Saturday, August 2, 2008

Friday Numbers and the Melissa Leo 'controversy'

The list

Not much to report. Mummy 3 will do between $40 and $45 million, The Dark Knight will do the same (the two will duke it out for number one), and Swing Vote is toast (only $2 million yesterday).

Oh, and Midnight Meat Train did a whopping $94.12 per screen on 102 screens. It's no secret that Lionsgate buried the Clive Barker-approved adaptation as part of an effort to move away from the horror genre, and buried it is (those 102 screens were mostly second-run and/or dollar theaters). Basically they got a $350 million loan and want to use to it to try to become a major studio, as opposed to a niche home for R-rated horror, Tyler Perry, and the occasional Oscar bait (expect the latter two to stick around though). Still, expect this film to attain cult status on DVD as 'the film that Lionsgate wouldn't let you see' or 'the film that was too extreme for theaters'. In Lionsgate was smart, they'd hold off the October DVD release and use the allegedly decent horror vehicle as the star attraction in their next 'After Dark Horrorfest' this fall (they screwed the pooch last year by advertising and then not including Frontiers).

Alas, the allegedly wonderful Melissa Leo vehicle Frozen River pulled in a mere $17,000 on seven screens. It'll finish the weekend with about $50,000 for a $7,000 per screen average. Oh well, I hope this vastly undervalued actress gets an Oscar nomination anyway. And, as for Tom O'Neil's insane rants about her being a diva because she got into a emotional disagreement with her female director, would this even have been news had the star and director been male? Oooh... cat fight, screams the bored male columnist!

All things considered, it's amazing that Melissa Leo isn't actually a grump. Remember, this is a woman who was fired from her leading role on Homicide: Life On The Streets after five years (at which point the show immediately ceased being the best damn show on television). The firing was partially because she wasn't officially sexy enough and partially because her ex-boyfriend was stalking her and NBC didn't like the negative publicity . Who's the ex-boyfriend? John Heard, who still works regularly on various NBC television shows, more often than Leo. The ex-boyfriend is bonkers, so they fire his ex-girlfriend, but continue to employ the offender.

When I first moved out to LA in late 2004, I actually spent two days on the set of Mr. Woodcock as an extra, and she had a small supporting role. She was on set the whole time and was nothing if not courteous. Everything I've seen and read suggests she's a class act and this sounds like a bit of sexism at its basest.

Scott Mendelson

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