Posts Tagged ‘Case 39’

The DVD Wrap: Machete, Dinner for Schmucks, Easy A, Howl … and more

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011


In this insanely hyperactive action flick, Robert Rodriguez delivers on the promise made in the faux “Mexsploitation” trailer that accompanied Grindhouse. It would be folly to attempt any synopsis of Machete, except to recall that Danny Trejo’s character is a former Mexican federal agent, seeking to exact revenge on the American druglord (Steven Seagal) who is responsible for the deaths of his wife and child. Since he’s in Texas, anyway, though, Machete accepts a contract to assassinate a rabidly anti-immigration senator (Robert De Niro). In fact, the assignment is a set-up.

Ostensibly, Machete has as large a target on his back as the senator. Unlike some movie anti-heroes, however, Machete isn’t invincible. If it weren’t for the assistance of some hard-core Chicanas (Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez) and a small army of low-riding homeboys, the local rednecks might have chopped him up with his own machetes and served him for dinner at the next Minuteman banquet.

Some critics have suggested that the trailer was the movie, only shorter. That’s probably true for fair-weather fans of grindhouse nouveau, but, loyal followers of Rodriguez and Tarantino’s oeuvre will undoubtedly have a blast. The action is non-stop, thoroughly goofy and well over the top. Like most contemporary grindhouse epics, too, appearances by actors familiar from other genres add much diversionary fun.

Besides De Niro, Alba, Rodriguez and Segal, who hasn’t appeared in a theatrical picture in years, the cast includes Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan, Jeff Fahey and Rodriguez regulars Cheech Marin, Daryl Sabara, Tom Savini, Michael Parks and Rose McGowan. (Machete is co-directed by his fave editor, Ethan Maniquis.) It’s Trejo’s show, however, and his machetes of mass destruction are all one needs to recommend it. The only bonus feature of note is the deleted scenes.


Dinner for Schmucks: Blu-ray

My limited knowledge of Yiddish slang precludes me from parsing the difference between “schmuck” and the more mundane, “moron,” at least for the purposes of this review. For as long as I can remember, the use of the word “schmuck” in mixed company was discouraged, if only because it also meant “penis.” Dinner for Schmucks was adapted from Francis Veber’s more subtle pleasure, The Dinner Game. In contemporary Hollywood, subtlety is for suckers.

The basic concept works for both pictures, though. A group of self-satisfied friends meet on regular basis for dinner. Each is required to bring a guest so insufferably pompous, maddeningly boorish or terminally stupid that he’s crowned that week’s prince of fools. This premise wouldn’t amount to much if, at some point in the movie, the fools didn’t turn the tables on their mean-spirited hosts, begging the question as to who’s the real schmuck. And, of course, this is exactly what happens.

Steve Carell has made a career playing these kinds of self-absorbed doofuses, and his nebbish IRS agent, Barry, is custom made for exhibition in the dinner game. Among other irritating habits, Barry collects dead mice for future use in historical dioramas. Paul Rudd plays Tim, an ambitious executive whose boss (Bruce Greenwood) demands he prove his mettle by participating in the game. Tim knows the hapless diorama maker is his ticket to promotion after running into him with his car while Barry’s picking up a dead mouse in the street. Little does Tim know how stiff the competition for the dunce cap will be.

Director Jay Roach doesn’t trust the material enough to forgo a clunky romantic contretemps between Tim and his spectacularly beautiful girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak). It provides more evidence of Barry’s clumsiness, but, otherwise, prolongs the wait for the dinner party. That said, Dinner for Schmucks is far more entertaining than other recent boys-will-boys comedies, all of which are founded on a stupidity contest of one form or another. Carell gets ample support from Zach Galifianakis, Jemaine Clement and Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords), Lucy Punch and Ron Livingston. And, yes, the entertainment provided by the so-called schmucks is hilarious. The hi-def edition arrives with the featurettes, “The Biggest Schmucks in the World,” “The Men Behind the Mouseterpieces,” “Meet the Winners” and “Schmuck Ups,” as well as deleted scenes.


Easy A: Blu-ray

In the absence of any better ideas, some screenwriters have found success by adapting classic works of literature for teenage audiences. Cruel Intentions was inspired by Les liaisons dangereuses; Emma begat Clueless; Shakespeare provided the fodder for Romeo+ Juliet, West Side Story, O, 10 Things I Hate About You and She’s the Man. Will Gluck’s wonderful teen rom-com, Easy A, was informed, at least, by The Scarlet Letter.

Rising superstar Emma Stone plays Olive, a hip, if little-noticed high school girl, who sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne’s in the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel. East Ojai High School may be the only public school in America where virginity is still something to which boys and girls aspire. In an effort to avoid one embarrassing revelation, Olive inadvertently sparks a rumor that leads her fellow students to believe she’s promiscuous.

After accepting more than her fair share of undeserved humiliation, Olive decides to profit from the misconception. In return for money, she allows closeted gay kids and other dweebs to use her as a beard. Despite the windfall, the ruse complicates matters with the only boy she wants to impress. Stone delivers writer Bert V. Royal’s waspish dialogue with great moxie and sympathy for Olive. The other characters are allowed to get in some licks of their own, as well.

I’m far from being a teenager, but I think Easy A was one of the best films of 2010, regardless of genre, and Stone’s performance is worthy of an Oscar nomination. True Grit star Hailee Steinfeld may already have nailed down the spot annually allotted an actress playing a teen role, though. Here, Stone gets plenty of help from Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, as her bemused parents, hunky Penn Badgley, snarky Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow and Malcolm McDowell. The Blu-ray package adds a great deal of bonus material, including commentary with Gluck and Stone; a pop-up trivia quiz; BD-Live connectivity; a making-of documentary; gag reel; audition footage; and featurettes, “The School of Pop Culture: Movies of the ’80s” and “Vocabulary of Hilarity.”



Allen Ginsberg’s great primal scream of a poem, Howl, is at the center of Rob Epstein and Jeff Friedman’s film of the same title. As epic poetry goes, Howl is a million times less cinematic than, say, Beowulf, The Odyssey, The Canterbury Tales or, even, The Cat in the Hat. The filmmakers, though, use the debut reading of the poem as a stepping stone to other aspects of Ginsberg’s amazing life.

First, they dramatize publisher and book-seller Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s 1957 obscenity trial. We’re also introduced to fellow Beats muses, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, who played key roles in the development of the poem. James Franco portrays Ginsberg with an eerie specificity, as he alternately reads Howl before an audience and tells the story of his life and coming-out to an interviewer. Finally, for better or worse, the poem has been animated by art director Eric Drooker. (It could easily exist as a stand-alone short film.) That’s a lot of material to stuff into a 90-minute bag, but Epstein and Friedman manage to pull it off in nimble style.

In our collective memory of him, Ginsberg sometimes resembles a harmless hippie Santa Claus, still worshiped by the counterculture as a founding father and accepted by the mainstream as a symbol of America’s “tolerance” of oddballs and rebels. As Howl points out, however, Ginsberg and his poem were the furthest things from mainstream in the mid-1950s. The Beats represented repudiation of post-war complacency and conformity, and, along with Kerouac, Ginsberg was its most visible diplomat. He openly celebrated his homosexuality at a time when it was illegal in most states and feared by a majority of Americans.

Beats and beatniks were ridiculed in the media for their shaggy appearance and despised by philistines for their taste in everything from shoes (sandals) to music (be-bop). Howl captures all that and more in documentary-like fashion. Franco is nothing short of terrific and he gets excellent support from John Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels, David Straithairn, Alessandro Nivola, Treat Williams, Bob Balaban, Jon Prescott and Aaron Tveit. The bonus material adds several making-of featurettes and backgrounders, including a reading of Howl by a much older Ginsberg.


Beautiful Kate

Apparently, Hollywood has a problem with incest. The negative reflex explains why it took nearly 30 years for Newton Thornburg’s perfectly adaptable novel, Beautiful Kate, to make the move from page to screen, and why it took an Aussie production company to make it. After Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown acquired the rights to the story, she moved it from Chicago to the “bush,” in Australia’s Flinder Ranges.

Its protagonist is a young writer, Ned, who’s been asked by his younger sister to return home to pay a final visit with his estranged father. Ned arrives in the company of a pretty bimbo, Toni, whose presence disturbs the uneasy calm enough to bring the family’s dysfunctional history back into focus. Through flashbacks, we learn of Ned’s illicit relationship with his sexually aggressive twin sister and how it resulted in a pair of tragic deaths. Even on his death bed, the old man is a brute. He minimizes everything in Ned’s life and blames him for the collapse of the family ranch. It opens wounds that never completely healed.

One of the most popular actors in Australia, Ward wrote and directed Beautiful Kate. By transferring the story to a remote outpost in the middle of nowhere, she was able to show how such isolation impacted on the lives of characters making the transition from childhood to sexual maturity surrounded by a herd of randy sheep. As twins, Ned and Kate already were closer than the average brother and sister, if only because their father’s ugly behavior forced them to take shelter in each other’s arms. To reveal any more would spoil too much of the movie’s surprises.

Ben Mendelsohn and Sophie Lowe are quite good as the star-crossed twins, as are Brown, Rachel Griffiths and Maeve Dermody in important roles. Ward shows great promise as a director of features. She succeeds in capturing the sense of desolation felt by the young characters, while also showcasing some of Australia’s great beauty. There are deleted scenes, interviews and background material.


Ticking Clock: Blu-ray
Bitter Feast
Gun: Blu-ray
Haunting of Amelia

The new year brings with it a flood of direct-to-DVD titles that share a lust for blood and bizarre plot twists.

In Ticking Clock, Cuba Gooding Jr. plays an investigative reporter who specializes in exposing police ineptitude in murder cases. This doesn’t endear the writer to police when people around him start dropping like flies and he’s the most likely suspect. We know, of course, that the reporter didn’t commit any of the grotesque crimes, but become as suspicious as the police when the Gooding’s character argues that time-travel is the only logical way the real killer could have gone undetected for so long a time. It also explains how the reporter is the only person who can prevent even more murders. A word to the wise: mixing time-travel and mystery-solving only works when it involves Sherlock Holmes.

If you’ve ever wondered why more critics aren’t attacked by the victims of their snarky wordplay and harmful condemnations, Bitter Feast is the movie for you. James Le Gros plays a chef whose cuisine has been attacked unmercifully by a bitter food blogger and stands to lose his TV gig and restaurant because of the put-downs. In response, the chef kidnaps the writer and forces him to meet food challenges that would be simple, if it weren’t for the handcuffs and knife wounds. The worse the dishes are prepared, the more torture is inflicted on the writer. Look for celebrity chef Mario Batali in a brief performance.

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Val Kilmer make a formidable team in Gun, an extremely loud shoot-em-up set in Detroit. Jackson plays a thuggish gangsta’ out to control the illicit gun trade in the upper Midwest, while Kilmer is an ex-con looking for payback in the death of his wife. Director Jerry Terrero nicely captures the icy Rust Belt setting and the results of unharnessed fire power. Jackson’s story breaks little new territory, but moves along snappily. Less convincing is the thug’s boss, a sexy blond improbably portrayed by 23-year-old AnnaLynne McCord. To the directors go the spoils.

Haunting of Amelia (a.k.a., The Other Side of the Tracks) is a supernatural romance that can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be scary or sentimental. As such, it more closely resembles a Halloween special on the Lifetime network than a full-blown mystery or horror flick.

Ten years after a tragic train accident killed his girlfriend, restaurant employee Josh (Brendan Fehr) suddenly finds himself surrounded by people from his past. The anniversary of the accident coincides with a school reunion, so at least one of the appearances can be explained. The other visitor, an attractive brunette 10 years younger than Josh, takes a few more seconds to figure out. Haunting of Amelia benefits mostly from its woodsy Connecticut setting.


Case 39

The always-welcome Renée Zellweger plays a social worker, Emily, assigned to the case of a little girl who was brutalized by her psycho stepparents. Too traumatized by the experience for another placement, the kid, Lilith (Jodelle Ferland), begs Emily to assume the role of foster mom. Predictably, little Lilith then begins to exhibit the same sorts of traits that might have caused her former guardians to stick her into an oven and turn on the gas.

Case 39 looks good, but, apart from some hideous deaths, there’s nothing really new here. Zellweger is joined by such fine actors as Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper, Cynthia Stevenson and Callum Rennie. The package includes 18 deleted scenes and featurettes on the special visual effects.


Big Love: The Complete Fourth Season
Mannix: The Fourth Season

There’s thin pickin’s on the TV-to-DVD front this week. HBO sends out the fourth-season package of Big Love, during which Bill saved his son from bird-smuggling Mormon kidnappers, got deeper involved with casino intrigue and ran for political office. The polygamist’s decision to out himself in public causes much tension among the wives and prompts them to think and act for themselves, for once. The new season starts this month.

As played by Mike Connors (born, Krekor Ohanian), Armenian-American P.I. Joe Mannix was one of the most popular crimefighters in television history. This might have had something to do with the fact that he seemed like an average Joe, drove hot cars and got beat up a lot. His pretty African-American assistant, Peggy Fair (Gail Fisher), also is frequently put into harm’s way. The new set represents the fourth season in an eight-year run on CBS.

Weekend Box Office Report – October 24

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Back to Paranormal

Paranormal Activity 2 exceeded pundit expectation (though not necessarily fans) with an estimated $41.6 million to lead weekend movie ticket sales. The session’s only other national bow was Hereafter, which shot up to $11.9 million following last weekend’s limited opener.

Niche and regional bows included a solid $212,000 (in Hindi and Telegu versions) bow for the Indian crime saga Rakhtcharitra. Fans won’t have to wait long for its second part conclusion that’s scheduled for late November. Meanwhile up in Canada the Toronto fest curtain raiser Score: A Hockey Musical failed to live up to its name with a discordant $143,000 from 127 rinks.

Exclusives included good though unsensational debuts that included non-fiction Boxing Gym with a $6,100 TKO in its solo bout and Taqwacores — the tale of an Islamic rock band — grossing $5,500 also in a single outing.

Though there was a marginal dip from last weekend’s box office, the frame saw its first uptick from 2009 in a month with industry mavens already predicting expanded revenues through the end of the year.

Critical response to sleeper sensation Paranormal Activity 2 was at best tepid with the more negative reviews viewing it as a cynical rehash of its inspiration. Nonetheless avids were cueing up to provide Thursday midnight shows a record preview for an R-rated film. It lost traction as the weekend proceeded but the fast start was sufficient to speed past tracking that suggested an opening salvo of not much more than $30 million.

Exit polls for both Paranormal Activity 2 and Hereafter were disappointing. The latter film pretty much brought in the anticipated older crowd and filmmaker Clint Eastwood’s films have a history of hanging in for longer than typical runs and much higher multiples than is the industry norm. Still, this yarn could well stray from that trend.

Weekend revenues amassed roughly $130 million in torn ducats. It represented a slight 2% dip from seven days back but the unexpected Paranormal Activity 2 and overall strong holdovers translated into a 13% box office boost from 2009. A year ago the first Paranormal Activity (in its initial wide weekend) led with $21.1 million followed by Saw VI and Where the Wild Things Are with respective tallies of $14.1 million and $14 million.

With the exception of Waiting for “Superman” it’s been a brutal season for Oscar hopefuls trying to set an early footprint on the awards landscape. Granted, very few have received a wholehearted critical embrace, but even by niche standards the likes of Nowhere Boy, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and Jack Goes Boating among others have been comparative under-performers when measured against past films that have employed this tactic.


Weekend Estimates – October 22-24, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Paranormal Activity 2 Par 41.6 (12,930) New 3216 41.6
Jackass 3D Par 21.5 (6,920) -57% 3111 87.1
Red Summit 15.1 (4,620) -31% 3273 43.6
Hereafter WB 11.9 (5,450) 2175 12.2
The Social Network Sony 7.2 (2,450) -31% 2921 72.8
Secretariat BV 6.9 (2,210) -26% 3108 37.3
Life As We Know It WB 6.1 (2,010) -32% 3019 37.5
Legend of the Guardians WB 3.1 (1,390) -26% 2236 50.1
The Town WB 2.7 (1,390) -33% 1918 84.6
Easy A Sony 1.7 (1,050) -35% 1632 54.7
Wal Street: Money Never Sleeps Fox 1.2 (960) -49% 1255 50
My Soul to Take Uni/Alliance 1.0 (600) -68% 1689 13.9
Waiting for “Superman” Par Vantage .76 (2,620) 2% 290 3.7
Alpha and Omega Lionsgate .71 (980) -14% 727 23.5
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Focus .66 (1,180) -46% 560 5.1
Devil Uni .63 (980) -35% 642 32.4
You Again BV .61 (680) -50% 901 24
N Secure FreeStyle .53 (1,190) -55% 445 1.9
Toy Story 3 BV .42 (1,211) -21% 350 413.4
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Sony Classics .40 (1,060) 46% 381 1.8
Case 39 Par Vantage .38 (530) -69% 721 12.7
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $123.90
% Change (Last Year) 13%
% Change (Last Week) -2%
Also debuting/expanding
Stone Overture .34 (3,030) 49% 113 0.76
Conviction Fox Searchlight .30 (5,420) 192% 55 0.34
Rakhtcharitra Viva/Happy .21 (6,230) 34 0.21
Nowhere Boy Weinstein Co. .21 (870) -39% 215 0.76
Score: A Hockey Musical Mongrel .14 (1,130) 127 0.14
Jhootha Hi Sahi Viva 64,700 (1,350) 48 0.06
My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Fiftyfilms 10,300 (5,150) 2 0.01
Boxing Gym Zipporah 6,100 (6,100) 1 0.01
Taqwacores Rumanni 5,500 (5,500) 1 0.01
Inhale IFC 5,600 (2,800) 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Oct. 21, 2010)

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (25) 1403.9 16.30%
Paramount (15) 1310.6 15.30%
Fox (16) 1287.9 15.00%
Buena Vista (15) 1144.7 13.30%
Sony (23) 1129.9 13.20%
Universal (17) 771.4 9.00%
Summit (10) 453.6 5.30%
Lionsgate (12) 411.5 4.80%
Overture (7) 79.7 0.90%
Focus (7) 73.2 0.90%
Fox Searchlight (6) 72.7 0.80%
Weinstein Co. (7) 61.6 0.70%
Sony Classics (21) 53.7 0.60%
MGM (1) 50.4 0.60%
CBS (2) 50 0.60%
Other * (271) 226.9 2.70%
8581.7 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Domestic Grossers * (Jan. 1 – Oct. 21, 2010)

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 476,726,209
Toy Story 3 BV 413,013,123
Alice in Wonderland BV 334,191,110
Iron Man 2 Par 312,445,596
Twilight: Eclipse Summit 300,531,751
Inception WB 289,881,124
Despicable Me Uni 247,148,995
Shrek Forever After Par 238,667,087
How to Train Your Dragon Par 218,685,707
The Karate Kid Sony 176,797,997
Clash of the Titans WB 163,214,888
Grown Ups Sony 161,942,598
The Last Airbender Par 131,733,601
Shutter Island Par 128,051,522
The Other Guy Sony 118,236,912
Salt Sony 118,229,865
Valentine’s Day WB 110,509,442
Sherlock Holmes * WB 106,967,985
Robin Hood Uni 105,425,146
The Expendables Lions Gate 103,068,524
* does not include 2009 box office

Weekend Box Office Report – October 17

Sunday, October 17th, 2010


Jackass 3D was better than all right with an estimated $49.3 million that easily ranked it at the top of the weekend movie going charts. Another freshman, the seasoned action-comedy Red, ranked second with $21.9 million. The session’s third national debut in medium-wide release was the inspirational N Secure with an OK $133,000 bow.

Among niche and regional bows the polemical documentary I Want Your Money failed to bring out the vote with a $236,000 tally from 537 screens. Telegu-language Brindaavanam rang up an impressive $10,320 average from 20 venues while Bollywood entry Aakrosh was a washout with a $46,400 gross from 24 screens.

Among the week’s exclusive newbies the clear favorite was Hereafter with a $37,380 per screen from six early peeks. There were also impressive openings for the three-hour plus portrait of a terrorist Carlos of $33,700 from single dates in Manhattan and Montreal and a sturdy $101,000 gross for the ripped from the headlines Conviction at 11 cells.

Overall weekend box office revenues topped $130 million for a sizeable 42% boost from seven days back. However, it fell 4% below last year’s tally and the 2010 box office has shrunk to just 2% better than the prior year’s gross for the same period.

Industry trackers had pegged the stereoscopic version of Jackass at roughly $30 million prior to its opening. But they obviously were deaf to bygone wag Henry Mencken’s observation that “no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” The recently under-served young male audience were eager to don Polaroid glasses and see the aging stars of the reality skein making fools of themselves and others up close and personal.

Pundits also undervalued Red with early estimates in a $15 million to $18 million range. The single joke premise of over the hill spies conscripted back into service (more intentionally mawkish than The Expendables) skewed older but obviously had some appeal for a younger crowd in search of something marginally less mind numbing that required optical gimmicks.

The glacial expansion of Waiting for “Superman” continued to display stamina but it’s clear that Never Let Me Go has peaked and that the rapid expansion of Nowhere Boy left the early years of John Lennon stranded outside the Cavern Club. Stone was experiencing a better than expected hold as it increased its exposure from six to 41 venues.

The frame’s two award contenders – Hereafter and Conviction – constructed solid foundations for their platform bids. Still the early signs suggest a better than anticipated commercial run for the former with the latter yarn requiring a lot of TLC to reach a wider audience.

Among holdovers the second lap for Secretariat showed signs that audiences were discovering the heartfelt saga and The Social Network continues to be propped up by award buzz rather than Facebook fascination.


Weekend Estimates – October 15-17, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Jackass 3D Par 49.3 (16,010) New 3081 49.3
Red Summit 21.9 (6,740) New 3255 21.8
The Social Network Sony 10.8 (3,910) -30% 2771 63
Secretariat BV 9.4 (3,070) -26% 3072 27.4
Life As We Know It WB 9.2 (2,910) -37% 3150 28.8
Legend of the Guardians WB 4.2 (1,670) -39% 2502 46
The Town WB 4.0 (1,700) -37% 2368 80.6
My Soul to Take Uni/Alliance 3.1 (1,240) -54% 2529 11.9
Easy A Sony 2.6 (1,140) -39% 2314 52.3
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Fox 2.3 (1,110) -50% 2045 47.8
N Secure FreeStyle 1.3 (2,730) New 486 1.3
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Focus 1.3 (1,660) -38% 757 4
You Again BV 1.2 (750) -53% 1588 22.7
Case 39 Par Vantage 1.2 (840) -56% 1406 11.9
Devil Uni 1.0 (1,100) -46% 891 31.6
Let Me In Overture .83 (690) -66% 1211 11.1
Alpha and Omega Lions Gate .81 (840) -46% 969 22.6
Waiting for “Superman” Par Vantage .74 (4,060) 17% 182 2.5
Toy Story 3 BV .52 (1,480) -6% 350 412.8
Inception WB .35 (1,180) -29% 297 289.7
Resident Evil: Afterlife Sony/Alliance .34 (780) -73% 438 59.7
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $125.70
% Change (Last Year) -4%
% Change (Last Week) 42%
Also debuting/expanding
Nowhere Boy Weinstein Co. .33 (1,550) 554% 215 0.41
Never Let Me Go Searchlight .32 (1,390) -7% 232 1.65
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Sony Classics .27 (2,440) 1% 112 1.26
I Want Your Money FreeStyle .24 (440) 537 0.24
Stone Overture .23 (5,780) 199% 41 0.34
Hereafter WB .22 (37,380) 6 0.22
Brindaavanam Blue Sky .21 (10,320) 20 0.21
Buried Lions Gate .13 (1,270) -41% 103 0.76
Conviction Fox Searchlight .10 (9,200) 11 0.1
Aakrosh Eros 46,400 (1,930) 24 0.05
Carlos IFC 33,700 (16,850) 1 0.03
Knockout Eros 18,100 (700) 26 0.02
A Better Tomorrow CJ Entertainment 5,800 (5,800) 1 0.01
Down Terrace Magnolia 2,900 (1,450) 2 0.01
Samson and Delilah Ipix 2,300 (1,150) 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share – January 1 – October 14, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (24) 1380.1 16.40%
Fox (16) 1284.6 15.30%
Paramount (14) 1242.3 14.80%
Buena Vista (15) 1129.6 13.40%
Sony (23) 1111.7 13.20%
Universal (17) 765.4 9.10%
Summit (9) 425.1 5.10%
Lionsgate (12) 410.1 4.90%
Overture (7) 78.2 0.90%
Fox Searchlight (5) 72.1 0.90%
Focus (7) 71.4 0.90%
Weinstein Co. (7) 61.1 0.70%
Sony Classics (20) 52.9 0.60%
MGM (1) 50.4 0.60%
CBS (2) 50 0.60%
Other * (266) 222.3 2.60%
8407.3 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Weekend Box Office Report – October 10

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Nobody Nose Anything

The Social Network surprised pundits with a better than expected hold and won the weekend movie going chase with an estimated $15.3 million. Three national debs were on its tail with lackluster returns. The rom-com Life As We Know It faltered in the clutch with $14.6 million while the much ballyhooed turf saga Secretariat posted $12.4 million, and there was a lack of stereoscopic shock for My Soul to Take with $6.9 million.

There was also a lack of oomph for the comic oddity It’s Kind of a Funny Story with $2 million tally-woo from 742 engagements.

In the niches Telegu-language Khaleja had a buoyant bow of $343,000 from 24 screens and OK returns of $72,700 for French thriller L’Immortel in Quebec. There were also a raft of exclusive bows with Darwinian winners that included the young John Lennon of Nowhere Boy grossing $51,300 at four venues, the squeezed of non-fiction Inside Job with $37,500 at two interviews and psychological thriller Stone with $71,400 from six couches.

Overall business once again took a dip with 2010 box office now less than 2% ahead of last year’s pace and industry mavens sweating out a quick reversal of fortune.

Tracking reports had pegged the uplifting tale of racing Triple Crowner Secretariat as the weekend’s odds-on favorite with estimates in the range of $16 million to $18 million. But its appeal to women and an older demo that remembered the four-legged wonder of the early 1970s failed to bring ‘em out in its maiden performance despite a considerable marketing push.

Life As We Know It was expected to be about a length behind Secretariat but pulled ahead right from the opening gate. It opened ahead of the pack on Friday with a $5.2 million bow but quickly lost ground to The Social Network as the weekend advanced.

And My Soul to Take fell smack in the middle of estimates in the $6 million to $8 million range. All three of the newbies skewed toward distaff viewers and there’s little question the marketplace is in dire need of something for the boys.

Weekend revenues pushed to roughly $92 million that represented a 4% dip from seven days back. It was a considerably steeped 16% fall from 2009 when the launch of Couples Retreat topped the charts on a $34.3 million first salvo.

On the expansion track, the “what’s wrong with our education” doc Waiting for “Superman” is holding up well and Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger continues to draw in aficionados. But the dour Never Let Me Go appears to have peaked early in the awards season. Among the new entries the highly enjoyable Tamara Drewe proved to be the surprise commercial disappointment with a dull $4,300 engagement average from four initial exposures.


Weekend Estimates – October 1-3, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
The Social Network Sony 15.3 (5,520) -32% 2771 45.9
Life As We Know It WB 14.6 (4,630) New 3150 14.6
Secretariat BV 12.4 (4,050) New 3072 12.4
My Soul to Take Uni/Alliance 6.9 (2,670) New 2572 6.9
Legend of the Guardians WB 6.8 (2,100) -38% 3225 39.2
The Town WB 6.3 (2,310) -36% 2720 73.7
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Fox 4.5 (1,600) -55% 2829 43.6
Easy A Sony 4.1 (1,450) -39% 2847 48.1
Case 39 Par Vantage 2.6 (1,160) -55% 2212 9.5
You Again BV 2.4 (1,030) -58% 2332 20.7
Let Me In Overture 2.4 (1,160) -54% 2042 9.1
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Focus 2.0 (2,670) New 742 2
Devil Uni 1.7 (1,210) -51% 1442 30
Alpha and Omega Lionsgate 1.4 (890) -51% 1616 21
Resident Evil: Afterlife Sony/Alliance 1.2 (1,210) -56% 1012 58.8
Waiting for “Superman” Par Vantage .63 (6,120) 54% 103 1.4
Toy Story 3 BV .55 (1,400) 140% 393 412
Inception WB .52 (1,290) -43% 403 289.2
Takers Sony .39 (950) -50% 412 56.8
Catfish Uni/Alliance .37 (2,590) -37% 143 2.2
Khaleja Ficus .34 (14,290) 24 0.39
Never Let Me Go Searchlight .33 (1,990) 77% 167 1.1
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $86.30
% Change (Last Year) -16%
% Change (Last Week) -4%
Also debuting/expanding
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Sony Classics .25 (3,380) 15% 73 0.84
Buried Lionsgate .21 (2,300) 118% 92 0.5
L’Immortel Seville 72,700 (3,030) 24 0.07
Stone Overture 71,400 (11,900) 6 0.07
Nowhere Boy Weinstein Co. 51,300 (12,820) 4 0.05
Inside Job Sony Classics 37,500 (18,750) 2 0.04
Route 132 Alliance 37,300 (1,430) 26 0.06
I Spit on Your Grave Anchor Bay 30,800 (2,570) 12 0.03
Tamara Drewe Sony Classics 17,200 (4,300) 4 0.02
Ghetto Physics IDP 10,700 (1,190) 9 0.01
Budrus Balcony 8,400 (8,400) 1 0.01
It’s a Wonderful Afterlife UTV 5,500 (770) 20 0.01
As Good as Dead First Look 1,850 (1,850) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share – January 1 – October 7, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (23) 1340.5 16.20%
Fox (16) 1277.7 15.40%
Paramount (14) 1237.4 15.00%
Buena Vista (14) 1107.4 13.40%
Sony (23) 1081.3 13.10%
Universal (16) 753.6 9.10%
Summit (9) 425.1 5.10%
Lionsgate (12) 407.1 4.90%
Overture (6) 74.5 0.90%
Fox Searchlight (5) 71.5 0.90%
Focus (6) 68.4 0.80%
Weinstein Co. (6) 60.9 0.70%
Sony Classics (19) 52.3 0.60%
MGM (1) 50.4 0.60%
CBS (2) 50 0.60%
Other * (260) 217.3 2.60%
8275.4 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Global Grossers: January 1 – October 7, 2010

Title * Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 1,948,069,404
Toy Story 3 BV 1,047,492,510
Alice in Wonderland BV 1,024,537,295
Twilight: Eclipse Summit 691,330,829
Inception WB 803,799,128
Shrek Forever After Par 732,163,289
Iron Man 2 Par 622,718,660
How to Train Your Dragon Par 494,288,254
Clash of the Titans WB 489,778,913
Sherlock Holmes * WB 367,796,599
Despicable Me Uni 367,194,481
The Karate Kid Sony 357,206,535
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time BV 335,020,929
Robin Hood Uni 311,610,747
The Last Airbender Par 310,375,125
Shutter Island Par 301,977,955
Sex and the City 2 WB 301,158,934
Salt Sony 287,626,258
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Fox 264,341,533
Grown Ups Sony 261,324,243
The Expendables Lionsgate 257,529,373
Resident Evil: Afterlife Sony/Alliance 244,795,280
Knight and Day Fox 229,686,302
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox 226,497,209
Valentine’s Day WB 217,596,116
* does not include 2009 box office

Weekend Estimates – October 10

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

The Social Network|15.3|-32%| 45.9
Life As We Know It|14.6|New |14.6
My Soul to Take|6.9|New|6.9
Legend of the Guardians|6.8|-38%|39.2
The Town|6.3|-36%|73.7
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps|4.5| -55%|43.6
Easy A|4.1|-39%|48.1
Case 39|2.6| -55%| 9.5
You Again|2.4|-58%|20.7

Friday Estimates – October 9

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Life As We Know It|5.2|3150||5.2
The Social Network|4.8 |2771|-40%|35.4
My Soul to Take|2.6|2572|New|2.6
The Town|1.9|2720|-41%|69.3
Legend of the Guardians|1.8|3225|-31%|34.1
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps|1.4|2820|-58%|40.4
Easy A|1.3|2847|-41%|45.3
Case 39|0.8|2212|-57%|7.8
Let Me In|0.75|2042|-61%|7.5
Also Debuting
It’s Kind of a Funny Story|0.6 5|742||0.65
Nowhere Boy|12,700|4||12,700
I Spit on Your Grave|11,100|12||11,100
Tamara Drewe|5,100|4||5,100
Ghetto Physics|4,990|9||4,990
It’s a Wonderful Afterlife|1,500|18||1,500
*in millions|||

Weekend Box Office Report — October 3

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

I Am Not a Robot … or Not

The uber-ballyhooed The Social Network buzzed above the pack with an estimated $22.6 million to lead weekend ticket sales. Two other national releases proved commercial disappointments. The much-admired horror remake Let Me In ranked seventh overall with $5.3 million and the thriller Case 39 was a peg behind with $5.2 million.

The big noise for the frame came from new regional and niche titles. The Tamil language Robots (the most expensive film ever produced in India) rewrote the record books with the biggest ever North American debut with a $2.1 million tally. The simultaneous release of Anjaana Anjaani from Bollywood’s Hindi sector was also impressive with a $560,000 bow. In Canada, the Brit import StreetDance 3D generated a hefty $423,000 and the indigenous Fubar II rang up $209,000 from just 30 venues.

However, a couple of indie horror entries failed to ignite pre-Halloween frenzy. Chain Letter eked out a $300 average from 401 screens and Hatchet II was marginally better with an $880 average from a more contained 68 playdates.

Overall business experienced a roll back from both the prior weekend and 2009 revenues.

Critical response to The Social Network was predominantly rapturous. Still, media reports detailed concerns based on tracking and previews that the flamboyant saga of Facebook and its youthful creators was a tough sell. Exit polls showed that opening weekend skewed slightly female with 53% of the audience and plus 25s comprised 55% of sales. Trackers had predicted grossed in the range of $25 million to $28 million and its clear that its future rests on playing the awards card and eventually drawing in younger viewers obviously spending too much time on the net to go see the movie.

Let Me In also received enthusiastic thumbs ups from reviewers that failed to translate at the box office. Prognosticators pushed its envelope to the $10 million to $12 million strata but ticket buyers opted to catch up with The Town, Easy A or the Wall Street sequel. Case 39, which opened internationally in late 2008 and has grossed more than $10 million overseas, arrived as a theatrical afterthought and performed more or less as expected … blah.

Weekend sales came up just short of $100 million, which amounted to a 3% decline from seven days earlier. 2009 comparisons saw a steeper erosion of 9%. A year ago the debuts of Zombieland and the 3D pairing of Toy Story’s first two installments ranked first and third with respective openings of $24.7 million and $12.5 million.

Robot, with echoes of Metropolis, is a more optimistic yarn of a scientist who creates an android in his own image and watches the somewhat amusing results unfold. The big budget production went full out with dubbed versions in Hindi and Telegu in addition to the Tamil original. The largely Indian diasporas came out in force to generate a record opening box office. Still, despite considerable efforts in the past five years, the Indian cinema is just one film short of producing a crossover mainstream hit.

The session didn’t include a new platform in what looks like a crowded, eclectic awards season. However a clutch of early entries including Never Let Me Go, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and Catfish added dates and continued to keep a foot in the door. Only Jack Goes Boating appears to have run out of steam early.


Weekend Estimates – October 1-3, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
The Social Network Sony 22.6 (8.170) New 2771 22.6
Legend of the Guardians WB 10.9 (3,040) -33% 3575 30.1
Walt Street: Money Never Sleeps Fox 10.2 (2,840) -46% 3597 36
The Town WB 10.1 (3,430) -36% 2935 64.4
Easy A Sony 6.8 (2,280) -36% 2974 42.2
You Again BV 5.5 (2,150) -35% 2548 16.4
Let Me In Overture 5.3 (2,610) New 2021 5.3
Case 39 Par Vantage 5.2 (2,370) New 2211 5.2
Devil Uni 3.6 (1,510) -45% 2392 27.3
Alpha and Omega Lions Gate 3.0 (1,290) -38% 2302 19
Resident Evil: Afterlife Sony/Alliance 2.8 (1,450) -44% 1907 56.6
Robot/Endhiran Ficus/B4U 2.1 (15,260) New 139 2.1
Inception WB .84 (1,340) -37% 625 288.3
Takers Sony .79 (1,020) -46% 773 56.2
Catfish Uni/Alliance .61 (4,480) 80% 136 1.6
Anjaana Anjaani Eros .56 (6,090) New 92 0.56
The Other Guys Sony .43 (760) -57% 566 117.7
StreetDance 3D Alliance .42 (2,940) New 144 0.42
Waiting for “Superman” Par Vantage .41 (12,010) 193% 34 0.6
Despicable Me Uni .39 (840) -33% 463 246
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $90.90
% Change (Last Year) -9%
% Change (Last Week) -3%
Also debuting/expanding
Fubar 2 Alliance .21 (6,970) 30 0.21
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Sony Classics .20 (7,010) 27% 29 0.286
Never Let Me Go Searchlight .19 (3,470) -23% 54 0.62
Chain Letter New Film .12 (300) 401 0.12
Jack Goes Boating Overture .10 (1,300) 29% 78 0.27
Buried Lions Gate 96,200 (2,920) -4% 33 0.23
Hatchet II Vitagraph 59,700 (880) 68 0.06
Le Poil de la bete Seville 48,800 (1,740) 28 0.05
Freakomomics Magnolia 32,400 (1,620) 20 0.03
Leaving IFC 12,700 (6,350) 2 0.01
Douchebag Paladin 3,600 (3,600) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share – January 1 – September 23, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (23) 1312.1 16.10%
Fox (16) 1263.7 15.50%
Paramount (11) 1228.6 15.10%
Buena Vista (14) 1099.5 13.50%
Sony (22) 1035.9 12.70%
Universal (16) 747.4 9.20%
Summit (9) 424.9 5.20%
Lions Gate (12) 403.1 5.00%
Fox Searchlight (5) 71.2 0.90%
Focus (6) 68.1 0.80%
Overture (5) 67.6 0.80%
Weinstein Co. (6) 60.8 0.70%
Sony Classics (19) 51.7 0.60%
MGM (1) 50.4 0.60%
CBS (2) 50 0.60%
Other * (253) 211 2.60%
8146 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Limited Releases: January 1 – September 30, 2010


Title * Distributor Gross
Hubble 3D WB 16,036,317
The Ghost Writer Summit 15,569,712
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance 11,250,177
The Young Victoria * Apparition/Alliance 11,131,232
Get Low Sony Classics 8,449,788
A Single Man * Weinstein Co. 7,935,872
The Girl Who Played with Fire Music Box/Alliance 7,539,151
Babies Focus 7,444,272
Cyrus Fox Searchlight 7,442,641
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus * E1/Sony Classics 7,394,171
City Island Anchor Bay 6,671,036
The Last Station Sony Classics 6,617,867
The Secret in Their Eyes Sony Classics 6,384,875
Winter’s Bone Roadside Attraction 6,077,440
An Education * Sony Classics 4,963,224
Under the Sea 3D * WB 4,950,071
I Am Love Magnolia 4,900,430
The Hurt Locker * Summit 4,531,548
Solitary Man Anchor Bay 4,359,937
Greenberg Focus 4,283,056
* does not include 2009 box office

Weekend Estimates — October 3

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

The Social Network|22.6|New| 22.6
Legend of the Guardians|10.9|-33% |30.1
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps|10.2|-46%|36
The Town|10.1|-36%|64.4
Easy A|6.8|-36%|42.2
You Again|5.5|-35%|16.4
Let Me In|5.3| New|5.3
Case 39|5.2| New|5.2
Devil|3.6| -45%| 27.3
Alpha and Omega|3.0|-38%|19

Friday Estimates

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010


Basically, Sony is now hoping that The Social Network, which they have pushed about as hard as any drama has ever been pushed, does slightly better than The Town this weekend. $26.85m is the magic number to pass, as it is the number Ben Button opened to… and they want that across-the-board Oscar nominee to be their first point of reference. If things go well, about one of every 20 million Facebook users will have rushed out to see the film.

Back in the Land of Reality, this is an excellent opening for a drama with no box office stars. Aside from chick-flicky films like Dear John and Eat Pray Love, you don’t see $20m opening dramas these days.

That said, as this Social Network and Let Me In were both reminded this weekend, you gotta sell your goods and not get caught up in your own in-house excitement. Social Network sold itself to the media elite, smartly and with style. And as a result, they’re getting box office returns from that limited group. That could, as Sony hopes, still mean $100 million.

It’s really a different conversation than box office, but Sony should embrace and be fully pleased with this number for an Aaron Sorkin script… which means a specific slice of people who want to hear rapid-fired clever dialogue and not walk away with much more than that story being well told. They made the movie they set out to make… and then, I am afraid, got a little too caught up in their own belief that it was the second coming. There is a ton of talent on display in the film, but it is only as much as it is. And perspective gets lost.

The same need to sell what you have and not what you think you have is true for Let Me In, which is a much bigger mystery non-opening this weekend, as they chose to take a gentle, weird, very Euro movie and make it into a horror film with fancy arthouse edges. I don’t see the movies as the same at all, i believe that film can be reimagined (and think Fincher will take Dragon Tattoo miles further than the director of the series now on screen does), so I am fine with what Matt Reeves did. So the question is, why couldn’t Overture sell what Lionsgate or Screen Gems would have opened to 3x as much of a gross. (My first suspect would be TV spending and time for a strong pr rollout, but honestly, I have been so in TIFF mode for weeks that I don’t have a great idea of what the team left at Overture was able to get done, aside from fests and geek community hype.)

This opening neither puts Social Network behind some 8-ball with awards season or profitability, nor does it make it a smash success. It’s just box office. And awards are just awards. And really, what will live on forever is The Film. I am not as over the moon about Social Network as some. I think a lot of critics projected their personal issues with the web onto the movie. But It’s a damned good movie, especially from a major studio.

But I digress…

Nice holds again for The Town and Easy A.

Friday Estimates – October 2

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

The Social Network|8|2771||8
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps|3.3 |3565|-53%|29
The Town|3.1|2885|-38%|57.4
Legend of the Guardians|2.6|3575|-43%|21.8
Easy A|2.2|2974|-38%|37.7
Let Me In|1.9|2021||1.9
Case 39|1.8|2211||1.8
You Again|1.6|2548|-40%|12.5
Resident Evil: Afterlife|0.75|2642|-44%|54.6
Also Debuting
Robot|0.4 5|89||0.45
Anjaana Anjaani|0.16|92||0.16
StreetDance 3D|0.12|144||0.12
Fubar 2|81,600|30||81,600
Chain Letter|37,800|401||37,800
Hatchet II|25,300|67||25,300
Le Poil de la bete|16,400|28||16,400
*in millions|||

Critics Roundup – September 30

Friday, October 1st, 2010

The Social Network|Yellow|Green|Green|Yellow|Green
Let Me In|Green|Green|Green|Green|Green
Case 39|||||
Barry Munday |||||

Box Office Hell – September 30

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
The Social Network|27.6|27.5|26|28|27
Let Me In|13.5|11.5|8|8|9.5
Legend of the Guardians|10|9.8|10|8|10.8
The Town|9.8|11.3|10|7.5|10.5
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps|9.8|11|10.5|10|11
Case 39|3.8|7.4|4|n/a|6.5

A Trailer For Case 39

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
Family services social worker Emily Jenkins thinks she has seen it all until she meets her newest, most mysterious case, troubled 10-year old Lilith Sullivan. Emily’s worst fears are confirmed when the parents try to kill Lilith, their only daughter. Emily saves her and decides to take her in herself until the right foster family comes along.