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MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady Klady@moviecitynews.com

The Weekend Report: May 8

Oh, God! Book XXIV

The god of thunder  –  Thor – hammered an estimated $65.8 million to handily reign at the top of the weekend box office charts. The session also saw a pair of counter-programmers bow nationally with the sweetly romantic Something Borrowed slotting third with $13.2 million and Jumping the Broom a breath behind at $13 million.

In limited wide was the political drama There Be Dragons with $660,000 from 259 playdates and once again it was a Telegu film from India  –  100% Love –  that dominated in that niche with an impressive $203,000 at a mere 23 screens.

Among the exclusive bows the focus was unquestionably on the highly acclaimed The Beaver. Audiences however failed to concur with the film grossing roughly $102,000 in its first blush at 22 venues.

In what’s become the kickoff for the summer season of blockbusters, you’d have to say that 2011 came in like a lamb with revenues of just north of $160 million. It was a sliver better than last weekend and an 11% depression from last year when Iron Man 2 debuted to $128.1 million.

Thor wasn’t expected to debut to jaw dropping numbers with pundits predicting opening power between $70 million and $80 million. Exit polls not surprisingly pegged ticket buyers at 63% male but, more surprisingly, it was according to the studio a crowd that was 72% over the age of 25 years.

Add to that a decidedly older crowd for Jumping the Broom. Only Something Borrowed skewed younger and again predictably female.

So, where are the young males that have historically been at the vanguard (and head of the line) of movie going? That’s the industry’s biggest question and so far no one has a definitive answer (it’s unlikely they were buying $30 passes to the recently launched premiere VOD). Though not personally a betting man, I wouldn’t want to take the side _ regardless of long odds _ that the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean would turn the tide back.

The other puzzler of the frame was the limpid debut of The Beaver. The film’s subject matter _ abject depression _ was never likely to be an audience magnet. But its prestige elements should have at least drawn an upscale crowd regardless of such barriers and an opening salvo twice as large as what’s been recorded.

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Weekend Estimates: May 6-8, 2011

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Thor Par Intl 65.8 (16,640) NEW 3955 65.8
Fast Five Uni 32.3 (8,830) -62% 3662 139.7
Something Borrowed WB 13.2 (4,540) NEW 2904 13.2
Jumping the Broom Sony 13.0 (6,370) NEW 2035 13
Rio Fox 8.3 (2,560) -44% 3258 115
Water for Elephants Fox 5.6 (2,150) -40% 2614 41.6
Medea’s Big Happy Family Lions Gate 3.5 (1,850) -65% 1881 46.4
Prom BV 2.4 (880) -48% 2730 7.8
Soul Surfer Sony 2.1 (1,170) -38% 1781 36.7
Hoodwinked Too! Weinstein Co. 1.9 (770) -53% 2505 6.8
Insidious Film District 1.3 (1,340) -50% 1001 50.3
Source Code Summit 1.2 (1,300) -52% 930 50.9
Hanna Focus 2.2 (1,410) -58% 748 36.79
African Cats BV .87 (840) -64% 1035 12.7
Scream 4 Weinstein Co. .71 (530) -67% 1333 36.9
The Conspirator Roadside Attractions .68 (1,480) -38% 460 9.8
There Be Dragons IDP .66 (2,550) NEW 259 0.66
Hop Uni .50 (550) -81% 902 106.4
Win Win Fox Searchlight .46 (1,730) -30% 268 8.3
The Lincoln Lawyer Lions Gate .45 (1,030) -43% 440 55.5
Limitless Relativity .43 (1,1300 -61% 379 76.9
Rango Par .41 (1,480) 31% 277 120.4
Jane Eyre Focus .37 (1,500) -27% 248 9.4
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $154.80
% Change (Last Year) -11%
% Change (Last Week) 1%
Also debuting/expanding
100% Love Blue Sky .20 (8,840) 23 0.2
The Beaver Summit .10 (4,650) 22 0.1
In a Better World Sony Classics 82,300 (1,710) 15% 48 0.52
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold Sony Classics 65,700 (1,430) -27% 46 0.34
Engeyum Kadhal Sun 38,500 (2,960) 13 0.04
Forks Over Knives Monica Beach 26,600 (4,430) 6 0.03
Last Night TriBeCa 25,300 (2,810) 9 0.03
Battle of the Brides Variance 20,200 (4,040) 5 0.02
Octubre New Yorker 6,900 (3,450) 2 0.01
Haunted 3D Big Pictures 6,100 (550) 11 0.01
Caterpillar Lorber 2,100 (2,100) 1 0.01
Passion Play Image Entertainment 1,800 (900) 2 0.01

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Klady

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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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