THE MALTESE FALCON Premieres on 10/3/1941
When Warner Bros. was casting THE MALTESE FALCON, which premiered Oct. 3, 1941, their first choice to play Sam Spade was George Raft — not Humphrey Bogart.
Raft, a big star since 1932’s SCARFACE, passed on FALCON because he didn’t want to risk working with a first-time director. That fledgling filmmaker was John Huston, who went on to direct 37 movies, including 1949’s TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, for which he won Oscars for directing and writing. To skip FALCON, Raft used a clause in his contract enabling him to avoid doing remakes.
FALCON’s roots have been forgotten over the past 80 years, but at the time it was well known that this was a remake of WB’s 1931 THE MALTESE FALCON, based on the same Dashiell Hammett novel about private eye Sam Spade. Spade was based largely on Hammett, whose real first name was Samuel. He’d worked for about seven years, starting in 1915, for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, winding up at their San Francisco branch before leaving to write detective fiction. FALCON, his third novel, began in September 1929 as a five-part series in Black Mask magazine. Hammett’s next book, 1931’s THE GLASS KEY, was filmed twice by Paramount. His 1934 novel, THE THIN MAN, spawned a six film franchise at MGM, starring William Powell & Myrna Loy, from 1934-47.
1931’s FALCON starred Ricardo Cortez & Bebe Daniels in the roles Humphrey Bogart & Mary Astor played 10 years later. Hammett’s story is the same in both films, but the 1931 version preceded Hollywood’s Production Code and could show things not possible in 1941 — like the scene where Bebe Daniels is forced to strip after being accused of stealing a $1,000 bill by Kasper Gutman (Dudley Digges in the original and, famously, Sydney Greenstreet, in his film debut at age 61). When it’s clear she doesn’t have the money on her, Spade gets Gutman to admit he palmed it, himself.
Actually, the classic FALCON was WB’s third version of the novel. Besides the 1931 film, there was the 1935 crime comedy SATAN MET A LADY, starring Bette Davis & Warren William. The characters’ names were different and instead of a jewel encrusted falcon coated with black enamel, they were after a ram’s horn filled with jewels.
It’s easy to see 1941’s FALCON on cable or DVD, but the 1931 version’s a challenge to find — unless you know that in the ’50s WB changed its title to avoid confusion for TV sales with the classic remake. So look instead for DANGEROUS FEMALE and you might get lucky.
Box Office Results
Weekend Results... 10/1 - 10/3
Kicking off the fourth quarter of 2021 with a vengeance, Sony’s VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE amassed a staggering $90.1 million in its opening weekend. This beats the debut of the original VENOM, which opened to $80 million back in October of 2018. Finishing second with a somewhat disappointing $18 million was THE ADDAMS FAMILY 2. SHANG-CHI cleaned up third place by taking in $6 million in its fifth weekend. The weekend’s other new opener THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK mustered a mere $5 million. Warner Bros. also made MANY SAINTS available on HBO MAX, and prequel to the iconic TV series THE SPROANOS failed to establish itself as a “must see” feature on the big screen.
VENOM 2’s huge opening was significantly above industry projections and catapulted the weekend to $128 million overall, making it the biggest of the pandemic era, eclipsing the $119 million generated by the weekend of July 9-11 when BLACK WIDOW debuted. The strength of the weekend proves that Exhibition is on its way back. VENOM 2 benefited from being an exclusive release for theatres, showing that the industry has made it back to a time when a good sequel can beat the results of earlier chapters in the series.
On the other hand, the ADDAMS FAMILY 2 with its $18 million opening weekend fell well short of the $30 million take from the original chapter in 2018. This is another example of a new theatrical box office being held back by a studio’s choice to release it streaming simultaneously – Amazon Prime in the case of AF2.
Next week, NO TIME TO DIE will make its North American debut exclusively in theatres. The long-anticipated 25th film in the James Bond franchise has already opened in international markets (except China) to record-breaking results and glowing reviews. It should do very well, and team up with the second week of VENOM 2 to keep the momentum going. October already is shaping up to be a breakthrough month for exhibitors, propelled in the second half releases of HALLOWEEN KILLS on 10/15 and DUNE on 10/22.
|Rank||Title (Distributor)||Week||# Theatres||Weekend $||Per Theatre Average $||Total $|
|1||Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE))||1||4,225||$90,033,210||$21,310||$90,033,210|
|2||The Addams Family 2 (United Artists Releasing)||1||4,207||$17,325,007||$4,118||$17,325,007|
|3||Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Walt Disney Studios)||5||3,455||$6,109,594||$1,768||$150,901,514|
|4||The Many Saints of Newark (Warner Bros.)||1||3,181||$4,651,571||$1,462||$4,651,571|
|5||Dear Evan Hansen (Universal Pictures)||2||3,364||$2,473,225||$735||$9,917,055|
Impact of the CAA-ICM Agency Merger (Variety)
Last Monday, the news broke that Creative Artist Agency (CAA) would acquire ICM Partners, further strengthening CAA’s position as the largest talent agency in Hollywood. CAA also believes that it will increase their clout in the high-stakes negotiations with studios over compensation for their stars.
In fact, there’s a lot to discuss in light of the dramatic changes in how movies are being distributed, with streaming having assumed a more prominent role. Proper compensation for a movie’s success can no longer be tied primarily to box office results, since an increasing number of films are being released straight to streaming, with or without a theatrical run. CAA is angling to front load compensation for their clients, which could work to the benefit of exhibitors. A likely outcome will be to make day & date releasing less profitable for studios than it is currently, resulting in more movies opening once again with an exclusive theatrical release.
See also: Creative Artists Agency to buy ICM Partners in landmark deal (L.A. Times) and How The Pieces Fit In CAA’s Acquisition Of ICM Partners (Deadline)
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar Is Disappointed (Variety)
Ever since the WarnerMedia/Discovery mega-merger was announced in May, with Discovery’s David Zaslav taking the reins as the new company’s CEO, it has been widely expected that WarnerMedia’s CEO Jason Kilar would most likely wind up looking for another job after the dust had settled.
Speaking at Vox Media’s Code Conference in Beverly Hills, Kilar reflected on his short but extremely eventful tenure as WarnerMedia’s leader. He will be best remembered for his controversial decision to open all of Warner Bros.’ theatrical releases during 2021 on HBO Max as well, simultaneously.
At the time when this decision was announced, it was considered by many to be sacrilege, a knife in the back of exhibitors when they were at their weakest. Many of WB’s loyal directors and stars also decried the sudden change of course, with the studio having made their decision unilaterally. Kilar acknowledged in his remarks at the VOX conference last week, “We should have taken the better part of a month to have the 170 conversations.” But he was unrepentant about the decision, because it resulted in a significant boost in the profile and audience for HBO Max during 2021. When asked if he was disappointed to not be around in 2022 to continue to lead that growth, Kilar responded “I’m human, so in that context, yes.”
Tracking the Return to Normal: Moviegoing (Morning Consult)
Since the early days of the pandemic, the market research firm Morning Consult has polled consumers to gauge interest in taking part in out-of-home entertainment activities such as going to the movies, attending a concert or visiting a museum or amusement park. Because their polling has been conducted regularly over time, it has established clear trendlines in the evolution of consumer attitudes.
In the most recent poll from 9/25, 45% of U.S. adults indicated that they feel comfortable returning to movies. This figure peaked at 55% in the survey from 7/4. Despite this recent decline, actual box office results have risen throughout the summer, with Gen Z and Millennial audiences showing the most interest in the summer slate. Even prior to the pandemic, only a portion of the general public were regular moviegoers, so the first order of business for the industry is to get those reliable customers to come back to the theatre. The key to the summer box office recovery has been Hollywood releasing a steady stream of movies with wide commercial appeal, beginning on Memorial Day weekend with “A Quiet Place Part II” (5/28), and continuing through the summer with “F9” (6/25), “Black Widow” (7/9), “Jungle Cruise” (7/30), “Free Guy” (8/13), “Candyman” (8/27) and the record-breaking Labor Day opening of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (9/3).
Studio Release Calendar
Studio Releases... 10/8 - 10/14
Studio Release Calendar