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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by Len Tanky

Friday Estimates 2014-10-18 at 10.17.22 AM

Fury is Brad Pitt’s #10 opener, putting it right near the middle of his list of wide releases. So, not so exciting. On the other hand, it is a better launch than Moneyball, which ended up with six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Though Fury may not hold as well as Moneyball did (three of the first seven weekends dropped in the 20s and two more in the 30s), it will surely be a lot stronger internationally and be profitable… which Moneyball danced on the borderline of being. Fury‘s Oscar prospects will lay at the feet of Pitt’s interest in pushing the tank uphill. If he doesn’t—and so far, he hasn’t—it will not happen. If he does, it has a real shot at multiple nominations. The fact that Pitt’s production company, Plan B, is not a producer of the film is an issue… especially since Plan B did produce Selma, Ava Duvernay’s soon-to-arrive historic drama at Paramount.

By the way… Fury is a David Ayer picture, first and last. And by that standard, this is a HUGE opening… should be double or near double his next best. His previous stars have been Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christian Bale, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Keanu Reeves. So he remains a guy who male stars want to work with when they are ready to play capital-M Men. And this is the third of his five films that has really stuck with me. Next time someone does a puff piece about puffy men, throw Ayer’s films in their face to remind them that tough guys can still be there if studios want to make those films. (And remember which critics are turned off profoundly by all the testosterone.)

Really, the #2 opening of the weekend is Birdman, which on four screens should manage over $100k per screen. Keep in mind that this is about half of what the same distributor, Fox Searchlight, released The Grand Budapest Hotel to back in March and that film ended up doing a Wes Anderson-best $59m domestic and $173m worldwide. Alejandro Iñárritu’s best grosses were $35 million domestic and $135m worldwide for Babel. And that may well be where Birdman lands. Or maybe Searchlight (and audiences) will pass those numbers. My guess is that they will have an easier time chasing that domestic number than the international (without Pitt, Blanchett, and three internationally-based stories).

Also opening wide were The Book of Life and The Best of Me. Best of Me is a clear Nicholas Sparks sell. It’s the fifth Sparks film in the last five years and will be the weakest opener. And you can’t just blame Relativity, because they opened Safe Haven to $21 million just last year… and that was with a Thursday opening siphoning off the biggest single day of the run. One advantage is that the sell on that film focused exclusively on Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, while this one suggests that Monaghan and Marsden are the framing device for two unknown actors playing them as young ones. This, of course, worked with Garner & Rowlands framing McAdams and Gosling… but those young actors were, well, Gosling & McAdams.

I’m sure I didn’t see all the marketing for The Book of Life (a movie I love), but I have felt for months that Fox wasn’t going all out for this one. Maybe the look, which most people I know who have seen the film see as a strength, didn’t test well. Maybe they didn’t think girls would bite on the central idea, which is two guys battling for the heart of the smart, beautiful girl. Maybe they found that parents were shy about the Day of the Dead theme and wouldn’t bring their under-8s to the film if that was leaned on too heavily. (Personally, I know my 4.5-year-old would love the film and the studio wasn’t so sure he was old enough for it.) I don’t know what their internal arguments were. But I do know was that as a consumer, I got the impression that this was a smaller sell than something like a DreamWorks Animation movie. And for me, with due respect to Lego, this is the best animated film of the year… one that will be discovered by most kids when it lands on TV at whatever point.

This opening day is about the same as The Boxtrolls—another strong, interesting film with a much harder domestic sell—and behind Planes 2, neither of which will get to $60m domestic. Much bigger numbers for The Lego Movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2 and the upcoming Big Hero 6, one of which is likely to win Best Animated Feature, though if there is an upset of those three, it would likely be from a tiny competitor, like The Tale of Princes Kaguya (also opening this weekend), not from a quality film with mediocre domestic results.

Speaking of The Tale of Princes Kaguya, good, but not overwhelming launch. They could get up to $15k per screen on three.

The other muscular exclusive opening, aside from the bird, was Listen Up, Phillip, which should take just over $10k per screen on two.

3 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Len Tanky”

  1. LexG says:

    No numbers for Camp X-Ray’s 1-theater-in-America release in NYC? For someone with the most rabid fanbase since Michael Jackson, and whose every indie gets GALLONS of ink for months on end, how does every KStew indie ultimately end up dump in one empty theater with none of her crazed fans showing up to support it?

  2. EtGuild2 says:

    “And for me, with due respect to Lego, this is the best animated film of the year”

    I’m assuming you haven’t seen “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” and aren’t including “The Congress.”

  3. David Poland says:

    I have seen them all, Et.

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