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By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Need For Klady

Friday Estimates 2014-03-15 at 9.45.09 AM

Need For Speed doesn’t feel like a videogame movie. It feels like a very expensive Roger Corman movie. And that could have been great fun. But it’s only modest fun. And that’s why $20 million, while possible, is not a sure bet this weekend. Could the film have been a savior for DreamWorks? Not really. It would have had to have been a $600 million movie for it to really impact the studio’s long-term prospects.

I’m writing a piece on DreamWorks, so I will get into the machinations of it all there, but Need For Speed will likely become a historic landmark for the company as unfairly as The Peacemaker was. The limited number of films being made by DreamWorks makes NFS seem like a tipping point when it is not… not at all. It’s been clear that DreamWorks would be out of Disney since over a year ago. And Reliance has not been as hands-off as originally promised. In fact, I think NFS is the first DW film with a Reliance logo in the opening credits.

The sad part, for me, is that I would have loved to have seen DreamWorks go out with a bang… a fun, director-driven joyride. Instead, for all the great stunts, the film is too serious for its own good and the director is just not very good at letting the camera work for him when he is shooting actors, not cars. So the film sinks to the bottom of the sea… along with, it would seem, the company.

Tyler Perry has had a worse Friday. The problem is, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls opened on that Wednesday. So the Tyler Perry base had already poured $5.7 million into the till before a Friday gross of $3 million. Tyler Perry’s The Single Mom’s Club opened yesterday to just $3.2 million, so the film is $5.5 million behind going into Sat/Sun. And it may rebound a bit today. It could be a $10m weekend. Maybe even slightly above. But it will still be the worst Tyler Perry opening ever. And right after Lionsgate broke up with him.

There are two distinct Tyler Perry businesses. One has him in drag. No Madea film has ever grossed less than $52m domestic. Even the most recent one, Madea/Christmas, got there after what seemed to be a very slow start. But when he takes off the boobs, it’s a little hit-and-miss. He’s had 3 non-Madea films do over $50m (Why Married & its sequel, Marriage Counselor, and I Can Do Bad) and 5 do under $38 million. In the middle is 1 film, Meet The Browns, which did $42m. I would argue that the $15 million or so between the “hits” and the “misses” (Perry’s consistency, even with this, is pretty stunning) is where the profits are for Lionsgate. Perry’s deal is so much to his advantage – which he has earned – that the low-end movies can’t make much, if anything, for the studio. And the high-end movies have a glass ceiling under $100 million, particularly because there is no theatrical audience overseas for Perry’s films. Add to that Tyler being the 3000-pound bull in the room with each film’s release, wanting Lionsgate to try to cross him over more, wanting bigger marketing spends, expecting to have Oprah status… and it’s not a sensational business for a company that now – with the marriage to Summit – sees itself as a franchise machine.

The problem for Perry, in finding the next home, is to find a place with deep enough pockets and a copacetic marketing department that understand the “urban” market as well as Lionsgate does. If I were Relativity, still struggling to find some consistency in the domestic market, I would be all over this… even though the company has always been a foreign-money-first company. The new Focus is aiming higher, but would not be poorly served by a few years of consistent home cooking. The personalities at Screen Gems don’t suggest them as a landing place… but possible. Of course, the key to any of these deals is Perry. If he is trying to get out of the dress, he has a lot less leverage… and this new release doesn’t help. If he comes in expected to be treated as though he was still as hot as he was for a little bit, he will have to rethink it. And if he is really leaving LA forever, he can just fund his films himself and get a good marketing company like Roadside or maybe even Fox (where Marc Weinstock, who had a lot of success with Screen Gems is now) to do his bidding with a straight output deal.

It will be interesting.

Also opening… Veronica Mars, which managed about a .14 rating in the 18-49 demo and will probably do about a .45 rating in the Live +2 numbers by the end of the weekend. Translated out of television ratings-ese, a little over 100,000 people saw the film yesterday and somewhere between 250,000 and 350,000 people will see it by the end of the weekend. This might lead to as much as a $10 million domestic gross for the film. VOD has a good chance of matching that gross. And then there will be foreign TV sales. So this film could be quite profitable for the filmmakers and the division of WB that owns a big chunk of it, Warner Bros Home Video. One of the reasons that there is virtually no chance of anyone under 25 or over 50 will see this film in a theater – or any other pay-per-viewing situation – is that WB has spent almost nothing on marketing. They’ve done a lot of publicity, which has succeeded in letting the core viewership know that the film is now in theaters. But that’s about it. If you are not pre-sold, no one is really trying to sell you.

The big opening in the exclusive market is Bad Words, the Jason Bateman as writer/director/star vehicle that actually has a strong shot with adult audiences, given the rest of the new product coming into the marketplace. $18k per-screen on 6 is a sign of reasonable interest in NY and LA. But the word-of-mouth from those 10,000 people will have to work awfully hard to help the film break wider with limited marketing thrown at TV, etc.

15 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Need For Klady”

  1. BoulderKid says:

    The 300 sequel has to be one of the most low rent things to ever pass 100m. I’m not speaking terms of quality or production values per se, but literally no one asked for this, and there’s not a household name in the cast. A few weeks ago it seemed like something that was on the verge of being DTV, and if you told me it was going to make under $40m I would have believed you. I just really thought the ship had sailed on this as a possible franchise.

    Not good or bad for Need for Speed. This could have easily bombed IMO, and a high teens opening ensures it will do at least 50m here in the states so that it can recoop the rest of its budget overseas where it should play well like the Fast films. I think this is good enough for a studio to green light another modestly budgeted movie with Aaron Paul in the lead.

    Non-Stop is very sneakily going to be another 90-100m movie for Liam Neeson. I kind of can’t wait for this to hit streaming (there’s no one I could convince to go see it in theaters).

    I know it is an unqualified success, but in terms of its ingenuity and quality does anyone else think The Lego Movie should be doing a little better? To me, it’s the best animated film since Wall-E and should be performing like a strong Pixar film or in the top tier of other studio’s animation efforts like Despicable Me.

  2. EtGuild2 says:

    DOA doesn’t do this opening for Jonathan Sobol’s “Art of the Steal” justice. $700 per theater for the weekend? Holy moley.

    Also, where are we on the count-down clock for Stacy Snider’s career at Dreamworks? 6 months?

    How could LEGO be doing any better in the States? It’s going to top the first DESPICABLE ME, and is the biggest movie ever released in January or February not starring Jesus Christ. And that’s with endless competition ffrom FROZEN, NUT JOB, PEABODY, and soon MUPPETS and RIO 2. The overseas totals are pretty disappointing though. $500 million worldwide seems out of reach now without a China release.

  3. Bulldog68 says:

    “I know it is an unqualified success, but in terms of its ingenuity and quality does anyone else think The Lego Movie should be doing a little better? To me, it’s the best animated film since Wall-E and should be performing like a strong Pixar film or in the top tier of other studio’s animation efforts like Despicable Me.”

    While I don’t agree that it’s the best since Wall E, even the mighty Pixar would love these numbers, particularly out of the lucrative Summer and Fall/Winter seasons. It’s already past Brave and will get past Toy Story 2 and threaten The Incredibles $261m. No one can honestly say they saw this coming.

  4. RRA says:

    Its funny that last weekend people were selling Dreamworks Animation stock because MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN was already written off as another DWA flop in recent years.

    Yet it’ll (probably) be #1 this weekend. Still too early to tell if indeed DWA will have to write off PEABODY like they had to TURBO and RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, but the only thing I can say is this: It’s got decent reviews, very good audience WOM (“A” Cinemascore grade) and not much out in the family market right now except FROZEN in its 17th weekend(!) and Muppets next weekend. (Plus RIO 2 in April.)

    Oh and that it’s actually good? I think most DWA efforts are middling films that seem more interested in fart jokes and (soon to be painfully dated) pop culture references than be creatively inspired by their plots. But MR. PEABODY was a step up. It’s not on the level of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, but still a decent DOCTOR WHO-flavored episodic comedy adventure that I would recommend.

    “Get the stick, boy!”
    “Why? You’ll just throw it again. It’s an exercise in futility!”

  5. EtGuild2 says:

    The panic on Dreamworks stock (it’s down 22% after an all-time high just 3 weeks ago) doesn’t seem that overboard when you consider that it’s still up almost 45% from a year ago. Investors got really excited about CROODS’ international performance and 2013 Q3 results that crushed diminished expectations in the wake of TURBO, because Fox is seemingly more competent on the home market than Paramount was ( Paramount may have simply stopped caring).

    This weekend is key, but if any studio knows how to work the foreign marketplace in recent years, it’s Fox, which routinely doubles or triples its domestic hauls overseas (A Good Day to Die Hard and the Ice Age movies are shining examples). The fact that “Peabody” is getting annihilated in “Croods” comparisons overseas is what has a lot of investors running for the hills. It’s been out for a month in France and the UK and will end up -50-60% in both countries, and those are marketplaces where you’d suspect “Peabody” would outperform the mean. A -40% worldwide cume looks extremely likely (it’s off 36% in the states through today) which would put it between “Megamind” and “Monsters v. Aliens” among recent DWA releases.

    On the other hand, assuming the downward price trajectory continues, I’m going ALL IN the day before Dragon 2 pre-sales start on Fandango;)

  6. Joe Leydon says:

    Art of the Steal has been available as VOD for quite some time. Maybe the people who wanted to see it… have already seen it?

  7. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Re: Lego Movie International numbers – I can tell you it vanished from South-East Asia in 2 weeks. I saw it opening weekend, recommended it to colleagues the following weekend, and when they tried to find a screening the weekend after that it was already gone.

    I think it was opening against “Monkey King”, which would explain its disappearance in Chinese-speaking countries like Hong Kong, but no idea why it did the same everywhere else too.

  8. Tyler Perry’s movies have never been shown in Venezuela, where I live. Just Like football movies (excluding ‘The Blind Side’ ) they’re a no show in Latín América. So Tyler Perry is a United States phenom, with no foreign Market.

  9. cadavra says:

    Saw 300 2 today. Oh. My. God. And I thought POMPEII was lousy. Poor Eva Green, basically redoing her DARK SHADOWS role but given nothing to work with. The rest of the actors are just mugs with abs. I thought it would be fun on a camp level but it was just depressing.

    And can we now agree that the MPAA is utterly incapable of giving a movie an NC-17 for violence? The cartoonish blood-gushing just got more and more absurd and tiresome as it went on. I’d hate to be a small child brought to this charnel house by a neglectful parent.

    OTOH, I thoroughly enjoyed BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY. I thought it was gonna be just another DOUBLE INDEMNITY/POSTMAN variant, but it consistently surprised me and was amusing and clever, with a swell cast. Well worth seeking out.

  10. hcat says:

    Its almost criminal that Eva Green has not been able to find decent roles. So bewitching and seemed poised for stardom after Dreamers, Kindgom and especially Casino Royale, and then pfffft. I think its a disconcerting sign of the currant infantile focus of Hollywood that the only high profile roles that she can find that take into account her dark sensuousness are playing witches and comic book villians.

  11. Pete B. says:

    Different strokes for different folks and all… I also saw 300 #2 yesterday and enjoyed it as it was better than I thought it would be. Maybe the difference was IMAX 3D? But Eva Green does steal the whole show, just like she did in Camelot on STARZ (playing a witch).

    Funny thing in regarding Cadavra’s comment- there was a Mom who brought 2 little kids into the theater. My wife pointed them out to me, and as soon as the lady sat down and saw what was on the screen, she escorted the two kindergarten age kids right back out.

  12. SamLowry says:

    What the hell was she expecting? A musical?

    I see it every day in my retail work and every time I see an R movie in a theater: Some people should never have been allowed to reproduce. I’d hardly sat down for a showing of HANNIBAL all those years ago when I heard the squalling of little kids. And they didn’t leave.

    WTF, people?

  13. cadavra says:

    Pete: FWIW, I saw it in FauxMax 3-D as well. While it enhanced Green’s truly impressive knockers, it didn’t add much else.

    And there’s nothing wrong with being typecast in villainous roles (or any kind, for that matter); a lot of very fine actors built substantial careers on creating a certain persona and then making it a brand. But compare 300’s seduction-and-badass-fucking scene with the nearly identical one in SHADOWS, and you can clearly see that Green (in 300) is at the mercy of a dreadful script (assuming there actually was one) and a hack director.

  14. Hallick says:

    “Funny thing in regarding Cadavra’s comment- there was a Mom who brought 2 little kids into the theater. My wife pointed them out to me, and as soon as the lady sat down and saw what was on the screen, she escorted the two kindergarten age kids right back out.”

    Just a frazzled mom walking into the wrong theater, I’m guessing. If that wasn’t the case, then kudos to her for making the good parent call right away. It’s pretty rare.

  15. New Commenter says:

    Did I miss the DreamWorks piece you referenced above?


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