a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays

I hope everyone is traveling safe, and is having a good holiday season.

I'll be out of touch for a few days while my DSL gets re-routed to the new apartment. We're still moving, and I'm still struggling with the ankle.

Next year is the year I sell a script. All y'all, too. If this damn strike ever gets settled.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Weekend Box Office #63

So it's going to be a very busy weekend at movie theaters this weekend, as everyone who has gotten their holiday shopping done (and some that haven't) escape the cold and/or the holiday stress and see a flick.

Along with holdovers I AM LEGEND and ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS, which should both easily break $25 million for the weekend, these films are opening wide:

NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS (3832 theaters). Early buzz is that it's better than the first (which I never saw, but which did pretty well at the box office), and it seems like the kind of breezy comic adventure that people are in the mood for. $49.7 million.

WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY (2650 theaters). An article in yesterday's LA Times said that this and the next two movies would be battling for fifth place this weekend, and that none might break $10 million. I think WALK HARD will beat them handily. $18.9 million.

CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR (2574 theaters). Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts are appealing actors, but I'm not sure Universal has figured out quite how to sell this yet. Still, it should do around $13.0 million.

P.S. I LOVE YOU (2454 theaters). It's a big weekend for punctuation in titles. Even though this movie looks like it might ultimately be uplifting, I'm not sure people will flock to see a film about a woman getting over a dead loved one during this holiday season. $6.9 million.

SWEENEY TODD (1249 theaters). I think that there is a big wanna-see factor with this, though the screen count is pretty low. Still, figure $14.2 million.

And then opening wide on Christmas Day are THE WATER HORSE (2772 theaters), ALIEN VS. PREDATOR - REQUIEM (2563 theaters) and THE GREAT DEBATERS (1164 theaters). And JUNO is expanding to 994 theaters.

Anyone that sees any of these, report in; there are a lot of choices to make, and a lot of movies that will be seen or missed.

If you see me limping around a theater, say hi. Though I may have to find an unpopular movie, so I have a place to put my crutches.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Recovering... slowly.

After a long weekend of swollen-foot blues, I saw another doctor today, who said that I was healing, that there don't seem to be any tears, but that I sprained a ligament badly and it's still going to be another few weeks before I'm walking around.

And that the pain I was feeling on the side of my lower leg was the brace rubbing, and not the actual injury.

Which is all good news, and he gave me a better brace. He also rolled his eyes at the urgent care doctor I saw last week, particularly the fact that the guy had given me the completely-conflicting advice of not putting any weight on the ankle and yet trying to get me walk with a cane (I couldn't, naturally, and went to crutches instead).

The biggest pain is that we still have to move in the next few weeks, which is going a bit slowly, since I am unable to do simple things like carry boxes out to my car and carry them in to the new place. So I've been enlisting people, including my aging mother-in-law, who helped bring over a couple of laundry baskets full of DVDs today on the way to bringing me to my doctor's appointment.

(In terms of mothers-in-law, I'm a very lucky man).

So my immediate focus is limited to packing, healing, moving and Christmas. I did a smidgen of writing the other day, but the whole hour-a-day bit is on hold again. I have a few scripts to read for people, but industry work has shut down, more due to the season than the strike at this point.

Anyhow, anyone who wants to help me move boxes this week, send up a flare. Lunch is on me.


I AM LEGEND made a huge $77 million for the weekend. ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS made a scarily-good $44 million (imagine if had been a good movie?).

THE PERFECT HOLIDAY made only $2.2 million, in 1307 theaters. Compare that to JUNO, which made $1.4 million in only 40 theaters.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Weekend Box Office #62

So the big question this weekend is how much I AM LEGEND will make. Will Smith in a movie is becoming about as automatic as it gets.

I AM LEGEND (3606 theaters). They are selling this well, without giving much away about the story after the first half-hour. It'll be huge. $52.7 million for the weekend.

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS (3475 theaters). This looks like it is skewing really young, though there's not that much competition for the family audience, other than Christmas shopping. $17.9 million.

THE PERFECT HOLIDAY (1307 theaters). This looks a lot like THIS CHRISTMAS, which is still playing in almost 2000 theaters. $5.3 million.

Also opening, in limited release: THE KITE RUNNER and YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH.

JUNO continues its expansion. Someone e-mailed me what must be an early version of the script, because the "homeskillet" line is said by a teenage girl and not the Rainn Wilson character. I didn't want to read it until I saw the movie, but I started looking at it, and read 9 pages before I pulled myself away.

As much as some may whine about Diablo Cody getting too much press for her stripper past, she's a pretty good writer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ouch (Pt. II)

(Which sounds like a classic Little Richard song. Go ahead, sing a few bars.)

So I went to see the doctor today, just to make sure that there were no broken bones. X-rays reveal that there don't seem to be, which is good, though the doctor was concerned because I had sore spots on both sides of my ankle.

It's likely I sprained/strained (not sure what the difference is) ligaments on both sides, though worse on one side than the other. Hopefully I didn't tear anything, though if things don't improve in 10 days, they may do an MRI.

I tried to rock the cane, but I still can't put any weight on the ankle, so the cane wasn't rocking. So I got a pair of crutches. My wife is currently out buying Aleve, IcyHot and fluffy sponges to tie around the top of the crutches, because they are already killing my armpits.

It's going to be a long week. But it is feeling better than it did yesterday, and I have always been a pretty quick healer.

And fortunately there's no reason that I can't spend the next week cocooned in the apartment, reading scripts, watching TV and healing for the move.

But wow, do I hate this staircase, more and more each day.

Thanks to everyone who sent advice.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Strike news is so depressing that I prefer to talk about myself instead.

So the good news is that the wife and I found another apartment, and signed the lease yesterday. This one's in North Hollywood too. Nice little place, and they gave us two free weeks of rent.

Which is cool, because we have three weeks of overlap on both apartments for the move.

So the move will be easy-peasy. Except --

Last night, I went to drop some stuff off at the new place, since it is just up the road from where my Monday night group meets.

So I was late to the group, and had to park three blocks away.

Then, dumb me, I decided to jog, so I wouldn't be late. Down a dark, apparently cracked sidewalk.

Bad move. Because I did something to my ankle, and felt it when I did it.

It went this way, then that way.

I settled down into a limp, and initially it seemed okay, a bit tender, but crisis averted. Went to the group. Some discomfort, no pain.

At the coffee break, roughly 90 minutes after it happened, I walked down the street to a cafe with another writer. The ankle was a little swollen, but I could still walk on it without any real trouble.

When we returned to the theater, a few other people ran next door and got me some ice. So I iced it and elevated it for the next 90 minutes.

And then couldn't put any weight on it.

Got a ride to my car, and drove home (it was my left ankle, fortunately). Hopped to the apartment.

Spent the night in some pain, icing it with a big bag of expired frozen broccoli, and sitting on the couch because the bed was too uncomfortable. Didn't sleep much.

The worst thing is that though we handily have some rolling chairs to move around in, we live in a townhouse. The couch and the TV are downstairs, and all the toilets are upstairs.

The stairs feel really long when you have to hop/crawl up them.

So the swelling seems down a bit this morning, and I can wiggle my toes and everything. I'm torn about going to the hospital, because I have a feeling they'll just tell me to stay off it and give me some crutches, and though the latter would sort of be helpful, they'd still only minimally help in this apartment.

Unless I should go to the hospital if something might be wrong that isn't going to heal by my sitting around and letting it heal.

So if anyone has some knowledgable advice/horror stories, roll them out there. Meanwhile, since I'm upstairs now typing this, I'm going to crawl into bed.

And hope this gets better fast enough not to impede the whole packing/moving process.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Weekend Box Office #61

The only thing opening wide this weekend is THE GOLDEN COMPASS, in 3528 theaters. It's obviously going to do well, but how well is the question.

I'm not sure enough people are familiar with the books, while since it doesn't come across as as much of a family movie as NARNIA, I'm not sure it is hitting any audience dead-on.

Still, a lot of theaters, a lack of new competition... call it $34.1 million for the weekend.

Opening in limited release is a slew of new movies, including ATONEMENT (32 theaters), JUNO (7 theaters) and GRACE IS GONE (4 theaters).

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Greedy Landlords Suck

Last Saturday, we went out hunting for a new apartment; we have to be out of this place by the end of the year, because the whole complex is being renovated.

So my wife printed out a bunch of good places from Westside Rentals, made a few calls, and we headed out last Saturday to see a few apartments (as well as scout out the neighborhoods they are in).

The second apartment we saw was in North Hollywood, and we thought we struck gold. The living room was smallish, but the two rooms upstairs were huge, with big walk-in closets. And it had a big two-car garage. The rent is around the upper limit of what we wanted to spend, but the neighborhood was perfect, and the lady who owns the place (Maria) seemed very nice.

We applied, and Monday she called, to tell us it's ours. We made arrangements to meet in a couple of weeks to sign the lease and drop a big cashier's check on her.

Cool. Great. A place to be excited about, and now we don't have to worry about finding a place, so that hassle is eliminated.

Not. So. Fast.

Today Maria calls, and says that her "partner" (someone she'd never mentioned before, and who I'm not entirely sure exists) thinks the apartment is worth more, and now the rent is $100 more.

Bait and switch much?

I told my wife when she came home for lunch, and she was pissed. Because though we wanted the place, and could probably swallow the extra bucks, who wants a landlord like this?

Particularly since -- get this -- the apartment has been sitting empty for a year because she was using it for storage.

So we reported her to Westside rentals, and this weekend we get to go out and search for another place in the same general area.


I hope her new higher-paying tenants turn out to be the tenants-from-hell. Because that would be karma.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I Need To Write More

For a while this fall I was really in a groove. I wrote at least an hour a day for several months.

Recently, not so much. At all.

I'm not really sure why. One reason was because I finished the low-budget thriller I was working on, and tried to segue into the script I'm writing with a (long-distance) friend, and that's not clicking all that well (both the script and the writing partnership). Plus the project is really a tough one to crack and figure out the right tone and story, and I think we're just barely starting to get there now. Though we're trying.

So it's inching along, but since the last time I brought it into my screenwriting group (2 weeks ago) I haven't done much work on it.

So when a friend from my screenwriting group called 2 days ago and begged me to take one of her slots last night, I said yes, even though I didn't have anything new to bring in.

So I bravely brought in something from 5 years ago, a script that I liked a lot of, but which never worked. A fantasy-comedy-drama sort of in the genre of the mediocre Nic Cage movie "Family Man" (though I actually thought of this idea first, and it's not THAT similar).

And the reading went well. The actors had a lot of fun with it, and some of the humorous bits played pretty well (I was a lot funnier five years ago). I actually thought that maybe it worked better than I thought.

But then the writers tore it apart.

Bless them, because they were right about the key things that simply don't work. I'm much, much better at seeing the flaws in someone else's work than my own.

But now I think I found a jumping off point to make it work.

But I still want to nail this writing project with the friend.

But time is going to be crunching. Because the building I live in is doing renovations, we're moving at the end of the month. I hate moving.

We found a new place in North Hollywood, which means that we'll actually be living near people. Plus there's better parking, which was a nightmare in Woodland Hills.

So locals can expect more socializing. And poker.

But man, I have to write. An hour a day, every day, even during the move. Today is day 1.


The past weekend at the theaters was fairly blandly predictable. ENCHANTED made $16.4 million, and nothing else made more than $8.2 million (BEOWULF). AWAKE did only $5.8 million.

Things should be picking up this weekend; among other things, JUNO opens in limited release. I was interested to see that they turned the Sherman Oaks Galleria multiplex into an Arclight; has anyone been there yet?