Every time I take a big poops, I always think “Poo-free in ’93.” I wish I knew why.


1) Make Sure Your Central Conceit is Simple Enough.

Lakeview Terrace should take the weekend, and partly because the set up is simple. Unlawful Entry with a black cop as the intruder. The films that tend to make money are not super difficult to manage, if they are, they better star a name player and have good advertising in place. If that’s the case, go Oscar, or summer. Otherwise, it’s a dump. When you think about films like The Pacifier, Bringing Down the House, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, or something like Double Jeopardy, these are films that have TV spots that can get across the plot.

2) Dumb It Down

There’s no need to have more than the plot in films like this. Don’t make it challenging for the viewer to understand the central conceit, and don’t get lost in tangents. Strip it down to its bare essentials. This is good for any stretch, but when the plotting gets more elaborate, you start to see people tuning out (see something like Along Came a Spider Vs. High Crimes) if it’s a comedy, sell blatant, or sell the personality. Don’t fuck around, because…

3) The Only Way to Use an A-Player is Against-Type

If you’re going to use a Vin Diesel or Dwayne Johnson, make sure they’re doing something they’re not known for. They might hit “more quadrants,” which is smart when you’re going for a broader net. Ultimately – though March has become a hot zone – if it’s not coming out in the summer or winter, audiences know it’s not meant to be a blockbuster, or a thought-provoker. This is also a good place to put someone super-successful in an ensemble.

4) If You Think You’ve got Oscar Bait, Wait

October is as early as you should go, unless it’s a summer picture. September looks like a castaway title. Sure, you might get that Toronto buzz, but that’s not as good as New York buzz. The best you get out of a September/October release these days is a couple lesser category nods, or a “feels like a fifth place” spot in a major category. Playing through Christmas is unlikely, so there’s a sense of being done. Be careful.

5) You can Headline a Strong Concept Picture with a Unproven Box Office Person if The Concept is Right

You don’t need a Will Smith in a Lakeview Terrace, but where Samuel L. Jackson has his following, he’s not a guaranteed draw. But people will turn out if the material catches them. You don’t want to waste a Matt Damon, or a Russell Crowe in this time-frame. If so, it smells like a let-go, and audience can feel it.

6) Marketing Push

You can never go wrong with a hard sell if you have faith. Hopefully, the advertising is cheaper in the period (though TV’s just coming back), but talk shows and the like are happy to get the talent in dry spells, if they’re not too busy with long-leads. Once you give up, it smells like a dump, or contractual obligation.

7) Realistically, Off-Seasons are the Only Place for a Picture to be Found

Though it hasn’t happened in a bloody long time, you can level out if word of mouth hits. You may not get to that Hundred Million Goal Post, but if you open to a respectable $15, you could play long enough to get to $60-$70. If you didn’t cost too much out the gate, playing to November with slow and steady is never a bad thing. Most pictures open huge and then die, but in the off seasons you see more pictures that will quadruple their opening weekends. Sometimes people just want to go to the movies.

8) Everything I Said is Wrong

There’s no get rich scheme, bitches, but when things work, it’s usually because of what I said.


After last week’s surprising Coen splash, well, things are going to calm a bit. How far will the Coens drop? I’m going to say around 50%, but 70% is not out of the question. But it’s just enough to lead Smauel L. Jackson’s Lakeview Terrace to the crown. I can’t blame Neil LaButte for doing something commercial after the anti-commercial The Wicker Man. Though that was likely the director trying to work within the mainstream. So this time it looks like he gets it rightish.

There’s also the new Dane Cook film. He says he likes the picture, but bad mouths the poster. That sense of distaste will likely travel, and Cook’s star has been on the decline for a while. He didn’t launch, and he’s had a couple of shots. Will reviews favor or help? Hell nah. Ghost Town and Igor seem like dumps. Too bad for Gervais, but Paramount’s not acting like they’ve got a good hand, and so I can see it finding more of an audience at home, as fans will wait to taste the watered down Gervais of a Hollywood rom-com. At least he’s got a film in the works that’s fucking awesome on the page. Igor might attract parents, but only briefly and distractedly. Both should get trumped by Tyler Perry.

What Goes Up, Must Come Down:
1. Lakeview Terrace - $15.5 Million
2. Burn After Reading - $11.2 Million
3. My Best Friend’s Girl - 10 Million
4. Tyler Perry’s Tyler Perry – $9.8 Million
5. Igor – $7 Million

And Sunday, I’ll have a triple mint fudge.