From Warblogger to Wartblogger!
Plus--kf's nominee for a Dem theme.
Kerry would be doing Hillary a favor to run against her, because stuffing the guy who got 59 million votes in 2004 would be a mark of her electoral power come 2008.
Right. Remember the Washington Generals? ... P.S.: But Podhoretz is semi-delusional if he thinks there "will be no room for any Democrat to challenge her" from the Netroots side. ... 10:33 P.M.
Stick Clovis in your Plano, Brokeback-in-the-heartland spinners! Clovis, New Mexico is just the sort of heartlandish town that's supposed to now be in a "swoon over the star-crossed gay cowboys of 'Brokeback Mountain,'" according to [$] NYT columnist Frank Rich. Marlena Hartz of the Clovis News Journal reports on the film's reception:
"Brokeback Mountain" arrived in Clovis on Friday at the Hilltop Twin Theatre. It has grossed $1,400 since it premiered, according to Hilltop employee Stewart Neff. Even for a small theater, that's a low figure, Neff said, especially for a film that has already pocketed a Golden Globe, leads in a number of Academy Award nominations, and is predicted to nab the Oscar for best picture. [Emphasis added]
I was wrong, so wrong, to predict Brokeback wouldn't break the $50 million barrier [v]. But just because Brokeback makes a lot of money does not mean it's accomplished the fabled "red state breakout," notwithstanding the press' eagerness to buy its studio's story line to that effect. You can make a lot of money playing metropolitan centers and the coasts.** The test of whether the film could "Move the 'Heartland'"--the LAT's query, which prompted Rich to predict a "resounding yes"--was always going to come when it went "wide" and expanded into smaller markets like Clovis. ...
P.S.--The 5.8% Oscar Bump: Last night (Friday) Brokeback did an estimated 5.8% more business nationally than the previous Friday, although it showed 26% more theaters. In an ordinary week, that would be a solid performance (given that the added theaters are probably also smaller theaters). But am I crazy to think that 5.8% is not an impressive gain in the week after a film was nominated for 8 Academy Awards? ... Update: Not crazy. Both Variety and BoxOfficeMojo express disappointment with Brokeback's lack of bump. Here's Variety's Ben Fritz:
Three of the four best picture noms still in release got a modest bump out of their expansions, while "Brokeback Mountain" declined despite adding over 400 playdates. ...
As it added 435 playdates to reach a total of 2,089 and hit many small markets where art house pics rarely play, "Brokeback Mountain" experienced a 13% drop despite its Oscar noms.
Meanwhile, Munich increased 11% and Walk the Line, shut out of the Best Picture category, bumped up 13% despite adding almost as many theaters as Brokeback. ... P.S:BoxOfficeMojo's account includes a rare defensive, excuse-making quote from Brokeback's maker, Focus Features, andits head of distribution, Jack Foley:
"We've got a lot of runs that have been playing for a month, and some of these markets are over-encumbered," Foley noted of Focus' highest-grossing picture ever. "So there's a weakness in some of these theaters that are playing out. It's a function of normal attrition, despite the Academy awards stuff. It's the core markets that it's important to sustain."
Wait. I thought this was the big moment when Foley's film was going to go wide and "break out" into the red states, not fall back on its "core markets." Note to Foley: You've been peddling the 'Heartland Embraces Brokeback' story to an eager, unquestioning press for months. This is no time to back down! ...
**:-- Matt Yglesias points out to me [v] it's not simply Hollywood's films that skew "left." Hollywood's audience--largely young people, in cities--skews left also. There's less of a mismatch there than Hollywood critics like Ben Stein and Evan Coyne Maloney like to claim. But this natural congruence also means a film can succeed at the box office without changing many minds in Bush country. ... [Tks to reader S.B.]8:59 P.M.
Photograph of Judith Miller on the Slate home page by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.