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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by Butlin’ Klady

Froday Estimates 2013-08-17 at 10.12.37 AM

(Just spend 45 minutes writing. And my computer ate it. Here are the Cliff Notes…)

Solid opening for Lee Daniels’ The Butler made less shiny by ignorant premature “reporting” on East Coast matinee numbers as though they would hold all weekend. Unfortunately, this fool’s errand of FIRSTism has become part of the Friday assignments of Variety, the Wall Street Journal, and others. Journalistic FAIL. It’s not that it’s wrong this week. It’s wrong most weeks (though not always by as much) and it has become a game that everyone knows is false but engages in anyway. Embarrassing.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler‘s real opening weekend will be slightly behind The Help, though it is worth noting that The Help opening on a Wednesday, siphoning off some of the Must-See audience (about $10m worth). Like it or not, the racial aspects of these two films change the box office fate of each. The Help is the Cecil Gaines of 60’s race dramas. Safe, relatively comfortable for the white folks, the only big angry expression of hate is a shit pie served to the irredeemable villain. This is The Help‘s argument for a better future for race relations. The militant side of Lee Daniels’ The Butler is a different legitimate argument. And even with the colorblindness around Oprah, pretty much the only white in the film is in The White House or in embodiments of racists. This does have an effect at the box office, like it or not.

I expect Lee Daniels’ The Butler to be leggy, as older audiences start turning out next weekend and for a month or so after. But it may take until a re-release next Jan/Feb to get the film over the $100m mark domestically.
Kick-Ass 2 is the second experiment by Universal to take a franchise from another distributor, hoping it will blow up. The first experiment – Hellboy II: The Golden Army opened almost 50% better than the original, but still hit the geek ceiling domestically at $75m. This one is opening about 15% – 20% worse than the original, but we’ll see whether it has a following. Also in this case, the original matched domestic with international, doing about $50m in each. So there is some hope that K-A2‘s foreign will be stronger. Hoping has begun.

Jobs didn’t work. It’s Open Road’s 10th release and its worst opener in the last 6. Look for “Twitter Changes Markets” stories to stop for 36 hours.

Elysium hasn’t proven leggy at all and will now compete with 2 Guns to see if either can get to $75m domestic.

Some really nice quality in indie out there… not much money. Shame.

57 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Butlin’ Klady”

  1. anghus says:

    The Butler and The Help have taught me late Summer is when to open your one dimensional heavy handed race related movie. Its also taught me that telling stories of racism and oppression from that perspective is a good way to sell tickets.

    August 2015: The Waiter
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  2. Jack1137 says:

    The Butler is making what was expected by those who did not follow Harvey’s “Estimates”.The Help actually did not make to much to call it Runaway even though it was based on Popular novel.

  3. Joe Leydon says:

    Slightly surprised that Elysium and 2 Guns aren’t holding up better.

  4. Jack1137 says:

    And to think had they made Man of Steel for twice/three times what Kick Ass Cost they could of produced a pretty decent movie if the Scipt was good enough.

  5. Etguild2 says:

    Really sad that AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS is doing so poorly…worse than AUSTENLAND, which is tripe by Queen of Hacks Stephanie Meyer’s shingle.

    Shame on IFC.

  6. djk813 says:

    IFC is not a theatrical distribution company. They are a VOD distributor that throws their films up on a few screens so they can get the press and reviews that affords. To expect anything more than that out of an IFC theatrical release is pointless. Austenland is from Sony Pictures Classics, which is an actual theatrical distribution company.

  7. David Poland says:

    Welcome Jack. Can’t really blame Harvey for those “estimates.” Any journalist who prints estimates of the weekend or even Friday based on east coast matinees – which is where those early afternoon Friday estimates come from – is a hack or under the thumb of an editor who is deeply confused about the search for honest facts.

  8. Gustavo says:

    Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I’m rather surprised a relatively buzzed arthouse event like Ain’t Them Body Saints managed to be less attended than a delayed French drama starring the great old Niels Arestrup.

  9. movieman says:

    True re: IFC, djk.
    I just wish they’d throw their films into a few more VOD pipelines to make them easier to see. You can’t even find their stuff on Amazon’s VOD.
    My cable company doesn’t offer IFC titles on their “On Demand” service, yet a mere block away from me a different cable provider does.
    Maddening.

  10. Etguild2 says:

    “They are a VOD distributor that throws their films up on a few screens so they can get the press and reviews that affords. To expect anything more than that out of an IFC theatrical release is pointless.”

    I was expecting maybe half the gross of “Frances Ha.” Instead, it’ll be lucky to make a sixth as much. This is actually on the lower end of recent IFC openers. It’s on par with Michael Cera’s “Crystal Fairy” for God’s sake.

    Btw, I find it really distracting that Forest Whitaker’s character is referred to as “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” in the movie.

  11. Smith says:

    I have IFC On Demand, and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints isn’t available on it yet. I’m within driving distance of NYC and will see it on a big screen, but still.

  12. movieman says:

    I’m definitely surprised “Guns” hasn’t proven leggier, Joe. I actually thought it would hit $100-million and play strongly through Labor Day.
    Maybe it really was too “Bring Me the Head of Charley Varrick” for mainstream auds.
    As much as I love “Elysium” (and I love it even more than “District 9″), I’m not really surprised by its nosedive after a less than blockbuster start.
    I think even the most ardent fanboys are burned out by now after an endless procession of sci-fi/action/comic book epic/tentpoles dating back to early May when “Iron Man 3″ opened. (Textbook example: “Pacific Rim”‘s inability to cross the $100-mllion mark after five weeks of release.)
    Boy, was I wrong about “Paranoia”! After seeing the trailer, I thought it had a legitimate shot at matching the success of Relativity’s “Limitless.”
    Just shows how misleading some trailers can be if you’re using them to predict b.o. fortune (or failure).
    The “Jobs” opening isn’t great by any stretch, but it’s still better than I was expecting after Open Road switched the release date from April to the August dumping ground.
    Btw, has anyone else noticed that Weinstein dropped their generic-sounding horror movie (whose title is so forgettable I can’t remember it, lol) from Labor Day weekend and replaced it with an “expansion” for “The Grandmaster”?
    Hope that means Wong Kar-wai is coming to town, but I’m not holding my breath.
    Actually got to see the trailer for the first time last weekend, and it was pretty much the “Crouching Tiger”/”Matrix”/Bruce Lee’s teacher type of sell I was expecting after reading (incorrectly as it turns out) that it was going wide on the 23rd.

  13. movieman says:

    Speaking of VOD, I see that DePalma’s ‘Passion” is already available to watch in advance of its (extremely limited) Labor Day weekend theatrical break.
    Definitely planning to check it out, but will probably wait a few weeks for the price to come down.

  14. Bulldog68 says:

    I didn’t expect Paranoia to do big business but I thought that the trailer was at least effective enough to get it over $10m. $4m is a disaster. I thought that watching Ford and Oldman chew some scenery would have been an attraction to some of the older folk. Anybody seen it? Is it any good?

  15. Bulldog68 says:

    I also did not see much marketing for Paranoia, so maybe the studio had already given up on it.

  16. Chris says:

    “Passion” is not great DePalma, movieman, but it’s worth checking out. And I think they just shifted the wide-ish “Grandmaster” to Aug 30 from Aug 23. (I think it’s close to a masterpiece, although I wouldn’t compare it to either of the movies you mention. Of his movies, it’s probably closest to “Ashes of Time.”) Oh, and “Paranoia” is generic and lousy, bulldog.

  17. Gus says:

    I hadn’t even heard of Paranoia. Not sure what that says about me but I read about movies every day and see them in theaters multiple times a week. Woof.

    For those wondering, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints goes to VOD next week (8/23).

  18. Joe Leydon says:

    Bulldog: That’s the funny thing — I saw lots of Paranoia spots on TV during the past few weeks. Particular on cable. Also surprised to see so many spots for Closed Circuit — and even a few for Getaway, a movie, I must admit, that I didn’t even know existed until a few days ago. Even have seen national ads for Blue Jasmine.

    We’ve talked about this before on this thread, but I’m curious to see if anything has changed in terms of viewing habits. I have to admit: I will sometimes spend the entire evening tuned in to MSNBC. But I also watch some sports — Astros and, currently, pre-season Texans — and I’ve recently been a faithful viewer of Longmire, Hell on Wheels and, of all things, Crossing Lines. Also catch the occasional David Letterman. (Keep in mind: I’m just listing shows/networks where I might actually see commercials. Not counting stuff I watch on Roku or homevideo.)

  19. Joe Leydon says:

    Also: For some reason, there have been massive theater lobby displays for Paranoia at some mutiplexes here for the past 2 months or so.

  20. Movieman says:

    I definitely plan to check out “Passion,” Chris. Just waiting for the price to drop three dollars first, lol. Wong is for me the greatest non English language director in films today (maybe the greatest director period), so I can’t wait. Was merely commenting on Weinstein’s marketing which pretty much hits all the commercial angles I was anticipating they would in trying to sell an art film to the masses. If it could manage even “Hero” sized grosses I’d be thrilled. But that’s probably not gonna happen, huh?

  21. joe says:

    That generic-sounding horror film that was supposed to open on Labor Day is probably called “Satanic.”

  22. Gustavo says:

    I recommend PASSION for De Palma fans who like his sexy thrillers with feverish-dreamy twists a la FEMME FATALE. It’s a delicious experience.

  23. Ray Pride says:

    Supposedly THE GRANDMASTER goes to 800 screens on 8/30.

    Wong Kar-wai’s Hong Kong/China cut is 127/130 minutes. The U.S. release version is 108 minutes.

  24. anghus says:

    I love August/September. Time to open up the dumpster! Let’s see what we got:

    You’re Next – Awesome
    The World’s End – Hell Yes
    Grandmaster – Awesome
    Riddick – Dumb fun. Hooray!
    Insidious Chapter 2 – Didn’t love the first one, but hey, its some horror.
    Rush – Look! It’s Ron Howard doing Driven!
    Prisoners – What the high holy hell is this?
    Battle of the Year – A dance movie? Does Keith Calder know about this?
    Don Jon – Looks interesting

    You get such wonderful, difficult to market material

  25. Etguild2 says:

    Don’t forget “Drinking Buddies,” and “Adore,” which looks like a triple cheeseburger made with foie gras.

  26. anghus says:

    I didnt see those on the wide release calendar.

  27. movieman says:

    Yeah, “Satanic.” That’s the one, Joe.
    Maybe Weinstein will move it to post-Thanksgiving/pre-Xmas or early January.
    Or better yet, not bother releasing it at all.
    (Just kidding, lol. Well, maybe not.)
    Saw the “Prisoners” trailer for the first time a few weeks back and thought it looked fairly promising, Anghus.
    Awesome cast, good director and a very, very compelling (and definitely marketable) premise.
    The title is the biggest stumbling block.
    Without knowing anything about the plot before seeing the trailer, I thought it was probably going to be some dreary movie set in a Siberian gulag/prison camp. Y’know, “Prisoners.”

  28. Bulldog68 says:

    I guess that would explain it Joe, with all the summer repeats I haven’t been watching a lot of network stuff. And I am not a fan of any reality show. 3 episodes behind on Crossing Lines, though my interest has waned a bit. Only watched the pilot for Under the Dome and the rest sits in the DVR. Recently cut back on my cable package so MSNBC and CNN are gone. I watch clips on their website. Slowly weaning myself off of cable and moving more towards streaming. Cant do without HBO yet though, due to The Newsroom and Game of Thrones. Will resubscribe to AMC once Walking Dead comes back, and FX when American Horror Story. There are some shows I do not like to stream.

  29. Etguild2 says:

    Ah yeah…I guess they’re not wide releases though given the respective casts (Kendrick, Wilde and Jake Johnson) (Naomi Watts and Robin Wright) and subject matter, they are in spirit.

  30. movielocke says:

    “The Butler and The Help have taught me late Summer is when to open your one dimensional heavy handed race related movie. Its also taught me that telling stories of racism and oppression from that perspective is a good way to sell tickets.”

    true, and someone’s gotta keep Orson Scott Card happy with racism that feels good, he LOVED the Help. (I was reminded of this by the MCN frontpage story on OSC’s racist belief that Obama is going to arm urban black youth to become a dictator for life).

    For a guy who is intent on waging an anti-equality war against gay people, his review of The Help is really tone deaf:

    http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2011-08-18.shtml

    “Great evils are almost always driven by a few dedicated individuals, who prey upon the fear and weakness of others to give the illusion of unity in their “cause.”

    And when the relatively few people who are committed to evil are neutralized, their supposedly united army of allies quite often evaporate.

    Today, racism is so utterly unfashionable in most of white society that evil people have to find other “causes” to exploit in order to gain supremacy. Evil people have not decreased in number or changed their methods; they simply use different excuses for seeking to oppress whole classes of people in the name of some supposedly noble cause.”

  31. Joe Leydon says:

    Bulldog: What’s that? You’re not watching Hell on Wheels on AMC?

  32. Joe says:

    Who is watching Hell on Wheels? AMC obviously is dumping it, programming it for Saturday night, the graveyard of television.

  33. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, the Season 3 premiere of Hell on Wheels (on Saturday) did slightly better in the ratings than the Season 2 premiere (on Sunday).

  34. Jspartisan says:

    Comparing “Rush” to “Driven” is about as ridiculous, as that one dimensional comment, but everything else is sort of right on. Also, “2 Guns” is just too odd for it’s own good.

  35. Triple Option says:

    Been seeing an astonishing amount of resentment towards The Butler/Oprah/Daniels/and of course Obama gets thrown in there too. There are films and people I dislike but nothing to the point of taking 10 years off my life. I could see people being against Oprah the same way they’re against Monsanto or Wal-Mart but then all the other puss and baggage seeps out and it’s hard to visually digest. I seriously do not know how people function in life carrying around so much hatred and misery. What civic liberty do they feel so threatened is going to be taken away from them by this film??

    Anyway, I saw Paranoia and honestly I was expecting something along the lines of The Spanish Prisoner or Side Effects but it was nothing like that. One of my friends thought it was too slow up front but then better once things got going. I thought something special was being meticulously set up and then really disappointed when there wasn’t much going on through the end.

  36. cadavra says:

    HELL ON WHEELS on Saturday is a smart move, as a western plays well to older folks, many of whom stay home on Saturday nights.

    And a moment of silence, please, for Harrison Ford’s career. With the exception of 42 (which wasn’t really about him) and of course the last INDY, he hasn’t been in anything remotely resembling a hit in 13 years. PARANOIA opening in 10th place is an embarrassment for someone who supposedly still demands $20 mill a picture. (Or does he?)

  37. Hallick says:

    Harrison Ford has one of the least interesting resumes of a major movie star in the last twenty years. It’s not even interesting in the way Val Kilmer has 20 straight to DVD releases in half a decade or whatever it is. I had to dig all the way back to 1994’s Clear and Present Danger before I could find something to smile about (a lot of people like Air Force One from 1997, but I can’t remember a single thing about it now). How the hell did he manage to do that? He went from being an actor with an almost freakish ability to find himself in iconic and exciting films to being somebody whose guiding principle in choosing projects is apparently the veneration of the word “meh”.

  38. Joe Leydon says:

    Cadavra: Did a piece about the new Saturday airdate for Hell on Wheels (which, not incidentally, was pretty damn good tonight). The logic behind the shift does make sense — even though, tonight, instead of scheduling a marathon of western TV shows and movies leading up to it, AMC aired The Godfather and Godfather II back to back. WTF?

    http://www.cowboysindians.com/Cowboys-Indians/August-2013/Hell-On-Wheels-Is-Back/

  39. Etguild2 says:

    “And a moment of silence, please, for Harrison Ford’s career”

    I think you’re about 10 years late to the party box office wise/Ford commanding a hefty salary (other than Indy/Cowboys v Aliens). Career wise, I’m more excited for ENDER’S GAME, and his roles in ANCHORMAN and EXPENDABLES than anything he’s done recently, especially a flick with Miley Cyrus’s boyfriend/Thor’s brother.

  40. Popcorn Slayer says:

    “Really sad that AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS is doing so poorly…worse than AUSTENLAND, which is tripe by Queen of Hacks Stephanie Meyer’s shingle.”

    It’s the title. It sounds like some Williamsburg denizen’s idea of a title for a Malick film or a Sam Shepherd play, the most purely infuriating and off-putting title that I can think of in recent memory. As with KICK-ASS 2, it sounds like the type of movie I generally actually go for – I loved THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES…, which you could argue is ersatz Malick, and even also starred Casey Affleck, but again, the fucking title…

  41. Dr Wally Rises says:

    My theory is that when Harrison Ford split from his wife and took up with Flockhart, he ceased caring. I liked him in 42 well enough, and I maintain that Bigelow’ s K19 is underrated , but I would say that the last time I saw Harrison Ford truly committed and endowed with any kind of gravitas was in The Devil’s Own. It’s a famously troubled movie with a seriously messed up third act, but Ford’s portrayal of a decent, morally conflicted beat cop is one his finest and most affecting turns.

  42. anghus says:

    For me, Harrison Ford hasn’t been interesting since The Fugitive. He reminds me of Bruce Willis as both sort of have this detached presence. When you see them in movies or TV appearances doing press, they seem charming but almost strangely removed from whats going on around them. They dont seem to gel anymore. They feel like monoliths. Towering presences that thunk down in the middle of a movie like a giant stone. You can’t help but stare at the tarnished metal giant in the room, but they’re very rigid and have lost much of their luster.

  43. Etguild2 says:

    I personally enjoyed Ford in (I know) “What Lies Beneath.” Seemed like he was threw himself into it. And though they’re not good movies, you could tell he was having fun in “Six Days, Seven Nights” and “Morning Glory.” Not that having fun is enough.

    “Paranoia” is going to lose big buckos btw. Supposedly, the most expensive of this week’s four wide releases, production wise at least.

  44. cadavra says:

    Let me clarify: I was speaking strictly to box office. Since he finally decided to go the Alec Baldwin route, Ford as an actor has been terrific, giving superb and diverse performances in the likes of MORNING GLORY, COWBOYS AND ALIENS and 42 (that latter deserves an Oscar nomination, something I haven’t said about him in a long time). But GLORY tanked, COWBOYS underperformed and, as I noted earlier, he wasn’t the draw in 42 (I didn’t even recognize him first time I saw the trailer). It does seem a sad irony that his rebirth and growth as an actor has not reinvigorated him as a box office draw.

  45. Etguild2 says:

    I’m not sure there has been a male actor in the history of cinema who has been able to command big paydays and especially box office clout once they hit 65. Eastwood, perhaps, because he only does one film ever 5 years….and Morgan Freeman (and maybe now Samuel L. Jackson) at the margins….but black don’t crack.Studios knew Ford’s run as a bankable lead ended with HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE and FIREWALL, and the big paydays stopped.

  46. SamLowry says:

    For those wondering why ELYSIUM may be failing, here’s a simple explanation from a week ago:

    “Elysium falls apart the more you think about it–and fails in its mission to speak truth to power–because of its inability to explain a simple question: why is health care scarce on Earth in the world of Elysium?”

    Rosenberg goes through all the possible reasons why and the only one that isn’t shot down during the movie (scarcity, cost, etc) is that the wealthy are jerks who simply don’t want to let the poor have access to their medical machines.

    What’s a hoot is that I made it perfectly clear in the first chapter of the novel I’ve been writing (which is why I’ve been silent for a while) that extreme measures need to be taken to stop a pandemic that’s turning everyone young and healthy (including nuking Chicago…but only the south side) for one simple reason: money. Trillions of dollars of wealth, income, investment, campaign contributions, GDP, etc will disappear or go to waste if the medical industry suddenly becomes obsolete. Blomkamp, however, puts scads of medical machines all over the place but blocks access to them because the poor don’t have the proper legal status?

    Umm, sure.

    (BTW, I e-mailed my manuscript to myself just before posting so nobody get any funny ideas out there. I may not have enough money to afford a lawyer, yet, but guns are pretty easy to obtain up here.)

  47. Joe Leydon says:

    Etguild: John Wayne?

  48. Etguild2 says:

    Aren’t those last batch of films (other than “The Shootist”) considered minor/pretty bad? All I know is that “Brannigan” and “McQ” are terrible.

  49. Joe Leydon says:

    Oh, I’m not saying those were good films. I’m questioning whether John Wayne continued to command large paydays at 65 and beyond. He may be the lone exception to your rule.

    By the way: Robert De Niro turned 70 this weekend. I think he’s still getting top dollar.

  50. cadavra says:

    Nicholson was still making big dough well into his 70s, too.

  51. Ray Pride says:

    Nicholson reportedly did very well off WHAT DO YOU KNOW…

  52. Etguild2 says:

    DeNiro does not get big paychecks anymore aside from FOCKERS and perhaps KILLER ELITE. He reportedly got paid just $2.5 million for STONE, and nearly all of the movies he’s been in the last 5 years have budgets so small it would be impossible for him to be making near $10 million.

    Good call on Jack, but he has made three movies in the last 10 years (only two since he turned 70). He may never work again, unless he’s willing to take paycuts/not be the center of attention, which kind of proves the point. Ford, on the other hand, works steadily.

  53. roberte3 says:

    SamLowry – The one idea that would make the ‘healthcare’ situation make sense in Elysium, is the idea of creating a ‘seed basket’ for humanity.

    Pull the ‘best seeds’ to a safe place, and wait for the locust swarm of humanity on earth to burn its self out(cancer/aids/something bioengineered), and then repopulate the planet in say five generations or so. (aka Wall-e).

    Perhaps something went wrong with the plan, morals or cowardice, or the bioengineered plague didn’t work.

    And the next generation of Elysium leadership got fat and decadent off their parents work and forgot the plan…

  54. Joe Leydon says:

    Geez, Etguild, how are you privy to all these salaries? Are you, like, accountant to the stars or something? LOL.

  55. Sam says:

    For a style-heavy guy like De Palma, it’s really bizarre how close Passion is to the French-language original, Love Crime. There are moments in Passion where you can see De Palma wedging in some sort of flashy cinematography, but it feels like he just got bored doing a straight remake and indulged here and there to keep interested — not because his stylistic touches were good for the film.

    Love Crime is slightly better than Passion for this reason, but honestly neither are better than just average thrillers.

  56. storymark says:

    Universal has tried to adopt franchises more than twice. They also tried with Riddick and Serenity.

  57. cadavra says:

    What’s strangely ironic is that many of the most successful franchises of late–such as PIRATES, F&F, ICE AGE and even SAW–started with an original film that was not based on a prior movie, TV show or comic book. If they keep this up, there’ll be no franchises left to begin.

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