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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“By the time the sounds of the Von Trapp children warbling ‘Silent Night’ drift through The Giver, you may find yourself wondering what fresh movie hell this is. In truth, the enervating hash of dystopian dread, vague religiosity and commercial advertising-style uplift is nothing if not stale. Adapted from Lois Lowry’s book for young readers, the story involves an isolated society that, with its cubistic dwellings, mindless smiles, monochromatic environs and nebulous communitarianism, seem modeled on a Scandinavian country or an old Mentos commercial.”
~ Manohla Dargis’ Deadly Lede For Review Of The Giver

“It’s possible that in the coming days or, God forbid, weeks, the president could have something more specific to say about the freighted decades-long history of political imbalance at work, in this case between a mostly black working-class town and its majority white government and police force. But this is a black man who must choose his words about race, governance, and law enforcement even more carefully than a white politician would. And this is the third summer in which, as president, he would have to do so…

“Until this point in the turmoil, the absence of the crucial second face in the incident seemed to heighten the distance between police and the people they serve. It grants them both an anonymity and autonomy that matches the bizarre transformation, in Ferguson and elsewhere, of police into troops. The riot gear turns 2014 into a dot on a Jim Crow–era timeline. Since the officer’s name wasn’t made public more immediately, it should have seemed urgent for the police to lose the riot attire and take steps to minimize distrust, to dispel the contagious assumption that silence equates racism…

“What is so affecting isn’t just that 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed when he was barely a man. It’s other things as well. One was how many reports of the incident that first day mentioned that he was about to start college. That’s a rite that’s universally emotional. But for a black male from a poor family, the first day of college is a freighted day that usually requires the sacrifice of more than one person. Black people know the odds of getting to and graduating from college, and that they’re low. That Brown seemed to be on the right path compounded the parental, local, and national outrage over his being wiped from it.”

~ Wesley Morris On Let’s Be Cops, The Shooting In Ferguson, Obama…