MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady Klady@moviecitynews.com

Property Values

The less than huggable E.T.s of District 9 led weekend box office viewing with an estimated $36.8 million. A clutch of new film releases with varying commercial potency buoyed ticket sales including the romantic sci-fi of The Time Traveler’s Wife that ranked third with $19.3 million. There were passable returns for the comic perspective on car salesman The Goods: Live, Hard, Sell Hard of $5.3 million and an OK $3.4 million bow for the Japanese anime Ponyo but Bandslam’s $2.2 million preem tagged it as an instant casualty.

Among niche and limited debuts was a potent $580,000 launch for Kaminey, a Bollywood film with Slumdog Millionaire resonance. Also very strong was the $92,400 gross on seven screens for rock doc It Might Get Loud but the bawdy humor of Spread landed with a thud on box office of $113,000 at 101 venues.

Overall revenues dipped modestly from last weekend but experienced a double digit boost from 2008 and the season appears headed for a modest box office bump (though admissions trail last year) come the Labor Day finish line.

The buzz was effective for District 9 and even critics responded favorably to the parable of immigrant discrimination and revolt. Pundits anticipated a potent bow between $35 million and $40 million and the film performed as expected and might just beat the odds with a less than intense second weekend drop.

There was also positive anticipation for The Time Traveler’s Wife based on the weepie bestseller. Again, opening response and upbeat word-of-mouth could provide extended theatrical length despite the current fierce competition for distaff viewers.

The Goods ushered in a new slant for Paramount Vantage that appears to rob the banner of any distinction from its mother studio. The specialty division seems to be evolving as Paramount’s equivalent to Screen Gems at least in concept.

Disney still hasn’t figured out how to translate Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s popularity to American mainstream audiences. Ponyowas embraced critically and arrived with a $180 million international box office but as with past efforts skewed toward aficionados rather than a family crowd.

Weekend box office added up to roughly $144 million that translated into a slight 4% decline from seven days back. However, it exceeded 2008 revenues by 15%. A year back openings of Tropic Thunder, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Mirrors racked up respective grosses of $25.8 million, $14.6 million and $11.2 million.

Bollywood cinema is notorious (though not unique) for cobbling American plots but more than a few eyebrows were raised when Kamineycribbed from Slumdog Millionaire’s script. Slumdog failed to secure an Indian distributor and Fox agreed to handle the film that wound up doing well but not extraordinary business there. This spin appears headed for more conspicuous success on home turf.

by Leonard Klady


Weekend Estimates: August 14-16, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
District 9 Sony 36.8 (12,080) 3049 36.8
G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra Par 22.6 (5,630) -59% 4007 98.8
The Time Traveler’s Wife WB 19.3 (6,450) New 2988 19.3
Julie & Julia Sony 12.2 (5,190) -39% 2354 43.5
G-Force BV 7.0 (2,240) -30% 3065 99
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard Par Vantage 5.3 (2,890) New 1838 5.3
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince WB 5.2 (1,870) -42% 2771 283.9
The Ugly Truth Sony 4.4 (1,620) -35% 2733 77.4
Ponyo BV 3.4 (3,700) New 927 3.4
(500) Days of Summer Fox Searchlight 3.0 (2,840) -20% 1048 17.9
Funny People Uni 3.0 (1,150) -63% 2584 47.9
A Perfect Getaway Uni/Alliance 2.7 (1,280) -54% 2159 11.5
Bandslam Summit 2.2 (1,040) New 2121 2.2
The Hangover WB 2.0 (1,720) 39% 1185 265.8
Orphan WB 1.6 (1,280) -56% 1261 38.4
Aliens in the Attic Fox 1.4 (910) -66% 1535 20.5
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Par 1.4 (1,410) -53% 1007 396.6
The Proposal BV 1.3 (1,180) -55% 1084 157.7
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Fox 1.2 (1,440) -54% 858 190.8
The Hurt Locker Summit .62 (1,380) -51% 450 10.3
Kaminey UTV .58 (6,910) New 84 0.58
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $137.20
% Change (Last Year) 15%
% Change (Last Week) -4%
Also debuting/expanding
In the Loop IFC .19 (2,550) -14% 74 1.2
Adam Searchlight .21 (3,150) 100% 66 0.52
Paper Heart Overture .16 (2,400) -26% 68 0.51
Spread Anchor Bay .11 (1,120) 101 0.11
It Might Get Loud Sony Classics 92,400 (13,200) 7 0.09
Cold Souls IDP 69,200 (3,460) 10% 20 0.17
Thirst Focus 49,600 (3,310) -11% 15 0.23
Grace Anchor Bay 6,500 (3,250) 2 0.01
Taxidermia Regent 4,100 (2,050) 2 0.01
Earth Days Zeitgeist 1,100 (1,100) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: To August 13, 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross Mrkt Share
Warner Bros. (23) 1389.1 20.40%
Paramount (13) 1252.4 18.40%
Fox (13) 899.4 13.20%
Buena Vista (13) 846.7 12.40%
Sony (15) 728.4 10.70%
Universal (16) 665.5 9.70%
Lions Gate (7) 237.4 3.50%
Fox Searchlight (8) 209.7 3.10%
Summit (7) 157.2 2.30%
Focus (6) 105.1 1.50%
Paramount Vantage (2) 52.4 0.80%
MGM (3) 42.3 0.60%
Miramax (5) 41.3 0.60%
Weinstein Co. (6) 34.5 0.50%
Other * (194) 154.6 2.30%
* none greater than 0.4% 6816 100.00%

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“TIFF doesn’t make attendance numbers for its Lightbox screenings publicly available, so it’s difficult to gauge exactly how many filmgoers the Lightbox is attracting (or how much money it’s bringing in). But the King Street West venue hasn’t become a significant draw for film enthusiasts. The Lightbox’s attendance has plunged – 49,000 fewer visitors last year, a drop of 27 per cent, according to figures recently reported in the Toronto Star. Its gallery space – designed to showcase the visions of cinema’s most iconic filmmakers – saw most of its exhibitions staff quietly axed this past fall. And its marketing barely escapes the Lightbox’s walls. Unless you are a TIFF member or one of the city’s most avid filmgoers, you could walk by the Lightbox and remain blissfully unaware of a single thing that goes on inside. TIFF “still has a world-class brand,” said Barry Avrich, a filmmaker and former board member, “but it’s going to take some fresh vision from retail, consumer programming and marketing experts, given how the lines have become intensely blurred when it comes to how people watch film. They will have to experiment with programming to find the right blend of function and relevance.”
~ Globe & Mail Epic On State of Toronto Int’l (paywalled)

“I’m 87 years old… I only eat so I can smoke and stay alive… The only fear I have is how long consciousness is gonna hang on after my body goes. I just hope there’s nothing. Like there was before I was born. I’m not really into religion, they’re all macrocosms of the ego. When man began to think he was a separate person with a separate soul, it created a violent situation.

“The void, the concept of nothingness, is terrifying to most people on the planet. And I get anxiety attacks myself. I know the fear of that void. You have to learn to die before you die. You give up, surrender to the void, to nothingness.

“Anybody else you’ve interviewed bring these things up? Hang on, I gotta take this call… Hey, brother. That’s great, man. Yeah, I’m being interviewed… We’re talking about nothing. I’ve got him well-steeped in nothing right now. He’s stopped asking questions.”
~ Harry Dean Stanton