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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by Hurricane Len

The problem with going to the movies during a hurricane is that the electricity tends to be spotty.

How much damage is Irene causing the box office? Hard to be sure. 15% – 25% would be my estimate. The good news is that it’s late August and no one really cares.

The Battle For Women is solidly The Help‘s. The film passed Eat Pray Love earlier this week and should pass Julie & Julia by the end of this weekend. The Top August drama (unless you include Shyamalan, whose movies aren’t really straight dramas) is Unforgiven with just over $101 million. true, that was 20 years ago. But The Help should pass that number easily. The question at this point is, how high can it go?

The Battle For Boys has been won by Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark. even though it estimates $100k behind Columbiana. Why? Marketing budget. FilmDistrict does it more cheaply than Sony. Also, the movie is cheaper. That said, how much more could Dark have done with a big studio marketing budget… or without another movie targeting almost exactly the same audience (boys and girl ride-alongs).

Our Idiot Brother should land right around the opening numbers for The Goods and for Little Miss Sunshine (both opened on a lot less screens)… which one will it more emulate. (Final totals: $15m/$60m)

In the face of this weather, Vera Farmiga’s directing debut, Higher Ground, opened nicely. And Roadside did a nice job on Circumstance. The question will be whether they can re-launch next weekend when things are normal in the east and build up instead of starting the natural slides. It’s a good weekend to be in the VOD business in NYC.

32 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Hurricane Len”

  1. Gus says:

    Saw Idiot Brother last night and was surprisingly moved by it. Felt the beginning was pretty pedestrian and especially pat in the shot selection and music choices but the concept eventually won me over, and seeing how destructive and completely out-of-sync with the world such a guileless person could be was pretty affecting for me. Still think they could have done a lot more with it (and reading about the abbreviated development period this went through made it clear it could have used a number of revisions) but overall I was taken with it.

    Given that I see LOADS of movies I was pretty embarrassed to have gotten through the ENTIRE movie only to find out that Elizabeth Banks was, in fact, not Parker Posey, as I thought she was for the entire movie. I am also still pretty shocked to see that Hugh Dancy was in this movie. I didn’t realize he was in it either, until I got home and looked at the imdb page. Who did he even play? The douchey artist guy? Why would he appear in what is literally like an eighth-billing position?

  2. bulldog68 says:

    Looking forward to a Steven Kaye impersonator doing the vanquished list for The Help. This 3rd weekend take puts it in the vicinity of Thor, Cars 2, Captain America and Bridesmaids.

    Based on its current trajectory, its outpacing Bridesmaids, so is $170M in the cards? It won’t have the strong weekday numbers of summer to help, but solid numbers dictate that it will be in the top3 summer box office stories. I’m kind of a list whore so I look forward to seeing the top10 summer box office stories posted by various outlets. (hint to Dave.)

  3. mary says:

    Little info:

    Sony don’t need to pay for the US marketing cost of “Columbiana”; Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp paid for it. Because Sony is releasing “Columbiana” via a service deal with EuropaCorp.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/08/movie-projector-dont-be-afraid-of-the-dark-colombiana-our-idiot-brother.html
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/box-office-preview-east-coast-227950

    It is sad to see that no US distributor is willing to pay the marketing cost for a Luc Besson actioner, even after the successes of “Taken” and “Transporter” series.

  4. bulldog68 says:

    Hate to pull the race card but if it starred Kate Beckinsale, would that have been a problem Mary? Granted the list of a black actress in a lead action role is not very long, but coming off of Avatar, Star Trek, Taken, and Losers, she has a very good trajectory going, and I’m sure the budget for this film was not huge.

  5. EthanG says:

    The Story of the weekend for me: does Zoe Saldana have opening power? This would have been 15 mil without Irene…..better than Conan, Rob Rodriguez’s franchise, Fright Night, Hathaway/Sturgiss, or Del Toro’s project. At that level, it would be the biggest top-lined African-American female opening since “Dreamgirls..” and Dreamgirls had two big names and a massive marketing campaign.

    Saldana might actually have some traction…at least Milla Jovovich style traction….and she’s actually a fanstastic actress..seems like a feel good story in a time that’s been lacking good news:) Other than Pam Grier’s farces, the world has been waiting years for a strong black female actress who can kick ass as well as act with authority.

    Saldana proved both, by being the best thing in “Avatar.” “Columbiana,” with great reviews at least regarding her performance, bolsters her further.

  6. JK says:

    No, Saldana doesn’t have drawing power. More like fans of Luc Besson and the oft-mentioned in ads “Taken” showed up to deliver a decent opening but still something that is going to fade away having made less than 30M most likely.

  7. LexG says:

    Do you guys always have to be so damn negative?

    SALDANA RULES, RULES, RULES, and kicks SO MUCH ASS in “Colombiana,” which is more fun than 90% of the overblown dogshit comic book movies we just suffered thru four months of. It’s even better than “The Mechanic,” as down-and-dirty B-action goes. And Saldana in her LITTLE DRESS pretending to be drunk in her big introduction is the hottest thing ever. There will be only BOWING. She kicks ass at a JOLIE LEVEL among hot-chick actresses who are fun to watch doing action.

    Also good to see LORD VARTAN continuing his streak of following up his Godlike awesomeness on ‘Alias’ by somehow never being awesome again, at all.

    And, yes, Jordi Molla has now given this exact same performance at least four times in big-dick action movies, but it NEVER, EVER gets old.

  8. berg says:

    there was a couple behind me raving all throughout Colombiana, and when it was over I heard them say it was the best film they’d ever seen. They either don’t get out much or they are in the witness protection program

  9. LexG says:

    That couple was right.

  10. EthanG says:

    So Luc Besson has drawing power…like for the Arthur movies and “Angel-A?” Are you effing joking?

    Besson hasn’t had as strong an opening in DECADES. And this movie pushed all of the effort on Saldana.

  11. bulldog68 says:

    This was Saldana’s opening all the way. Besson’s drawing power certainly didn’t help From Paris with Love, starring the much more famous John Travolta, which opened to $8m. And his top opening as a producer with Taken. And well the Transporter series is on Statham’s able bodied shoulders. And as a director, his only opening over $10m was The Fifth Element. So where is his drawing power again? Not knocking the guy, but just stating a fact.

  12. bulldog68 says:

    I’m also trying to think of any other film since the Foxy Brown era to star an african american actress in a lead action role, and not playing a superhero. I’m coming up empty thus far. Closing thing in finding is Sanaa Lathan in Aliens vs Predator and that was still part of a franchise.

  13. Colin says:

    Set It Off?

  14. yancyskancy says:

    bulldog: I guess Whoopi Goldberg in FATAL BEAUTY might qualify, but even that was way back in 1987. I guess we don’t count Halle Berry in DIE ANOTHER DAY, ’cause Bond is the lead. Surely we’re forgetting somebody?

  15. Joe Leydon says:

    Does Catwoman count?

  16. Chris says:

    Zoe Saldana is half Puerto Rican and half Dominican. Just saying. Get the facts right, guyzos. She’s a smoking hot Latina.

  17. The Pope says:

    Anyone seen THE GUARD?

  18. bulldog68 says:

    Well the Dominican part certainly qualifies her as black also.

  19. bulldog68 says:

    But 50% latina and 50% black means 100% sexy. That deserves one of Lexg’s trademark “look at her”s.

  20. bulldog68 says:

    I remember having a serious thing for Gabrielle Union too, and thought she would make an excellent Storm for Xmen. After her solid action in Bad Boys 2, I thought she would go on to bigger things, but she has faded. Couple of TV shows that failed, and movies that bombed. Though she was in Daddy’s Little Girls. Somebody should find something good for her to do. I thing she’s a solid actress.

  21. Chris says:

    The Dominican Republic is a Spanish country. That makes her 100% Latin.

    Saw The Guard earlier this afternoon. Fun movie. Brendan Gleeson is the man.

  22. Philip Lovecraft says:

    Well, I saw “Colombiana” because of Zoe Saldana. Loved her in it (the movie less so). She did remind me of a Latina Pam Grier (from her ’70s golden years). The movie could have used more of that. And why was “Colombiana” made (or released) as a PG-13 movie? That may be its biggest weakness, as at times it feels like its (literally) pulling its punches. Anyway, for “Colombiana” Zoe Saldana is worth the price of admission (as are a number of action set pieces).

  23. chris says:

    Zoe doesn’t claim to be black but black people. Tend to consider her black. You’d thInk a movie like this that barely ran ads and has a good opening would inspire other studios to do similar projects but it won’t. They lean on the tired excuses. Put some black or Latino leads in an action film and the audience will come.

  24. bulldog68 says:

    Quote from Zoe Saldana courtesy IMDB: “When I go to the D.R., the press in Santo Domingo always asks, “¿Qué te consideras, dominicana o americana?” (What do you consider yourself, Dominican or American?) I don’t understand it, and it’s the same people asking the same question. So I say, time and time again, “Yo soy una mujer negra.” (“I am a black woman.”) [They go,] “Oh, no, tú eres trigueñita.” (“Oh no, you are ‘dark skinned'”) I’m like, “No! Let’s get it straight, yo soy una mujer negra.” (“I am a black woman.”)

  25. Bitplayer says:

    She’s been pushing her latina heritage in other interviews, I don’t blame her it’s good for business.

  26. Geoff says:

    You know, I can’t believe I’m the first one to bring this up: whether Saldana is actually black or not, she has been MARKETED as a black actress definitively over the past few years.

    She was featured heavily in the marketing campaign as the new Uhura, formerly played by Nichelle Nichols, an black actress who was iconic in that role. And in “Guess Who,” she was marketed as the African American half of that culture clash as the daughther of Bernie Mac (and his African American wife). I’m not saying this as a criticism, just an observation – I honestly don’t care.

    You could chalk it up just another Hollywood actor utilizing his/her ethnic features to play a variety of characters from different ethnicities: John Turturro, Tony Shalhoub, etc. More contemporary female comparison would probably be Jessica Alba who has played Latinas and……sisters of Chris Evans.

  27. Triple Option says:

    Classification has been a issue for Major League Baseball. There had been a growing desire among Latin-born players to be able to self identify themselves to also include people of African descent. Baseball was criticized for indeterminately classifying players and coaches as Black or Latino to serve their purposes.

    I think the ads sorta sell Taken to play up the revenge story aspect of the film. This of course is just opinion but I think people are familiar with the name Luc Besson. They know the movie Taken and even though it’s been 17 years I think they know the movie The Professional. I don’t think they’d know all three were penned by the same dude. I’m not sure how much of a draw Saldana is. I would’ve thought The Losers would’ve opened bigger based on her name. The one sheet for Colombiana is a rip off of Wanted. The ads I’ve seen just portray it as a woman kicking ass, so I wonder if guys aren’t sitting this one out?? Honestly, nothing about the trailer made it look like anything above something I’d stumble across on cable late on a Saturday night.

    Even though people may have awareness of Zoe, and know that she was the leading smurf in Avatar, I don’t think she’s had an identifying role yet for people to hang their hat on. I think people “know” who Julianne Moore is, or who Reese Witherspoon is, or who Juliette Lewis is. Of course, there’s no guarantee that she’ll be able to open a film but I’d think the #1 priority for Saldana’s peeps is to get her known or establish her brand until she’s as recognizable as Jessica Alba or Rosario Dawson. Get her from staring in a film to having it be “her film.” Well, let me rephrase. That would be my #1 priority. Really press for identity. I don’t think people immediately picture her if you were to say name a hot (optional) Latina actress but more likely JLo or Selma Hayak or Black actress Halle Barry or Queen Latifah. To ensure longevity or clout, I’d think that’s gotta be the next move.

  28. cadavra says:

    Saldana is excellent in COLOMBIANA, and is quite believable kicking ass, unlike Lex’s toothpick fantasy Jolie, who makes Taylor Swift look fat.

  29. JK says:

    Yeah because Saldana is so strong. You can see her bones when her chest is at all exposed yet she supposedly can kick anyone and everyone’s butt? She also terribly overacts in the movie. “They killed my parents…IN FRONT of ME.”

  30. EthanG says:

    “The Dominican Republic is a Spanish country. That makes her 100% Latin.”

    Uh huh. Just like Louisiana and Quebec are French, and Bolivia is latin even though it’s over 60% Native American, right?

  31. Jose Yapur says:

    What makes latinos is not their Latin-American heritage. A latino would be everyone whose language had roots in Latin.

    Making every Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian (and other romance languages) speaking person, a latino.

    Nevertheless, the term has been adopted by Americans who in fear of being politically incorrect, brand all Latin-Americans as Latino.

    The reasons why Zoe Saldana considers herself a Black Woman can be many and varied. From it being merely good for business to the way she was raised and the community that surrounded her. She might even have rejected her heritage, like many “latinos” do, to identify with the African-American minority due to it being a more accepted one.

  32. bulldog68 says:

    Or she may just have a father that was black.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin