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David Poland

By David Poland

Sunday Estimates/Analysis 11/27/05

Using BoxOfficeMojo, it is impossible to be sure, since their in-depth numbers only go a few years back, but it looks like this 5-day Thanksgiving may break the record set in 2000 when the second weekend of The Grinch combined with $80 million combined launch of Unbreakable and 102 Dalmations.
For clarity, the $162.1 million 3-day is second to the 2000 record-holding Grinch weekend. But the 5-day may be the best ever, given that Rent, Just Friends and others were a bit front-loaded at the box office.
If indeed this is the second straight record-breaking weekend at the box office, what angle will the boo birds use to keep the dream of a box office apocalypse going? Bet on a lot of chatter about ticket prices being higher than ever and a focus on approximated numbers of ticket sold (since there are no public reports on the actual numbers of tickets sold, expect for the MPAA

13 Responses to “Sunday Estimates/Analysis 11/27/05”

  1. Jeremy Smith says:

    I’ve seen JARHEAD twice, and that second viewing was downright interminable. There’s just no meat on the bone. Like Mendes’s past two films, it’s a simple tale feigning depth.
    CINDERELLA MAN is a very simple movie, too, but at least it’s honest about its ambitions, and, on a classical storytelling level, succeeds rousingly. It would’ve been a contender had it been released this month – and made things very difficult for Universal what with KING KONG and MUNICH crowding the inside track.

  2. jeffmcm says:

    You mean, Mendes’ only two films.
    I thought The Polar Express in Imax was not much more than a big amusement park ride.
    It strikes me that tickets sold is a much more important number than unadjusted grosses.

  3. David Poland says:

    Tickets sold are just one variable. More importantly, none of us have real statistics on this. Per screen average is inaccurate as it goes, since theater count is not a firm stat, and numbers of shows is also variable.
    It would be great to have stats like seats available, seats sold, city by city breakouts, etc. That is not available to us. And ticket sales are nothing but an estimate.
    The only stat that is remotely confirmable outside of the studio accounting offfice is the gross.
    Additionally, a legitimate analysis of the health of the industry would involve foreign and home entertainment, plus other ancillaries, every time.
    The idea that domestic theatrical is happening in a vacuum is false. Studio-financed films are all taking all markets into account when budgeting. So The Island is not close to being the disaster worldwide that we see it as here. But at the same time, we don’t know exactly what the deal between WB and DW is on the film, so we all tend ot be shooting in the dark a bit.

  4. EDouglas says:

    Actually, the estimated Top 10 for the 3-day weekend was about a million less than the Top 10 during the 3 day last Thanksgiving….
    SLUMP!!!!!!!!! :)
    It’s going to be a shame when January comes around and we won’t be able to incite David so easily. :)

  5. David Poland says:

    Next year I’ll be pissed off about the false “up” trend. Or alternately, the lack of any focus on choices that are made by the studios since they are not as easily thrown into the “it all sucks… better watch Tv on an IPod” pot.

  6. jeffmcm says:

    Can you explain that last sentence, DP? Too many clauses.

  7. David Poland says:

    The “slump,” which only became a story in the summer, even though the first quarter was waaaaay off, has become an easy target. When the target is more complex, it becomes uninteresting to those who are just trend hoppers.
    So, if next year we start to see certain kinds of erosion that are not as easily quantified, I suspect that there will be very little mainstream coverage. And that will piss me off too, as it has for years. The horrid irony of all this “moving to new technology” trend hopping is the alleged probelms with the business were caused by the shortened window… which no one bothers to think about as they suggest an even shorter window = salvation.

  8. jeffmcm says:

    Thanks, makes sense.

  9. Angelus21 says:

    We have to start giving Walk the Line it’s due as an award contender with the box office it is doing now.

  10. EDouglas says:

    Actually, I wouldn’t expect January to be much better, since this past January seemed like one of the strongest ones in years, and the line-up so far looks pathetic at best. At least I remember having more $20 million openers this past January than we did in October, and remembering what an oddity that was.

  11. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Angelus, I’ve had the firm belief that Walk The Line was the strongest contender for BP out of all of them. Munich and Brokeback Mountain and Memoirs of a Geisha and all the others all have big IFs hanging over them. And now that will reach $100mil and, hell, it could do A Beautiful Mind business and reach $160mil, it’s in its best position yet. It’s good to see a movie that was critically liked get the corrosponsive box-office.
    And, Douglas, I do remember how everyone was so shocked at how well 2005’s January went. Multiple $20mil openings. And for silly lame movies like Boogeymen that if it had opened now would probably get around $5mil and a quick exit to DVD.

  12. Hopscotch says:

    The most sold out movie I saw an my hometown cineplex was Pride and Prejudice, the early afternoon showings were selling out. I think that it’ll be the big sleeper hit this month.
    I’d say Walk the Line is definitely now a serious Awards Contender on all fronts. It’s a crowd pleaser for sure.

  13. Wendy Firman says:

    there are a a lot of weblog accessible on that theme but your greatest so far…that’s why I am commenting here

Box Office

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin