MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Preview

It’s gonna be an interesting weekend for a change. John Travolta power should be able to overcome the “I’m bored with Clinton-esque scandals” attitude that ended up hurting Wag the Dog much more than helping it. I say it will win this weekend’s primary by a few million.
But there will still be a fight for second between Titanic and The Man In The Iron Mask. I know that some of you are sick of me inferring monkey business with reported Titanic numbers, but the fact that I see some really questionable box office reportage doesn’t mean that I’m slamming Titanic as a movie. And I haven’t questioned the numbers since the fourth weekend of the film’s release. This movie is a phenom. But, last weekend, Titanic‘s box office fluctuation that ended up in a reported tie was questionable, rising on Sunday. As I predicted, Titanic‘s “final figures” for the weekend mysteriously rose by $100,000, while Iron Mask numbers did what one normally expects, a $200,000 drop. Based on the those studio reports, Titanic won the weekend in the end by $300,000. What would be Paramount’s motivation to fluff numbers? Last weekend’s win set the record for most consecutive winning weekends, breaking a three-way tie at 12 weeks. This fluffing doesn’t require a great conspiracy, We’re talking about a 1 percent variation in the weekend numbers in order to insure a record that will forever be attached to this film. So far this week, Iron Mask is ahead of Titanic by $200,000 each weekday. That’s a 12 percent lead. So it seems likely that Titanic will spend its first weekend out of first place, falling to third place. No great shame when you already have a billion in the bank.
The only other holdover capable of grossing more than $5 million this weekend is U.S. Marshals. I would estimate about a $7 million weekend. I think that should be just enough to beat out Wild Things, which should open on the strength of Denise Richards’ breasts alone. I know it sounds sexist. (I’m doing a lot of apologizing today, huh?) But the movie is being sold on sex and the wide array of stories about what Neve Campbell keeps on and what Richards, Matt Dillon and Kevin Bacon take off should bring in at least $5 million in ticket sales. Jackie Chan is back, but New Line isn’t doing a whole lot to make it a special occasion. I look for the film to land in seventh, behind Good Will Hunting and The Wedding Singer.
THE GOOD: Niagara Niagara is opening here in Los Angeles with a performance by Robin Tunney (from The Craft) as a Tourette Syndrome sufferer that is already making her a hot commodity before the film earns box office dollar one. You can’t go. )&$#)(&@$. You can’t go. #@(%&*(@#. You can’t go far. *&$&*(#&$(&. in Los Angeles without *&$(*&#$. seeing her *&($&(#. (*&$(*#&$. *(&$(*&#$ face.
BOX OFFICE CONTEST: Pick this weekend’s Top Five at the box office with the dollar amounts for each. Add new wide releases that you don’t see in the Top Five as a tie-breaker. You have until Saturday at noon to get me your entries. Closest one to the actual numbers wins a prize. For real.
THE BAD: L.A. Confidential got all those Academy Award nominations, but still won’t get close to the domestic box office dollars of fellow Best Picture nominees Good Will Hunting, As Good As It Gets or Titanic, and it won’t be anywhere near the worldwide box office for The Full Monty.
THE UGLY: Hush looks like it’s going to gross more domestically than Wings of the Dove.
TWO BAD MOVIES EQUAL: Mr. Nice Guy + Wild Things = Mr. Nice Thing. Kevin Bacon exposes himself over and over again and while the bad guys are checking out his package, he beats them senseless. And he never uses a stunt penis! The film includes nude scenes by Bacon, Matt Dillon, Jackie Chan and Tom Arnold as comic relief. The sequel Miss Nice Things has already been greenlit, with Denise Richards as the star. Miss You’re Gonna Have To Pay Me A Lot More If You Want To See These, starring Neve Campbell, has been indefinitely shelved.
JUST WONDERING: Is Grease still the word?
BAD AD WATCH: I was driving along listening to the radio the other night when none other than Adam Carolla, the funny guy from “Loveline,” was ragging on Ron Brewington of American Urban Radio Networks. Carolla called him “the anti-critic” and proclaimed that a positive review from Brewington was a sure sign of a movie worth avoiding. In my look through the papers, Ron was unusually under-represented this week, but he did earn the headline for one big film. “If you liked The Fugitive, you will love U.S. Marshals!” And if you love getting your teeth pulled, you’ll love Chairman of the Board.
READER OF THE DAY: From Greg: “Let’s say I missed yesterday’s The Hot Button and would like to read it today… how can I do that? I can’t find any way to get to past columns from the rough cut Web site!”

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Leonard Klady's Friday Estimates
Friday Screens % Chg Cume
Title Gross Thtr % Chgn Cume
Venom 33 4250 NEW 33
A Star is Born 15.7 3686 NEW 15.7
Smallfoot 3.5 4131 -46% 31.3
Night School 3.5 3019 -63% 37.9
The House Wirh a Clock in its Walls 1.8 3463 -43% 49.5
A Simple Favor 1 2408 -50% 46.6
The Nun 0.75 2264 -52% 111.5
Hell Fest 0.6 2297 -70% 7.4
Crazy Rich Asians 0.6 1466 -51% 167.6
The Predator 0.25 1643 -77% 49.3
Also Debuting
The Hate U Give 0.17 36
Shine 85,600 609
Exes Baggage 75,900 62
NOTA 71,300 138
96 61,600 62
Andhadhun 55,000 54
Afsar 45,400 33
Project Gutenberg 36,000 17
Love Yatri 22,300 41
Hello, Mrs. Money 22,200 37
Studio 54 5,300 1
Loving Pablo 4,200 15
3-Day Estimates Weekend % Chg Cume
No Good Dead 24.4 (11,230) NEW 24.4
Dolphin Tale 2 16.6 (4,540) NEW 16.6
Guardians of the Galaxy 7.9 (2,550) -23% 305.8
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4.8 (1,630) -26% 181.1
The Drop 4.4 (5,480) NEW 4.4
Let's Be Cops 4.3 (1,570) -22% 73
If I Stay 4.0 (1,320) -28% 44.9
The November Man 2.8 (1,030) -36% 22.5
The Giver 2.5 (1,120) -26% 41.2
The Hundred-Foot Journey 2.5 (1,270) -21% 49.4