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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by The Magnificent Klady

Friday Estimates 2016-09-24 at 9.07.27 AM

Is this the moment where Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington officially become movie star equals? Or has it already happened? Or is Denzel ahead? Or do we credit Chris Pratt?

All moot, really. Denzel has a great September history. We are reminded that he can still open movies. We are reminded that $35m in September is not a surprise.

But mostly, we look at domestic on both of these movies and wonder whether either will play overseas. Genres and all.

Storks barely achieved lift-off. Not a complete car wreck, but under $20m for a major studio animated opening is not good. Is this a loss-leader for international like Ice Age ’16 (now over $400m ww)? Is this the canary in the coal mine for comic book extravaganzas? International often reflects the domestic trend, just a few years later (just as international often doesn’t come on-trend for a year or two).

Weak arthouse weekend. With a couple of niche exceptions, under $5k per screen.

11 Responses to “Friday Estimates by The Magnificent Klady”

  1. Movieman says:

    I’m guessing that Disney had hoped for a much better launch for “Queen of Katwe.” I wonder if they’ll scale back plans to take it to 1,5000 add’l screens next weekend.
    Amazon/Broad Green’s “Dressmaker” nearly did as well, and that had “damaged goods” written all over it.

  2. JWK says:

    Can’t help but be disappointed with the numbers for Magnificent 7. I expected a 40M weekend with the big marketing push and great cast. I hope the legs are good. Problem with good legs forming is the release of Deepwater Horizon next weekend and Girl on the Train the following weekend.

    I wonder of Magnificent will have enough staying power to top 100M?

  3. EtGuild2 says:

    Speaking of QUEEN OF KATWE, it is the last live-action movie on Disney’s slate that isn’t a franchise property…, their whole slate through Thanksgiving 2020. They have a whopping 4 movies due in the next 7 months…a Marvel, a D. Animation, a Star Wars, and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. I guess their transformation into All Branding All The Time is complete now.

  4. Christian says:

    Don’t forget to support Art House Theater Day! I’m headed to AFI Silver tonight for the 2K print of PHANTASM. That one was never a favorite during my horror-lovin’ teen years in the mid to late ’80s, even though it was a Fangoria fave (I was a subscriber) and was already, by then, considered a cult classic. I’m hoping it feels fresh, or is simply fun to revisit, tonight.

  5. Sideshow Bill says:

    I’m eager to see that print of Phantasm, also. Like you, Christian, it was never a favorite but it’s grown on me. And I love the score. I was a Fango subscriber, too, in my teens to early 20s. Saved every one. Ended up losing them due to their storage in a locker I forgot about after my wife died. Bummer for sure. Luckily there wasn’t much else in there

    Rings being pushed back to February means there would have been Halloween space for Blair Witch. Might have at least opened a bit better then. Lionsgate lost that gamble.

  6. John E. says:

    How is Storks the canary in the coalmine for comic book movies again?

  7. David Poland says:

    Not just Storks, John, but Ice Age domestically as well. There is a point of saturation. There are so many big animated movies now. Exhaustion could finally be fully setting in for those not on the top shelf (As Dreamworks Animation felt already)

    Animation seems untouchable. Isn’t quite anymore.

    Same possibility for comic book movies as we see the number expand to 8 an 9 and more than 10 a year. Trends change.

  8. David Poland says:

    My main memory of Phantasm is “romance” in the back row of the balcony of the theater (which is no longer a theater). Sexy movie! Hee hee. (God, being a teenager has some golden moments.)

  9. Bob Burns says:

    thanks to whomever posted the link to the article about Leonard Cohen’s soon to be released new album.

  10. palmtree says:

    Queen of Katwe may seem like unbranded Disney, but it’s in a line of real-life underdog sports movies featuring people of color. McFarland USA featured Latinos. Million Dollar Arm featured Indians.

    The difference though is Queen of Katwe doesn’t have a Jon Hamm or Kevin Costner to guide the people of color. Every character in Katwe is African. And the focal point of the story isn’t the coach but the female chess star who is a promising newcomer. I’m hoping that doesn’t make it a harder sell, because it really is one of the most sensitive portrayals of modern life in Uganda.

  11. Ray Pride says:

    Glad you read it!

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin