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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by Klady With A Chance Of Saturday Bumps

Friday Estimates 2013-09-28 at 11.36.41 AM

Cloudy 2, which is great giddy fun, is looking to be on the Epic track. Low 30s opening, low 100s domestic total. Will there be growth in international, which pretty much mirrored domestic on the first film? Who knows?

Rush went wide to results as mediocre as last week’s exclusive runs suggested. Universal had reason to be afraid. Problem is… it’s a great little movie and it deserves better. The last time Ron Howard went through “one of these” was for The Missing, which got unfairly beat up by critics for being to Ford-like (or Ford-lite,a s they might have suggested) and he kinda went back to more traditional Ron Howard fare. I hope that won’t be the case here. The good news is that he is already shooting a period (1820s) whale hunt movie with a great cast and a lot of challenges. I would love for this movie to do more than $30 million and be in the awards race… but that’s looking less and less likely.

Don Jon is a movie about a guy who has a porn problem and the question of whether true intimacy can overcome it. Baggage Claim is a movie about a girl with a ticking clock problem and the question of whether she can find true intimacy with a bunch of fantasy men or if the answer is a bit more humble (albeit quite hunky by real people standards). $3.3 million worth of ticket buyers wanted to join in seeking those answers, for each film, on Friday.

These two films represent two classic niches in the domestic film business these days. Joseph Gordon Levitt (and the Hip Factory) is very cool, very talented, and is being treated like the flavor of the month… even though I expect him to navigate these waters and last a long time. He is currently the “Breaking Bad” of movie actors… highly talented, with all the buzz and nowhere near the numbers of major openers.

Baggage Claim is a likeable enough urban comedy… meaning, it’s FUBU… released by Searchlight. The movie would be equally likable for white people. (Some people just won’t like any silly romantic comedy.) But let’s not be coy. As fantastic and crossover as Paula Patton and Jill Scott and Derek Luke and Taye Diggs and the rest of the cast are, it’s hard to draw a white audience to a movie with a nearly-exclusively Black cast (even with Adam Brody). Not a lot of historic comparisons to make. This kind of film is not being made much anymore. The Kevin Hart concert film opened a little better. The Tyler Perry movie Temptation opened to almost triple this number.

You know what the Baggage Claim number looks a lot like? Brown Sugar and Just Wright, two other black rom-coms the studio released. It’s kind of fascinating to look at the “romantic comedy” category that Box Office Mojo lays out as regards Searchlight. There are only 15 listed since 1996… less than one a year. The #1 (in domestic gross) is (500) Days of Summer… which never had a screen count of over 1048, a little less than half of the count to which Baggage Claim opened. #2 is Brown Sugar. #3 is Just Wright. Not a single Caucasian rom-com ever got to more than 1200 screens. All three of the “urban” rom-coms started with more than that.

Overall, no Fox Searchlight rom-com has ever grossed over $33 million domestic. So that is why Searchlight is not known as “the rom-com studio.” (Even if you include Marigold Hotel as a rom-com, the glass ceiling is $46m domestic, though that film did double that internationally.) But their success with Black rom-coms is pretty consistent (sample of 3). And that is why movies like Baggage Claim still find a home at Searchlight… and an audience to go with it. They are a nice piece of business.

There is an interesting little cluster of Warner Bros titles between $135 million and $145 million domestic right now. The Conjuring, the still in-release We’re The Millers, and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. These are the #2 – #5 films for WB domestically this year. (Internationally, Hangover 3 is #2 with Gatsby right behind it and the others well off the pace at this point.) This actually makes WB the owner of the most (4) movies in the Top 13 Domestic 2013 to date. (If that’s too clever/specific for your tastes, they also have a leading 5 of the Top 20.) WB has only 1 in the Top 10 Domestic… so that offers a different perspective. But still, interesting. Millers has been very leggy, with more than 5x opening weekend.

it’s a bit of a flat weekend for indie newcomers. There are a couple exclusive runs looking at around $10k per for the weekend. The biggest indie is the Metallica film, released by The Berneys at Picturehouse, which is on 309 IMAX screens and will do over $2m, but per-screen is likely around $7k for the 3-day, which is not overwhelming. (Movie is really good, by the way… assuming you enjoy metal.)

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17 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady With A Chance Of Saturday Bumps”

  1. movieman says:

    Halfway through “Rush” I thought, “This doesn’t feel like a Ron Howard movie.”
    Then I realized: there really is no such thing as “a Ron Howard movie.”
    He’s one of those journeymen types who’s only as good as his script.
    That said, “Rush” is damn good, probably the best thing he’s ever done.
    I loved how it has a very Euro-centric, non-Hollywood feel: the kind of objective neutrality one associates more w/ a Stephen Frears or an Otto Preminger.
    Thor, Bruhl and the almost unrecognizable Wilde are all terrific.
    I also admired Howard for not running the clock: he could have easily succumbed to elephantiasis and let it go on for another half hour (or more).
    It’s clearly not going to be a barn burner domestically, but I’m guessing it’ll have no trouble making back its (relatively) modest $38-million budget in overseas markets.

  2. Ray Pride says:

    There’s a good story in the new American Cinematographer on how Anthony Dod Mantle defined his shooting style for RUSH.

  3. movieman says:

    …and “Rush” is brilliantly shot, too.
    Maybe the best-looking film I’ve seen this year…so far anyway.

  4. Big G says:

    Great music by Hans Zimmer. I usually bolt as soon as the end credits start but stayed around through most of them just to hear the pretty thrilling score.

  5. pat says:

    Euro-centric? Is that code for a very very white movie?

  6. cadavra says:

    I can’t believe that IPA, whoever the fuck they are, are releasing YOUNG DETECTIVE DEE in 2-D only. What’s the point of Tsui Hark shooting a movie in 3-D and then these clods depriving us of his bravura use of it? Harrumph, harrumph.

  7. movieman says:

    It is a very white movie, Pat.
    But that’s not what I meant by Euro-centric.
    What I was suggesting was that “Rush” feels like a movie made with a European sensibility; and one w/ precious few (blatant) concessions for the American market (e.g., the cooly objective tone I referred to).

  8. Aaron Aradillas says:

    Howard may not have an immediately identifiable “style,” but he has one. What he does better than most directors is large ensemble acting. PARENTHOOD, BACKDRAFT, THE PAPER, APOLLO 13 all show a director who knows how keep track of multiple characters and storylines. RUSH is really his first two-hander since NIGHT SHIFT. (FROST/NIXON was a two hander, but the balance wasn’t as even as it is in RUSH.) For me, the genius of RUSH is that it truly an even-handed movie. Howard and Peter Morgan do an amazing job of not tipping the scales to favor one guy’s philosophy. You’re forced to decided which guy was right in the way they lived thier lives. Or, maybe they’re both right.

  9. LexG says:

    RUSH RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULES.

    See it five, six times.

    Also re: Through the Never which I loved (huge fan):

    Does it lose EVERY SINGLE ONE of its screens next week? Gravity surely has dibs on every IMAX in America right? So was the Metallica movie explicitly a ONE-WEEK ONLY movie? Or does it move to regular 3D from here out?

  10. movieman says:

    The even-handedness you’re referring to is the “coolly objective,” “European sensibility” I was alluding to.
    I’m still not ready to make the case for Howard being an auteur, though.
    For every “Frost/Nixon” or “The Paper” (two of his best films), there’s a “Dilemma,” “Grinch,” “DaVinci,” etc. He’s really only as good as his script(s), and Morgan’s “Rush” screenplay was indisputably first-rate.
    The ensemble thing is an interesting point. But I don’t think it elevates Howard to Altman or Hawks territory by any means.
    P.S. to Pat: Another Euro-centric vibe I picked up from “Rush” (one of the more obvious ones) is the casual nudity which is very un-21st century Hollywood.

  11. Chucky says:

    The man with the permanent hard-on is back!

    BTW, Universal is releasing “Rush” in the US only.

  12. cadavra says:

    Lex, it’s possible some might hold it for late shows, just as they held OZ for matinees. Since GRAVITY is only 90″, it’d still get five shows a day.

  13. lazarus says:

    Nice to see someone defending The Missing, which I think is one of Howard’s best 2 or 3 films, and really should have had a better fate.

  14. hcat says:

    The odd thing is I think Howard could very well have an incredible Western in him. Like it was stated above a Howard film is an ensemble of either a specific demographic (senior citizens, parents) or profession (racecar drivers, journelists, firemen, astronauts). He needs to make a Wagon Train movie, something about settlers and the trials they faced, but on an intimate human scale. Far and Away was trying so hard to be MYTHIC and IMPORTANT, that it got away from him.

  15. lazarus says:

    The Missing wasn’t on an intimate human scale? It was primarily about one family and an estranged father/daughter relationship.

  16. leahnz says:

    i really like ‘the missing’ too, howard’s only movie with a female protagonist & told from a female perspective – i think it captures that terrible, lonely, singular desperatation of having a child abducted and a mother’s unwavering determination to do anything it takes to find a missing child, and has a unique melancholic tone and some nicely choreographed action and perfs (and beautifully photographed), definitely one of Howard’s more interesting films.

  17. JAB says:

    “Rush” is simply the best movie I’ve seen since “Zero Dark Thirty”. I am a not a race car fan at all, but I love movies. This is a perfect movie-movie.
    Ron Howard has made great movies before & they are all based on real life stories. “Apollo 13”, “Cinderella Man” & “”Frost/Nixon” are great movies. This movie joins that list. “Rush” has great great action, a great story & script, great performances, it’s georgeous to look at & it is never boring. It puts you into the lives of James Hunt & Niki Lauda & their Formula 1 cars as effectively as “Gravity” puts you into outer space. A totally immersive experience doesn’t have to cost $5 extra with 3D galsses on.

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I feel strongly connected to young cinephile culture. The thing about filmmaking—and cinephilia—is that you can’t keep hanging out with your own age group as you get older. They drop off, move somewhere. You can’t put together a crew of sixty-somethings. It’s the same for cinephilia: my original set of cinephile friends are watching DVDs at home or delving into 1958 episodes of ‘Gunsmoke,’ something like that. The people who are out there tend to be young, and I happen to be doing the same thing still, so it’s natural that I move in their circles.

In terms of the filmmaking, there was a gear shift: my first movies focused on people around my age, and I followed them for three films. Until The Unspeakable Act, I was using the same actors, not because of an affinity for people at a specific age, but because of my affinity for the actors. I like to work with actors a second time, especially if I don’t feel confident casting a new film. But The Unspeakable Act was a different script, and I had to cast all new people. Even for the older roles, I couldn’t get the people I’d worked with before. But when it was over, the same thing happened: I wanted to work with Tallie again in the worst way, and I started the process all over again.

I think Rohmer did something similar around the time of Perceval and Catherine de HeilbronnHe developed new groups of people that he liked to work with. These gear shifts are natural. Even if you want to follow certain actors to the end of their life (which I kind of do) the variety of ideas that you generate makes it necessary to change. And once you’ve made the change, you’ve got all these new people around.”
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