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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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“Chad Harbach spent ten years writing his novel. It was his avocation, for which he was paid nothing, with no guarantee he’d ever be paid anything, while he supported himself doing freelance work, for which I don’t think he ever made $30,000 a year. I sold his book for an advance that equated to $65,000 a year—before taxes and commission—for each of the years of work he’d put in. The law schools in this country churn out first-year associates at white-shoe firms that pay them $250,000 a year, when they’re twenty-five years of age, to sit at a desk doing meaningless bullshit to grease the wheels of the corporatocracy, and people get upset about an excellent author getting $65,000 a year? Give me a fucking break.”
~ Book Agent Chris Parris-Lamb On The State Of The Publishing Industry

INTERVIEWER
Do you think this anxiety of yours has something to do with being a woman? Do you have to work harder than a male writer, just to create work that isn’t dismissed as being “for women”? Is there a difference between male and female writing?

FERRANTE
I’ll answer with my own story. As a girl—twelve, thirteen years old—I was absolutely certain that a good book had to have a man as its hero, and that depressed me. That phase ended after a couple of years. At fifteen I began to write stories about brave girls who were in serious trouble. But the idea remained—indeed, it grew stronger—that the greatest narrators were men and that one had to learn to narrate like them. I devoured books at that age, and there’s no getting around it, my models were masculine. So even when I wrote stories about girls, I wanted to give the heroine a wealth of experiences, a freedom, a determination that I tried to imitate from the great novels written by men. I didn’t want to write like Madame de La Fayette or Jane Austen or the Brontës—at the time I knew very little about contemporary literature—but like Defoe or Fielding or Flaubert or Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky or even Hugo. While the models offered by women novelists were few and seemed to me for the most part thin, those of male novelists were numerous and almost always dazzling. That phase lasted a long time, until I was in my early twenties, and it left profound effects.
~ Elena Ferrante, Paris Review Art Of Fiction No. 228

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