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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Young Klady Who’s Supposed To Kill Old Klady When The Numbers Show Up

The 3D re-release of The Lion King really opened up this slot last September as a place to release animated films and Sony filled it with a fun film, Hotel Transylvania, that looks like it will out-open last year’s breakout $30.2m. The best September open ever, $35.6m for Sweet Home Alabama, seems safe. But HT could become the #2 best September launch this weekend. Yes… with the 3D bump.

Looper gives Sony a shot at having two $20m openers in the same weekend. The film, which has a lot of positive word of mouth, may well be a grower, not a show-er… though this is a pretty good launch, easily Rian Johnson’s biggest and the best for Joseph Gordon-Levitt w/o a mask or Nolan as star (GI Joe/Inception/Bat3). Assuming it passes $40m total domestic, this is really an important career film for JG-L, though that’s certainly not why he’s involved. A happy movie business story for a change.

(NOTE: I f-ed up. Mea culpa. I’ve done a complete rewrite on the Pitch Perfect stuff, thanks to two commenters who were focused when I was not.)

Pitch Perfect is platforming this weekend, a rare occurrence for a major studio movie. IN fact, the only other major to try this was Paramount with Jeff, Who Lives At Home, which went out on 254 screens and totaled $4.3m domestic. PP should pass that total this weekend. Last year, again it was Paramount, with an IMAX only week for M:I Ghost Protocol on 425 screens. Nothing close to this kind of sampling open in 2010. In other words, this is very rare.

But rare doesn’t mean that a new idea can’t work. It’s just a gamble.

They’re looking at a weekend with $15k per screen in 335 venues. What does that translate to when they go wide next weekend, against Taken 2, which has a strong female appeal for an action movie? Good question.

Obviously, the studio knows they have a movie that plays better than it sells. And so, they will get a sample crowd this weekend of about half a million and hope that word-of-mouth still works. They should go into the expansion next weekend with around $7m in the bank and hope to do double that number (or better) over the next 3-day and go into the third weekend with about $27 million in the till on the way to $50m – $60m total domestic.

The one big advantage U has going into October is that there is almost nothing in October for teen girls. They may go in for Frankenweenie a bit and the aforementioned Taken 2… and Argo should be a general audience hit, but this will be the only “girl film” in the market for a long stretch. So we’ll see…

Last but least amongst the new is Won’t Back Down. I didn’t see it. I wasn’t invited to see it. Doesn’t look like anyone was much invited to see it… in a broader sense. Maggie & Viola in Sister’s Are Doing It For Themselves: The Movie seems like almost too obvious a pitch. A true Awards Bait Or Doesn’t Rate movie, it looks like from here.

You know, it’s funny. There is endless whining from some quarters about the status of female filmmakers, movies for women, and movies about women. Here is a weekend with two… and not much to show for it. And you know what? It would be as stupid to discount the female audience and films made for and by them because of this as it is to scream and kick and claim that the film industry is anti-woman.

These films will not help the next person walking into an executive suite pitching a film about women… same as the sad failure of Bachelorette to get to $1m domestic after opening on VOD will encourage people to believe the unrealistic prayer that VOD promotes theatrical. (For the record, I still believe, strongly, that Bachelorette, given an aggressive release as a normal theatrical, by Universal or a couple others, would have done $40m or more theatrically as a hard-R late summer alternative. But no one would buy it for that. And Sundance helped keep this commercial film – way funnier than Horrible Bosses – in the ghetto.)

BUT… every movie has its own journey. And the right movies about or for women do extraordinarily well in the marketplace. It’s not black or white.

The Master is hanging onto the Top 10 for dear life, now losing venues. It’s still in 783 venues. But if you want to get a sense of the trajectory, two weekends ago the film was on 5 screens, including The Dome, at the Arclight Hollywood… and is now on 2. It’s still a strong draw for the impassioned. But with just over $1000 per venue last night, we have already seen the peak. Should PTA have put control of distribution and marketing more in the hands of Harvey Weinstein or should Harvey have let PTA have his way with a slower, even more selective release? Impossible to know, in terms of the outcome. God knows, they got everything out of the press that was ever going to come. Was there ever more than a $20m domestic gross in the movie? Who knows? But we can all be happy that Megan Ellison was willing to write the check and that PTA continues to deliver demanding filmmaking, made inside of the American market, with real budgets that put all the money on the screen.

October is looking like a boom month. Taken 2 smells of cash… the same exact sales pitch still effective years later with what looks like a frame -by-frame remake with a wife stitched in. Frankenweenie should open to similar numbers as Transylvania. Argo is a hit movie, heading to a very nice gross if not a mega-opening. Paranormal 4 and Silent Hill 3D will bring bucks. And Cloud Atlas is going to have a lot of lookie-loos, especially from GeekLand.

32 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Young Klady Who’s Supposed To Kill Old Klady When The Numbers Show Up”

  1. You realise that Pitch Perfect is platforming on 300 screens, right? If it only makes $20 million, I’ll eat a DVD box set of Glee

  2. He must not realize the release strategy, because that number is outstanding for PITCH PERFECT. It could score a $15,000 PSA. I think Universal was only hoping for $2M, which it almost did opening day.

  3. BoulderKid says:

    The Master was never going to do even TWBB numbers. The film is completely non-commercial and is a tough sit for even the initiated. Phoenix and Hoffman are electric and are mostly what keep the film going as PTA’s direction is relatively subdued here compared to other efforts.

    I know many are slotting this in as a best picture nominee ,but how many are really going to go to the mat for this film and list it as number one?

    DP, would love to here your thoughts on Looper.

  4. David Poland says:

    It’s weird. I have talked so much about loving Looper over the last month that I feel like I already wrote about it. I guess I didn’t. Should. Will.

  5. Chucky says:

    October is gonna be brutal.

    “Taken 2″? Pointless Sequel.

    “Frankenweenie”? Name-Checking.

    “Argo”? Anti-Iran Propaganda “Based on a True Story”.

    “Paranormal Activity 4″? Money Grab.

    “Silent Hill 3-D”? Money Grab.

    “Cloud Atlas”? Name-Checking.

    Mark my words, “Argo” will do for Obama what “Team America: World Police” did for GWBush.

  6. LYT says:

    “God knows, they got everything out of the press that was ever going to come.”

    I disagree. For any LA reviewer that doesn’t get to go to out of town festivals, the ONLY screenings for THE MASTER were two days before opening (with NO plus-ones allowed, alienating casual press), and there was no junket as far as I can tell. Press-wise, EVERYTHING was bet on the fest media.

  7. Krillian says:

    What exactly did Team America: World Police do for GWBush?

  8. chris says:

    That’s peculiar, LYT. In the Twin Cities, it was press-screened ten or so days in advance. And plus-ones were allowed.

  9. LYT says:

    I’m guessing, chris, that the Twin Cities publicists more or less stay put. The LA team, however, were all in Toronto just prior to release, and probably not thinking about anything else.

  10. Rob says:

    We’ve reached that time of year where I’m thrilled/stressed out by the embarrassment of riches. Saw THE MASTER, END OF WATCH, LOOPER, and HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE in the last week and all seem like potential 10 best list material.

  11. etguild2 says:

    PERKS did pretty well, with $10,000 per theatre in 100 venues this week projected :)

    It would shock me if PITCH PERFECT ends with a higher gross than PERKS but the platform strategy is apparently brilliant enough to put that into play.

  12. David Poland says:

    Actually Luke, the movie opened while TIFF was still running.

    And of course, the movie was open in LA and NY for a week before it opened anywhere else. And the preferred way for press to see the movie in these two cities was in 70, while most other places are dominated by non-70 presentation.

  13. Joe Leydon says:

    BTW: Liberal Arts opened in Houston this weekend. Once again: A worthy movie that, in the not so distant past, would have gotten a bigger push.

  14. Don R. Lewis says:

    I was totally floored by LOOPER…and I pray DP is right that word of mouth really gets the film going. Man, what a TERRIFIC film. I like BRICK and BROTHERS BLOOM quite a bit but both seem kind of under cooked and scattershot. LOOPER is totally assured, a ton of fun and downright brilliant. I cannot wait to see it again.

    I also agree with what BoulderKid got at above. I feel like I need to see THE MASTER again on the big screen, particularly in 70mm. But on the other hand, the prospect of sitting through THE MASTER again feels like a long hike uphill. I still respect the hell out of it an *like* it quite a bit, but as time goes on, I’m finding myself not wanting to see it again for a while.

  15. Mike says:

    If Warners was smart, they would forget the Justice League thing (which isn’t going to work) and beg Rian Johnson to take over Batman with JGL.

  16. LYT says:

    David, seems like you’re trying to split hairs just to correct me. Point is most LA press got absolutely nothing until two days before opening. Had the LA Weekly, for instance, not sent anybody to TIFF, they would have had nothing by their deadline.

  17. David Poland says:

    Not trying to correct you, Luke… just pointing out the circumstances.

    It was a weird ride, in terms of how media was handled. No doubt.

  18. berg says:

    Vulgaria was really funny …. screw Liberal Arts …

  19. berg says:

    have you noticed if you are at a supermarket and you pay with a large denomination like a $100 OR a $50 the clerk all of a sudden takes the paper and holds it up to the light like all of a sudden they are treasury agents or have infra-red vision and your ability to pay cash (as opposed to credit or debit) is automatically suspect …. it is a rhetorical statement

  20. Breedlove says:

    I’m not a reviewer and don’t know how this stuff works, but Luke’s insinuation, that there are critics who would skip an advance screening of The Master because they couldn’t bring a date?! WTF? What kind of critic doesn’t want to go see The Master because they can’t bring someone else along? Most people don’t bring their significant other or a friend to work with them. Is that how a lot of screenings work, people show up with their spouse? Seems very odd. Skipping the new PTA film because you can’t bring Cousin Gary…wow that is funny…sounds like a very serious critic (not meaning you LYT, just in general).

  21. joe says:

    I don’t think that Sweet Home Alabama’s record is safe. HT will better it.

  22. jesse says:

    Breedlove, usually when screenings are done at a multiplex (like an “all-media,” as it’s called), you can bring a plus-one — and sometimes at screening rooms you can, too, depending on how often they’re screening or how big the room is (or, I presume, how important you are, though that’s never an issue with me). I definitely bring my wife when I can and she can make it.

    But the only reason I’d skip a screening because of not being able to bring a plus-one if it was a movie my wife and I both really want to see together — and that wouldn’t be out of spite or anything, just convenience. And I have the luxury of being able to skip screenings sometimes because this is just a side gig for me (on the other side, I often have to skip screenings because they’re during regular work hours) (which I imagine eliminates lots of the plus-one stuff anyway).

    Getting a plus-one to review a movie is kind of absurd if you think about it, but it’s probably a tacit admission that (a.) not everyone who does this does it as their full-time real job and, as such, it’s not much like bringing a spouse or Cousin Gary to work and (b.) lots of people do typically go to the movies with at least one other person (though I go alone a fair amount) and probably prefer it that way.

  23. SamLowry says:

    berg, they’re looking for the security strip. They’re trained to do this; I’m surprised they didn’t whip out an iodine marker.

    What do you think happens if they take a big bill born in a Lexmark printer? Disciplinary action that may include suspension if not termination, that’s what.

    It’s funny how people who want to “stick it to The Man” create only a minor inconvenience for The Man while screwing over a low-level worker who desperately needs that job.

  24. Chucky says:

    Not even 70mm could save “The Master” from a big fall-off. I’d love to see all the Film Snobs and Peter Travers spin that one.

    @Krillian: “Team America: World Police” helped re-elect George W. Bush. “Argo” is intended to help re-elect Obama.

  25. Breedlove says:

    Also, Pitch Perfect has maybe the most awkward trailer I’ve ever seen. I cringe with embarrassment when Anna Kendrick walks out into the middle of that sing-off or whatever it is and starts singing “shorty get down…” or something and everyone gasps, stunned at how badass she is. And I feel bad for the heavy chick who appears to just utterly humiliate herself in the movie, telling non-stop fat jokes, and every line and bit she has in the trailer is just painfully, painfully unfunny. She may have talent but god that trailer makes her look about as funny as, I don’t know, whatever the least funny thing to ever exist is. I’ve watched that trailer like ten times, it’s like a car wreck, I can’t look away.

  26. YancySkancy says:

    PITCH PERFECT looks great to me. And that “heavy chick” is Rebel Wilson, who has stood out in BRIDESMAIDS and BACHELORETTE. That said, trailers can be pretty misleading, for good or ill. But reviews have been strong overall, and I always love Kendrick.

    Anybody heard about this low-budget Michael Bay film, PAIN AND GAIN, with Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and the aforementioned Rebel Wilson? Bay is apparently calling it his FARGO.

  27. scooterzz says:

    “@Krillian: “Team America: World Police” helped re-elect George W. Bush. “Argo” is intended to help re-elect Obama.”

    ‘argo’ actually seemed more like it was intended to help re-elect Carter….

  28. Rashad says:

    Team America helped re-elect Bush? I don’t even …

  29. YancySkancy says:

    Let’s see — so TEAM AMERICA was released on Oct. 15, 2004, and had grossed about $27 million by election time on Nov. 2, less than three weeks later. That’s between 4 and 5 million tickets sold (avg. ticket price 2004: $6.21). About 122 million people voted in the election. I don’t know how many of those ticket buyers were swayed to vote for Bush, but I’m thinking the film wasn’t a game-changer in that way. On the other hand, Chucky sure sounds confident, so I suppose he’s right.

  30. Joe Leydon says:

    Well, to be fair, Chucky said it helped re-elect Bush. Not that it did it all by itself.

  31. Rashad says:

    Does Chucky think the movie is an endorsement of Bush or something?

  32. YancySkancy says:

    Joe: Oh, I know, and didn’t mean to imply otherwise. At any rate, I’d like to know Chucky’s evidence. Do we really think anybody (anybody at all) came out of the movie saying, “Well, I didn’t know who I was going to vote for, or even if I was going to vote, but this puppet movie has me reconsidering Bush”?

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