MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

BYOB – After X

Still not ready to work, but here is some chat space…
According to Steve Mason, the Christmas Day winner was Marley & Me, followed by Ben Button, followed by Bedtime Stories. Valkyrie did over $7 million for the day.
I take Steve’s premature estimijaculations for the 4 day with a big grain of salt, as I did his hyperactive post of 40 hours ago that Bedtime would break records. Doesn’t mean he’s wrong… just keep the salt shaker handy.

22 Responses to “BYOB – After X”

  1. Direwolf says:

    I just rec’d my date and time for Sundance early ticket purchases. Does anyone have any recommendations? I prefer dramas.
    Night at the Museum did very slightly more than Bedtime Stories on Christmas Day 2006 in its fourth day. Then again, Bedtime will probably do big business on the weekend with the matinees and will be quite near Night’s 1st 4 days of $42 million.
    I went to a 4:35 showing of Frost/Nixon in Evanston, IL only for it to be sold out 40 minutes ahead of time. I bought a ticke3r for The Wrestler but rather than wait an hour I popped into a crowded showing The Reader. I thought it was OK. I did not get an emotional link with the boy/adult so it fell a bit flat for me. I did like Kate Winslet’s performance which was subtle at many times when she said very little but conveyed intense emotion.
    At 4 PM on Christmas Day the entire theater was mobbed, concessions, ticket lines and all.

  2. T. Holly says:

    Get everything that’s in competition and then trade or barter them for two to three times that many. Dave’s off one letter, it’s “estimajaculations.”

  3. EthanG says:

    Ugh, this means that Owen Wilson will be around for at least a few more years…bummer. Fox may finally have a $100 million hit on its hands..
    Slumdog has crossed $15 million,,,wonder what number it needs to reach for it to be “mainstream enough” to vote best picture.
    Gross of recent Best Pic Winners through Xmas:
    No Country-38 Million
    Departed-120 Million
    Crash-53 Million
    MDB-$463,000

  4. seriously, many people have such bad taste in movies. Marley and Me? With Owen wilson and Jennifer Aniston? YUCK!!!
    I saw Slumdog Millionaire– a real gem. tonight, I’m seeing Benjamin Button, can’t wait. I got the screenplay right here with me :)

  5. movieman says:

    Glad to see that “Marley and Me” got off to the boffo start I predicted.
    I’ve already gone on record as preferring “M&M” to F-S’s (egregiously overrated) “Slumdog Millionaire,”so….keep it coming, love.

  6. a_loco says:

    True story: I didn’t know Owen Wilson was in Marley and Me until two days ago. I didn’t know it existed until a week ago (where I only saw the poster with the dog on it). And I pay attention to movies. How the fuck did it make $15 mil?

  7. leahnz says:

    how did it make 15 mil? this is my theory: various people made their way to the cinema via planes, trains or automobiles (likely with nippers in tow), walked up to the ticket window, purchased the required number of tickets with some valid form of currency, and entered the hallowed cavern to watch the movie

  8. jeffmcm says:

    I think the question was more along the lines of ‘where did this movie come from and who spent money to see it’ but that can be answered with a ‘you probably weren’t the target market’. I figured, until a couple of weeks ago, that it was a cheapo sub-Beethoven type of movie with no stars in it, especially since none of the outdoor ads mentioned Aniston or Owen Wilson (which you’d think they would have done, right?)

  9. LexG says:

    Does this mean we all now have to pretend: “Hey, Jennifer Aniston IS a draw and CAN open a movie after all!”?
    Only to have to feign shock when her next bland romcom tanks (“What happened????”).
    I’m sure her asking price will go up as of Monday A.M., but come on, would this have made ONE PENNY LESS with, say Hudson, Heigl, Hathaway, etc., in her role?
    (I think the star here is the dog and the very popular source material; Only reason I’m not asking the same about Wilson is his modest comedy drawing power is pretty well established, plus this won’t be analyzed as some sort of referendum on his career, as it will for current media-magnet Aniston.)

  10. jeffmcm says:

    I think Wilson can be said to have added to the movie’s drawing power – he must have made it feel safe for all the 20/30something guys to come into it and know that there would be a few jokes tossed their way, right?

  11. LexG says:

    Unfortunately for us old-school Wilson fans, Owen’s presence no longer suggests the possibility of “Behind Enemy Lines”/”Armageddon”-style action awesomeness.
    Only half serious, but sometimes kinda wish Owen and Luke Wilson, Stiller, and especially their cohort Vince Vaughn, hadn’t retreated so entirely from anything outside the comedy genre. Didn’t Wilson get fairly respectable reviews for playing a serial killer in “Minus Man”? And Stiller did LaBute duty, of all things.
    Seems hard to believe nearly a decade later that these guys used to do action and horror and sci-fi flicks, since they’re now kind of the Chase, Murray, Candy, and Aykroyd of the 00s.
    Off topic:
    Damn, did Turan take a crowbar to Ben Button, or what? Still haven’t seen it, but K.T. was at his absolute grumpiest, so down on Button that it almost makes his so-so review of R. Road today sound like an unqualified rave. It seems like he’s had it in for Fincher for years, and even without the violence to complain about this time, he’s still on about Fincher showing audiences things that grotesque and off-putting.
    Thanks for lookin’ out for us there, Kenny T.

  12. Anybody who didn’t know Marley & Me must either be completely oblivious to anything that isn’t within their direct field of vision or just isn’t looking hard enough.
    In regards to what Lex is saying, I think Jennifer Aniston is most definitely a draw, but only in the right project. She won’t turn people off from seeing something that looks appealing, but if she’s in something that looks kind of ordinary then she’s not necessarily enough to get people interested.
    Which, let’s be honest, is the same that can be said for almost every box office “draw”.

  13. movieman says:

    I don’t get all the hating on “M&M” (largely from people who haven’t seen it and–from the tone of their comments–wouldn’t condescend to seeing it in the first place).
    So what if it’s not “Benjamin Button,” “Rev Road,” “Gran Torino” or “Che” (all of which I loved)? For a mainstream Hollywood release, I thought it was vastly superior to the (largely subpar) 2008 norm.
    I laughed, I cried and had a very nice time.
    That’s more than I can say for “7 Pounds,” “Valkyrie,” “Bedtime Stories” or “The Spirit.”
    And–recycling some of my earlier comments on the film–what I responded to most was the marriage stuff (the large swath of the Aniston and Wilson characters’ lives as refracted through
    their life with Marley). The doggy stuff was okay, but it was the other part(s) that make the movie so unexpectedly rich and affecting (they did for me anyway). Plus, as a longtime newspaper vet, I found its affectionate portrait of the biz deeply nostalgic and oddly touching in this increasingly perilous day and age.

  14. movieman, it’s the Internet. people’s entire online existence revolves around them criticising or praising movies they a) haven’t seen and b) probably never will.

  15. jeffmcm says:

    And people bitching about said people, and so on.

  16. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Plenty of TV spots for “Marley and Me”, just not in football games. I did see a trailer for it during the US autumn and it mocked “Chariots of Fire”.
    As for Ms. Aniston? Make her a second banana like in “The Break-Up”, the movie’s a hit. Give her top billing, the movie flops.

  17. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, I’ve see spots on the Lifetime network that emphasize the (human) romantic angle of “Marley and Me.” So, yeah, I would say Jennifer and Owen had something to do with the mega-gross.

  18. a_loco says:

    I wasn’t trying to hate on Marley and Me, it just took me by surprise. I don’t have cable, so I didn’t see any TV spots, but I do go to a lot of movies (in Toronto no less) and I didn’t see a single trailer for it.
    The first poster, which I saw a week ago, didn’t have any names on it, so I assumed it was one of those cheap Beverly Hills Chihuahua type movies.
    I do a lot of wafting through movie sites and never saw anything for it until this last week. I’m a fan of Owen Wilson, so I’m surprised I didn’t hear about it earlier. And I never bothered to see Devil Wears Prada, but the fact that David Frankel directed it means that there was an attempt to make a quality picture.
    I just think its odd that I never heard of it, yet it still grossed so much.

  19. LYT says:

    Behind Enemy Lines awesomeness?
    Not much awesome about part one, at least. However, the forthcoming direct-to-DVD part three starring WWE’s Mister Kennedy…THAT will be awesomeness.

  20. Joe Leydon says:

    Talk about surprise hits: According to Andrew Hehir, the top-grossing indie movie of 2008 is…. Fireproof. ($33 million so far.) No kidding. Am I the only one here who saw that one?

  21. movieman says:

    I’m guessing that “Fireproof” must have been the first choice among Born-Agains this fall as a post-Palin rally activity.
    Or there are simply more Kirk Cameron fans out there than anyone guessed.
    I much preferred the director’s “Facing the Giants.”
    “Fireproof” was just a preachy–and wildly overlong–Lifetime movie at best.

  22. Joe Leydon says:

    Won’t argue any of those points, Movieman. But I do find it funny when people come on here to express surprise that this movie or that movie that they’ve “never heard of” has earned a tidy sum. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid, or out of the mainstream loop. But maybe, just maybe, you weren’t in the crosshairs of that movie’s ad campaign.

Quote Unquotesee all »

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