MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Weekend Review and Oscar Preview

The story of the weekend wasn’t so much the continuing success of Titanic, which actually took a bump up over the weekend, but the relatively dismal showing of Primary Colors. Looks like Universal execs were right for a change when they insisted on keeping the budget for the comedic drama down, even with John Travolta. (Don’t worry. They’ll be making up for that bout of insight with the meaninglessly titled Mercury Rising.) It was never even a contest. Titanic won by just 17 percent on Friday, but on both Saturday and Sunday, the Big Boat maintained a 33 percent lead on Mike Nichols‘ Roman a’ Cliff Arquette. Which, to me, is a shame, since I happen to think this is an important film. (I have already heard disagreement on that from a few of you, but I’m going to have to respectfully disagree.) Leo dropped his Iron Mask this weekend to the tune of 35 percent, as many of you expected. U.S. Marshals did the same. Wild Things rode the T&A wagon to a surprising $9.6 million. And Mr. Nice Guy gathered up $5 million, which for a quickie release, ain’t too bad.
THE GOOD: Wild Things. I expected little more than Denise Richards‘ busom and Kevin Bacon‘s weenie. And both were there, but this is not a film about body parts. John McNaughton has made a very funny, genre-bending, revisionist noir comedy that will have a long life in film schools for years to come. Now I know why Sony dumped the film. They couldn’t figure out how to sell it, so they went for the boobs. This film is much richer than that and deserved better. Critics who took it too seriously just didn’t get it, much as they didn’t get McNaughton’s Mad Dog and Glory, which was grossly underrated. I was truly thrilled to find this film, which I expected to be schlock, to be a bit of mad genius.
THE BAD: The buzz around Primary Colors continues to be about the Clinton angle, but as much as the film is Clinton’s story, it’s about more than one candidate. It’s about the state of politics in this era. As it happens, I also revisited Wag the Dog this weekend and on my third viewing, I still found myself laughing out loud at some parts of the film. It’s a shame that quality work that so incisively reflects a period of American history, like such films as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Dr. Strangelove, The Candidate and Bob Roberts, is being missed just because the current President has made the films too close to reality for comfort.
THE UGLY: The Independent Spirit Awards were handed out Saturday to many recipients who should have been recognized by the Academy this year. Eve’s Bayou took a couple of statues, as did Chasing Amy (which was not my personal fave, but lots of people loved the film). In the Academy wheelhouse, Robert Duvall won Best Director, Best Actor and Best Feature and Julie Christie won for Afterglow. My guess is that these honors were better than just being nominated, but “it’s an honor just to be nominated” will likely have to suffice tonight.
CONTEST WINNER: This week was excruciatingly close between two guys. Both got the order of the Top Five right, and one of them — Chode60005 — was the only person to hit the exact number on Primary Colors, $12.4 million. But Chode was undone by a $2.1 million over-estimation on Wild Things. Dan Krovich didn’t hit any nails on their heads, but he did better overall in the Top Five and was within $100,000 of the right number on Mr. Nice Guy. So, Dan is our winner! Congratulations and your T-shirt will be on its way shortly.
TWO UNLIKELY-TO-WIN OSCAR-NOMINATED MOVIES EQUAL: The Full Monty + As Good As It Gets = As Good As The Full Monty Gets. In an effort to suck a few more dollars out of a really good idea for a movie, Paramount and Fox co-produce this film, which features Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Djimon Hunsou, Robin Williams, Burt Reynolds and Jack Nicholson stripping for two straight hours. The budget soars to over $200 million as the costs for prosthetic makers, pubic hair weaves and personal trainers take off into the stratosphere. After test-screening audiences find that Nicholson’s naked body is even harder to handle than the truth, Kevin Bacon‘s naked body is hired to replace Nicholson’s by way of computer graphics. Burt Reynolds walks out of the premiere and fires his agent, his manager and his housekeeper for getting him into the film. Djimon is gracious and claims that he understands why his privates are the only ones not shown in the film. The rumors about him overshadowing the others just aren’t true. Williams appears naked, but no one can find any of his body parts through the hair. And Affleck and Damon arrive at the premiere with their new wives, the Barbie Twins.
JUST WONDERING: Will any of this year’s major nominees be back for more next year?
BAD OSCAR AD WATCH: Newsweek called the screenplay for Good Will Hunting “tangy.” But one ad based around Oscar itself is for American Express. It shows that 20 out of 25 nominees in the directing and acting categories are American Express cardholders. My question: What about the other five? Nicholson, Hoffman, Robin Williams, Judi Dench and Julie Christie are the missing members. Seems like being off the list is the cooler place to be.
READER OF THE DAY: From Steve: “If Matt Damon meets Minnie Driver Oscar night and both of them win, who will they thank?”

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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