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

Friday, March 28, 2008

Weekend Box Office #77

Some interesting movies opening this weekend:

SUPERHERO MOVIE (2960 theaters). Craig Mazin over at Artful Writer wrote and directed this, which means it's likely to be more consistent and funnier than "Epic Movie", "Date Movie" and that ilk. Should do pretty well. $19.3 million.

21 (2648 theaters). I read the book, which was good; the movie is supposed to be okay. $14.6 million.

STOP-LOSS (1291 theaters). It's getting good reviews (it's directed by Kimberly Pierce, who did BOYS DON'T CRY), and they are advertising the hell out of it. Still, the subject matter is tough. $6.5 million.

RUN FAT BOY RUN (1133 theaters). It's getting okay reviews, despite being a British comedy directed by David Schwimmer (?!?). But I'm not sure there are enough big Simon Pegg fans out there. $3.9 million.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Good News

My wife's minor surgery went without a hitch, so after camping out at the hospital for 6 hours yesterday we're back home. Weight off my shoulders.

Meanwhile, work is starting to pick up. I had a great meeting with some execs from a big movie company the other day, who seem willing and happy to bury me in work.

So the deluge may be about to begin, finally. I will try to fit in some $60 notes along the way, however, particularly for those trying to get their scripts ready for the Nicholl.

As for writing, I was able to pound out a rough draft of my low-budget thriller. I'm hoping to find time in the next week to devote a chunk of time to taking it apart scene-by-scene and making sure it all works as well as I think it's getting.

I'm also trying to get up the courage to watch the DVD of the Anthony Hopkins (wrote-directed-starred in) film "Slipstream", which is on my stack of things to review. I've heard it's ponderous and incomprehensible. Has anyone seen it?

Monday, March 24, 2008


It was a very quiet weekend.

For some reason, reading work hasn't really picked up all that much since the end of the strike; it may be a combination of fear of an actor's strike this summer and the fact that the economy sucks.

As it is, it was a good thing I didn't have much work this weekend (maybe even arranged, for those who believe in a higher power). Because my wife has been sick, with a very painful "women's problem" that has demanded a string of doctor's visits, including another one this afternoon.

So I've been free to ferry her around, and cook for her, and help her out, and play Scrabble with her, and rub her back. Which is always a good thing.

Though a little work will help. Hopefully she'll be well enough to go back to work in a few days, and the God of Spousal Responsibility will then grant me a pile of stuff to read.

I do have a meeting Tuesday afternoon with a company that looks like they are going to start giving me work, which will be nice.

Meanwhile, I've been wrestling with the low-budget thriller that I thought was finished, until last month's actor read made me see that it really wasn't.

So I'm doing some major fleshing out of some of the story elements, and it all seems to be getting better, more intricate, and even more surprising, all of which suits this piece well. And the slowed-down pace and lack of other people's scripts to think about has freed my brain to chew over the script at random moments, leading to some interesting thoughts as well.

So things aren't all bad. But if we're friends and you haven't heard from me for a while, apologies, it has been a long month or two.

Let's do brunch.


Over the weekend, MEET THE BROWNS made about $20 million, pretty close to what I expected. SHUTTER did $10.7 and DRILLBIT TAYLOR did $10.2, well under what I predicted; I'm not sure what I was thinking.

UNDER THE SAME MOON made $2.6 million (in only 266 theaters), a record opening weekend for a Spanish-language release.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Weekend Box Office #76

Should be a fairly busy weekend at the multiplexes, though I'm not sure I want to see any of these.

DRILLBIT TAYLOR (3056 theaters). The most interesting thing about this movie is that it is co-written by Seth Rogen, which for some reason they aren't putting in the commercials. It's another Judd Apatow production, which is a plus for me, but the commercials really seem geared toward bringing in young boys, and I haven't seen enough that makes me want to rush out and see it. $15.3 million for the weekend.

SHUTTER (2753 theaters). The commercials make it look like it's scary, but they also make it look like all the other Japanese-influenced horror films, while it's PG-13. Still, I think it'll do okay. $16.8 million.

TYLER PERRY'S MEET THE BROWNS (2006 theaters). Tyler Perry is a force to be reckoned with, and I think this will wind up being number one for the weekend. $19.6 million.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This is a gloomy post. Fast-forward if you aren't in the mood.

For much of my first four decades, I lived a rather charmed life, in one way: I had no friends or family who passed away.

Now I'm 44, and wow has that changed.

Several years ago, I lost my best friend, who passed away one night due to (they think) a heart ailment. He was 40.

My wife lost her best friend to epilepsy; she was in her 30s. Two people out of our small wedding party, gone.

Another close friend has a wife battling cancer. And this past week, I learned that another college buddy has weeks/months to live because of cancer as well.

For years my friends and I would get together on Saturday nights and play poker, something that continued whenever I returned to New York. Now, out of those 5 other regulars, one is dead, one is dying, and one has a wife in bad shape. And we're all in our mid-40s.

I never felt old, until now.

I'm still lucky. My parents are in their 70s, and still alive. And all their siblings (my dad has two sisters; my Mom has two brothers and a sister) are all still alive too. My brother and sister are doing fine; I have about 15 cousins, and none have passed away.

I'm not sure what the odds of that are, but it's pretty amazing.

Yet there seems to be something suddenly wrong with my generation, the small circle of my immediate longtime friends, and it's putting me into a funk.

Yesterday, director Anthony Minghella died. He was 54. I knew his daughter when I read for Miramax.

I know, life goes on, etc. But it still makes me sad, and I hate funerals.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Weekend Box Office #75

I've been working a lot, so I haven't been writing -- or blogging -- much. I need to do more of both.

I was going to go out to the movies with the wife tonight, but looking at the options, we were both rather underwhelmed.

Today's new wide releases:

HORTON HEARS A WHO (3954 theaters). That's a lot of theaters, and I guess kids will go see this. But honestly, despite a talented cast, this just looks sort of dumb, and today's LA Times review says that all the sarcasm pretty much undercuts all the themes of the story. Someday they'll make a good movie out of a Dr. Seuss tale; at least they didn't try to do this live-action, like Cat In The Hat or The Grinch, so that's an improvement right there. Prediction: $46.7 million for the weekend.

NEVER BACK DOWN (2729 theaters). They are advertising this a lot, though it looks like a pretty generic guy-fighting movie. Maybe it'll do $10.1 million.

DOOMSDAY (1936 theaters). I'm not entirely sure what this is, other than a apocalyptic future kind of thing; is it a videogame? It wasn't shown to critics, which is generally a bad sign, while it's going to lose a big chunk of its young male audience to Never Back Down. $3.4 million.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Saw a Good Movie Last Night --

The wife and I voyaged over to the multiplex, to see 10,000 BC -- her choice.

Fortunately it was sold out. Lucky for us.

Because, trying to find something that was starting soon that was worth seeing, we compromised on "The Bank Job", and it turned out to be very good, an engrossing combination of heist film and other stuff.

I'm not going to dissect it, because it's best seen without knowing much about it. But it's worth seeing.

Jason Statham does very good work here -- he's a very charismatic actor who usually plays thugs, and it's nice to see him out of the actoion movie arena for once.


Before the movie, there was a trailer for a horror/thriller, about a guy who witnesses someone killing people on the subway, and (apparently) pieces together the fact that this guy is killing people, chopping them up and selling them as food.

Which I guess is workable, except at the end, when they revealed the title -- "Midnight Meat Train" -- everyone just laughed.

It's a bad sign when your non-comedy title gets a laugh in a movie theater.


10,000 BC made an estimated $35.7 million for the weekend. Watch it drop like a stone next week, because word is getting around.

College Road Trip made an okay $14 million. The Bank Job did $5.7 million. Miss Pettigrew did $2.5 million.

Semi-Pro dropped a fairly shocking 61% in its second weekend. Apparently people aren't feeling it.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Weekend Box Office #74

This weekend's offerings:

10,000 BC (3410 theaters). This is supposed to be a little silly but ultimately solid dumb adventure fun, and given the lack of much else out there, it'll probably do well. $37.9 million for the weekend.

COLLEGE ROAD TRIP (2706 theaters). Martin Lawrence fatigue is already starting to set in, and it's only March. It'll get some kids, but hard to see this being a big hit. $8.8 million.

THE BANK JOB (1603 theaters). Reviews have been solid, but it's on less than half the screens of 10,000 BC. Call it $7.4 million.

MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY (535 theaters). This seems to skew old and female; I'm not sure how big that audience really is. $1.8 million.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Everyone Needs a Hook, Even If It's Not a True One

Two stories jumped out at me from the LA Times today.

One is about a woman named "Margaret B. Jones", who wrote a recently released memoir called "Love and Consequences". It detailed the story of her life, a half-white, half-Indian girl lost to the foster care system, who found herself selling drugs for the Bloods in South Los Angeles at age 12.

Sounds moving and compelling, no? Unfortunately, when her sister read a profile of her in the New York Times, she blew the whistle. The woman actually grew up with both her parents in Sherman Oaks, and went to a private school. No drugs, no Bloods, no foster care; she isn't even half-Indian.

The book has been pulled from shelves, and her book tour, which was to start today, has been canceled.

The other story is about chef Robert Irvine, the host of "Dinner: Impossible" on the Food Network. Turns out that he made up a lot of the major stuff on his resume, and that his claims that he cooked for Presidents and Britain's Royal Family never actually happened.

The network announced that it wouldn't renew his contract, which runs through the end of the season, though it will continue airing already-filmed episodes. Though they also said that they might revisit this at the end of the season, which means that if no one really cares that much, he'll probably keep his job.

So why do people lie? Easy. Because that's how you get these jobs.

Though the publisher claims that they had no idea that the memoir was fictional, I guarantee that someone, somewhere along the line told this woman that her own story was boring, and that she needed to come up with a much more moving one. And that it would have a better chance if she claimed that it was true. And sure enough, she got published.

If you're Robert Irvine, you boost the resume because you are trying to seem different and special, and, again, it worked. Until it didn't.

Diablo Cody is interesting because she used to be a stripper. Never mind that she only stripped for a little while, just so she could write about it; she was a stripper. It's her hook, as is her name, which isn't the one she was born with.

I've had some meetings as a writer, and people introducing me to other people always make it sound like I'm more experienced and interesting than I actually am. Because this way it justifies their getting these people to meet with me.

It's probably something that I should be doing more of myself. Not lying about my resume, but spinning things in more-interesting fashion.

Because, don't lie to yourself, it's the business that we're in. It's all about sticking out from the crowd in a good way.

Just like a script that you write needs to stick out as well. It needs to grab someone by the lapels and scream "watch me". Or at least "make me and people will flock to see me".

The thing about a screenplay is that what's inside is never a lie (unless you are claiming it's based on a true story. Then it's just usually a lie).

But if you find yourself describing a version of your screenplay that is more interesting than the one that you have actually written, then you'd better write that interesting version.

Meanwhile, I'm going to go work in a massage parlor, just so I can say I did. Happy ending, anyone?