Posts Tagged ‘LA Confidential’

The Men who Never Paid a Bill Without a Lawsuit Are Back in Business.

Tuesday, December 16th, 1997

Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, former proprietors of the infamous Cannon Pictures, have talked a health club chain into financing a movie start-up to the tune of about $2 million. Gotta hand it to these guys. They obviously still can make their manure smell sweet to others. Cannon was one of the clearest examples of a company that was killed by the excess opportunity of the Reagan era. After hitting big with the Death Wish series and then turning Chuck Norris into an action hero, the company got big bucks in the junk-bond economy of the ’80s. Suddenly, they went from Norris and Bronson to Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway. A few years later they were bankrupt after spending millions on films they never made and making some quality films, including Barfly, that no one ever saw. At least in theaters. Welcome back, boys. And readers: If they try to hire you, get cash.
MGM‘s desperation to hang onto the Bond franchise for themselves and themselves alone was made plain as day last week when the company filed their intentions to take a $30 million writedown for this quarter on Red Corner, the Richard Gere political drama. There will be no writedowns in first quarter 1998 with Bond on the way to save the day. But MGM, already off the list of “real” major studios, is becoming more of a mini-major every day. And, although Lindsay Doran has great taste, expect the film projects, excepting Bond, to get smaller and smaller.
As if to prove that barbarism is still in vogue, a group of Iranian militants attacked theatergoers, including a disabled veteran, as they left a showing of Snowman, a film about a man so desperate to get out of the desert that he disguises himself as a woman with the hope of marrying an American man who can take him/her away. The thing is, the guy falls in love with an Iranian woman and stays put. He doesn’t even go the whole route (or is that the full monty?)! Another theater pulled the film under threats of fire bombing. Finally, a movie that really is responsible for community violence.
L.A. Confidential surely has secured an Oscars berth for Best Picture after winning multiple best picture awards by critics already.
Want to bank roll my new studio? E-mail me a dollar figure. Or just drop me a line to say hi.

Things That Resonated

Thursday, November 27th, 1997

It’s time to give thanks to the things that really hit my hot button in 1997.
Boogie Nights and L.A. Confidential, the two best studio releases to date in 1997.
Warner Bros., for putting the Batman franchise on hold before “Batman 4” ended up set in San Francisco starring Rip Taylor and Matthew McConaughey as supervillains Bald Guy and Overhyped.
Jennifer Love Hewitt’s push-up bra. This girl is brimming over with talent!
The return of greasy popcorn. I hope those nutrition guys never investigate coffee cake.
Only one Billy Crystal movie in 1997.
The summer troika of My Best Friend’s Wedding, Face/Off and Contact (despite Matthew McConaughey), for making Jurassic Park: The Lost World just a bad memory.
Roman Polanski and Luc Besson, keeping the world safe for cradle robbers everywhere.
Speed 2 for assuring that Jason Patric will never be described as Brandoesque again.
Universal, for getting their crappy volcano movie (Dante’s Peak) out before Fox got their crappy volcano movie (Volcano) out.
The Star Wars re-issue for proving once again that it ain’t the effects, it’s the icons.
James Brolin, for marrying Babs, so I can finally stop making alimony payments.
Harvey and Bob Weinstein, for keeping the film business interesting.
Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayak, for bringing women with shape back to the movies.
Mel Gibson‘s fans, for smacking me into submission.
Siskel’s hair and Ebert’s waist. They make me look good.
And you, my readers. You make it all worthwhile. Happy Thanksgiving.
What do you have to be thankful for … other than The Hot Button? E-mail me and let me know.

It's Time for Anastasia to Put Up or Shut Up

Friday, November 21st, 1997

All the whining about Disney means nothing. This weekend is wide open without another truly major release in it’s way. Next week, Alien Ressurection and Flubber blow, bite and bounce into theaters. So, this is it! That said, I think that Fox’s animated Meg Ryan will do about what last year’s real Meg release, Courage Under Fire did: $14 million for first place. Last week, the big dropper was Starship Troopers with a 55 percent plunge. This week, The Jackal should combine bad word-of-mouth with an R-rating to lose 40 percent and fall to a $9.1 million second place finish. And despite all better judgment, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation should open in third with about $9 million.
My Butt-Biter-Of-The-Week could be The Rainmaker, which I’m projecting at $7 million in fourth, even though it could do much worse. I love Coppola and even I’m not that anxious to see it. The second and last week of The Little Mermaid should survive Anastasia to the tune of a 30 percent drop into fifth with $6.9 million. The fall of Starship Troopers should slow to about 35 percent with $6.5 million for sixth.
The last of our newbies is Clint Eastwood‘s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which may suffer the same box office fate as L.A. Confidential, though the buzz isn’t as good. Warner Bros. choice to start with 800 screens should limit the box office to a seventh place finish with about $5.6 million or worse. Bean isn’t exactly the cultural phenomena here that it’s been overseas, but it should pass the $40 million mark with another $5.3 million for eighth. And in ninth and tenth, the evil twins of fall, The Devil’s Advocate and I Know What You Did Last Summer, should both hover around the $2.5 million mark.
Master Wok has already sent in his box office take. He likes Anastasia, Mortal Kombat and The Jackal to lead things. E-mail me your predictions now!

Not Many Surprises at the Weekend Box Office

Monday, October 20th, 1997

At least not for me. Despite the big names (Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves) and big publicity push, The Devil’s Advocate came in just an OK second, conjuring up $12.2 million. The good news is, it may be another Pacino scenery-chewing camp classic. The easy winner of the weekend was teen horror romp I Know What You Did Last Summer with a ripping $16.1 million. Despite a last-minute agreement by Sony not to abuse the “from the makers of Scream” tag, their marketing department grabbed teen attention with big ad buys and clever gimmick promos, like a two-minute “special preview” hosted by Sarah Michelle Gellar during last week’s episode of her WB series, “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.” The only other wide release, Playing God, caught me once again overestimating the drawing power of non-movie star celebrities. Last week, it was Tupac. This week it’s Mr. Duchovny’s Doofus, which I predicted would reach fifth, but came in tenth with a weak $2 million.
The strength of the new product damaged the returning hits a little more than expected. Kiss The Girls ($7 million) and Seven Years in Tibet ($6.5 million) both dropped a little over 35 percent from last weekend. In & Out passed the $50 million mark in its fifth week, pulling in $3.9 million to become one of only two returnees in the Top 10 to drop less than 30 percent. Soul Food is now leftovers, dropping over 35 percent to $3.5 million for sixth place. Rocketman went according to plan, dropping to earth with $3 million on its way out of the Top 10. The Peacemaker is suffering nuclear fallout, dropping a substantial 44 percent to take eighth with $2.8 million. And in ninth, L.A. Confidential quietly dropped 27 percent, adding another $2.7 million to its haul.
In other box office news, the magnificent Boogie Nights, now in a 30-screen limited release in 13 cities, pulled in a throbbing $27,016 per screen over the weekend, compared to averages around $6000 a screen for this weekend’s top two hits. Boogie Nights won’t be in a theater near you, unless you are very lucky, until October 31. Hopefully, this won’t lead to flaccid box office the way it did for the also-excellent L.A. Confidential.
So, have you listened to my ringing endorsements? Have you seen L.A. Confidential yet? Email me and let me know what you think.

Overseas Box Office

Thursday, October 16th, 1997

It’s not a joke about the French! The foreign (to America) box office has become equal to or greater in importance to the overall bottom line of the movie business. So, take a gander.
L.A. Confidential finally debuted in France and disappointed, managing no better than third place. The reason? The distributor waited too long to take full advantage of the great Cannes buzz. If you read The Hot Button regularly, you’ll know that it’s just another case of a foreign nation following in the footsteps of America. In poli-sci terms, it’s Mutual Assured Destruction of a very good film.
While we’re talking American bombs, Speed 2: Cruise Control looks like a $100 million-plus overseas hit, already grabbing $99.1 million. It’s especially popular in Thailand where actors with big square heads and no emotional range apparently draw a crowd.
It’s no surprise that Air Force One is taking off in Europe. But it might surprise you to know that, like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Disney’s 1996 animated disappointment at the domestic box office, 1997’s soft-grossing Hercules is now expected to generate more than $200 million throughout the rest of the world. Something to keep in mind if Fox’s European-tinged Anastasia doesn’t light up the U.S. box office like a Christmas tree.
Finally, some numbers to gag on. Men in Black just passed $250 million overseas, pushing its worldwide figure to almost $500 million. The film is currently setting box office records in Croatia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic where men in black are more dangerous than Tommy Lee and Will could ever be.
Any Europeans out there? Email me!

Kiss The Girls was the surprise of the weekend

Monday, October 13th, 1997

Kiss The Girls was the surprise of the weekend, holding onto the top spot with $11.1 million. Dropping just 16 percent is an extraordinary accomplishment for any wide release, much less a thriller. Then again, it’s clearly Adult Time at the box office, with Seven Years In Tibet (second place: $10 million), Soul Food (third: $5.4 million) and In & Out (fourth: $5.3 million) topping the chart. The only true kids’ film out there, Rocket Man, opened weakly, in sixth place with just $4.4 million.
Seven Years (Do you think it was Eight Years before Pitt got involved?) had a per-screen average of just $4,755, which doesn’t bode well for the future of Time Magazine’s Sexiest Film Alive. I’ve been touting Soul Food as a possible ethnic crossover film for weeks, but Fox has now decided to go the other way, launching a “You go, girl!” campaign, assuring that Soul Food will be a happy cable surprise to the bulk of white audiences. And In & Out will have to wait until next weekend to pass the magic (for the fall season, at least) $50 million mark.
Rounding out the Top 10 were: The Peacemaker in fifth with $5.2 million; L.A. Confidential dropping to seventh with $3.7; The Edge in eighth with $3.3; Most Wanted — my one dead-on estimate — grossing $3 for ninth spot; and Gang Related, proving to be the made-for-cable movie it was meant to be (and should have stayed, out of respect to Tupac), taking 10 with just $2.5 million.
Strong competition on the top of the charts this Friday, with The Devil’s Advocate and I Know What You Did Last Summer hitting tons of screens. More about that on Friday.
Reader RJW2000 emailed to challenge my box office predictions. His Top 5: Most Wanted ($10m), Soul Food ($6m), Kiss The Girls ($5m), L.A. Confidential ($3.5m) and Seven Years In Tibet ($2m), He added, “I bet a million dollars Seven Years does not come in first, let alone take in double digits!” You owe Morgan Freeman big time, since he saved you a million bucks. Keenen!
Don’t forget to email me when something hits your hot button.

In & Out, LA Confidential, Air Force One

Friday, October 10th, 1997

It looks like an ugly weekend at the box office. Four new films hit theaters nationwide, but they all look like short-term players. Brad Pitt’s Seven Years In Tibet should lead the charge grossing more than $10 million. If Tibet passes the $13 million mark, it will be a shock. If it somehow dips below $8 million, “I told you so!” will ring out in hallways all over town.
Kiss The Girls and Soul Food should be the strongest holdovers on the charts. The girls can kiss off a modest 25 percent for about $10 million and second place and Soul Food should lose about 15 percent off the top for about $7.1 million and fourth spot. Sneaking somewhere in between should be Disney’s kid comedy Rocket Man, the only family film to be released in what seems like eons.
In & Out should equivocate its way to fifth with a 20 percent drop to $6.1 million, becoming the first film released since Air Force One (July 25) to pass the $50 million mark domestically. Gang Related should ride to $5 million and sixth place on Tupac’s name and a decent ad campaign, though reports are that the movie is a bomb (non-ebonic). The Peacemaker should continue its precipitous drop, with a 40 percent dip to about $4.9 million for seventh place, and looks like it will max out with less than $40 million domestic. Do you know anyone who’s still anxious to see it? Me neither.
In its second week of wide release, L.A. Confidential’s expected 20 percent fall-off to $3.77 million and the eighth spot has prompted rumors that Warner Bros. is already planning a major re-release in early January.
Keenen shows us why he’s now hosting a talk show! Most Wanted takes a dive with about $3 million for ninth place on its way to the 99 cent racks at the video store. And The Edge is on the edge of the Top 10, dropping an unbearable 45 percent to $2.8 million and pushing The Full Monty off the charts. Monty will probably return next week, when The Edge, Most Wanted and Gang Related join U-Turn, The Game, Wishmaster and The Matchmaker as former Top 10 hits.
Don’t forget to email me when something hits your hot button.

Movie Theaters Load Up on Product This Weekend

Friday, October 3rd, 1997

Movie theaters load up on product this weekend, with four new releases and the expansion (finally!) of L.A. Confidential. As a result, the bottom of the top 10 should be significantly more impressive — last week’s number 10 was G.I. Jane with $1.3 million, this week’s number 10 should do about $3 million. On the downside, none of the new openers look like major successes. Last week’s top three all climbed over $11 million. I don’t expect any films to hit the $11 million mark this weekend.
Look for Morgan Freeman‘s return to chasing psycho killers, Kiss the Girls, to lead the pack with around $10 million. Last week’s surprise hit, Soul Food, may well be the most solid returnee, with incredibly positive exit-poll numbers, dropping just 20 percent to take second spot with $9 million. Last week’s number one and number two spots should take the average 30 percent dips, leaving The Peacemaker at number three with $8.7 million and In & Out in fourth place with $7.9 million. U-Turn, the latest kink from Oliver Stone, should open in fifth, with a soft $6 to $7 million.
In the bottom half of the order, L.A. Confidential and its crew of Oscar nominees-to-be expands its screen count, actually increasing its gross, but not enough to rise above $5.5 million and a sixth-place finish. The second weekend for The Edge should find Sir Anthony falling over the side, dropping 40 percent for a $4.6 million, eighth place finish. Janeane Garofalo, the studio proclaimed “Funniest Woman In America,” couldn’t stand watching her face on a 15-foot screen and walked out of the New York premiere of her first starring vehicle, The Matchmaker (more on that in The Hot Button weekender). Four million bucks and eighth place feels about right for the name-pronunciation-challenged comedienne. Michael Douglas stays in The Game for one more week, dropping another 40 percent to $3 million to take the ninth spot. The naked Brits of The Full Monty may be in their final full-frontal assault on the top 10, round out the deci-leaders with $2.5 million or so.
Top 10 drop-outs look to be (in descending order): The Wishmaster, A Thousand Acres and G.I. Jane.
Have a good weekend at the movies and come back Monday to check out the results. You can even mock me via e-mail.

Weekend Wrap-Up, The Peacemaker, The Edge

Monday, September 29th, 1997

The shock of the weekend wasn’t the explosion of The Peacemaker (more like a firecracker, with a decent, but hardly exciting $12.5 million for number one). It wasn’t the weak opening of The Edge (it was ahead of The Game with $8.2 million, as I predicted on Friday). It wasn’t even that I hit the L.A. Confidential box office draw exactly right ($4.5 million for sixth place)!
The shock of the weekend was Soul Food! An African-American dramedy that did serious business. If Soul Food ends up doing $45 million domestically, it will be a much bigger hit for Fox than The Peacemaker will be at $55 million for DreamWorks. In fact, at a cost of only $7 million, it would be a bigger hit than Waiting To Exhale, which grossed $66 million domestically, but cost $15 million. There are going to be a lot of executives spending their mornings trying to figure out why Soul Food is a hit and the wonderful love jones and A Family Thing missed. Could it be that Vivica Fox is a legitimate movie star? Since Independence Day, this is the fourth straight film she has done that has “opened.” Set It Off (opened at $11.8 million), Booty Call ($8.5 million), Batman & Robin (a Vivica-irrelevant $43 million) and now Soul Food. As good as Vanessa Williams is, her track record is a lot less clear. Congrats to you, Viv. Your price just went up.
In the rest of the box office news, In & Out held up, taking third spot with $11.3 million, dropping only 26 percent. The Game took another 45 percent plunge to $5.1 million and fifth place. Wishmaster hit seventh place with $3.3 million after its take was cut in half, while A Thousand Acres continues to get plowed under and G.I. Jane disappears off the AWAC screens.
Finally, my current pet peeve, L.A. Confidential, and its limited release distribution plan continues to allow the film to dip before it expands out next week, dropping well under $6,000 per screen from $7,100. Here’s a movie with the potential to be a bigger Usual Suspects, but at this rate, it will need Oscar nominations aplenty to match last year’s sleeper’s $46 million domestic gross.
Tomorrow, The Hot Button tackles the news, including some eyewitness Tori Spelling gossip. I’m such a media whore!
E-Mail Dave with the issues that get your button hot!

LA Confidential Emerges as Strong Oscar Contender

Monday, September 15th, 1997

It was no contest as The Game won the weekend box office race. It was the only real contestant. With over $14 million at the box office, it did more than four times as much as G.I. Jane, yet fitting its labyrinthine plot, The Game disappointed. It was Douglas’ best opening since Basic Instinct’s $15.1 million, but movies had a longer theatrical life back then. It was the second best September opening ever, after last year’s The First Wives Club, but Goldie, Bette and Diane did $18.9 million, 35 percent more than The Game. Ultimately, The First Wives Club hit $100 million. The Game won’t come close. Especially with L.A. Confidential coming in hot on its tail.
Speaking of L.A. Confidential, the first of this year’s serious Academy Awards contenders, it has three remarkable features. First, with an Oscar in hand, Kevin Spacey now gets top billing for playing the same kind of small character part he played when he was billed fourth. Second, two Australians, who first became famous for their work as gay men — Guy Pierce in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and Russell Crowe in The Sum Of Us — are now going to be known as hard-bitten L.A. detectives from the ’50s. And third, Kim Basinger really can act. The degree of amazement may not be in the order listed.
Sony’s promoting Gattaca by running realistic print ads for genetic engineering with a small Sony tag on the bottom. Those interested are instructed to call 1-888-4-BEST-DNA. Don’t dial quite yet. The number wasn’t working as of posting time. Seems that there has been some controversy about the ads being too real and somehow insulting those of us who haven’t been genetically engineered. For my two cents, I wouldn’t put my child’s DNA in the hands of a company that couldn’t come up with a better name for a movie than Gattaca.
E-Mail Dave with the issues that get your button hot!