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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by Hurricane Len

Weekend Estimates 2016-10-09 at 9.40.37 AM

The Girl on The Train underperforms its opening day, likely a reflection of weather on the east coast. Miss Peregrine and Deepwater Horizon hold well in light of same. The other two openings, Birth of a Nation and Middle School barely land. Neither will generate $3500 per screen despite relatively small screen count for wide releases.

Before we get all hysterical about the box office (AGAIN!!!), this opening for The Girl on The Train is disappointing, especially vs the Friday number. But the only film that opened better in October 2015 was The Martian. It would have been the #3 opening of October 2014. And there is still a legit shot at this film getting to $100 million domestic.

On the other hand…  a crap run of movies lately.

The Birth of a Nation comes to market hobbled. Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life is marketed off a book series, but the title unavoidably creates a tiny, tiny niche.

Going back a week, Fox treated Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children like a stepchild instead of like a big Tim Burton event and Deepwater Horizon, which performed within expectations, never seemed to push for anyone who wasn’t in the well-defined blue collar and military niche for that kind of film (see: Peter Berg, lately) to see the film.

And as much as kids love talking animals… in 2016, they also know that storks don’t bring babies.

Sully, a good movie, is hitting its weight. And so is The Magnificent Seven… a not very good movie.

But as always, what the market needs is simple… movies that make people think they want to see them. Good or bad. Genre or not. Awards-y or not.

The job of making it happen is hard. But the principle is simple. And it’s only partially on the movies themselves. Box office success happens at all levels of quality. Opening is opening, not a quality referendum.

Do people want to see The Accountant? The marketing is being tuned to what WB thinks people will want, not what the movie is. That is the way it works.

Of course, WB has Fantastic Beasts coming and a 2017 with seven event movies on the schedule. And they will ride Sully into award season with great intensity. So things are shifting over in Burbank.

Anyway… another crap weekend at the indies. The big hits are a Chinese actioner, Operation Mekong, and the (3rd, 4th, 5th) theatrical re-release of The Battle of Algiers, newly restored!

Zeitgeist and The Orchard also cracked the $5,000 per screen mark on single screens, though… though… this is a tough business. See both films (Blue Jay and Theo Who Lived) on VOD.

15 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Hurricane Len”

  1. Stella's Boy says:

    Took my kid to see Middle School last night. He loved it, and it does have some funny moments, mostly thanks to Retta, Andy Daly, and Rob Riggle. I was surprised to see Participant Media’s involvement and subsequently less surprised to detect an anti-public school message in the movie, complete with a very Michelle Rhee-like superintendent who swoops in and saves the day in the end. Or I’m just reading too much into a kid’s movie.

  2. Ray Pride says:

    Disappointing that Participant is “Partisan” in the worst way. Wonder what changes they’ll suggest in the Amblin Partners productions they co-finance.

  3. EtGuild2 says:

    DORY finally hits $1 billion, while PETS nears $850 million.

    Four $1 billion hits in the same year for Disney, assuming STAR WARS isn’t some disaster.

  4. Triple Option says:

    My two most recent movies I thought were better than the boxoffice suggested.

    Storks – I have to admit I was kinda ‘meh’ when I first saw the trailer. Like, I’m not even sure if the old wives tale of babies coming from storks even floats around since old wives tale has been supplanted by urban legend. Anyway, I thought it was pretty funny. Good humor for adults that wasn’t merely sexual innuendo. Plenty of comedies geared for adults, not necessarily R-rated, I’ve seen in the past few years weren’t nearly as funny. Great voices. Glad they didn’t just go famous people w/drab voices.

    I thought Birth of a Nation was very well put together. I’m not sure how much I liked it overall. I think there are some movies that are tough to watch but still important, (for lack of a better word), to see. Not sure if this one quite fits that bill. I thought the biggest struggle was an internal conflict Turner had based on his beliefs. Much of what I’ve read leading up to the movie that relates to the movie itself has been a backlash over the subject matter, one, and the accuracy of the portrayal. Both of those being “How dare you make another movie about slavery…” and “Turner better be shown as pure evil”

    I think those complaints or concerns were literally coming from a place of pre-judgement. Things were played out in cause and effect not morally right vs wrong actions. At least not to me. Had the same basic story happened in a Death Wish installment I don’t know if anyone would have raised the same stink.

    I did notice quite an extensive list of names in the exec producer credits, including David Goyer and Edward Zwick. I wonder what sort of input they had. Had either of them directed, I wonder what the conversation about the film would be? I thought the imdb score was significantly lower than actual quality. It was also very low w/a lot of ratings before the film had officially been released.

    I wonder how much Parker’s personal past had to do w/the boxoffice? I heard a large part of that news in August, I believe. It didn’t disappear but I thought in Sept there was a heavy push on promoting the film itself but then there was like another month before the thing actually was to come out. You can’t control the controversy but I thought the awareness push was pretty strong from a long way out. Like either they were really pushing for a big opening, like beyond the normal Searchlight numbers, or that awareness was unexpectedly low. I wonder if it would have done better had they moved it up?

    There are a lot of strong opinions about his past, which I wouldn’t suggest people put aside. Given as much as I had been hearing about the film, since all the way back from its Sundance sell, I thought the opening would have broken $9M, if not 12.

    Speaking of the Sundance sell, how much was that for show? In the credits there were plenty of services ranging from post ADR to scoring that were provided by Fox. Was that done as a way to enhance the original film? Did they re-cut and re-shoot stuff and make it all studio pretty or were they providing services from day 1, does anybody know? Cuz to me it seems a bit suspect to announce this huge sell of Searchlight making a big splash bid to acquire this film when all along they were in the next bldg over working on the edit while the leadership team was thinking of ways to promote and release it.

  5. Stella's Boy says:

    When you look at the history of Sundance sensations, aren’t there far more Happy, Texas than Little Miss Sunshine? I would never have expected The Birth of a Nation to open with more than it did. It’s dark, it’s R, it has a no-name lead. I mean a big movie star/Oscar winner couldn’t open Free State of Jones to more than $7.5 million. I don’t think the controversy really hurt the box office. I’d blame the NFL and MLB playoff games and the bad weather before bad press. Do most non-movie buffs have any awareness of who Nate Parker is? I doubt it.

  6. Cg says:

    According to Box Office Mojo’s daily numbers, Suicide Squad had fallen behind Guardians of the Galaxy in domestic box office to date.

  7. Glamourboy says:

    I had an interest in seeing Birth of a Nation when the first festival reactions came out. Since then, I admit, I am totally turned off by Nate Parker and his lack of empathy and refusal to apologize to his late victim. I am never going to see this movie.

  8. Chucky says:

    Stella, what planet are you from? The NFL’s TV audiences are off compared to 2015. Baseball has become a niche sport outside the cities where it’s played.

    Want to blame someone for the poor box office? Blame Hollywood where most every picture is promoted in the same robotic manner.

  9. Stella's Boy says:

    Ah Chucky. Always great to have your insight and robotic comments about marketing. Is the poster to blame for The Birth of a Nation’s performance? Also please check your reading comprehension skills. I said I would be more likely to blame sports than bad press for the movie’s box office. And even with ratings down the NFL still commands huge ratings. MLB playoff games were 4 of the top 5 cable programs last week. So I am from this planet. You?

  10. leahnz says:

    stella’s you know full well chucky is from Jersey (where the oscar quotes are whore-ier, mouth breathers louder, the legion is doom-ier, and the pools above ground)

  11. Stella's Boy says:

    You speak the truth leah.

  12. Geoff says:

    “When you look at the history of Sundance sensations, aren’t there far more Happy, Texas than Little Miss Sunshine? I would never have expected The Birth of a Nation to open with more than it did. It’s dark, it’s R, it has a no-name lead. I mean a big movie star/Oscar winner couldn’t open Free State of Jones to more than $7.5 million. I don’t think the controversy really hurt the box office. I’d blame the NFL and MLB playoff games and the bad weather before bad press. Do most non-movie buffs have any awareness of who Nate Parker is? I doubt it.”

    Good points Stella – being the hype of Sundance rarely translates into box office success. That said, I do think the controversy against the film hurt it this way: there is NO way that would Fox Searchlight would have opened it in 2100 theaters if their confidence in the film had not been shaken by the backlash – this would have been a textbook slow, careful roll-out like they’ve done with Slumdog Millionaire or 12 Years a Slave. Pushing it into wide release the first week of October says “Ok put up or shut immediately…then we’re done.”

  13. Stella's Boy says:

    But Geoff Fox announced an October wide release for the movie only three weeks after Sundance ended. The plan was always a wide release.

  14. Mike says:

    I thought I read that the release pattern was part of the negotiations and why Parker and Co. sold to Searchlight and not Netflix.

  15. Stella's Boy says:

    Indeed Parker passed on Netflix’s $20 million bid because he wanted a wide theatrical release and Fox Searchlight promised a release on at least 1,500 screens. A few weeks later they announced an October 7 wide release.

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