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David Poland

By David Poland

5 Is The Stupidest Number

So is this the new Anne Thompson signature? 5 Reasons You’re A Fuck Up? I hope not, especially since Anne isn’t going to make it by playing Queen Bitch and whether it is her writing it or Anthony D’Alessandro, these two back-to-back pieces are abject failures.

“What went wrong” with Wall Street 2 is not a column… it’s barely a sentence. “A sequel that virtually no one wanted made by people who made it for the wrong reasons with an idea that was not fully hatched.”

It’s not the first. Won’t be the last. Has nothing to do with the future of studio dramas.

And if you are going do make over-the-top connections, you have to do the math. W didn’t do anything close to the box office that Wall Street 2 did. This doesn’t make Wall Street 2 a good choice, but you can’t be taken seriously when you write, “Stone was far more frugal with his George W. Bush biopic W., which cost $25 million and grossed about the same,” when the domestic numbers are $26m for one and $48m for the other domestically and $84m to $30m worldwide. Those are not “the same.”

Also the idea of comparing the process of getting The Town made and The Social Network made and Wall Street 2 just makes the author sound like the just got in from Southern Iowa. These things are not connected. Not remotely. And obviously, the box office is not connected to the box office gross of any of these films. In the long run, Sony will spend much more on P&A on TSN than Fox spent on WS2… irrelevant to this conversation.

Shia LeBouff fans not showing up is not a mistake… it’s just what happened. Wall Street 2 could easily have done $100 million domestic without “the millennials.”

A lengthy 133-minute running time didn’t help. Huh? Are we really arguing that 13 minutes between The Social Network (whose domestic gross, btw, will not likely be that much greater than WS2’s) and WS2 made a difference? Did the fact that The Blind Side, a drama which grossed $255m domestic ran 7 minutes shorter than Wall Street 2 make you think twice about this idiotic theory? Or did you just need 5 mistakes to for the movie into this idea of a feature.

Adults are tough critics. WHAT?!?! You mean like Eat Pray Love, which had a 37% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but did $80m domestic?

I was going to just not mention this column. I considered just doing a Twitter entry. But I feel a bad trend starting and better to try to help nip it in the bud now, before anyone self-destructs.

Trying to turn any story into a “5 Things” format is almost always a bad idea. But in this case, only 2 of the 5 arguments offered come close to being accurate. The idea of the film doing better in April… when a grand total of ZERO dramas grossed over $6 million this year and two dramas made more than $2 million in 2009 – State of Play with $37m domestic and The Soloist with $32m domestic – is based on nothing but “nyah, nyah, you shoulda done something else” and no reporting at all.

Stop the madness!

46 Responses to “5 Is The Stupidest Number”

  1. Tom says:

    “[The Social Network’s] domestic gross, btw, will not likely be that much greater than WS2′s”

    Really? Isn’t WS2 at around 46 and wrapping up, while Social Network is at 55 and still going?

    I don’t disagree with the rest of your take but this seems like a real mistake.

  2. Maxim says:

    Don’t bother, Tom. Poland doesn’t care about facts. He just wan’t to rant. He doesn’t care that what he’s saying is a lie.

  3. chris says:

    My thoughts exactly, Tom. “WS2″‘s full domestic run might get it to where “Social Network” is right now. But “Network” will surely add a minimum of $20 million to its total and maybe a good deal more than that. Those numbers are also not “the same.”

  4. christian says:


  5. mary says:

    Fox clearly tried hard to attract Shia LeBouff’s fans, and it might be one reason why they made “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” for getting PG-13 rating.

    Critics may not matter, but word-of-mouth matter. “Eat Pray Love” has better word-of-mouth than “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”; at least, “Eat Pray Love” has much better box office leg than “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”.

    “State of Play” and “The Soloist” would do much worse if they were released in Fall (a crowded season for adult dramas). “State of Play” and “The Soloist” are the dramas that had almost zero Oscar hope, so they had better to be released in a less competitive season. (Paramount had their reason to move “The Soloist” from Fall 2008 to April 2009)

    “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” would do better in April, at least the film would not need to face the competition of other better-received adult dramas like “The Town”, “The Social Network” and even “Secretariat”.

  6. Foamy Squirrel says:


    I always luv to keed DP aboot his typoes.

  7. LYT says:

    “Trying to turn any story into a “5 Things” format is almost always a bad idea.”

    Yes, EXCEPT when it comes to generating traffic, which the top 5 thing does like gangbusters.

    Can’t stand it either, but I would bet good money that Anne’s been told from on high that she has to do stuff like this. I was once in the running for editor at a movie website, and was told that one of the requirements was a new top ten list every day, split over two pages to maximize traffic.

  8. LexG says:


    Wall Street 2 is a solid but EXTREMELY misshapen and strange movie that nonethless I kind of want to see again.

    Anne Thompson is so dry and joyless, burnt toast regularly e-mails her to say stop stepping on its buzz.

  9. David Poland says:


    If WS2 did $50 and Social Network does $80, is it really that much greater?

    My whole point is that trying to slice all this up so finely is silly. And perhaps I proved it with that comment.

    Last year there were 23 movies that grossed between $50m domestic and $85 million. I don’t see a huge distinction between the grosses of those movies, unless we are getting into some detail. Those numbers are pretty good and not great… unless we’re talking about an small indie, none of which those were last year.

    Maxim… would love to know who you are and what I did to you that made you so angry with me. Would be great if you actually added something other than bile to the blog.

  10. Sasha Stone says:

    LexG, you are wrong about Anne. She is anything but dry and joyless. Where do you get from anyway? Have you ever met her? She is incredibly intelligent, funny and absolutely on her game. So much so that she has everyone else running scared. So please, give me a break.

  11. David Poland says:

    I’m good with that, Sasha… but wondering about the “running scared.” Who is running where?

  12. IOv3 says:

    Yes David, 30 MILLION MORE IS THAT MUCH MORE! Jesus H. Christ, his dad, and his brother, how do you make statements such as that one without thinking people are going to goof on you about it? Good lord.

  13. LexG says:


    Yes, I am aware everyone in your biz, from DP to you to Wells to Tapley, etc, all think highly of Anne Thompson. I’m sure she’s positively SWELL.

    But on camera, or on audio, she is, in the parlance of TALK RADIO, dead… air. I remember the time she froze in the headlights opposite Roeper, coming off like the world’s stiffest, most buttoned-down library lady. Or in that DP Super Movie Friends with our esteemed leader and Devin Faraci.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Devin Faraci is a greaseball and a douche, and he talks shit about me (which amazes me he even knows or cares who I am)…

    But on that SUPER MOVIE FRIENDS, Devin is POLITELY and articulately defending his enjoyment of GI JOE, and Anne is in the middle just CONDESCENDING TO HIM and smugly scoffing at his every point, and it’s like watching the metal burnout in shop class trying to defend Slayer to the fucking Church Lady.

    She’s dry, and as I complain about EVERYONE IN THE FILM REPORTAGE BIZNASS: YOU PEOPLE WATCH MOVIES FOR A LIVING. Shouldn’t some of that SHOWMANSHIP AND CHARISMA rub off? Considering they’ve seen SEVEN MILLION MOVIES in their lifetimes, can’t an Anne Thompson or Ken Turan BRING THE CHARISMA on camera, do some ACTING WORK and act ENERGETIC and LIKE A MOVIE STAR?

    There is NO EXCUSE for a critic being a stiff on camera. I could talk circles around Anne Thompson on camera, and no one’s paying me to do fucking anything except transcribe softcore porn for 35k.

    If you couldn’t hang at OPEN MIKE NIGHT or HOST A SHOW thinking on your feet and bringing the JOKES, you shouldn’t be on camera. Ever.

  14. Don Murphy says:

    Once again, Kingo Speaks and we pretend to listen.

  15. The Pope says:

    Why do you even bother visiting this website, and read its blogs, and even type up a few words when all you do is whine. Can’t you keep your position in perspective? You MAKE movies. We WATCH and WRITE about them. I know which one I would prefer to be doing and I certainly would not waste time to doing the other.

  16. The Pope says:

    I think you shot off far to quickly and rashly with your stats. Not only is Tom correct saying WS2 is wrapping up while TSN is still going strong, look also at the budget differential. WS2 cost upward of $70m. TSN was $50.

    WS2 has been fading with about 50% dips since it opened and has yet to hit $50m after a month.

    TSN, which I think most everyone will agree, has been enjoying good holds of around 30% and has past $60m plus in 3 weeks.

    So the longer this goes on, the difference in the domestic gross will only become more accentuated.

    However, you do make a claim that although it FEELS right (and would persuade me), it cannot be fully substantiated.

    “In the long run, Sony will spend much more on P&A on TSN than Fox spent on WS2…”

    But I reckon they will claw it back, both through foreign sales as well as DVD (this is playing big, big, big with the college crowd).

    But then you go on to say that the P&A spend is “irrelevant to this conversation.”

    So, why mention it at all?

  17. Tom says:

    “If WS2 did $50 and Social Network does $80, is it really that much greater?”

    60% greater on a movie that cost $20M less to produce.


  18. LexG says:

    FIVE is the stupidest number?


    Because IT’S BEEN EIGHT YEARS since I’ve had any PUSSY.



    Or at least get me some PRESS PASSES next time they screen BLACK SWAN, and SAVE A LIFE.


  19. LexG says:


    I can almost guarantee that BLACK SWAN is screening weekly for LA hotshots.

    If you get me PRESS PASSES for the next screening, you will be SAVING A LIFE.

    BLACK SWAN or SOMEWHERE. YOU will email me and give me the locale of the next screening of either. I’ll even write a review for MCN unpaid. I need to see these movies before I have to transcribe them in black and white at my DAY JOB.

    DO IT

  20. Geoff says:

    The Social Network is probably headed towards $100 million and will likely end up grossing 80% more than Wall Street domestic – that’s a big difference and the two did not happen in a vacuum.

    I enjoyed WS2, but yeah, it would have made more in April – Fox sat on it for way too long and there was much less competition in April. I think every one was afraid of how big Kick-Ass would be, but in the end it did not end up grossing even close to what The Town and The Social Network will do.

    It’s just been a shitty year for Fox overall and they seem to have no clue on when to release their movies – think the buzzsaw they ran into with The A Team in June, it got destroyed by The Karate Kid. This is more about a studio’s strategy on the placement of its films than Oliver Stone or the current state of dramas at the box office.

  21. Sasha Stone says:

    Ugh with the box office talk.

    Lex – I see your point. But here’s the thing. Being on camera and being a good journalist ARE two different things. Journalists are now forced to evolve into other mediums for which they were never intended and everyone has to pay the price. I’m sure the LA Times is forcing Turan to do those videos. He sounds great on NPR when he reads his reviews. Anyway, I don’t blame Anne for condescending to Devin – why wouldn’t she? He was doing WHAT exactly?

    I agree that some people are just better suited to TV and standup and whatever – some don’t have the luxury to only do print – we all have to improvise, adapt and overcome.

    Yes, some of them are better on camera. But let’s face it, women are simply judged more harshly. To use a LexGism FOR EVERY GODDAMNED THING THEY EVER DO.

    Not sure why that is. I wish it was because women rule the universe but we know that isn’t true.

    DP – “running scared,” I don’t know. Just sounded good at the time.

  22. Keil Shults says:

    Let’s see what’s a more useless blog entry (re: abject failure) for a film website…

    A) 5 Things That Went Wrong With Wall Street 2

    B) This Lady On Another Website Is Putting Up Blog Entries I Don’t Agree With

    Your comments about wanting to nip it in the bud are both egomaniacal and dishonest. You either want to bash this woman and her blog, or, for some bizarre reason, you want to provide her with more hits by linking to her website.

    You should redirect your rage toward more deserving targets. I suggest Armond White, Uwe Boll, Harry Knowles, or this girl I loved in high school who wouldn’t date me because my life wasn’t centered around Christ.

  23. Don Murphy says:

    Five Things the Pope Poseur Should Do Right Away

    1- Accept David Kingo Poland as his savior
    2- Learn to address his betters properly
    3- Figure out what “whine” means
    4- Fuck Off
    5- Then Die

  24. joey says:

    How can you criticise her for saying $26m and $48m are about the same and then yourself compare WS2 with the Social Network and say… “Oy. If WS2 did $50 and Social Network does $80, is it really that much greater?”

    Where’s the consistency?

  25. David Poland says:

    Don… I know some tech folks who can make a macro for you so you don’t have to bother typing out the same thing every time you comment. I imagine it’s as boring to write as it is to read.

    Pope… I am fine with all that parsing. Kind of my point. If we want to discuss details, discuss details. If we want to discuss broad strokes, keep them broad.

    And Keil… thanks for telling me what I think. But Anne is not a target. She does, however, seem to be getting into the game of “let’s make lists to get readers excited… even if they are inaccurate or even a bit destructive.” I am perfectly happy for you to read her daily or hourly if you are so inclined. I do intend to bash this one practice.

    I know everyone loves to assume that everything is quite personal on the web. And being smacked always feels a bit personal. But I think I have shown consistency over a lot of years in attacking practices and specific stories and not really individuals. (And btw, remember, Anne didn’t actually write this piece.) Yes, I have a few writers who irritate the fuck out of me. Nikki’s practices that are not published are abhorrent to me… and there is more bad behavior there than I ever write about. But the NYT, LAT, Wrap, Anne in this rare event… nothing personal at all. I just want to read good material… and I don’t even care if it’s in the suck-up category, the deep analysis category, or the deep-navel category, so long as people don’t pretend to be doing one thing when they are doing something else.

    Just for the record, it never occurs to me, when i write anything, that someone may get more page views or less page views or whatever. I don’t care.

    But Keil… do you actually think there is anything much more to say about Harry Knowles or Uwe Boll? I haven’t paid attention to either in a long while. As for Armond, he is a bit insane, but he is also challenging and interesting and people who think he should just be silences are, in my opinion, overreaching. Can’t really speak to Christ Girl, but the only shot you had was as a guilty pleasure, like the booze she’d have to drink to rationalize letting you get her naked in the backseat. Next time, try harder or just accept that the girl who was into that wisp of hair on your chin that never quite became a goatee was a lot of fun too.

    Kingo (the artist formerly known as Rabbi) out.

  26. Don Murphy says:

    If you say it it must be true. There’s no need for facts or discussions. Between your hilariass jokes about Coma People and your knowledge of anything and everything I would expect ALL reading bores you. You are above it all.

    Stupid arrogant fart. (Did I type that out loud?)

  27. David Poland says:

    Don, would love to have a discussion with you or anyone else. That is why I have a blog with open commenting and why I engage with commenters. But you don’t seem remotely interested in anything but name calling and obsessively repeating the same phrases and beefs (valid or not) from weeks ago or even years ago.

    And yet, I don’t just ignore you like one should ignore the troll you’ve become and keep responding to you, hoping to engage in something of value… which is getting close to the definition of insanity…


  28. Keil Shults says:

    I’m interested in hearing Poland explain the final paragraph of his response.

  29. Keil Shults says:

    I dunno, just couldn’t tell if you were insulting me or not. I was ready to concede to your argument supporting your creation of this blog topic, but then that last paragraph threw me for a loop. Maybe I misread it or just assumed it was an attack of some sort given my prior comments regarding today’s piece.

  30. LexG says:

    Just figured out who ANNE THOMPSON reminds me of, EXACTLY:

    Danny’s doctor from the beginning of THE SHINING.

  31. Ariel Garmen says:

    Cool article. Very interesting.

  32. Hallick says:

    “Inside the average range for a Stone title, it’s Shia LaBeouf’s lowest-grossing live-action wide release since his christening as a marquee draw with 2007’s Disturbia.”

    This is something she considers a gotcha? That Wall Street 2’s profits didn’t fall in line with the below:

    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
    Eagle Eye
    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

    Sorry our adult drama didn’t have giant frikkin’ alien robots or aliens with giant frikkin’ glass skulls or guns and shit like that Will Smith movie!

    “The biggest hurdle for Wall Street 2: it was a sequel to a 23-year old adult drama, not a mass-audience franchise such as Rocky or Star Wars. Even if it was timely, its B.O. prospects were limited from the start. Here are five reasons why Wall Street 2’s stock fell”

    She just summed it all up in a nutshell really, so why add five more lesser hurdles anyway?

    “The movie was too long. A lengthy 133-minute running time didn’t help.”

    Okay, in this day and age LENGTHY begins, on average, what, somewhere around the 150 minute mark? And according to BoxOfficeMojo’s numbers, having a running time around 133 minutes didn’t hurt Avatar (160 min), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (144 min), Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (153 min), New Moon (130 min), Star Trek (126 min), The Blind Side (126 min), and Sherlock Holmes (134 min) – seven of the top ten movies of 2009. So not exactly a top five reason for Wall Street 2 not catching fire in the theaters.

    “Any award season buzz emanating out of Cannes has long since fizzled, and Fox did not book the film into kudo-friendly fall fests. Finally, Oscar pundits have left Wall Street 2 off their lists.”

    Sorry, there was award season buzz emanating out of Cannes for the film AFTER it screened? Ummmm…noooooo. Not unless you had a tinnitis attack which you MISTOOK for award season buzz. I read my fair share of reports from Cannes and I really detected no buzz. None at all.

  33. David Poland says:

    It was an attempt at being lighthearted about your comment about trying to date someone who needed you to be more religious. It was not an attack on anyone, except perhaps the notion of high school girls who are heavily shielded by religious faith, hand-fed an immature, inflexible faith by mom & pop. Having been indoctrinated myself, I have some experience in this area and have found that many of these girls are sexually available once the halo slips a little… too much so for their own good.

  34. Hunter D. says:

    Obviously Anne meant that W. cost about 25 million, and MADE 25 million. It was phrased poorly, but no one was arguing that 26 million and 49 million are the same number.

  35. IOv3 says:

    Keil, he takes those shots at me all the time. He may have indeed meant yours as a light hearted jab but he usually just punches me in the face. Freaking David Poland punching me in the face.

  36. scooterzz says:

    six screenings between 10/26 and 11/12…all on the lot…

  37. LexG says:

    But sans Polandian-Wellsian press passage, how would I get in?

    Fox lot is also ass-end o’ town for this Toluca Lake douche, but I’d take the day off for THE SWAN.

  38. Gus says:

    I am a defender of yours, Poland, but claiming that $30M one way or the other on a movie budgeted at $50M doesn’t matter is truly crazy talk.

    And I’m pretty sure that when she said “the same” she meant it grossed the same as its modest budget (around $25M).

  39. cadavra says:

    How can “23 years ago” be a factor when the entire world (or so we are told) is all fired up for a sequel to a movie made 32 years ago (that would be TRON LEGACY)?

  40. Keil Shults says:

    If Gordon Gekko had driven a neon motorbike, WS2 would have been a smash.

  41. David Poland says:

    Disney is working hard to get anyone who isn’t hard core fired up about a new Tron.

    Allegedly, the ace in the hole is that the script is quite good… but it hasn’t shown up in the marketing yet. But there is always hope. From the Fighter trailer to the 2 minute spot was night and day.

  42. David Poland says:

    Not saying it doesn’t matter. Saying that big picture, it is $15m back to the studio, and not the difference between how one movie in that range is perceived and another is.

    $5 million can be the difference between red and black ink. $1 can, really. But five years from now, looking back at 2010, domestic gross on these two films – unless Social Network accelerates past $100m – will not look dramatically different… as in, a $50M gross for a drama is not a car wreck and $80m is not a world beater. Then, digging deeper, you look at the costs, p&a, DVD sales, foreign, etc.

    Of course, the overall point is that all of this is argued on the basis of personal preference and built perception and not the hard facts.

    And again… Anne didn’t write the piece. She is responsible for publishing it. But she didn’t write it.

  43. IOv3 says:

    Both of those trailers are tremendous, David. If you don’t like the footage in them, the Daft Punk soundtrack is better than almost any music put out this entire year. Seriously, Daft Punk plus Tron is guaranteed to make that movie enjoyable even if people know Daft Punk or not.

    That aside, this is why you are fucking crazy David; “Of course, the overall point is that all of this is argued on the basis of personal preference and built perception and not the hard facts.”

    You are arguing out of your personal preference and perception that in years, that these films basically made the same amount of money and sorry Mr. DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW A STAT WORKS, people will see 30m more and go; “that movie made more money, huh.” That’s how it works but you just love to act as if you are above something that you are not, and that’s why Don Murphy continually goofs on you. You simply have no idea how far in the shit you are and how much of that shit you love to fling.

  44. Krillian says:

    5 Things is an awesome way to write a traffic-inducing post. Love it. David in Socratic mode is actually one of my favorites. “I know I don’t know much, but gadzooks, I know a lot more than you who pretends to know anything!”

    Heck I think I’ll do a 5 Things blog post next. On anything, doesn’t matter what. As long as it adds up to 5.

  45. Jack says:

    Yes, 30 million is a big difference. And you’re forgetting that Wall Street 2 had a much bigger budget than The Social Network, so yes, that is a big difference.

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