The Hot Blog Archive for August, 2013

Friday Estimates by Boy Band Klady

Friday Estimates 2013-08-31 at 10.13.25 AM

One Direction: This Is Us has found a comfortable spot, right between Michael Jackson and Justin Bieber… that is, on the Best Opening For A Concert Film Chart.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler continues to chug along, dropping just 24% Friday-to-Friday. The film will pass $70m this weekend and could get close to $75m.

Meanwhile, We’re The Millers passed $100m yesterday. If Kathryn Hahn is responsible for, say, 5% of the laughs in Millers, it would be nice if 5% of the audience for that film went to go see her kill it in Afternoon Delight. But it doesn’t work that way.

The number from Klady on Instructions Not Included, a 347-screen Spanish-language comedy release by Lionsgate, were so big that I had to double-check it. But indeed, this niche release will be the second biggest limited (under 500 screens) of the last 3 years, behind only Mission:Impossible – Ghost Protocol‘s IMAX-only week-before-wide release. Even more impressive, the next closest limited launch in that period was a studio basically previewing – Pitch Perfect‘s $5.1m on 335 last year – and after that, it’s $2.2m for Casa de mi Padre with $2.29m. That is more of the territory in which Instructions Not Included is working. The closest this year have been niche film Chennai Express and Roadside Attraction’s Mud, both with $2.2m launches.

This is one of those game-changing moments which will change distributor behavior for a while, as they experiment in this niche. Searchlight stuck their toe in with L’Auberge Espagnole and Lucia Lucia in 2003. This is Lionsgate’s 7th attempt at this kind of mainstream Spanish language release in the last few years. The company did have its biggest Spanish-language hit with Ladrón que roba a ladrón that opened to about a quarter of what Instructions is doing. This time, Lionsgate may have hit hit Tyler Perry, uh, gold.

Getaway, which Len incorrectly put in the Sony column, is a classic WB dump, sold like a direct-to-DVD movie. (haven’t seen it, so no opinion about whether there was more there worth pursuing.)

And Closed Circuit, which got some very nice notices (I also skipped that one), also smelled of a dump. Focus has actually used this release date more skillfully than anyone out there to release non-genre, high-quality films years. But those were all wide releases. This is closest to The Illusionist, which Yari opened slowly then expanded on Labor Day weekend, doing $8 million in 4 days on 971 screens. Circuit won’t get close to that.

Top English-language per-screen opener looks to be Afternoon Delight, with an okay-ish $4250 per on Friday on 2 screens. None of the other limited English-language newcomers – some quite good – got past $1k per on Friday. Ugh.


Trailer: Palo Alto

It’s A Book.. No, It’s A Poster… It’s Both!


Kinda love this idea from Spineless Classics, which takes the complete texts of famous books and builds them into the graphic look of these posters.


Trailer: Biffle and Shooster in “It’s A Frame Up”


BYOB Labor Day Is Coming



Trailer: Dallas Buyer’s Club

Jordan Catalano lives!


Friday Estimates by Lee Daniels’ The Klady

Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 9.04.28 AM

I can’t really estimate the final domestic number for Lee Daniels’ The Butler (LDTB). It’s not your traditional wide release. It isn’t playing like a phenom. But it has unique upside opportunity. The biggest question is where it will be in 10 days, after Labor Day Weekend. After that, it will start seeing much more aggressive competition in theaters. My guess on that would would about $70m-75m. $100m should be doable by the end of its (initial) run. This box office success – LDTB will pass the total domestic gross of Lee Daniels’ Precious this weekend – makes this the likely awards horse for The Weinstein Company in the “serious and ethnic” category that we all wish no longer existed in the mind of the industry or awards voters, but that we know does.

We’re The Millers is yet another raunchy comedy hit for Warner Bros/New Line (a genre Seth Gordon took to Universal this year for Identity Thief). Reviews aren’t good… audiences aren’t intensely enthusiastic… but the need for a big, loud comedy wins the day for millions of people. Do you know how many straight-out comedies there were this entire summer? Five. Do you know that every one of them will gross over $95 million domestic? They are the cheapest five films on the Top 18 for the season.

The World’s End is the third of three intended films from Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg and Nick Frost about guys in England faced with change in their lives and an overwhelming external force. With steady growth of interest in the first two films through Home Entertainment, each film has made more than the last and this one will easily be the biggest open of the trilogy (opening day is bigger than Shaun‘s total opening weekend). It is still niche material in the big picture, but a good example (and reminder) of a film that will be beloved by a lot of people and last forever while some much bigger comedies open to a multiple of this one and will rarely be thought of again by film lovers.

The Mortal Instruments is the latest non-starter franchise for tweens. The first Percy Jackson movie got a bailout by the international market. This film would need to get an even more help to not be a loss. The crazy thing is, they will keep trying and eventually, one of these non-Twilight/non-Hunger Games things will hit. But in the meanwhile, pain.

You’re Next seems to have been a happy collaboration between the filmmakers and distributor Lionsgate. But the number still ends up looking like The Devil’s Rejects. And maybe that is enough for this to feel like a success. I believe this is Adam Wingard’s first release from a top-end distributor as a stand-alone director. So it may be a very happy number for him, even if others write it off as irrelevant in the context of the big release universe.

Leading Indieville, it’s pretty close per-screen battle between The Grandmaster & Short Term 12… but I give the win to ST12, which had a small fraction of the marketing that the gorgeous, rich, layered Wong Kar-Wai ass kicker. Also, there is the expanding Blue Jasmine, which should have a $3m weekend. Sony Classics can’t be overly thrilled with a 1000 screen expansion leading to less than double last weekend’s gross. But still… pretty good.


BYOB Weekend



BYOB 082213



Weekend Estimates by What Will Finals Look Like Klady

Weekend Estimates 2013-08-18 at 9.18.10 AM

I have this itchy feeling this weekend that while (wholly irrelevant) slotting may not change, the “finals” may look a bit different for a number of films compared to today’s estimates. For instance, The Weinsteins clearly have faith that Black audiences are going to go see The Butler after church today. Maybe. Maybe not. Once the $30m pipedream was gone, the nice even $25m became the next best thing.

Kick Ass 2 is estimating pretty low… which could get worse or better And Jobs is right in the middle.

Anyway… we will see.

Surprisingly strong hold for We’re The Millers, though part of that is the good fortune of timing. Millers is the only comedy in the Top 13 films, with only Blue Jasmine (which is balanced with drama) and The Heat (which is 8 weekends old and just passed $155m dom) as other comedies in the Top 20. It will be interesting to see of The World’s End can take advantage of the dearth of comedy. And it’s kind of sad that The Way Way Back hasn’t managed to take better advantage of this demand that’s not being fully satisfied this summer.

Not much to be excited about at the arthouse… except for the movies. In A World… is the most impressive, with $6k per screen on 37. And it’s surely the only indie supported by its writer/director/co-star being naked on a the cover of a magazine like New York this month. (My guess is that Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg don’t have enough time to their naked New York cover in response in time of their opening.) I’m not saying that it’s all about that… but it is a level of free publicity that few others have.

$8570 per on 3 for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. $6630 per for Cutie & The Boxer on 3. $10.4k per for Austenland on 4, which is one of those movies that feels more mainstream… but apparently is not. 20 Feet From Stardom and Blackfish continue to be heroes.


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.


Review-ish: Kick-Ass 2


I don’t have a lot to say about this film.

In some ways, it is better than the first film. It’s more consistent in logic, it’s got a bit more size to it, and it really goes for it on pretty much every gag.

In some ways, it is not as good as the first film. The lighting isn’t good, the narrative is oddly complicated, and it really goes for it on pretty much every gag.

I think that people who love Kick-Ass will love this film even more. I think people who just kinda nodded and felt ambivalence about Kick-Ass could fall on either side on this one. I think anyone who was the slightest bit irritated with Kick-Ass will think that Hollywood has gone to hell in a handbasket and this is the signal for the end times.

I was, generally, okay with it. Hit a wave of hate as I walked out of the theater. But I was okay with the uber-violence. I was okay with the underage girl doing very not-underage things. I like the Mean Girls mini-movie stuck in the middle of this one and think the boy band segment will be visually quoted for decades to come. I thought Jim Carrey was as good here as he has ever been as any character… and I completely understand why he doesn’t want to be associated with the violence now that the film is complete.

Someone pointed out, rather succinctly, that there is a comedy sequence where 10 policemen are murdered. I can’t tell someone to be okay with that. But I take the whole thing as a giant cartoon and my only shock in that sequence was that they made a point in one shot of getting cops out of a car before it exploded. (They would die later.)

Could I have lived without the shot of chocolate pudding—subbing for diarrhea—actually shooting out from under a girl’s skirt? Yeah. Wasn’t funny enough of done well enough to warrant its inclusion. (And Mr. Creosote is still one of my favorite movie moments ever.) But I thought the Mean riff from Claudia Lee, Ella Purnell, and Tanya fear was pretty good until that shitty moment. (And for the record… Yancy Butler did an amazing job disappearing into a really ugly character.)

But you know, it’s the kind of movies were balls get ripped out and arms pulled off, and bad puns are made using the word “cunt.”

That said, except for the language, I saw worse on “True Blood” this week.

So… there you go. Go if you feel really compelled. Hedge if you don’t. And if you are looking for something profoundly evolved from the first film, skip it as though your life depended on it… because it doesn’t… but you might think it does.


The Hot Blog

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What do you make of the criticism directed at the film that the biopic genre or format is intrinsically bourgeois? That’s the most crazy criticism. That’s an excuse for not engaging with the content of the movie. Film critics sometimes, you know, can be very lazy.

Come on, formal criticism is valuable too. But I’m amazed when this is the thing they put in front of the discourse. My situation is that I’m dealing with a highly explosive subject, a taboo subject that nobody wants to deal with.

Karl Marx? Yes, this is the first film ever in the Western world about Marx. And I managed to make an almost mainstream film out of it. You want me at the same time to play the artist and do a risky film about the way my camera moves and the way I edit? No, it’s complicated enough! The artistic challenge — and it took me ten years with Pascal to write this story — was the writing. That was the most difficult part. We were making a film about the evolution of an idea, which is impossible. To be able to have political discourse in a scene, and you can follow it, and it’s not simplified, and it’s historically true. This is the accomplishment. So when someone criticizes the formal aspects without seeing that first, for me, it’s laziness or ignorance. There’s an incapacity to deal with what’s on the table. I make political films about today, I’m not making a biopic to make a biopic. I don’t believe in being an artist just to be an artist. And by the way, this film cost $9 million. I dare anyone in the United States to make this film for $9 million.
Raoul Peck on The Young Karl Marx

“The Motion Picture Academy, at considerable expense and with great efficiency, runs all the nominated pictures at its own theater, showing each picture twice, once in the afternoon, once in the evening. A nominated picture is one in connection with which any kind of work is nominated for an award, not necessarily acting, directing, or writing; it may be a purely technical matter such as set-dressing or sound work. This running of pictures has the object of permitting the voters to look at films which they may happen to have missed or to have partly forgotten. It is an attempt to make them realize that pictures released early in the year, and since overlaid with several thicknesses of battered celluloid, are still in the running and that consideration of only those released a short time before the end of the year is not quite just.

“The effort is largely a waste. The people with votes don’t go to these showings. They send their relatives, friends, or servants. They have had enough of looking at pictures, and the voices of destiny are by no means inaudible in the Hollywood air. They have a brassy tone, but they are more than distinct.”All this is good democracy of a sort. We elect Congressmen and Presidents in much the same way, so why not actors, cameramen, writers, and all rest of the people who have to do with the making of pictures? If we permit noise, ballyhoo, and theater to influence us in the selection of the people who are to run the country, why should we object to the same methods in the selection of meritorious achievements in the film business? If we can huckster a President into the White House, why cannot we huckster the agonized Miss Joan Crawford or the hard and beautiful Miss Olivia de Havilland into possession of one of those golden statuettes which express the motion picture industry’s frantic desire to kiss itself on the back of its neck? The only answer I can think of is that the motion picture is an art. I say this with a very small voice. It is an inconsiderable statement and has a hard time not sounding a little ludicrous. Nevertheless it is a fact, not in the least diminished by the further facts that its ethos is so far pretty low and that its techniques are dominated by some pretty awful people.

“If you think most motion pictures are bad, which they are (including the foreign), find out from some initiate how they are made, and you will be astonished that any of them could be good. Making a fine motion picture is like painting “The Laughing Cavalier” in Macy’s basement, with a floorwalker to mix your colors for you. Of course most motion pictures are bad. Why wouldn’t they be?”
~ Raymond Chandler, “Oscar Night In Hollywood,” 1948