By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
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.