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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Color Me Wrong On "Fireproof"

This is a movie that is so low budget that it stars Kirk Cameron, while his female lead is an actress who took a leave of absense from performing at Disney World to do the film.

It opened on only 839 screens, and its presence out here in LA is about as small as the teeny ads for it.

I thought it would tank.


It made $6.8 million over the weekend, good for 4th place -- and it almost edged Lakeview Terrace for third.

It did twice as much as Spike Lee's heavily-advertised movie did -- and that movie opened on almost 300 more screens.

The secret?

The Christian audience.

Filmmakers have been trying to tap into it for a while now, and there is a history of Biblical movies doing well.

But this film is different -- it's a marital drama. It's about a husband trying to save his marriage, and asking God for help.

(Though it probably helps too that he is a fireman, so they had some exciting rescue scenes to put in the trailer).

Obviously there are communities where this film is doing very well, where religious leaders are spreading the word and getting the audience out.

It'll be interesting to see if the movie has legs. Probably not; it'll be lucky if it makes much over $15 million total.

But that's good enough to inspire a flood of this kind of movie. Be interesting to see if the number of scripts I see with a religious edge (which is really extremely low) takes any kind of untick.


Otherwise EAGLE EYE did a very solid $29.1 million, while NIGHTS IN RODANTHE gave a nice kick to the romance genre by bringing in a pretty impressive $13.4 million.

On the other side of the spectrum, THE LUCKY ONES, starring Tim Robbins and Rachel McAdams as veterans returning home from Iraq, opened on about half of the theaters that FIREPROOF did, and did only 1/40th of the box office, bringing in only $183,000.

The audience's near-complete disinterest in seeing anything involving the Iraq War continues.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekend Box Office #103

I'm in a funk, but I'm trying to get over it and post more regularly.

Opening wide this weekend:

EAGLE EYE (3510 theaters). They are pouring a lot of money into advertising, and though reviews have been mixed, there's not much out there to compete with it. Prediction: $18.6 million for the weekend.

NIGHTS IN RODANTHE (2704 theaters). As likable as Richard Gere and Diane Lane are, I feel like I've seen the movie just by watching the commercials. It does skew to an underserved older audience, but they may be home watching the debate tonight. $8.5 million.

MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA (1185 theaters). It's 2 hours 40 minutes long, and most reviews say it's dull. $5.9 million.

FIREPROOF (839 theaters). I have no real idea what this is about, other than that it stars Kirk Cameron as a fireman. $700,000.

Opening on between 100 and 500 screens: CHOKE and THE LUCKY ONES. CHOKE looks interesting; if anyone sees it, drop a comment.


Last weekend, LAKEVIEW TERRACE made $15.o million, MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL did $8.3 million, IGOR did $7.8 million, and GHOST TOWN limped in with $5 million.

So I was actually ballpark, first time in a while.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Weekend Box Office #102

It's nice to have a computer that actually works fast. It's a revelation.

Not much reason to leave the house this weekend:

MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL (2604 theaters). I've seen commercials for this on TV, and I'm still not sure what the premise is. They didn't screen it for critics, and I have a feeling audiences won't be flocking. $7.3 million.

LAKEVIEW TERRACE (2464 theaters). The movie's not supposed to be very good, and I feel like the coming attraction gives away the whole first half. Still, somehow it's the the most interesting of an underhwlming lot. $13.7 million.

IGOR (2339 theaters). Reviews are unenthused. $8.7 million.

GHOST TOWN (1505 theaters). They've been advertising the hell out of it, but it looks like lightweight Ricky Gervais. $4.5 million.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In Computer Transition

So we finally bought a new desktop computer on Saturday, a cheap-ish HP from Best Buy, to replace our ancient Gateway, which in human years needs a walker and doesn't have one.

I'm not a big computer download-frenzy geek. All I need to be able to do is write, go on the Internet, and print. Not major demands.

One out of three? That really isn't working for me.

I bought Microsoft Word for my laptop last year, and successfully loaded the extra copy on the desktop. All good.

But when I went to hook up my DSL, I got a weird error message, and it wouldn't take the disk info.

It also won't recognize the printer driver disk either, despite the fact that it's also an HP.

So after fruitless hours on hold with tech support yesterday afternoon, today I'm going to track down a Geek Squad member, and rough them up if I have too.

Can't be too hard; they have those little spindly geek arms.


I had pages up in group last night, and it went pretty well. My thriller is growing, and I got some great suggestions from the gang last night.

I keep falling off my hour-a-day thing, but I've probably written 9 of the last 11 days, so I'm not feeling like such a lazy ass.


Solid weekend at the box office last weekend. BURN AFTER READING did $19.1 million. TYLER PERRY'S THE FAMILY THAT PRAYS did $17.3 million.

RIGHTEOUS KILL did a pretty good $16.2 million. THE WOMEN did $10.1.

PROUD AMERICAN did $135,000 in 750 theaters. That's $180 per theater for the whole weekend, or about 25 people per theater for 12-15 shows, or about 2 people a show.

So if you're looking for some quiet place to have sex...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weekend Box Office #101

So the interesting thing about the 4 wide-release movies this weekend is that they are all being sold more on the names attached to them than on their plots.

Which could be a good or bad thing, because the reviews for most aren't great.

RIGHTEOUS KILL (3152 theaters). Despite what some ads might have you believe, this obviously isn't the first time these two have been on-screen together; they had several scenes together in HEAT (while they also both appeared in GODFATHER II, though not at the same time. Yikes, that was 34 years ago, I'm old). Unfortunately, this movie's not supposed to be all that good. Prediction: $10.1 million for the weekend.

THE WOMEN (2962 theaters). There's not a man to be seen in this movie. Unfortunately, reviews for this are pretty dire as well. $11.1 million.

BURN AFTER READING (2651 theaters). At least something is getting pretty good reviews, though they aren't doing a very good job selling the hook to the story. $9.3 million.

TYLER PERRY'S THE FAMILY THAT PREYS. Not shown to critics, and like Perry's other movies it's likely to be heavy-handed and melodramatic. But never bet against Tyler Perry. $14.2 million.

PROUD AMERICAN (750 theaters). This is a documentary with uplifting interviews with people about how great our country is. This is a pretty big release (particularly in California) for a documentary without much pedigree. $2.0 million.


Last weekend was one of the most quiet weekends at the box office in the past five years; BANGKOK DANGEROUS came in first, but only did $7.8 million.


Prayers go out to the people around Houston and Galveston. Hopefully anyone in an unsafe situation got the hell out of there.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

$35 to go see a movie? Yikes.

So there was an article in the LA Times this past week about Australian company Village Roadshow Ltd, who are planning to open a trio of "Gold Class" movie theaters in Southern California (in Pasadena, Costa Mesa and Ontario) where admission will cost $35 a ticket.

And you don't even get free popcorn for that.

Actually, it doesn't seem like you get anything free, except I guess the ability to see a movie without the riffraff.

The theaters will be set up with seats next to tables, which limit the seats to 30-40 per theater (which probably explains the high price; most of it probably goes to the movie studio to justify opening a new movie there).

The theaters will serve posh food, but it won't be cheap. According to the article, a mushroom-and-brie pizza and a bottle of beer will run you $28. So if you want to share the pizza with a date, and get her a beer too, you've already dropped over $100, for pizza, a couple of beers and a movie.

The waiters will be black-uniformed, "stealth-like" servers who can be summoned by the touch of a button, and deliver food without disturbing anyone's movie expertise. In theory. I guess ordering is by mime. And you probably have to tip them, too.

Staffing costs will be relatively high, with as many as 30 workers, including chefs and line cooks, on duty at a time and commanding salaries as high as $100,000 a year.

They're going to have to sell a lot of overpriced food to cover that.

Supposedly this works in Australia. But really, won't anyone who can afford this prefer just having a nice expensive dinner somewhere else, and then watch a movie without having to fumble around in the dark for your lobster roll?

Is multitasking really that necessary during leisure time? And is combining dining and a movie really worth paying a $25 surcharge per ticket?

I was a theater manager for 6 years, and I think it's nuts. And doomed to failure.

I guess we'll find out. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Weekend Box Office #100

Rather a bland weekend moviewise for my 100th installment of these things.

The only movie opening wide is:

BANGKOK DANGEROUS (2650 theaters). Nic Cage has made an awful lot of bad movies in the past few years, and given that this one wasn't screened for critics, I don't have high hopes for it. Still, lack of competition might help -- a little. Prediction: $14.4 million for the weekend.


Though last weekend was a holiday weekend, it wasn't a big box office weekend at all. TROPIC THUNDER was the top movie for the third straight weekend, though it is slipping pretty fast.

Of the newbies, BABYLON AD made only $11.5 million in its first 4 days, in a lot of theaters. TRAITOR did about $10 million for the four-day weekend.

DISASTER MOVIE limped in with only $6.9 million in four days; apparently people are catching on that these kinds of non-satire satires just aren't that funny.

COLLEGE did an atrocious $2.6 million despite being in over 2000 theaters.

HAMLET 2 completely tanked, with only $2.1 million from almost 1600 theaters. I saw a lot of commercials for this movie, and it's supposed to be funny, but they couldn't make people want to go see it. While their pushing the whole "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" thing, which seemed like it was geared to try to provoke controversy and get more publicity, seemed to be received with a big yawn by the Christian community.


Rolled out of bed early today, and did some writing. Felt good. Day 1; I'll try to keep it going.


By the way, anonymous posts attacking other posters will be deleted, and whiny posts complaining about these posts being deleted will be deleted as well.

Despite the smell of sour milk and hormones, this isn't a middle school cafeteria.


My brother is a fireman in Anchorage, who sat next to Sarah Palin on a plane once. He says she was a nice woman.

He's still voting for Obama.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Writer's Group I Belong To Needs Another Good Writer --

Again, this group is cool because we have some really good actors cold-reading pages on the stage.

Every Monday night, 4 group members bring in up to 25 pages each, to be read by the actors and commented on by the other writers. We meet in a small theater in Studio City, something that has been going on for almost 5 years now.

There are 16 writers in the group, so you'll be responsible for bringing in pages about every 5-6 weeks or so, because the last Monday of the month is for a full read of a script that has been workshopped through the group.

The big responsibility here is to be able to give this group most of your Monday nights, and show up at least 75-80% of the time. Everyone is friendly, though the notes are generally incisive; you need to be able to smile as your script pages are dissected. Dues are $30 a month.

Writers don't have to be amazing; this group is about learning to a certain extent, and honing one's craft. Though you will be asked to submit a script, and it will need to show some writing skill.

Applicants must have completed and registered 3 screenplays. No TV scripts, multiple authors or adaptations accepted. If you are interested, you can e-mail me and I'll tell you where you can send your scripts.