Posts Tagged ‘Secretariat’

Wilmington on DVDs: Army of Crime, Nowhere Boy, Red, The Naked Kiss And More …

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011


Army of Crime (Three and a Half Stars)
France: Robert Guediguian, 2010 (Kino Lorber)

Army of Crime is one of those movies that takes history — in this case, the saga of the French Resistance in World War II — and makes it come blisteringly alive. The film also shines a light on a great contemporary French filmmaker who, apart from festivals and art-houses, has been somewhat ignored and neglected here in the U.S.: Robert Guediguian. Guediguian is the man who made the marvelous romantic comedy-drama Marius and Jeanette, and other warm, humane, funny-sad leftist ensemble films, often about the contemporary French lower middle class, often set in Guediguian’s hometown, Marseille. Here, he trains his camera, and brings part of his vibrant acting repertory company, to a story set in Paris in the WWII past, a subject relentlessly grim and full of pain and terror.

Guediguian’s mostly real-life tale follows the bloody and overmatched battle against the Nazi occupiers of a group of 22 French Resistance fighters composed mostly of immigrants and outsiders: Armenians, French and Polish Jews, Hungarians, anti-Franco Spaniards, and many others — people outside the mainstream of French society, but willing to risk death or the camps to try to save it, and each other, It was a group that was actually dubbed the Army of Crime by the Nazis.

It’s an exciting story, and a tragic one. (We know most of these Resistance fighters will be rounded up and sent to their deaths from Guediguian’s very first scene.) But it’s not dark and downbeat in the way of, say, Army of Shadows, by the Jewish ex-Resistance fighter and supreme noir filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville.

Cheerless, downbeat and full of dread, Army of Shadows presented a gallery of seemingly doomed fighters led by the dour quiet Gu (Lino Ventura), all in the grip of a nightmarish inhumanity that seemed to have swallowed up the world. Army of Crime suggests that the normal world, and normal emotions and loves, still exist both outside and inside Vichy France, but that they are under battering assault — and that though most of the Resistance men and women we see here may never know that sweet or buoyant life again, the world Guediguian paints elsewhere, some of them might.

Guediguian’s gift for creating humanity and life permeates his film, gives it a grim humor and a romantic charge. The focus of the movie’s ensemble is the Armenian Resistance leader Missak Manouchian — played by Simon Abkarian, with the uncommonly beautiful non-Guediguian regular, Virginie Ledoyen, as his wife Melinee. And we follow Missak through one violent or dangerous scene after another, though internal resistance battles with dogmatic superiors (the Resistance had a considerable Communist presence, something the leftist Guediguian doesn’t gloss over), the group‘s assaults on the Nazi soldiers and officers, and the (largely unintentional) betrayals and roundups by Vichy police such as the dogged Inspector Pujol (Jean-Pierre Darroussin).


Missak is backed by a colorful, diverse, mostly very young crew — including Robinson Stevenin and Leopold Szabatura as the devoted, deadly brothers, Marcel and Simon Rayman, and Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet as the equally deadly Thomas Elek –and _- and these younger actors mesh well with Darroussin, Ariane Ascaride (as Mme. Elek) Gerard Meylan (as le flic resistant) and other Guediguian regulars. (The last two are the stars of Marius and Jeanette). But throughout, Missak remains the central figure, and the movie closes with his last letter to Melinee, a heart-breaking real-life message of astounding love, humanity and lack of rancor.


As a portrait of political warfare, Army of Crime seems to me more powerful and moving than Olivier Assayas’ often excellent Carlos, and not just because the Resistance fighters were mostly good guys and Carlos a bad one. By showing men like Missak, who didn’t fight and kill out of predisposition or temperament (as Carlos seemingly did), but out of genuine idealism, the movie steeps us in the dramatic contradictions, and deep tragedy, of war. The imminence of death constantly cues the drama here, and Guediguian presents the horror of daily life under the Nazis with both sensitivity and with the appalled gaze of a man of peace and optimism gazing at a (past) world of war, blood and terror. (In French, with English subtitles.)

Extras: Interviews with Guediguian and Ledoyen.


Nowhere Boy (Also Blu-ray) (Three Stars)
U.K.; Sam-Taylor Wood, 2010

He‘s a real Nowhere Man, sitting in his Nowhere Land,
making all his Nowhere plans, for Nobody….
Doesn’t have a point of view.
Knows not where he‘s going to. Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere Man, Please listen: You don’t know what you‘re missin‘…
— John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Nowhere Boy is a good film, a moving, well-crafted film, but its resonance for anybody who was in their teens and twenties during the ‘60s heyday of The Beatles, will be much more intense. It’s the emotional, touching story of the Liverpool youth of Beatle John Lennon, and his relationship with the two women who had the most profound influence on his young character: Lennon’s aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott-Thomas) and his mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff.). For better and worse, these two — the mother who left him and the aunt who raised him — shaped the young man John is by the end of the film. They molded also the world-shaking artist he became afterwards, along with his great mates Paul, George and Ringo.

As we watch, John grows from a shy, fun-loving, but tragedy-stricken 15-year old, with a taste for rock n’ roll, into a confused son who finds his lost mother (Julia, of the seashell eyes and windy smile in the song from Lennon‘s poignant White Album song), and to a guy at once rebellious, arrogant, sensitive, vulnerable, bullying and disarmingly playful, who acted like a street tough in Liverpool. Finally, just about to blossom and break loose, we see the beginnings of Beatle John, a brilliant and iconoclastic musician poet — a rocker with an Elvis scream, who can make his guitar howl and move. Playing with Paul McCartney (Thomas Sangster) and George Harrison (Sam Wood) — Ringo Starr has yet to join them — John is the lead singer of a group called not the Beatles, but the Quarrymen. But Hamburg, and the birth of the Beatles are both on the horizon. (For the Hamburg tale, you see Backbeat.)

There’s precious little Beatle music here, except for the opening chord from Hard Day’s Night, and, under the credits, John’s solo cry of anguish Mother. But we get a strong Beatle feel from the cast. John is played by a fine young actor named Aaron Johnson, who looks eerily like Lennon (though he’s handsomer), and who is also the husband of Nowhere Boy director Sam Taylor-Wood. (She‘s a lady and mother, despite the Sam.)

It’s a remarkable performance. Johnson makes us like John, sympathize with him, understand how torn he is that the good-time siren Julia left him (unable to care for all her children), how he’s drawn to her sensuality, her smiling pain, her frolics. And he lets us see also how John chafes under the more responsible (and dowdy) Mimi’s discipline. But he also shows us John as a bit of a bastard, a mixer, and a bully who tyrannizes his mates, bashes his best friend Pete Shotton at a party, and bashes Paul as well, then sadly, contritely apologizes to both.

This is a guy whom we know could write (and even feel) the nasty punk mood of his Ray Charles knockoff, “Run for Your Life” from Rubber Soul (“I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man…”), but who could believably later write all those tender, rapturous, heart-struck love songs to Yoko Ono.

Johnson plays his first few scenes almost wordlessly. But then he dives into John‘s verbosity and cut-and-slash wit and impudence. The way Johnson tilts his head is pure Lennon; so is the way he curls up unashamedly in his mother’s arms.

The key thing about the Beatles, besides the fact that they were the world’s greatest rock n’ roll band (Sorry, Rolling Stones), is that they were these four great friends and terrific musicians together, who together could do it all, do everything, who made each other better (with a little help from George Martin) and pulled each other up to the top, or to the topper-most of the popper-most, as John would say to them before shows. Saying that John was better than Paul, or vice versa, fanning the flames of that pointless old feud, just prolongs the tragedy of their split-up. The Hell With It. Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play…And we’re all Nowhere Men (and Women) for prolonging even after death a split that shouldn‘t have happened.
So, in a way, I’m not instantly receptive to the idea of a film about John Lennon, tormented young artist and lone rebel with an acoustic guitar. It’s the synergy of The Beatles I love, their community. (A community of…workers as Paul says pugnaciously in A Hard Day’s Night.) But if you’re going to take that approach, then Ms. Taylor-Wood and her hubby Aaron have chosen the right melody and the right key. They fill this movie with all you need, love — enough to carry into our hearts and minds. So do those two wonderful actresses, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff, as Mimi and Julia.
I haven’t said enough about Kristin and Anne-Marie, of course. But then, mothers are used to being taken for granted. And if you don’t feel a twinge at the movie’s last pre-credit title, which is about Mimi, then maybe you’re a bit of a bastard yourself. Hey, Yeah yeah yeah…I thought John (and Paul) couldn’t make me smile in a movie theatre again, like I did when I was a teenager, watching A Hard Day’s Night for the first time. I should have known better.

Extras: Featurettes; Deleted Scenes.


The Naked Kiss (Three Stars)
U.S.: Samuel Fuller, 1964 (Criterion)

This Sam Fuller movie begins with one of the great shocker low-budget opening scenes: a beautiful bald prostitute (played by Constance Towers) beating the crap out of her procurer, losing her wig, pulling out the cash he owes her, and dumping the rest on his whimpering chest. Fuller, freed of any strictures of big studio propriety, shoves this scene in our faces: At one point hooker Kelly aims her purse at the camera, and batters us movie voyeurs as well as her ex-pimp.

But The Naked Kiss is also a romance (of sorts) and a woman’s picture (of a particularly dark and mordant kind). And soon we see Kelly in a typical ’50’s-early ’60s American small town or city, called Grantville, trying to escape the dark past of that first violent scene by becoming a nurse’s aid: a natural care-giver, specializing in adorable children, who sing sentimental songs. Kelly meanwhile, is crazy for Fuller’s favorite composer, Beethoven, and especially “The Moonlight Sonata.” And can she escape the past? Maybe not. The only movie playing in Grantville’s cinema is Fuller’s own previous Constance Towers picture, Shock Corridor.
Kelly’s nemesis seems to be a salty cop named Griff (played growlingly by Anthony Eisley, of TV‘s Hawaiian Eye), who beds her right off the incoming bus, pays $20, and then directs her to the nearest brothel in the next town (a bordello run by film noir regular Virginia Grey). Her salvation seems to be the strangely gentle playboy/philanthropist/Lothario (and Griff’s Korean War buddy) Grant (Michael Dante), who, like Kelly, loves Beethoven and Lord Byron. And something else.

Full of Fullerian sock and sensation, The Naked Kiss — which, like Fuller’s 1963 Shock Corridor, was cheaply but artfully art-directed by Eugene Lourie (Renoir‘s The Rules of the Game) and gorgeously shot in black and white, by Stanley Cortez (The Night of the Hunter) — is also rife with a bizarre tenderness, a tough romanticism, and something part of the way between schmaltz and weltschmerz.

Just as, according to Kelly, the naked kiss is the kiss of a pervert (and a guaranteed ‘60s marquee draw), this movie has a little bit of Baudelaire peeking up though the Fannie Hurstisms. It’s Fuller’s most Sirkian film, just as Shockproof (co-written by Sam) was Sirk’s most Fullerian.

The Naked Kiss is also a fine showcase for Constance Towers, an underrated leading lady who worked for John Ford (in The Horse Soldiers and Sergeant Rutledge) as well as Fuller, but whom Hitchcock somehow just missed. She’ll never be forgotten for that opening scene, though. Among bald prostitute movie leading ladies, Constance Towers is the queen.

Extras: New interview with Constance Towers; 1967 and 1987 French television interviews with Sam Fuller; Trailer. Booklet with Robert Polito essay, excerpt on prostitutes and The Naked Kiss’ from Fuller’s autobiography A Third Face, and illustrations by the great cartoonist and comic artist Daniel Clowes.




Secretariat (Also Blu-Ray) (Three and a Half Stars)
U. S.; Randall Wallace, 2010

Secretariat has a great story, an almost unbelievable (but mostly fact-based) tale — the incredible saga of the horse who won the 1973 Triple Crown, blew away the field, set unmatchable records, and is still regarded almost universally as the greatest race horse who ever lived and ran. (Almost?)

All the above is not spoiler-alert-worthy by the way. Anybody who doesn’t know at least part of the Secretariat legend, probably has no intention of ever seeing this movie, of ever going to a horse race, or even of finishing this review. A good part of the audience (especially the younger part) probably never heard of the horse Seabiscuit before they saw the movie, although they certainly had to know that multi-million dollar films most likely aren’t going to be made about horses that lose the big race and fade into obscurity.
But what person who ever picked up a sports page hasn’t heard at some time of Secretariat?

Director Randall Wallace’s and scenarist Mike Rich‘s movie generates suspense and narrative tension in different ways than making you wonder what will happen next. This is a movie that takes us behind the scenes of a story we may partly know — and then shows us what we don’t know about it, tells us how and why it all happened, and introduces us to the gallery of characters who were present at the creation of the legend. . All that turns out to be as engrossing as the recreated spectacle of Secretariat, dueling three times on the track with another great Horse, Sham, his insistent Triple Crown runner-up and a thoroughbred racer who would have been the record-breaker if Secretariat wasn‘t around.

The problem with making an inspirational sports movie about horse-racing is that the races themselves only last a few minutes. Seabiscuit triumphed over that by giving us the back-story. Secretariat does something similar. But the races themselves are squeezed for all the drama they can yield — with captivating long shots and close-ups, slow-motion, and telephoto wizardry, and with jockey Ron Turcotte battling his way, on the unconquerable Secretariat, up through the pack to daylight and the inevitable (almost always) finishing line.

Those scenes are exhilarating, in a way modern sports movies — taking advantage of modern technology — often can be. But the back-story, the tale behind the race, is exhilarating too.

That drama revolves around the strong, non-stereotypical woman who, in real life, owned this history-making stallion, held onto him and backed his rise to fame and glory despite heavy odds: Penny Chenery Tweedy (glowingly played by Diane Lane). The daughter of a once prominent stable owner (Scott Glenn), who dies and leaves her his seemingly failing operation, Penny shows classic inspirational sports saga gumption, keeping up the business, Virginia‘s Meadow Stables, despite strong opposition from her family, especially from her finance-minded brother (Dylan).

And she does it despite an occasionally surly, uncooperative staff (a trainer she has to fire) — and despite the fact that she lives in faraway Denver in the middle of the country, and so has to commute to the East Coast to keep the whole thing afloat. Among those left behind, are Penny’s husband Jack Tweedy (Dylan Walsh), who sides with her brother, and her teen daughter Kate (AJ Michalka), who, in typical early ’70s Vietnam era fashion, wants to get out of Vietnam. (Those protest scenes, are a major phony note.)
What saves Penny and Meadow Stables is Secretariat. He’s an amazing horse from the moments of his birth, when he stands up in the stall almost instantly, after emerging from Royal’s womb. His heart is more than twice as large and strong as the average horse‘s. He seems twice as smart too. He is beautiful and ungodly fast and perfectly muscled and he loves to run. He even seems somewhat cocky. In races, Secretariat likes to start by laying back near the tail-end of the field, as if teasing everybody on the track and in the stands, then put on a sudden, unbeatable burst of speed, blow past every other horse anywhere near him, and win going away. His nickname is Big Red. His groom, Eddie Sweat (Nelsan Ellis), swears he can understand the humans around him and what they‘re thinking, though they (we) can only marvel at him.

Penny assembles a crack team behind Secretariat, that includes Eddie, the maternal go-to gal Miss Ham (played by Margo Martindale, in what should probably be described as a quintessential Margo Martindale role), his plucky jockey Turcotte (played spot-on by real-life jockey Otto Thorwarth), and, most importantly, her gaudily-dressed, acid-tongued new trainer Lucien Laurin (played, with his usually screen-grabbing relish, by John Malkovich), an eccentric and acid-tongued French-Canadian whose sartorial tastes are as whimsical as his strategies are rock-solid.

Obviously, there’s a feminist theme here. But the movie doesn’t hammer at it, doesn’t pile on too many scenes where Penny — played with her usual quiet natural radiance by Diane Lane — bests some chauvinistic or testosterone-heavy foe, gracefully ball-busting him.

If Lane, daughter of the late acting teacher/director and Cassavetes crony Burt Lane, makes us fix on her on screen without any strain, than Malkovich retains his title as one of the top modern scene-heist artists in movies. Garbed in flamboyant pinks and outlandish haberdashery, his voice and manner tart as a grand aunt (as Norman Mailer once said of Truman Capote), Malkovich plays the kind of believably weirdo character that would never have been imagined by a yarn-spinner for a movie like this, who could only spring somehow, however fictionalized, from life itself.

Wallace wrote the screenplay for Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning Scots heroic saga Braveheart, and he directed Gibson’s somewhat pretentious kick-ass Vietnam War movie, We Were Soldiers. Rich is an inspirational sports-movie specialist; he wrote The Rookie (2002) and Miracle. This movie’s advisor, Bill Nack, also wrote the book, Secretariat: The Making of a Champion, on which the film is based, and he’s an expert on the subject, bringing scads of the little, lesser-known facts and rich details that make this movie seem so real, so knowing. The houses look impeccable but lived-in. The talk seems right; the characters converse with that easy, courtly, cocky-casual semi-arrogance the American upper and upper-middle classes often affect.

But we can also see how a phenomenon like Secretariat breaks up classes, vanquishes snobbery, reduces a whole crowd of breathless spectators into a mass of gaping, amazed kids-at-heart. That’s what happened on the race tracks, as never before, and never since, with Secretariat. That’s why we don’t need conventional suspense and surprise. Watching this careful, loving, often exciting recreation of this amazing horse’s astonishing career is like seeing a grand dramatic recreation of the Ali-Foreman fight, the Boston-Phoenix finals classic. We know how it ends. We know what it means. (Or part of what it means; we‘ll know more about Secretariat after watching the film.) We just want to watch it happen. We want to see that horse, on that track, at that time, in those moments, win those unprecedented, unrepeatable, jaw-dropping races. In the best of Secretariat, we do.

Extras: Commentary by Wallace; Featurettes; Interview with Penny Chenery Tweedy; Multi-angle Secretariat simulation; Music video.




Red (Two and a Half Stars)
U. S.: Robert Schwentke, 2010 (Summit Entertainment)

The name Red stands for Retired: Extremely Dangerous, which is the legend stamped on the files of Bruce Willis, as 50something Black Op specialist Frank Moses — and also on the files of his longtime colleague/buddies, played by primo actors Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman. In addition, it’s the title of a long comic book, a.k.a. graphic novel series, by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer, all about old retired C. I. A. pals uncovering plots and going on rampages, and of the cleaned-up, fairly entertaining and likable, but basically kind of silly action thriller that director Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler’s Wife) and writers Jon and Erick Hoeber have made from it.

I like all these actors — and many of the others in Red. They should always be working, and in roles worthy of them (or at least in roles that pay well, like these). But Red‘s script is the same old stuff, the same old malarkey, only with an older, better, brainier cast. Any movie that casts all the above players — and others here like Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss, James Remar, and for the love of God, 93-year-old Ernie Borgnine as Henry, the C. I. A. records keeper — maybe deserves a medal. But it also lays itself open for ageist cracks and youth-crazed dopey biases, which are far too rabid in movies and TV these days anyway.

Red tries to attack those biases, make fun of them. But there’s a problem. Like many modern movies with older actors, this picture has them playing too constantly young and spunky (Morgan Freeman as the more vulnerable 80-year-old Tom Matheson honorably excepted), when they’d be more effective playing older, more vulnerable but smarter (like John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and Arthur Hunnicutt in El Dorado). The idea seems to be that Frank should show us he’s as good as he ever was, better than the young punks in his face, and the older creeps behind them. And he is, but maybe his superiority would be better shown in different ways than this show seems to value: killing a bunch of bad guys who have superior firepower and government backing, and screwing young women. Especially when Helen Mirren is around.

The plot has Frank falling for young Sarah Ross (Mary Louise Parker) a chatty phone operator at his C.I.A. pension number — and then nearly getting rubbed out at his home by a hit squad that seems to be under the command of fashionable C.I.A. stud William Cooper (Karl Urban). So Frank grabs Sarah, and takes off on a transcontinental, multi-location jaunt/chase to find and warn and recruit his old pals and colleagues: Freeman as the wry-smiling Matheson (who’s actually in an old folks’ home), Mirren as two-gun Victoria (who can practically juggle automatics, and recovers almost instantly from bloody torso shots), and Malkovich as Marvin Boggs, the recluse/weirdo of the bunch. (It’s another of Malkovich‘s Don’t-rile-him-He’s-crazy roles.)

Along for support is the gang’s old friendly antagonist, and Victoria’s From Russia with Love ex, Ivan Simonov (Brian Cox). And lurking in the background are Robert Stanton (Julian McMahon), a hypocritical Vice President, and far-right Presidential candidate, who apparently hasn’t yet gotten his automatic candidate/host slot on Fox News. Also lurking and smirking is evil arrogant rich bastard Alexander Dunning — played by Richard Dreyfuss, whom Dick Cheney might accuse of Sarah Palinizing him. Jesse Eisenberg seems a natural for the missing part of the young C.I.A. trainee or Internet expose reporter, who defects to Frank’s gang, but maybe they figured they didn’t need him, with Parker around.

The movie is fast and pretty funny and it gets around. It’s not too good, thanks to the script, but I liked the company, and you probably will too.

Extras: Commentary with C.I.A. man Robert Baer; Featurette; Deleted and extended scenes; Featurette; Interactive feature.



Inspector Bellamy (Three Stars)
France: Claude Chabrol, 2008)

Inspector Bellamy, an odd but richly drawn, sardonic and compelling detective story starring Gerard Depardieu, was the last feature directed (and co-written) by France’s Claude Chabrol, a filmmaker whose excellent movies, mostly about crimes and the French bourgeoisie, have charmed, disturbed and held me spellbound for almost half a century. A jolly man in real life, directing movie after movie almost to the end, Chabrol released Bellamy in 2008 — and then went on to make two more TV episodes (both mystery stories) before dying at 80 in September.

Long before the end, Chabrol turned out to the most prolific and productive of all his old Cahiers du Cinema critic-turned filmmaker buddies, the remarkable quintet who launched the Nouvelle Vague together: the so-called Holy Family of Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette — and Chabrol.

Now, only Godard and Rivette are left.

It’s a sad occasion but a good film. Depardieu plays Bellamy as a solid, bourgeois, randy but dutiful husband and keen-eyed cop, a kind of homey Inspector Maigret with a soft spot for murderers, who runs into two problems on his summer vacation with Mme. Bellamy (Marie Bunel): the arrival of his drunken ex-con step-brother Jacques (Clovis Cornillac), and his strange encounter with a natty insurance agent named Emile Leullet (Jacques Gamblin), who may have faked his own death in order to start a new life with his sexy mistress Nadia (played by the very sexy Vahina Giocante).

Bellamy‘s cat-and-mouse relations with the fugitive are mysterious, but almost comical, as if Leullet were a Raskolnikov seeking out his own Inspector Porfiry. And the French Inspector’s savage links with frere Jacques, in the other part of the movie, are dark, deep, profoundly twisted. Inspector Bellamy grips and surprises you, but easily, surely, without any fuss.

Depardieu, who works even more constantly than Chabrol did, rivets you with his casual expertise, but he also almost shocks you with his late-Brandoesque bulk. He‘s immense, beyond Raimu. This fiery, consummate actor who, it seemed, could either go savagely modern, or play all the great French classical stage and literary roles, from Cyrano on, now seems in shape only for a classical turn as Gargantua, in a film based on Rabelais.

It doesn’t affect his performance which is, as always, effortless, magnetic and inwardly exuberant. The other actors are fine as well, and the movie, shot by Eduardo Serra, has a relaxed roll and rhythm, as if it were a snap to make. Chabrol, who once said that a film without a murder didn’t interest him, has often been called the French Hitchcock. Here he sometimes seems like a Lang, a Preminger, or a Renoir as well. Despite his age, he’d often been at his best in recent years, from 1995’s La Ceremonie on, and Inspector Bellamy, while not a masterwork, is certainly a master’s work. (In French, with subtitles.)

Extras: Featurette; Trailer.


Riot (Two Stars)
U.S.: Buzz Kulik, 1969 (Olive)
Jim Brown, Gene Hackman and Ben Carruthers (the star of Cassavetes’ Shadows) are three convicts who are part of a riot and takeover (and secret breakout tunnel plot) at the real-life Arizona State Prison — whose warden and many actual prisoners appear as supporting players or extras. It always seems as if should be better than it is — the writer is James Poe of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? — but the movie stays grim and relentless and second-rate to the end. Brown holds his own acting with Hackman, which is saying something.

Weekend Box Office Report — November 28

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Tangled Up in Blues … and Reds

A quartet of new releases for Thanksgiving failed to topple Harry Potter from the top of the charts during the gobble, gobble fest. The first part of the Potter finale — Deathly Hallows — grossed an estimated $51.2 million for the weekend portion of the holiday frame. Just a cluck behind was the animated Rapunzel of Tangled with $49.2 million ($69.1 million for the 5-days).

The other three wide release freshmen clustered in positions five to seven with indifferent results. The glitzy musical Burlesque crooned $11.4 million, rom-com Love and Other Drugs ingested $9.6 million and Faster added a tortoise-paced $8.2 million.

The big noise of the session proved to be the well positioned awards contender The King’s Speech that amassed a heady $86,000 screen average from just four venues. There was also an impressive $610,000 for local hockey comedy Lance et compte in Quebec, but a dull $212,000 for Bollywood entry Break Ke Baad. And a new seasonal Nutcracker in 3D was virtually D.O.A. with a $62,700 tally from 42 screens.

Adding it all up, Thanksgiving box office was a smidgen less than last year’s result.

Industry trackers generally predicted that Deathly Hallows would prevail at the box office but few anticipated that Tangled would be truly competitive with the Hogwart’s grad. They also generally over estimated the strengths of the remaining trio of new entries; especially Faster, which was given the edge over Love and Other Drugs.

Overall weekend numbers added up to roughly $187 million that translated into a 6% decline from the immediate prior session. It was also a slight 1% decline from Thanksgiving weekend 2009 when The Twilight Saga: New Moon and The Blind Side led with respectively $42.9 million and $40.1 million. The top new entry, Old Dogs, ranked fourth with $16.9 million.

The current session also saw expansions for 127 Hours and Fair Game that were encouraging but nonetheless displayed signs of fatigue. Still with critics groups just weeks away from announcements both films could well experience second winds. The potent arrival of The King’s Speech however has put that film in the forefront and its now vying with a real royal wedding as well as a smattering of pictures yet to be seen for late year honors.


Weekend Estimates – November 26-28, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows, Part 1* WB 51.2 (12,420) -59% 4125 221.2
Tangled BV 49.2 (13,660) NEW 3603 69.1
Megamind Par 12.9 (3,770) -20% 3411 130.5
Unstoppable Fox 11.7 (3,670) -10% 3183 60.6
Burlesque Sony 11.4 (3,740) NEW 3037 16.8
Love and Other Drugs Fox 9.6 (3,920) NEW 2455 13.8
Faster CBS 8.2 (3,360) NEW 2451 11.8
Due Date WB 7.2 (2,830) -19% 2555 84.9
The Next Three Days Lionsgate 4.8 (1,860) -27% 2564 14.5
Morning Glory Par 4.0 (1,630) -24% 2441 26.4
127 Hours Searchlight 1.7 (5,900) 89% 293 4.4
Fair Game Summit 1.6 (3,960) 8% 396 6
For Colored Girls … Lionsgate 1.4 (2,360) -38% 605 36.6
Red Summit 1.4 (1,540) -43% 914 86.2
Skyline Uni/Alliance 1.1 (900) -70% 1189 20.1
The Social Network Sony .73 (2,510) -22% 291 90.4
Secretariat BV .66 (1.310) -32% 502 57.6
Lance et compte Seville .61 (6,930) NEW 88 0.61
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Music Box/Alliance .36 (1,970) -10% 184 4.2
Despicable Me Uni .35 (1,320) 31% 266 249.7
The King’s Speech Weinstein Co. .34 (86,030) NEW 4 0.34
Inside Job Sony Classics .31 (2,330) -9% 132 2.6
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $179.40
% Change (Last Year) -1%
% Change (Last Week) -6%
Also debuting/expanding
Break Ke Baad Reliance .21 (2,500) 85 0.33
Nutcracker 3D FreeStyle 62,700 (1,490) 42 0.09
Made in Dagenham Sony Classics 62.500 (5,680) 64% 11 0.12
The Legend of Pale Male Balcony 11,400 (11,400) 1 0.01
The Unjust CJ 7,200 (7,200) 1 0.01
Tere Ishq Nachaye Eros 4,200 (200) 21 0.01

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

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (27) 1674.1 17.80%
Paramount (18) 1578.1 16.70%
Fox (17) 1333.8 14.10%
Buena Vista (15) 1174.6 12.50%
Sony (23) 1161.6 12.30%
Universal (18) 793.9 8.40%
Summit (11) 512.7 5.40%
Lionsgate (15) 500.4 5.30%
Overture (7) 81.8 0.90%
Fox Searchlight (7) 81.4 0.90%
Focus (7) 75.2 0.80%
Weinstein Co. (7) 62.6 0.70%
Sony Classics (21) 57.8 0.60%
MGM (1) 51.2 0.50%
CBS (2) 50 0.50%
Other * (296) 242.7 2.60%
9431.9 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Limited Releases * (Jan. 1 – Nov. 21, 2010)

Title Distributor Gross
Hubble 3D WB 18,355,494
The Ghost Writer Summit 15,569,712
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance 11,282,938
The Young Victoria * Apparition/Alliance 11,131,232
Get Low Sony Classics 9,080,285
A Single Man * Weinstein Co. 7,935,872
The Girl Who Played with Fire Music Box/Alliance 7,837,823
Cyrus Fox Searchlight 7,461,082
Babies Focus 7,444,272
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnasus * 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 6,391,436
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Focus 6,350,058
Winter’s Bone Roadside Attraction 6,225,414
Waiting for “Superman” Par Vantage 6,130,466
Under the Sea 3D * WB 5,504,062
Precious Lions Gate 5,085,319
I Am Love Magnolia 5,002,411
An Education * Sony Classics 4,963,224
* does not include 2009 box office

Patterson Wonders What Audience Secretariat Is Directed Toward

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Patterson Angrily Tops O’Hehir As He Wonders What Audience Secretariat Is Directed Toward

Weekend Box Office Report — November 21

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Harry and the Deathly Swallows … Gulp!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 ascended to an estimated $126.2 million and corralled more than 60% of weekend ticket sales. Comparatively speaking the remaining films in the multiplex had to settle for chump change, including the bow of the thriller The Next Three Days which slotted fifth with $6.7 million.

The session also included the new Bollywood release Guzaarish, which garnered a better than respectable $423,000 at 108 venues. Among the few exclusive bows both the British import Made in Dagenham and France’s White Material were just OK with respective openings of $39,300 and $35,800, each playing on three screens.

It was the biggest opening yet for a Harry Potter film but while the juggernaut provided a big box office boost from last weekend it was insufficient to stave off a decline from 2009.

Expectations were high for the first installment of the last chapter of the Potter franchise. Advance sales and online tracking anticipated a $100 million debut and that number expanded following word of advance Thursday midnight screenings estimated at $24 million. Large format engagements were estimated at $12.4 million and if that number holds up it will be a record.

Internationally the early estimates are roughly $205 million from 54 markets. It includes all-time records in the U.K. and Russia and otherwise just sensational debuts elsewhere. The final, final Potter putter is schedule for July 2011.

On a decidedly downbeat note, The Next Three Days came in well below tracking that suggested a $10 million launch. The film also received a drubbing from critics.

Weekend revenues lurched toward $200 million, which translated into a 64% hike from seven days back. It was however 25% behind the 2009 slate led by the second installment of Twilight (New Moon), which bowed bitingly to $142.8 million with the unexpectedly $34.1 million potency of The Blind Side right behind it.

The contender’s roster failed to see any additional dynamos this weekend and the titles already in the marketplace were finding the Darwinian aspect of the exercise unrelenting. Both Fair Game and 127 Hours added a significant number of playdates with the latter continuing to maintain a hefty $8,330 engagement average. The other surprise in the mix is the continuing stamina of the non-fiction Inside Job that’s racked up $2.2 million to date.


Weekend Estimates – November 19-21, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 1* WB 126.2 (30,600) NEW 4125 126.2
Megamind Par 16.2 (4,280) -45% 3779 109.5
Unstoppable Fox 13.0 (4,060) -43% 3207 41.9
Due Date WB 8.9 (2,760) -42% 3229 72.4
The Next Three Days Lionsgate 6.7 (2,590) NEW 2564 6.7
Morning Glory Par 5.2 (2,050) -43% 2544 19.8
Skyline Uni/Alliance 3.4 (1,170) -71% 2883 17.6
Summit 2.4 (1,190) -51% 2034 83.5
For Colored Girls … Lionsgate 2.3 (1,920) -64% 1216 34.5
Fair Game Summit 1.4 (3,730) 41% 386 3.7
Secretariat BV 1.0 (970) -56% 1010 56.4
Paranormal Activity 2 Par .93 (840) -69% 1101 83.6
The Social Network Sony .91 (1,590) -49% 571 89.2
127 Hours Searchlight .90 (8,330) 104% 108 1.9
Saw 3D Lionsgate .82 (1,020) -71% 806 45.3
Jackass 3D Par .72 (1,050) -68% 687 116.1
Life As We Know It WB .52 (930) -50% 558 51.6
Guzaarish UTV .42 (3,910) NEW 108 0.42
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Music Box/Alliance .41 (2,180) -22% 188 3.5
Inside Job Sony Classics .37 (1,770) -22% 211 2.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $191.50
% Change (Last Year) -25%
% Change (Last Week) 64%
Also debuting/expanding
Today’s Special Reliance 88,400 (1,670) 53 0.09
Made in Dagenham Sony Classics 39,300 (13,100) 3 0.04
White Material IFC 35,800 (11,930) 3 0.04
Queen of the Lot Rainbow 16,400 (2,730) 6 0.02
Copacabana Seville 14,100 (2,010) 7 0.01

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Nov. 18, 2010)

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (18) 1555.1 16.80%
Warner Bros. (26) 1538.8 16.70%
Fox (17) 1320.7 14.30%
Buena Vista (15) 1173.4 12.70%
Sony (23) 1160.3 12.60%
Universal (18) 790.4 8.60%
Summit (11) 508.5 5.50%
Lionsgate (14) 490.6 5.30%
Overture (7) 81.7 0.90%
Fox Searchlight (7) 80.3 0.90%
Focus (7) 75.1 0.80%
Weinstein Co. (7) 62.5 0.70%
Sony Classics (21) 57.3 0.60%
MGM (1) 51.2 0.50%
CBS (2) 50 0.50%
Other * (288) 240.7 2.60%
9236.6 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Domestic Grossers * (Jan. 1 – Nov. 18, 2010)

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 476,883,415
Toy Story 3 BV 414,681,777
Alice in Wonderland BV 334,191,110
Iron Man 2 Par 312,445,596
Twilight: Eclipse Summit 300,551,386
Inception WB 291,914,445
Despicable Me Uni 248,900,040
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 162,147,232
The Last Airbender Par 131,733,601
Shutter Island Par 128,051,522
The Other Guy Sony 119,256,755
Salt Sony 118,485,665
Jackass 3D Par 115,357,091
Valentine’s Day WB 110,509,442
Sherlock Holmes * WB 106,967,985
Robin Hood Uni 105,425,146
* does not include 2009 box office

Weekend Box Office Report – November 7

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

No Brainer

Megamind led a torrid weekend box office frame (the largest for a pre-Thanksgiving November) with a first salvo estimated at $47.5 million. Two other national openers followed in succession with strong numbers. The comedy road trip Due Date grossed $33.4 million and the Afrocentric For Colored Girls bowed to $20.1 million.

There was also a pair of Bollywood films timed to the Dwali holiday. Golmaal 3 had solid returns of $443,000 from 86 screens while Action Replayy was disappointing with $232,000 from 99 venues. In Quebec Reste avec moi pancaked on a gross of $25,600 in an initial 19 playdates.

In limited and exclusive runs the politically charged Fair Game polled a respectable $663,000 that indicates challenging expansion plans. Among the remaining newcomers there was a good solo for Algerian Oscar submission Outside the Law of $7,500. But the big noise of the weekend was the not-for-the-squeamish 127 Hours, which played to near capacity at four and generated a staggering screen average of $66,570.

Weekend revenues ballooned as a result of buoyant new titles and some very strong holdovers.

The latest from DreamWorks Animation, Megamind, was generally pegged to debut in a mid-$40 million arena though some felt it could have performed better on a less competitive weekend. Though that contention is dubious, the rest of the year really doesn’t offer that option with both pre-sold and award titles beginning to open up the multiplex floodgates.

Due Date — with its obvious references to Trains, Planes & Automobiles — renewed faith in the power of a high concept comedy. But the riskier For Colored Girls, based upon the acclaimed play by Ntozake Shange, was the session’s major question mark. Many had pursued the property for decades and concluded that it was unfilmable, so when Tyler Perry unexpectedly stepped forward there was a collective shudder. Critical response was mixed to positive while the opening box office was better than anticipated.

Overall box office should top $155 million for the weekend and best the immediate prior session by 67%. It’s also a 28% improvement from 2009 with the launch of the animated A Christmas Carol opened to $30.1 million with the frame’s other debs The Men Who Stare at Goats and The Fourth Kind slotting third and fourth with respectively $12.7 million and $12.2 million.

If you believe that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, the opening weekend of 127 Hours would certainly buttress your argument. Aside from sterling reviews, the fact-inspired tale of endurance has generated a lot of ink centering on the intensity of the viewing experience that appears to cause at least a few patrons to faint at every screening. The industry will be watching intently to see whether it remains a date movie as it expands nationally.

Also under the microscope is Fair Game that fell short of dynamic initial business. There’s already debate about the decision to open in more than a handful of venues and a feeling that rapid expansion will result in further disappointment along the lines of Conviction.


Weekend Estimates – November 5-7, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Megamind Par 47.5 (12,040) New 3944 47.5
ue Date WB 33.4 (9,960) New 3355 33.4
For Colored Girls Lionsgate 20.1 (9,440) New 2127 20.1
Red Summit 8.8 (2,720) -18% 3229 71.8
Saw 3D Lionsgate 7.9 (2,820) -67% 2808 38.5
Paranormal Activity 2 Par 7.1 (2,250) -57% 3168 77
Jackass 3D Par 5.0 (2,330) -41% 2165 110.8
Secretariat BV 4.1 (1,570) -18% 2614 51.1
Hereafter WB 4.0 (1,680) -38% 2365 28.7
The Social Network Sony 3.5 (1,890) -22% 1860 85
Life As We Know It WB 3.1 (1,610) -23% 1950 48.6
Conviction Fox Searchlight 1.5 (2,280) -16% 672 4.5
The Town WB 1.2 (1,510) -39% 801 89.8
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Music Box/Alliance .74 (3,720) 2% 199 2
Fair Game Summit .66 (14,410) New 46 0.66
Easy A Sony .50 (1,070) -53% 468 57.3
Legend of the Guardians WB .45 (610) -74% 740 54
Golmaal 3 Eros .44 (5,140) New 86 0.44
Waiting for “Superman” Par Vantage .38 (1,570) -36% 242 5.4
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Fox .34 (960) -57% 353 51.9
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $149.10
% Change (Last Year) 28%
% Change (Last Week) 67%
Also debuting/expanding
127 Hours Searchlight .27 (66,570) 4 0.27
Action Replayy Viva .23 (2,340) 99 0.23
Stone Overture .18 (1,630) -28% 109 1.5
Four Lions Drafthouse 41,300 (5,160) 8 0.04
Reste avec moi Seville 25,600 (1,350) 19 0.03
Client 9 Magnolia 18,400 (6,130) 3 0.02
Red Hill Strand 8,400 (1,680) 5 0.01
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) Cohen Media 7,500 (7,500) 1 0.01
Trapped CJ Entertainment 4,400 (4,400) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Nov. 4, 2010)

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (25) 1457.6 16.50%
Paramount (16) 1423.7 16.00%
Fox (16) 1290.9 14.50%
Buena Vista (15) 1163.9 13.10%
Sony (23) 1151.1 13.00%
Universal (17) 776.9 8.80%
Summit (10) 488.3 5.50%
Lionsgate (13) 444.2 5.00%
Overture (7) 81.2 0.90%
Fox Searchlight (6) 75.9 0.80%
Focus (7) 74.8 0.80%
Weinstein Co. (7) 62.3 0.70%
Sony Classics (21) 55.5 0.60%
MGM (1) 51.2 0.60%
CBS (2) 50 0.60%
Other * (281) 233.2 2.60%
8880.7 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Global Grossers * (Jan. 1 – Nov. 4, 2010)

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar Fox 1,953,205,209
Toy Story 3 BV 1,061,408,156
Alice in Wonderland BV 1,024,537,295
Inception WB 831,539,135
Shrek Forever After Par 737,766,901
Twilight: Eclipse Summit 691,483,448
Iron Man 2 Par 622,718,600
How to Train Your Dragon Par 495,792,295
Despicable Me Uni 492,994,376
Clash of the Titans WB 489,778,913
Sherlock Holmes * WB 367,796,599
The Karate Kid Sony 359,315,646
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time BV 335,692,394
The Last Airbender Par 318,404,181
Robin Hood Uni 311,826,207
Shutter Island Par 301,977,955
Sex and the City 2 WB 301,158,934
Salt Sony 291,684,047
Resident Evil: Afterlife Sony/Alliance 277,419,991
Grown Ups Sony 270,265,798
The Expendables Lionsgate/NuImage 269,273,037
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Fox 264,341,533
Knight and Day Fox 256,518,022
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox 226,497,209
Valentine’s Day WB 217,596,116
* does not include 2009 box office

Weekend Estimates – November 7

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Due Date|33.4|New|33.4
For Colored Girls|20.1|New|20.1
Saw 3D|7.9|-67%|38.5
Paranormal Activity 2|7.1|-57%| 77
Jackass 3D|5.0|-41% |110.8
The Social Network|3.5|-22%|85

Friday Estimates – November 6

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Due Date|12.1|3355|New|12.1
For Colored Girls|7.4|2127|New|7.4
Saw 3D|2.5|2808|-76%|2.5
Red|3.4 |3349|-25%|51.5
Paranormal Activity 2|2.5|3229|-27%|65.5
Jackass 3D|1.6|2165|-50%|107.3
The Social Network|1|1860|-32%|82.5
Also Debuting
Fair Game|0.18|46||0.18
Golmaal 3|0.12|86||0.12
127 Hours|77,400|4||77,400
Action Replayy|58,200|99||58,200
Four Lions|12,700|8||12,700
Reste avec moi|7,600|19||7,600
Client 9|5,450|3||5,450
Red Hill|3,000|5||3,000
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)|2,000|1||2,000
*in millions|||

Weekend Box Office Report – October 31

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

See … Saw … Ouch!

Saw 3D whipped into cinemas with an estimated $24.3 million to take top spot in weekend movie going. Distributors gave a wide berth to the Halloween frame when traditionally there are sharp drops in attendance; making the Saw finale the sole new national release.

A different sort of ghoul — the Millennium finale The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest — went limited wide to solid returns of $890,000, but otherwise the frame’s new entries were dominated by niche and exclusive launches. The best of the bunch was the Chinese trembler Aftershock with a single screen entry of $17,600. Other newcomers with good but not spectacular returns included indie drama Welcome to the Riley’s, Brit spy spoof Wild Target, Mexican prize winner Nora’s Will, Claude Chabrol’s final effort Bellamy and non-fiction entry Waste Land.

Overall box office saw a sharp fall from last weekend and a slight bump from 2009 results.

The seventh annual edition of the Saw franchise was hoping for an exit with bite with the addition of stereoscopic imagery. But pre-release tracking indicated that with or without gimmicks the mania was fading and its mid-$20 million weekend tally was pretty much in line with pundit’s predictions. The gore crowd would appear to be sated with current splatter fare but the past month has seen every segment of the audience unenthusiastic for the new crop of movies beyond their opening sessions.

The global juggernaut for the Millennium trilogy continued with the U.S. bow of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. The first installment, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, has racked up $99 million internationally and it and its second chapter are the top grossing foreign-language movies in America post-Pan’s Labyrinth.

Weekend revenues generated about $95 million in sales that translated into a 28% drop from the immediate prior session. It was a modest 6% improvement from 2009 when Michael Jackson: This Is It bowed to $23.2 million followed by Paranormal Activity with $16.4 million.

The fact-based Conviction expanded nationally to fair results and appears to be headed to the same sort of indifferent commercial returns as the rest of the early award season contenders. A sharp drop for last weekend’s Hereafter departs from the sort of holds associated with recent films directed by Clint Eastwood whereas the better than expected stamina of the geezer spies of RED has confounded box office mavens.

But apart from Jackass 3D (which passed a $100 million tally this weekend) such well-reviewed positive word-of-mouth entries as The Social Network and Secretariat have struggled to maintain a presence (forget about momentum) in a marketplace that has all but eliminated the possibility of a second wind.


Weekend Estimates – October 29-31, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Saw 3D Lionsgate 24.3 (8,660) New 2808 24.3
Paranormal Activity 2 Par 16.4 (5,070) -60% 3239 65.6
Red Summit 10.9 (3,250) -28% 3349 59
Jackass 3D Par 8.5 (2,720) -60% 3139 101.7
Hereafter WB 6.4 (2,630) -47% 2424 22.2
Secretariat BV 5.0 (1,610) -28% 3108 44.7
The Social Network Sony 4.7 (1,690) -36% 2767 79.7
Life As We Know It WB 4.1 (1,440) -33% 2860 43.6
The Town WB 2.0 (1,250) -27% 1608 87.7
Conviction Fox Searchlight 1.8 (3,220) 501% 565 2.4
Legend of the Guardians WB 1.8 (880) -46% 2010 52.7
Easy A Sony 1.1(880) -37% 1262 56.3
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Music Box/Alliance .89 (5,830) New 152 0.89
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Fox .78 (840) -37% 933 51.2
Waiting for “Superman” Par Vantage .52 (1,580) -33% 330 4.6
Devil Uni .51 (800) -21% 635 33.1
Alpha and Omega Lionsgate .48 (710) -34% 676 24.1
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Focus .46 (960) -32% 477 5.8
You Again BV .41 (610) -37% 673 24.7
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Sony Classics .33 (1,022) -24% 323 2.4
Toy Story 3 BV .31 (920) -34% 337 413.9
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $89.70
% Change (Last Year) 6%
% Change (Last Week) -28%
Also debuting/expanding
Stone Overture .22 (1,760) -39% 125 1.2
Nowhere Boy Weinstein Co. .13 (840) -62% 153 1
10.50 Alliance 55,800 (4,290) 13 0.06
Welcome to the Riley’s IDP 41,600 (4,160) 10 0.04
Nora’s Will Menemsha 25,300 (4,220) 6 0.03
Wild Target FreeStyle 23,200 (5,800) 4 0.02
Bellamy IFC 19,700 (9,850) 2 0.02
Monsters Magnolia 18,100 (6,030) 3 0.02
Aftershock AMC 17,600 (17,600) 1 0.02
Waste Land Arthouse 10.300 (10,300) 1 0.01
Walkaway IABA 9,400 (360) 26 0.01
Strange Powers Variance 4,800 (4,800) 1 0.01
The Kids Grow Up Shadow 4,600 (4,600) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Oct. 28, 2010)

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (25) 1436.3 16.40%
Paramount (16) 1389.1 15.90%
Fox (16) 1289.8 14.70%
Buena Vista (15) 1155.5 13.20%
Sony (23) 1142.4 13.10%
Universal (17) 774.3 8.90%
Summit (10) 473.3 5.40%
Lionsgate (12) 412.7 4.70%
Overture (7) 80.6 0.90%
Focus (7) 74.1 0.80%
Fox Searchlight (6) 73.4 0.80%
Weinstein Co. (7) 61.9 0.70%
Sony Classics (21) 54.7 0.60%
MGM (1) 51.2 0.60%
CBS (2) 50 0.60%
Other * (277) 229.7 2.70%
8749 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Limited Releases * (Jan. 1 – Oct. 28, 2010)

Title Distributor Gross
Hubble 3D WB 17,246,918
The Ghost Writer Summit 15,569,712
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance 11,270,373
The Young Victoria * Apparition/Alliance 11,131,232
Get Low Sony Classics 8,980,294
A Single Man * Weinstein Co. 7,935,872
The Girl Who Played with Fire Music Box/Alliance 7,768,761
Cyrus Fox Searchlight 7,461,082
Babies Focus 7,444,272
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 6,391,436
Winter’s Bone Roadside Attractions 6,204,696
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Focus 5,342,641
Under the Sea 3D * WB 5,256,073
I Am Love Magnolia 4,982,446
An Education * Sony Classics 4,963,224
The Hurt Locker * Summit 4,531,548
Solitary Man Anchor Bay 4,360,548
* does not include 2009 box office

Weekend Estimates – October 31

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Saw 3D|24.3|New|24.3
Paranormal Activity 2|16.4|-60%| 65.6
Jackass 3D|8.5|-60% |101.7
The Social Network|4.7|-36%|79.7
Life As We Know It|4.1|-33%|43.6
The Town|2.0|-27%| 87.7

Friday Estimates – October 30

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Saw 3D|10.8|2808|New|10.8
Paranormal Activity 2|6|3239|-57%|55.2
Red|3.4 |3349|-25%|51.5
Jackass 3D|3.1|3139|-59%|96.2
The Social Network|1.5|2921|-33%|76.5
Life As We Know It|1.4|3019|-28%|40.9
The Town|0.6|1918|-24%|86.3
Also Debuting
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest|0.28|124||0.28
Welcome to the Riley’s|12,500|10||12,500
Wild Target|7,600|4||7,600
Waste Land|4,800|1||4,800
The Kids Grow Up|2,650|1||2,650
*in millions|||

Kaufman Sez Most Award-Winning Hw’d Films Are “Reactionary”; Still Angry At Forrest Gump

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Kaufman Sez Most Award-Winning Hw’d Films Are “Reactionary”; Still Angry At Forrest Gump

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 Estimates – October 24

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2|41.6|New| 41.6
Jackass 3D|21.5|-57% |87.1
The Social Network|7.2|-31%|72.8
Life As We Know It|6.1|-32%|37.5
Legend of the Guardians|3.1|-26%|50.1
The Town|2.7|-33%| 84.6
Easy A|1.7|-35%|54.7

Friday Estimates – October 23

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2|19.1|3216|New|19.1
Jackass 3D|7.6|3111|-66%|73.1
Red|4.5 |3273|-38%|33
The Social Network|2.2|2921|-34%|67.8
Life As We Know It|2|3019|-35%|33.4
The Town|0.8|1918|-35%|82.7
Legend of the Guardians|0.75|2236|-27%|47.7
Easy A|0.55|1632|-35%|53.6
Also Debuting
Score: A Hockey Musical|81,400|120||81,400
Jhootha Hi Sahi|20,200|48||20,200
My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend|3,700|2||3,700
Boxing Gym|2,300|1||2,300
*in millions|||

Best Picture Chart – 19 Weeks To Go – 10/21/10

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

The Ten, If I Had To Pick Today
Dec 25
True Grit
The King’s Speech
Dec 1
Black Swan
Oct 1

The Social Network
Dec 10
The Fighter
O. Russell
Nov 5
127 Hours
Oct 22
June 18
Toy Story 3
July 16

July 9
The Kids Are All Right
The Next Tiers Of Likely
Dec 17
Everything You’ve Got
Nov 24
Love & Other Drugs
Zwick Hathaway
Dec 29
Another Year
June 11 Winter’s Bone
Feb 19
Shutter Island
July 30
Get Low
Sept 15
Never Let Me Go
Sept 17
The Town


Nov 19
Made In Dagenham
Oct 8
Dec 25



Dec 10
The Tempest
Dec 31
Blue Valentine
Dec 29
Dec 29
The Way Home

by David Poland

Previous Chart

September 29, 2010