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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates By Where Are The Movies? Klady

Friday Estimates 2017-12-09 at 9.18.26 AM

There are five wide releases in a two-day stretch the week after Last Jedi. Three are comedies. Two are action movies. And Fox is counter-programming Jedi with an animated bull, which seems suicidal. (The move, not the bull.)

But hell if they are going to take anything out this weekend!!!

The film business keeps finding new niches for distribution and success where there once was little success, with the basic premise that If Audiences Want It, It Doesn’t Matter When You Release It. Yet, they will leave a full month of the calendar without product (such as August and September of this year). And now, they will abandon two weeks after Thanksgiving because… uh… well… Paramount failed to get big audiences for two comedies on the second weekend after Thanksgiving in the last three years, so it must be a dead zone.

Here is the message that the studios need to get:  if ticket buyers don’t show up, it’s your fault.

There is such a thing as a wrong date. Bad Mom’s Christmas or Daddy’s Home 2 would have probably played better in the month of Christmas than weeks before Thanksgiving. Both overcame the terrible dating enough not to be disasters, but both left, probably, 30% – 50% of their potential domestic grosses on the table.

But if a studio really believed in a movie, Star Wars next weekend shouldn’t scare them off this weekend. There will be damage against a mega-opener. But even the last time, when two studios decided to go up against Force Awakens, the drops for the holdovers was not brutal. And the one major release the weekend before was Heart of the Sea, which arrived as damaged goods.

Did Passengers benefit from being in a December 21 cluster or would it have been better off the weekend before Rogue One? How about Why Him?

I looked at It this last September and I looked at the history and that film’s eventual  opening was a super long-shot. But it happened. 2.5x the opening of any other September film ever and almost 2x the domestic gross.

A teachable moment.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was another. Suicide Squad. Deadpool. American Sniper. Molds broken.

And there is this… a movie that has a soft opening coming is going to have a softer opening in a crowd.

We no longer live in a purchasing universe driven by habit. More than ever, every opening stands alone. Summer is a real thing. Thanksgiving and Christmas-New Years week is a real thing. But four of the Top 10 domestic grossers last year and probably the same this year will come out of other periods.

Will Father Figures survive its release date? Would the sequel to Bad Moms have done better this weekend and played stronger over the Christmas weeks than it did over Thanksgiving? Would Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle have done better before Star Wars than after?

Studios spend a lot of time and people power trying to answer these questions six months, a year, even two years out. Perhaps that is why the answers often end up being more safe than risky. I still believe WB didn’t expect It to do the business it did or they would have put it in August (and would have made more). It proved you could have a $100m September opening. But it also reminded us that, sometimes, these things happen by happenstance as much as planning.

The Disaster Artist is killing it. $8k+ per-screen on 840 for a movie about a failed movie-turned-cult film starring an actor who is not a big opener.

Lady Bird passed $20 million and will get an awards boost on its way to becoming A24’s biggest movie.

Three Billboards is solid, if not spectacular.

Wonder will be just short of $100 million after this weekend.

And Just Getting Started, which braved this weekend, is a $3 million turd in the punch bowl (which has to be about the amount they paid Morgan Freeman).

23 Responses to “Friday Estimates By Where Are The Movies? Klady”

  1. PTA Fluffer says:

    Who would’ve thought JL couldn’t even get to $250m?

  2. GSpot 3000 says:

    Sorry to be THAT guy, but Suicide Squad wasn’t the mold breaker date-wise…it was initially cracked by Guardians Of The Galaxy.

  3. JS Partisan says:

    This is the shit weekend. We all know it’s the shit weekend, but shouldn’t Jumanji be here? Reading all the reviews yesterday. I thought, “Hey. That’s out already?” Which led to, “No. It comes out after Star Wars.” WHY? WHY DIDN’T ANY STUDIO TAKE A SHOT THIS WEEKEND?

    We all understand how holiday box office works, but there’s a freaking Star Wars movie hunkering down from next week to sometime in February. Why not open the week before, and hope to get lucky? It’s just nuts.

    Not as nuts as Justice League face planting that badly, but Warners gets what they get. They should have never let Snyder spend a hundred plus million on a Superman movie, that features Superman killing Zod. Once you unleash the poison pill not even Diana from Themyscira can turn back that tide.

  4. Dr Wally Rises says:

    TLJ will most likely do more in its opening weekend than the entire domestic take of JL. That’s astonishing. Anyway, I spent my couple of days off catching up with some movies I missed :

    Logan Lucky – underrated, maybe because it’s the most easy going heist thriller I’ve ever seen. This is one that will hold up well as a cable perennial in years to come, with its precise construction and some memorably funny lines and character work. Joe Bang needs his own movie too.

    Spielberg (HBO). This was two and a half hours but could easily have been five given the length and breadth of his career. The most illuminating section for me was the behind the scenes footage from Schindler’s List, some of it in color, as this is something Spielberg has always disallowed from being released until now. It’s a shame that some movies like Always and Hook (a movie that gets more interesting if no less flawed with the passing years) barely merit a mention, and that the likes of Christian Bale and Tom Cruise pass by so fleetingly. Great, but now let’s get an extended edition on Blu Ray.

  5. Stella's Boy says:

    Why didn’t JL have better legs since generally people seem to really like it? Too many skeptics due to BvsS?

    Saw Three Billboards last night and didn’t really like it. Cast is great and it has its moments, but for me it just doesn’t come together and the tonal shifts don’t work. I also didn’t buy the redemption story at all and found it to be pretty ludicrous and stupid.

    On the other hand, Brawl in Cell Block 99 is just ridiculously entertaining and awesome. It’s so well-made and Vaughn is perfect. S. Craig Zahler is the real deal. What a dark, brutal, and mesmerizing flick. One of the favorites of the year.

  6. movieman says:

    I was surprised that a new movie by Ron Shelton wasn’t being screened in advance of its opening day. Or even doing Thursday night previews.
    And then I saw it.
    Just pitiful.
    Hard to wrap my brain around the fact that the same guy who wrote/directed “Bull Durham,” “Tin Cup” and “White Men Can’t Jump” made this indefensible disaster.
    Unless I’m forgetting something, “Just Getting Started” is the worst movie both Morgan Freeman or Tommy Lee Jones have ever starred in.
    Merry freaking Christmas.

  7. EtGuild2 says:

    Not only will LADYBIRD be A24’s biggest ever, it could conceivably DOUBLE the studio’s biggest ever (Moonlight). SPOTLIGHT, which finished at $45 million has been the best comp I’ve seen, and LB is pulling away from it. It’ll be running about 9 days ahead after this weekend and two weeks ahead by next. Of course, SPOTLIGHT benefited by being the only realistic alternative to REVENANT even before the upset…but the gap may be so big by the GLOBES that $50 million is in play even if LB underperforms on the circuit.

  8. EtGuild2 says:

    COCO now looking at $230 million+ seems like a success. $200 million, which was a possibility after opening weekend, feels a lot worse. I think the environment through December seems better than MOANA’s last year. While LAST JEDI is going to be bigger than ROGUE ONE, FERDINAND ain’t no SING.

  9. SaulPaul says:

    Wow – the worst movie Morgan Freeman has ever starred in? That’s quite a claim. Is there an actor on earth who’s been in more unwatchable dreck over the last decade or so? At this point his name basically means MUST AVOID.

  10. EtGuild2 says:

    SaulPaul, meet Robert De Niro, Nicolas Cage, John Travolta and John Cusack.

  11. Stella Boy says:

    Don’t forget Bruce Willis. There are a whole lot who’ve had a worse run than Morgan Freeman. That’s an odd claim.

  12. Ray Pride says:

    You’re listing the saviors of the Bulgarian film production industry.

  13. EtGuild2 says:


    Hollywood has its own version of “NBA stars who are too washed up to carry teams any longer (Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGray) but refuse to accept supporting roles so they’ll take their talents overseas.”

  14. Poet says:

    Willis had a few good months in 2012.

    Are Studios now avoiding the first TWO weekends in December?

  15. EtGuild2 says:

    I almost fantasize about the De Niro-Pesci (almost zero acting for decades) reunion on THE IRISHMAN.

    De Niro has released more movies in the last 2 years than Pesci has released in the last 20 years.

  16. palmtree says:

    Stella’s Boy, you know people who liked JL? Everyone I know either didn’t like it, really didn’t like it, or avoided it because they knew they wouldn’t like it.

    I know it’s an exaggeration. Yes, there are the fans of it and the Snyderverse. But I hardly doubt there’s enough single-minded devotion to JL to give it substantial legs. Mostly likely its fans are also going to be fans of other movies too that will divert their dollars.

  17. Stella Boy says:

    Plenty of people here say they like it and yes plenty of people I know also say they like it. I got the impression it was received much better than BvsS. Obviously that isn’t the case.

  18. Doug R says:

    I would say watching JL was a net positive experience, just not enough to bother to go see it again.

  19. Bodhizefa says:

    Stella, you have to think the Justice League box office is a direct response to BvS being a turd of a film. Plenty of people were intrigued to see what would happen when Batman met Supes, but once they realized it was a horrible movie, there was no reason for audiences to continue onward with the story. Couple that with killing off Superman and not being able to include him in marketing and you have a film that didn’t open as strong as it could have with Supes and doesn’t have legs because the hardcore fans of this particular series don’t like the Marvelization of the film and the film isn’t good enough to encourage word of mouth to others or pay to see it again.

    That DC and Warner’s managed to bungle the blueprint that Marvel laid out for them is astounding. Make the single movies with directors perfect for each superhero, build the goodwill for the characters, and find a talented director who isn’t bereft of humor for the group film. They did none of these things and have ruined their first chance because of it. All because they wanted to run before walking. Was that Snyder’s hubris? DC/Warner’s? Regardless, they’re all idiots for ignoring a clear and tested path to success.

  20. Greg says:

    Not having Superman available for ANY marketing is honestly the dumbest decision I’ve ever seen moviewise

  21. David Poland says:

    G-Spot… the reason why Suicide stands out even more is that it got murderous reviews and still broke out. But yes, point taken.

  22. JS Partisan says:

    That guy who Johnny Utah let die in a massive wave, has a real point. DC/Warners had a template, and decided they were “too good for it.” They were “too good” to make a shared universe. They were “too good,” to make movies like Marvel Studios, because they are deep and serious, and make auteur driven films. They were “too good,” to have overt humor in their films, because that would make them like Marvel. I can just go fucking on and on, but they shot themselves in the foot. Now? They have to reboot the entire motherfucker, and I am sure that’s going to go great!

  23. leahnz says:

    suicide by wave

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