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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Raining

It’s pouring in NYC, so I guess I should be happy to be returning to sunny Calfornia…
The Incredible Hulk now looks to open slightly behind Hulk, with somewhat longer legs to come… but don’t expect much more than $175m… which is a win, even with an alleged $150m budget. Marvel has something good going and needs to be cautious not to convince themselves that there is more to it than there is.
The scary R rating for The Happening, combined with the underestimated box office power of Mark Wahlberg makes the film no Lady in the Water. Still, it ain’t no Signs either. Wait and see…
Here in NY, I’ve had three remarkable theater experiences… two of which I can write about. The first is the Public Theater version of Hamlet, which opens officially in Central Park in a few days. The other, much to my shock, was Boeing – Boeing (which should be Boeing-Boeing-Boeing). Both shows mark the wider debut of lead actors who will soon become part of acting lore and, if only in support, acting fame in the US.
More on both when I get to a real keyboard…

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26 Responses to “Raining”

  1. Roman says:

    So, in other words, The Happening’s Friday gross took you by suprise.
    By the way, I wanted to say thanks for calling “Iron Man” what it really was a – vastly overrated mediocrity.
    Ditto for what you said about “Speed Racer”.

  2. scooterzz says:

    i am really looking forward to reading your thoughts regarding ‘boeing-boeing’. it just seems like such an anachronistic piece, i can’t imagine how it works.
    that, and i think thelma ritter was prettier than christine baranski….

  3. houmas says:

    I don’t think Wahlberg is an underestimated box office draw at all. His level is correctly judged. He’s good for a low-mid teens weekend opening at best. He’s not a charasmatic or gifted enough actor for people to rush out to see him in huge numbers, but he does have a limited appeal.
    The openinig had of The Happening had little to do with Wahlberg, and a lot to do with Shymalan. The critics were writing his box-office obituary too quickly. He’s still one of a handful of directors who can draw an audience based on his name. The marketing of the film made great play on the fact that it’s from the guy who made Signs and The Sixth Sense. Everyone I know (flimsy anecdodatl evidence, but I digress) wanted to watch the film because of “The Sixth Sense guy”, not Wahlberg.
    Haven’t seen The Happening. It may or may not stink. But there is a concerted effort to destroy Shymalan’s career, and I think he’s too talented to be written off, even if the film is a clunker. Hopefully, the opening of The Happening re-establishes the fact that Shymalan still has his commercial mojo, and he can use that power to actually get something interesting made. It’s time for him to move on from these type of films, and display his range as a fillmaker.

  4. IOIOIOI says:

    A vast overrated mediocrity? Yep. Not with it. The fact that Heat was seen wearing a freakin Iron-Man shirt out at a screening, demonstrates in glaring detail that the guy knows how to pull off a bit of business.

  5. Bartholomew Richards says:

    I think the reason this flick did better than Lady was because it was Shyamalan doing a Shyamalan movie, unlike Lady, which was kinda like Sandler doing Mike Bender movie rather than a Sandler movie.

  6. christian says:

    David, did you ever reveal whose career was ending?

  7. Agreed with Bart about The Happening. This looked more like another Signs than another Lady in the Water, even if the quality is nowhere near. Still, anything close to or over $30mil has gotta be seen as a win, right? And if people say it’s not then their judgement is skewed.
    Saw Speed Racer today (it only just opened this w/e) and am officially sad over it’s box office state. Oh well, it happens.
    Also, I am completely ignorant to the subject matter, but “I don’t get” the Boeing Boeing joke.

  8. Goulet says:

    It’s Shyamalan’s career that’s over, according to Heat. No chance… THE LAST AIRBENDER feels like the kinda thing that could take off commercially and renew Night’s inspiration. I love that he says he intends to make a live action Miyazaki movie.

  9. chris says:

    Back to the NYC stage stuff, neither Michael Stuhlberg nor Mark Rylance is exactly unknown. Rylance won every award possible in London for this part, has been talked about a Tony since before it opened (I, by the way, thought he was brilliant, too) and has been a big-time stage and film actor for more than a decade (“Other Boleyn Girl,” most recently). Stuhlberg is huge in New York circles, was astonishing (and Tony nominated) for “Pillowman.”

  10. Roman says:

    It’s a curious thing, really. While I do think that M. Night will leave to see another day (and this fact pleases me), I also can’t help but feel that some damage has been done.
    Last Airbender could be a success, in the same way, the first Spy Kids (or even the first Stuart Little) movies were but I kind of feel that he might have a hard time coming back to his “comfort territory”. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  11. mutinyco says:

    The Strangers has already grossed more than The Happening will total.

  12. martin says:

    The Happening has made over $60 mill. worldwide and it will finish up with $150-200 mill. Whether we like it or not, it’s going to be profitable – it only cost $57 mill.
    Bad movies make money all the time, no news here other than the fact that there was some weird personal vendetta against Night for this one. That’s the great thing about the movies, you’re risking your $10 on a possible gargantuan piece of shit. It’s still not totally McDonalds, I like how you go in hoping for steak but knowing in the back of your mind it could be a shit sandwich. Gotta keep throwing the shit sandwiches in there to keep us on our toes.

  13. jesse says:

    mutinyco, you have to know that’s not true, right? The Strangers has made about $45 million. Has a movie ever opened with $30 million and failed to clear $50 million?! Isn’t The Happening pretty much guaranteed $60 million at this point? It may well outgross The Strangers when all is said and done (albeit probably not by much).
    Think about how little money The Happening would have to make next weekend to not clear $50 million. Assuming a (conservative) $3-4 million total during the week, it would have to drop by about 70% next weekend to do around $9 million… and even that cume would put it within striking distance of 50 already.

  14. mutinyco says:

    Well, considering NF is claiming that it has a CinemaScore of D (I saw a C- on Yahoo!), and it made nearly half its weekend total on the first day… who knows?…

  15. jesse says:

    I’m not saying The Happening isn’t gonna drop hard, or have an exceptionally frontloaded gross. I’m just saying that it would be nearly impossible for this movie not to clear $50 million with a $30 million start — let alone not clear the current $45 mil The Strangers has in teh bank.
    I’d also venture that with horror/thriller movies (or, as I’ve said before, most movies, but especially in this genre), unless word of mouth is SPECTACULAR or really unique, it doesn’t matter much, give or take a few million. The difference between a horror-ish movie with awful word of mouth and mediocre word of mouth or even pretty good word of mouth will be negligible, given the frontloading of late. In reality, The Happening will probably perform a lot like The Strangers: 50-60% drops several weeks in a row. But given a bigger opening, it would be pretty difficult for Happening to not make at least marginally more money.

  16. Roman says:

    The Happening will make more money, despite dropping hard next weekend, there’s no question about it.
    That said, The Strangers will be a lot more profitable, especially domestically.

  17. Citizen R says:

    Even if The Happening has legs equivalent to Gigli’s (61.7% of its gross was made in the first weekend and it dropped by 81.9% in its second weekend, the third worst second weekend drop ever) it would still gross roughly $49 million. So, yeah, even with poor legs The Happening should gross at least in the high 50s and will probably make it over 60. 60-70 is the likely range.

  18. mutinyco says:

    Hehe…

  19. Roman says:

    Can I also say that I already clearly foresee Indy 4 taking the summer (and the year) crown? For too long people have compared it to Pirates 3 but according to my analysis as of today, it’s tracking slightly better than Transformers and I think it will end up in the roughly the same neighbourhood. Being a shorter movie will help it too.
    Also, in about 3 or 4 weeks from now Indy 4 will be earning more money per weekend than “The Happening”.

  20. jesse says:

    Romance, do you think Indy will definitely stay ahead of Iron Man? It’s closing the gap, for sure, but Iron Man maintains excellent staying power (I knew it was closing in on $300 million, but didn’t realize until I saw this weekend’s figures that it was gonna happen within a week). It looks to me like they could both top out around that Transformers territory you mention — 310 or so. It might be an unusually close contest for biggest movie of the year, unless Wall-E really hangs in there.

  21. Roman says:

    I do think that Indy will close the gap because I don’t think that it’s big enough for Iron Man to maintain the momentum. While Iron Man has shown an incredible staying power, at the end it won’t be enough stay ahead.
    Keep in mind that Iron Man opened nearly three weeks ahead of Indy and then ask yourself where will Indy be in three weeks. Again, Iron Man performed impressively well, it really had no business making this much money.
    Suprises can happen though but at this moment I don’t think Wall-E will be it.
    So, there you have it, Tragedy.

  22. David Poland says:

    Chris – Being a known actor in theater circles and being a star are different. Neither of these guys are stars here now. Both will be considered as such after these performances, in my opinion.
    Rylance has made a few movies, but really, he’s about to become the next Brian Cox or Hopkins, if he so pleases. Branagh will never work again if casting people can get Rylance to work.
    Stuhlberg has had one credit of major note. But this performance is up there with Kline in Penzance… that kind of “I will follow this guy anywhere” performance. The show has some issues and reviews will be mixed. But he is stellar.
    On the flip side, the quick, sad death of “Is He Dead?” has to keep producers scared when they realize that Leo Norbert Butz doesn’t draw, even after the Tony.
    But I want to see Rylance’s Salieri.. his Cyrano… his George… his Archie f-ing Rice.
    And I can only assume that Stuhlberg can’t sing, because he could have kept The Producers going for another bunch of years. He would have been the best casting from the start, I think.
    It’s been a truly great year for rising stars on Broadway.

  23. David Poland says:

    P.S. I’ve had my Daniel Johnston Iron Man shirt for years.
    Iron Man was one of my favorites as a kid.
    I just hope that all the elements that turned people on in this film will be back in the sequel and that they will actually have a strong script. Tony Stark is a lot more interesting to me at the end of Hulk than he was at the end of his film.

  24. Goulet says:

    “Last Airbender could be a success, in the same way, the first Spy Kids (or even the first Stuart Little) movies were”
    Shyamalan wrote STUART LITTLE, you know!

  25. Roman says:

    Of course I know!!! That’s why I mentioned it! Geez.

  26. JBM... says:

    Haven’t seen The Happening yet, but Wahlberg looks extremely uncomfortable in the previews, as if he’d rather be doing a sequel to Shooter or something…
    …and saying Shyamalan wrote Stuart Little is like saying J.F. Lawton wrote Pretty Woman. There were like ten writers on it, if not more.

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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