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David Poland

By David Poland

So Little To Say This Week

It’s a funny week when I have endless column ideas and almost nothing for the blog. Perhaps it’s the sudden late heat in L.A.
I can’t speak for The Greatest Game Ever Played, but the rest of this week’s movie release line-up smells like the “before” at a sewage treatment plant.

65 Responses to “So Little To Say This Week”

  1. Mr. Bloppy says:

    I saw “Greatest Game Ever Played”. It’s actually really good. I was shocked to find out it was directed by Chet. Is it a limited release?

  2. Bruce says:

    Might just be me but it seems like it has been really weak overall since August. Nothing really breaking out.

  3. joefitz84 says:

    I’ve heard terrible things about Greatest Game. Doesn’t sound like a winner.

  4. MattM says:

    Well, you have History of Violence going wide, MirrorMask, Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio, and Capote opening. Serenity also seems to be getting shockingly positive reviews (80% positive at RT right now), which might help it.
    Greatest Game, I just don’t get the marketing strategy–Disney’s had decent luck with pegging releases of these inspirational sports films (Rookie, Titans, Miracle) to major sporting events. The golf season is over.

  5. LesterFreed says:

    I think maybe I’ll give Serenity a try. Hasn’t been much good out lately and I could use some action. Have never seen the tv show its based on and I hope that doesn’t play too big a part in it.

  6. Sanchez says:

    I gots me a thing for inspirational sport movies. Like Miracle and Rudy and Field of Dreams. Golf needs one.

  7. Boyd says:

    If there’s not much to write about then maybe you could talk about the “cheap-out” of American Beauty that you mentioned a few days ago.

  8. Josh says:

    The trailer actually worked for me. I’m going to see it.

  9. Wrecktum says:

    I’d like to dump on Greatest Game as much as the next person, which was made only because Dick Cook loves golf (he’s said so himself several times). Sadly, I can’t dump on it because it’s a good little film.

  10. Angelus21 says:

    I think Shia Lebaouf(sp?) is a real up and comer as an actor. One of the best young actors we have here.

  11. Wrecktum says:

    ^ Remember when whacked out names like Marion Morrison and Archibald Leach were automatically changed? Now we have suffer with male leads names “Shia.”

  12. lazarus says:

    Well at least people know Archibald is a guy. And I’d argue “Cary Grant” sounds more feminine, if less icky. If Shia’s last name were Hardcastle it might work, but LeBouf? Sounds like the name of a hair boutique.
    Let’s also not forget one of Hollywood’s best name changes: Bernie Schwartz into Tony Curtis.

  13. lazarus says:

    Also, Serenity looks mildly interesting, but I just couldn’t live with myself if I was among the crowd of tools that are Joss Whedon fanatics.
    I’ll catch it at the North Hollywood cheap theatre (you can’t beat a $2 matinee and $3 night show), where it will probably be in about 3 weeks.
    Which reminds me, who the fuck is paying $7 at the Vine? How are these guys still in business? It was barely worth walking past the H’Wood Blvd freaks and XXX bookstores to go there for $4, but what a joke. I just saw the Revenge of the Sith/War of the Worlds (I’m glad I saw this as part of a double feature, because I would have been pissed wasting a whole cinematic session on this half-baked popcorn) twofer, and damned if that projection bulb wasn’t on half-power. I mean, those two films are dark, but not that dark…cheap-ass motherfuckers…for $7 they can turn that thing up where it’s supposed to be.
    sorry to the non-Los Angeles residents for those last two bits, but I’m sure I’m not alone here.

  14. bicycle bob says:

    well i pay almost 10 bucks a flick. i’d deal with the pimps and the ho’s for 7.

  15. jesse says:

    Dave, did you see Serenity, or are you just not enthused? (I’m assuming the former.) Are you going to review it?
    I just finished watching the Firefly series — I never got around to it when it was on Fox, or even right after the DVD release — and it really is pretty good. And suitably cinematic, such that I could picture the film working pretty well. I was interested before, just out of interest in Whedon and sci-fi, but now, what with that 80% RT rating holding, I’m very excited to check it out tonight.
    Also, the episodes Whedon has directed of his own shows, from what I’ve seen, have often been among the better-directed episodes of the show’s run. His Buffy episodes are some of the most stylish; I’ve been waiting for his feature directing debut since the series finale in ’03.

  16. Bruce says:

    For Whedons sake it better be good or he’ll regret turning down the numerous big budget opportunities he had in the past to film it.

  17. jesse says:

    Bruce, I’m betting he doesn’t much care — one thing the fans respond to so passionately, I think, is how much he clearly loves what he’s doing.
    Also, he’s currently assigned to Wonder Woman — the big-budget opportunities aren’t exactly passing him by!

  18. Josh Massey says:

    Almost embarrassingly, Ebert’s review of “Into the Blue” has made me kinda want to see it. Not in theaters, mind you – but it’ll be on my Netflix queue.
    Also, is there ANY WAY “Wonder Woman” will make money?

  19. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Movies like Into The Blue are great movies to sit around and watch with a group of friends. You can still make light conversation and have fun because you’re not missing much.
    But, yeah, Ebert’s review made it sounds as if it was at least trying to be more than the advertising has pegged it as.
    Plus, Paul Walker and Jessica Alba ain’t bad on the eyes.

  20. Francis R says:

    I’ll give Serenity a view. It’s the strongest contender of the weekend. I thought Firefly was great fun and I’m confident the movie will be the same. Four-to-one the reviews have been positive. (Who cares about the Whedon fanatics? Is that a reason not to go to a movie these days, because it has a passionate following somewhere? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.)

  21. Me says:

    Yeah, but when the fanatics go overboard on hype, it can be tough to trust them again. I tried getting into Buffy after everyone said how amazingly great it was, and to tell you the truth, it just wasn’t. It was mildly entertaining, at best. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if everyone hadn’t been hyping it so feverishly.
    So why should I pay attention when those same people are telling me how amazingly great Serenity is going to be.
    I had a taste of Whedon’s writing. I didn’t like it. I’m not going to actually shell out cash for more now.

  22. Josh says:

    Alba in a bikini for two hours? Definately a must buy on dvd.

  23. Stella's Boy says:

    I liked The Rookie (have yet to see Miracle), but The Greatest Game Ever Played bored me to tears. Never got into it, but I agree that Shia is a good young actor. Serenity looks really lame to me. Never saw Firefly, but the trailers make it look like a generic sci-fi/action flick. Looks like a made-for-Sci-Fi-Channel movie.

  24. LesterFreed says:

    Miracle was a really good movie. One thing about Kurt Russell. He comes to play. He doesn’t half ass any role hes in. Even in supposed bad movies. He always gives his all. Hes great as the coach.

  25. Stella's Boy says:

    I agree. I’m definitely a big fan of Kurt Russell.

  26. Mark Ziegler says:

    I can’t see Serenity being a hit. Maybe on dvd/video. But not on the big screen. Even the X Files wasn’t a huge hit and that ran for 10 yrs and had millions of fans.

  27. MattM says:

    X-Files did 83M domestic and 105M overseas, plus DVD/ancillary on a 60M budget. Not a mega-hit, but unquestionably a profitable hit.

  28. Nicol D says:

    Anyone know where that Shining movie is playing.
    I haven’t seen Nicholson in a romantic role in years…and he lost so much weight for the role.
    Oscar bait!

  29. Mark Ziegler says:

    Well that was my point. It did alright but nothing outrageous and that had many more fans and more name recognition and ran for ten more yrs.

  30. Angelus21 says:

    The Shining? Is it 1980? Red….rum.

  31. Joe Straat says:

    Serenity should get some word-of-mouth since it’s a damn good movie. If you missed having a Han Solo character in the Star Wars prequels, definitely check this one out. It’s like if Han Solo had a spinoff movie and it was actually good. And this is coming from someone who really doesn’t like Buffy (or much network TV at all, for that matter). I do see how it’s not going to launch anyone’s career or get large box office numbers. It’s not going to be a huge hit, but it should gross a little higher than expected when all’s said and done.

  32. Sanchez says:

    I’ve been hearing these Han Solo comparisons a lot. He’s no Han Solo. Where’s Chewie?

  33. MattM says:

    I’ll say this–Serenity was sold out about an hour in advance at a theatre in Manhattan that scarcely ever sells out (the one at 34th and 8th), so I think it could (at least for day one) outperform.

  34. Stella's Boy says:

    I always thought a sold-out show in a big city meant huge box office hit. Then I went to see Disturbing Behavior in Chicago, and a half-hour before it started the showing was sold-out. I remember thinking, “Wow. This movie is going to be a huge hit.” We all know how that turned out. Opened to what, $7 million? So is that one showing really a good barometer of Serenity’s BO?

  35. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Serenity was always going to be big on day one, but where it goes from there is very hard to determine. I personally don’t see it getting any better than, say, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and probably not even that good. I dunno…
    I’m just disappointed is all. I was a HUUUGE Buffy fan (one of my top three series of all time after Twin Peaks and Seinfeld) and didn’t care much for Angel so when I heard about Firefly, i was sort of excited. But then it died and I never got to see it. I sort of wish that Whedon had just created a new big screen universe instead of making Serenity. A new movie with a new story and the like could’ve really taken off and made him a force and it could’ve been great. But instead he chose to make Serenity which to A LOT of people has the stink of “a movie from that show that got axed” about it.
    Whedon’s a talented man but I feel like he wasted his chance to really expand his audience by making Serenity.
    If it turns out to be a word-of-mouth hit (I doubt it all things considered) then good on him but…
    Everybody should get out and see History of Violence though! Make it a hit, Americans!

  36. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Oh, and does The Greatest Game Ever Played remind anyone of that golf movie that stared Jim Caviezel (jesus) last year? I swear they have identical posters too.

  37. Crow T Robot says:

    I was actually embarassed watching “Serenity” today. How the hell did this guy convince Universal to dump 40 mil into this pile of claptrap?
    Seriously, I’m stunned!

  38. Sanchez says:

    I’m stunned you paid to see it on opening night and validated them.

  39. Filipe says:

    When I first notice that most Box Office web sites were predicting Serenity way ahead of Into the Blue, I thought it was weird, than I start to think and it does made sense. Stella’s Boys is probably right that should be around 8m or so on opening week for a generic film like this without stars, but than there’s probably another 8m to be made out of the fans. So 15-17m opening isn’t that absurd, the problem is I can very easily see it dropping to 5m on second weekend. It will be less than Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which has a large fan base), but not that off.
    Universal didn’t took much of a chance. If it ends with 30m, they can say “we took a chance and it didn’t quite pay off as we hope but after DVD it will do a small profit” (and this film has the sort of fans that will buy a special deluxe DVD in 2007 and an even more special three-disc set in 2009 and so on). If it gets to 50m (which I doubt unless word of mouth is really good), expect Universal to greenlight a sequel.

  40. Joe Leydon says:

    Call in the press: I can actually agree with Stella’s Boy AND Lester Freed. Kurt Russell is one of the most consistently reliable and impressive actors around. He was hilarious in self-mocking mode in “Sky High.” And he’s very good is a serious vein in the forthcoming “Dreamer: Inspired By a True Story.” In fact, if I had to draw up a list of the ten most dependable actors around, I would list Russell along with Michael Caine, Jeff Bridges, Helen Mirren, Daniel Auteuil and Dennis Quaid. Any other nominess for the list(male or female)?

  41. PandaBear says:

    The nerd fans alone will make sure it gets to 30mill. Add another 30 on video and it makes its money.

  42. nudel says:

    I went to a 7pm showing at one of the older cinemas in my area. I don’t know if it was sold out, but it was very full.
    The audience laughed at the humor, jumped at the shocks, and clapped enthusiastically at the end.
    Were they all “nerds”? Well, I dunno, it looked like the usual crowd you get around here. It wasn’t college students and high school students…
    I think you all may be underestimating Serenity.

  43. Stella's Boy says:

    Sorry, but I don’t think anyone is underestimating Serenity, and it may not even get to $30 million. Its Friday estimate is $3.9 million.

  44. martin says:

    3.9 is an OK number for the film, but certainly not great. It’s in 2nd place now, may fall to third by the end of the weekend. It should do about $12-14 for the weekend and finish up around $28-30. First day got all the fans, second day got all the curious, then it starts falling into the black hole where sci-fi actioners quickly die. $30 mill domestic, another $30 int’l, basically means the ‘franchise’ is over, unless it does spectaculer on DVD (which is possible, but unlikely).
    I simply do not see Serenity as a word-of-mouth movie. That right there ends it. And the comparisons to Trek are insane. Trek was actually a successful tv show that people knew and watched. Serenity had a tiny audience and got shit-canned before the end of the first season. I just think people are desperate for anything they can call new and cool. Unfortunately, Serenity is neither.

  45. Crow T Robot says:

    What’s worse than being stuck watching a well budgeted movie that can’t even muster up a B list celebrity in its cast? Maybe watching another masturbating geek (ala Sin City) talk loud and say nothing for 2 hours.
    I can imagine that this is what it was like watching Lynch’s nonsensical “Dune” 20 years ago.

  46. Wrecktum says:

    Serenity is another example of mainstream media laziness. Reporters and editors assumed the Serenity was the next big thing because all the nerd movie sites kept ejaculating about how great Whedon and his awesome Firefly are. Naturally, to seem cool, the mainstream media started aping the nerd sites, and Serenity’s supposed breakout status was assured.
    Well, the people have spoken, and this is what they’ve said: Serenity is a poorly marketed, cheap sci-fier based on a little-known tv show that bombed in its first season.
    Hopefully, things like this will debut on cable in the future, which is where this flick should have gone.

  47. Dr Wally says:

    The Greatest Game Ever Played took place in Istanbul on May 25th this year. LFC (Champions of Europe) forever! Yeah, Miracle was rousing fun but the outstanding Friday Night Lights is the best sports film of the 21st century so far.

  48. Chucky in Jersey says:

    “Greatest Game Ever Played” opened semi-wide. The trailer made it look like crap; Disney would have been badly burned with a wide release (1200+ theaters).
    Incidentally, Sony Pictures Classics cut back the national release of “Thumbsucker”. As the 2 AMC megaplexes near me turned it down I’ll have to go to the Regal Union Square to see it.

  49. Angelus21 says:

    I don’t know many who gave Serenity a pass because nerds love sci fi movies.

  50. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    “Survey says: not identical.”
    Okay, not identicle in structure but look at the image. They’re the exact same thing!
    Serenity’s only hope for reaching $30mil is if the fans go back to see it every weekend for a few weeks.
    If they don’t, it’s gonna crash. And crash hard.
    $11mil isn’t good for sci-fi no matter what the movie is.

  51. martin says:

    sky captain opening about 40% higher with $16 mill last yr at this time and finished around $35. Which would put Serenity in the low $20s. I think it will do at least $25 and has a shot at $30. But at best, these numbers suggest perhaps a sci-fi channel miniseries as the next chance to see these characters. Worldwide box office is likely to be low (no stars, no tv series recognition). So they’re looking at $60-70 mill. worldwide on a film that cost $50 mill to make and another 30-40 in worldwide marketing. That’s a loser.

  52. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Yeah, I think Firefly’s TV treatment was even worse overseas than it was the US. In Australia it was on at Midnight on random nights of the week and episodes were taken off when they felt like it and so on.
    It opened this week here as well, we’ll see how it goes, but I’m predicting about $1mil which is what a $10mil opening in the US aquaits to here. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was only around $600,000.
    The reviews haven’t been much cop either. Mostly 2.5/5 reviews are the ones I’ve seen.

  53. Cadavra says:

    “sky captain opening about 40% higher with $16 mill last yr at this time and finished around $35.”
    Not really a fair comparison: SKY CAPTAIN had big stars and was positioned as a general-audience film. One could just as easily take the glass-half-full position that $10 million is a damn good opening for a film with a no-name cast and a very limited fan base.

  54. David Poland says:

    $10 million is a good opening for a film with a no-name cast and a very limited fan base.
    It’s just that the film is unlikley to reach $20 million on that basis.

  55. Stella's Boy says:

    What expectations did Universal really have for Serenity? To start a new franchise? To establish a relationship with Whedon?

  56. Mark Ziegler says:

    They wanted some quick cash. If Serenity hit it big they’d make out. They figured that they’d make up their budget from dvd with the core audience anyway. They weren’t gambling that much.

  57. Stella's Boy says:

    Maybe not a crazy gamble, but it did cost $40 million, plus another, what, $15-$20 million for marketing. And there can’t be that much international interest in it, since Firefly isn’t even well-known in this country. So even if it does well on DVD, are they really going to make that much money?

  58. Mark Ziegler says:

    40$ mill for the chance to gross 300+ is a good gamble. Especially when you know that movie is making min 20$ at the BO and another 20$ on dvd. Its not that much of a gamble for them.

  59. Stella's Boy says:

    I’m not trying to be argumentative, but if it makes $20 million at the box office and $20 million on DVD, Universal will lose money, won’t they, because of the combined production and advertising cost of about $60 million?

  60. Richard Nash says:

    If it breaks even its fine in their eyes. Its a solid chance they have to take. The chance for a franchise thats not that expensive is worth the risk of losing 10 million bucks.

  61. PandaBear says:

    The gamble isn’t going to pay off. Looks like you can add it to the DOA list. Which is getting long.

  62. jeffmcm says:

    Did someone really think there was ever a chance for Serenity to make $300 million?!?!?

  63. Angelus21 says:

    Who sat around a room and thought Wedding Crashers would make 210 plus?
    I guess its better to take a shot on a huge hit than to pass. The numbers are astronomical if its a huge success.
    Myself? I thought Serenity would make 30. Tops.

  64. Cadavra says:

    “‘$10 million is a good opening for a film with a no-name cast and a very limited fan base.’
    ‘It’s just that the film is unlikley to reach $20 million on that basis.'”
    I think it’ll do 20. Maybe not 25, but based on last night, it should finish the week with 14. A 60% drop makes the second weekend 4.5, for a total of 18.5. One on the next midweek, two on the third weekend, and they’re already at 21.5.

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