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The Immediate Future Of Subscription Moviegoing

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Weekend Estimates by Super Pooper Klady

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-04-22 at 10.32.09 AM copy

A Quiet Place continues to overperform even itself, Super Troopers 2 couldn’t double its Friday haul (although it’s still $4 million from the total of the original, so why would anyone complain?), I Feel Pretty failed to do 3x opening (ugly), and IFC’s Ghost Stories is the only $10,000 per screen of the weekend, albeit on only one screen.

A Quiet Place continues to be the date movie of the year, getting a 45% Saturday bump in its third weekend in theaters. That’s not a Black Panther pattern, but it’s pretty great. The movie is well ahead of Split and Get Out, the thrillers of early last year, after three weekends. The biggest question now is the dating, which may feel like it wasn’t given room before the summer movies launch, made worse by Avengers 3 coming out a week before the normal summer start. Paramount may get lucky and find that AQP plays to the audience that waits a few weeks to act on word-of-mouth and are also not interested in comic-book movies. The only head-to-head competition through May is Breaking In, for which Universal has not put on the full court press. So maybe $200 million domestic is possible.

Paramount’s next question mark will be why they put Book Club the week after a Melissa McCarthy movie with a theme about a mature woman acting like a kid. Obviously, Ms. McCarthy is 30 years younger than the Book Club crew… but she is a current, undeniable box office star and the Book Club crew is not, even though it looks like it should be a hit property. (Not saying it will be… not saying it won’t.)

As much as the hit movie calendar has expanded in the last couple of years, finding the right date is still critical. And you have to wonder, why is the Johnny Knoxville movie so early in the summer (October is his money slot and wouldn’t his schtick play better in summer after the mega-movies?) and why is a Tyler Perry movie pushed into November for the first time in his career?

I Feel Pretty was in trouble when it launched on Friday and it managed to get worse. Many female critics rejected it and men weren’t in a rush from the start. Whatever the flaws of the film, making the campaign all Schumer all the time was a big mistake. There is plenty of material to work with that was dropped in favor of Schumer hitting her head and acting goofy. You can’t sell it as a movie about finding your strength when the ads are telling us that the lead is delusional about being powerful.

Super Troopers 2 did great… just not as great as the opening day suggested could be possible. Still, the original did $18.5 million. The sequel is already at $14.8m. Even if it gets to just $25 million domestic, Searchlight spent carefully and only put it on 2,038 screens and will make money with this title.

Hard to say what Lionsgate was chasing with Traffik. Maybe I just never saw anything because I’m in the wrong market. But it was soft.

Friday Estimates by The Klady Sequel We Didn’t Know Was Wanted

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Friday Estimates 2018-04-21 at 9.54.30 AM

Another weekend, another question about the effectiveness of tracking for estimating opening weekends.

Tracking is not designed to be an accurate reflector of the weekend box office to come, I will say for the millionth time.. When it is used that way, either by the trackers and the distributors, it is abuse, not the intended purpose.

You can learn from looking at the numbers that come to pass and the tracking numbers that came before them. But as a tool to estimate opening weekends, there are more circumstances in which tracking cannot be counted on for that specific thing than there are those in which the numbers align.

I was about to write, “This weekend,” when the fact is that we still  know only the Friday numbers. This is what I am talking about: terrible, lazy habits of stating guesses as fact.

With two new films in the Top 3, here is what we know about the weekend number on those three films after Friday. A Quiet Place should end up between $16.8-$17.5 million. This is after two weekends of information: we know it bumps on Saturday (couples are going) and drops consistently on Sunday.

Super Troopers 2 is a happy surprise. Sixteen years ago, Searchlight was wide-eyed about the original and it looked like a franchise launch. But although it was profitable, the gross was not spectacular and small issues got in the way of a sequel. Instead we got Club Dread, which flopped and deeply wounded the Broken Lizard brand. Then Jay Chandrasekhar was taken on by Warner Bros and a Dukes of Hazzard and a Beerfest later, he was a television director and Broken Lizard was comatose.

But in the spirit of Blumhouse, Broken Lizard crowdfunded a chunk of a low budget and got back together with Searchlight. They have a low-end success, but a true one. Even if the bottom drops out – and everyone is only guessing whether it might – a $15 million opening is a surprise and a win, even more so with a smartly cautious 2038 theater count.

And what if (gulp!) it catches on and finds a bigger audience than the BL Cult?

There is another lesson. If Searchlight didn’t own and then exercise their rights to this sequel, it would have wound up on Netflix. You can bet Netflix spent last night trying to find out what the Broken Lizard commitments are going forward. They would be a cheap and proper complement to their Sandler franchise. And you can bet that Disney wants them on their OTT in a couple of years. But instead, with very low risk, Searchlight adds more than $10 million to the profit column of their spreadsheet, which is not nothing.

As for I Feel Pretty… STX got sucked into the Amy Schumer-is-not-really-a-movie star trendline and didn’t fight to overcome it. Of the dozens I have told about Michelle Williams’ brilliant performance in the film, one even knew she was in the movie. Looking at the trailer again (Williams has two quick shots and a “wow”), I was struck by how the pitch, like the film, missed the opportunity completely. The film makes fun of Schumer until she has some level of comeback at the end. But their idea of the movie was a universality of how women who are anything less than model perfect are overly self-critical… and how even those who are model-perfect do the same. Even in the trailer, other women mock Schumer for feeling good about herself. This movie has the same problems that I anticipated when I saw that Schumer had become connected to the wannabe Barbie movie franchise.

(I just erased multiple paragraphs because of a surety that I would be attacked for mansplaining… just not worth it. But it is dead wrong that I should be self-censoring. My silence is not your progress.)

Rampage is, as expected, all about the international. But even as it passes $200m worldwide this weekend, there is a danger of red ink. Ready Player One, which has 200 of its $500 million coming from China is only just into the black (depending on what Spielberg is getting and from what pot).

A reminder: Chinese dollars are worth half of what other theatrical dollars are worth to the distributor. So the true China adjusted gross for Ready Player One is about $400 million worldwide. And even with some big markets to open, Rampage is “really” at $175 million.

The arthouse opener of the weekend is IFC’s Ghost Stories, with over $10,000 in a single haunting.

Cameron Bailey Now “Co-Head” Of Toronto International Film Festival

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Cameron Bailey Named Artistic Director And “Co-Head” Of Toronto International Film Festival

On Bill Mechanic’s Break with the Academy

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Weekend Estimates by Tax Day Klady

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Friday Estimates 652 2018-04-15 at 9.40.48 AM copy

A Quiet Place was not #1 this weekend, but even if it had been #1, it’s irrelevant. It is easily the bigger box office story of the weekend. A 35% drop in a second weekend that, 1) comes after a $30m+ opening weekend, 2) is not influenced by a holiday weekend, and 3) is not an animated film is extremely rare.

A Quiet Place is #1500 on the big chart of great holds at Box Office Mojo. But there are only 84 movies ever that opened over $30 million and held 65% of the number the next weekend. Twenty-seven of those are animated films, which are stronger holders than any other genre. Twenty-three had second weekend on Christmas, New Year’s or Thanksgiving. That brings us down to 37 titles. Fifteen more are summer releases.

Of the 19 films still on the list, only seven had openings over $40 million and only four launching with over $50 million. They are American Sniper, Gravity, The Martian and now, A Quiet Place.

You may argue that I am being too generous to this film’s numbers, but every standard I have used has been pretty broad and reasonable. Holding better over a holiday weekend is to be expected. Animated films have a unique place. And the bigger the opening, the more challenging a 35% hold becomes.

There are amazing holds like Star Wars VII, Jurassic WorldBlack Panther and the nine other films with $100 million openings that held 50% or better the second weekend. But it is easy to undervalue the performance of A Quiet Place too. When I guessed that it would be a $150 million movie, others thought I was being too ambitious… turns out I was being too conservative. It is $20 million+ ahead of last year’s biggest thrillers, Get Out and Split, after two weekends, suggesting that $200 million domestic is a legit possibility.

Now… Rampage. Meh. But take away the films in which Dwayne was not a lead (aka, not on the one-sheet) and was not animated and is not a sequel and this is his third best opening. Now, adjust with Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle and GI Joe: Retaliation, which were both really reboots based heavily on The Rock’s star power… so Top 5. But, Top 5.

Yes, WB was aiming at San Andreas, not Central Intelligence. But anyone foolish enough to expect F&F numbers deserves to be beaten about the head and shoulders. And of course, the film is already right at $150 million worldwide in its first weekend… which is why Dwayne is one of the few worth the money these days.

Truth or Dare is another Blumhouse win, albeit a small one. Cost nothing. Universal spent a ton on outdoor and modestly on very targeted TV and an aggressive online campaign. Smelled of direct-to-Netflix. But much better than that, financially.

Fox Searchlight is managing Isle of Dogs carefully, but successfully. The expansion from 554 to 1939 screens was more abrupt than Grand Budapest, but less so than Fantastic Mr. Fox, which went from four to 2,033. Dogs should land right between the two previous Searchlight forays with Wes domestically. There is no sign that the strained complaints about cultural appropriation have taken a toll (aside from the ads losing their Asian flair).

Blockers will be (unfairly) used as a cautionary tale over lunches for the next month. It’s done fine. But it hasn’t gotten a second wind. It could easily do 3x opening. But it has not become America’s obsession… especially with young women, where it was expected to explode by many. One wonders whether A Quiet Place, albeit in a very different genre, took its wind.

Amazingly, Sony Animation has its sixth $100 million domestic grosser with Peter Rabbit. Done now, but $300 million worldwide is nothing to hop at. Expect a sequel.

Kino has a hit with Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. Maybe it could have been bigger. I am surprised that I was never invited to see the film before release (or get a link). I am a slave to the rhythm and it would have been high on my watch list.

And Sony Classics has another quiet cashflow film with The Leisure Seeker, very low profile, but also very low-priced for the domestic release and already over $2.3 million.

Friday Estimates by Giant White Monkey Klady

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

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Friday Estimates By Len Klady COMMENTS CLOSED

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

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Weekend Estimates by Quiet Klady Blocker One

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-04-08 at 9.44.30 AM

A Quiet Place delivers more than double the tracking estimates and gives Paramount its first true hit in a long while, greenlit by Team Grey before he left the studio. More in line with its tracking, Blockers opens to “the 20″ and will look at word-of-mouth to define the degree of its success. Opening also-rans are Chappaquiddick and The Miracle Season. In limited, WB scores with Pandas on 33 IMAX screens, while Amazon, in just its second solo release, gets $43k per on three with You Were Never Really Here.

Tracking is an important and valuable resource. As much as it got the A Quiet Place opening wrong, it also gave Paramount the tools to market the movie to get it to this number.

The two times you ever hear wide discussion of tracking is when writers bring up “expectations.” You should read that word as “I have been told this by someone with a vested interest and they are trying to spin the story before, during or after the actual event.” But tracking is one of those things that isn’t meant to be discussed in public. It was not created or implemented widely for the purpose of setting a betting line.

Like political surveying, tracking is an art as much as a craft. We, the public, are offered hard numbers and few even linger on the “+/-3 pts” that is offered as the public mea culpa to the realities of surveying a percentage of people to get a result reflective of the mass. Tracking is meant to tell distributors, first, whether people are aware of the movie that is coming; then, how to decipher who the audience is (and who the audience might become), how strong the passion is for the movie, and where pockets of strength and weakness are around the demos and the nation.

When you see a political survey, you should be conscious of the soup that the surveyor created to come up with that result. Trump’s approval numbers from Rassmussen are not lies, as such. But they are manipulated to be higher than anyone else’s numbers by adding more areas and people who are Trump supporters. That manipulation can be as subtle as gerrymandering is complex. The work of Nate Silver, on the other hand, seems to swim through the moat of surveys and their variables to tell us what result seems the most true. But all the public seems to be capable of processing is the broadest ideas about numbers. People berate the polls about the 2016 presidential election, which Hillary Clinton won by 2.1%. But she lost the Electoral College race by 13.8%.

How is that possible? How does that make sense? Well, you have to dig deep into the numbers… and still guess. I can give you a dozen legit reasons why Hillary Clinton lost on the numbers side alone. 70,000 votes out of 129 million total presidential votes (.05%) change sides and that flips three states and we have a different president. It was that close. But that 13.8% Electoral number looks so much larger. And Nate told us she was 80% certain to win!

Turnout in a political election is the great unknown. Who will show up and vote is much more challenging than “who will they vote for” in projecting wins and losses.

In movie tracking, knowing who will actually leave their house and buy a ticket and who is just really enthusiastic about a movie is, likewise, an impossible ingredient. Companies use history and intuition to make their highly educated guesses. But there is always that window of real people behaving in the quirky way that people will.

And that is fine.

An aside about Oscar prognosticating, even more steeped in guessing, as there are so many fewer data points available. The fact that the awards season gets managed down to a very small group of titles and potential nominees, with so many accurate assessments is shocking on some level and a tribute to the lazy vulnerability of most people, even very smart and experienced people, as well as a reminder that there are standards that changes slightly, but are shockingly consistent and keep us from more revolutionary change.

This is true of tracking, too. It’s not just “we took a survey, here are the numbers.” The numbers are cooked in a stew of traditional stats work and movie industry history with a fair amount of intuition from people who have proven they have that gift. And they are cooked with the goal of finding the facts that will help the distributors’ marketing departments do their jobs. It’s not nefarious. But that bottom line of “what’s the number going to be?” is too bright and shiny for people to see past. And it’s not just civilians who can’t see past it… it’s many execs as well, who are misusing tracking.

No one loses when tracking is low. Jobs are lost when tracking is high.

And remember, even on a $50 million opening, the subject group is about 5 million total. Out of 250 million in the United States. Out of 26 million frequent moviegoers and 125 occasional moviegoers (between two and eleven theater visits a year). We can argue at a bar over whether Movie X is going to appeal more to the frequent or infrequent… or whether it will draw people who go to only one or two films a year. But when your job is to make that call and to estimate an opening gross based on that guess and to get it within 10% of the actual opening because someone in power who really doesn’t understand the number is going to be breathing down your neck… well…

You know what is important? For the stats companies to figure out who is most likely to see A Quiet Place on opening weekend, which is allows Paramount to tailor their message towards that group and to shore up other groups with more closely targeted ads that will appeal to their peculiar resistance.

But if media didn’t make it all about the guessing game and the horserace on Sunday, they would have nothing to “report” and nothing to draw clicks. And to be fair, if media was at all seriously interested in the details, the studios wouldn’t offer them up openly because the threat of extra detailed judgments then occurs and who wants to be watching your back all the time instead of doing your job?

So… Great opening. This is the biggest opening for Paramount since Star Trek Beyond and it is a bigger opening than Interstellar and you have to go all the way back to War of the Worlds (2005) to find a bigger non-franchise opening at the studio. It’s hard to categorize the film, but it would be the #3 Supernatural Horror opening of all-time (as per Mojo) and #2 behind only It as the first of a series.

Blockers had a nice opening. The number is identical to The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which Judd Apatow not only produced, but directed. Only Amy Schumer stands between a month of strong holds and Melissa McCarthy.

Black Panther hits 666 this weekend… millions domestic, that is. Third place all-time domestically, passing Titanic. Domestic #2 Avatar is a box office bridge too far. But wow.

$1.3 billion worldwide for Black Panther worldwide, which shows that international audiences are not unwilling to see Marvel do Black, but it would be wrong not to note that Black Panther is the lowest percentage performer internationally of the $1.3 billion and over club. It is also the weakest international performer in that high echelon of Marvel movies by a couple hundred million, while it is easily their highest domestic performer. History is often wrongheaded, but much less often wrong factually.

Friday Estimates by A Quiet Klady

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

Friday Estimates 2018-04-07 at 8.04.43 AM

A Quiet Place is one of those stories where good things happen and no one can take credit for “tricking” the audience into showing up. Tracking had the film’s opening 3-day at about what it madae on Friday (with the now-presumed and incorporated Thursday night).

So what happened?

My guess is women. A Quiet Place is about a family trying to survive with the females and male of equal – but different – importance. Young women have been, at different times, a huge audience for horror-thrillers and this film may have tapped that audience in an unexpected way.

It is also possible that the film is playing like a classic horror film and will go flat through the rest of the weekend. I hope this isn’t the case: I think it will rebound with word-of-mouth if that is the case… but I wouldn’t rule it out.

But this film has gone from what looked like a nice little hit to a potential cash cow. This will be Paramount’s biggest non-franchise opener since Interstellar. And the sequel is set up in the film.

Blockers will be the #1 comedy opening of 2018 to date… but that’s damning with faint praise. The #2 is $17 million for Game Night, which cumed domestically at $66 million (a strong multiple for these days). Blockers will open in the low 20s, though it may find very strong legs as word-of-mouth lets out that it is more na up-sexualized John Hughes film than a chick Porky‘s. (Yes, I know the word “chick” is trouble… please allow for context.)

Another film that reads genre but is more than it appears to be is You Were Never Really Here, which will do something around $60k per screen on three this weekend. It is a demanding, tough movie about a man of violence who is on the edge of self-obliteration… for some a non-starter… for me, a masterpiece by Lynne Ramsey, based on the novella by Jonathan Ames, with an Oscar-level performance by Joaquin Phoenix.

A24 opens Lean on Pete to over $10k per screen.

Entertainment Studios opens Chappaquiddick to a modest $5 million or so, which is about enough to make it to profit, all in.

And The Miracle Season goes onto the heap of Christian outreach films that didn’t reach many Christians.

Weekend Estimates by Not So Ready Player Klady

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

Wknd Est Corr 2018-04-01 at 11.51.35 AM

What was WB expecting from Ready Player One? Not G.I. Joe: Retaliation. But that is what they got. We can dress it up as Spielberg’s best opening in a decade, but bet dollars to donuts that its second weekend won’t outgross Lincoln‘s second weekend in wide release ($25.7m on half as many screens). They surely weren’t expecting to get Batman v Superman numbers… but not Clash of the Titans numbers? And when is a Tyler Perry movie not a Tyler Perry movie? When Tyler Perry isn’t in it. Also opening, God’s Not Dead 3: One Too Many. And Isle of Dogs expands to 165 screens… to strong, but not quite Wes-tacular numbers.

[Correction: Ready Player One estimates: $53.6 million.]

Friday Estimates By Len Klady

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

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Weekend Estimates by Still Pacific Klady

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-03-25 at 9.47.12 AM

Well, there is a new #1, though it is an underwhelming weekend-vs.-Friday for Pacific Rim Uprising. Six weeks of Black Panther just wore the unusual level of excitement, especially with kids on Saturday, out… which still leaves BP as #5 all-time domestic with plenty in the tank to get to #3 all-time. Sherlock Gnomes broke through the $10 million opening tape like a movie with a much smaller marketing budget. Paul, Apostle of Christ outran the Midnight Sun and Steven, The Apostle of Soderbergh. Isle of Dogs got its $58k per screen average, but is looking less strong that other recent Wes Anderson films.

Friday Estimates by P-Rim Kladyo

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

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.

Weekend Estimates by White Panther Klady

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-03-18 at 10.27.25 AM

This week, as last week, the story is less the performance of the “next #1″ hopeful than the remarkable family hold of Black Panther. The overall drop of 34% is excellent. But the real story is that Saturdays have become Black Panther Day in the weeks since its opening.

Opening weekend, Panther was down on Saturday but mostly because of Thursday grosses, which are now reported as part of Friday grosses, and the big must-see audience that flocked to theaters on Friday. But in the four weeks since, 65% up on Saturday from Friday, 85%, 83%, and 55% this weekend. This weekend’s Saturday bump was more in line with Beauty & The Beast‘s bumps last year… but those 80s… and even that 65 is pretty amazing for something other than animation. For instance, the last Avengers movie – already franchise-established as ki-ffriendly – had Saturday bumps only in weekends three and five,  and only because of big openings ($69m and $55m) that depressed Friday sales.

Besides families, you could also stake a claim that Panther plays male/female stronger than most superhero movies and that it has also had unusual muscle as a Saturday date night choice.

Tomb Raider failed to manage 3x opening Friday, keeping it from the elusive (and so meaningless) weekend crown. While BP leapt 55% on Saturday, Tomb Raider was down… but it wasn’t because Friday was SO HUGE. We haven’t see a Friday number aside from Panther over $10.25 (A Wrinkle In Time) since 50 Shades Ender on February 9 ($18.4m). No… these soft Saturdays are a combination of product that excludes some demos (at least over that first weekend), little-to-no family appeal, and overall limited excitement. Get up over $15 million on Friday and we start to look at the opening day making a Saturday bump a challenge. But at $9m? No.

I would also guess that we will find that women didn’t come out in big numbers for Tomb Raider, as black audiences did not make a special space for Wrinkle (in that case, I think, the less frequent moviegoers used up by Black Panther for a while).

Blaming Black Panther for Tomb Raider not opening better is spin. 100%. If WB had found women who wanted to see a sleeker, less sexualized Tomb Raider, they would have added at least $10 million to this haul. But they didn’t. And as far as I can tell, the pitch to women started way too late to make an impact. Tomb Raider was never going to be Wonder Woman. Vikander shows a charm that she really hasn’t before (much more effective than Man From UNCLE). And more than Angelina Jolie having a natural Lara Croft body in skin-tight, sheer fabrics and lips like a human caricature, Vikander’s Croft is a physical underdog who just works harder and thinks harder (and gets luckier) than everyone else (aka everyone male). The marketing didn’t convince me any more than it seems to have convinced women. (And the film is imperfect.) But seeing the movie did convince me. And that’s not Black Panther‘s fault.

And as much as I like Walton Goggins as an actor, he was never going to put a single butt in a seat as the villain opposite her… and that was a big chunk of the sale. Christoph Waltz can’t be (and shouldn’t be) in every movie, but they couldn’t get a Sam Jackson or Jeff Goldblum or Kurt Russell or Michael Keaton or Jason Schwartzman or Michael Cera or Jamie Foxx or someone who would unterst an audiences? (To be fair, first thought in this notion was Chris Walken as added bait in The Rundown… which also failed to open.)

Now, Jesus as your leading man… also, no guarantees. So when I Can Only Imagine, which is religious, but does not feature Jesus as a character, opens to $17 million, more than 4x any prior Roadside Attractions opening, you know they targeted and found their audience. Following 2014’s dual religious smashes of Son of God and Heaven Is For Real, we have seen eight-figure openings for War Room (2015), Risen, Miracles from Heaven (both 2016), and The Shack (2017), but this is the strongest over that period. There have also been 50+ small distributor misses and a half dozen studio-level releases that opened to under $7 million. In Christian numbers there seems to be a formula that works and a market to be reached with the right pitch and the right amount of money. $17 million is a very strong number here.

Love, Simon is a win on principle for the gay community. At the box office, not so much.  $11.5 million isn’t a rejection. And ultimately, it won’t cost Fox that much to have made the movie. So if it is a breakeven with a purpose that has to count as a win.

I am a Focus fan. But what the hell was anyone thinking about putting an Entebbe movie in theaters in 2018? 838 screens tells you pretty much everything you need to know. I can’t think of anyone who would be a much better choice for an Entebbe movie than José Padilha. And it is a Working Title movie, which i assume obliged Universal to release the film domestically. But if ever there was a movie that, just based on the material and how many times we have been here, should have been sold off to HBO… Are there Comcast rules about selling anything off to Netflix? The avenue of overpayment was likely not in play. And politically, Israel is the victim in the Entebbe story and that pushes against today’s dominant social discussion (without prejudice either way by this writer in this context). This is a great idea for a challenging, talk-after-the-movie Padilha arthouse movie.

Also opening in the Top 20, Raid from Eros… which with $5410 per screen on 78 is a hit for the micro-distributor.

Jumanji: Welcome To the Jungle cracks $400m domestic… Nice expansion for The Death of Stalin… nice per-screen for Flower on 3… Keep The Change delivers for Kino.

Friday Estimates by Tomb Panther Klady

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Friday Estimates 2018-03-17 at 8.17.54 AM

Tomb Raider takes the top slot. Will it hold through Saturday, where Black Panther has been extraordinarily muscular?

Panther will pass $600 million domestic this weekend, whichever slot it lands in. Tomb Raider is on course for $85 – $100 million domestic and will rely on international to make it a financial hit or failure, regardless of whether it is the #1 movie in America this weekend. (I am on record saying that Tomb Raider will get a sequel either way… and it should. Hard to open, but a movie franchise with a lot of potential with a very human female lead. It’s an imperfect movie with strong bone structure.)

The surprise of the weekend is I Can Only Imagine, based on an inspirational Christian song, rolled out by Roadside for Lionsgate, and on its first day outgrossed any opening 3-day weekend in Roadside history. Last year, Lionsgate released Christian entry The Shack to $16.2 million. Imagine‘s opening day is 13% better, leading to the projection of an opening 3-day of $18.1 million… which would be the seventh highest open in this niche, on just 1629 screens, which is less than half the count of any of the films ranked #1-#5 and well being #6 (3048 screens).

Roadside’s highest grosser is Manchester By The Sea at $48 million domestic. I Can Only Imagine is likely to top that.

Love, Simon – or at least the pitch – seems anachronistic in the year after Call My By Your Name and even the return of “Will & Grace.” But I am told that I am being too much of a sheltered straight guy and that the world needed a basic rom-com.

A Wrinkle in Time has a modest Friday 2 drop… but no recovery in sight.

Peter Rabbit will pass $100 million this weekend. Red Sparrow will check out with less than Game Night. (Ouch)

And in the per-screen fight, The Orchard’s Zoey Deutch-starrer, Flower, smashes the $10k per barrier and will be somewhere around $25k per on 3.

Weekend Estimates

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

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Hear This…

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Friday Estimates by Wrinkled Klady

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

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A Wrinkle in Time opens soft against expectations. But in the Disney category of off-brand brand movies (Pete’s Dragon, The BFG), it is doing well. The comp that fits best is the Alice sequel, which opened to a $9.7m Friday in 2016 and had a $27 million weekend.

What elements have gone into this opening? Weak reviews versus The Oprah. Black identity angle versus the Black Panther wave, which could have exhausted the filmgoing interests of infrequent black moviegoers for a few months. A limited amount of quality family film content versus a second trip to Panther, which has found a strong place with family audiences, including little kids.

My sense going into this month was that Disney was going to ride the Black Panther wake with this film, knowing they had a not-good movie that had some beautiful images to use in the sell, as well as a sense of the moment. But that may have backfired by Panther being so big that it consumed the entire moment. Or maybe we would see the same result or worse at another time. More of a history with Wrinkle will offer a clearer guess… but like so many things in this magical business, it will be only an educated guess. (First person who mentions Rotten Tomatoes gets a kick.)

Black Panther will likely win the weekend. After an explosive launch, the big story of this film domestically is the power it has shown on Saturdays versus Friday numbers. A 65% bump in weekend 2 and 85% last weekend. Split the difference and Panther will do $17.5m today and $11m on Sunday for a $37.5m 3-day and a $558.5m domestic cume.

Disney kicked in with the international cume early this weekend, with a $20m China launch to announce reaching the $1 billion mark. That Chinese open seems to be close to Thor: Ragnarok. But Panther may still s come up short of domestic in international numbers.

Aviron is one of the new distributors trying to find its thing. Its second release is a sequel to the 2008 Rogue release, The Strangers. Turns out no one was waiting breathlessly for the sequel and will show up only modestly for this weekend’s horror entry.

Red Sparrow is not a pretty picture. It’s running about double the mother! gross, but it cost about 2.5x as much. International is stronger, but it seems clear that if Jennifer Lawrence wants to the audience to follow her to new parts of her personality as an actor, she is going to have to find ideal vehicles or slow it down and work smaller roles in bigger movies. It has to be a very odd thing to have the kind of power she has and to have to seriously consider how she walks through this very delicate moment in her career at the age of 27. But that is a champagne problem. I am rooting for her.

Whatever the magic trick to opening Gringo (STX), which is a fun action comedy that is maybe too complicated to easily sell, or The Hurricane Heist (Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures), which sounds like an early 1980s HBO movie, the young distribution companies making the effort couldn’t find the answer.

I would bet good money that Tully will be one of my favorite movies of 2018. But Focus has to be conscious of how they play it,  and Gringo‘s failure to launch should make them nervous. Charlize off-key – which I love and still think Young Adult is one of the great films of the decade – is a hard sell.

Also hard to sell was Thoroughbreds, which should have been laid off to A24 somehow, because Focus has struggled to get traction for a movie they seem to like a lot. A 549-screen release screams, “We give up.” You know what Focus film last opened to a count like this? Book of Henry. Focus also dumped The Zookeeper’s Wife, the most successful grossing opening in the 500-plus screen range last year, taking $17.6 million domestic. Universal seemed to lose the thread on Everest in 2015 and a 545-screen opening, but then expanded to over 3000 screens the following weekend and wound up with a $43 million domestic cume (but likely making a profit, thanks to international). And going back to 2010, Focus opened the international doc, Babies, to 534 screens, doing $7.3 million which is very strong for a doc. Those are all the positive stories. Mostly dumps and re-releases in the 500 range in the last decade.

The Death of Stalin will be the per-screen champ of the weekend, a film that would be more loudly championed before we knew Armando Iannucci so well. It’s a Marx Brothers movie set in the political hysteria upon the death of a real life monster. I don’t know where this will sit with me in the big picture of 2018, but something woudl be missing from my year if I didn’t see it. You will laugh hard. Some jokes will miss. Some will go over your head. There will be nothing else like it this year.

BYOB Oscar 2018

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

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