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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by How About That Phase II Klady

Friday Estimates 2015-01-17 at 10.00.49 AM

My weird personal indicator about what was coming for American Sniper was the over-180,000 views of the Bradley Cooper DP/30 interview, about double the previous best for him. Less personally was the one-of-a-kind 3-weekend run of exclusive (4 screen) engagements with over $140k per-screen. While one reason this has never happened is that no one would show that kind of restraint in light of those numbers… you might not go wide, but pretty much any other situation would see an expansion to at least 30 or 40 screens. In any case, still a phenom. The only other films in history to even have two weekends at over $100k per-screen were Disney animated movies on 1 or 2 screens.

So how big is this opening day? It’s the biggest opening day in movie history for a straight drama. Don’t see it as a straight drama because it has shooting? It’s the 57th best opening day in history and the 9th best opening day of a non-sequel all-time. And what are the other non-sequels? The Avengers, The Hunger Games, Alice in Wonderland, Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Twilight, Iron Man, and The Simpsons Movie.

This, whether you like the film and its politics or not, is breathtaking from a box office perspective. I keep comparing it to The Passion of The Christ, which had one day with a higher gross that Sniper, grossing $33 million in its first Saturday with $64 million already in the back from its Wednesday-Friday run. I believe this is a film that has captured the imagination of the military audience and perhaps the faith audience that doesn’t come out to movies very often. Add to that the mainstream audience that has been drawn by the marketing and which has a built-in interest in both Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper.

It’d also worth noting that this project was developed by Steven Spielberg before he finally decided not to make it. Eastwood picked it up a few months later, in no small part because of the efforts of the film’s not-in-name-only producer Bradley Cooper, who has made being part of the production teams on films he makes a big part of his work. But Spielberg knows emotion as well as any director alive. And once he took over, Eastwood cut is down a bit, which made it both emotionally strong and raw at once.

Needless to say, Sniper will shred the January record for Best Opening, now #10 all-time based on Friday alone (a few steps ahead of Black Hawk Down‘s full expansion in 2001). The record is $42 million for Ride Along. That might fall during matinees today.

I have no idea what the potential for American Sniper is. Some of these movies burn bright then fade. Even the 3-day and 4-day numbers for the film are a mystery. Going in, the often misread tracking suggested $50 million and change this weekend. I don’t see how anything less than $70m for 3 days and $85 million for 4 days could happen. It could easily be $20 million more, in each case.

Why is the white man always keeping Kevin Hart down? In this case, the white man seems to be Josh Gad, who is the co-lead in The Wedding Ringer, which will be Hart’s weakest leading-man opener since he broke out with Think Like A Man in 2012. It’s not as painful as the opening for Chris Rock’s excellent Top Five, but it’s not going to be a happy weekend for Hart, even if the 4-day hits $20 million. Bad trajectory. Not a great sign of his crossover power.

Paddington opens soft.

With all the controversy, a Best Picture nomination, and some more screens, Selma is still down a decent, but not thrilling 37% last Friday to this. The good news, overall, is that the film is looking like it will be closer to $40 million than $30 million in the end. And it is still possible that the film will catch fire. In 1992, with a big movie star in Denzel and a well-known director in Spike Lee, Malcolm X did $48 million domestic. I would love to see Selma reach that mark, at least.

The Imitation Game also added some screens from last weekend’s expansion, to 1611. 12% Friday-to-Friday drop. Cume is already over $45 million.

The bomb of the weekend is Blackhat, the Michael Mann movie that has tried a number of angles on trying to find an audience that cares. This will be, by a distance, Michael Mann’s worst opening the 1980s. It will be less than a third of any Mann opening in this millennium.

30 Responses to “Friday Estimates by How About That Phase II Klady”

  1. Monco says:


  2. pat says:

    You’re going to need a wider box for the chart’s % change column.

  3. EtGuild2 says:

    Anyone want to bet on the over/under vs. “The LEGO Movie” final cume of $257 million? (last year’s winter gross “game changer”)

    Disappointed with the gross for “Appropriate Behavior.” The “Girls” comparisons are unfair.

    Really underwhelming start for “Still Alice.”

  4. movieman says:

    Wow, is “Blackhat” ever a bomb!
    A $1.4 million opening day?!
    And to think Universal claimed that date while the film was still in production.
    I guess they didn’t see the b.o. behemoth that was “American Sniper” coming.
    Curiously, despite the fact that it’s bound to be Mann’s biggest flop since “The Keep,” I gave it a more sympathetic, appreciative first read than I did any Mann film since “Ali.”
    It looks amazing, and I loved how it moves: so fluidly, almost sensually.
    The plot isn’t hugely compelling (but fairly easy to follow on a scene-by-scene basis), and except for Viola Davis none of the performances exactly jump out at you.
    But it doesn’t matter. Mann does great work here and that’s what counts.
    It’s the best January new movie (as opposed to an expansion of Oscar bait titles) wide release in years.
    But again: what a freaking b.o. catastrophe.

  5. Arisp says:

    We are witnessing the end of Mann’s carte blanche in Hollywood. Sucks but that’s how it goes.

  6. movieman says:

    Maybe Mann will go back to TV–cable this time. Probably a more commodious home for him than the major film studios these days anyway.
    I nearly shit myself when I read that Woody was writing/directing a new series for Amazon Prime.

  7. dinovelvet says:

    After the unfortunate (ha) LUCK, not sure Mann wants to go back to TV anytime soon. But yeah, those Blackhat numbers, I mean…jeez, wow. Saw it and I thought it was terrific, but those numbers are a special kind of Fuck You from audiences. You can put any generic crap in 2500 theaters and it’ll pull in 7/8 million just from random foot traffic. This is a flat out nuh-uh, not interested, must avoid, not seeing it. So what’s the post-mortem here? Sniper was just a black hole that wiped out everything around it? THOR AS A HACKER LOL? Audiences just not interested in Computer Shit (Fifth Estate, Transcendence)?
    (Amusingly, Liam Hemsworth’s try as a tech genius in Paranoia opened to…$1.3 million on its first day!)

  8. Geoff says:

    You have to figure from Universal’s perspective, they thought the best course of action was just to DUMP “Blackhat” – they had spent a boatload twice now to promote Mann’s films (Public Enemy, Miami Vice) with far weaker results than they hoped and just figured, it wasn’t worth it this time and cut their losses.

    It had to be the quietest campaign I can remember for a Mann film – even going back 20 years, there were months of hype leading up to Last of the Mohicans and Heat – and you have to figure they were directing all efforts to next month and getting huge numbers out of 50 Shades of Grey which I’m pretty sure will more than make up in profit whatever they lose on this one.

    And you REALLY can’t say that this weekend is an indicator of Kevin Hart’s crossover appeal, not fair – this is going to the be the biggest aggregate weekend in history for January I’ll bet and if you have one film (‘Sniper) possibly nearing $100 million, there’s only so much left to go around. If Get Hard tanks in two months (which I don’t think it will), then you can say that Hart isn’t going to get bigger.

    And ‘Sniper wow……gotta give props to Warners, I can still confidently say they are the best run studio…..with all of the hype that Disney has been getting over their properties, only Warners seems to know how to consistently hit that sweet spot of critical and commercial success (Lego, Gravity) even during off months. I just hope they don’ allow themselves to get too bogged down with the DC properties.

  9. Bitplayer says:

    Think Like A man was not Kevin Hart’s movie. He was a supporting character in the movie at set, just comic relief. I imagine Jonah Hill in this same part and you get dole the numbers. Ride Along would e the most apt comparison. Nobody knows who Gad is. I think this movie might have legs since there aren[t anymore comedies coming out for a while.

  10. Geoff says:

    And yeah, Paramount really dropped the ball on Selma in so many ways – this was a film that needed a careful, drawn-out, well-finessed campaign like Brokeback Mountain or 12 Years a Slave….and it was anything but.

  11. MAGGA says:

    I always laugh when I hear Clint Eastwood’s name, since the lasting image of his life for many is that of an insane grandpa talking to an invisible, angry president in complete incoherence in front of thousands of people and millions of TV viewers. But maybe it actually upped his credentials among conservative people? Either way it’s good to see a non-franchise film doing well

  12. That Guy says:

    You could see Blackhat’s comeuppance coming whenever the trailer played before a movie. As soon as Hemsworth is revealed as the hero hacker people laugh.

    Cast Jesse Eisenberg in that role and this would have opened much better. Probably not a blockbuster in any case, though.

  13. Kevin says:

    AMERICAN SNIPER: the rare mega hit that won’t/can’t get a sequel.

  14. PcChongor says:

    Sure it will:
    “American Sniper 2: Stolz der Heaven”
    “American Sniper 3: Judgement Day”
    “American Sniper 4: Reboot As Necessary”

  15. Christian says:

    “Paddington opens soft.” No context for matinee bumps? I guess the Friday start is too soft to overcome in terms of box-office perception.

    I’ll just say this: Take a look at the Rotten Tomatoes rating: 98% fresh among all critics! That’s nearly unheard of … until you look at “Top Critics.” I mean, the “fresh” number usually drops when you click off “All Critics” to “Top Critics,” but in the case of “Paddington,” what do we see? 100 percent “fresh”! That’s 34 reviews from top critics, and all positive.

    So maybe, just maybe, the story of the week (or at least ONE of them) isn’t the mega box-office of “American Sniper” or the flameout of another Michael Mann film, but the potential word of mouth on “Paddington.”

  16. Harrison says:

    Could American Sniper have the legs to make enough to knock Transformers: Age of Extinction’s $245M from the domestic top 5 for 2014?

  17. Bulldog68 says:

    “Could American Sniper have the legs to make enough to knock Transformers: Age of Extinction’s $245M from the domestic top 5 for 2014?”

    I think The Hobbit will do that soon Harrison. Maybe by Monday or Tuesday.

  18. film fanatic says:

    Yes, I know he was in the original cast of BOOK OF MORMON (which means nothing to general film audiences, outside Scott Rudin’s influential circle of friends) and yes, he was the voice of the snowman in FROZEN, but why does Hollywood seem so intent on making the insufferably annoying Josh Gad happen? Is there ANYONE in America clamoring to see him carry a movie? Kevin Hart is a legitimate star, he’s already crossed over, but jeez he should have insisted on a better co-star for this one.

  19. arisp says:

    All this talk about Selma and the nominations … Where was Joaquin Phoenix’s nomination for Inherent Vice? What a great performance.

  20. pat says:

    Kevin Hart is not going to insist on a co-star that might potentially outshine him.

  21. Bulldog says:

    Before there was Josh Gad, there was Kevin James and Jonah Hill. No one is saying they are not stars today. Kevin James could have all but disappeared after his sitcom was over. Jonah Hill has gotten his two Oscar noms after being the second fiddle in Accepted to Justin Long. Who would have thought the fat guy from Superbad would have been where he is today?

    So what’s your point about Josh Gad? He’s actually writing the screenplay for Triplets with Arnie, DeVito and Eddie Murphy. I have a feeling he’s not going away any time soon.

  22. leahnz says:

    “He’s actually writing the screenplay for Triplets with Arnie, DeVito and Eddie Murphy”

    i’d ask if that’s a joke but i know better by now, sweet desperation jesus

  23. cadavra says:

    He also was the creator and principal writer for the short-lived vanity sitcom 1600 PENN, the umpteenth waste of Jenna Elfman, who once again simply collected a paycheck while he ran around breaking all the furniture and dishes.

  24. J says:

    “All this talk about Selma and the nominations … Where was Joaquin Phoenix’s nomination for Inherent Vice? What a great performance.”

    Absolutely. Maybe half that movie is made up of Joaquin Phoenix reaction shots, and I could have watched his face contort from befuddlement to revelation and back for a whole ‘nother hour.

    At least his clothes got nominated. Too bad his phone did not.

  25. R.A. Bartlett says:

    “with all of the hype that Disney has been getting over their properties, only Warners seems to know how to consistently hit that sweet spot of critical and commercial success (Lego, Gravity) even during off months. I just hope they don’ allow themselves to get too bogged down with the DC properties.”

    Well, actually, Disney’s blockbusters (“Guardians”, “Frozen”) got better reviews than Sniper. If you mean “able to spin megahits out of non-franchise stuff”, then yeah, nobody does it better than Warner Bros.

    And it absolutely kills with the heartland crowd. As with “Passion”, as with “Blind Side”, this is the kind of movie you make if you want to make money outside the comic-con supremacy. Maybe you can get some solid doubles or triples from David O. Russell, but that’s what the alternative to Marvel looks like.

  26. Bulldog says:

    I know what you mean Leahnz, but just referring to the fact that the guy is employed behind the camera as well as in front of it. So those who are wishing his career a speedy demise might not be getting that wish granted anytime soon.

    As far as writing Triplets goes, no reference to quality, but as far as Hollywood standards go, that’s not a bad gig to have.

  27. Kevin says:

    90,2 M$ weekend for AMERICAN SNIPER.

    Best ever for Jan-Feb.

    Best ever for Clint Eastwood.

    Best ever for Bradley Cooper, unless you count GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.

    Best ever for a non-comic book, non-fantasy/sci-fi, non-YA, non-animated film.

    Best ever for a non-franchise film, I think…

  28. arisp says:

    There’s no accounting for taste. Red states are orgasming over this bland, one note film.

  29. Casey says:

    “Paddington opens soft.”

    Based on what, exactly? It’ll end up at around $24-25 million over the 4-day weekend. That’s slightly better than expectations, and a number that I’m sure the Weinsteins will be more than happy with.

  30. Hallick says:

    “Before there was Josh Gad, there was Kevin James and Jonah Hill.”

    Actually, before there was Josh Gad there was Dan Fogler.

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