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By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by Kladvergent

Friday Estimates 2014-03-22 at 9.07.06 AM

Not a very interesting weekend. Divergent is looking like $50m minimum, but likely more like $60m. Feels like old news already.

Muppets Most Wanted, after a lot of publicity and a good amount of marketing $s spent, starts flat with every girl over 7 having other plans this weekend. Not only is a weak Friday, but if you look back at The Muppets, which opened on a Wednesday ($6.5m), dipped a little on Thursday ($5.8m), before a strong Friday ($12.1m)… all of which are better days that this new film’s opening day. And keep in mind, in the end, The Muppets only did $88.6 million domestic.

Why on God’s green earth did Disney open a movie looking for a family audience against Divergent, which was guaranteed to take out a significant segment of their demo? Moreover, why didn’t Open Road open the David Ayers movie (read: hard R) against the youth-skewing, female skewing, mega-movie, giving the testosteroned members of the family somewhere to hide at the multiplex?

None of the holdovers had a happy Friday against the new champ, with a drop off 42% being the best they could muster in the Top 10… except for The Grand Budapest Hotel, which expanded by 460% screens and added 70% at the box office. Actually, those stats are quite good. They represent a different strategy by Steve Gilula on this Wes Anderson release, faster than Moonrise Kingdom (4 weeks before expanding to 385 screens), but not as fast as Fantastic Mr. Fox (from 4 screens to over 2,000 in the 3rd week)… and has Grand Budapest running stronger than either film. It will be another month or so before we really know where Budapest will land amongst the Anderson titles. There is a big chasm in Wes Anderson films between $25 million and $45 million (two above 45, the rest below 25). It took 10 full weeks for Moonrise to get to $40 million. It looks like Budapest will be in the higher group, but only time will really tell.

Meanwhile, for all the hand (it is hand, right?) wringing by critics over Nymphomaniac Volume 1, the film is opening on more screens than Melancholia and threatens to do half the opening weekend gross, pretty much guaranteed to do less than half by per-screen measure. Two factors in my view here. First, the VOD Ceiling continues to neuter indie theatrical. Second, it’s a dirty movie and those films rarely do strong theatrical business here. All that said, Nymph1 will open stronger than Blue Is The Warmest Color, which was widely regarded with great esteem, except in the New York Times, which campaigned against the film with multiple stories before the actual rave review by AO Scott that ran on opening weekend. Nymph1 has not been attacked or as strongly praised, by the New York Times or anywhere else. It has gotten a few raves and a few attacks, but mostly soft slightly-positive shrugs. But even if the film doubles Blue Is The Warmest Color‘s numbers, still meh… though that would still be better than Melancholia‘s eventual domestic total of $3 million.

26 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Kladvergent”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    Wow…”Blood Ties” is out this weekend? Sad…I guess “Tell No One” really was a fluke. That’s quite a number given the cast (Clive Owen, Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Billy Crudup, James Caan). Speaking of Owen, can you believe he’s been in one wide release in the last 5 years? And even that was a supporting role in a Jason Statham vehicle…

    Crazy investors are pummeling Lionsgate, because they expected “Divergent” to be the next “Hunger Games.” Goofy. It will do fine, and should hold well since there’s been nothing for this market in months that isn’t animated. Also, “Divergent” is more popular internationally than “The Hunger Games” books.

    The “affluent white American Christian is persecuted at the hands of snooty liberals” fantasy genre is alive and well!

  2. J says:

    Is the YA demo the target for the Muppets? I thought they were now almost pure nostalgia-bait for Gen Xers. Maybe at best good for a viral video or two among Millenials, and a choice shill for advertisers. They’ve turned into a hollow, self-satisfied brand, like a Journey reunion tour.

  3. movieman says:

    Lionsgate/Roadside did an atrocious job of marketing “Blood Ties” which, despite its myriad flaws, deserved a LOT better handling.
    This is a perfect example of a film that wasn’t “released,” but escaped.

  4. Great comment questioning Disney releasing this movie this weekend. Not only did the have a challenge against Divergent, competition from Peabody and Lego still exists. Look ahead to 4th of July week. NO FAMILY FILMS. Disney could have opened during the summer in a prime week and doubled their gross.

    We in the theater business constantly scratch our heads at the timing of family product. There is either too much ( right now and last summer) or none ( late June through July 2014 or Q1 2013.)

  5. bl says:

    The family ETesque geared Earth to Echo which actually was a Disney title before Relativity picked it up after it wrapped moved to 4th of July a few weeks ago and
    Disney has Planes 2 later in
    July.

  6. EtGuild2 says:

    “Earth to Echo” looks cute, but it has the feel of something like “Zathura,” which didn’t crack $30 million. But yeah, maybe it’ll get a bounce because Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” vacating Memorial Day and “Maleficent” covering it has created a a strange vacuum for tentpole family fare (Will parents subject themselves to a “Planes” sequel a month after Dragon?) between mid-June and mid-August.

  7. bl says:

    Though Muppets 2 was likely
    doomed to this opening no
    matter what the last one was
    inflated by nostalgic adults and college kids
    just like the Smurfs. This opening is more in line with
    the past Muppets movies.

  8. bl says:

    Yeah it is not likely that Disney
    would have let Echo go if their
    test screenings pointed to a breakout

  9. LexG says:

    WOODLEY POWER. BOW.

  10. jesse says:

    Maybe I’m just pulling for the Muppets because I loved the movie, but it seems like this could get to $20 million this weekend with a Saturday bounce, and while family competition now is stiffer than Disney probably thought it would be, it’s got a solid couple of weekends before Rio, during which Lego and Peabody will continue to lose screens and Muppets should hold well. The last one did perform more like a comic book type movie (in that it was crazy frontloaded for a family joint), which I think has caused some to assume this one will also drop harder than the average family movie. But lacking Jason Segel and MUPPETS ARE BACK hype, it seems pretty likely that this movie could do 3-4x its opening, which could put it in the $70 million area… not bad, and will probably have pretty solid international numbers. I’m glad they didn’t move it to summer because I wanted to see it sooner and generally the Muppets seem like a good spring franchise (lower expectations, lower budgets)… but yeah, given that Pixar scrammed out of May, I think it could’ve been a smart summer programmer.

    Then again, probably some kids/families will always go for a loud/frantic animated movie over an inspired/silly/witty Muppet joint. (And I say that as someone who loved the Lego movie. Peabody, not so much.)

  11. Chucky says:

    There’s a damn good reason why Open Road didn’t open “the David Ayers movie” this week. All the men are watching their brackets get busted in the NCAA tournament.

  12. EtGuild2 says:

    Same thing next weekend Chucky. The Sweet 16 and Elite 8 usually have higher ratings than the first two rounds.

  13. The Hey says:

    Can someone explain the release strategy of Budapest? Keeping it out of the secondary markets in it’s 3 weekend to me smells like a way for Searchlight to crow about per screen averages. Hell “God’s Not Dead” opened in more markets.

    Speaking of which, I have to give it to the “affluent white American Christian is persecuted at the hands of snooty liberals” fantasy genre. Leaving flyers in church lobbies seems to be a more powerful marketing tool than critic screenings.

  14. EtGuild2 says:

    I think DP kind of mentioned it…the “let it simmer” strategy has worked in the past for Anderson. “Budapest” is actually rolling out faster than “Tenanbaums” or “Moonrise Kingdom.” There was a lot of griping on this blog (me included) on the “Moonrise” rollout but it worked. $45 million was a great result. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Life Aquatic” went wide in week 3, and the results were not good considering they are Anderson’s biggest budgeted movies. As Poland points out, “Budapest” will have more coin after 3 weeks in 304 theaters than “Moonrise” had in 5 weeks in 395 theaters.

    I’d be curious to know how “God’s Not Dead” marketed itself. It’s likely going to be the 2nd biggest opening for a faith-based movie ever (not counting Big Studio fare and “Passion”). It’s been rough for these movies lately.

  15. jesse says:

    And I think Budapest is reaching some secondary markets. It’s playing in my hometown, which is a city of like 25,000 people, north of Albany. I was surprised it got there on only its third weekend of play. Is there a technical distinction that makes a market secondary?

  16. christian says:

    ‘All the men are watching their brackets get busted in the NCAA tournament.’

    Chucky’s hilarious insanity over film marketing is bracketed by his true religion, the purity of organized TV sporting events. Where no advertisers dare tread nor name-drop.

  17. Hcat says:

    Doesn’t transformers open right before July 4? That’s got to skew even younger than divergent especially with robodinos.

    It strikes me as odd that the first sequel for the rejuvenated muppets is a European heist comedy when that was the exact thing that started to derail the franchise the first time around.

    And I think it’s very funny that even when faced with teenage future dystopia and singing felt animals the faith movie still seems like the biggest leap of fantasy.

  18. Jack1137 says:

    Muppet’s follow the Second rule of a movies Failure 2)Europe/Overseas will save us.

  19. jesse says:

    Hcat, I think Disney would be plenty happy with the $90 million or so that would be the 2014 equivalent to Great Muppet Caper’s $31 million at the time. It did strike me as odd to so closely parallel the first movie with the first new one, and now the second movie with the second new one… but the movie itself is different enough that it really juts replicates the spirit (European locations, lots of gags, fast pace) of the second movie. Also, wouldn’t most people put Great Muppet Caper as one of the very best Muppet movies, rather than considering it the movie that “started to derail” the franchise? If it started a derailment, then you’re basically saying the entire history of Muppet movies is one long post-first-movie derailment!

  20. Hcat says:

    Exactly what I am saying, they never recaptured the magic of the first film, and when the syndicated show canceled what we got from the movies was a reminder of how wonderful it used to be. Christmas carol came closest to capturing the spirit but was still a distant second to the original film.

    So then Segal is able to pull a Rick rubin return to form for them, only for Disney to make the same mistakes all over again

  21. JS Partisan says:

    It’s not all Segal. Bret McKenzie’s song and the direction, are pretty damn wonderful in this film. Hell. The film is pretty wonderful, but they released it at a shit time of year. If anything, they should have released it this November, but they chose this this weekend. Why did they choose this weekend? City of whatever, and every other YA property that has failed over the last five years.

    These things happen, but the Muppets aren’t getting thrown away by Disney. They still have a lot of life in them, and are not as much as a shit property as someone up above claims them to be. They are magic. Period. There’s always something to do with these characters.

  22. leahnz says:

    go bret

  23. jesse says:

    Hcat, I’m all for minority/contrarian opinions, but I hope you know that your Muppet Christmas Carol Comes Closest to Recapturing the Magic of the 1979 Movie and the Rest Are Pretty Much Failures theory is not a generally accepted one. ;)

    I don’t think Disney is making the same mistakes again. I think they made a very Muppety Muppet movie. And this movie will probably turn a healthy profit after international and video.

    I do wonder if they plan to keep making a new movie every 2-3 years, or if they’re going to make a play to get them back on TV at some point.

  24. JS Partisan says:

    Jesse, if they are smart. They need to rehire Segal, and let him bring back the Muppet Show. He already pitched them the idea. Why not let him run with it, and make a new generation of fans? It would probably be cheaper than another movie.

  25. hcat says:

    Jesse, failures is a harsher word than I was using, just that like the vast majority of movies that are continued (especially from that era) the sequels, whatever their charms, do not measure up. I would say it is the same with Die Hard, quality wise nothing that followed with that name (or in my opinion any other name) captured lightning in a bottle the same way. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t frothing at the mouth to see each sequel.

    And commercially after the first one they just weren’t events anymore, its amusing with todays special effect to remember how people were wowed at Kermit riding a bicycle. They tried to replicate that with Piggy and the motorcycle, and the muppet babies made the third one of some interest, but nowhere near what they achieved with the first.

  26. cadavra says:

    Re BLOOD TIES’ cast: Last week I saw the excellent BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY, which had Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan, Jane Fonda, Ray Liotta, Ken Howard and Norbert Leo Butz. Also one week and out at the art houses. Sigh.

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