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Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady Klady@moviecitynews.com

The Weekend Report, May 6, 2012

Vengeance is a Dish Served Hot

The Avengers rewrote the record books with the biggest ever opening three-day weekend that’s estimated at $200.5 million. With $30 million more than the former champ, there’s little chance that the Monday actual will change Sunday’s ebullience.

The film was anticipated to open at $155 million-$165 million and had already done close to $300 million in its opening week in internationally, where it premiered in 30 territories prior to the U.S. So, the other majors all decided there was little point to bother to offer up counter-programming.

There was still a lot to be said for the limited bow of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that racked up $727,000 from a meager 27 engagements. The yarn of senior Brits looking for a golden age life in India has already amassed $70 million internationally.

Apart from the ballet nonfiction First Position that grossed $44,800 on five screen, incoming exclusives were ho-hum.

The Avengers accounted for roughly 80% of the weekend’s $250 million ticket tally. Its entry into the marketplace boosted revenues from last weekend by 131% and improved on last year’s record by 53%. In 2011 the marketplace leader was the Marvelously debuting Thor with $65.7 million with Fast Five as the runner up with $32.4 million in its sophomore session.

The industry rule of thumb is that cinematic behemoths going the Midnight advance route can expect 10-to-1 returns. The Friday announcement that The Avengers had accrued about $18.7 million from early screenings was unquestionably heartening. Removing that portion of the box office from the overall picture was provided a not insignificant Friday-Saturday box office boost and early estimates of $170 million to $180 million were quickly revised.

The response at Disney was not unexpectedly fulsome though they were hard-pressed to explain the better-than-anticipated returns. Distribution EVP Dave Hollis credited Marvel for cleverly “seeding the market” by successfully introducing the likes of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America in earlier film and establishing a movie fan base.

Exit demos revealed a 50/50 split for the over/under 25-year-olds with an overall 60% skew toward males. However, with response at this lofty level the size, regardless of demographic, was considerable. Roughly 52% of revenues derived from 3D engagements which accounted for 75% of the screen count. Imax engagements were 8% of the tally but they will largely disappear next weekend as they’ve been committed to the opening of Dark Shadows.

In general holdover titles took hits of 50% to 65%. The Hunger Games ascended into the top 15 all-time box office grossers and, Avengers notwithstanding, should settle in at position 13.

The French sensation Intouchables continues to perform in Québec at a level that’s comparable to international grosses that are nearing $350 million. Its U.S. distributor would be thrilled to equal some vaguely proportional to Québec’s current $1.7 million box office.


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Klady

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Tsangari: With my next film, White Knuckles, it comes with a budget — it’s going to be a huge new world for me. As always when I enter into a new thing, don’t you wonder how it’s going to be and how much of yourself you are going to have to sacrifice? The ballet of all of this. I’m already imaging the choreography — not of the camera, but the choreography of actually bringing it to life. It is as fascinating as the shooting itself. I find the producing as exciting as the directing. The one informs the other. There is this producer-director hat that I constantly wear. I’ve been thinking about these early auteurs, like Howard Hawks and John Ford and Preston Sturges—all of these guys basically were hired by the studio, and I doubt they had final cut, and somehow they had films that now we can say they had their signatures.  There are different ways of being creative within the parameters and limitations of production. The only thing you cannot negotiate is stupidity.
Filmmaker: And unfortunately, there is an abundance of that in the world.
Tsangari: This is the only big risk: stupidity. Everything else is completely worked out in the end.
~ Chevalier‘s Rachel Athina Tsangari

“The middle-range movies that I was doing have largely either stopped being made, or they’ve moved to television, now that television is a go-to medium for directors who can’t get work in theatricals, because there are so few theatricals being made. But also with the new miniseries concept, you can tell a long story in detail without having to cram it all into 90 minutes. You don’t have to cut the characters and take out the secondary people. You can actually put them all on a big canvas. And it is a big canvas, because people have bigger screens now, so there’s no aesthetic difference between the way you shoot a movie and the way you shoot a TV show.

“Which is all for the good. But what’s happened in the interim is that theatrical movies being a spectacle business are now either giant blockbuster movies that run three hours—even superhero movies run three hours, they used to run like 58 minutes!—and the others, which are dysfunctional family independent movies or the slob comedy or the kiddie movie, and those are all low-budget. So the middle ground of movies that were about things, they’re just gone. Or else they’re on HBO. Like the Bryan Cranston LBJ movie, which years ago would’ve been made for theaters.

“You’ve got people like Paul Schrader and Walter Hill who can’t get their movies theatrically distributed because there’s no market for it. So they end up going to VOD, and VOD is a model from which no one makes any money, because most of the time, as soon as they get on the site, they’re pirated. So the whole model of the system right now is completely broken. And whether or not anybody’s going to try to fix, or if it even can be fixed, I don’t know. But it’s certainly not the same business that I got into in the ’70s.”
~ Joe Dante

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