There are only two movie things to do this weekend, one is witness the return of Tom Atkins to the big screen in My Bloody Valentine 3D, and the other is going to the New Beverly (in Los Angeles, California) to get your sword and sorcery on. I mean, if you’re not at Sundance. The town sort of starts going on vacation when Thanksgiving rolls around, and starts to come back to life after Sundance, so that’s the nice thing about now. Things are starting to spring back to life.



IF CHICKEN LITTLE WERE ON THE INTERNET, WOULD ALEX BILLINGTON WRITE THINK-PIECE “IS THE SKY FALLING?”

As of yesterday, the skirmish over Watchmen and grosses, and such has finally ended. And if the film fails, which it might, this will be one of those things that will be held against it. I’ve always been annoyed about this discussion because a number of people don’t understand what it is, what it meant, and the ramifications of it. Frankly there were none. The deal, and the lawsuit were just money games, and would be settled.

Watchmen has been in development for years and years and years. Paul Greengrass got really close with it, but it seems it will emerge at the right time, when comic book films have saturated the marketplace, and the context of the story will have greater pull. But because of that long period of development, other studios got involved with it, and some may have spent money on that pre-production. Let me put it this way: some of you my have read Kevin Smith’s script for Superman, the draft that was to be for the Tim Burton film with Nicholas Cage. None of those people attached themselves to the movie for free. Kevin Smith got paid to write that, Burton got paid to develop it. So when Superman Returns had a listed budget of around $200 Million, part of that was paying off the people who worked on the development over the years. Sometimes these costs become so staggering the film never gets made because it’s already working from such a deficit that a film can become too expensive to start with. How that accounting works, I’m not entirely sure, as it’s not like those people have their name on the finished version. And often the with people who do have their names on a finished version there’s no guarantee that they wrote any of the dialog or action. Big budget filmmaking is like building Frankenstein’s monster at times.

Fox must have thrown down some time and money to help get Watchmen going. They had to have because they are getting paid out, with back end from the reports. Was this ever going to jeopardize the release? Never. Never. Never. For a number of different reasons. The biggest being that this was going to get settled because everyone has lawyers, and as the settlement suggests Fox had every right and reason to do what they did. Many of the people involved may have felt blindsided by this, but Fox were only dicks in how they unleashed their case. Basically (and as I said last week), like Dukes of Hazzard, you have to wait until the film completed and a release date set to start something like this. If you say to a film company “hey, we own a chunk of this, so you’re going to have to pay us if you make it.” in pre-production, chances are they won’t make the movie. Fox waited until they knew they would get paid.

People can get upset at Fox, and it’s not like they make good movies, or show much creative intelligence over there, or have for a very long time. I don’t give a crap about bashing Tom Rothman, but when you look at the Fox slate for the last couple years (Fox proper, mind you, not Searchlight, which is its own thing), it’s hard not to argue that they haven’t been coating the bottom of the barrel. But Fox was well within their legal rights, and this threat was never going to jeopardize the release date or anything.

I would like to say the talks on the boards have been mostly reasonable on this front. When this has come up arguably the conversation were amicable. But there was some Panic (on the streets of London) for no good reason. and I think it’s because of the question mark that some stories had, which would be this: “What’s going to happen with Watchmen because of the lawsuit?” The answer was always either Fox gets paid, or Fox gets curbed. But you don’t spend a year building a campaign with something like this to give up on any of it. And that was that. The business of the industry tends to be kept on the downlow because the accounting is often kinda goofy, and no one wants their books looked at, though they’re happy to use numbers as a marketing game. When the flowerpot of this town gets lifted, you can see all the critters for a brief second as they scramble out of the sunlight. But that impression is fleeting, and the truth is not revealed.

COME BACK, HAVE FAITH. SOMEONE LIKE YOU CAN FIND THE PREDICTION

The question of the week is: Do people care about Notorious? I care about the artist*, but the film looks like a waste of time, and the reviews are less than good. Then again it’s got the Itis, but in this case, it’s the Bio-Picitis. It should do marginally well this weekend, but die a quick death. Then again, you’ve got a Hotel. For Dogs. If the kids come out to play, that could do some business. But because it’s January, and Marley and Me likely sucked some energy out of this Hotel. For Dogs. I think it’s fair to say this won’t be getting much past $50 in the grand total of things. Kevin James had a TV show on the air for a very long time. He also is friends with Adam Sandler. The ads tell you “Hey, remember this TV guy? You know this movie’s going to be funny, because he’s got a stupid mustache!” The unrated DVD is where Paul Blart: Mall Cop should expect to find an audience. The real winner is likely to be My Bloody Valentine,
even if some people have to see it in 2D. The 3D effects are excellent,
so I can’t recommend it higher, and with January still playing strong
with horror releases, it should be the trump card of the four.

That said, I expect Clint to be standing tall atop this box office with his Gran Torino. And Bride Wars can probably take at least one or two of this films.

So let’s go:

1. Get Offa My Lawn - $22 Million
2. My Bloody Valentine (in 3-D) $19.7 Million
3. Hotel. For Dogs – $15 Million
4. Bride Wars - $13 Million
5. Notorious – $11 Million

Friday numbers will likely put MBV3D in the top slot, but the Saturday-Sunday numbers will take Eastwood back up, I’m-a Guessin. Friday should also be Notorious‘s best day. The Unborn should be on a quick slide out, but if Notorious is taken by PB:MC, don’t be surprised.

*I spared you quoting his lyrics, but you know I can bust an “It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up Magazine” in my sleep. Juicy still gets a crowd ravenous. You can talk about any pop act that still rocks the box, you know, Shorty Get Low, whatever, I doubt they’ll have the staying power of Christopher Wallace. I don’t know if you need a film to memorialize that. All you need is to go to a club and have Hypnotize come on. If it’s 12:30, and the club is jumping, the reaction is always palpable. You watch the guys who may be on the floor but can’t not recite all the words to Party and Bullshit. That means more than some lifetime re-enactment of stories made famous by his lyrics.