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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by Klady

Beware the first weekend of December… oooohhh… scary!!!

It’s one of those weekends that is seen as a dead zone, though there hasn’t been enough serious experimentation by distributors in the last decade or so to really prove anything. Unless you want to the weekends that start on Dec 7-8-9 as “first weekend,” the best opening on the first weekend in December history is The Last Samurai with $24.3 million on Dec 5, ending up with 4.6x opening, all domestic. If you do want to count 7-8-9, tops is Narnia: Lion, Witch, Wardrobe with a $65.6m start, followed by Ocean’s Eleven with $38.1m, and Golden Compass‘ $25.8m, and then you get to Samurai again.

The widest new release this weekend is Relativity Media/Rogue’s The Warrior’s Way on 1622 screens and with little commercial firepower.

I think we have learned that with the right bait, every weekend of the year is a good box office weekend.

The big fri-to-fri drops look ugly, but it’s worth noting that even though they are worse than we’ve seen in the last couple of years in this slot, November Potters Sorcerer’s Stone and Goblet of Fire had similar drops in their years. Tangled might be a little more nervous, with this being only their second weekend. Disney took the film out on Thanksgiving weekend instead of the weekend before and it may cost them some dollars. Still, the film will be about $10m ahead of their last Thanksgiving animated release, Bolt, after the post-Thanksgiving weekend.

This is Disney Animation’s biggest hit in a long time. Ironically, the group is begging off of fairy tales… which is, in my opinion, just stupid. It’s not the genre, it’s the execution. And when people use Transformers and Iron Man as the example of what kids want, they conveniently forget the parade of other films very closely aligned with that style of film that have bombed.

What’s INSANE is the idea that Tangled cost $260 million or more. It just can’t make money with that kind of budget. If that is really the number before marketing, you’re looking at about $400 million worldwide to make up before you’re at breakeven, which means that it would lose money doing Iron Man business and only make a minor profit if grossing what Transformers grossed.

Black Swan is looking at the best exclusive release numbers of 2010 with what looks to be an over $70k per screen for the weekend in 14 screens. The number is very similar to the launch of Up In The Air last year… the biggest difference being that $84m domestic was a bit of a disappointment for the Clooney movie and would be an epic success for this low budget psycho thriller. (Headline suggestion for indieWIRE…. “Psycho Thriller, Qu’est-ce que c’est!!!”) When you look at this month, Black Swan could be the Juno of the season for Searchlight, meaning that it could become the must-see movie for girls in a market that is light of fare for them.

34 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady”

  1. mutinyco says:

    I always thought Juno succeeded because it was stylistically hip enough for urban audiences, but the message was conservative enough for rural audiences. Pretty sure BS is solidly urban in its play.

  2. EthanG says:

    It’s too much of a blanket statement to say “Tangled” will lose money doing this and that. PATF lost money but it’s currently the 6th-bestselling DVD of 2010. If “Tangled” were to perform similarly in relation to its BO run, it would be the 3rd-bestselling DVD of 2010 presently, with over $110 mil in domestic sales alone. Factor in ancillaries, which are Red Hot for this movie, and it will make money. But yes, 260 is an outrageous number.

  3. botner says:

    Amazing for Black Swan, although I just don’t see it “breaking out” outside of big cities. Sure its great, but also it’s also abstract and surreal and for lack of a better term ‘weird’, at least by mainstream standards. And despite having Portman and Kunis, there are gonna be a lot of guys who aren’t going to go to a “ballet movie”. I would think if it hits even 30 mil, that would be cause to celebrate, especially with the relative struggles of 127 Hours to get any traction.

  4. I have to take token issue with absurd notion that Up in the Air was considered a disappointment. At $84 million, the picture is by-far George Clooney’s biggest pure starring vehicle. And it’s his highest-grossing film outside of Batman and Robin, The Perfect Storm, and the Ocean trilogy. It pulled in $164 million worldwide on a $25 million budget. It’s also (random but fun stat) the second biggest-grossing film to never reach the top five in weekend box office, aside from IMAX: Everest. I’m not sure what ‘expectations’ were, but that looks from here like a major hit.

  5. The Pope says:

    Scott,
    Sincerely, thanks for that ticklish stat. I only hope that one day I can work it into a conversation!

  6. David Poland says:

    “Factor in ancillaries, which are Red Hot for this movie”

    Based on what?

    And the math… even with over $100 million in DVD net, a $300 million grossing film that cost over $200 million to make will lose money. Not sure how you can rationalize otherwise, Ethan.

    And Scott… there is nothing wrong with UITA’s numbers as a proposition about that one movie. But expectations were “more” once the studio got all sucked up into the Oscar chase. It was expected to be a breakthrough for Clooney, to continue Reitman in the $100m club doing intimate comedies, and certainly to make more of a bump in the Oscar race.

    I mean, it sits between The Ugly Truth and Knowing on the box office chart from last year. Do you think they sat and thought, looking at all the positive buzz and reviews and the Clooney of it, and thought, “We’re okay making 25% leas than Julie & Julia?”

  7. LexG says:

    I’m with Joe Leydon on this: Warrior’s Way was surprisingly awesome, or at least amusingly weird, even if the first half is spotty and Kate Bosworth seems hellbent on rendering more mugging than Kristen Wiig as Gilly.

    Also, I saw a fair share of TV spots for it, but mostly I just got the trailer like a half-dozen times in the last month or two. But I probably see more junky B-horror than most, ’cause it always ran before something like My Soul to Take, Saw, Skyline, etc.

  8. Joe Leydon says:

    LexG: Tell the truth — isn’t “Warrior’s Way” the movie you really hoped “Jonah Hex” would be? That’s my take.

  9. WG says:

    Klady: H-A-L-L-O-W-S.

  10. IOv3 says:

    If people can get behind a movie that involves going into dreams. They can get behind a Portman ballet movie. Seriously, the middle of the country has no problem with these films because again, it’s usually the middle of the country that leads to movies breaking big. Nevertheless, depending on Oscar heat, I can easily seeing Black Swan getting between 80 to 100m. If it does not catch Oscar heat then 40 to 60 seems plausible.

  11. JoJo says:

    “Nevertheless, depending on Oscar heat, I can easily seeing Black Swan getting between 80 to 100m. If it does not catch Oscar heat then 40 to 60 seems plausible.”

    Have you seen the movie yet? There is no way it will get anywhere near 80 million.

    Also, David:

    “But expectations were “more” once the studio got all sucked up into the Oscar chase. It was expected to be a breakthrough for Clooney, to continue Reitman in the $100m club doing intimate comedies…”

    The studio never had those expectations.

  12. IOv3 says:

    Oh it will get to 80m. WHY? IN ORDER TO SPITE THEE! Seriously, if a movie about an Indian kid winning Who Wants to Be Millionaire can catch on, so can a movie featuring the LEADING LADY OF OUR TIME basically dealing with her own Fight Club situation.

  13. anghus says:

    how the hell can an animated movie cost 260 million dollars.

    fucking madness.

  14. Foamy Squirrel says:

    @WG – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hellos

  15. hcat says:

    Your leading lady of our times has never been able to crack $35 million outside of Star Wars and Vendetta. Otherwise her performances have been wooden (Boleyne), obnoxious (Garden State) to painfully miscast (Brothers).

    Swan could break $40 with Oscar buzz but if its as Gonzo as everyone is saying, word of mouth is going to be brutal from those going in expecting to see the “ballerina movie”

  16. christian says:

    IO — FIGHT CLUB didn’t even make 80 million.

  17. EthanG says:

    As I said DP, $110 million is solely in domestic DVD sales. Factor in rentals, International DVD, VOD and that’s probably closer to 300 mil total.

    As for the “Tangled” toys, it’s not exactly a state secret that they’ve been flying off the shelves for months, and is a major reason for the big opening. The film will likely rank 2nd to Toy Story 3 this year in non-BO rev:

    http://shetoldme.com/Entertainment/Best-Selling-Disney-Tangled-Rapunzel-Dolls-Toys-and-Collectibles

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6A85HJ20101109

  18. Proman says:

    “the biggest difference being that $84m domestic was a bit of a disappointment for the Clooney movie”

    Keep selling your lies, Poland. $84 million is so much higher than usual for a Clooney film of this scale that the movie is not seen as anything other than huge success.

  19. IOv3 says:

    Hcat, the fact that you find her annoying in Garden State, is pretty freaking hilarious. Seriously, she is THE LEADING actress. Other actresses can win Oscars but they are still not Portman. She’s on another level.

    That aside, Anghus, most of these animated movies cost a shitload to make. The thing with the animated films though is: it does not matter in the grand scheme of things. Why? MERCHANDISING! DISNEY AMUSEMENT PARK RIDES! PRINCESSES! AND SO ON!

    Sure it’s nice to make money but Disney Animation is essentially Pixar, and we all know that Pixar have money to burn, and this is why you get an animated film like Tangled costing 250m dollars.

  20. Foamy Squirrel says:

    That’s a point, why have two separate animation studios within the Disney portfolio, especially if they’re both run by Lasseter?

  21. IOv3 says:

    FS, the Pixar doc sort of explained it by having the number three guy at Pixar state that they wanted to help make Disney animation important again.

  22. leahnz says:

    embarrassing confession: i haven’t seen black swan yet but my fave natalie portman perf is still her turn as novalee in ‘where the heart is’ with channing, judd and cusack; novalee and forney, natalie just sweetie-pies her way through proceedings and suckers me into that wal-mart with her every time

  23. bulldog68 says:

    On a side note, Europe sends a collective fuck you to the USA by rewarding their citizen child rapist every award they could think of for a film that barely registered on the collective radar of film critics. Viewed as the most important film of the 21st century, so important, that they had to move editing shit into his jail cell. The facts of the case forgotten. The damage done forgotten. The fact that he never paid for his crime, not even a factor. Wow. You cant help thinking that if Michael Bay did the same thing in Europe, and the American authorities did the same thing, what kind of European outcry there would be. And rightfully so.

  24. Foamy Squirrel says:

    IO – it explains what Pixar is trying to do as part of Disney, but it doesn’t explain why a second animation studio is being run parallel to Pixar with all the financial and administration wrangling that involves. Why not throw it all under one roof like Dreamworks?

    The only reason I can think of is if they have different mandates – either with budgets or source material – but there’s nothing overt to suggest this is the case.

  25. IOv3 says:

    Again, from the doc FS, the motivation seems to be about making an important part of animation history vital again. I know that seems like a bit much but the Pixar guys have generated billions of dollars, and if they want to use that money to revitalize the studio that inspired them as kids. That’s pretty cool to me even if it cost millions of dollars.

  26. Foamy Squirrel says:

    IO – I don’t think you’re getting my point. It’s like if you want to make two cakes and your oven can only hold one cake, so you build a second house to get a second oven. It’s an incredibly inefficient way of going about it.

  27. leahnz says:

    but there were already two cakes (as in two separate animation houses, if i’m understanding the analogy, maybe i’m not). i know/remember little about it but didn’t disney actually set up pixar back in the day as the spin-off fledgling CGI animator? and then pixar grew and flourished and went on to became all god-like in its own right, and disney animation meanwhile finally caved in to the pressure of the CGI era and produced some decent stuff and yet still couldn’t compete with/match the mojo of the mighty all-conquering hero pixar, so disney – sick of eating crow likely made worse by being upstaged by the fledgling animator farted out of its own womb – bought back pixar so as to keep it all in the family, with separate studios each with its own culture and style so as to preserve the individuality of the houses, but with creative/talent crossover to disney animation’s benefit, naturally. or i might have that all wrong. but combining the actual animation studios would only homogenise the product and defeat the whole purpose really

  28. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Close – the “cakes” are the movies, the “ovens” are the studios. 😉

    But Disney’s “internal” studio hasn’t had nearly the success of Pixar, critically or financially. Why run them separately if one isn’t performing as well as it could? Why not just say “Let’s use Pixar as our base” – especially since Lasseter is running both? There seems no real point to keeping them separate unless they’re specifically putting out different product (hand vs. CGI, sub-$150mil vs $150mil+, “Classic” stories vs. Originals, or whatever), or unless Disney is looking to divest Pixar in the future.

    Edit to amend: “hasn’t had nearly the success of Pixar, critically or financially” is in reference to the last 10 years.

  29. Samuel Deter says:

    bulldog68 please do not compare Michael Bay to Roman Polanski.

    And please do not think for a second that by giving The Ghost Writer an award “Europe sends a collective fuck you to the USA”. Actually no, not everything that happens in the world involves America. Actually, most of the world couldn’t care less.

    So Roman Polanski raped someone, yes we know. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself… Who hasn’t? I know I have. HIGH FIVE!

    (inappropriate?)

  30. matt says:

    RE: Disney

    THere seems to be a lot of sentiment about Disney Animation Studios within Disney- it’s probably not the greatest idea from an economic standpoint, but the company vibe has been that animation was what started the company and should be its driving force, so I think they’ll continue to keep it separate from Pixar for quite some time, if not forever. Seems to be more the psychological impact than the economic impact to a certain degree.

    That being said, I think that’s why Tangled won’t be considered a failure even if it doesn’t profit financially so long as it reaches a wide-enough audience. I think it’s more about having enough people see it and really like a Disney Animation movie that will be more important to the collective psyche at Disney. And that’s before the whole idea that each branch of the Disney company in some ways works to advertise the others- with movies, theme parks, and merchandise all playing off each other synergistically.

  31. anghus says:

    pixar hoping to ‘revitalize’ disney animation is just sad. times change. yes, disney was a vital part of americana. but they got old and tired and redundant. and then pixar came along and told better stories.

    put the old folks in the home. remember them fondly. visit them from time to time and be respectful.

    but at some point, you gotta realize that you’re just pouring money down a hole.

    260 million dollars.

    for a pop culture reference heavy kiddie film.

    how did it ever get to this point.

  32. David Poland says:

    “Keep selling your lies, Poland.”

    Lotta drama there.

    I’m the first one to argue that overwrought ideas of what a movie should do are bad hoodoo. But as I wrote, the numbers on UITA are good numbers… but the endgame for the film was not the one envisioned when sugar plum fairies started flying at Toronto. You want to call that a lie, be my guest. But you’re wrong.

    As for the box office potential of Black Swan, the answer, I believe, is in teen girls, who have no real interest in a ballet movie, but love a good psycho thriller.

    My reaction upon seeing the film was $40m = $50m max. But I think it plays on a lot of levels – not of which are “that ballerina movie” – and could be a real commercial surprise.

    As for Disney, someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any of the Disney Animation product released so far has been started by Lasseter… he’s been working with what was already in the pipeline. I’ll be curious to see what comes out as he tries to build/re-built the Burbank team. I have no insight about what’s going out over under the wizard’s hat right now, but I’m curious.

  33. IOv3 says:

    FS: you don’t get my point. Again, it’s in the PIXAR STORY DOC where the number 3 guy at Pixar states, that their aim is to keep Disney Animation important and vital as it used to be. That’s the point and everything else you think is relevant ignores what’s relevant to the guys at Pixar: keeping Disney Animation alive and well.

    Poland, I am with you with Black Swan being a commercial surprise. Seriously folks, it just has an aire about it and I know that aire is there, when I watch a charity drive that features a bunch of geeks, and they all to a man want to see it. Seriously, again, do not sleep on the SWAN!

    Anghus: they’ve made billions of dollars and at this point, even though it seems a lot, 400 million combined is just what it takes to make the movies they want to make, and what Matt stated.

  34. anghus says:

    i know what they HAVE done. i don’t need a history lesson. but at some point, you have to question anyone spending a quarter of a billion dollars on 90 minutes of CG animation.

    If you want to discuss history, i’d love to see the budgets on the Pixar films starting from Toy Story and moving forward. With the slow decline of post-theatrical, i would think that the films used to
    a) cost less and b) bring in more.

    Disney’s non Pixar CG output has been pretty miserable. Bolt, Dinosaur, Meet the Robinsons…

    What’s there to save? What are they trying to preserve.

    The days of the Lion King are long gone.

    Pixar killed Disney Animation. 250 million a picture ain’t gonna help bring it back.

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