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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by Klady

So now The Fighter is out in exclusive release to take on Black Swan. A strong start… but not really Swannie.

Fighter did $25k per screen on 4 yesterday, heading to what will most likely be about $75k per screen for the weekend on 4. As a matter of fact, this is almost exactly the I Heart Huckabees number. I expect Fighter to do a multiple of what Huckabees did ($12.8m domestic), but it is a striking stat. More directly, the Fighter launch is about 15% better than 127 Hours, which also started on 4 screens a month and 5 days ago. 127 has been in a bit of a holding pattern, perhaps waiting for some critics awards love. But they may have overstayed their box office welcome, expanding but still dropping slightly last weekend.

On the other webbed hand, Black Swan did $80k per screen on 18 screens last weekend. So what does Searchlight do with such a buzzy movie? Well, they jumped to 90 screens this weekend, 5x last weekend, and the results are still quite strong. Per-screen yesterday was about $11k per, projecting to $33k or so on 90 screens. Historically, there isn’t a lot to compare it to because it’s a lingering number of screens, which is not usually where films with these kinds of numbers hang out. Juno was not as strong, doing a similar per-screen on half the screens on “this weekend” in 2007. Precious was stronger, registering a similar per-screen on twice as many screens on its second weekend. And Slumdog Millionaire did about half-the per-screen on a 78-theater count in the first week of December two years ago.

So which will Swannie be? Precious, which never really played well after it got past 600 screens? Or a $140m-plus hit like Juno or Slumdog, which expanded to 100 and 600 screens, respectively, by the New Year and had $50m and $30m in the bank before Oscar ballots started getting sent in right after the holiday? Or will it be somewhere in between the two?

I am also put in mind of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a movie that wasn’t supposed to be able to play in Middle America and triumphantly did, but didn’t really ever trend down at all until it hit $80 million… and then, with Oscar’s help, took another $50 million into the domestic box office. Of course that year, a decade ago now, was one of the great Oscar seasons of modern times, with Soderbergh dueling against himself with two great films, a foreign language nominee, an epic, and a Harvey Weinstein bon bon. There were so many stories inside of that group of films that The Academy defaulted to “The Big One.” Not a shock, really. I’d say that it happened again – though I love this film and only like Gladiator – with The Departed a few years ago. Too many interesting choices often lead to The Big One.

But there is no Big One this year. The odds of either Toy Story 3 or Inception, both likely nominees, winning Best Picture are infinitesimal. Out of the rest of the pack, The Social Network is the commercial muscle right now with $91 million. Will one of these other films, from King’s Speech to Fighter to Swannie, challenge that number? If so, that is when the phenomenology that won Best Picture for Slumdog kicks in. If not, we’re still looking for the turn that the season will take.

After the first day of Potter 7’s fourth weekend, the film is now behind 2 previous Potter films day-by-day and it delivered the lowest-grossing fourth Friday of the series. Front loading’s a bitch. (No offense, ma’am.) There is nothing bad to report here. It’s going to do a “Harry Potter number” and will be the 6th in the series to gross over $800m worldwide, the 27th film in history to do so. Think of that… 27 total and Potter represents 6 of them. Amazing.

Walden and Fox can’t be happy with Narnia 3’s launch… less than half of what either of the first two films opened at. Even if it gets stronger over the weekend and cracks $30m, it’s way off of either of the first two films… and people saw #2 as a major disappointment.

And Sony, oddly, can’t be too unhappy about The Tourist, given that they’ve treated the film like an ugly stepchild the whole way… because it’s massively disappointing, given the stars. Knight & Day opened to almost the same Friday number, but Fox, which believed in that film, had already siphoned off $7 million with a Wednesday opening. The two films should have a very similar 3-day start, though with the head start and a better film, K&D should outgross The Tourist domestically by $15 million or more (perhaps $20 million more). But as with K&D, with these stars, even with a flop here, the money is overseas. Cruise and Diaz did $185m overseas. And while I expect Tourist to also scale down from that overseas, they could end up with $100m+ international to bolster the bottom line of a weak domestic run.

38 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady”

  1. mary says:

    2010 isn’t a very good year for Fox, which have several expensive box-office disappointments like “The A-Team”, “Knight & Day”, “Unstoppable”, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”, “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief”. (even though “Knight & Day” is saved by overseas box office)

    Looks like Angelina Jolie may not get $20 million quote anymore, unless she agrees to do the sequel of “Salt”. (“A Mighty Heart” and “Changeling” also flopped, but they are R-rated adult dramas; on the other hand, “The Tourist” is a PG-13 mainstream action thriller)

  2. Danny says:

    “Black Swan” is chugging along terrifically, as expected. The question is whether the average Oscar-interested American is willing to work at a movie this much… which is not to say “Black Swan” is especially difficult, but it is when compared to the usual geriatric Oscar bait. When I saw it yesterday at a San Diego matinee, several oldies walked out, long before the “scene.” If this ends up being the general case, it could be the first frontloaded “word of mouth movie” in awhile.

    That said, it’s also the best movie of the year so far and I hope the “wide” audience embraces it next week.

  3. Dina says:

    I must disagree with you, Danny. You can’t compare the average oldie with the geriatric section of the Academy. Artists, even those who are older, tend to have more of an open mind. I mean, by that logic “Midnight Cowboy” would have never won Best Picture.

  4. IOv3 says:

    If inception’s chances are rather slim David then the academy are indeed really good at shooting themselves in the face. Seriously inception needs a chance but since its getting tcued by old fuckers who thought the film too loud. I guess a nom is okay even if the academy are letting the old get them closer to streaming the Oscars exclusively online :p! Too bad about narnia but at that film is a fitting in to the series.

  5. matt says:

    imo, the PG-13 ratings for Juno and Slumdog either helped those two movies follow their financially successful trajectories and/or were inidicators that they were accessible to wide audiences.

    With Precious and Swan, the R ratings most likely worked/will work the opposite way, either limiting their financial success and/or indicating that there is content in them that some audiences would not/will not choose to pay to see.

  6. chris says:

    “Slumdog Millionaire” is rated R, matt.

  7. David Poland says:

    I don’t see Swan caring any of the same baggage, in terms of a wider audience, that Precious had. Much closer to Slumdog.

  8. cadavra says:

    One thing TOURIST has in its favor is precedents. Adult pictures (especially those that skew female) fair poorly pre-holiday, then jump up dramatically on Christmas Day, after all the shopping and cooking is done. If–repeat, IF–the WOM is good, it may not be the fiasco some are foreseeing.

  9. movieman says:

    David- When you said that “The Fighter” would do “multiple” the domestic gross of “Huckabees,” were you speaking literally (i.e., 3 X the $12.8 gross), or figuratively? I’d be shocked if “Fighter” doesn’t prove to be one of the top-grossing films of the season; especially with crix kudos and the forthcoming award nods.
    While it’s not my fave Russell by any means (in fact, it’s probably my least favorite although I still think it’s pretty damn good), I can’t imagine this not becoming his top grosser by a TKO.

  10. Danny says:

    Dina – I was talking about its commercial prospects, not Awards prospects.

  11. David Poland says:

    Three Kings did $61m.

  12. movieman says:

    You really don’t think “The Fighter” will outgross “Kings”?
    Not even in 2010 dollars??

  13. actionman says:

    how much is Tron gonna open @ next weekend? better yet — what’s the # the film has to do so nobody gets fired the week before x-mas?

  14. As far as Tron, I think the worst-case scenario that is survivable is King Kong: $50m 3-day, $200m+ domestic total and a bit over $500 million worldwide. Wouldn’t make it a massive money maker, but it also won’t be the egg on the face that some are fearing. And yes, The Tourist could get legs, as it feels like the kind of ‘consensus’ choice over the holiday break for large groups. Everything else, good or bad, is arguably enough of a specific film to earn a veto (‘I don’t like kids cartoons, westerns, creepy ballet horror films, boxing films, video game sci-fi movies, etc’).

  15. David Poland says:

    I think it may gross more than $61 million. But not by a whole lot.

    I think people are talking about it like it’s a feel good movie. But it’s very much Russell’s energy. Which is to say, dark and weird and not a simple pay off.

    Ironically, Swan, which is weirder by a mile, does have a clean, clear structure that I think will leave many audiences happier with the experience when leaving the theater.

    All that said, I still need to dive back in and hate making pronouncements without feeling I have a full grasp of what the movie is. So I should shut up now.

  16. movieman says:

    Scott: Hmmm.
    I’m guessing the consensus holiday movie is gonna be that unheralded little Ben Stiller–Uni comedy.
    Never bet against those damn “Fockers.”
    And as I posted elsewhere, look for “Tourist” to be downscaled to split screens at most smaller ‘plexes by Xmas Day once the deluge of movies has arrived. Even if the movie is far from the disaster many (most?) have claimed, it’s just not special (or entertaining) enough to generate the kind of w.o.m. needed to counteract a soft opening and lousy-to-lukewarm reviews.
    Re: Dave & “Fighter.” A half hour in, I thought, “This thing is going to be lucky to hit $50-million domestically.” Yet by the time it was over, I
    pretty much felt that the sky was the limit.
    It’s a surprising movie in so many ways, and I really loved Wahlberg and Adams’ performances (Bale and Leo’s, not so much–which is possibly why I don’t blindly love it like every previous Russell film). Also, it’s one of the few movies in recent memory (“You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” being another) that seemed….too short. I think maybe it could have used an add’l 15-20 minutes.
    But that’s just me. A lot of you will probably think it’s perfect just the way it is (including Bale and Leo’s performances).

  17. Quasi-SPOILERS for The Fighter…
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    I’d argue that The Fighter does end on a pretty feel-good note, which makes up for much of the proceeding bleakness. However, the film is a lot less cheerful if you look up what happened to certain main characters after the film’s events in real life. I now understand why the ‘here’s what happened next’ text at the end was a bit vague.

  18. Crap… I completely forgot about Little Fockers, which is my stupidity as I underestimated Meet the Fockers six years ago (‘it’s been too long, no one craves a sequel… oh wait, now it’s the second-highest grossing comedy ever’). Perhaps there is a benefit to being a sequel to a popular film that is liked but not beloved amongst the masses: no one expects greatness, but everyone will check it out just for fun. I mean, was anyone really ‘psyched’ for Shrek 2 in May 2004? Yet, everyone damn-well went, most of us twice. Perhaps I should amend my above statement to qualify The Tourist as the ‘second choice’ amongst large groups of general moviegoers (still not a bad place to be).

  19. johnbritt says:

    I just think the Little Fockers will be the biggest flop of the holiday season. I could be wrong, but it looks terrible. The Viagra skit is played out. Can’t wait for Country Strong.

  20. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    If SWAN makes JUNO numbers, I’ll eat a bowl of Joseph Fritzl’s feces. There’s no way that histrionic outburst will make that sort of bank. Maybe I’m the only one seeing it but many over 45 are laughing at the films ‘tense’ moments. I think SWAN will be an anomaly. A title in limited that looks like it should rise with the strong WOM only to disappoint when it does. It’s a curiosity that is highly watchable but the script is pretty dire and Portman’s performance is laughably one note looney. However it is still it’s the closest that grandma or pa will ever get to seeing a Stagefright or Suspiria on the bigscreen. I must admit I do keep thinking about the film more than most anything else I’ve seen recently though during it I was perplexed and maddened by how wrong I thought Aronofsky played out some scenes.

  21. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    ps. Williams in VALENTINE is in another league than Portman in SWAN. Every second Williams is onscreen is honest and raw. Every second Portman is onscreen is false and mannered.

  22. movieman says:

    Mediocre or even lousy comedies invariably seem to do far better than good (even great) comedies at the U.S. box-office: “Four Christmases,” “Couples Retreat,” “The Ugly Truth,” “Valentine’s Day” versus “Funny People;” “The Invention of Lying,” anything ever directed by Albert Brooks or Woody Allen, etc.
    As stated previously: never bet against those damn Fockers.
    The series has been just middling enough to endear itself to ‘plexers of all demos over the past decade.

  23. filmfan says:

    Totally agree with Jeffrey Boam’s Doctor about Portman. Why all the fuss and praise?!?!? I don’t get it. If she weren’t dancing in the film no one would even mention her in Oscar talk. Boggles the mind.

  24. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Movieman calling Invention of lying a great comedy must be one for the ages. I must have a poor dictionary because ‘great’ isn’t defined as worst comedy since love guru in it.

  25. IOv3 says:

    Invention of lying is okay but its no ghost town damn it!

  26. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    IO really? People think INVENTION is pretty good. Im very surprised as I found it one of the most painfully unfunny comedies I’ve ever seen. It was physically uncomfortable to watch. The conceit was one line that fell apart the minute they decided not lying actually meant being totally rude, which is not the same thing. Dumb dumb dumb

  27. David Poland says:

    JBD… are you also going to compare apples and oranges?

    Everyone is free to embrace their idea of Best. By the standard you seem to have, no one comes within a hundred miles of Bardem in Biutiful. But he may not even be nominated.

    Portman is masterful in Black Swan. But it’s not a raw, intimate, exposing performance. Was never meant to be one.

    Williams is masterful in pretty much everything she’s done that’s small in recent years… and a spectacular turn in Shutter Island. But it’s not the same kind of work.

    It’s Olivier and Hoffman, though they made that work in the same movie.

  28. movieman says:

    ….I said “good (even great) comedies,” JBD:
    I didn’t specify which category “Lying” fell into.
    I do happen to think that the Gervais film was a “very good comedy,” however. “Funny People” is a pretty great comedy.
    And the other big “consensus” holiday movie (besides “Little Fockers”) is going to be “True Grit.” You can take that to the bank.

  29. movieman says:

    …you can add “Ghost Town” to my list of “good (even great) comedies” that U.S. audiences rejected in favor of crap. That’s another “very good comedy” in my book. Thanks for the reminder, IO.

  30. movieman says:

    …and more recently, “Going the Distance” and “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” being spurned in favor of “Life as We Know It” and (ugh) “Grown Ups.”

  31. Hallick says:

    “Ghost Town” wss a very happy surprise that has one of my all-time favorite codas in a romantic comedy. It is just low key and perfect.

  32. Krillian says:

    I saw Narnia 3 and I must admit it’s the weakest of the series so far. If you’ve seen the preview you’ve seen half of Tilda Swinton’s lines. Will Poulter spices it up a bit as the spoiled cousin, but the actors behind Lucy, Edmund and Caspian haven’t improved, and Walden’s saved money by rounding out the cast with for-scale type actors. The main villain is a green mist…

    Caught part of the first one on TV last night and it reminded me how much better it was, for what it was.

    I don’t remember much about Books 4-7 but I don’t believe they’re any friendlier cinematically.

  33. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    DP I do like your Marathon Man analogy but are you really putting Portman in Hoffman’s league? Seriously? Sure personal taste comes into it but I’m not simply dismissing Portman’s work due to that. You’re basically saying that “ACTING” is fine if its what the film warrants. My argument is that just because it was envisioned by the director and actress doesn’t necessarily make it the correct choice. You say its a stirling performance. I say it isn’t. Never the twain I guess. But back to apples and oranges. Do you agree that a fine palette can distinguish greater nuances in an apples flavour over another who thinks all apples taste the same?

  34. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Movieman. Thanks for clarifying but you did state a versus argument and on one side was Couples Retreat and on the other side was Invention of Lying. I didn’t put words into your mouth. I’d put both of those films in the same category. I agree Ghost Town was good overlooked comedy and it was incredible that Gervais’s pet hands-off project (Lying) was so bleedin excreable.

  35. movieman says:

    JBD- Different strokes, etc. But I really do happen to think “Lying” is a pretty marvelous film.
    Yes, it’s better written and acted than directed, but still one helluva sight better than something truly wretched like “The Ugly Truth,” “Couples Retreat” or “Valentine’s Day.”
    It was also one of the bravest studio comedies in recent years thanks to its pro-atheism stance.

  36. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Movieman. You’re nearly convincing me I’ve got false memory syndrome and I need to revisit Invention. Then I recall the ‘discovery’ scene in the bar “i’m an eskimo!” and I’m content with your ‘different strokes’ conclusion.

  37. movieman says:

    JBD- “Lying” has turned into one of those movies that, whenever I come across it on cable (which, oddly enough, is quite often these days), I can’t bring myself to turn the channel.
    Like I said earlier: it’s certainly better written and acted than directed, but its aesthetic homeliness is kind of a badge of honor to me.
    After all, Woody and A. Brooks’ earliest films were pretty butt-ugly, too, lol.

  38. Almost too funny!!! Almost wet myself

Box Office

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“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima

“They’re still talking about the ‘cathedral of cinema,’ the ‘communal experience,’ blah blah. The experiences I’ve had recently in the theatre have not been good. There’s commercials, noise, cellphones. I was watching Colette at the Varsity, and halfway through red flashes came up at the bottom of the frame. A woman came out and said, ‘We’re going to have to reboot, so take fifteen minutes and come back.’ Then they rebooted it from the beginning, and she had to ask the audience to tell her how far to go. You tell me, is that a great experience? I generally don’t watch movies in a cinema at all. Netflix is the future. It’s the present. But the whole paradigm of a series, binge-watching, it’s quite different. My first reaction is that it’s more novelistic, because if you have an eight-hour season, you can get into complex, intricate things. You can let it breathe and the audience expectations are such that they will let you, where before they wouldn’t have the patience. I think only the surface has been touched with experimenting with that.”
~ David Cronenberg