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20 Weeks To Oscar: Right Before The Noms

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

In about 13 hours from when I am writing this, the Oscar nominations will be announced on an ABC show with ABC hosts and a bunch of ABC-produced viral videos meant to get more attention for ABC than to support any of the films or the purposes of The Academy and its members.

A few thoughts at this moment…

This has been, perhaps, the most boring Oscar season in modern history. I don’t know ancient history firsthand and won’t presume to know the truth, as I don’t tend to trust storytelling by anyone, winners or losers. But I have been at this, hands on, for about 20 years now and what was exciting about this Oscar season ended on September 15, 2016. That was the Wednesday in the middle of the Toronto International Film Festival. Here’s the picture that already been asserted by then at the August-September festivals.

La La Land
Moonlight
Arrival
Hidden Figures
(at their TIFF event)
Lion
Nocturnal Animals

and Jackie, which had its North American premiere and was bought in 24 hours.

And at earlier festivals…
Loving
Manchester by the Sea

And in theatrical release before September…
The Lobster
Captain Fantastic
Florence Foster Jenkins
Hell or High Water

And Hacksaw Ridge, which screened for those who have opinions about such things in August.

You can claim all you like that Sully still felt like something and that we hadn’t seen Rules Don’t Apply or Silence or Fences or 20th Century Women… but Sully did excellent business but never really felt big, Rules Don’t Apply was the disappointment that everyone really wanted to be a final masterpiece for Warren Beatty, 20th Century Women will be remembered as the lost masterpiece of this season, and Fences/Silence were exactly what was expected, which is to say, of top-top quality, but without very much excitement for the mid-level tastes of The Academy.

Say what you will about The Revenant (and I did and I am still being shit on by some for it), but it was an entertainment first and a serious reflection on the meaning of life second.

And that was that. The jig was up all the way back then.

And I don’t just mean La La Land winning. I mean, the whole thing.

Pieces of it have come and pieces of it have gone. Obviously, there were films still to be seen… but not a lot. And none that really came out of left field, like The Big Short. The only significant contribution of The New York Film Festival this year was a disastrous special screening of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. The highlight of AFI was the large-screen presentation of the already front-running La La Land and the real-life heroes who attended after Patriots Day.

Speaking of Sully…. Warner Bros pretty much got out of the awards business this year. They made a half-hearted push for Sully, but lost Hanks’ efforts to the third Dan Brown movie pretty early. They pushed Live by Night into award season, starting with a run at BFCA, but were pushed back. Collateral Beauty was a flea-ridden mutt. And War Dogs, which was fun, was pushed harder by the talent than by the studio. But Warner Bros has had a bad hand before and played it. They have long been the town’s biggest spender. But this year, they rolled up the Monopoly set and passed. And I have heard the groans all around L.A., from the trades to the newspapers to magazines to the blogs.

Speaking of 20th Century Women, I think the combination of the limited bandwidth of a company the size of A24 (which does amazing things regardless) and the unfortunately limited talent support on the film has doomed the film. Seriously, if Annette Bening is not nominated – as the Gurus currently predict – it will be one of the great awards tragedies of the last decade. It is as fine and earned a performance as you will see anywhere. I love all the rest of the performances in the category and there were really eight “must be nominated” performances in the circle of those in play this year, but man, this would be crushing.

A word on A24. Not The Weinsteins in any fucking way. More than a word, I guess. But that idiotic comparison, which may seem like a compliment, does not fly at all, unless there is a $35 million version of Moonlight floating out there that I don’t know about. A24 is its own thing. A creation of now, not the thing that was 25 years ago when Harvey and Bob (and Bob and Michael at New Line) were building their sizable seat at the table. There are other models that have worked well and lasted (Sony Classics, Searchlight, Lionsgate, going back to UA as a Dependent and even Screen Gems). But A24 is none of those. It is something else. And that something is quite beautiful, in action and intent.

For those counting consultant wins at home, the winners since the change to the expanded Best Picture field are about to be: Cynthia, Lisa, Lisa, Michelle, Searchlight+, Searchlight+++, Lisa, Lisa. This is not to say that there were not a lot of wins going around in getting nominations by all of the consultants. But my feeling that choices on the films are destiny for Oscar is seeming truer and truer. You can’t win without the right film(s).

Every category in which there are significant limitations put on the nomination and voting process for Oscar is a problem. Today I was discussing the limits on song entries for Best Song, two per movie. Absurd. Moana, which has two big ballads and two big comedy numbers was hamstrung and had to bet on where their best shots were. Silly. I still don’t remember why the score from Arrival was disqualified, but it was one of the most beautiful, daring scores of the year and should have been in play.

Of course, we have the idiocy of Isabelle Huppert being a legit possibility for a well-deserved Best Actress nomination for Elle and Elle not even making the Foreign Language short list. Don’t even get me started on The Handmaiden, one of the year’s best films, not even being nominated by South Korea. Are these The Academy Awards or The American Academy Awards? (rhetorical)

Moonlight has already won. I don’t want to hear the whining. Wonderful movie. Wonderful filmmaker. Wonderful cast. Extremely strong box office numbers for a film on these themes without movie stars that open movies. Take the win, people. There is nothing to be less than thrilled about here. The success of this film is an epic achievement. Already. And if it wins a few Oscars, all the more so.

It is breathtaking how thin the Best Actor category ended up being this year. Due respect to all five nominees… you were all great. But it wasn’t an eight-deep category this year. Not really. I love Viggo Mortensen and have supported that performance in Captain Fantastic, but if he’s nominated, it is only because there was no one else with more of a push behind him to take the slot. In part, there was a lack of “male lead” characters in Moonlight, Arrival, Lion, Hidden Figures, 20th Century Women, and Jackie. Two of those six didn’t have a traditional female lead either.

And Supporting Actor wasn’t that much better, with a number of films with multiple supporting males (Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, Hell or High Water, Fences, Nocturnal Animals, Silence) that seemed to lead to either one nominee being pushed or no one getting a foothold.

Loving, which seems to be out of the race, is another moment of shame. Beautiful work all around. Just not enough muscle to navigate the waters of its own unique voice, the number of race-connected films, and a full boat of films at Focus. Speaking of which… if you haven’t seen A Monster Calls, you have screwed up your moviegoing life. A truly great and beautiful films that was nearly impossible to sell without Spike Jonze’s name on it… see it. You will be sad. You will cry. And your heart will grow 2.5x that day.

Truth is, this has been a great award season for movies. Everyone has their personal preferences, but man, what a high quality line-up of product for awards this year. High and low. It looks like at least 3 of the movies nominated for Best Picture will be over $100m domestic. That is above average, even though there are years – every third or fourth – where there are more and certainly with some bigger numbers. But this is not a poor box office group. There is not a single straight mainstream or generally mediocre director even in play to get nominated. Hidden Figures is really the only film on the list that is not aesthetically challenging in a significant way (though wildly entertaining). That’s not three or four auteurist movies… that is 7 or 8 or 9. Something to sing about, no matter which ones you think are overrated.

So tomorrow morning will have a few surprises. A few thrills. A few outrages. But except for The Oscars having its ass branded by ABC like a piece of IP instead of The Most Important Film Event of The Year, it should all be good. There won’t be a lot we didn’t see coming four months ago. But given how brave and exciting the vast majority of films are, for a change, I’ll get over it. Bet you will too.

Weekend Estimates by Klady’s March

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Weekend Estimates 1-22 at 10.23.52 AM

 

 

 

 

 

Split kills it in a multiple of xXx: The Return of Another Old Mediocre Franchise. Hidden Figures holds strong while La La Land sees its first traditional dip, though it will be looking for Oscar nominations Tuesday to turn that around next weekend. The Founder rolls out like a franchise its financiers don’t really believe… to mediocre results. The only movie of any size release to do better than $6200 per-screen was the #1 film, a sure sign of a soft weekend.

Last year, the only $40 million horror opening was for The Conjuring 2 in the summer. Last year, there were only five originals that opened over $40 million (Deadpool, Zootopia, The Secret Life of Pets, Trolls, Moana) and the only one that was live action was only barely an original. The #1 original opening last January was 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi with $16.2m and only Kung Fu Panda 3 opened to more than Split.

The opening for Split remarkable. Was it helped by the Women’s March and men free to head to the theater on Saturday? Does it change the face of theatrical cinema? Obviously not. Would it have been well-served by a day-and-date VOD opening? No. It would have cost this title tens of million of dollars in profits. And if Universal is honest about it (not that anyone will ask them), they know this. Split could do Paranormal Activity numbers all around. Huge profits… in theatrical and post-theatrical. This is why windows matter. Studios will fail if they try to cherrypick box office losers for day-and-date. The theatrical system will collapse in time. Very, very dangerous.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage continues a clear string of soft results for IP for which there is minimal demand. xXx did $271 million worldwide. The sequel – a better movie, but without Diesel – did $71 million worldwide. Now… the question is, will international territories save this from the ash heap of movie history? Allegedly, it has scored $50 million in its first weekend overseas. Triple that and this film will be within range of profitability, maybe.

Hidden Figures‘ strong holds continue. It’s a terrific audience movie, no matter how poorly directed and how many opportunities for improvement were missed. And I expect an Oscar nominatios for Best Picture on Tuesday, and it will then pass $100 million next weekend.

Also headed over $100 million then is La La Land, which took a funny smack on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend about people getting angry at friends who don’t love the movie 100% (https://youtu.be/abn6cPxrc5w). The film took a 42% hit this weekend, which may or may not have been affected by the Women’s March, but isn’t shocking. Expect an expansion and a big uptick next weekend.

The Founder snuck out like a Big Mac fart this weekend. I like the movie more than a little. Others don’t. But either way, TWC didn’t push too hard. In an era of IP obsession. With the biggest restaurant chain in the world as the center of the film.

Terrible weekend in arthouses overall. The high mark was $6,970 per-screen. Only six films over $2000 per-screen outside of the Top 10. Yick.

Friday Estimates by Kladys 1, 7 & 14

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

IMG_0371

Appropriate that Split multiplied the #2 Friday grosser. Universal delivered one of those half-dozen-a-year campaigns that is ubiquitous. Festivals. Great outdoor. Couldn’t use an OTT without McAvoy’s mug showing up. Probably tight on straight TV buys, using publicity to make it up. And massive results. Perhaps last summer’s second Purge sequel was the inspiration. The result, so far, is identical. Very impressive.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage continues the string of flops in the “why exactly are they making a sequel to a movie that wasn’t really a hit?” genre. Vin Diesel is a massive star… in one franchise and one franchise only. We have learned this three times. Until he finds another gear that people like, he is Chris Tucker. Deal with it.

Hidden Figures has a nice hold. La La Land has its first normal drop. No doubt, they are looking to Oscar noms on Tuesday to stem the slow bleed next weekend.

The Founder flounders… because they didn’t really try. “They” is not TWC staff, but the bosses, who treated the film like a bastard child and that tone leaked into everything thy did to sell (or not sell) the film.

No 10k per-screen titles at the arthouses.

4-Day Estimates by Happy MLK Klady

Monday, January 16th, 2017

4 Day Wknd Estimates 2017-01-16 at 9.49.32AM

Weekend 3-Day Estimates by Not Hidden This TIme Klady

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

3 Day Weekend Estimates 2017-01-15 at 10.10.57 AM copy

No hiding Hidden Figures this weekend. With an excellent 11% drop (with the help of an 800-screen increase), it is the only $20 million 3-day grosser this weekend. Also revving the engines this weekend with the top per-screen in the Top 10 was La La Land, expanding 333 screens, about half of them IMAX, popping 42% (plus, not minus) from last weekends 3-day and closing fact on $75 million domestic. Sing and Rogue One had good drops, helped as the whole chart is by estimates in the middle of a holiday weekend.

The most eye-popping stat on the board is the 19233% increase for Live by Night, but not enough pop for WB, which still only got a $5.2m weekend out of its Ben Affleck period thriller. Also changing dramatically, Patriots Day, which went wide and got a modest $11.9 million for its effort.

Top English-language-market per-screen was 20th Century Women, which A24 is parsing cautiously, hoping to get a bump from Oscar noms in 9 days.

Newcomers The Bye Bye Man, Monster Trucks and Sleepless were somewhere between “meh” and “moan.”

Oscar Films In The Market
Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 10.48.25 AM

Friday Estimates by Expansion Klady

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Friday Estimates 2017-01-14 at 9.00.11 AM copy

Have to run this morning, but Hidden Figures has a good Friday-to-opening-Friday hold. The expansion helped. But I would expect the 3-day drop to end up in the teens. Bye Bye Man is on the old Screen Gems measure… $20m is a big win… $14.8 million is okay, but no champagne. CBS can’t be thrilled with the Patriots Day expansion, even with a 10,000% jump. It’s still looking at less than $25m cume at the end of the holiday 4-day. Timing is brutally hard given the amount of politics and American discussion every day in people’s lives since the election. La La Land has a decent expansion… this one including IMAX screens. Expectations are so high for this one that perspective on box office is a little skewed too. It’s not about winning or losing… it’s about how big the win will be. Sleepless and Monster Trucks are similar, except one will lose $100 million and the other won’t.

20 Weeks To Oscar: The 4 Kinds Of Best Picture Winners

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Considering the weird frenzy that writers get into about The Golden Globes, an event we all know is an absurdity made powerful by a successfully-produced network television show, I tried to come up with a structure to the logic of what happens to movies as they move through the machinery of award season.

There are so many angles that people lean on, most of which are either too generous or too demanding, based on how the writer feels about the movie or the possibility of it winning or losing.

Personally, I would think that if I was wildly unsatisfied about where Oscar was clearly headed in January year after year after year, I would buy a mirror instead of trying to rationalize what is wrong with The Academy. But that’s another discussion.

The first thing to consider is that the set of preconceptions that lasted from, roughly, from 1967/68’s In The Heat of the Night win to 1991/92’s Silence of the Lambs win and then somewhat adjusted from 1992/93’s Unforgiven to the 2008/09 year of Slumdog Millionaire, before the expansion to more than 5 nominees, is now irrelevant.

This will be the eight Oscars with the expanded list of BP nominees, and on what you could once count on, you can no longer count.

Some preconceptions were always just wrong. Many Best Picture winners of decades past were what the media now calls “independents.” United Artists, it could be argued, was a major. They were, like other more aesthetically complex distributors (such as Avco Embassy). They distributed a lot of films. But they were independent minded. Disney was, by the MPAA standard, an independent until 1979. So you can slice it up many ways. UA was sold to insurance company Transamerica in 1967. They won Best Picture 5 of 10 years from 1967/68 – 1977/78.

From 1984, independent Orion, created by escapees from UA, started a run of Oscar wins, winning 4 Best Pictures in 8 years. Also in there, Hemdale won two (one split with Orion) and good ol’ United Artists grabbed one in 1988/89 after the MGM merger.

1992/93 – 2001/02 was major studio, as well as DreamWorks and Miramax under the Weinsteins.

In 2002/03, Dependent New Line won for Rings and a couple years later, Lionsgate won one, then Vantage, Searchlight, and two WB wins in there.

Starting with the expanded field in 2009/2010, only one major studio has won Best Picture. And two more wins were for Searchlight, a closely-held division of Fox that got one win for a film that could well have been distributed by big Fox.

The recent history of Oscar didn’t put every Best Picture win into the pocket of one of the Seven Sisters, as many seem to think. For one thing, one-time MPAA members like Orion and Avco Embassy are the kinds of companies that would not have been members in the last couple decades. Legitimate distributors of wide release films like Lionsgate, Open Road and even The Weinstein Company have not joined. MGM (and UA with it) has dropped out. But more to the point, going back 20 years, only four films branded as distributed by an MPAA signatory has won Best Picture.

But many clear changes have come out of the expansion of the Best Picture field. The most overt is fiscal. Going back 20 years before the expansion, there is only oneexample of a Best Picture winner that was not the #1 or #2 grosser on the list of nominees. In the 7 years of the expansion, no winner has been one of the Top 3 grossers in the group. The highest rank was #4, for Argo. La La Land seems destined to break that ceiling this season.

What changed with the expansion was opening up the whole game by opening up a small part of the game. A number of the movies that have won are movies that may not have even been nominated in a field of 5. Lionsgate is looking at its third Best Picture Oscar in 11 years (two via Summit). Amazon, which has respected the model of theatrical releases, is looking at its first nomination in a couple years of trying. A24 is back again. We’re a long way from Harvey Weinstein being the big bad ogre vexing the majors and almost-major DreamWorks SKG.

And with the expanded group of distributors who are making well-funded serious efforts to get into the game, Academy members have embraced variety. There is even room for some big ol’ studio movies.

I believe there are 4 kinds of Best Picture wins.

Big Love.
Big Obligation.
Big Avoidance.
Default.

These come together in various combinations.

La La Land is a Big Love movie.
Spotlight was Default.
Birdman was Big Love and Default.
12 Years A Slave was Big Obligation and Default.
Argo was a mix of Big Love and Default.
The Artist was Big Love.
The King’s Speech was Big Love and Avoidance (of The Social Network).
The Hurt Locker was Big Love and Avoidance (of Avatar).

You see a lot of Default on that list. Default, for lack of a better word, matters.

Avoidance has become less of an issue. And Big Obligation is barely an issue at all.

Don’t take lack of Big Love for lack of appreciation. Last year, Spotlight was enormously respected from the time it launched. But in the end, none of the other picture were able to grab Big Love and many Academy voters just didn’t want it to be The Revenant. Not enough Revenant dislike to qualify for Avoidance, I’d say, but enough to swing the vote to the Default, which will always stand as a well-liked, respectable choice.

12 Years A Slave was profoundly moving and well-loved at its launch. It was also pronounced the winner by many. But the four months between release (five away from the festivals) and final Oscar voting dragged on and there were a bunch of glorious distractions. But in the end, the weight of 12 Years, the artistry of Steve McQueen, and the fact that it was the first frontrunner came together in a win.

In the case of Argo, it was among a very good group of movies, but not big passion films. The passion of the season ended up being not about a movie, but about Ben Affleck not being nominated for Best Director. People really, really enjoyed Argo. There was Big Love in there. But there were others with similar love and the “snub” turned Argo into the Default choice.

What I keep hearing is a lot of talk about how The Academy system makes it impossible for the group to make challenging choices. But I call “bullshit” on that. Birdman, 12 Years A Slave, The Artist and The Hurt Locker were all challenging, not traditionally obvious choices. These are not milquetoast.

What most of the people who can’t seem to stop complaining are really saying is, “My favorite didn’t win” or “I’m bored… do something interesting.”

And there is something “boring” about the Default movie ending up winning. But the Default only tends to win when a Big Love movie doesn’t arrive to change the game.

In 2016/17, we started out with 3 Defaults. Moonlight was not expected to be one, but it quickly took that status. Manchester by the Sea was expected. La La Land took off fast and has never looked back. All three also have Love, through the expanse of that love varies.

Nothing has come along to take the season away from this trio. The only real change since Toronto is Hidden Figures… which had an event at TIFF that suggested strongly to some of us that it would be in the race in December. People really, really like the movie. But it’s not quite up to forcing itself into the top tier as an Obligation, it’s obviously not Default, no one is avoiding the Top 3, so… on we go.

All these months after the start of the season, I would argue that La La Land has the widest Love, therefore the Big Love… and the win next month. It’s that simple.

Weekend Estimates by Klady

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

Weekend Estimates 2017-01-08 at 11.01.01 AM copy
I’m not so sure that Rogue One actually won this one…

It’s possible. The holiday schedule mixes things up. But Rogue One has not previously done 3x Friday over a 3-day weekend, and the estimate this weekend is 3.6x Friday for a $100,000 ‘win” over Hidden Figures… Which is estimating 2.9x on Friday. You tell me, which film will be more affected by playoff football? Which estimate feels more realistic?

Rogue‘s run at #1 is surely over next weekend. Hidden Figures should hold strong on the 4-day MLK holiday and the expansion of Patriots Day should win the weekend. So maybe Disney wants to get one more “#1 film in America” set of media pieces today and tomorrow morning.

Rogue One has now cracked the barrier of half of what Episode VII did last year domestically. Internationally, it is running at about the same pace. The film will pass $1 billion worldwide and do slightly more than half what VII did. Some will tell you that this is shockingly strong. Others will tell you that it’s a bit of a disappointment. But it’s a win, either way. And I do expect Young Han Solo, or whatever it’s actually called, to be bigger than this because it will be both Star Wars AND something fresh, as opposed to filling the crack between movies, which is great, but doesn’t encourage repeat viewing from fans who are not obsessed.

Hidden Figures? A $25 million movie that ends it first wide weekend with $25 million at the box office? Already won. And this looks to be a really big win for Fox. I expect it to be between $80 million and $100 million when it gets to its first weekend as a Best Picture nominee. Figures and La La Land will compete to see which gets the biggest Oscar bump, a phenomenon that has faded badly recently. Fox made this work last year with The Revenant, which did $117 million after nominations… although nominations were 10 days earlier last year, 21 days into the Revenant run. This season, Hidden and La La will both be over a month into their runs before nominations are announced. (which, by the way, is HORRIBLE planning by The Academy).

Sing is creeping up on the original Despicable Me domestically… though I would bet against Illumination trying the December slot again anytime soon.

Underworld: Blood Wars opened soft. International awaits.

La La Land doubled its screen count and stayed even. I gather the decision involved stats that suggested that they would get a similar bump next weekend, even with an expansion weekend under their belts. Hope so for them.

The hideous Passengers is still chugging towards $100m domestic and $250m (or better) worldwide. So… it still may lose some money, but those who were ready to hang Tom Rothman from the Columbia rainbow will have to put away the pitchforks and torches for now.

Here is an Oscar Best Picture chaser chart…

BP Oscar chasers 2017-01-08

Friday Estimates by Are The Globes A National Holiday Anywhere Outside of L.A. Klady

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

Friday Estimates 2017-01-07 at 9.40.36 AM copy

 

Hidden Figures pops, although I suspect that longterm, there is more upside than this. The Help has almost the same number on opening Friday. Of course, here it is after 12 days in limited release (25 screens) and back with Help, they opened on a Wednesday, siphoning off some of the Must-See. Still, I can see Hidden Figures accelerating, not only on word of mouth, but on MLK weekend. And then… Oscar nominations that the media seems to be finally be accepting as likely.

Slapping myself on the back, I noted way back at the 12-minute presentation at TIFF in September that Figures and Jackie were the only two events that stood out from Venice/Telluride as award-significant in Canada. All that Figures could do to keep itself out of the Oscar race would be to stink. And it doesn’t. The star power of the three leads and Costner and a great story overcome flaws. But this is an audience film, bigly. As it’s turning out, Jackie is hanging on to a reasonable hope of being nominated while Figures is surging as one of the two really “fun” films of the Oscar season.

The other opener this week is almost as retro as Hidden Figures. Underworld hasn’t had a new entry in five years. Kate Beckinsale and her spandex skin haven’t aged a day… But the domestic audience for this franchise may have aged out. This opening will be the worst of the franchise, including the Rhona-Mitra-For-Kate moment in 2009. But here is what makes it interesting past this weekend: the international on the 2012 film, with Beckinsale’s return, was double any other in the franchise’s history, just under $100 million. So if they can duplicate or improve on that, Sony will be very happy indeed, even if the domestic is meh.

The only other real change on the board is the La La Land expansion, from 750 to 1515. I’m sure there was demand from exhibitors. I’m not sure I would have chosen this weekend. La La ain’t The Revenant, which went wide the weekend after New Year’s last year. Even American Sniper waited until MLK weekend to go wide two years ago. American Hustle and Black Swan are also bad comps because they went wide in December, riding the holiday. I would have suggested waiting until next weekend, getting the MLK and the Globes wins benefits to expand. And, of course, this expansion is not over. A $7500 per-screen is still quite nice and the movie is already in the black (considering all revenue streams), but another week of anticipation wouldn’t have killed anyone.

Drops on the rest of the chart all make sense for this weekend.

2016: The 15 Most Underrated Films

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

This category is not about underseen films so much as films that just have a weird aura of “meh” around them… in my view, unfairly. Some did good box office. Some did almost nothing. This is not a list of films that I wish made more money. It’s when you are at a dinner party and the title comes up and there are (to me) a surprising number of shrugs or distinct punches thrown in their direction.

Before the list, there are three titles that I have not seen that may fit in this category: 10 Cloverfield Lane, A Bigger Splash, and The Accountant . Another title seemed destined for this list, but found its way to the light, and that is The Lobster, which still splits rooms, but certainly gets its due now.

The 15 Most Underrated Films of 2016 (in alphabetical order)

The BFG – A boundary-pushing work by Spielberg that straddles the line between reality and the visual feel of a children’s book, in the tradition of Jumanji and in many ways, Avatar. For my money, we have never seen a human mo-cap effort as effective and emotional as Mark Rylance’s giant. Is it still a children’s fairy tale? Yes. It was never going to be E.T. because the giant is Elliott and the live child is the extraterrestrial. And the imagery was not “normal” with an oddity in it. All that said, not a picture that deserved to be dismissed by so many.

The Brothers Grimsby – Really f-ing stupid. Yes. No question. And as profane as the day was long. But I laughed a lot at this raunchfest. Would make a great double feature with Sausage Party, which was equally realistic. This spoof of James Bond films by way of The Man In The Iron Mask (or here, the man in the adult diapers). How does one rate a movie in which the climax is based on explosives being shot directly into the lead character’s rectum? Well, either that – and the sexual absurdities that swing both ways and maintain the general tone of a two-hour long fart joke – makes you laugh or it does not. I expected nothing… but I laughed, quite a lot.

Deadpool – I know. Massive hit. Some good reviews. But I still feel that there is a lot of head shaking out there. There is a lot about the movie that makes no sense. But the team make sweeping anachronistic choices with the material and the thing held together. It didn’t become Team America, where there were moments of unforgettable glory, but the movie didn’t really work. This movie works. And it deserves real respect… not just for its box office.

Denial – This film did okay at the box office. Okay with critics. But it is better than that. At the center of the film is a performance by Rachel Weisz that challenges in that it is dead-on bringing to screen the real Deborah Lipstadt… who is a character of a style that turns a lot of people off. But that was not only the truth, but a part of what makes this movie excellent. Tom Wilkinson and even Timothy Spall, as The Holocaust Denier, have it easier. Their characters are quieter. Spall’s David Irving is particularly suited to this moment in history, committed to his lies without flinching… like the president-elect. There was nothing easy about selling this film and as I noted earlier, they did pretty well. But this film will be much better remembered in time

Dheepan – Won at Cannes after being shown late in the festival (aka, after most of the media had left) and got kicked in the male private parts for its trouble. But a great movie. Jacques Audiard – who should more often be compared to an international filmmaker who is getting due credit this year, Paul Verhoeven – is a consummate master of serious sociopolitical drama combined with genre. Dheepan is a serious look at the troubles of immigration in the UK… combined with Death Wish. It is a remarkable, painful, angry, scary, truthful film. Take a look at it without the “did it deserve to win Cannes” weight hanging on it and see.

Indignation – This Phillip Roth adaptation by James Schamus got some rave reviews and did pretty good business. But again… not good enough. It’s a complex, frustrating story that chooses not to explain itself at every turn with some great, great performances.

The Light Between Oceans – Derek Cianfrance made 2016’s great weepie. But it’s more than that. It’s a film that takes its time to linger in spaces with broken people who are trying to navigate right and wrong and finding a way to love in the deepest of ways. As with all Cianfrance films, there is more to get into than one story. He loves layers. And you could really break this movie down into any one of 4 or 5 stories. But the reaction to this film was kind of like if you narrowed Sophie’s Choice‘s entire weight down to only The One Choice. As I have said many times, it isn’t that hard to make an audience cry or scream. But to have them take themselves into that space where they are truly empathizing with those characters, however unlike them in fact, that is movie magic.

Louder than Bombs – I love this movie. It just gets me. Deep emotion. Brutal intellectualism. Characters desperately seeking answers that they don’t really know they are even seeking. The third great performance of the year by Isabelle Huppert. The best work I have ever seen from Jesse Eisenberg. This is not a film that answers every question. It asks you to do a lot of the work. But I found it deeply fulfilling.

Maggie’s Plan – A bonbon from the generally tough filmmaker, Rebecca Miller. Clever, witty idea. Wacky, Fun performance from Julianne Moore. Gerwig. Hawke. The ascendant Travis Fimmel. You could feel the push-back after it premiered at Toronto. I still don’t know why. I thought Miller did what Woody Allen hasn’t done these last 20 years… moved the New York rom-com into an interesting modern place.

Nocturnal Animals – The problem with being seen as Oscar bait is that people expect something other than compelling, original, thoughtful entertainment from your film. And I think that is the case here. From the audacious opening of large, naked women dancing unabashedly for our amusement and fascination to the extreme schizophrenia between the story and the story in the story to the mad performances of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Mike Shannon and the Quaaluded sexuality of Amy Adams here, this is the kind of hard-R mayhem that I could imagine being held up as the very highest of low art. It’s never camp. But it’s never, as a film, as sharp-edged as the precision imagery of Tom Ford. It’s not even to be compared to Verhoeven’s work, which has a relative softness and does have campiness. It’s a singular piece of filmmaking. And that alone should be thrilling more “big thinkers.” I am still surprised how much it sits with me.

Pete’s Dragon – David Lowery is an artist. There is no mistaking it, even in a big studio movie like this with an animated dragon at its center. Lowery aims at the heart and hits the mark, over and over and over again. A beautiful movie and I only wish that every kid will end up seeing it, in whatever format, and feel its pleasures.

Silence – I haven’t written about this film because, really, I don’t feel ready. What I do know is that I feel the film and felt the film more watching it the second time. There is so much going on in this material. And I feel like the more “entertaining,” really meaning “more violent” version of this film would have been made by Scorsese in years past. But what is here is not just beautiful shots or great acting moments The effort to connect with God courses though the veins of this film and makes the audience as uncomfortable as the priests, who are also witnesses more than victims. I fear this is one of those films that will be forgotten for decades and rediscovered by another generation as one of the lost masterpieces of my generation of film writers and critics, much less audiences. More when I go back the third time… and fourth…

Snowden – Oliver Stone’s best movie in years because it is his first film that isn’t selling a political position in forever. I have never been as convinced about Snowden’s position in stealing secrets he committed himself not to expose as when I watched this film that wasn’t trying to force feed me him as an angel. However hard it is to listen to him, Joseph Gordon-Levitt committed to a character that was often uncomfortable to watch and hear and gives a great performance of both range and subtlety. I don’t think anyone really wanted a political film this year. Too much real life to deal with. But those who missed this missed a good one.

Why Him? – Not brain surgery. Unlike Meet The Parents, this film is based around a paranoid father of a potential bride who is dead wrong about his wannabe son-in-law. James Franco plays a wide open, giant-hearted character and never shows a moment of cynicism. He may be crazy and dumb about some things, but he is love embodied by man. And as the family comes along, they all get their great moments. So does Cranston. This is just a really likable piece of entertainment and too many people are just assuming it is a junky money-grab rip-off. Nope.

Zero Days – You really have to go back to Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room to find a Gibney doc that tells such a technically complex story and makes it so understandable. This movie is already on Showtime, so more people have a chance to see it. But it is perhaps the most important doc of this year regarding world politics and for some reason, it just isn’t catching on with the big talkers. I love many other docs and get the draw… but man, this is the right film at the right time and I just don’t get the lack of traction. It’s not perfection personified. But it is such a rich vein of information about the digital culture. Watch it.

My 15 Favorite DP/30s of 2016

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

It’s hard to describe exactly what makes a DP/30 interview one of my favorites. Honestly, I am already questioning my choices as I push “publish” on this entry. There are so many other DP/30 interviews from this year (I’m not including Celebrity Conversations on the list) that I love for so many odd reasons. Mica Levi fascinated me for every minute I was in the room with her. Casey Affleck took me to unexpected places, which is air to me. Finally got to sit with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and they were wide open. Greta, Jessica, Brolin, Frears, Juno… all regulars on the show who I would travel to talk to any day of the week. (Again, just the DP/30 list… the year wouldn’t be the same without regulars shot for Ovation this year, like Amy Adams or Felicity Jones or Nicole Kidman or Mike Shannon.)

Shot Alden Ehrenreich for the 2nd time… the first being for his debut… and he is a good guy on his way to being a big star. Refn is always wild. Finally got Colin Farrell and Cliff Martinez and Sarandon and Fenton/Barbato and Gillian Jacobs and Miles Teller and Kate Beckinsale and Tracy Letts and others I never really expected like Tori Amos and Shawn Levy and the fascinating Kyra Sedgwick. And that doesn’t even start on the directors: Damien Chazelle, Barry Jenkins, Pablo Larrain, Ken Lonergan, Denis Villeneuve, Garth Davis, Garth Jennings, Jeff Nichols, Bayona (still to be published), and Tom Ford, amongst others. And the amazing couple the work together, writing, directing, producing movies and are likely to have the first Oscar grace their home this February. And documentarians.

I get to talk to a lot of incredibly talented people about work that moves them deeply.

But there is something about these 15… something truly unexpected… something silly… something real… something that stuck with me in a different way.

The only one of these shot by Ovation is the hour with Jeremy Irons, which will air it a 23 minutes at some point, but which I intentionally made an hour. Expect longer interviews in 2017.

4-Day Weekend Estimates by Young B.O. Klady

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

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Weekend 3-Day Estimates by Baby New Year Klady

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Weekend 3-Day Estimates 2017-01-01 at 10.06.57 AM

 

The holidays did the job they were meant to do, though there were no truly positive surprises. Strong numbers for Rogue One lead the way. Sing delivers strong numbers, but not up to Illumination’s recent history, although it is already past Trolls. (Moana is ahead of both.) Passengers‘ $61 million seems okay… until you look at the movie’s cost. La La Land has the best per-screen of any film in more than 25 venues, with 750 runs. Hidden Figures and Patriots Day seem primed for strong January expansion.

Friday Estimates by Mojo (Klady Is Traveling)

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

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Pretty normal Christmas/New Year’s window.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is doing great… but it’s 37% off Episode VII so far. But who’s going to cry over $1.3 billion worldwide if that stat holds through its run? No one. And anyone who is wondering whether the film will pass Cap:Civil War as top 2016 release can relax. It will. $1.2b is pretty much guaranteed.

Sing is also doing great… but it’s not catching up to Zootopia or The Secret Life of Pets or Finding Dory. Don’t expect Illumination to dip into the Christmas window again soon.

Passengers is not a complete disaster, which reminds us of one reason why many films like the Christmas window… word of mouth is less influential and more people go to movies on the weekdays. But the film is still dependent on international to do more than paying for its domestic ad buy (if these numbers add up to that).

Moana is in the sweet spot for Walt Disney Animation November releases. It will be the second best of that Nov-Launch group, well behind Frozen, but a solid #3 in the history of WDA.

Fences is doing okay. The film will look for a boost from the MLK holiday as well as Oscar nominations. It’s a relatively inexpensive picture, so the breakeven (projecting post-theatrical) is likely in the 50s. A ways to go.

Why Him? stiffed. It wasn’t that expensive, but it never found that thing that turned on potential ticket buyers. The Christmas window comedy that we used to expect annually has all but died off… until someone finds a film that connects again. It will happen.

La La Land is killing it. The reasonable comps for the film are The Imitation Game and Silver Linings Playbook. Imitation was in 747 venues with a $3,871 per-screen the Friday before New Year’s Day, and Silver Linings was in 745 with a $1,724 per-screen. Totals on that date were $9.6m and $24.5m. La La is at $28 million with a per-screen of $4,160. Those films grossed $91m and $132m. At this point, I would expect La La to surpass them both. Those bold $150m domestic estimates predicted by some may well come to fruition. Big, big win. As the old saw goes… no one wanted to make them.

Collateral Beauty may gross enough to cover the marketing costs of opening wide in December. The film is, by the way, from the new head of the studio. So when journos are writing up those “Is Tom Rothman in trouble?” rumors, they might want to consider that this was Toby Emmerich’s project.

Manchester by the Sea is now Roadside Attractions’ #1 release of all-time. It helps to have a partner as deep-pocketed as Amazon. But the whole team at Roadside deserves an embrace for working the film so effectively. And there could be another wave of significant business off of the Oscar nominations.

Arrival no longer looks like $100 million is in range… though Oscar could change that.

Hidden Figures is lurking as a serious box office contender… yet the question of a Best Picture nomination for Oscar is hanging out there. I would have gone wide this week, showing some box office muscle before Oscar voting starts. Popularity is part of what makes this movie a legitimate threat as a nominee and there just isn’t any serious proof of the success to come right now. It may not matter. In a year of not-happy films, this happy film may become a popular choice in the two or three slot for Oscar voters who are relieved by the feel-good experience. We’ll know in a month, when the film has $75 million or more in its coffers (and growing) before the nominations are announced.

Jackie, Lion, and Silence live on the edge of the box office and, it would seem, on the edge of the Oscar season… each capable of getting in or being left out.

And when discussing Oscar, don’t forget Sully, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Moonlight, Loving and 20th Century Women.

20 Weeks To Oscar: The (Shock) Corridor

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

January. May. August. September. October. November.

Last year: January. May. September. October. November.

2014: January. February. September. October. November.

2013: May. September. October. November.

2012: January. May. September. October. November.

Sense a trend?

These are the months in which movies that have gone on to get Oscar nominations (including assumptions about this season) were first shown to more than a handful of people in each of the last five seasons. A Sundance movie generally gets in. A Cannes movie has gotten in three of the last four seasons, with Loving as the only hope for that launchpad this season. There is one Berlin release (The Grand Budapest Hotel). And then the familiar Sept-Nov/Dec-release corridor, which could expand into August more than by a day of Telluride or Venice this year with the August release of Hell or High Water.

The summer window, aside from Cannes in early May and some arthousers sneaking after the commercial summer battlefield in late August, has all but closed. The March window, former home to movies like Erin Brockovich, is mostly closed to Oscar (Grand Budapest being the recent exception).

The last year of real Oscar release flexibility was 2009, which was the first year of the expansion to 10 films (later adjusted to “as many as 10 films” for reasons that are still foolish). There was a TIFF release from the year before that was released in the summer (The Hurt Locker), two Sundance movies (Precious and An Education), a commercial mid-summer studio movie (Up), two commercially-focused August wide releases (Inglorious Basterds, District 9), two TIFF launches, and two commercial launches in November and December.

In 2010, you had four summer release nominees, only one of which had an earlier launch (Winter’s Bone at Sundance). The other 6 nominees came from the fall corridor, only two of which debuted at Telluride/TIFF.

In 2011, the “as many as” rule launched for Academy and the serious shrinkage of the season began. Nine nominees. Two launches were at Cannes and the films were released in the summer (Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life). A third Cannes film was held for November release (The Artist). The Help had a straight commercial release in early August. And the other five? In the corridor.

So what does all this date-crunching mean?

I argue that it means that the business of award season has gotten sharper and more decisive. Flukes still happen. It is hardly impossible. But much the same way that indie films without distribution just coincidentally seem to be completed in the fall, just in time for Sundance applications, Oscar movies hold out until The Corridor is ready for them.

The August Strategy (releasing a solid, likable adult movie in August, before the hysteria starts, gaining a unique foothold) still exists… and looks like it may work this year for Hell or High Water and maybe for Florence Foster Jenkins.

Sundance is not an awards platform, but the top American independent film market, so it shouldn’t be a shock that there is a film or two there that, re-launched in The Corridor, can seriously compete for nominations.

Cannes is an odd bird. It has two faces. There is the commercial Cannes of Opening Night, where a studio can launch a commercial movie to the worldwide press as it heads into theaters in the weeks immediately following. And there is the sales market, where (like Sundance), some great, awards-competitive films can be found.

Going into 2017, there are currently only five films that will even inspire Oscar discussion on the schedule. There will be additions coming out of Sundance, likely released in August/September, and maybe a commercial Cannes opener that will open before The Corridor. But… Beauty & The Beast and The Zookeeper’s Wife in March, The Book of Henry in June, and Dunkirk and My Cousin Rachel in July.

What’s realistic? Dunkirk will be the rare summer movie that is nominated for Best Picture. Beauty & The Beast could get there if well reviewed and grossing $1b+. The Zookeeper’s Wife, which was fought over in the corridors of Focus for a 2016 Corridor release, will be well-loved by some but disappear by the fall. Henry and Rachel are smaller films that may change dates and are not likely to survive the summer releases.

And then, you can expect the same old, same old. One or two Sundance movies in serious play after re-launching at Telluride/TIFF. And The Corridor. Those movies are already being shown to insiders to determine early strategy.

Here’s what isn’t going to happen. No consultant is going to see a great movie in the next two months and tell the distributor to push the release (critical or commercial) into the spring or summer. No one wants to be the other summer movie to Dunkirk. No one getting paid by the push wants to risk seeing a title die a quick death outside of The Corridor.

Even the Sundance movies. People in the media are aware of how insanely precious Amazon was with screenings of Manchester by the Sea before the fall festival window… after it had premiered at Sundance in January. Why? Because it wanted the re-launch, not just a wide cloak of love for their film. Would Manchester have been better served by a media blitz just before the fall festivals, given the sense of inevitability around La La Land? Probably.

A quality late summer arthouse release can get traction simply by being seen by a large percentage of Academy members who are actually paying money to go to the movies, desperate for something they actually want to see. Word of mouth is more valuable than any advertisement (or Golden Globe).

So… what’s wrong with The Corridor and its dominance?

Many people seem to believe that the problem is that all the good movies are thrown into the fall and winter and that misshapes the artistic pleasures of the year. I am too jaded for that notion. There are a lot of great films released all year long, though we in the business of seeing them early, have usually seen most of the quality January-April product many months before release.

My problem with The Corridor is that the period has become desperate and grabby. The smartest and the most simplistic players are stuck playing the same game… using fake awards events (high and low) and all forms of screening/dining contraptions and terrible hackneyed advertorial that not even ad buyers expect to be read. Voters aren’t really expected to break the plastic on the trade or open the paper envelope around The Envelope.

Literally tens of millions are being spent on the basis of, “If they are doing it, we better be doing it,” in an arena where there is little direct confirmation of the value of said advertising. (By the way, this known unknown is also the basis of most of the revenue that keeps this website going.)

And a big reason why there is so much being spent so ineffectively is that we are all jammed into The Corridor. It’s as old a principle as cramming for a math test. If you did the work in the weeks before the test, you don’t need to cram. But now, by design, the only period that is counted as highly valuable is The Corridor, so cramming is the only real option.

Reality is, The Corridor also makes sense financially. As expensive as advertising and events are inside The Corridor, it is still a narrow path that can be coordinated with the theatrical release. If you have a spring or summer release, going into the awards fight means additional spending, which is why so many award campaigns for first-half movies are attached to Home Entertainment campaigns, to keep the spend connected to a direct revenue benefit.

As a result, there is this big pot of money in The Corridor and there are all sorts of people and companies scheming to get the biggest share of it possible. As a result, there is a hierarchy that develops that has nothing to do with effectiveness or certainly the quality of the promotions. And as a result of that, the quality of the same promotions lessens because that quality is not the priority… perceived promotional value is.

In other words, there is pay-to-play on both sides. The side promoting their movie is paying money for both ads and events and the associated costs to get the biggest bang for their bucks (they hope). And the side that is being paid and given the benefits of the expenditures is selling their perceived integrity in order to not only get revenue, but to continue the perception that they create value. In fact, the creation of that perceived value is the primary goal.

You may recall the old idea that the central idea of television networks was to sell eyeballs to advertisers, not TV shows to the public. Most of the media around the award season now exists to sell alleged influence to advertisers not to engage in truth-connected journalism for the narrow swath of public which it allegedly serves.

The monster feeds on itself. There is no space for real consideration of what anything means. It is a mechanical operation.

I have written in other contexts about entertainment journalism, there is so much publicity to cover, there is very little actual journalism, if only because there is no time in the day after covering everything you are fed. Likewise, the genius in awards consulting in 2016 is in picking the films to work for/with and the management of the game. The illusion of magic is over.

Don’t get me wrong. The awards consultants are almost all brilliant. But the days of drawing outside the lines are pretty much over. The last “big move” made by an awards consultant was the choice to send DVDs to all members of SAG for Crash. That was more than a decade ago. Now, it’s picking which movies to represent and then managing the many, many players and egos and budgets involved so that your audience — Academy voters and to some degree, media — don’t notice.

There are boundaries to success in The Corridor just like any other endeavor. Junk in still leads to junk out. So the films that go into the machine and come out the other side are almost all of real quality, whatever our personal preferences. This is one of the reasons I HATE the whining about this or that movie being unworthy. We all get so high and mighty when given a bully pulpit. (I should know.)

But the magic is seeping out of the award season, year by year, fake award show (that everyone participates in) by fake award show, $80,000 cover by $80,000 cover, faux news story by faux news story. And as a result, the magicians are not making the effort on award season anymore, because magic just doesn’t play anymore.

I loved the magic. I still love the movies. There is great pleasure in the work that we get to see and the filmmakers we get to engage.

But this is the first year ever when The Golden Globes are being hosted by the airing network’s late-night host and the Oscars by its airing-network’s late-night host. (And The Grammys are going this way too.) The machine will out.

Of course, overcompensation could be even worse. In a few weeks, a TV game show host and con artist will host the inauguration.

Maybe The Corridor isn’t so bad.

BYOB: Carrie Fisher

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Carrie Fisher

Weekend 4-Day Estimates by Things Change Klady

Monday, December 26th, 2016

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So the controversy here yesterday was over Fences, which was clearly underestimated in its expansion. We’re already looking at an estimate on today’s box office for the film, which is $4.9 million, which could easily be high… or not. How much of an effect will Christmas Day football have? How heavy was the must-see factor yesterday? Even if the film does $15 million in its first three days, that’s soft for Denzel… but it’s not a weekend launch… but it is Christmas/New Year’s week… but but but… Let’s take a deep breath and see where this goes.

Rogue One rolls along, pacing the big Marvel movies more than Episode 7. No one is going to die from a $1.2 billion-grossing Rogue One. And because it truly is a stand-alone film that fits in a very specific niche of the Star Wars Universe, no one is sweating sequels. So… great… success… not world-beating… but fine. IP wins again.

As noted before, Sing is a complete freak when it comes to animated releases. Doing okay.

Passengers remains soft, but looking for answers outside of American airspace. I don’t think it brings down Rothman at Sony. And in fact, it probably reinforces his position on being cheap and not chasing big stars with big price tags. But not a happy Christmas in Culver City.

The hard part is that the big studio has seven weeks before their next release, the next two coming from Screen Gems. And there is some risk. Life will have a lot on its shoulders. Then a four-film summer of a Scarlett Johansson comedy (Rock That Body), Spider-Man: Homecoming, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, and Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. Spider-Man is a gimme. The other three are not, at least commercially. And if the studio goes one for four or broderline successes for the non-Marvels, there will be serious pressure.

Why Him? and Assassin’s Creed are stuck together on the box office chart like a cruel joke. The comedy isn’t burying the studio. No biggie, even if it never really picks up. Assassin’s Creed really needs help from overseas. But either way, they both go on the prior regime’s list.

The expansion party is led by Fences, which went wide, then not-quite-wide expansions for La La Land, Jackie and Lion, plus a strong limited open (25 screens) for Hidden Figures, as well as exclusives for Patriots Day, Silence and Live By Night, and A Monster Calls.

Honestly, there is a bit of self-delusion in doing a deep analysis of this group based on this weekend. Obviously, La La Land should be happy. Fences did fine, if not overwhelmingly. Manchester by the Sea is still out there, solid, and really exceptional for the kind of film it is without a major box office star. The rest?  Some of these titles are seriously commercial and will get a full studio release. Others will never be as strong as they were this weekend. Next Monday will offer a clearer picture.

Weekend Estimates by Chanukah Klaudy

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

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Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Not a lot to add from yesterday. Weird weekend.

There are a good number of legit successes this month… but not a single one that is a home run. Rogue One is the most obvious example, but Sing also fits… MoanaArrivalTrollsFantastic Beasts. You have to go back to Doctor Strange to find a big movie that feels like it overperformed. Moonlight and now, Manchester By The Sea, are in that category among indies, with La La Land as it expands.

Some are waiting, desperately, on international: Passengers. Assassin’s Creed. Even Collateral Beauty has some hope of an international savior.

Silence and Patriots Day are starting okay. Can’t read the La La Land Christmas Day expansion from today’s estimates. Apparently, Fox isn’t offering an estimate on Hidden Figures for today (sanely). Fences could have box-office-bottomed its way out of a Best Picture nomination.

Here’s your Best Picture race as of today’s estimates…

BP racers as of 2016-12-25

Friday Estimates by Ho Ho Klady

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

Friday Esitmates 2016-12-24 at 9.36.23 AM

This morning, Day 9 of Rogue One will hit the opening weekend gross of Episode 7.

There are few things in film as rare as an animated opening in December, happening only 7 times in the history of animated films that would gross $10 million-plus total… except an animated opening on Christmas weekend, which has happened only once before (again, in films grossing $10m+ domestic in total). And who did it that only other time? Universal. With Balto, in 1995.

So Sing is a freak! And its success will be hazy for the next few weeks. The 3-day will be skewed by the holiday. And the international, which has been a huge part of Illumination’s box office game, will not be fully expressed for a while.

That said, the closest comp I see is the original Alvin & The Chipmunks… which is a weak match. But a $13.3m opening Friday in December… earlier and this is a Wednesday opening, but, trying. That film did about $75m in the 11 days of the holiday window that year. Sing will probably do more like $100 million. But it will be looking for a strong January to get it up to the $200 million range to which Illumination has gotten accustomed.

It’s hard to say how bad the situation is for Passengers. The film seems to have already used up any “must see” opportunity. Today is a wild card, as Christmas Eve is usually weak, but it’s a Saturday and most of the NFL line-up is today. So, the question of whether this 3-day can rise to Jennifer Lawrence’s worst wide opening, $12.3m for House at the End of The Street is on the table. Of course, the 5-day gross will be higher than that.

This is Lawrence’s third trip to a big December release. American Hustle did a week in exclusive before going wide the weekend before the holiday and scoring a $19.1m 3-day on expansion. Joy opened on Christmas Day last year and did $17m in its first 3 days.

So Sony will look to the rest of the world to clean up this mess. And it may well do so. Movie stars and pretty images often sell “over there.”

More to come…

BYOB is back…

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

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