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.

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Trailer: Palo Alto

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

SP155-A-Clockwork-Orange-651x

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.

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

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BYOB Labor Day Is Coming

byoblaborday

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Trailer: Dallas Buyer’s Club

Jordan Catalano lives!

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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.

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BYOB Weekend

byobaffleck650

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BYOB 082213

byobtruckin

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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.

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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.

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Review-ish: Kick-Ass 2

MF_thrreee

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.

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The Hot Blog

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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