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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Weekend Box Office #166

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever greeting makes you happiest.

I'm heading to New York today to see my parents and freeze my butt off.

Opening wide this weekend:

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMONKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL (3656 theaters - opening today). Reviews have been solid, and the kids have to see something. $43.4 million for the 3-day weekend.

SHERLOCK HOLMES (3600+ theaters). They are doing a good job positioning this as something that people want to see, and it should do pretty well. $36.5 million for the weekend.

IT'S COMPLICATED (2800+ theaters). This should hit the underserved adult female audience pretty well, while it looks like something that men won't mind being dragged to. $19.5 million, but it should hold well.

UP IN THE AIR (expanding to 1895 theaters). Should do well. $17.8 million.

NINE (1500 theaters). Reviews have sort of been tepid. Call it $8.2 million for the weekend.


Last weekend, AVATAR made $77 million, and look for it to continue to mint money.

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS? only made $6.6 million; it's nice to see that it and OLD DOGS are suffering because of their lack of quality.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Weekend Box Office #165

So this week is all about AVATAR, which actually doesn't interest me all that much on a story level. But this is the kind of movie whose visual scale might just transcend that; apparently it's just pretty amazing to watch in 3-D, while the reviews have been solid enough to build a lot of interest.

Opening wide this weekend:

AVATAR (3452 theaters). I have no idea how much it might make. It does have to compete with a lot of last-minute Christmas shopping, while if people are smart they'll avoid the 2-D versions of the film, but the 3-D-capable theaters might be packed. Let's call it $52.7 million for the weekend, though I really have no idea.

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS? (2718 theaters). This is supposed to be terrible. call it $8.2 million for the weekend.


Last weekend, the PRINCESS AND THE FROG expanded and did a solid $24.2 million. INVICTUS did only $8.6 million.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Up In The Air

So first things first, in non-spoilerific fashion:

This is a very very good movie. Go see it. Great characters, great acting, all in the hands of a director who knows what he is doing every step of the way. They nailed it.

Now my story.

In March 2001, I read the novel "Up In The Air" for George Clooney's production company.

Now understand that I have read way too much stuff over the last 20 years to remember most of it. I have been in the middle of watching a movie, when I realized that I read the screenplay somewhere along the line, which was usually at least 2-3 years earlier.

But I remembered reading this book. When I heard about the movie being made from the book, the synapse clicked in my brain that said, yes, you read it, it was memorable. Didn't really remember much about the plot, other than it was about a guy who lived most of his life flying around from city to city.

So I went to see the movie, liked the movie, and on some level felt proud that maybe, just maybe, I played a teeny part in putting the movie on George Clooney's radar.

So when I came home, I found the disk with my old coverage, and pulled it.

And found out that I gave the book a thumb's down.


Except maybe not oops. because when I read the coverage, I realized that the movie "Up In The Air" and the novel "Up In The Air" are really pretty different.

Essentially, the creators took what was interesting in the book -- the guy living his life in the air, the fact that he fires people (though that was only one of a number of jobs he had in the book) and pretty much jettisoned the rest. Including a weird plotline about how he is forgetting a lot of things, thinks the airline is messing with him, and turns out to be having seizures. Which was a good cut, because it really didn't work at all.

What was added was pretty much everything. The movie's love interest is barely in the book. The main character's family plays only a tiny role in the book. The character that Anna Kendrick was just Golden Globe nominated for playing is not in the book at all; neither is that whole dynamic between her character and his which works so well in the movie.

The whole thing is actually a fascinating case study of how a movie can come together through development. The basic, primal idea in the novel that was interesting about the character was pulled out, and then a solid storyline was constructed about it.

At the time, George Clooney's production company wasn't doing a lot of that kind of development; as I remember, they were looking for stuff that was a lot closer to being ready. And this wasn't very close to being ready. So my "Pass" was valid.

But Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner sure got it there.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weekend Box Office #164

So this year's Black List came out today. I've read a few scripts on the list, both of which were solid. None of mine were on there; apparently I didn't perform nearly enough sexual favors.

Opening this weekend:

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (3434 theaters, up from 2). Solid reviews, but at the same time it's hard to really see this clicking with non-family audiences. Still it should open well; call it $21.5 million.

INVICTUS (2125 theaters). This seems a little too serious, but reviews are good. $13.5 million, though it should hold well.


Last weekend wasn't a good one for new releases. BROTHERS only did $9.5 million. ARMORED only did $6.5. EVERYBODY'S FINE tanked with only $3.8.

And TRANSYLMANIA only did $264,000 from over 1000 theaters; contrast that with UP IN THE AIR, which totalled $1.2 million from only 15 theaters.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Weekend Box Office #163

The second surgery is done, the eyepatch has been cast away, and I am seeing the world in three dimensions again. Too bad too many of the scripts I read are only one-dimensional.

Opening this weekend in theaters:

EVERYBODY'S FINE (2133 theaters). This is getting pretty good reviews, and the cast is solid, though at the same time it looks a bit small -- and like the kind of movie people will wait for word of mouth about. Figure $12.4 million this weekend, though it might hold steady through the holidays.

BROTHERS (2088 theaters). Solid cast in Maguire, Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman (my wife's future sister-wife), but the reviews have been underwhelming, and it has a sheen of genericness about it. $14.3 million, and it probably won't hold well through the holidays.

ARMORED (1915 theaters). Though it looks like a big b-movie heist tale, the script actually was a Nicholl winner a few years back, so hope is high. Still, the profile is a bit low. $8.1 million.

TRANSYLMANIA (1007 theaters). This is listed in opening, though I have no idea what it is.

Also opening in 15 theaters is UP IN THE AIR, which was just named by the National Board of Review as the best film of the year, and which is on my shortlist.


The 5-day Thanksgiving weekend was better for the holdovers than the new films, particularly THE BLINDSIDE, which crossed the $100 million mark in only 10 days. That sound you hear is people dusting off old uplifting sports scripts.

OLD DOGS made only $24.2 million in its first 5 days. Word got around fast.

NINJA ASSASSIN did $21.2 million. FANTASTIC MR. FOX did only 9.4 million.