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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Klady

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“On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians.

“The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on – not only as artists but as humans: the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly ‘foreign’ and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better. These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different.

“So we’ve asked ourselves: What can cinema do? Although we don`t want to overestimate the power of movies, we do believe that no other medium can offer such deep insight into other people’s circumstances and transform feelings of unfamiliarity into curiosity, empathy and compassion – even for those we have been told are our enemies.

“Regardless of who wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday, we refuse to think in terms of borders. We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color. We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.

“Human rights are not something you have to apply for. They simply exist – for everybody. For this reason, we dedicate this award to all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity – values whose protection is now more important than ever. By dedicating the Oscar to them, we wish to express to them our deep respect and solidarity.”

Martin Zandvliet – Land of Mine (Denmark)
Hannes Holm – A Man Called Ove (Sweden )
Asghar Farhadi – The Salesman (Iran)
Maren Ade – Toni Erdmann (Germany)
Martin Butler, Bentley Dean – Tanna (Australia)

“I don’t really believe in guilty pleasures. I like to subscribe to Susan Sontag’s thought of no highs and lows. I think dismissing popular culture and popular films can be really dangerous because they may seem innocuous, but some are works of art and even when they’re not they can say so much about the culture that they’re reflecting. This also gets into the idea of canon. What is good and isn’t good? Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Specifically, who writes these canons? Mainly, straight white guys — which basically rigs the system. So, if you have a knowledge of female filmmakers, queer filmmakers, African or Asian filmmakers, some people won’t give them the same culture capital. They’ll say, “Oh, that’s nice niche knowledge.” No, it’s not. You’re just seeing it through the prism of something white and male. Like Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Scandal.’ I love that show, but is it a guilty pleasure because it’s a soap on TV? No. I think it has incredible writing, incredible thought and characters, so we should take it seriously. That’s a long-winded answer to say, “Yes, I love Titanic.” I was 10 years old when it came out and my mom took me to see it three times. I was so obsessed with it. A big thanks to my mom who’ll never get those nine hours of her life back.”
~ Toronto Int’l Programmer and Critic Kiva Reardon