The Hot Blog Archive for February, 2010

Weekend Box Office by Klady – Shuttwo-er



A Quickie On Variety's Iron Sell-Out

I just thought I would add, as a friend of Bob Koehler, a hail and hardy “fuck you” to Variety and Joshua Newton.
First, to Variety.. not only for selling your editorial out for $400k – CHEAP! – but for not coming out an taking the hit for the bad behavior, defending a guy who has only been a “freelancer” because the company was too cheap to put him on full-time payroll, who was effectively the paper’s #2 or #3 critic for years as a “freelancer,” and who was forced to take a job with AFI Fest because cutbacks at the dying trade made the gig he lives for – serious film criticism – impossible to make a living doing for his longtime home. Ironically, he’s back doing some work for the trade after cutbacks at AFI.
If Variety ad sales was getting the job done, Koehler would have that full-time job with full benefits, as his efforts on behalf of the paper for many years suggest he deserves.
As for Mr. Newton… I don’t often agree with Bob about movies, but complaining that he didn’t embrace Rat Race is one of the oddest ways of attacking his taste available on the planet.
Let’s not forget… Variety panned The Hurt Locker. In fact, Variety has been responsible for first bad reviews of some of the very best movies of the last few years. The paper has become a completely unreliable reader of audiences and/or of the long-view of quality.
But Mr Newton? He’s just a john paying for a whore to tell him he’s beautiful. A scorpion on the back of a journalistic frog.
Anyway… God Bless Bob and his opinions. He is a serious man. And the slaps against him are unacceptable… most of all from the place that should be defending his honor and holding their heads low in trying to recover their own, Variety.
(EDIT for typo, 2/28, 4;30P)


Friday Estimates by Klady – A Very Special Episode Of 227

Not much to say. Shutter has a nice hold off of a big opening, no matter what critics wrote. Somehow, it’s not surprising to people when big dumb movies survive the critics because audiences want to have fun. But when Scorsese has to be attacked for making an entertainment that also happens to blow the roof off of the craft in ways obvious and subtle… oh well.
Bruce Willis can still open a movie.
Horror-thrillers still open.
Avatar likely hits $700m domestic today… and $2.5b worldwide by the end of the weekend.
Nice and well-deserved opening for A Prophet (Un Prophet)… let’s hope it’s contagious.


DP/30 – Easier With Practice: The Foursome

mp3 of the interview

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20 Weeks To Oscar

9 Days To Go
Going Dark



Jon Landau On The Politics Of Awards Season

This is the full 20 minutes. We also talk about the future of 3D and TV.


DP/30 – Avatar composer James Horner

mp3 of the interview


More Of Disney's Alice Mess

Disney is busy selling the notion that it won some victory by getting a deal done with Odeon in the UK to show Alice In Wonderland with a 14 week theatrical window. But it’s not quite that simple. They bought the right to experiment with a shorter window 3 times in the next 2 years, while also giving Odeon improved terms on the split of the box office gross in this shortened window.
My problem with this is that it is neither fish nor foul. Internal estimates of post-theatrical revenues are lovely and all, but what happens to Alice in June really can’t prove anything. No single movie can in a situation like this. And a window for one movie shrinking one month isn’t much of a test of anything either. There simply is no way to measure and to be confident of what is real.
The line someone dropped – and should pick up – that piracy is an issue between theatrical and DVD is just a load of crap. Piracy starts in earnest on Day One of the release of a movie. There are discs on the streets and streams on the web before the first weekend is over.
When you can show me a single person who chooses not to get a film illegally in the first 3 months of release, but then has a deep and abiding need to purchase or download an illegal copy between 12 weeks and 16 weeks, offer them up. And I will still want to quiz them about what drugs they are on.
There is only one market that waits 8 weeks before getting serious about seeing a title and then often finds itself out of luck because the theatrical run has dried up… and it happens to be the very same group that is least likely to download or buy a pirated copy of a film… and is also the least affected by “see it now” pressures… people over 50… mostly women over 50.
When a company acts the way Disney is behaving, there are only three options that I can think of: 1. They are boldly seeking out a new future, 2. They are finding ways to cover their tracks for losses they are projecting, and 3. They are reckless fools who like changing things to see what happens. Your call.
And what I expect out of Alice and the two other experiments? (Disney should pay Odeon even more for creating a structure for the future of their experimentation.) Numbers that are read completely differently by whoever believes in whichever side of the argument.
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory grossed less than 1% of its theatrical gross after Weekend 12. And that was a film with long legs in the current era. So that is a non-starter.
Having more weeks in theaters is not really the issue for exhibitors or the industry. The issue is choosing to shorten the window and everything that has followed. And that is, in my long and strongly-held opinion, suicide for this industry, taking the very real and compelling opportunity of expanding delivery systems for post-theatrical and turning into harder-to-exploit mush.
But that’s just me. (And the lesson that the industry keeps learning every time it decides that it needs dramatic changes in windows.)
And PRESS RELEASE… AMC gets manipulated for a price, as was inevitable, by Disney. Who got the better of the deal, only time will tell.
AMC Entertainment to Show “Alice In Wonderland”
Tickets on Sale Now
Kansas City, Mo. (Feb. 25, 2010) – AMC Entertainment Inc. (AMC), a leading theatrical exhibition and entertainment company, today placed for sale across its entire circuit advanced tickets to “ALICE IN WONDERLAND,” Walt Disney Studios’ upcoming motion picture.
“ALICE looks terrific, and it promises to be the next 3D blockbuster. It is sure to please our guests – many of whom have called and emailed – and help us maintain box office momentum in 2010,” said Gerry Lopez, CEO and president of AMC. “As business models evolve for exhibitors as well as distributors such as Disney, it makes sense to focus on the many opportunities we have to improve our economics, so we can continue to invest in technology our guests want and ultimately, the guest experience in our theatres.”


It's BLU!

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale just landed on the doorstep… a Sony direct-to-DVD in Blu-ray.
Also landing today was Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day, also in Blu, which got a theatrical via the Apparition output deal, and grossed $10.3 million.
And Planet 51, from Sony Animation, turned up with a different Digital Copy offer on the box, specifically offering a transfer to a PSP via your (assumed) PS3. Interesting. When I looked in the blu box, it did offer the PSP download, but a computer download as well.
Looking at the blu-ray of 2012, the digital copy proposition was “pc, psp, mac, or ipod.”.. but the internal instructions were the same as Planet 51.
“What about This Is It?”, I thought. No digital download at all.
Going a few months back, to Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, the digital download offer and instruction was PSP only.
Of these four titles, two offered regular DVD playback (Planet 51 and Cloudy) and two did not (2012 and This Is It.)
Meanwhile, Old Dogs just arrived from Disney and their pitch is 3 discs… 1 blu-ray, 1 regular DVD, and one digital download disc to “watch it anytime, anywhere on your computer and portable device.”
I know that everyone is trying to formulate the most effective sales pitch and offering for the Blu-era. But when it comes to establishing consumer habits, wouldn’t it be a lot more effective to just pick a standard for your studio, whatever that may be… and indeed, a standard for all the studios in some reasonable amount of time?
In my household, the only “regular” DVD player left connected to a TV is a region-free player. And if I ever decide to cough up for Blu region-free, that will be gone too. But most people I know who have dipped their toe in may have one big HDTV with a blu-ray player and another with an upscaling player and even a non-HD tv or two elsewhere in the house.
It’s like we all know that post-theatrical is going to be all-access in every room of your home and your portables… so why are studios still trying to hold off the dying light?


PRESS RELEASE – A New "Home" Distributor Grabs "Worst" Fest Title

New York, NY (February 23, 2010) – New York-based specialized film
distribution company Area23a, formed in January by distribution veteran
Richard Abramowitz and Kirt Eftekhar, founder of Ocule Films, announced
today that it will release the award-winning “Best Worst Movie” which
has been an official selection in over twenty film festivals. The
documentary had its world premiere at South by Southwest and has
received several awards including the Top Ten Audience Favorite at Hot
Docs 2009. Area23a will open the film in Austin, Los Angeles, and New
York and other top markets in late Spring.
In “Best Worst Movie” Michael Paul Stephenson makes his directorial
debut by exploring one of the worst and most critically panned movie
ever made, Troll 2, in which he starred as a child in1989. Italian
director Claudio Gragrasso cast small-town dentist Dr George Hardy and a
group of unwitting Utah actors in the ultra-low budget horror film.
Soon after Troll 2’s disastrous release, Dr Hardy retired from his
short-lived acting career and returned to dentistry in his hometown of
Alabama, unaware of the legions of fans that would one day recognize him
as a cult movie luminary. Twenty years later Stephenson reveals the
improbably heartfelt story of this Alabama dentist-turned-cult movie
icon and an Italian filmmaker as they both come to terms with this
internationally revered cinematic failure. Stephen alongside Lindsay
Rowles Stephenson and Brad Klopman serve as the producers.

Read the full article »



Thanks for the patience. We’re one week out from the close of voting and I am processing video as fast as I can. Coming up later today – I hope – are Avatar‘s James Horner, Fantastic Mr Fox‘s Alexandre Desplat, The Hurt Locker‘s Barry Ackroyd, and the full interview with Jon Landau (which should be up before 1p).
Tomorrow, computer willing, will be an Indie Day with a new interview with the young, fast-rising group from Easier With Practice, which opens LA & NY on Friday. We have writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Brian Geraghty, Marguerite Moreau, and Katie Aselton talking about the film, but also getting down the nitty gritty about the opportunities and challenges of building a career in the industry these days. Great group. And a chat with Dawn Hudson, who has been with ifpWest/FIND for 19 years herself and is in production with the 25th Independent Spirit Awards, which is changing things up and switching to Friday night in downtown LA.
And we’ll be shooting 2 more Oscar nominees tomorrow, to go up over the weekend.
So full boat here. Which leaves it up to you all to chat amongst yourselves…


The IED At The Side Of The Road To Oscar? Or Much Ado About Na'vi?

The controversy over the e-mail from Nicholas Chartier, who handled the funding of The Hurt Locker is getting a lot of play from the LA Times, where Pete Hammond first published the e-mail Chartier was sending around.
I’m scheduled for a sitdown with Chartier later this week, but before then, I thought it might be a good idea to speak to someone on the Avatar team, which has been pretty quiet about this… and surprisingly low key throughout the Oscar season. With the team spread out all over the country these days, I was able to catch up with producer Jon Landau via Skype from a hotel room in Tarrytown, NY.
The following is the specific comments about Chartier, but we had a wider-ranging conversation about how he and Team Cameron have approached the season, as well as a few select thoughts about 3D and Avatar‘s 3D future on TV. The whole conversation will be available on Thursday afternoon.


DP/30 – Food, Inc director Robert Kenner

mp3 of the interview

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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas