By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday Estimates by Are The Globes A National Holiday Anywhere Outside of L.A. Klady
Hidden Figures pops, although I suspect that longterm, there is more upside than this. The Help has almost the same number on opening Friday. Of course, here it is after 12 days in limited release (25 screens) and back with Help, they opened on a Wednesday, siphoning off some of the Must-See. Still, I can see Hidden Figures accelerating, not only on word of mouth, but on MLK weekend. And then… Oscar nominations that the media seems to be finally be accepting as likely.
Slapping myself on the back, I noted way back at the 12-minute presentation at TIFF in September that Figures and Jackie were the only two events that stood out from Venice/Telluride as award-significant in Canada. All that Figures could do to keep itself out of the Oscar race would be to stink. And it doesn’t. The star power of the three leads and Costner and a great story overcome flaws. But this is an audience film, bigly. As it’s turning out, Jackie is hanging on to a reasonable hope of being nominated while Figures is surging as one of the two really “fun” films of the Oscar season.
The other opener this week is almost as retro as Hidden Figures. Underworld hasn’t had a new entry in five years. Kate Beckinsale and her spandex skin haven’t aged a day… But the domestic audience for this franchise may have aged out. This opening will be the worst of the franchise, including the Rhona-Mitra-For-Kate moment in 2009. But here is what makes it interesting past this weekend: the international on the 2012 film, with Beckinsale’s return, was double any other in the franchise’s history, just under $100 million. So if they can duplicate or improve on that, Sony will be very happy indeed, even if the domestic is meh.
The only other real change on the board is the La La Land expansion, from 750 to 1515. I’m sure there was demand from exhibitors. I’m not sure I would have chosen this weekend. La La ain’t The Revenant, which went wide the weekend after New Year’s last year. Even American Sniper waited until MLK weekend to go wide two years ago. American Hustle and Black Swan are also bad comps because they went wide in December, riding the holiday. I would have suggested waiting until next weekend, getting the MLK and the Globes wins benefits to expand. And, of course, this expansion is not over. A $7500 per-screen is still quite nice and the movie is already in the black (considering all revenue streams), but another week of anticipation wouldn’t have killed anyone.
Drops on the rest of the chart all make sense for this weekend.