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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by P-Rim Kladyo

Friday Estimates 2018-03-24 at 10.02.49 AM

Pacific Rim Uprising is about 29% off opening day of the original. But as the movie makes clear, it is not meant for you dumb Americans. This is probably the most complete embrace of Chinese talent into top-lining roles of a mega-budget movie yet. And if China can double the business to over $200 million, (Chinese-owned) Legendary can afford to take the hit at home.

I thought the movie was… fine. Of course, it is idiotic and chaotic. Of course, it is shot with too many close-ups with too little insightful storytelling. Of course it is sadly missing Guillermo del Toro’s soul and romanticism. But as big robots and monsters banging through unpopulated cities (The BvS Rule) goes, it’s engaging enough.

And the fact that it will win the weekend – in what will become a lot tighter race by the end – means nothing about it or Black Panther. Timing. Both Wrinkle & Tomb would have won against this sixth weekend of Panther. Meanwhile, BP will pass Last Jedi‘s domestic total today (probably already has) and Avengers falls by the end of the weekend. Holding it from the very top of the worldwide charts will be international grosses, which may or may not crack 50% of the total gross. We can discuss that in detail in a few weeks.

Also opening, Sherlock Gnomes gets thrown onto the lawn by Paramount as they await word on whom they will all be working for this summer. This is a movie of weird pedigree, as it is a sequel, but not. There are recurring characters between the two films (the first, Gnomeo & Juliet, released in 2011). There is writer crossover, but in the end, it seems the lead writer of this new film was not connected to the original… nor the director. And of course, the film went from a Starz/Miramax co-production picked up by Touchstone (at Disney) to a Paramount Animation film, co-funded by MGM. This is us, indeed.

Regardless… flop.

Soderbergh’s iPhone epic (which you would never know was shot on an iPhone, but might guess 16mm at times), Unsane, opened on 2,023 screens and won’t get to $2,000 per screen. I don’t know the details of spends and such on the marketing, so to make any strong comments based on guesses would be wrong.

This is what I do know:
1. Claire Foy is a terrific actress who cannot open a movie in America. A TV star is a TV star is a TV star. No signs she is breaking out of that soon.
2. Universal would have opened this like any Blumhouse movie and would have launched to no less than $15 million.
3. No one needed to know that it was shot on iPhone.
4. Soderbergh either needs to work with movie stars or be the movie star.

Isle of Dogs is mired in controversy around the issue of cultural appropriation. Searchlight’s choice to go out on 27 screens is the first opening that wide for Wes Anderson since his debut, Bottle Rocket. My guess would be that the film wasn’t getting traction and an opening on four or five of $500k or $60k would be pushed out as a negative result. That, of course, would be absurd. But we are now in the time of the tail wagging the dog, as we have a load of box office writers who are relentlessly negative and have no institutional knowledge over time, so everything is always a win or a loss. Instantly. Destructive.

24 Responses to “Friday Estimates by P-Rim Kladyo”

  1. Bulldog68 says:

    Its now a foregone conclusion that BP will be the third largest domestic hit ever, surpassing Titanic’s $659m. BP is now going toe to toe with TFA on a daily basis and TFA had almost $70m left in the tank at this point. No way BP doesn’t do an additional $30m after this weekend to surpass Titanic.

  2. Dr Wally Rises says:

    Unsane…….what’s the read on that number? It looks really poor to me, but apparently the movie plays more as one of Soderbergh’s more experimental Good German / Solaris-style riffs rather than a commercial thriller. I just hope that this reception doesn’t mean another long retreat for him is on the horizon.

  3. Hcat says:

    Solaris and Good German were big budget experiments, and giant money losers, Unsane’s numbers wont be a kick in the groin like those defeats were. And this and Logan are experiments in distribution as well, so failure is still a learning experience and I am sure he is still curious.

    And an argument could easily be made that Panther has already passed Titanic, if we are comparing initial domestic releases.

  4. Sideshow Bill says:

    I’m not one to really root for anybody’s failure, and I am a life long video game fan. But part of me is glad TOMB RAIDER is flopping. Video game movies are a boondoggle and a waste of money and talent. What works in video game needs much much more to succeed as drama. SPEED RACER and JOHN WICK are as close as I’ve seen to great “video game “ movies. And there’s one other one that’s escaping me right now.

    That’s my opinion anyway

  5. Bulldog68 says:

    For sure Hcat about Titanic numbers. I’ve always been rooting for something to overtake Titanic. Its a good movie, but that box office is just insane. And to think Cameron struck lightning twice with Avatar. It will be very interesting when the Avatar sequels come out what their box office will be. I have no idea right now.

  6. movieman says:

    Not trying to kick sand in BP’s face, but there’s the adjusted-for-inflation factor to consider, not to mention the different release patterns/screen totals vis-a-vis 1997/8 and 2018. (I won’t even bother w/ how “Titanic”‘s three-hour-plus running time impacted the # of showtimes per theater back in the day.)
    Either way, it’s still a huge win for Ryan Coogler, so congrats.

    “Unsane” deserves better. It’s the only movie that opened in wide release this week that’s genuinely worth seeing–yes, even at first-run admission prices.
    In seven months Soderbergh gave us “Logan Lucky,” the HBO mini “Mosaic” and now “Unsane.” It would take seven years for your average director to create as much art–and it probably wouldn’t be as good.
    Btw, he’s already in post on a new film w/ my current fave rave Zazie Beetz, so it’s all good.

    Sorry that “Ismael’s Ghost” is sputtering. Naturally it’s the rare Magnolia title that isn’t VOD day-and-date which means it’ll take forever for me to get the chance to see it.

  7. Christian says:

    I thought “Speed Racer” was based on the animated series I watched as a kid, and not on a video game.

    And I’m not sad about a possible failure for UNSANE, which is a pretty drab, routine affair, with a few admittedly good moments but not nearly enough. I expected to like it, so I count it as a notable disappointment.

    “Ismael’s Ghost” is worth seeing, but with numbers like that, I’m guessing most folks won’t get the chance to at the theater.

    Meanwhile “The Bird With the Crystal Plumage” is playing at AFI Silver in a 4K restoaration, but I don’t think I’m going to make it. Would’be been only my second Argento; the restored SUSPIRIA, which I saw just a few months ago at the same venue, was my first. I’Mm late to the party.

  8. Christian says:

    *Would’ve* and *I’m*

    Man, I hate typing on mobile devices.

  9. Bulldog68 says:

    This SNL Wes Anderson spoof always cracks me up.

  10. movieman says:

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy “Unsane” as much as I did, Christian.

    Personally, I think the only truly great Argento is “Suspiria.” Can’t wait for the (2 1/2 hour!) Guadagnino reboot w/ Tilda and Dakota Johnson!

    And yep, “Ismael’s Ghost” ain’t going anywhere after that muted NYC bow.
    If it had been a VOD “D&D w/ limited theatrical” like most Magnolia titles, I’d have gladly ponied up $9.99 (and tax) this weekend.

  11. JS Partisan says:

    Bill’s point, which I agree with, is there are movies that do parts of video gamers better than any video game movie ever can. What’s insane about Tomb Raider, is that we already have 2 cinematic video games. They are movies in and of themselves, so anyone into Tomb Raider would rather play the game. I will throw this in: Daisy Ridley as Lara Croft may have gone better, because she’s likeable.

    And you want to play the inflation game? Here are my friends Gone with the Wind and Star Wars: A New Hope. They would like to have a talk with you.

    Finally, Unsane is a Netflix film, and that’s where Spielberg misses the freaking point. Some films just work in an more intimate setting, and I would put money down Unsane will freak some people out on Amazon Prime. I also have no idea why we are crapping on Claire Foy today, but she probably hasn’t found the right thing that would make people pop for her.

  12. Joe Leydon says:

    Movieman: Something else that often gets overlooked when comparing grosses — US population figures. When Titantic was released in 1997, US population was 272.65. In 2018, the estimated figure is 326.97. In other words: There are millions more people alive buying tickets right now. If you really want to get into the variables: The US population in 1972 was 209.90. So you could argue that a bigger percentage of the population bought tickets to see The Godfather than either Titanic or Black Panther did. (So far, at least.) I know: There are many different platforms where one can see movies now, foreign grosses have grown, etc. Still, I wonder if we might change our standards for measuring “success” if we took other factors into account.

    BTW: None of this should be interpreted as a swipe at Black Panther.

  13. movieman says:

    Maybe the “Dragon Tattoo” reboot will have a better shot at acquainting theatrical audiences w/ Foy.
    And it’s true that “Unsane” probably won’t lose anything on a TV screen. A future cult audience awaits.

    Good point (re: population figures), Joe.
    Claiming that anything is the “highest grossing film ever” has become a silly, if not downright Sisyphian task.
    That said, I can’t deny I’d be tickled pink if “Panther” does surpass “TFA.”

  14. Dr Wally Rises says:

    I was a little surprised at how much I enjoyed Tomb Raider. One thing in its favor is that it actually feels like an honest-to-goodness international adventure, not backlotty or greenscreeny to excess. Overseas location filming on the whole seems to be slowly going away (Paul Greengrass and Chris Nolan are honorable exceptions). Just look at the OG Indy trilogy, and you can feel the steam of those jungles and the dust of those deserts. They just looked like they were filmed at the edge of the Earth. So I appreciated that TR at least, for the most part, seemed authentic. No, it’s not Raiders of the Lost Ark. But for 2018 it’ll do just fine.

    Oh, and Panther isn’t going to pass TFA. Let’s not go nuts here.

  15. Night Owl says:

    “And if China can double the business to over $200 million, (Chinese-owned) Legendary can afford to take the hit at home.“

    If early signs hold China will be in the $100 million range total and possibly less than the first movie. It’s having a similar opening to Black Panther which died in week 2 (and that had slightly better word of mouth). So basically: Nice try but no thanks. Who the hell thought spending $155 million on this was a good idea? I feel sorry for John Boyega. I get it, Star Wars is a crazy boost but not a long-term career maker. You want to make your own way. But…this? You telegraph the quality you are going for the minute your second lead is Scott Block of wood…errr, sorry, Eastwood. I mean, at least cast higher end and pretend for a while!

  16. Triple Option says:

    I didn’t get the sense that Unsane was shot on iPhones from the trailer. And I’m not talking about the film quality, I mean, for lack of a better word, gimmick factor. From what I saw from the trailer, there was no reason to shot that on iPhone. Not saying it was a waste to do it that way, I mean that I’d like to see a film shot on iPhone that is done so to add another dimension to the story, ala found footage or POV of the lead character.

    I guess that would be part of the test to see if you didn’t you were watching a film from an iPhone, would you know or suspect you were watching a film shot on an iPhone? Like a setting that becomes a character, I’d like to see a film where the camera becomes an essential part of the storytelling. I know those have been shot before but I haven’t seen one with such potential or resources behind it. I don’t mean budget for the crew, cuz then what would be the point, but someone like Soderbergh has access to people and places others don’t.

  17. Triple Option says:

    I never really got into Tomb Raider, the video game. I think I saw both of the Angelina Jolie Tomb Raiders. Yeah, it’s been a long time since they came out but I found them largely forgettable once I saw them. From the times I did play the game, I wouldn’t have picked Angelina to rep Laura Croft. I don’t dislike Angelina but that first hurdle was one the film never got over for me. Then it was just too paint by numbers.

    I’d maybe check out this new one but it’s not like I have a since of nostalgia for the game itself when seeing the ads. How was the 2nd one? I can barely picture it but I know I saw it. I’m wondering did it left a lingering blah taste in people’s mouth? Maybe not to the point of Spidey 3 or that Release the Kracken film, where goodwill and momentum is killed on one and people are soured on 3D killed its expanse on the other, but if a good chunk of the target audience for Tomb Raider is like, “Yeah, I’m good, thanks” it’s shouldn’t be a surprise that it didn’t perform. I mean, could you really expect 13-26 yr old males to come out to a video game movie they never played?

    I did read some nice things about the film. Like, they don’t try to make it standard faire action film but like today this film has been up against tourney hoops. I’m not a total w/e couch potato but I’m gonna need something a little more intriguing than relaunch of a game movie that had its heyday when 56K modem speed was still a pipe dream to the in-the-know portion of the country who dialed up AOL to reach the world wide web.

  18. Sideshow Bill says:

    Yes to what JSP said about my statement regarding good “video gay” type films. Add EDGE OF TOMORROW, SCOTT PILGRIM and goddamn HARDCORE HENRY to that list HH might be the best of the lot.

  19. palmtree says:

    I’d like to submit Wreck It Ralph.

  20. Joe Straatmann says:

    At least this marks the end of Unsane’s ad campaign which was brutal for my wife, who has spent her entire life battling mental illness and at one point was the victim of an abusive relationship I’d rather not get into. Needless to say, having the full trailer starting with a psychopathic stalker sending way too real messages that leads to the woman getting put in a mental hospital attached to almost every Youtube video for a couple days and then showing up randomly afterwards made this a household trying to not trip a full-blown PTSD episode. At one point, I had to click on every video she wanted to watch and let her know when it was safe.

    Look, I love Soderbergh as a filmmaker and know this movie is probably pretty good, but the tacky campaign sort of makes me glad this failed.

  21. Doug R says:

    I remember Claire Foy from her performance in Mystery Men. Surprised Wes Anderson hasn’t discovered her yet.

  22. movieman says:

    “Mystery Men”? Are you thinking of Claire Forlani, Doug?

  23. Doug R says:

    Edit: What a colossal douche Vincent Gallo is.

  24. JS Partisan says:

    Yeah. Gallo really made it all about him. That’s fucking insane.

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Soderbergh: Shock and dismay. When that popped up and people started texting me about it, I said, “Oh, it’s too bad I’m not there to tell the story of how that took place.” Well. I was not sober at the time. And I had nothing prepared because I knew I wasn’t going to win [Best Director for Traffic]. I figured Ridley, Ang or Daldry would win. So I was hitting the bar pretty hard, having a great night, feeling super-relaxed because I don’t have to get up there. So the combination of a 0.4 blood alcohol level and lack of preparation resulted in me, in my state of drunkenness crossed with adrenaline surge. I was coherent enough to know that [if I tried to thank everyone], that way lies destruction. So I went the other way. There were some people who appreciated that, and there were some people who really wanted to hear their names said, and I had to apologize to them.
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