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez on the Golden Globes would help.

More tomorrow…


The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

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