The Hot Blog Archive for July, 2009

500 Days Of Summer Does Sid & Nancy

I can’t say that I love this series that is currently on MSN… it’s a better idea than something to watch… but this one is clever in that it actually does tie into the movie. I seill wish it was better, but it’s worth a look if only to see Ms Deschanel do Sid Vicious and Mr. Gordon-Levitt in blond, drugged drag.
<br/><a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-US&#038;vid=5db01b36-af64-41f0-91b8-ef86e818f69b" target="_new" title="Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt Cinemash &quot;Sid and Nancy&quot;">Video: Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt Cinemash &quot;Sid and Nancy&quot;</a>

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Journalists & Twilight

Maybe it’s just my personal disinterest, but I have to say, the breathless reporting on every nuance of the Twilight saga is beginning to reek of page view hunting more than a real interest in informing readers of news.
Twilight is hardly the only time this happens. The Oscars, Comic-Con, and certainly, the truly worthless events like NBR and really, The Golden Globes, are hyped to maximum importance because pop culture draws eyeballs and everyone is desperate for eyeballs these days.
Watching Katie Couric talking to Letterman about Cronkite last night, I remembered the devolution of CBS News in the 80s and 90s… the real anger expressed by the traditionalists as ratings overcame news choices… and it reminded me of what is happening with OOM (Online Old Media) these days… and New Media, which wasn’t as entrenched in the first place.
Here is the future of the Twilight Saga. It’s Harry Potter writ small.
First film, $385 million worldwide
Second film, off 15%, about $330 million worldwide
Third film, about the same… up 5% or down 5%
Fourth film, either the franchise tanks, costs rising too high and grosses dropping off 25% or more OR the franchise accelerates a bit because it finds a new hook with the characters that overcomes it being The Last Big Thing. You’re still looking at a $200m – $250m earner, but when the price tag for the films gets up into the high 100s, looking for a wider audience, that isn’t as impressive. Also, it wouldn’t be surprising if Summit brings on a financing partner by that fourth film, anticipating risk.
Bryce Dallas Howard… lovely woman… decent actress… but isn’t worth a thin dime at the box office… not a slam on her at all… just the facts. And it’s exactly the kind of stunting that shows some trouble coming in the future of the franchise. First they got rid of the wacky, but successful Catherine Hardwicke for a more stable presence in Chris Weitz. Now upscaling cast.. but on the relative cheap. (Is Claire Danes next?) A namier director is probably next… and more effects.
Meanwhile, Twilight was behind The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Sex & The City in worldwide gross last time out. Absolutely a phenom…. especially released by a new distributor. But if you can do $341 with Wanted, is $382 for Twilight the kind of game-changer that requires round-the-clock obsessive coverage?
Yeah… I guess if you want those teen hits, it does.
(CORRECTION, 12:44p… name dyslexia)

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DP/30 Sneak Peek – Cold Souls star Paul Giamatti

He gets into the details of his new movie, Cold Souls (opening next weekend), the issue of playing himself, the question of Paul Giamatti as a brand, and more in the full length interview. But for now, a teaser of Giamatti talking about comic roles in two past films, Duplicity and Shoot ‘Em Up.

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More Bad Box Office Spinage

The LACMA story got me looking over some of the LA Times and I ran into a story by Ben Fritz about Monsters vs Aliens “underperforming overseas.”
Interesting.
But misleading.
Fritz found a stat that is accurate. DreamWorks Animation has had a great run of films going more overseas than domestically. And sometimes, it’s crazily out of proportion. Do you know how much Madagascar 2 made overseas, having made $180 million here? $422 million flippin’ dollars. Better than 3.3x more. Massive.
Kung Fu Panda did $420 million overseas and “just” $215 million here.
But here is a key variable that Fritz didn’t consider. The release date.
Because of piracy, animation now opens, for the most part, day-n-date or within a couple of weeks worldwide. Monsters vs Aliens is the domestic champ for an animated spring opening. That’s good.
But moving onto the foreign box office, aside from the Ice Age films, poor Monsters vs Aliens is the highest spring-release overseas animated grosser in history with $177 million. More than Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! or Robots or Meet The Robinsons or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That’s three different studios trying the spring and not matching DWA on this film. There is only one other spring animated release to gross as much as $50 million, The Road To Eldorado… and it also did less overseas than in the US, in spite of the involvement of Ken Branagh and Elton John.
Even Fox decided to move Ice Age 3 to the summer. And sure enough, less than a month into its worldwide release, the film is already the highest grosser of the series with another $50 million (or more) in theatrical gross to come… a little behind at this point domestically and a bit ahead in foreign over Ice Age 2‘s complete run.
Fritz is right and smart to argue that the 3D run domestically may have inflated US grosses to create the unusual US over Foreign ratio. But the notion that AvM underperformed overseas is not too reasonable, given the release date.
The real question for Katzenberg that may/should come up is, “Why are you still releasing animated movies in the spring?”
The answer may be that MvA did so well here. It may be that there is too much competition from Disney/Pixar and others in the summer and November. It may be that the studio is obliged to deliver spring content in the Paramount distribution deal (there are March releases scheduled for 2010 and 2012). And maybe a sequel to MvA will pop like Ice Age did ($206m to $456m international from the first to the second film).
But this kind of question is why all Pixar releases are now summer releases. There is just more money out there in other release periods.
And the stock analysts – including the one who brought this “worry” for DWA up – remain a bunch of bloody idiots. How can a bunch of smart people who have nothing to do but to analyze a narrow industry sector be so wrong so often? It truly boggles the mind.

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Another Cultural Loss for LA

The LA Times reports… ”
For four decades, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has fed film aficionados a steady diet of movie masterpieces — retrospectives that included works from Roman Polanski, Cary Grant, Ernst Lubitsch and, in a current series, James Mason. But after the museum’s weekend film program lost $1 million over the last 10 years and failed to build an audience, LACMA said Tuesday that it was pulling the plug on its cinematic centerpiece.”
Another loss for film in what is supposedly the center of the film universe. I was just talking today to Chan-wook Park about his successful support, along with other directors, of revival house cinemas in Korea. Yet, we can’t get it done here.
The rest of the story

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Advertising Pays!

I got this note in the e-mail this afternoon…
Hi there,
We came across your post on William Shatner and saw that you are currently hosting the clip using YouTube. We are in the process of getting this clips removed from YouTube due to anti-piracy issues. Before we do, however, I wanted to reach out to you and share a new embed code you can use to replace the one you are currently using. This one is from the NBC player and offers better quality, as well as a richer experience for the user (as it provides more clips, content than a singular YouTube clip). We appreciate your understanding and want to be sure you are still able to share the video with your readers once it has been pulled from YouTube.

Of course, I have made no post of William Shatner and go out of my way to use source embeds instead of YouTube whenever possible, but… it seemed amusing enough to post anyway…

BYOB – It's Tuesday

A late night with Julie & Julia (Streep’s 16th nomination), an early morning with the OB, and a lunchtime chat with Chan-wook Park has kept me from doing any actual work. Anything good happening out there?

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The Rage Over The Ugly Truth

Uh… simple… I don’t get it.
There is nothing significantly unique about this movie concept. It’s The Taming of The Shrew with a touch of Cyrano de Bergerac. Fascinating that it brought out the “junk” out of Manohla Dargis and others because, really… is this really more insipid than the existence of a dozen shows on reality television?
(Edit, 6:25p – Manohla Dargis didn’t say “swill,” Pete “Best *** Of The Year” Travers did. My apologies. And if you don’t know, they are hardly alone in hating the film. Rotten Tomatoes can be a imprecise measure, but 15% fresh isn’t a number that can be questioned.)
Really, the most sexist thing in the film is the obsessive interest in the perfect bland guy, not the idea that she eventually falls for a guy who, in spite of his outdoor voice, is a decent person who does actually speak a certain kind of truth and takes a real interest in her over the course of the film.
I think the Big Sexist Moment in the film was the vibrating panties scene. And I am not unsympathetic to the rage about it. I think it is the idea that a child – who doesn’t know what he has found – is in control of the grown woman’s sex… and the man-child sees what’s happening and lets it keep happening. How can that man-child ever be forgiven?
Everything about the scene is odd. How she ends up leaving her house with the panties on and the remote control in her purse is, in and of itself, lacking any credibility. The idea of the remote slipping away is unbelievable. And the idea that, realizing what is happening, she endures an orgasm in front of her employers and a restaurant full of people, is weird and unexplained on so many levels. The people she works with don’t seem to get what’s happening at all… or why.
You don’t have to be a misogynist to understand how a scene like that ends up in a movie like this. You’re doing a Taming of The Shrew knock-off. (Yes, that might be the first problem for many.) And you are looking to knock down your female lead a bit. Public orgasm… hmmm… can’t be the hero with the control or it’s really unforgivable… what about someone else… a waiter… too creepy… a kid who doesn’t know what he or she’s doing… hmmm… a girl… kind of lesbian-y… a boy… a stand in for our hero…
They probably should have scrapped it there.
Yes, it’s a big trailer moment. But just the idea… someone’s real orgasm… kinda stolen from them… a rape of a sort…
But then again… I am thinking WAY TOO MUCH about a silly rom-com sex farce when I get down to “it’s a form of rape.”
That is not to say that it’s NOT a form of rape. it is. And we’re meant to laugh at it, at that.
But assault with intent to kill is something we see and forgive (and often laugh at) in virtually every action movie.
I guess it comes down to, “It didn’t strike me that way.” And if it had, I would probably be just as angry and some of those who are. I have been on the other side of it a few times. I still say that 8 Mile is undeniably racist, even though it clearly intends to be the opposite of that. I still say that Tony Stark is a drunk, arrogant, arab-murdering prick at the start of Iron Man and is a sober, arrogant, arab-murdering prick at the end of Iron Man. And should we really feel good about laughing at Clint Eastwood shooing those “gooks” off his lawn in Gran Torino? I know Eastwood’s intent is good, but I don’t know that his character really becomes enlightened so much as he gets to know a few “gooks” well enough to be his good, generous white self to them.
The other thing about The Ugly Truth is that is, first and last, a rom-com and it’s always fun for critics to find a reason to pile on and beat a rom-com to death. This one is well directed and reasonably well written. It has the clever twists. The argument that Manohla makes that this woman is somehow Hollywood harassed into wanting more than a job to sleep with at night is an argument against all rom-coms, not just this one. The idea of the pig-man becoming the gentleman is about as old as they come.
But those panties… hard to get past those panties…
(Insert your takeaway on that line here… cause there are a bunch of ways you can run with it… which is my point… and why the moment is, perhaps, ill advised… and why it’s probably not the end of the world… unless you think it is… and I wouldn’t really argue against you on that… just not my experience.)

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Awards Slog

Gothams on December 1.
National Bored Of Review on Dec 3.
Why not November 1 and 3? Really. I so hate the premature first round of the award season.

Universal's Bad Summer

Yes, Universal has had a bad summer.
Yes, there have been rumors about executive changes all summer.
No, none of this excuses shoddy “journalism”by long-time veterans who, after all of these years, still don’t understand how box office works. (Yes, Sharon Waxman… you.)
Public Enemies grossed more than $4 million last weekend and still has a shot at $100 million domestic. In any case, it is already the #2 Michael Mann film all-time domestically, behind only Collateral with $101m. The international box office, which is cited without any factual clarity, was $25 million going into this last weekend… and the film has opened in only 10 non-domestic markets, including just one week in the two major non-NA markets it is open in, the UK and France. The film is pretty much a lock to outgross Mann’s previous best in the both countries. (Collateral did $15m total in the UK and $11.5m in France… PE opened last weekend to over $9 million in the UK and $7.5m in France.)
Now… does $200 million or so worldwide make Public Enemies a good investment with a negative cost of over $100 million? Not so much. Make that argument. But please… be fair.
You can paint Bruno as a disappointment… but you can’t paint it as a money loser. Please… be fair.
Drag Me to Hell… disappointing numbers… but a money maker. Please… be fair.
And the one real financial loser, Land of the Lost. But it has only opened in 5 markets outside of North America. Please… be fair.
Finally… let me be very clear… Market Share In 2009 Is A Measurement For MORONS.
Buena Vista’s overall gross for the year – and thus market share – is more than a third off of Paramount’s. But with nine releases this year, every single one will be profitable.
At this point, BV is pretty obviously having the second most profitable year of any studio – WB is #1 thanks to Potter, the very profitable The Hangover, and some holdover NL titles – even though it is #4 in market share.
The only stat nearly as stupid – and popular – as Market Share is Tickets Sold. Mentioning either, in 90% of conversations, is an admission that you really have no idea what you are talking about and don’t care to know.

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Mystery Solved?

Nikkiologists at NBC/Univeral have been trying to figure out exactly who was using Nikki Finke to tear down Ben Silverman and Jeff Zucker with the nastiest gossip (and why) for the last year-plus. There have been many theories, but little proof.
This morning, as Nikki melted down (a network head is fired and her headline is, “So Why Did NBCU Lie About This To Me?”) trying to take ownership of a story that she (via her sponsor) has been out front of but then got scooped on when the action finally happened – by both Variety and Ryan Seacrest’s Twitter account – she may well have outed her primary source for all things anti-NBC/U. And the winner is, Marc Graboff.
Of course, when things settle down, Nikki will count Ben Silverman as one of her “Nazi scalps.” But will her operator, Mr. Graboff, pay the price… especially now that he didn’t get the big promotion and Nikki has outed him as her ally? Will Ron Meyer, in turn, have to take one of his “time outs” from feeding her? It will be interesting.
Fact is, whether I like it or not, Nikki is the Niche Winchell in this tiny little world of show business insiders. She lies often, gets it wrong almost as often, but always thinks she is truthful and right. And I do believe that she really does believe that. Such is the nature of the sociopath.
The glory of the professional, morality-free gossip is that burnt bridges mean little, since there is always someone else there with a can of gas and some matches to hand you… since you are so happy to take it, spread it, and light it. But this is a small town. And when the gossip is too exposed – when everyone is paying attention – the dynamics of how people use gossips change. The price of getting caught feeding the monster gets higher and higher.
The advantage that Winchell had – aside from an era with a slower news cycle – is that he had a national consumer platform. His smears really could damage the public image of talent. Not so much Nikki. She is more the ugly mean girl with money in showbiz high school. And I don’t mean that as a comment on Nikki’s looks. She is a perfectly nice looking woman. What I mean to say is that she is the kind of mean girl who uses the power she gathers from someone else’s power (in high school, her parents’ money… in Hollywood, targeted information from powerful people) to feel better about herself by hurting others and feeling powerful in her own right as a result. And the people who gather to feed this manipulation? Weasels. Every one. Unless it is your job to service someone else’s bad behavior – in which case, you have my sympathy – if you feed the cycle, all the while snickering about how you can control The Nikki, you are a small as the tool you use.
Are we seeing the beginning of the end? Not the end

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Comic-Con Clean Up

Thursday was a very long day. But it was a lot of fun. I have been over Avatar and Kick-Ass and Jim Cameron. Here is some on the rest…
District 9, which I will video review shortly, is The Defiant Ones with aliens. It’s not exactly what Sony is selling, as it is a movie about what happens after a new culture has been poorly integrated and then The Locals decide that The Others are too integrated and need to be pushed out further away from town. From the outdoor, you might thing of it more like a race riot movie or a satire on race. It really isn’t. It’s a dark, full-on action movie in which the humans are the alien invaders. We are the bad guys.
More to come on that one…
Getting a chance to hang out with Peter Jackson was happy enough, with an evening designed by Jackson’s team and three different studios – as he showed stuff from and discussed three projects with three different studios attached – that ended up being a combination of a fireside chat and an uber-geeky roundtable. Not so much my scene.
But PJ discussed the evolution of District 9, evolving from the failed Halo project. He showed a compelling, dark, emotional extended trailer for The Lovely Bones, which he is still tinkering around with for Paramount/DW. (Word is that the film is NOT going to sneak at Toronto.) He talked about Tintin, which is already shot and is now in the long digital phase. There were a lot of Hobbit questions… he and Fran and Phillipa are 3 weeks from a first draft, have no official greenlight, no set budget, and no casting at all. It’s based on all the Tolkien materials. And he is happy that Guillermo is doing the film, as he would spend too much time second-guessing and imitating himself if he were shooting it. (He agrees that Guillermo is one of the singularly great guys on the planet and will be a joy to work with for a few years… though he swears as much as any human on earth, while still being spectacularly charming.) He also showed a lot of footage of his beloved WWi aircraft, many of which he is having recreated in New Zealand, all capable of flying like they were right off the 1913 assembly line.
The week had started for Peter as it started that first day of comic-Con for me, with Disney. He was at Disneyland for 3 days. I was at the Disney panel. I enjoyed the panel, but didn’t get much new. Many of us saw similar Christmas Carol footage in IMAX 3D a few weeks back… the Alice trailer – quite improved by being huge and in 3D – had leaked a day or two before The ‘Con. And the Tron Legacy material had been shown last year. Still… an impressive group of films and a real show by Disney that they understand where they have been and where they are going.
A “surprise” appearance by Johnny Depp drew literal screams of teen girl ecstasy, as about a third of the room were girls waiting for the Twilight panel that was next. The “surprise” also gave Tim Burton the freedom to blow off some of the interviews he had been scheduled for… sigh… (I wasn’t one of them)
My favorite part of the Disney panel was very inside baseball, as Disney execs who had taken up most of the front row of the “invited guest” section were up and down and two kids who were waiting on Twilight wandered into the seats. First, distribution chief Mark Zoradi actually got up and let the second kid have his seat… then he came back and handed the girl his 3D glasses so the girl could watch the repeat of the Alice trailer. Then, the boy asked Oren Aviv, studio chief, about getting glasses… and Oren took off his glasses and handed them to the boy so he could experience the 3D.
Of course, no big deal on some level. Oren has seen the 3D many times, no doubt. But there was a gentle kindness in how these execs dealt with these fans who had absolutely no idea who these men – you know, the ones paying for the event they were attending – were. It reminded me of Fox’s Jim G getting escorted away from the VIP section at a Hall H event one year and just going along with the guard, smiling, not arguing or doing the “do you know who I am?” He just went, found one of his people, got the right ticket to be where he wanted to be, and went back without the least protest. I would say that these guys were “Just Like Us,” as US Magazine says… but if the press had the same encounters, they would not be as pleasant or generous.
Comic-Con is a very different experience for each of us who cover it. There are those who seriously cover the convention floor. Those of us who barely get onto that floor. Some who go to every presentation they can. Others who sit in the press room and do dozens and dozens of 3 minute interviews. Some are there to write overall stories for papers that cover it as business. Some are a mix. Some of us are having a great time. Some of us are permanently enraged by the experience.
I enjoyed my day. And it was exactly enough. Peter looks great (and tiny). Cameron was in excellent form. I saw the Tim Burton who I met doing the DP/30 for Sweeney Todd – funny, self-effacing, and pretty normal – and not the dark lord he sometimes projects. District 9 was good. Kick-Ass made for a great surprise and Matthew Vaughn is a still emerging directing star. And I got to see every movie publicist on the planet, if only for a few moments… which is often the best way to see publicists. (Extended chats with a few were a pleasure as well.)
My first impression remains significant to me… studios were not spending as they have in the past on the convention floor. They are cutting back. But the event is one of the big targeted junket events of the year. Is that good or bad? We each will make that call for ourselves.
One thing hasn’t changed. That many people expressing that much passion cannot be a bad thing. And i think that some think that I don’t get that. I really do. It’s just part of my job to put all that enthusiasm in the context of the industry… and in that regard, the event is more than a little overblown. But hey, let the players play and they will play for days…

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Weekend Estimates by Klady – Hampsters & Wizards & Panties, Oh My

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Not too much to think about here. (But I’ll find something.) Potter’s second drop is estimated to be 3.6% worse than Phoenix, which is the series’ previous top earner by the end of the second weekend. Half-Blood is still $14m ahead of any other P-flick, but as I have droned on about, it will all equalize and $285m – $295m will put this Potter right in line with the rest domestically.
Meanwhile, the film is well over $400m overseas, where it is now likely (anticipating the overseas weekend numbers) past Transformers ROTLF and is now behind only Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs in the race for top international earner of the summer (as expected).
The Ugly Truth opens about $6.6m behind The Proposal as the #2 rom/com opening of the summer. The number continues to set K-eigl’s box office range. (I know… sexist… but it’s funnier than K-Heigl, which was where I was first going.) Like her real life tabloid drama or not, she is having the movie career that Lindsay Lohan was supposed to be having about now.
And by the way… the opening is $3 million less than Bruno, and is being estimated to do 2.4x the Friday gross vs Bruno‘s 2.1x Friday. Yet Ugly is, properly, being seen as a successful opening. What’s the difference? Media preconception and bias based not on journalistic analysis, but bandwagoning against SBC’s movie. Meanwhile, the 3rd weekend hold of Bruno improved, in spite of the film losing 864 theaters. The worldwide and domestic gross look to be about half of Borat in the end.
G-Force is Disney’s third $30m+ opener this summer, a stat with which they join WB and Fox. (The three $30m+ers for both Fox & WB were also $40m+ers.) It’s another one of those movies, underestimated, but a strong earner… slightly bigger opening than BH Taco Bell Dogs.
Speaking of Fox, Ice Age 3 is making a slow run to $200 million, which will give this summer six $200 million films, keeping the season from being the first summer not to have six $200m+ movies since 2006. The standard of five-per was set in 2005, then to six in 2007. You can point to increasing ticket prices if you must, but the $200m threshold is still – since eclipsing $100m as the key stat – an achievement of note.
For those keeping count…
*The Proposal is Sandra Bullock’s all-time best domestically and will be behind only Speed as her 2nd biggest worldwide hit.
*Up is locked in as Pixar’s #2 domestic hit, about $50m behind Nemo… foreign has barely started rolling out yet.
*X-Men Origins: Wolverine is only about $44 million behind X2: X-Men United worldwide with about $20 million more to be anticipated overseas, making it one of the most profitable films of the summer.
*Night At The Museum: Battle of The Smithsonian was about 1/3 off of the first film, both foreign & domestic. And that was the profit margin Fox was hoping to cash in on by doing the sequel. Still… with nearly $400 million worldwide, it is hardly a disaster and will (just) scrape its way into the black via post-theatrical revenues.
*Angels & Demons is a similar case, off about a third worldwide, still grossing over $475m ww… and even closer to black ink. Not what they hoped. Not a disaster.
The story of Summer 2009 is, as it has been before, the utter destruction of the movie middle class. There have been 25 studio releases so far this summer. 11 have grossed more than $100 million with 3 more with that number in sight. Of the other 11, you have three legitimate flops (Land of the Lost, Year One, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past), four legitimate lower-budget minor successes (Bruno, My Sister’s Keeper, Drag Me to Hell, Orphan), one overly expensive programmer that is waiting on foreign to determine if it loses a lot (The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3), and three widely released, but overt studio dumps (Dance Flick, Imagine That, I Love You Beth Cooper).
Of all of those, excluding the dumpers, the only two films that were really targeting the domestic middle-class of movies (around $80m) were Bruno and Pelham. The two stars that would have also been within range of expectations, but overperformed, were The Proposal and the phenom, The Hangover. (Hangover will triple Todd Phillips’ prior best domestic grosser and double his prior best worldwide.)
If studios won’t commit to making profitable movies based on domestic grosses between $60m and $80m, they are making a suicidal mistake. With all the money being spent, no more than five films will have profits – in reality – of over $100 million this summer. And we will see more than a dozen movies with grosses over $300m worldwide. There is a major disconnect there. And that is the business that The Business is chasing these days. Oy.
AND… The Hurt Locker expanded by 144 screens, to 238, and did a very respectable $1.4 million. And we’re still running a bit behind Sunshine Cleaning.
Historically, this is how it goes from here in, roughly: 500 screens next weekend, $1.9 million gross. 650 screens the next weekend… $1.65m gross. 750 screens the next weekend… $1.4m gross. And we’ve cracked $10 million… but the movie is on the way out. $900k… $700k… $400k… $200k… $120k…. $50k… $25k…. DVD. And the film grosses under $15m domestic.
I am beating a dead horse here. This was a very good weekend, but Summit’s strategy isn’t going to change. And really, they are right at this point. It is virtually impossible – given that it’s the summer – to change speeds in a real way at this point in the release schedule. Still, I find it endlessly frustrating that a movie that would have been well served by a big sampling will not be seen by many people under 40 until it lands on cable and it gets discovered by an audience that will be blown away by the craftsmanship and cool of the film.
And with that – unless some real news happens – I am done whipping this horse until awards season…

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Tapley, Jackson & Cameron At The 'Con

Kris sent these along… video of the “Visionaries” panel (where was Zack Snyder? Oh… wrestling amongst hundreds of drunk geeks!)… he laid it out over four pages on his blog which made me instantly crazy. But you should honor him with a click or 5 if you like these videos that he shot.
The first two are on top… the other two, plus an EW extra, after the jump…

Read the full article »

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Friday Estimates by Klady – G-Ugly

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OHMIGOD! THE TWITTER EFFECT HAS KILLED HARRY POTTER!!!!!
Zzzzzzzzzzzz…
After all, Transformers: ROTFL only dropped 51% from first Friday to second… and Potter is off 64% And we all know how horrible Tr2 is. So Potter much be much worse. Bring on the endless feature stories about “What Really Happened To Harry Potter!”
This is yet another example of how media twists details into the stories they really want to write. Yes, details need to cooperate a bit. If Bruno had gone up in its second weekend, no doubt, they would have written about how Americans are so homophobic that they LOVED Bruno. Instead, we got a parade of experts explaining one thing… how little they actually know or care about understanding the box office.
Last week at this time, P6 was ahead of P5 by $18.5m… now it’s $14.5m. And in the end, it will land somewhere in The Potter Zone between $290m and $305m. But we can look to the Potter films as an interesting case study about how box office is evolving. The series is huge and amazingly consistent. And the first film, still the biggest by $25m domestic, took 15 days (that includes the 3rd Friday) to get to where this one has gotten in 10 (which includes just the 2nd Friday).
That is to say… in the course of 8 years, a mega-movie has shortened its box office cycle by a full week. Part of that was adding the Wednesday opening to ease the load on that first 3-day.
The flip side is that the Top Potter, #1, doesn’t pull ahead of all the other Potters until Day 45, when you compare the daily box office of all these films. But if you look at the weekly numbers, Potter 1 has the best weeks of the Potters from Week 4 on… by a couple of million in every subsequent weekend, but sometimes by $5m and $6m. $19.8 million in Week 6 is amazing. That’s $5m more than domestic #2 all-time The Dark Knight did last summer. That’s not a slap at TDK, but an acknowledgment of how things keep changing.
This is where Joe (in this case, Average Joe) asks, “So what?” And the answer is that none of this really does matter to Harry Potter or Batman or Spider-Man. In fact, the weaker the mega-film, the better frontloading is for its box office run.
But like Reagan’s trickle-down theory, the frontloading and all the ramifications of it trickles down to movies that are not so fortunate as to have massive numbers while frontloading and could do very well with legs.
Half of Orphan’s screens this weekend seem to be coming out of the theater counts of The Hangover and My Sister’s Keeper. The other half are, appropriately, coming out of – it seems – I Love You, Beth Cooper. Up gave up 37% of its screens this weekend.
Even Bruno, which coughed up 31% of its screens this weekend, is an example of the cost of frontloading. The film was teh #5 movie Monday (ahead of The Hangover), #6 Tuesday, and #7 on Wed & Thurs… adding over $900k every day of the week. Losing a third of its screens on Friday, it’s Friday was about the same as its Thursday… which is horrible for films that kept their count… and even with Twitter-victim Bruno, would surely not have happened had it not lost all those screens. Say the loss of screens – encouraged by the way films go in and out of theaters now and increasingly every year – costs the film $1.5 million this weekend and $2.5 million over the week. As you roll through the next 4 or 5 weeks of this films run, you’re looking at $5 million more that it might well have made and won’t. That’s 7% or 8% of the film’s domestic total.
10% may not seem like a lot to you… and studios have left that much or more on a lot of movies – perhaps a majority – on the table in recent years. But part of that was that DVD was around the corner, promising big bucks. These days, that 7% – 10% is looking like a lot of money. But the system that’s in place is still moving forward based on the old (in this case, a decade old) idea of what was best.
Anyway…
G-Force and The Ugly Truth are perfect examples of films that were underestimated by tracking because of their audiences. Kids love pooping, talking rodents and women want to be taught by Gerry Butler until they can turn the tables and teach him a few things. Both studios did a great job hitting their targets. And Sony may get a break next weekend as Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen front the new Apatow. Women like Apatow films and Leslie Mann in them in particular, but even though Funny People will likely win that race next weekend, Ugly may well siphon off 20% or so of the Funny audience next weekend, who stick with the pure chick flick while waiting for word of mouth… via mouth… or text… or Twitter… or the phone… or even at the literal water cooler.
Box Office Mojo has The Hurt Locker at $390,000 for Friday in its expansion to 238 screens. That should mean the film’s first $1 million weekend. That’s good. Now, let’s see if Summit is prepared to build on that.

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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