MONDAY AM: Wishing you a joyous New Year, and better quality movies at the box office. (Oh yeah, as if that’s gonna happen. Read my LA Weekly column about 2007′s orgy of sequels coming to a megaplex near you.) At the box office there was very little “new” about the Top 10 movies since all were holdouts. So this 4-day weekend is really about the studios optimizing their heavily marketed assets and getting the most $$$ out of the holiday moviegoing frame. “The rich get richer,” as one b.o. guru told me. The top two films passed $100 million and firmly established Ben Stiller and Will Smith as huge draws. Meanwhile, co-producers Paramount and Dreamworks were singing about their Dreamgirls take of $41.6 million (revised) for its first 8 days of wide release after expanding from 3 to 852 theaters on Christmas Day when it boasted the best single day ever for a musical. The Motown-inspired pic’s studios are embracing exit polls with a 95% favorable rating — the highest execs there claim they’ve ever seen — and collecting reports of cheering and standing ovations from inside theaters in Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Missouri. Finally, Morgan Creek / Universal’s The Good Shepherd, starring Matt Damon and directed by Robert DeNiro, is showing enough strength to soar into 4th place, especially surprising considering its R rating, only 2,218 theater … Read More »
Sorry that posting has been light this past week due to computer problems. Site will return to normal after January 1st. DHD is closing in on 6 million page views!
Oh, by the way, MGM/Dimension’s slasher pic Black Christmas did $3.3 mil in 1,278 theaters. You may remember I was apoplectic when I saw the Christmas Day release date, and the promos making fun of “people who express outrage.” I urged investors in The Weinstein Company, and MGM, to protest this deplorable decision.
Previous: Weinsteins & MGM To Release Xmas Crap
Here are the 4-day Christmas weekend totals, since you’ve been asking:
#1 Fox’s Night At The Museum $43.4 million)
(12.8 mil Monday)
#2 Sony’s Pursuit Of Happyness $23.1 mil)
($8.1 mil Monday)
#3 MGM’s Rocky Balboa $17.6 mil)
($5.3 mil Monday)
#4 Universal’s The Good Shepherd $14.3 mil)
($4.3 mil Monday)
#5 Paramount’s Charlotte’s Web $9.8 mil)
($2.1 mil Monday)
#6 Fox’s Eragon $9.4 mil)
($2.4 mil Monday)
#7 Paramount/Dreamworks’ Dreamgirls $9.0 mil)
($8.7 mil Monday)
#8 Warner’s We Are Marshall $8.7 mil)
($2.5 mil Monday)
#9 Sony’s The Holiday $7.0 mil)
($2.1 mil Monday)
#10 Warner’s Happy Feet $6.5 mil)
($1.4 mil Monday)
TUESDAY AM UPDATE: Well, the answer to whether Dreamgirls could do crossover biz has been answered now that it did a whopping $8.7 million from only 852 theaters on Christmas Day. The movie scored 2nd place among the holiday’s top films (even though many were playing in 3,000+ and 2,500+ venues). Its new cume is $9.6 mil. On Monday, it made over $10K per screen average. Paramount is telling me this is the 3rd best Christmas Day box office on record ever. (Catch Me If You Can did $9.8 in 3,156 theaters, and Ali $10.2 mil in 2,446 theaters.) Pic won’t widen more until January 12th.
MONDAY: I’m hearing anecdotes of packed theaters, long lines and standing ovations from cities around the country now that Dreamgirls has widened to 852 playdates. (That’s 1/4 of the usual big-opening number of venues.) Turns out the Motown musical is scoring a Christmas surprise about both the size and make-up of the pic’s audience. Paramount and Dreamworks had anticipated this story inspired by The Supremes starring Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson doing in the neighborhood of $4.5 mil on Christmas Day. Based on matinees, I’m hearing it could score $5 mil and possibly even $6 mil today. Many theaters sold out 24 hours before December 25th screenings and added a midnight extra to accomodate moviegoers. (Click here for all the weekend box office.) The target audience had been African-Americans, gays and … Read More »
TUESDAY AM UPDATE: Dreamgirls Scores $8.7 Million Surprise, 3rd Best Xmas Day Box Office Ever
Top 10 Xmas 4-Day Wkd Films
Ben Stiller’s comic hit Night At The Museum gave Fox a Christmas gift by opening as the No. 1 movie this weekend with $12.1 million Fri / $12.5 mil Sat / $6 mil Sun to top the box office. Its 3-day pre-Christmas weekend take was $30.6 million. This four-quadrant comedy in 3,685 theaters tracked as the movie to beat for weeks, despite only so-so reviews and poor per screen averages. But the leader board could change dramatically today when DreamWorks / Paramount’s Dreamgirls widens into 852 theaters on Christmas Day. (I’ll have the 4-day holiday figures tomorrow — Museum‘s est. is $38.5 mil.) Still in 2nd place today, Will Smith’s The Pursuit Of Happyness made $5.3 mil Fri / $6.3 mil Sat / $3.2 mil Sun in 2,863 playdates for Sony and what was a $15 mil weekend and a new cume of $53.2 mil. Rocky Balboa‘s 6th time in the ring came in 3rd for MGM after opening No. 1 on Wednesday. After expanding into 3,017 venues, it made $5 mil Fri / $5.2 mil Sat / $2 mil Sun to rake in $12.3 mil this weekend for a new cume of $21.9 mil. Universal’s … Read More »
The FCC late today defended its decision to fine 20 CBS owned and operated television stations $550,000 for airing that Janet Jackson boob shot. According to Reuters, the agency said in a brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit it rejected CBS’s argument that her role in the 2004 Superbowl halftime show didn’t violate decency standards. I, for one, still can’t believe CBS’ lawyers are trying to claim it didn’t know about this in advance when MTV’s website was promo-ing the “shocking” nature of the Justin/Janet duet. It seems a long time ago that the FCC ruled CBS broke its b’cast indecency rules “willfully” and justified the huge fine. U.S. TV network and radio b’casters are supposed to keep it clean between 6 AM and 10 PM, when children are likely to be watching. CBS apologized and paid the fine, $27,500 for each of the 20 stations it owns, but said it was not clued in ahead of time about the stunt and in July appealed the decision. The network contended that, in the past, the FCC had not taken action against fleeting instances of nudity and profanity. The agency denied that its standards for such incidents was subjective.
So David Carr, Oscar blogger in The New York Times, today accuses his Left Coast rival, the Los Angeles Times and its awards sycophantic The Envelope, of cozying up to Dreamgirls to curry favor with David Geffen because he’s bid to buy the paper. First, you’ve got to know that Carr was complaining in the newsroom the other day that his attempts to stir up controversy haven’t been picked up by other websites, so this appears to be yet another, even bolder, try. So I wouldn’t take his salvo very seriously since not even Carr takes his own blog seriously. (Or so he’s also told the newsroom. Which is a pity, given the prominence of his forum.) That said, everyone knows The Envelope sucks up to every film and filmmaker and studio, so where’s the out-of-the-ordinary in that? But, c’mon, Carr himself already bestowed (to my bewilderment) the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars on Dreamgirls in his own blog posting on November 16th. True, he tries to make light of that today, but he predicted back then “that Dreamgirls will become the film that ate the 79th Annual Academy awards. Best Picture? Settled. Directing? Done.” And so on. I, for one, was embarrassed for Carr when he wrote that the morning after … Read More »
FRIDAY AM: Fox’s new Night At The Museum starring Ben Stiller is scoring “very good” matinees today playing in 3,685 theaters, I’m told. It’s certain to be the No. 1 movie at the box office this weekend since it’s a four-quadrant pic (meaning it’s aimed at everyone). MGM’s Rocky Balboa made $3.4 mil for Thursday, a drop of -45% the day after its $6.2 mil Wed opening. Cume now is $9.6 mil. This weekend, Sly may need a lucky punch to finish #3 even though the film expands by 265 additional venues for a new theatre count of 3,017. The expected #2 is Sony holdover The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith and his real-life son in 2,863 venues. Those pics will be ahead of the newcomers: Universal’s The Good Shepherd (2,218 theaters), Warner’s We Are Marshall (2,606 theaters) and Fox holdover, Eragon (3,030 theaters). Also opening this weekend is Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-buzzed Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner Bros., 5 theaters), The Painted Veil (Warner Independent, 4 theaters), No Restraint (IFC, 5 theaters) and Words Of My Perfect Teacher (Intl Film Circuit, 3 theaters).
Previous: ‘Rocky’ Opens With Knock-Out; Tracking Giant ‘Museum’, Great ‘D-Girls’
According to Reuters, a U.S. federal judge in Boston has thrown out a lawsuit by an Iraq war veteran who claimed filmmaker Michael Moore used the veteran’s image without permission in Fahrenheit 9/11. Judge Douglas Woodlock of U.S. District Court in Massachusetts dismissed the suit on Wednesday. It had sought $35 million in damages from Moore, as well as Miramax. The film showed Iraq war veteran Sgt. Peter Damon, who had lost his right arm near the shoulder and much of his left arm, lying in a hospital gurney at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland, saying that he feels pain but that pain-killers given him “take a lot of the edge” off of it. The video clip was originally used by NBC Nightly News for a story about medical treatment for veterans. In Moore’s film, it followed a statement by Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington that “they’re leaving all kinds of veterans behind.”
I knew him in Texas when he was just plain John Bloom. But there was a time when Bloom, as alter ego Joe Bob Briggs, was the god of B (as in bad, blood and boobs) movies as the first drive-in film critic. Now Bloom is telling people he’s working to start up a new cable TV network called “Redrum” that’ll be the first 24-hour cable network devoted to horror, suspense and thrillers. (He claims to be “the acting head of programming.”) I can’t find any info on this start-up anywhere. Problem is, someone already thought of it. Comcast, Sony and Lionsgate launched FearNet on October 31st — targeting 18- to 34-year-olds with films and other attractions on a multimedia platform (on-demand TV channel, website and cellphones). FearNet will offer Comcast digital customers horro shorts and trailers and about 70 hours of movies a month from the studios’ combined libraries. (Sony and Lionsgate together have more than 1,000 horror titles, about half from major studios.) Comcast, which won’t charge for the films — they’ll be supported by ads — will offer FearNet to other cable operators, for a fee. Joe Bob Briggs is still reviewing low-budget movies, still writing a column, still doing books (Profoundly Erotic: Sexy Movies That Changed History is the latest) and still trying his hand at acting. Most recently, he’s been in and around Palm Beach County … Read More »
UPDATE FRIDAY AM: Rocky Balboa made $3.4 mil for Thursday, a respectable drop of -45% the day after its opening. Cume now is $9.6 mil.
Thursday AM: I’m told MGM’s Rocky Balboa started fast with a $6.2 million mid-week opening Wednesday from 2,752 theaters. Early word had been that the matinees were “looking good” since the movie is better than anyone ever expected. Amazing that the franchise still had life in it, especially when the Hollywood studios were telling Sylvester Stallone not to embarrass himself by bringing the character out of retirement for a 6th bout (Although I wish Sly had kept his mouth shut since he made a fool of himself every time he’s been interviewed in recent weeks… especially by dissing Richard Gere.) Stallone knocked out the competition, so Sony’s The Pursuit of Happyness was #2, Paramount’s Charlotte’s Web #3 and Fox’s Eragon #4. But, my box office gurus tell me that, by this weekend, Rocky may only be #3 even though the film expands to 265 additional venues for a new theatre count of 3,017. The expected #1 is Fox’s Night At The Museum, which will be the giant Christmas movie this year, and #2, Sony’s The Pursuit of Happyness. Those pics will be ahead of Universal’s The Good Shepherd, Warner’s We Are Marshall and the holdover from Fox, Eragon. Dreamworks / Paramount’s Dreamgirls is looking great, I’m told, definitely Top 3 during Xmas week even with only 800 theaters. So, by December 26th, it should be … Read More »
Everyone’s talking today about A.O. “Tony” Scott’s rave review in The New York Times (published in tomorrow’s edition) of Clint’s Letters From Iwo Jima. “Utterly original… strikingly intimate… close to perfect.” It’s also, in part, a re-review of Flags Of Our Father as seen within the context of both pics simultaneously. This will have a huge impact on Academy members. But, even though it’s still way too early to prognosticate accurately (despite all the useless Oscar punditry out in the blogosphere already), I don’t believe the review seals the deal for Iwo Jima‘s Best Picture – yet. There is no doubt that this movie firmly establishes Clint as Hollywood’s greatest living filmmaker right now, head and shoulders above everyone else. As to whether anyone needs to give him a statuette yet again to prove that – well, understandably, he may run up against some share-the-wealth and let-someone-else-have-a-shot sentiment. The Academy is just jealous like that.
My latest column, Orgy Of Sequels Climaxing In 2007, takes a snarky look at next year’s knock-offs. Will the public get off? Or is it just studio masturbation? (Yes, I saw today’s Los Angeles Times‘ marathon piece about 2006′s sequel fever. Great minds may think alike, but at least I think ahead.)
Here are excerpts from mine:
“It’s official: Hollywood has run out of original ideas. If you thought 2006 was bad, just wait. In 2007, the studios will give up on birthing blockbusters and concentrate instead on cloning them to knock off lame sequel after lamer sequel after lamest sequel. Familiar titles (see Spidey 3 trailer here) will be followed by so many numbers that filmgoers looking for a Friday-night flick will need a calculator just to figure out which of the threequels (Shrek 3 trailer here) and fourquels they want to see — if any at all. Oh, and if the year of living sequentially doesn’t destroy the movie biz, then the expected labor strike (also a sequel) will. Yes, in 2007, the very idea of original screenplays will become increasingly quaint, like real butter poured on popcorn. (Good timing, because the writers will be camped out on picket lines anyway.) There will be a few nonsequel movies, but those are mostly remakes, biopics or book adaptations. (At least we can all … Read More »
So CBS unveiled details of its 14th season of Survivor (aka “I’ve got two naked guys in the hot tub”) set in Fiji. And the new Mark Burnett-conceived hook (13th season’s was race based, remember?) is once again going to cause controversy, though not necessarily with advertisers but surely with viewers: While one team will live the life of luxury, the other team is left with virtually nothing. Uh, doesn’t that defeat the whole point of the show since the contestants are supposed to live on the edge of civilization and eke out an existence? This high concept doesn’t make any sense, unless its intent is to cause more animosity between tribes. Which may be since the challenges will have contestants beat up each another. Also, the 19 survivors (more than before) range from a Harvard-educated lawyer to a once homeless street performer. Also, hard-core Survivor aficionados will understand this: Exile Island will be even more rugged, crawling with thousands of deadly sea snakes, while two immunity idols (not just one) will be buried there. What I’d really like to know is when will unannoying Jeff Probst stop traveling hither and yon and replace Regis as co-host with Kelly Ripa. They had great chemistry when Probst filled in for Philbin one week.
Jerry Seinfeld is fascinated by animation, and technology in general. His most recent DVD “Season Six” boxed set included animated versions of some of the more memorable episodes of his sitcom Seinfeld – re-imagined and drawn as “Sein-imation;” that is, stick-figure cartoons, using the original cast voices. But it’s still surprising that the comedian has been quietly busy for the past three years writing, producing and starring in a movie for DreamWorks Animation SKG — an animated movie. Called the Bee Movie, there’s already a funny promo, featuring Jerry in a bee costume and Chris Rock in a cameo. It says the pic is ”trying to open November 2007″. So here’s the plot: Barry B. Benson (voiced by Seinfeld) is a bee who has just graduated from college and is disillusioned at his lone career choice: making honey. On a special trip outside the hive, Barry’s life is saved by Vanessa (voiced by Rene Zellweger), a florist in New York City. As their relationship blossoms, he discovers humans actually eat honey, and subsequently decides to sue mankind. “I think I’m bringing a different humor sensibility to an animated movie,” Seinfeld told the latest issue of Newsweek. “There’s a lot of attitude in the jokes, the same way it was on the show.” Even though he stays in NYC, he says he keeps tabs on the production via computer screens connected to Dreamworks in California … Read More »
Here are more details from Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett talking about their 2007 reality show (see video). (In case you didn’t know it already, Spielberg is a Reality TV mega-fan, especially of Burnett’s Survivor.) Too bad it’s on Fox where everything new — except American Idol and 24 — goes to die. It’s part Idol, part Apprentice and, hopefully, not anything like Ben Affleck/Matt Damon’s HBO-aired Project Greenlight, which was such a snore. On The Lot chooses 16 young film directors to battle for a shot at a $1 mil development deal with DreamWorks. The wannabes will work in four teams, and shoot a short film in every genre each week. With one member selected as the director and other members helping produce, they’ll have access to the best resources the studio has to offer. A pool of professional writers, cast and crew will be made available, and if the contestants are resourceful enough, they may even be able to land Hollywood celebrities to star in their films. But with the clock ticking, and other teams working with the same genre or premise, they’ll all need to match their vision with decisiveness, execution and flexibility. The competition will air on two nights weekly. The films will be shown and critiqued in front of a live audience during the one-hour “Film Premiere” episode. On the half-hour “Box Office” results show, the director of the losing feature will be sent home, leaving that … Read More »
Look, I hate it when a Hollywood studio has a good year. Where’s the snark in that for me? So it greatly pains me to regurgitate the press release that Sony Pictures Entertainment had a humongous record-breaking year. With its 13th #1 release (The Pursuit of Happyness), the studio’s box office receipts for 2006 breaks the all-time motion picture industry U.S. box office record for a single year. SPE’s box office receipts for 2006 have passed $1.573 billion, it was announced today by Jeff Blake, chairman, worldwide marketing and distribution for the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group and vice chairman of SPE. In passing the industry record, which Sony set in 2002, the studio launched 13 films to opening weekends of more than $20 mil, another industry record smashing the old record of 8 films set in 2004 by Sony and Universal, and surpassed more than $3 billion in global ticket sales for the first time. Sony Pictures now holds the top two years in the all-time domestic box office record books. Sony’s 2006 slate, which consisted of 27 motion pictures, has been controlling over 18% of all tickets sold in the United States and Canada. SPE has seen four films open to more than $40 million in the US and Canada; ultimately, each exceeded more than $100 million in domestic box office – including Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Click, The DaVinci Code, and Casino Royale.