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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Sunday Estimates by Klady

Not much more to say about Saw III

41 Responses to “Sunday Estimates by Klady”

  1. sid says:

    Ouch on that FooF number but I guess we saw it coming. The Departed should hit the 100 million mark by next weekend so I assume it is going to be the only 100 million grosser in the BP line-up.

  2. jeffmcm says:

    Did DP just call Saw III “true evil”?
    And I notice no reviews all month about any of the three horror movies playing.

  3. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Again, I’d love to hear why the total box office gross on BABEL has anything at all to do with it’s Oscar chances. I’ve yet to hear any coherent evidence behind this thesis.
    And considering this blog continues to berate the MSM for promulgating inane thesises on a more or less weekly basis, it would be nice to hear why, in a world where low-grossing films like GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK and CAPOTE got nominated just last year, a difficult film like’s BABEL’s Oscar hopes need are being pinned to it’s box office, when we all know every single Academy memeber gets sent a DVD of every film, meaning there’s no reason (at all) to suggest that people aren’t going to see the film.
    More so, look at Terrence Howard getting nominated for HUSTLE & FLOW last year, a film that neither performed or was in the Academy’s typical sweet spot. But everyone got those DVDs, and they watched, and they knew the man was the real deal, and the nomination followed.
    Now if people think that BABEL is a piece of garbage and so won’t get nominations, then that’s a totally valid point-of-view.
    But the box office/Oscar nom correlation seems like nothing more than a lot of talk.

  4. Tofu says:

    Dead on Carpet.
    Why did Crash win over Brokeback Mountain last year? Simple. The massive DVD campaign for Academy voters.
    Box Office only relates to awards season when a movie is tanking… Because of word of mouth.

  5. David Poland says:

    The correlation between box office and Oscar is more real than reviews or many other elements. If The Academy perceives a failure, it bails. There are no exceptions I know of off hand. (Feel free to offer them up if you have any.)
    This is why movies that are soft tend to wait until December. The only pressure then is on critics groups.
    Crash didn’t beat BBM because of DVDs. Every Academy member had the same number of both. Crash’s DVD stunt was about saying, “We are in this race and we want your vote.”
    Terrence Howard became a phenom in town without people seeing H&F. Then some of the thousands in The Academy who didn’t bother watching H&F watched it. But you can be sure that a much smaller percentage of Academy voters watched H&F to the end than watched BBM or Crash.
    Babel started in some Academy trouble because Academy members have already shown that they are not big on the toughness of Inarritu/Arriaga. If the movie can’t crack $30 million by December and doesn’t get some sense of unanimous critics group wins, it will be almost impossible for it to be nominated.
    Good Night, & Good Luck had Clooney and Murrow. Capote had a locked lead performance from Hoffman and as I wrote from the beginning, it was one of the most consumable films for Academy members. Both films felt serious and weighty and didn’t put a fist in the faces of Academy voters.
    Babel has Pitt – who is not going to work like Clooney – and after that… in Academy terms… nothing. And it is, even for those who like it a lot, challenging. I think Rinko absolutely deserves a nomination. But she is an outsider, not an insider. That won’t help the Best Picture push.
    Also, Babel cost more than twice what either of last year’s low grossers did. So $25 million pre-nom seemed like a real success for GN&GL and $15 million for Capote, overcoming a studio change and Sony Classics

  6. jeffmcm says:

    I still don’t understand what about Babel will be considered a drawback aside from its box office story, which hasn’t been written yet. When DP says ‘toughness’ and ‘fist in the faces of Academy voters’ what does he mean? Don’t Blanchett and Gael G.B. count for anything?

  7. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Apparently, there are exceptions for everything that doesn’t fit the Box Office/Oscar Nom paradigm. And no examples of why it actually makes any sense. Sounds like that fuzzy math again.
    So what does that mean with VENUS and Peter O’Toole’s so-called impending nomination? Is it dead when the movie flops?
    I mean, please, the Academy isn’t as easy to pin down as this blog likes to think. Saying that they can’t compartmentalize the diffence between artistic success and box office success is just stupid, especially after a year in which they did just that and nominated a number of difficult films.
    And MUNICH was neither a hit with reviewers or audiences, but the Academy decides what they like and vote for it. And it cost a ton more than BABEL did. But I imagine like the Clooney, and Hoffman, and Murrow, and Terrence Howard exceptions, this one is the Speilberg exception.
    It’s all baloney if you ask me. Academy voters vote for what they like, not what the box office is.

  8. martin says:

    I think what is in the back of Dave’s mind, even if he doesn’t say it here, is 21 Grams, which got solid reviews and a reasonable # of critics noms but did no box office. Then got nada from the Academy. Babel still has a shot at being a frontrunner, but it is not an “easy” in like say a very successful Scorcese picture.

  9. martin says:

    Carpetmuncher – Dave is referring to BP, not actresses, etc. Babel feels like an outsider film at the moment, perhaps because it already has the Cannes veneer that sometimes annoys the Academy. And the Academy does tend to vote BP based on box office. If the “word around town” is that Babel is a financial loser, that could hurt its chances. And it’s all relative – $15 mill for an arty Seymour Hoffman or $25 for a B&W small-roled Clooney pic felt like “hit” at the time. It’s hard to say what the expectations are for a Pitt art film, but if its off the charts by 25 or so I’d say its in rough territory.

  10. James Leer says:

    21 Grams didn’t get nada from the Academy. It got two pretty significant nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. And I actually think that was a less accessible film than Babel, which is why I think the latter will play better with the Academy. It’s more straightforward, and it has movie stars (though I don’t think Cate will be nominated for this film as opposed to the other two she’s got coming out, it doesn’t hurt to have her awards season flavor here).

  11. David Poland says:

    I don’t disagree with you in principle, Carpet. I don’t think there are a lot of set rules for The Academy either. But I do think that a perceived failure is one of them.
    Munich was an exception to some standards. But not as much as you seem to think. In spite of rabid rage against the film in the initial group of reviews, the film had a higher ranking at RT than Crash and was #8 on MCN

  12. Tofu says:

    Films in the 70%+ RT arena aren’t nominated?
    Brokeback Mountain also sent out 130,000 screeners at the cost of $2 million?
    Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett can’t equal Clooney and… Murrow?
    Munich wasn’t dropping far faster than the other contenders?
    Gangs of New York, The Pianist, The Insider, and The Thin Red Line were domestic successes?
    Welcome… To The HotBlog Zone.

  13. PastePotPete says:

    You can find exceptions to anything. And Babel can make it in despite everything Poland has said. All he’s saying is it’s UNLIKELY to, if it doesn’t meet the numbers he mentioned. He’s not saying it’s impossible. He’s making an educated guess. Educated guesses can be wrong, but they’re more often right than ones based on exceptions to rules. Those can be right, but it doesn’t make them a smart guess.

  14. David Poland says:

    Oh… so those are rhetorical questions, Tofu!!!
    I’m going to answer them anyway.
    No one said movies in the 70s aren’t nominated. I was responding to the smackdown on Munich and the suggestion that it was objectively in worse shape than all the other films.
    Your screener comment was rhetorical, but again, every single member of the Academy received the same ONE copy of BBM that they did of Crash. The total cost of the BBM campaign certainly was greater than the total expense of the Crash campaign, including the 130000 screeners. But that isn’t the point. The screener gambit was more publicity than Academy specific as none of that last wave of screeners went to The Academy as such. I had my 3 copies of the film well before then… and every Academy member had theirs. Or do you somehow believe otherwise?
    No… Pitt and Blanchett are not the same as a national hero and legend whose history speaks directly to the Academy age group, as Murrow does. By your question, I guess you think that any movie with big names is a lock. Neither Pitt or Blanchett will not work The Academy endlessly like Clooney did. So no, again, not the same.
    No, Munich actually did business until around the time nominations closed. I’m not sure what “dropping faster than the other contenders” means. But the death of the film was grossly overstated by idiots who were trying to win the point. And once nominated, absolutely, Universal did almost nothing to shoot for a win.
    Gangs was Scorsese’s highest grossing film until The Aviator. The Pianist was not huge, but it was about the Holocaust. The Insider was an anomaly, though that whole Oscar year was, with The Green Mile and The Sixth Sense the kind of commerical vehicles that usually don’t make it. In adition, Crowe was ascendant, Pacino was Pacino and Mann was Mann. But yes, an anomaly. And The Thin Red Line – not unlike The Pianist – was a rare film from a master, not to mention it starred a large number of well liked actors and young actors. In addition, it grossed $30 million in its one month in theaters before nominations. Pitt & Blanchett are not long-tail actors. Pitt, for instance, doesn’t have the love out that that Depp does. I hope he gets his second nomination here. And what did Blanchett win for? Playing Katherine Hepburn. CB is a truly great actress. But she also has two other films in play. And she will not work the room.
    Like I said… every film is individual. And ironically, you want to make it into some set proclamation so you can argue that I am not only wrong about Babel, but that I am in a twilight zone of some sort.
    I am not.
    And by dragging me out of context to make your point, I think you made mine.

  15. jeffmcm says:

    I agree with Poland that if a movie is perceived as a loser in some way, it’s damaged. The problem is that this perception is all about expectations, and expectations are always changing, like quicksand. Brokeback Mountain passing a certain point at the box office means it’s a contender; but then when it gets so many Golden Globe nominations it has to reach another gross or people say it was only a niche title; and so on and on forever until the big awards happen. It’s kind of a dance with the pundits trying to stay on top of it and each other.

  16. David Poland says:

    It has nothing to do with the pundits.
    This is what I wrote about BBM last year and no one wanted to hear it.
    Expectations were raised to the heavens BEFORE MOST PEOPLE SAW THE MOVIE. And when the film started being shown in earnest in December, the response was not as passionate as the core that was in love with it out of Toronto and Telluride… right or wrong, that was the fact. Obvously some more people fell in love. But not everyone. And everyone who didn’t love it was not a homophobe… espcially a number of gay Academy members I know who were underwhelmed.
    But the ferociousness of the people who loved it was so intense that only conspiracies could have kept it from winning. But that was not the case. In fact, it worked against the film, because The Academy does not like to be told it has to do anything. Yes, they do sometimes vote in waves, but they don’t want to be pushed. They may not be iconoclasts, but they want to think they are.
    Expectations for Eastwood are based on Eastwood.
    Expectations for Babel are based, in no small part, on Pitt and the price tag. If a Capote with Brad Pitt (yes, absurd on its face) that cost twice or three times as much, no matter how good, does not get nominated grossing $15 million. And considering the critical split on the film – passion on both sides, like Crash – you have to remember that the $8 million Crash did over $50 million. If Babel does anything close to $50 million, as I wrote before, it is not going to be slowed by box office issues.
    And by the way, if Little Known Director directs Good Night, And Good Luck, no BP nomination for it either.
    BBM did more than enough money to be seen as the huge commercial success, for its price and subject, that it was.

  17. jeffmcm says:

    ‘Perception’ has everything to do with the pundits. What the Oscar voters do is up to them and all we can go is play catch-up.
    Sorry I brought up Brokeback, since it seems you still harbor strong feelings about it, DP, but it was just for the sake of example.

  18. Then why didn’t Walk the Line get nominated for Best Picture? It had a Best Actress winner (everyone knew it would happen), a popular lead actor (who would get nominated for sure) and was clearly well liked by the tech departments and made $120mil and was actually a pretty good film (much better than claptrap like Ray). There was nothing to be perceived from all that that it was a failure.
    It just turns out they liked the ice-cold Capote, or the Spielberg preordained Munich more. So, essentially, they do what they want.
    Babel made over $50,000 per screen this weekend. That’s pretty damn good if you ask me.
    I think we can officially call The Last King of Scotland out of the BP race and could very well only get a sole Best Actor nominee. Unless Oprah starts spuiking it some more. And Catch a Fire? Until they make a movie about Mandella, this subject isn’t gonna get a big hit. Poor Philip Noyce. He’ll probably never reach the heights of Rabbit-Proof Fence in a while.

  19. EDouglas says:

    “Sorry I brought up Brokeback”
    So are we. :)

  20. Eric says:

    Hey DP, can we get a refresher on the definition of “reverse analysis?” You used the term a lot last season and again in the Friday Estimates post, but I’ve never been entirely clear on what you mean by it.

  21. Tofu says:

    David, the context has been moved all over the map by none other than yourself. From Rotten Tomato scores, to praising the losing Malick and washing away the winning Blanchett.
    Munich and the Thin Red Line are two perfect examples of films losing plenty steam before nomination (or honestly not gaining enough in the first place), so even the $30 million and $40 million were not looking satisfactory at the time.
    Again, the difference between the screeners was that Crash was highly targeted. Simple.
    Again, Box Office relates to nominations only in the case of a film tanking, and even then there are exceptions. Countless nominations have only broken into middle ground even after the awards (Blanchett’s Elzabeth comes to mind).
    Saying X needs $Y for Z in this case is simply hubris.

  22. martindale says:

    I’m amazed that Facing the Giants has held up well. It opened with 1.3, has already grossed 6.3, and lost very few screens in the process. This from a film that is targeted to a very specific audience with a cast and crew comprised totally of one church’s congregation.

  23. The Carpetmuncher says:

    The Walk the Line example again shows that the Box Office/Oscar Nom paradigm is a bunch of garbage. Although I’m sure there’s an exception for this one, too, to add to the many others, now including the “Katherine Hepburn exception.”
    We’d love to hear more about this “reverse analysis,” because the way it’s being used, it sounds more like “hindsight is 20-20″ than anything else. Of course, we can all look back on BBM or any other Oscar season and say what happened and why. But pretending that we have some sort of predictor as to how the Academy will vote is a little too presumtuaous for my taste.
    And this “reverse analysis,” whatever it is, reeks of “selection bias,” especially when there are exceptions to every rule.
    There are clearly reasons why MUNICH got nominated despite underwhelming response. This is a film that grossed just more than half what it cost in the US, opened to a weak per-screen average, and got the kind of reviews FLAGS has been getting – respectful, but tepid, with some exceptions, like time. But we all know the Academy loves this kind of film and loves Speilberg when he does them, so there was a good chance it would be nominated.
    But let’s stop with the hyperbole. It’s intellectually disingenuous to cite MUNICH’s box office numbers as “only being $10 million or so behind the two highest grossing nominees” when MUNICH cost 10 times as much as CRASH and tons more than any of the other nominees. Bending the numbers to fit the thesis just makes it look even weaker.
    I think hubris is a pretty acute prognosis.

  24. David Poland says:

    You can say it’s hubris, Tofu, but it happens to be one area where I don’t really recall being particularly wrong on it… unlike in some other arenas of analyzing Oscar things.
    Munich and Thin Red Line are still about your perception. You

  25. David Poland says:

    But it’s not 20/20 hindsight oif you wrote it before it happened, Munch.
    And it is revisionist if you start looking at Munich through the post-nomination count.
    Munich grossed $37 million in the 4 weeks before it was nominations closed. Media kept saying it was a problem film, but that was not a problem number. And it was about Israeli vengence. Had the film opened in November and topped out at $47 million, it probably would have been dead. But that is not the history, no matter how many times people repeat it.
    I am not saying I have a formula for how the Academy will vote. It is not a science. But there are things that do repeat. And the perception of box office solvency is one of them… which is why so many smaller films use late December to launch… so there are no box office questions.
    Walk The Line is proof – if there is such a thing – of how important campaigning and positioning is. I have zero question that the film could have been nominated across the board. It had box office success and it had strong acting performances. But Fox wouldn’t fight for it and focused almost exclusively on the two actors, who wouldn’t work the room much. This is not a Fox anomaly. It is a Fox habit over the years, Master & Commander being the prime exception.

  26. James Leer says:

    What? In what world was Munich’s gross pre-nominations not a problem number? It opened unexceptionally on 532 screens (only managing a $7805 per-screen for the weekend) and, upon expanding, its per-screen began to drop precipitously. It didn’t even outgross “Memoirs of a Geisha,” another expensive star-less film that is widely perceived as a flop. You’re talking about how it was doing fine before the nominations when, the weekend before the noms were announced, it had a perilous $1704 per-screen and had lost almost 500 screens!

  27. Cadavra says:

    Camel: “Unless Oprah starts spuiking it some more.”
    Me: Is “spuiking” a typo or some new word I’m not familiar with? :-\

  28. David Poland says:

    Again Leer, the weekend before the Oscar noms were announced, the voting had already been close for almost a week. The significance of dates is not random.
    It is generally believed that 75% or so of votes go in within the first 10 days to two weeks of ballots being delivered.
    The first week of December is basically the end of thecritics season. The first week of January is basically the end of the Academy nomination season. The finals are the third leg of the race.

  29. jeffmcm says:

    “I’m not particularly concerned about BBM, J Mc, but thanks for the patronizing crap. I have no problem with anything I ever wrote or had written about me re BBM. First, opinion is allowed. Second, history is on my side.”
    Thanks for proving that you’re completely not still feeling prickly or defensive about this subject in any way :)

  30. James Leer says:

    Well, now we’re getting a little bit disingenuous, because you took great pains to point out earlier that when Munich was nominated, “it was only $10 million or so behind the two highest grossing nominees in spite of being open for less time than either BBM or Crash.” So then when I point out other, also relevant facts about Munich’s B.O. around that time, suddenly that period means very little and we should be judging things based on the first week of January?
    Well, fine. Even during the first week of January, Munich was not doing that well. It added 953 playdates and STILL barely outgrossed its previous weekend. It also failed to add any more screens after that (unlike BBM, GN&GL, and Capote), so when you claim not to know what “dropping faster than the other contenders” means, maybe now you’ll know.
    Now, I’m saying all this as someone who LIKED the film. But I don’t let that cloud my perception of how it did at the box office.

  31. The Carpetmuncher says:

    The week before the Oscar nominations last year, Variety printed this article (entitled “Munich Take Two) talking about how badly MUNICH was underperforming, and that Speilberg actually broke his media silence in hopes of reviving the film.
    http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117936572.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&query=Munich
    From VARIETY:
    “The film arrived with great expectations, and even before it hit the bigscreen, many critics were ready to save a place for it on their Top 10 lists. Since then, the clouds parted and Spielberg talked to both Time magazine and the Los Angeles Times. Universal Pictures switched gears with its publicity campaign when it discovered that tracking was less than stellar. As of last week, the film had a domestic cume of $33.8 million and finished in 11th place for the frame. If it stays on track, “Munich” will be one of the director’s lowest-grossing pics in the past few decades, somewhere between 1997′s “Amistad” and 2004′s “The Terminal.”"
    In the end, it still made sense to expect MUNICH to get nominated despite it’s weak box office because of what DP cited – it’s about Israeli vengance, and has Speilberg. But suggesting that people weren’t looking at MUNICH as a box office flop for Speilberg pre-nominations…it’s just not true.

  32. Dr Wally says:

    MUNICH is a great movie, a master director working at the top of his game. That cross-fade / blend from the blood of one of the hostages being sprayed onto the wall to the blood-red sunrise as Avner travels to Zurich after accepting the mission…. well, i needed one superlative up from OUTSTANDING when i saw THAT for the first time. Props to the Academy for recognising one of Spielberg’s very best films, unlike the cold shoulder given to Empire of the Sun back in the day (still his most underrated film).

  33. Tofu says:

    Like I said… every film is individual.
    It

  34. David Poland says:

    Variety was working hard against Munich last year. And I have acknowledged that there was a lot of nasty press. But the article you cited came out AFTER the nominations closed. And while some media was beating the shit out of the film, the reality was it was up in its second and third weekend:
    Holiday Weekend 1 – Opening
    December 23

  35. waterbucket says:

    Oh my god, we’re discussing Brokeback Mountain yet AGAIN????
    D-Po, please stop obsessing over this movie and go watch your precious Munich DVD again.

  36. Joe Leydon says:

    This just in: Waterbucket says we’re talking too much about “Brokeback Mountain.” In related news, an outbreak of iceskating has been reported in hell.

  37. Wrecktum says:

    Anybody seen that Brokeback to the Future mashup? That’s some pretty funny shit. I can’t believe the White Sox won the series!!

  38. Lota says:

    Brokeback…if you mean the orangeohm(?) one yes it’s pretty funny…some good editing there.
    i can’t believe the white sox won the series and the Mets failed to get into the series. now I’m bumming out again. better go paint my nails black again.
    Departed is holding well, wow, almost to 100M.

  39. Munich was released in December. Nuff said.

  40. jeffmcm says:

    This is probably the time to mention how unfortunate it is that the highest grosser of the three is also by far the crappiest, obviously Saw III.
    Let me put it like this: I liked The Devil’s Rejects. I liked Hostel. I liked Final Destination 3. And I thought Saw III was a piece of garbage, so take from that what you will.

  41. jeffmcm says:

    Sorry, I edited out an opening sentence about Texas Chainsaw Prequel and Grudge 2 to explain what the hell I was talking about.

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Julian Schnabel: Years ago, I was down there with my cousin’s wife Corky. She was wild — she wore makeup on her legs, and she had a streak in her hair like Yvonne De Carlo in “The Munsters.” She liked to paint. I had overalls on with just a T-shirt and looked like whatever. We were trying to buy a bunch of supplies with my cousin Jesse’s credit card. They looked at the credit card, and then they looked at us and thought maybe we stole the card, so they called Jesse up. He was a doctor who became the head of trauma at St. Vincent’s. They said, “There’s somebody here with this credit card and we want to know if it belongs to you.”

He said, “Well, does the woman have dyed blonde hair and fake eyelashes and look like she stepped out of the backstage of some kind of silent movie, and is she with some guy who has wild hair and is kind of dressed like a bum?”

“Yeah, that’s them.”

“Yeah, that’s my cousin and my wife. It’s okay, they can charge it on my card.”
~ Julian Schnabel Remembers NYC’s Now-Shuttered Pearl Paint

MB Cool. I was really interested in the aerial photography from Enter the Void and how one could understand that conceptually as a POV, while in fact it’s more of an objective view of the city where the story takes place. So it’s an objective and subjective camera at the same time. I know that you’re interested in Kubrick. We’ve talked about that in the past because it’s something that you and I have in common—

GN You’re obsessed with Kubrick, too.

MB Does he still occupy your mind or was he more of an early influence?

GN He was more of an early influence. Kubrick has been my idol my whole life, my own “god.” I was six or seven years old when I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I never felt such cinematic ecstasy. Maybe that’s what brought me to direct movies, to try to compete with that “wizard of Oz” behind the film. So then, years later, I tried to do something in that direction, like many other directors tried to do their own, you know, homage or remake or parody or whatever of 2001. I don’t know if you ever had that movie in mind for your own projects. But in my case, I don’t think about 2001 anymore now. That film was my first “trip” ever. And then I tried my best to reproduce on screen what some drug trips are like. But it’s very hard. For sure, moving images are a better medium than words, but it’s still very far from the real experience. I read that Kubrick said about Lynch’s Eraserhead, that he wished he had made that movie because it was the film he had seen that came closest to the language of nightmares.

Matthew Barney and Gaspar Noé