MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

The Weekend Report: Abandon Hope

A couple of new releases hardly made a ripple in weekend movie going that sunk to a level not seen in decades. The Words, a convoluted yarn of authorship, bowed to an estimated $4.8 million that ranked fourth on the leader board while the thriller The Cold Light of Day – a leftover from Summit films_bowed with $1.8 million. The latter film has already opened overseas where it grossed a disappointing $12.5 million.

In the niches, 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark was reissued exclusively on Imax screens and grossed a respectable $1.6 million. However, there was negligible product placement for the futuristic parable Branded that debuted to $250,000 at 307 venues and new Indian imports Hindi Raaz 3 and Telegu Shirdi Sai Baba received tepid response.

Exclusive newcomers were generally dull with only the gay relationship Keep the Lights On; the offbeat rom-com Hello I Must Be Going; and a single screen bow for the non-fiction Detropia displaying the slightest bit of encouraging commercial signs.

Overall weekend box office added up to a smidgen more than $65 million and a 38% plunge from the 3-day portion of last weekend’s holiday session. It was also 18% down from 2011 when the $22.4 million debut of Contagion top the charts.

It was the lowest weekend box office of the past decade and adjusted for admissions one would have to embark on an Indian Jones expedition to find a worse attended session historically. One can only hope that it’s the combination of disinterest for recent product combined with spent interest in holdover fare that’s contributed to such a stark result. Pray that it’s an anomaly.

About the only titles that appear to be maintaining some continued appeal are alternative and adult such as Robot & Frank, Samsara and Sleepwalk with Me. So unless one lives in one of the 25 major metropolitan areas, keep an eye out for pay-per-view opportunities.


Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
The Possession Lions Gate 9.6 (3,380) -46% 2834 33.4
Lawless Weinstein Co. 5.9 (1,880) -41% 3138 23.4
The Expendables Lions Gate 4.8 (1,470) -47% 3260 75.5
The Words CBS 4.8 (1,730) NEW 2801 4.8
ParaNorman Focus 4.1 (1,440) -35% 2856 45.4
The Bourne Legacy Uni 4.0 (1,450) -45% 2766 103.7
The Odd Life of Timothy Green BV 3.7 (1,370) -41% 2717 43.1
The Campaign WB 3.5 (1,370) -39% 2542 79.4
2016 Obama’s America Rocky Mountain 3.3 (1,630) -41% 2017 26.1
The Dark Knight Rises WB 3.2 (1,630) -47% 1987 437.8
Hope Springs Sony 2.8 (1,160) -40% 2437 57.6
Premium Rush Sony 2.2 (1,030) -44% 2182 16.7
The Cold Light of Day Lions Gate 1.8 (,210) NEW 1511 1.8
Raiders of the Lost Ark (reissue) Par 1.6 (6,100) NEW 267 1.6
Hit and Run Open Road 1.1 (600) -48% 1810 12.5
Ice Age: Continental Drift Fox .83 (1,090) -36% 763 157.2
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days Fox .81 (870) -43% 931 46.7
Sparkle Sony .79 (900) -56% 873 23.4
The Avengers BV .77 (640) -60% 1209 621.4
Brave BV .70 (730) -51% 959 233.4
Ted Uni .55 (1,070) -32% 515 216.9
The Amazing Spider-Man Sony .53 (1,220) -43% 435 260.5
Robot and Frank IDP .52 (2,570) -25% 202 2
Total Recall Sony .44 (850) -49% 517 57.6
Celeste and Jesse Forever Sony Classics .39 (890) -45% 441 2.6
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted Par .38 (1,110) -43% 345 215.2
Beasts of the Southern Wild Searchlight/eOne .36 (1,350) -31% 269 10.3
Sleepwalk with Me IFC .33 (4,520) 2% 73 0.87
Intouchables Alliance/Weinstein .31 (1,580) -19% 194 11.8
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $61.90
% Change (Last Year) -18%
% Change (Last Week) -38%
Also debuting/expanding
Branded Barboss .25 (820) 307 0.25
For a Good Time, Call … Focus .22 (3,890) 51% 56 0.45
Samsara Oscilloscope .19 (7,560) 76% 25 0.48
Bachlorette Weinstein Co. .18 (3,850) 47 0.18
Shirdi Sai Baba Sree Lakshmi .16 (3,080) 53 0.16
Searching for Sugar Man Sony Classics .13 (3,880) -9% 33 0.91
Killer Joe LD .12 (1,810) -50% 68 1.6
Raaz 3 Fox Intl .10 (3,610) 28 0.1
Keep the Lights On Music Box 53,300 (10,060) 5 0.05
Un Bonheur n’arrive jamais seul Remstar 38,800 (3,880) 10 0.03
The Inbetweeners Wrekin Hill 31,900 (3,190) 10 0.03
The Eye of the Storm Sycamore 26,600 (3,800) 7 0.03
Hello I Must Be Going Oscilloscope 25,700 (12,850) 2 0.03
Ajj de Ranjhe Big Pictures 21,900 (1,680) 13 0.02
Detropia Loki 16,500 (16,500) 1 0.02
Toys in the Attic Hannover House 14,200 (570) 25 0.01
Adieu Berthe Metropole 13,800 (4,450) 3 0.01
Beauty is Embarrassing Tremolo 13,500 (4,500) 3 0.01
Beat Down Equinoxe 9,700 (1,210) 8 0.01
For Ellen TriBeCa 5,900 (5,900) 1 0.01
Girl Model First Run 4,800 (4,800) 1 0.01
Pickin’ & Grinnin’ House Lights 3,700 (1,850) 2 0.01

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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

Z Weekend Report