MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady


A modicum of laughter propelled Funny People to the top of the weekend box office chart with an estimated $23.2 million. The frame also saw a complete miss for the family targeted Aliens in the Attic of $7.7 million and an OK $3.3 million for the thriller The Collector.

The session also included a flood of specialized fare including sturdy bows for Love Aaj Kal of $702,000 on the Bollywood circuit and a $323,000 tally for Les Doigts Croches in the Quebec marketplace. Limited openers also had strong initial forays with the oddball romance Adam grossing $68,100; Korean vampire yarn Thirst biting into $56,200 and non-fiction dolphin expose The Coveflipping $55,300. Each of the trio bowed on four screens while Cannes-prized Lorna’s Silencegrossed $33,700 from six venues.

Still the glut couldn’t stave off summer’s viewing attrition with box office experiencing significant declines from both last weekend and last year.

While Funny People was being positioned as a comedy, the reality was a more sober-sided yarn of comics with tsoris. Exit polls also revealed that the film was drawing in a primarily young male audience rather than what was perceived as a broader appeal picture. Business dropped 15% from opening day and some invoked the newly coined “twitter” effect as a factor keeping it from opening to more than $30 million.

There wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for Aliens in the Attic especially with both G-Force and the latestHarry Potter still potent box office attractions. HP6 finally launched its Imax playdates and the 166 large format venues accounted for about $3.2 million (18%) of its weekend earnings.

Buoyed more by word-of-mouth than marketing The Collector generated a respectable return. One can well understand the reluctance of a small distributor to compete against the seasonal behemoths but there’s also the inevitability that a perfunctory ad buy will leave millions on the floor.

Weekend box office shrank to about $125 million for an 18% decline from last weekend. It was a slightly steeper 19% behind 2008 when the third weekend of The Dark Knight edged out the debut of The Mummy sequel with $42.7 million to the latter’s $40.5 million.

To date summer 2009 has generated revenues of roughly $3.2 billion and the current weekend results have put it behind last year at this point by 0.5%. G.I. Joe can’t come too soon or too big.

One largely unseen summer success story is taking place in Quebec where the local action-comedyDe Pere en flic has grossed more than $6 million – the first indigenous blockbuster since Bon Cop, Bad Cop in 2006. That venue has also seen a couple of other Canuck films do well in the current hot season as well as the Swedish nail-biter import Millennium.

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates: July 31 – August 2, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (averag % change Theater Cume
Funny People Uni 23.3 (7,770) 3007 23.2
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Pr WB 17.6 (4,010) -40% 4393 255.4
G-Force BV 17.2 (4,650) -46% 3697 66.6
The Ugly Truth Sony 12.8 (4,430) -54% 2882 54.2
Aliens in the Attic Fox 7.7 (2,490) 3106 7.7
The Orphan WB 7.2 (2,610) -44% 2750 26.7
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Fox 5.2 (1,900) -38% 2757 181.8
The Hangover WB 5.0 (2,040) -22% 2071 255.7
The Proposal BV 4.8 (1,970) -25% 2435 148.8
Transformers: Revenge of the Fall Par 4.6 (1,740) -44% 2626 388.1
The Collector FreeStyle 3.3 (2,510) 1325 3.3
(500) Days of Summer Fox Searchlight 2.7 (10,300) 67% 266 6.8
Public Enemies Uni 2.3 (1,430) -47% 1620 93
The Hurt Locker Summit 1.8 (3,520) 28% 523 6.7
Up BV 1.1 (1,500) -35% 726 286
Bruno Uni .88 (1,180) -59% 747 59.1
Love Aaj Kal Eros .70 (6,890) 102 0.7
My Sister’s Keeper WB .66 (1,010) -51% 656 46.7
Du Pere en flic Alliance .63 (9,520) -26% 105 6.4
Night at the Museum 2 Fox .53 (1,520) -19% 349 174
The Taking of Pelham 123 Sony .35 (1,010) -28% 348 64.4
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $120.00
% Change (Last Year) -19%
% Change (Last Week) -19%
Also debuting/expanding
Les Doigts Croches Alliance .32 (4,970) 65 0.32
In the Loop IFC .26 (8,160) 36% 32 0.54
Moon Sony Classics .24 (1,280) -38% 188 3.9
Away We Go Focus .15 (1,050) -48% 142 9.2
Fifty Dead Men Walking TVA 68,820 (3,130) 22 0.07
Adam Searchlight 68,100 (17,020) 4 0.07
Thirst Focus 56,200 (14,050) 4 0.06
The Cove Roadside Attrac 55,300 (13,820) 4 0.06
Lorna’s Silence Sony Classics 33,700 (5,620) 6 0.03
Flame & Citron IFC 10,400 (5,200) 2 0.01
Gotta Dance Dramatic Force 7,300 (7,300) 1 0.01
You, the Living Palisades 5,900 (5,900) 1 0.01
Not Quite Hollywood Magnolia 4,400 (4,400) 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – July 30, 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (23) 1312.9 20.50%
Paramount (12) 1162.5 18.20%
Fox (12) 864.7 13.50%
Buena Vista (13) 788.6 12.30%
Sony (14) 663.5 10.40%
Universal (14) 605.2 9.50%
Lions Gate (7) 237.4 3.70%
Fox Searchlight (7) 198.5 3.10%
Summit (7) 152.3 2.40%
Focus (5) 104.5 1.60%
Paramount Vantage (2) 52.4 0.80%
MGM (3) 42.3 0.70%
Miramax (5) 41.1 0.70%
Weinstein Co. (6) 34.5 0.50%
Other * (172) 133.4 2.10%
* none greater than 0.45% 6393.8 100%
Medea Goes to Jail Lions Gate 91,092,583
* does not include 2008 box office

Top Domestic Grosses: January 1 – July 30, 2009

Title Distributor Gross
Transformers: Revenge of the Fall Par 383,500,991
Up BV 284,878,665
Star Trek Par 254,334,469
The Hangover WB 250,696,417
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Pr WB 237,762,860
Monsters vs. Aliens Par 197,895,942
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fox 179,556,048
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Fox 176,542,789
Night at the Museum 2 Fox 173,454,677
Fast & Furious Uni 155,206,768
Paul Blart: Mall Cop Sony 146,777,505
Taken Fox 145,000,989
The Proposal BV 144,033,677
Gran Torino * WB 142,251,852
Angels & Demons Sony 133,185,462
Terminator Salvation WB 124,182,894
Slumdog Millionaire * Fox Searchlight 119,092,566
Watchmen WB 107,599,799
He’s Just Not That Into You WB 93,953,653
Medea Goes to Jail Lions Gate 91,092,583
* does not include 2008 box office

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Dear Irene Cho, I will miss your energy and passion; your optimism and joy; your kindness towards friends, colleagues, strangers, struggling filmmakers, or anyone who randomly crossed your path and needed a hand. My brothers and I have long considered you another sibling in our family. Our holiday photos – both western and eastern – have you among all the cousins, in-laws, and kids… in the snow, sun, opening presents, at large dinner gatherings, playing Monopoly, breaking out pomegranate seeds and teaching us all how to dance Gangnam style. Your friendship and loyalty meant a great deal to me: you were the loudest cheerleader when I experienced victories and you were always ready with sushi when I had disappointments. You had endless crazy ideas which always seemed impossible but you would will them into existence. (Like that time you called me and suggested that we host a brunch for newly elected mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti because “he is going to president one day.” We didn’t have enough time or funding, of course, only your desire to do it. So you did, and I followed.) You created The Daily Buzz from nothing and it survived on your steam in spite of many setbacks because you believed in a platform for emerging filmmakers from all nations. Most of all, you were a wonderful mother to your son, Ethan, a devoted wife to your husband, and a wonderful sibling and daughter to your family. We will all miss how your wonderful smile and energy lit up the room and our lives. Rest in peace, Irene.
~ Rose Kuo Remembers Irene Cho on Facebook

“You know, I was never a critic. I never considered myself as a film critic. I started doing short films, writing screenplays and then for awhile, for a few years I wrote some film theory, including some film criticism because I had to, but I was never… I never had the desire to be a film critic. I never envisioned myself as a film critic, but I did that at a period of my life when I thought I kind of needed to understand things about cinema, understand things about film theory, understand the world map of cinema, and writing about movies gave me that, and also the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admired.

“To me, it was the best possible film school. The way it changed my perspective I suppose is that I believe in this connection between theory and practice. I think that you also make movies with ideas and you need to have ideas about filmmaking to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve through your movies, but then I started making features in 1986 — a while ago — and I left all that behind.

“For the last three decades I’ve been making movies, I’ve been living, I’ve been observing the world. You become a different person, so basically my perspective on the world in general is very different and I hope that with every movie I make a step forward. I kind of hope I’m a better person, and hopefully a better filmmaker and hopefully try to… It’s very hard for me to go back to a different time when I would have different values in my relationship to filmmaking. I had a stiffer notion of cinema.”
~ Olivier Assayas