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David Poland

By David Poland

Sunday Estimates by Klady – Nov 11

Something about Friday….
I’m not sure what happened on Friday, but pretty much every film performed under expectations on Friday… and almost every film was stronger on Saturday and in Sunday estimates than you would expect based on Friday. I really don’t know what the story is, but it is a curiosity.
At the same time, Los Angeles’ AFI film festival was selling out over 90% of their shows on the weekend and about 75% during the week, a rather strong showing for the event.
Interestingly, Fred Claus opened at just about a million less than Santa Clause 3 last year and about 21% behind The Polar Express. Odds are that this film will not be as leggy as Polar and it doesn’t have the excuse of being the third in a series, but this opening is not quite the disaster that people want to make it. The new trend of overstating “failure” on Friday evening, based on east coast numbers and west coast matinees and “industry expectations” which are based on weak analysis of tracking… well, it’s just dumb. I’m not saying that Fred will have a huge comeback. But the idea that high 20s is the minimum for a decent opening is nuts.
In a market with no other light fare for adults, Dan In Real Life is holding exceptionally well. It’s not building, particularly, but it is finding an audience that wants something in that category on Saturday night.
Lions for Lambs is simpler than people want to make that one too. It’s not about Tom… it’s not about Iraq… it’s the idea that it’s a dry polemic, which no one wants to see on any subject, is being confirmed ahead of time by the one audience, adults, who still read critics enough to find confirmation of their suspicions.
Let me just state the obvious… critics obsessing on the morality of No Country For Old Men don’t understand No Country For Old Men. Some people just don’t like the truth. And those people include those who LOVE movies that are too cool for school… which really means that they are too cool to actually say anything at all, other than to make the viewer think they are smart for “getting it.” They like their art all of the surface also, though I prefer them to the wannabe censors. Part of the genius of The Coens is that they are stylized and actually do say something of significance in most of their films. There isn’t an enormous subtext. The messages are simple. But they are profound.
Not a sensational expansion for Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead. But there is still time.

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41 Responses to “Sunday Estimates by Klady – Nov 11”

  1. movieman says:

    Anyone else notice how “Nightmare Before Xmas” is still playing despite the original ad promising that it would only be in theaters for three weeks?
    Not a great expansion for “Before the Devil…” which is discouraging news for anyone outside of the major markets who might have actually wanted to see it on the big screen.
    Hopefully that pitiful 15-screen gross for “Christmas in Wonderland” means that Yari won’t go wide as threatened in two weeks. The trailer alone gives me the heebie-jeebies.
    I’m sure that nobody–not even DreamWorks execs-expected “Bee Movie” to be #1 this weekend. Sort of a “tortoise-and-the-hare” kind of thing, huh?
    That’s a pretty shocking “miss” for “Fred Claus,” but the confused marketing campaign which tried to simultaneously court kiddies AND “Wedding Crashers” fans was probably more culpable for its underwhelming performance than the lousy reviews. Sadly, this thing will probably turn out to have legs anyway–especially If the negative early buzz on “Mr. Magorium” turns out to be correct.
    Can I pat myself on the back again for predicting that “Dan in Real Life” had major sleeper potential? Disney should be kicking themselves for not opening this earlier (e,g., the late-August “Little Miss Sunshine” slot). With the avalanche of movies opening on November 21st, it’s going to have a very tough time holding onto screens.

  2. bipedalist says:

    To talk about No Country you can’t talk only about the Coens. For the first time, really, in their career the writer is someone else and that writer, Cormac McCarthy does have deeply profound things to say and it is very complex. I don’t get your need to make fun of critics and fans while attempting to boost yourself above it all. Explain, please, because to me you sound deliberately obtuse (film ref. Shawshank).

  3. Wrecktum says:

    Poland, your “obvious” point about the Coens went right over my head. I haven’t a clue what you’re trying to say.
    I don’t remember any NIghtmare ads proclaiming a three week engagement. I always assumed it would play as long as Disney could keep it in theaters. Since Beowulf will wipe it out next week, I’d think a four week engagemenet seems to be the actual mark.

  4. movieman says:

    The original ads for “Nightmare” stated very specifically that it would only be in theaters for 3 weeks.

  5. CleanSteve says:

    Fred Claus may suck (havn’t seen it) and the marketing may have been a mess, but I submit another reason for it’s soft opening: IT’S TOO FUCKING EARLY FOR CHRISTMAS THEMED ENTERTAINMENT!!!!! I love Christmas. I’m a sucker for the nostalgia and the even the sappy junkiness of these kind of movies. I’ll take my daughters to see this and probably get a cheap holiday semi-warmth from it (99% of that will be from watching my girls laugh and enjoy themselves, presumably). But that’ll be after Thanksgiving, when I am actually thinking about Christmas.
    I’m sure there are sound reasons for opening this before most people even have Halloween decorations down. And I know December is packed to the gills with other movies that are going to take screens. But the most cynical thing about a movie like this isn’t the actual movie, it’s the Wal-Mart style “get that Christmas money ASAP by shoving it in their face before their jack-o-lanterns burn out.” I know I’m not the only who feels that way.
    Santa Clause 2, I remember, opened weak a few years ago, but rode it through the holiday and turned in a nice gross. Maybe that’s the ultimate hope. But it still rubs me the wrong way, and I think a lot of families aren’t quite ready for Christmas entertainment.
    Or maybe the movie just plain sucks. What do I know.
    Hooray for Bee Movie. It may number one only because the new films underperformed, but it’s drop off shows good word of mouth. I liked it. My kids did. And I was puzzled at the Seinfeld backlash. Yea, he was everywhere. But my wife and I saw him live a few years ago, and he was one of the most gracious, warm and generous performers I’d ever seen.

  6. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Critics are panning “Lions for Lambs” for one reason: To please their right-wing bosses who control the Liberal Media. “Rendition” — which I saw last weekend — suffered the same fate.
    Look further down the chart and you’ll find another story of note. One of the Hollywood majors (Sony) opened “Saawariya” but in Bollywood venues instead of going arthouse/upmarket. “Saawariya” got killed by “Om Shanti Om” from Bollywood distrib Eros.

  7. Blackcloud says:

    Yep, because the “right-wing” media bosses demand their critics whom no one reads to a certain line in reviewing movies no one will see.
    Chucky, keep your paranoid delusions to yourself and stop polluting The Hot Blog with them. If you want to live in a fantasy world, that’s fine. But stop trying to force us to move there with you.

  8. David Poland says:

    Did you see Lions for Lambs, Chucky?
    Why, BiPed, do you assume everything to be personal? Oh… it’s because you make everything personal. I don’t even know who you think I am “making fun of.”
    There is a new phenomenology in professional critical writing – and in that, I include many web writers – that has lost any notion of a consistent critical standard. In other words, the feared “any idiot can be a critic” is becoming more true because of critics who are finding it easier to do “what the kids are doing,” which is to say, winging it based on their gut instincts.
    Standards are dropping… but not for filmed entertainment… for discourse about filmed entertainment. This is horribly ironic as there is more quality writing about filmed entertainment than ever. But it is buried under an avalanche of all-so-entertaining self-immolation.
    Ironically, you BiP, are one of those who will attack me for “making fun of” others when you disagree with me, while you will look the other way when others do it much more aggressively when you agree with them.
    And the silent majority

  9. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Blackcloud: “Rendition” got a negative review from Peter Travers, a quotewhore who drools over everything else.
    David: Oscar-whoring is a lazy way to promote movies. That is why I am not seeing “Lions for Lambs” or for that matter “American Gangster”.
    Oscar-whoring is also a way for the industry to mask an el stinko. So is name-checking. Remember “Georgia Rule”?

  10. David Poland says:

    But Chuck… it just isn’t always the case.
    It’s the same as a quote from Travers or Hammond. A bad sign, but can’t be taken as a death sentence either.

  11. L.B. says:

    “Oscar-whoring is a lazy way to promote movies. That is why I am not seeing ‘Lions for Lambs'”
    Playing into the hands of your right-wing masters. They’re onto you, Chucky. They appear very adept at translating “severely retarded.”

  12. jeffmcm says:

    Chucky, as long as you’ve posted here, you’ve insisted that the marketing is the movie. This is not true. Sometimes it is, but very often it completely isn’t.

  13. brack says:

    It’s hardly “Oscar whoring” if your two leads have won Oscars. If they would’ve included Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the commercials or trailer, I would agree, as he had only one scene of dialogue.

  14. Direwolf says:

    Bee Movie may have surprisingly won on its weekend but the 32% drop is slightly in excess of the second week drop for Chicken Little, Over The Hedge, and Tarzan, other films with similar opening weekend numbers. Those three films grossed between $140 million and $170 million. Barring unusual legs in the next few weeks, Bee Movie is probably headed in that range, probalby the upper half. By most standards that is a fine number but I believe that many thought it had $200 million potential. Certainly among the Wall Street analyst community, which is part of my daily life, $150-170 million would be a disappointment.
    As for the weak Friday, maybe the fact that many kids and adults have Monday off caused people to stretch out the weekend which boosted Saturday and especially Sunday estimates?
    Finally, has anyone seen or heard anything about Death Defying Acts? I see that it played at Toronto and is at the AFM this week. I have a family member who was heavily involved in getting it made so I am curious as to any feedback. And don;t worry if the feedback is bad.

  15. Wrecktum says:

    Turns out you’re right about Nightmare, movieman. They definitely advertised 3-weeks. Says so right on the Disney website:
    Marketers telling an untruth? How often does that happen??

  16. brack says:

    Yes, similar opening gross wise (though Tarzan’s a few million short of the rest), but market wise only Chicken Little can be compared with Bee Movie, with it’s second weekend against Zathura, which wasn’t a holiday movie like Fred Claus. The other movies didn’t really have any direct competition. I don’t know if Fred Claus is a family movie, but it seemed to be marketed as such.

  17. Wrecktum says:

    “Fred Claus may suck (havn’t seen it) and the marketing may have been a mess, but I submit another reason for it’s soft opening: IT’S TOO FUCKING EARLY FOR CHRISTMAS THEMED ENTERTAINMENT!!!!!”
    I dispute this. Elf opened to $31m the first weekend of November, 2003. Santa Clause 2 opened to $29m the first weekend of November, 2002. You can open Christmas themed movies this early. You just have to sell it right. Warners didn’t in this case.

  18. movieman says:

    Direwolf- I saw “Death Defying Acts” at the Toronto Film Festival and it’s a major disappointment.
    There’s zero chemistry between C. Zeta-Jones and G. Pearce, and the entire film lacks both energy and any emotional resonance whatsoever. It’s handsomely appointed and certainly looks good, but compared to “The Illusionist” or even “The Prestige,” this is one magician-in-love period flick that simply refuses to catch fire.
    Weinstein is going to have a major marketing challenge ahead of them when they release it next year.
    I was really looking forward to this, too, since I’m fascinated by the whole “Houdini mythology,” and have loved many of Gillian Armstrong’s past films (especially “Mrs. Soffel” and “Little Women”).
    Wrecktum- Don’t you think Disney is shooting themselves in the foot by wringing every last dollar they can out of “Nightmare” in its current release?
    Wasn’t the plan to rerelease it every November as a “special event”/3-D type thing? By reneging on their “3 weeks only” promise, they’re taking some of the uniqueness out of the original marketing vision.

  19. Wrecktum says:

    “Wrecktum- Don’t you think Disney is shooting themselves in the foot by wringing every last dollar they can out of ‘Nightmare’ in its current release?
    Wasn’t the plan to rerelease it every November as a ‘special event’/3-D type thing? By reneging on their ‘3 weeks only’ promise, they’re taking some of the uniqueness out of the original marketing vision.”
    No. I don’t think audiences care. People who want to see Nightmare in 3D will show up whether it’s exclusive for three weeks or if its extended to five.

  20. movieman says:

    It’s the cynicism of their “last-minute” change of heart (“Oh, never mind what we said before! We’ll keep it in theaters as long as you’re willing to pay super-inflated admission prices for a 14-year-old movie that you already own on DVD”) that annoys me, Wrecktum.
    And yes, I know that it’s the 3-D that (supposedly) makes in a must-see theatrical (as opposed to home video) event, and that cynicism is what studio marketeers sprinkle on their breakfast granola, but this bait-and-switch shit still stinks.

  21. Wrecktum says:

    One major difference is that Nightmare is sold more as a 3D holiday event and less for it’s exclusivity. But you’re right; It’s not much different than Disney’s infamous limited home video release strategy. “Buy Little Mermaid now for a limited time. Next month it goes back in the Disney Vault.” It creates demand. Disingenuous? Sure, but I can think of worse things that stink.

  22. movieman says:

    I’d forgotten about Disney’s “limited” video release bullshit–probably because I refuse to play (and pay) along.
    So there’s clearly a longstanding tradition of Disney disingenuousness here.
    Why am I not surprised?
    Moving on…….

  23. jeffmcm says:

    It’s hard for me to get upset about a good movie playing in theaters and making money for an extra week or two.

  24. Monco says:

    Agreed. It’s my favorite animated movie except for Miyazaki’s filmography.

  25. movieman says:

    Oh, please!
    You make it sound like the money from those “specially priced” tickets is going straight into Jack Skellington’s pocket (does Pumpkin King Jack even have pockets??). Or that it’s the only thing standing between Tim Burton and a welfare check.
    It’s evil frigging Corporate Disney we’re talking about here.
    They lied when they said it was a “3-week-only” theatrical rerelease. Plain and simple, that’s all I’m saying.
    Can we just move on to another topic now?

  26. bipedalist says:

    DP, I can assure you that I was taking none of what you said personally. I just think it’s funny that you made it sound like you were the only one who knew the truth and everyone was being fooled or too dumb to know the difference. It’s arrogant as hell, non?

  27. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t have a problem with Disney lying if it means more people get to see a good movie and good filmmakers are rewarded for it. If this was a special return engagement of Kangaroo Jack maybe I’d be more annoyed.

  28. Direwolf says:

    Thanks for the comments on Death Defying Acts, Movieman.
    Brack, you are right that Chicken Little is the obvious comp for Bee Movie but even if we accept the argument that it held almost as well against tougher competition, it seems like it will top out well below $200 million domestic.
    In a similar vein, while I have little doubt that Lionsgate will mine the Saw series DVDs again and again, it looks like 4 is headed to no more than $70 million vs. $80 million for 3 and $90 million for 2. Now I suppose that $70 million is pretty good for the fourth film in a horror franchise but from my Wall Street perspective, I want LGF to grow and their top franchise is showing signs of wear. And if anybody can figure out what the hell the quarter they reported Friday night was all about, I’m all eyes. The 10-Q told me nothing and just reinforced my view that management purposefully uses terrible disclosure. Legal, but terrible.

  29. Dave, I think Sasha was merely commenting on this sort of line “critics obsessing on the morality of No Country For Old Men don’t understand No Country For Old Men. Some people just don’t like the truth” by yourself. I’m sure there are plenty of people who “get” the movie or whatever you’re going on about. And you shouldn’t go around claiming you’re the only one who understands it.
    MovieMan, could it be that those 480 or so cinemas didn’t get it in it’s first week? I dunno, doesn’t really bother me. I doubt there are people out there cursing at Disney because they went and saw it two weeks ago when they didn’t absolutely have to.

  30. Wrecktum says:

    “Mildred, I can’t believe it. Disney lied to us. They said Nightmare was going to be playing for only three weeks but look! It’s still playing! We didn’t have to skip Aunt Nancy’s funeral after all. We could have seen the movie this weekend instead!”
    “Those corporate bastards!!”

  31. doug r says:

    Oh, good grief. Disney left Nightmare in the theaters a whole ‘nother SIX DAYS! Anyone hear of Held Over? They knew they were shuffling off when Beowulf took over the 3-D screens. They were just promising 3 weeks minimum. When do you believe a promise by Disney, anyway?
    Just saw Lars and the Real Girl with my wife. Theater charges $6.99 every show. That’s more like it. Lars was a little creepy, but cool. Go see it.
    This theater is also showing Star Trek’s “The Menagerie” in HD but it’s $12.50. I dunno. Maybe if they have a 2K projector, they’ll show Beowulf in 3-D….

  32. movieman says:

    Wow, lots of obsessing on “Nightmare”!
    Sorry that I ever brought it up.
    All I did was mention Disney’s dishonest ad campaign claiming that it would “only” be in theaters for three weeks.
    Since it began week #4 this past Friday, I thought it was worth commenting on during the weekend box-office round-up.

  33. brack says:

    no one else saw that the Nighmare ad read “three weeks only…unless it’s doing well?” 😉

  34. grandcosmo says:

    So keeping a money making film in theaters an extra week is an example of corporate evil?
    Using the term Held Over as in “Held Over for a Fourth Week” is a tradition as old as show business.

  35. David Poland says:

    Uh… where’s the part where I say anything about me being the only person who gets the film? Please, let me know. Quote me. Because I don’t see it.
    Again, I think it’s a projection and a (false) assumption about how and what I think.

  36. David Poland says:

    And I can’t believe we are actually sweating the number of weeks Nightmare is playing.
    Will we be pleased when it ends next Friday?

  37. EDouglas says:

    The surprising bump might have something to do with the closing of many Broadway shows over the weekend due to the strike. Imagine if you have your kids in Times Square going to the show you bought tickets for months in advance. What will you do with them instead? PRobably take them to one of the Times Square theatres and see a family film. I’m betting that if the Broadway stagehands’ strike continues for another week, we’ll see minimal decreases in the two family films.

  38. movieman says:

    Interesting story on the sleeper success of “Bella.”
    I remember being the first to comment on here two weeks ago about “Bella”s strong opening weekend figures.
    I also remember someone disputing my claim that the film was being marketed to church (specifically Catholic) groups.
    Hopefully this article vindicates me in the eyes of all you naysayers, LOL.

  39. Okay, you don’t say you’re the “only” one who gets the movie, but you are essentially saying that many people have interpretted/seen the film differently to you and, thus, are wrong. Isn’t that a little bullish? Some people just don’t like the truth, Dave.

  40. Nicol D says:

    Very pleased to see the hold for Dan in Real Life. I reluctantly went to see it on its opening weekend and was pleasantly surprised.
    I was pleased by the performances of the cast, especially Carell and the girls who played his daughters. They all had a real chemistry together. “You’re a killer of love!” gave me one of the biggest laughs of the year, and was genuinely earned.
    I was also impressed by the cliches that the writers did – not – include. No one in the family is dying from a disease, no one comes out of the closet, no one has a polarizing political discussion.
    Well done.
    I also finally saw 3:10 to Yuma, and while it is flawed in the homestretch, thank God for Russell Crowe. If there is a more charismatic performer in modern cinema, I don’t know who he/she is? I can see why Oscar talk is slowly building for this one. It has weight and builds to a genuine climax. Excellent film.

  41. WinslowLeachtheComposer says:

    Word-of-mouth was already eating away at Fred Claus by the time I took my daughter and her friend to see it this weekend. The audience response was flat. The Polar Express comparison is meaningless. “Mr. Magorium” would have to feature a rape scene for it not to provide a healthy alternative.

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“But okay, I promise you now that if I ever retire again, I’m going to ensure that I can’t walk it back. I’ll post a series of the most disgusting, offensive, outrageous statements you can ever imagine. That way it will be impossible for me to ever be employed again. No one is going to take my calls. No one is going to want to be seen with me. Oh, it will be scorched earth. I will have torched everything. I’m going to flame out in the most legendary fashion.”
~ Steven Soderbergh

I feel strongly connected to young cinephile culture. The thing about filmmaking—and cinephilia—is that you can’t keep hanging out with your own age group as you get older. They drop off, move somewhere. You can’t put together a crew of sixty-somethings. It’s the same for cinephilia: my original set of cinephile friends are watching DVDs at home or delving into 1958 episodes of ‘Gunsmoke,’ something like that. The people who are out there tend to be young, and I happen to be doing the same thing still, so it’s natural that I move in their circles.

In terms of the filmmaking, there was a gear shift: my first movies focused on people around my age, and I followed them for three films. Until The Unspeakable Act, I was using the same actors, not because of an affinity for people at a specific age, but because of my affinity for the actors. I like to work with actors a second time, especially if I don’t feel confident casting a new film. But The Unspeakable Act was a different script, and I had to cast all new people. Even for the older roles, I couldn’t get the people I’d worked with before. But when it was over, the same thing happened: I wanted to work with Tallie again in the worst way, and I started the process all over again.

I think Rohmer did something similar around the time of Perceval and Catherine de HeilbronnHe developed new groups of people that he liked to work with. These gear shifts are natural. Even if you want to follow certain actors to the end of their life (which I kind of do) the variety of ideas that you generate makes it necessary to change. And once you’ve made the change, you’ve got all these new people around.”
~ Dan Sallitt