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MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady Klady@moviecitynews.com

Weekend Box Office Report – November 14

Take the A Train

The animated Megamind with an estimated gross of $29.9 million again topped the weekend viewing charts despite a trio of new contenders in the marketplace. Second on the rails was the kinetic Unstoppable with $23.2 million while the District 9 homage Skyline slotted fourth with $11.5 million and echoes of Broadcast News in Morning Glory netted $9.4 million.

However, rather than a juggernaut weekend revenues experienced a dip both from last weekend and 2009 box office.

Unstoppable, loosely based on a less spectacular true life incident of a runaway train, hewed more closely to celluloid antecedents including Speed and Bullet Train and arrived at the station pretty much on commercial schedule. It curiously appeared to lack the momentum to truly engage an audience … at least to turn out in droves for opening weekend.

Similarly Skyline, returning to the well of a hostile alien invasion, fell between the cracks of a B movie programmer and a studio effects extravaganza. Industry trackers predicted a $20 million opening that proved overly optimistic.

Also overvalued was Morning Glory, a gentle send up of morning news shows with Amy Adams stepping into Holly Hunter’s well-worn pumps that was expected to gross in the mid-teens. It jump started the weekend with a Wednesday opening that provided a $2.6 million head start. But tepid reviewers and the presence of old vets in supporting roles failed to pump up the volume.

Weekend revenues pushed toward $125 million and a 20% slide from seven days earlier. It was also 13% off last year’s pace when the opening of the animated A Christmas Carol led the field with a commanding $65.2 million.

The session was light on new niche releases with the non-fiction Cool It rather frigid with a $640 average at 41 venues. More encouraging was the solo screen bow of mumble core comedy Tiny Furniture that rendered $20,500.

Bucking the trend of fast fading awards contenders, 127 Hours boosted it sophomore session by upping its theater count from four to 22 venues and maintained close to a $21,000 screen average. Fair Game also expanded with appropriately adverbial results of almost a $5,900 average from 175 screens.

The frame posted few sunny returns with many of the marketplace stalwarts taking sharp hits and new entries lacking the stamina to make up the difference. The industry is collectively crossing its fingers that the Harry Potter finale (Part I) and Thanksgiving entrees will provide a reversal of fortunes.

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Weekend Estimates – November 12-14, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theas Cume
Megamind Par 29.9 (7,580) 3949 -35% 89.6
Unstoppable Fox 23.2 (7,230) 3207 NEW 23.2
Due Date WB 15.6 (4,630) 3365 -52% 59.1
Skyline Uni 11.5 (4,010) 2880 NEW 11.5
Morning Glory Par 9.4 (3,750) 2518 NEW 12.1
For Colored Girls …  Lions Gate 6.6 (3,110) 2127 -64% 30.8
Red  Summit 5.1 (1,780) 2878 -41% 79.8
Paranormal Activity 2 Par 3.0 (1,260) 2403 -57% 82
Saw 3D Lions Gate 2.8 (1,420) 1976 -64% 43.5
Jackass 3D Par 2.3 (1,420) 1607 -54% 114.7
Secretariat BV 2.2 (1,050) -45% 2109 54.8
The Social Network Sony 1.7 (1,590) -50% 1088 87.8
Hereafter WB 1.3 (790) -67% 1691 31.5
Life As We Know It WB 1.3 (1,030) -59% 1239 50.7
Fair Game Summit 1.0 (5,880) 58% 175 1.9
Conviction Fox Searchlight .59 (1,200) -64% 493 6
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Music Box/Alliance .52 (2,570) -30% 202 2.8
127 Hours Searchlight .46 (20,980) 75% 22 0.8
The Town WB .44 (1,170) -62% 375 90.6
Inside Job Sony Classics .42 (1,670) 58% 252 1.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films)   $118.00      
% Change (Last Year)   -13%      
% Change (Last Week)   -20%      
Also debuting/expanding
Cool It Roadside Attract. 26,300 (640)   41 0.03
Tiny Furniture IFC 20,500 (20,500)   1 0.02
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) Cohen Media 8,200 (4,100) 2% 2 0.02

 

Domestic Market Share – January 1 – November 11, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (26) 1513.7 16.70%
Paramount (18) 1502.4 16.50%
Fox (16) 1291.6 14.20%
Buena Vista (15) 1170.2 12.90%
Sony (23) 1156.9 12.70%
Universal (17) 776.8 8.50%
Summit (11) 500.8 5.50%
Lions Gate (14) 478.8 5.30%
Overture (7) 81.5 0.90%
Fox Searchlight (6) 78.8 0.90%
Focus (7) 75.1 0.80%
Weinstein Co. (7) 62.4 0.70%
Sony Classics (21) 56.4 0.60%
MGM (1) 51.2 0.60%
CBS (2) 50 0.60%
Other * (287) 237.1 2.60%
* none greater than .04% 9083.7 100.00%

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“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

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