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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by Klady of the Party

Friday Estimates 2018-05-12 at 10.27.37 AM

Not a lot to say… and my wife has us going on a long drive to see family in a few minutes…

Anyone sad that Avengers: Infinity War got to $500m domestic faster than Black Panther is, well, an idiot.

The Black Panther number is more impressive and will remain so no matter what any Avengers movies do. I don’t think it proved anything about people seeing movies starring and directed by people of color; I never believed this was an issue anyway. But the whole media narrative about young people (who tend to consider color an issue a lot less than we old folks) not going to see movies and white people not seeing people of color in movies and international being more racist than America at the box office—and still is, though year by year will become less so—turns a true phenom of a movie into a simplified talking point.

Meanwhile, we are waiting for a “woman with a gun and a R rating” movie to become a big hit. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Jennifer Garner’s film blows up). None of this means that I don’t think people of color and women get the shitty end of the Hollywood lollipop, yesterday, today and tomorrows to come. When big object lessons come, the way to progress is to use them to make small objects move in an aggressive way, because all hype shall pass. That, and enjoy the wins fully and don’t get tied to the parts on which you don’t have a factual handle.

Moonlight‘s $37 million international is as big a milestone as Black Panther… probably bigger. The people who move the bar are the people who just do their work. And if Barry Jenkins and Jordan Peele and Ryan Coogler take a commercial step backwards on their next films, celebrate that too… because that is what white men have done forever. And then wait for the film after that. Or the one after that. And embrace and support the success of that work because it will come because of their skills and hard work, not because of or in spite of the color of their skin. And also support choices like Coogler handing Creed 2 to another generation of filmmakers of color. Success begets success. Celebrate opportunity, not just the best results.

In counterprogramming, Melissa McCarthy should not be in the second weekend of May. Bad date. Life of the Party isn’t Bridesmaids and WB doesn’t open comedies the way Universal does. WB opens many successfully… just differently. And a big-head-poster kind of movie needs more space that this. Still, Melissa is a 3.5x – 4x opening kind of star, so WB may survive the misstep.

Breaking In is the kind of movie that makes many people wonder where the ads were. I’m sure Universal worked the traditional windows. But the studio has also not opened a black-facing “Screen Gems” movie in a long time. And this one is under-opening that market by a bit. Unlike Melissa McCarthy comedies, the vast majority of films like this, thrillers that market to the audience of color above all else, don’t tend to have long legs. Universal has had enormous success with the Blumhouse movies, which often lean into race… but ultimately, they are more horror than thriller (even the thrillers, like The Purge series). And one wonders if there was more left to be mined, in this case, in the Gabrielle Union lean towards women than the market of color. It also sucked for this film that Melissa McCarthy was also on the date because women who might well have tried this film out this weekend are off laughing with McCarthy.

Movie marketing is a broad science… and a narrow art form. Still fascinating after all these years. And never forget – all together, folks – opening weekend has nothing to do with the movie. It’s all about the marketing and publicity in 95% of cases. It’s not about what you sell, it’s about how you sell it. It will be about the movie itself soon enough.

23 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady of the Party”

  1. Christian says:

    Ugly, ugly numbers for “Lu Over the Wall.” That’s a shame. I didn’t think the film worked all that well, but I worry about GKIDS’ ability to absorb fiascos, and what any one failure might mean for the distributor’s future, at least in North America. So many of its films have been special, even extraordinary. But how much room for error is there in today’s market?

  2. JS Partisan says:

    There’s a ton of room, and they are called Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon. They should push to get on one of those platforms, and be a prime content provider.

  3. EtGuild2 says:

    My god, those QUIET PLACE numbers. So much for GET OUT being a close race, now it has an outside chance to surpass INTERSTELLAR to become Paramount’s biggest original since 2013.

    For what it’s worth, I FEEL PRETTY will by Tuesday become STX’s #3 grosser, which means its top three movies are all female-led comedies.

    The rumors of a $200M+ Chinese opening for IW are where it’s at this weekend. If true, could be flirting with $1.6 Billion worldwide by Sunday, which would leave $2 Billion well within reach. Hitting a billion offshore this weekend is the really impressive stat. The offshore goal now becomes #2 all-time barring re-releases (TITANIC 3D accounts for nearly $300M of its Int cume).

  4. movieman says:

    Has anyone seen “Revenge”?
    I’m intrigued thanks to the rave reviews, and it’s available as a $6.99 VOD on my cable.

  5. EtGuild2 says:

    movieman…it is a freaking blast. Then again, I had a let’s call a “highly engaged audience,” so not sure how it translates on VOD.

  6. That Guy says:

    Revenge is pretty and entertaining but there’s not much there. Fairly basic plot, lots of gore, lots of skin from the main actress(and lead male).

  7. movieman says:

    I’ll try to check it out sometime this weekend.
    Thanks for the input, Ethan and TG!

  8. EtGuild2 says:

    Commenting on the weirdly negative IW domestic coverage this weekend (Scott Mendelson who comments here in particular) saying stuff like catching BP is a “pipe dream,” beating LAST JEDI is the goal, and catching JW “still feels possible.”

    What the hell?

    The thing is going to be running $30M ahead of LAST JEDI’s holiday run this weekend. I get that you’re thinking DEADPOOL and SOLO kill it, but LAST JEDI dropped like a stone post-New Years, and didn’t have the benefit of kids off of school. The lead over BLACK PANTHER went from $50 million end of last weekend to probably $45 this weekend, with colleges about to let kids out. I agree catching it is unlikely, but this last week didn’t produce much evidence of that.

    Bottom line: it swung $5 million vs BP in a week and you’d need it to swing nearly $100 million more to not top JURASSIC WORLD.

    To not catch JW, you’d have to have it suddenly drop faster than ULTRON and CIVIL WAR from here out, which we have no indication of at the moment. Even sillier, if it matched ULTRON dollar for dollar here on (IW’s 3rd weekend is a whopping 37% above it, meaning it would need 65% drops regularly) it would end up well over $630M.

    Where are these aggressively negative projections coming from? We’re in full-bore faux-narrative building it seems.

  9. brack says:

    I just don’t get idea that being top domestically but not worldwide is a bigger achievement. It’s like saying the NFL is the top sport domestically and that’s more important than “American” soccer/football and the World Cup.

  10. EtGuild2 says:

    @brack, it’s helpful for outliers like the FAST series, because the mammoth worldwide/China numbers equal less profit, but that’s about it.

    XXX3: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE and RES EVIL 6 are other examples. We’d have release dates for sequels if the numbers weren’t so geared to China/Int.

  11. JS Partisan says:

    Brack, in the time that this blog has been in existence. International box office has gone from not mattering, slowly mattering, mattering, mattering a lot, and now it’s slinging back to not mattering. I’ve noticed this being a thing over the last two Summers, that the international hauls from these movies are hand waved away, and it’s confounding to me.

    It’s like Despicable Me 3 and Fast 8. They did insane business overseas, but it’s just ignored to make some point about them being failures domestically, like we are the only audience that matters. I’m sure there are other movies that have dealt with this, but it just comes across that domestic box office is king… And that’s really weird, with day and date releasing everywhere.

    One more thing: making 2bn and joining that club, is an incredible accomplishment. If it’s not sold as one, because Avengers doesn’t make 700 plus domestic. Well. Honestly? That’s incredibly dumb.

  12. palmtree says:

    Negative IW commenters are living in a bubble. On paper it looks like it should drop, but for those who have their finger on the pulse, it has staying power. My guess is it does eventually overtake Black Panther domestically, but just barely.

  13. brack says:

    Agreed JS and Et.

    I would argue though that had Xander Cage and RE6 been bigger everywhere else and closer to $700m and up ww, but still “bombed” domestically, we would see sequels.

    I guess the overall point would be domestic is still very important, but in cases where box office is close to $1b or more for a film, what difference does it make if domestic is $100m or $150m shy of expectations? Even if China contributes to $200m-$400m, it’s might be somewhat less profitable, but if it makes $500-$600m everywhere else, that China money feels like more of a win than a consolation prize for studios. And are we even looking at distribution rights? I don’t know how much that’s a factor, since I think studios are probably less inclined to sell them off when there’s so much money that would be left on the table. Forgive for my ignorance on such matters.

    Not trying to take anything away from the massive success of Black Panther, but a movie closer to $1.5b is less likely more profitable than one closer to $2b, no? And the merchandising for Avengers vs Black Panther can’t be that close in numbers. But one thing I’m sure of, is that the MCU is a big as it ever has been and most likely will be bigger at times. Everyone will want to see the follow up to Infinity War who saw it, even if they were upset about their favorite heroes “dying”, right? I will go out on a limb and say the follow up to Infinity War will be close to how the turn our for Deathly Hallows Part 2 was in comparison to Part 1, but on a bigger scale. At least that’s how Disney is selling Thanos, as the Voldemort of Marvel, but without the finality of this being the last Avengers movie. I could be very wrong.

  14. Allen says:

    I would not be surprised to see Infinity War gross less than Black Panther mainly because of Moviepass limiting movies to one showing. Sneaked in to see Infinity War again today after using MP for another movie.

  15. David Poland says:

    Allen… MoviePass doesn’t have a big enough membership for that kind of thing to affect the bottom line much. Maybe $500k or so.

  16. David Poland says:

    brack – I never said anything about domestic being more impressive that worldwide. What I suggest about Black Panther is that a first-out film of any character outgrossing all of single-character Marvel domestically and worldwide is a more singular achievement than a massive success with Avengers 3 with the entire kitchen sink on display.

    Or perhaps you were commenting about something someone else said.

  17. David Poland says:

    The whole “this one may catch that one” thing is just childish bullshit.

    Films have their own gravity. Deal with it.

  18. JS Partisan says:

    You’re right, David. This does not change the fact, that every damn thing in the US. Nay. World. Is turned into sports. It used to be a more enjoyable thing, but it’s totally bullshit now. Black Panther and Infinity War aren’t in a race, but sports. There’s also the weird dynamic, of box office reporting and how it’s shit. It’s all weird, and the perception these things generate are insufferable.

  19. brack says:

    That argument makes more sense David, but you seem to forget the evolution of the MCU. Without all those other movies, there’s no way Black Panther would be putting up these numbers. It’s a singular achievement, but kinda sorta isn’t. It’s not a Deadpool-like singular achievement.

    Truth be told, this was not exactly Black Panther’s first outing, who had a signifcant role in Civil War, and that the MCU single character titles and the Avengers movies aren’t working within their own bubbles. Seems to me one series can lead to bigger numbers for the next. Civil War felt like three-fourths of an Avengers movie, and let’s not forget that BP’s release date of February with no other big movie to contend with wasn’t a huge factor.

    This is not to suggest that I don’t think Black Panther isn’t a monumental success. But my question is more was it because of Black Panther the character, or the many MCU released beforehand, as well as the Avengers-warm up, building up to this particular film/moment? That’s one that I think worth debating. Both movies, released only a few months from the other, fed off the anticipation for the other. I’m sure that’s what Disney hopes Captain Marvel will be next year for the next new singular title, but with no appearances in any movie prior to its release, I just don’t know.

  20. palmtree says:

    I mean, it’s a sport, but for me it’s not any of that tribalistic rah-rah stuff. Can’t speak for the rest of the media…

    But for me it’s more like the Olympics where it’s just really interesting to see people break world records, no matter where they’re from, and then you wonder if someone can break that record next year. Can the 4-minute mile be broken??? And then it gets broken!

    As far as Black Panther is concerned, it IS a singular achievement in that it did Star Wars numbers with a bunch of essentially unknown characters. No one would’ve believed you if you said this was how it would play out (minus maybe JS). Neither Thor 3 with an assist from Hulk nor Spiderman with an assist from Iron Man could manage those numbers, though their numbers were definitely great on their own terms.

    So yeah, BP is the bigger achievement in my opinion too. And yes, it’s partially about the marketing, but a big part of it is also the movie itself. It struck a nerve in a way few movies ever do.

  21. JS Partisan says:

    Captain Marvel is going to be interesting, for various reasons. The first one, right now, is that it literally has SIX WEEKS before Avenger 4. This depends on Marvel Studios moving Avengers back a week. Which they will do, but even if they leave it alone. That’s still only seven weeks. What can any studio really expect any movie to make in that short a window?

    They are going to have to move Captain Marvel, because she’s part of the future of this franchise. If her film can’t ruminate for longer than two months, then Marvel Studios is going to try something no studio ever has. Introducing the future of a franchise, in close to the shortest window ever.

  22. David Poland says:

    JSP –

    Answer to your “how much can they expect?” question – $631,357,854. That was Black Panther’s 6 weekend domestic gross. Almost 90% of their its total.

    Second, you saw the end of Infinity Wars. So you know there is some connection between the two films. I suspect that CM will set up the character and Infinity 2 will be the super-punch. To do it so close together is beyond rare. Closest analogy is Matrix 2 & 3, which was a 6 month window. But exhibition has changed. My bet would be that Marvel is going to look for a bump for Captain Marvel right before IW2 opens and even in the weeks after, as people who didn’t see Captain Marvel initially are told they need to see it to make IW2 make sense.

  23. JS Partisan says:

    Yeah. I thought about that Dave. It just feels… Rushed. You don’t want people to feel like they HAVE to see Captain Marvel. You WANT them to see it. Exhibition has changed, but treating Captain Marvel like homework. Does not seem like the best strategy.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin