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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by The Klay Drunner

Friday Estimates 3 2018-01-27 at 12.05.42 PM

Another mostly abandoned weekend by Hollywood. I understand avoiding next weekend – which they are – because the Super Bowl assures a weak Sunday. But starting the week after next, there are seven of eight weeks with potential overload of at least three major, wide releases every weekend. If you have a movie you believe in that has legitimate audience interest, why take on the Thunderdome instead of taking advantage of weeks of open space? After watching the weekly numbers for years, I admit, I have followed the history of things and accepted the arguments of the past. But that was the past. And now there is It. Now you can have an $800m+ movie come out of August, doesn’t have to be May-July. Marketing windows are both longer (launching awareness) and shorter (hard but-tickets-now selling). Old habits die hard. And if you have a big winner, it doesn’t matter what the competition is. But if you are the next level down – interested audience, but not rabid – opening in a war zone can cost your movie tens of millions.

It’s a whole different conversation, but this is happening with Oscar thinking, too. The hope that many have is that we are in a new era of The Academy that will be more diverse and ambitious. At the same time, arguments about what means what cling to earlier ideas of how Oscar voting worked, My favorite is blaming the idiotic voting system for everything. Here’s a news flash… hold two ideas in your heads at once… preferential voting is dumb for The Academy and there is no real indication that it has changed the answers much, except on the nominating periphery.

Maze Runner is following the same path as Divergent, but smaller. Core audience-plus for first movie, lookie-loos drop off with second film, core shrinks and there are no non-fans by the third film. Financial models are adjusted as we speak, and not just for kid-lit films, but for, say, “Bad Moms 3,: which is likely given the $130m worldwide for BM2… even if it was regarded as a box office disappointment. $90 million worldwide for #3 is manageable, because budget will be driven by paying talent, not the costs of chasing unchaseable new CG highs.

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle continues to hold like a champ… partially because the industry has left the month WIDE open. It will pass It this weekend, and even with the Super Bowl, it should pass Spider-Man next weekend. Every weekend with a drop under 30% is like another week added to Tom Rothman’s safe position at Sony.

Also at Sony: Screen Gems has been flat since a strong 2014, when it had four releases, and three of four opened to over $24 million. In the three years and a month since then, just nine movies. 2015 was okay, with two films that opened over $20m and did $57m and $65m domestic. In the last two years and a month, seven openings, just one opening over $15 million and only one grosser over $31 million domestic. A Hollywood movie division that was among the most aggressive (and most successful) in “the black movie market” over the last decade is saying goodbye to Clint Culpepper (who was widely disliked) while being accused of being racist for its handling of Proud Mary. That’s silly. Not reality. Screen Gems suffered, in fact, from others marketing to black audiences as well and even better than they once did… not racism, just failed marketing. And two-and-a-half years without a real hit made Culpepper (and all the potentially embarrassing issues around him) dumpable. Bye bye.

Hostiles expanded to… okay numbers. $10 million is a good number for a Christian Bale indie. And a low-action western to boot. Most of the action in the film is so violent that it can’t be shown  in TV ads or even trailers. It is powerful, adult, and worthy violence… but still, not airable. Even with an excellent movie, the lack of Oscar heat means that Entertainment Studios’ top opening with still be 47 Meters Down. Hard to launch a distributor.

The Greatest Showman is holding incredibly well. It is the family movie of choice, overwhelming Paddington 2. Go figure.

The Post took its two Oscar nominations and dropped like any normal weekend.

The Shape of Water expanded into its Oscar nomination explosion and… is still soft. In context, the movie is doing well. Make no mistake. But this was not an expansion to match being the top nominee. Doesn’t mean it won’t win on Oscar night. (Doesn’t mean it will.)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri also expanded this weekend, by about half as much as Shape. At the end of the weekend, the two Searchlight movies will have almost identical domestic grosses.

Doesn’t look like there will be a $10k per-screen film this weekend.

15 Responses to “Friday Estimates by The Klay Drunner”

  1. Bulldog68 says:

    Is there really anything left to say about Jumanji and The Greatest Showman? And particularly Showman which is now playing in less theatres than it did opening weekend and in its sixth weekend will still earn more than it did on its opening weekend. Insane.

  2. PTA Fluffer says:

    I see PHANTOM THREAD has really taken off like a rocket with the general public. Sigh.

  3. EtGuild2 says:

    On JUMANJI, is HOMECOMING now in play worldwide as well? Seems like it could be. I wouldn’t rule it out from being both Sony’s #2 all-time domestically (behind Spider-Man 1) and worldwide (behind SKYFALL).

    Should The Rock consider Kevin Hart as a possible running mate???

  4. Joe Leydon says:

    The response to Hostiles confirms something I have long suspected: Distributors leave money on the table by not giving wider theatrical release to westerns in Flyover Country. Yes, I can understand the impulse to open something like Forsaken or even Ballad of Lefty Brown in just a handful of major metro markets simultaneously with VOD release. But here’s the thing: There are still tens of millions of folks out there who don’t subscribe to streaming services. And many of those folks really would go to a movie theater — even if they aren’t regular moviegoers — if they could see a western on a big screen. Trust me, that’s a complaint I hear all the time when I write a piece about a new western for Cowboys & Indians Magazine: “They never open movies like this where I live.”

  5. Bulldog68 says:

    Should The Rock consider Kevin Hart as a possible running mate???

    And Jack Black for Defense Secretary? Lol.

    @Joe, I do believe like everything else, there will be a Western resurgence once again. Like musicals that were in the wasteland for a bit, I think they may need to attract some higher profile names to goose the box office prospects. Maybe a Young Guns type thing. That movie did $45m back in 1988. That couldn’t be that bad.

  6. Bulldog68 says:

    I actually forgot about Magnificent 7 from 2016.

  7. Joe Leydon says:

    And the Coen Brothers’ 2010 remake of True Grit made $252 million worldwide. And there obviously is a steady market for direct-to-video westerns (many of which provide gainful employment for country singer Trace Adkins as an actor).

  8. Alexander Coleman says:

    Just got home a few hours ago from “Hostiles.” Grim with a capital-G, but I agree that something with this many name actors in it would perform fairly well were it given a wider release.

    “The Greatest Showman” is turning into the glossy musical that could.

    “The Post” looks like it’s going to either match or possibly slightly underperform comparative to “Bridge of Spies.”

  9. movieman says:

    As of Friday, “Hostiles” is on nearly 3,000 screens.
    That’s a pretty wide release.

  10. palmtree says:

    When nearly half of the top 10 movie musicals open around Christmas, it shouldn’t be surprising that another one is a hit. And legs work differently here than in summer. Smaller openings don’t matter as much because the audience is more spread out. So while I’m pleased Greatest Showman is doing well, it hardly came out of nowhere.

  11. flyover res says:

    You’re out of your damn mind if you think ~200 extra screens would be anything more than a drop in the bucket for Hostiles.

  12. movieman says:

    Re: flyover res

    Huh?

  13. Alexander Coleman says:

    You’re right, movieman. Didn’t realize “Hostiles” enjoyed such a wide release this weekend. It made it to Marin County, California’s one multiplex so perhaps that should have been a sign.

  14. flyover res says:

    I was agreeing with you, movieman.

  15. movieman says:

    Flyover + Alexander: Glad we’re on the same page!
    With its older demo, weekday matinees could ultimately decide the fate of “Hostiles.”
    An altogether decent wide release opening any way you cut it, though; especially for a movie completely shut out of the Oscar conversation in a weekend full of previously limited, widening nominees.

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“With every table in the dining room occupied and me, the only waiter, neglecting the needs of a good fifty patrons, I approached Roth. Holding out Balls as a numbness set into the muscles of my face, I spoke. “Sir, I’ve heard you say that you don’t read fiction anymore, but I’ve just had my first novel published and I’d like to give you a copy.”

“His eyes lifting from his iPhone, he took the book from my hands. He congratulated me. Then, staring at the cover, he said, “Great title. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself.”

“These words worked on me like a hit of morphine. Like two hits. It felt as if I was no longer the occupant of my own body. The legs had gone weak, the ears warmed, the eyes watered, the heart rate increased rapidly. Barely able to keep myself upright, I told him, “Thank you.”

“Then Roth, who, the world would learn sixteen days later, was retiring from writing, said, in an even tone, with seeming sincerity, “Yeah, this is great. But I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”

“I managed, “It’s too late, sir. There’s no turning back. I’m in.”

“Nodding slowly, he said to me, “Well then, good luck.”

“After which I went back to work.”
~ Julian Tepper

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