By David Poland email@example.com
Friday Estimates by Lego Klady Dark w/ Almonds
-30%. -16%. +100%.
This would be as good a weekend as any to see the future of the IP-obsessed trend in Hollywood. Those who want to believe things are great with remaking everything will point out that all three of these movies will make money in the end. And that is true. Those who are more circumspect will note that even with down opening days, it is unlikely that either of the first two sequels will enjoy a 3-day multiple as good as the original and that the third cost at least double what the original cost. And someone who hates the IP trend will note that… well, they will stew, as 2 of the 3 got great reviews and the third will make up for domestic losses overseas.
The bigger question is… will studios burn their own houses down relying on ever-weakening over-used IP before the trend ends and they move back into a more moderate posture? Or will they get so desperate to make the trend work that they day-n-date their own industry beyond the point of recovery?
In some ways, just being off 30% should be a relief to Universal and Team 50 Shades. Tracking, at one point, had the second of three (so far) dropping 50% or more. I expect this launch to get worse today, not better. Still, if $55m is the 3-day, Universal would have taken that the first time and they won’t die from it this time. This is also one of those cases where international is dominant, having done 2.4x what domestic did the first time around. So even if this one drops hard and ends up at $110m domestic, international is sure to be $250m at a minimum. Even with an increased budget, $360m is a success for everyone involved… just not as much of a success. And it could well be higher than that. And if the third film drops to $250m worldwide… still making money… not a ton at that point… but making money. It is a truly hideous movie. Everyone involved should be embarrassed. But everyone also gets a new house or two or five.
The Lego Batman Movie is not an underdog. So the drop in the opening, which I think WB anticipated in recent weeks based on how hard the push got, is disappointing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Batman is the King of IP Cash. Iron Man may seem to be kind of the hill right now, but when Downey stops wearing the suit, whoever follows will fall back in line behind Batman. And when WB decided to make a Batman Lego film the next in what they hope will be an annual series from now until forever, they were clearly intending to boost the franchise into its future, not to stay just below even from the phenom of the original. But it didn’t.
Lego Batman is going to make a lot of money (gross and profit). $300m worldwide is pretty much guaranteed. But it is also going to bring the fantasy of the Lego cash cow back down to earth. Even with great reviews, the “you have to see this… I know you think it’s for kids, but it’s for everyone” phenomenon of the first film is not going to keep getting extended to a bunch of Lego movies. Sorry. Just not. I suspect that this film will be the peak of the Lego franchise, aside from the first theatrical Lego movie. (Worth noting that there is a metric ton of Lego “movies” on streaming, cable, and in video games, so the novelty of active Lego characters isn’t really there for kids either.) Assuming the September Ninjago movie is terrific, I would expect it to do half of whatever Batman Lego does… and then, some panic will set in, as it has on Fantastic Beasts.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is a sequel to a modest hit that has become a cult-y favorite since the original’s release 2.3 years ago. This opening doubles the opening of the original, which is great for them. It still leads to a modest success, well under $200m worldwide, unless it really takes off overseas in some unexpected way. And it might.
Paramount looks like it will have a solid year to come, but the winter campaign has been surprisingly disastrous. They may actually lose money on Rings, though they might also break even sometime late this year in post-theatrical… but just barely. They will be upside down on xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. They already took the writedown on Monster Trucks. Silence is barely on their spread sheets, but will still lose a little for the studio. And Allied will bleed red. Fences looks like breakeven will be a happy ending. Arrival is the one financial bright spot… but it is not quite as bright as expected.
They have Ghost in the Shell (aka Scarlett Painted White & Rendered Even More Flawless), Baywatch, and Transformers V… 3 purely commercial vehicles coming down the pike. The whole line-up until next fall. I truly hope they hit them out of the park. I worry that there isn’t a single middle movie for 10 months, which could be a surprise hit. All 3 of these films need to be major hits to get credit for being hits at all. And that is a heavy burden to carry.
Compare this to Sony, which is also fighting uphill right now. 8 releases before next fall, only 1 of which, Spider-Man Homecoming, needs to gross huge numbers to be seen as a success. They are still swinging for the fences with Life and The Dark Tower, but not on insane budgets. And the hopefuls include a Scarlett Johansson comedy, an Edgar Wright comedy, and Danny Boyle’s return to Trainspotting with the full crew intact, plus two Sony Animation films, which won’t be expected to do Disney numbers. It could be that nothing surprises joyfully. But if Spidey does great – which I think it will – and 1 or 2 of the others breaks out, Sony is back on its feet.
On the other hand, if Paramount runs the table with 3 movies and does over $2 billion worldwide with them, they too are going to be seen as being back on their feet.
Nice roll-out on 4 for A United Kingdom, with $4500 per screen on Friday. Duckweed, a $90m comedy hit in China arrives on 27 screens here and is performing modestly.