MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady Klady@moviecitynews.com

The Weekend Report: October 9, 2011

Real Steel provided the TKO to ascend to the top of weekend movie going charts with an estimated $26.8 million debut. The sessions other national freshman, the political thriller The Ides of March, was a distant second with $10.4 million launch.

The lull pre-Thanksgiving also saw another Telugu movie out-pacing the traditionally stronger Hindi newcomer from Bollywood. Oosaravelli bowed with $342,000 at 63 venues (a record number of theaters) while Rascals opened to $164,000 from 61 screens. In Quebec two local productions were indifferently received. The Franco Le Bonheur des autres grossed $51,700 at 30 venues and Anglo French Immersion had a $40,200 box office at 49 exposures. More encouraging was the debut of the Filipino hit No Other Woman with an opening tally of $30,500 from two engagements.

The limited release of The Way had an OK $113,000 from 33 theaters and the dozen Midnight runs of The Human Centipede 2 grossed $39,400. The rest of the limited and exclusive newcomers ranged from dull to moribund.

Overall weekend box office clocked in at slightly more than $90 million for a 5% erosion from the prior frame. It was flat with 2010 results when the second weekend of The Social Network edged out the debuts of Life as We Know It and Secretariat with a $15.4 million frame. The others bowed respectively with $14.5 million and $12.7 million.

Pundits were right on the money with mid-$20 million estimates for Real Steel. The futuristic Rocky spin added nuts and bolts to the scenario and saw an initial crowd composed 66% male. The audience was 44% under the age of 25 (an additional 26% aged between 26 – 35 years). As with Moneyball and 50/50, strong word of mouth should sustain the picture leading into the commercial maelstrom that begins following the first carve of the turkey.

Less assured is the future of The Ides of March which was respectfully rather than enthusiastically received by critics and audiences. Tracking while hardly buoyant pegged the picture to open between $12 million and $14 million. It will require considerable buttressing if it hopes to factor into award’s season. It skewed 58% female with 40% of ticket buyers under the age of 35 years.

The long standing industry divide of audiences +/- 25 years old appears to be coming to an end. The past year has demonstrated that the profile of a typical movie goer is aging and, of greater concern, shrinking. The situation has created the most contentious environment between exhibition and distribution in decades unless you’re marketing to a mature audience. Add in the cost of digital conversion and the issue of a shrinking theatrical window and it amounts to something akin to the Jackson County wars.

The past week saw both Disney and Sony domestic box office revenues exceed $1 billion with Universal edging toward that benchmark and Fox likely to fall short by the Dec. 31 deadline.

Weekend Estimates – October 7-9, 2011

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Real Steel  BV 26.8 (7,800) NEW 3440 26.8
The Ides of March Sony 10.4 (4,740) NEW 2199 10.4
Dolphin Tale WB 9.1 (2,610) -35% 3478 49
Moneyball Sony 7.3 (2,430) -39% 3018 49.1
50/50 Summit 5.6 (2,250) -35% 2479 17.4
Courageous Sony/Tricord 4.5 (3,910) -50% 1161 15.8
Dream House Uni/eOne 4.4 (1,660) -46% 2664 14.4
The Lion King 3D BV 4.4 (1,960) -58% 2267 85.8
What’s Your Number Fox 3.1 (1,020) -43% 3011 10.3
Abduction Lions Gate 2.9 (1,110) -49% 2591 23.4
Contagion WB 2.8 (1,250) -43% 2250 68.9
Killer Elite Open Road 2.1 (860) -58% 2411 21.5
The Help BV 2.0 (960) -34% 2064 162.7
Drive FilmDistrict 1.8 (1,330) -46% 1330 30
Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain Code Black .45 (1,820) -39% 248 6.9
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows, Part 2 WB .42 (1,040) 55% 407 379.8
Oosaravelli Hari ,34 (5,430) NEW 63 0.34
Breakaway Alliance .32 (6,690) -37% 48 1
Captain America: The First Avenger Par .31 (1.020) -29% 303 175.8
Rise of the Planet of the Apes Fox .28 (750) -48% 379 175.8
Cars 2 BV .27 (1,040) -29% 262 190.4
The Debt Focus .24 (670) -62% 358 30.6
Colombiana Sony .22 (770) -46% 288 36.1
Crazy, Stupid, Love WB .21 (930) -48% 222 83.1
Warrior Lions Gate .18 (550) -62% 319 13.4
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films)   $87.20      
% Change (Last Year)   0%      
% Change (Last Week)   -5%      
Also debuting/expanding          
Rascals Eros .16 (2,690)   61 0.16
The Guard Sony Classics .13 (1,030) -34% 124 4.7
The Way PDA .11 (3,430)   33 0.11
Machine Gun Preacher Relativity .11 (1,180) 29% 93 0.29
Take Shelter Sony Classics 52,700 (4,790) 1% 3 0.13
Le Bonheur des autres Seville 51,700 (1,720)   30 0.05
1911 Variance 51,300 (1,550)   33 0.05
French Immersion TVA 40,200 (820)   49 0.04
The Human Centipede 2 IFC 39,400 (3,280)   9 0.04
No Other Woman ABS 30.500 (15,250)   2 0.03
The Women on the 6th Floor Strand 24,100 (4,020)   6 0.02
The Dead Global 20,300 (410)   25 0.02
Dirty Girl Weinstein Co. 17,200 (1,910)   9 0.02
Blackthorn Magnolia 15,400 (1,930)   8 0.02
Margaret Searchlight 12,600 (900) 67% 14 0.02
Flying Monsters National Geo 12,300 (2,050)   6 0.01
Yaar Annmulle Viva 11,400 (1,140)   10 0.01
Hell and Back Again New Video 5,200 (5,200)   1 0.01


Domestic Market Share:  January 1-October 6, 2011

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (24) 1470.3 18.50%
Paramount (14) 1424.1 17.90%
Buena Vista (14) 1005.3 12.60%
Sony (24) 1003.1 12.60%
Universal (15) 926.3 11.60%
20th Century Fox (14) 774.1 9.70%
Weinstein Co. (12) 280.3 3.50%
Lions Gate (14) 176.5 2.20%
Relativity (7) 144.1 1.80%
Focus (7) 122.7 1.60%
Fox Searchlight (10) 107.6 1.30%
Film District (3) 106.1 1.30%
Summit (7) 81.7 1.00%
Sony Classics (15) 79.1 1.00%
CBS (3) 57.5 0.70%
Other * (273) 206.6 2.50%
  7965.4 100.00%


Top Global Grossers:  January 1 – October 6, 2011

Title Distributor Gross
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2 WB 1,331,781,768
Transformers: Dark of the Moon Par 1,119,127,691
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides BV 1,043,011,925
Kung Fu Panda 2 Par 662,956,709
Fast Five Uni 617,140,838
The Hangover 2 WB 582,704,066
Cars 2 BV  555,001,102
The Smurfs Sony 520,106,205
Rio Fox 484,357,010
Thor Par 449,091,019
Rise of the Planet of the Apes Fox 410,396,986
The King’s Speech * Weinstein/Film Nation 408,823,504
Captain America: The First Avenger Par 363,317,546
X-Men: First Class Fox 353,566,581
Tangled * BV 296,514,084
Black Swan * Fox 287,898,948
Bridesmaids Uni 287,015,223
Super 8 Par  259,059,275
Rango Par  244,721,751
The Green Hornet Sony 227,892,167
Green Lantern WB 223,002,215
Just Go With It Sony 215,073,990
Bad Teacher Sony 213,312,680
Battle: Los Angeles Sony 211,092,627
Horrible Bosses WB 210,689,865

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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

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.

Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

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