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State of The Industry: Feb 2019

Saturday, July 20th, 2019

(NOTE: I wrote this back in February and didn’t publish it. Some of it has shown itself to be true already. Some still coming. Some has already become iffy. But here it is…)

The media and Wall Street obsession with “Netflix vs X” is a fallacy.

Netflix is the clear leader in the new paradigm of streaming. However, as more major players enter the streaming space with deep libraries, they will barely be in competition with Netflix, so much as the existing cable and television structure, as that is where the big money is.

In fact, the competitive situation for Netflix will only change significantly when they are dragged into the gravitational force of the new variation of the streaming paradigm that they created.

Netflix landed in the middle of the film and television industry, the industry did not land on Netflix.

Netflix did change the game. But it does not control the game because it just isn’t big enough to do so. And it likely never will be.

Given the most extreme predictions for the happy future of Netflix, the company, as currently designed, maxes out at about $16 billion in annual domestic revenue and about $25 billion overseas with 300 million worldwide subscribers. $41 billion in worldwide revenues is tremendous.

However, Disney has $24 billion annually in a mostly domestic television business today. And even if it can’t make a go of more than one stream channel for the international audience, it can surely match Netflix internationally with a massive advantage in its established brand.

And then, Disney has its film side, which has a symbiotic relationship with the TV and future streaming businesses. And its parks. And a huge merchandising business that can only be enhanced by being in the streaming business in the many nations where the dominant use of the Disney brand consists is illegal knockoffs.

Netflix is already, smartly, angling for differentiation by investing in local production in many languages in many countries, not just relying on American content dubbed or subtitled for other nations. But the details of the battle for The World between all of the streamers is a discussion better held for another article.

My point is, Disney can’t afford to just compete with Netflix. Their ambitions and their current business are significantly bigger than that.

Likewise, AT&T and Comcast, which have even more complicated issues than Disney. They both have existing content delivery businesses that generation roughly $25 billion a year for each corporation. So, as they create streaming platforms that give more reason for consumers to cut the cord, they are cannibalizing their own businesses.

But like Disney, the draw of international – again, trailblazed by Netflix – is so great, they are willing to walk this tightrope for the next decade or so… and to bleed the red ink that will inevitably come with it for a time.

Domestically, the easier play would be to fight exclusively for the territory they already occupy. This is one major reason why these legacy companies have dragged their feet for at least 5 years of the Netflix streaming success, allowing Netflix to establish itself while clearing the path others will now walk. The companies with major studios could just shut Netflix out on the content front, refocus on improving cable and satellite with some streaming access, and not take a dangerous chance.

But the international opportunity gives these legacy companies a chance to double or triple their overall home content operations.

The playing field here is, currently, about $150 billion annually. This is just on content and delivery into homes, not including internet access. Netflix owns about $17 billion of that.

Neither Comcast nor AT&T are anxious to release their $50 billion of that $150 billion. Nor are the smaller cable/satellite MVPDs that total up to a nearly equal amount of the overall revenue. But the industry is now past the point of return. And adjustments for the new paradigm will have to be made.

My personal prediction is that by the end of 2020, AT&T’s DirecTV and Comcast cable and every other MVPD in short order, will offer packages with a cost between $40 and $70 a month via their non-internet infrastructures, seeking to keep their customer bases intact and ready to spend $40 – $70 a month on unique streaming channels (like Netflix, Hulu, Comcast-to-be-named, WarnerMedia streaming, Disney+. etc.)

That $40 – $70 a month is where the OTT battle will rage. And I have every expectation that Netflix will continue to thrive in that environment. But I don’t see them having a lot of room to raise their monthly rates once heavy competition moves (which is likely why they moved to raise prices recently, before the wave).

Disney seems to be angling for a $20+ monthly spend for their 3 streaming networks or at least $15 for any 2. Comcast and WarnerMedia each adds another $11 a month to the bill. So those 4 must-have streamers (inc Netflix) represent $40 – $45 a month. Add another $60 a month or so for a “broadcast” package, either streaming or via MVPD. About $100 a month. Where America lives , on average, with the home entertainment today.

Obviously, the details will vary, as they do now. But consumers want new content, including live programming, as well as the deep wells of the content libraries. There has to be a way to accommodate this. Any expectation that the average family in America will raise their home entertainment spend by 50% or more in the face of new options is foolhardy, at best.

Apple and Amazon probably should be mentioned at this point.

I don’t believe that either company will ever be a major content player. Why? Because it’s not a great business. It’s not their business. And the extended streaming universe will not turn it into a great business.

There are 4 major English-language libraries left to buy. Sony, Paramount/CBS, Lionsgate, and MGM, which is suddenly resurrecting itself yet again. Any one of them or all of them could be purchased by Amazon or Apple as the foundation of a streaming service. Netflix could also be a buyer, giving them a stronger foundation when they start to slow the pace of original production. Or someone with a lot of cash could bring them all together as the 5th major streaming player.

We all could exhaust ourselves speculating about the future of these companies. But it seems futile. They could be 10% of this discussion or as much as 25%. But they are not going to drive the forward motion.

(I believe, strongly, that theatrical revenues will not only continue, but thrive moving forward. The theatrical experience is already the best opportunity to sell individual access at the highest price per person in this industry, aside from the niche of cash-loose disc collectors. In the streaming subscription era, this will be even more pronounced. But this is best left for another article.)

My belief is that Amazon and Apple will both try to be the bundlers of the streaming paradigm. In other words, the creators of the products that make this massive wave of content that is thousands of times too big for anyone to consume but that we will all have access to for a reasonable price, manageable. Or, if you like, the companies that will keep you from having to ask, “Where the hell is Show X streaming, damn it!?”

Amazon and Apple will try out using original content as bait. But I don’t believe their hearts are really into making programming. If they control the new pipe, they can sell you all kinds of stuff within reason.

Meanwhile, the legacy companies heading into the streaming space have very complicated choices to make.

One example, broadly. The NFL. About $6 billion a year in TV revenues. Split between CBS, Fox, ESPN, NBC, DirecTV, and the Thursday Night franchise that includes the NFL Network and Amazon.

DirecTV is the single biggest annual spender, coughing up $1.5 billion for the right to exclusively distribute the CBS/Fox Sunday games out of market. They lose money on this, but it has been considered worth the losses as bait to bring in new customers and keep their legacy customers.

Paying the least per game are Fox and CBS, which serve as the backbone for the league, producing 10-13 games a week, every week. (about $2.1b combined)

ESPN pays almost $2 billion a year for Monday Night Football and NBC gets Sunday Night Football for just under $1 billion a season.

The idea of changing these arrangements is catnip for the whimsical. And the players will move around the board in any contract year. But in a discussion of the streaming future, this one piece of turf involves every player but Netflix & Apple. This is how the NFL likes it. And this works, mostly, for the corporations. Every company is competing aggressively with the others… and every company has its role to play.

That is where we are headed. Not kill the man with the ball. Not Netflix vs The World. There has been a lot of change in the process of consolidation, even before the new massive streamers launch. And everyone is still competing for their wins. But we are seeing the dawn of a new eco-system, not a bunch of punks fighting for a loose dollar that fell out of someone’s pant pocket on the playground. No one company defines it now. No one company will define it in the (near) future.

test sunday

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

truthy 951

By David Poland
Monday, July 15, 2019

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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“If I ever woke up with a dead hooker in my hotel room, Matt would be the first person I’d call.”
Ben Affleck, about his best buddy, Matt Damon.


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Friday at Sundance turned out not to be a big festival news day. No films
were picked up. In fact, Sony Pictures Classics made it known that they would
not be purchasing rights to any festival films during the festival — thus
limiting the chances of making hasty decisions. Sony acquisitions reps are
avoiding being caught up in the buying frenzy and after Sundance, plan to step
back from the experience to make clear-headed purchases that best serve the
company.

Screenings were almost all standing room only Friday, especially screenings of
2 by 4, Slam, Frat House, and the latest from Roger & Me‘s Michael Moore, The Big One, which
made its world premiere at Sundance.

The party to be at was thrown by BMI at
the Canyons’ “Bubble.” Cracker performed a loud and raucous set, while Adam
Duritz
of Counting Crows alternated between singing along in the front row and joining the band along with raspy-throated
songster, Joan Osborne.

While screenings continued on Saturday, the real attention turned to Saturday
night’s awards ceremony and party. For the second year in a row, Robert
Redford
was noticably absent from the evening. Always looking fo an excuse to
keep the focus on the filmmakers and off of himself, Redford opted to stay put
in California’s Sonoma wine country where he is editing his upcomming film,

Filmmakers, television camera crews, still photographers, festival staff, and
festival-goers all made their way to Park City’s large racquet club for the
ceremony. Alfre Woodard admitted to being, “Humbled by the quality
and breadth of films in this year’s competition.” The actress and festival
juror then presented the festival’s dramatic grand jury prize to Marc Levin‘s
Slam.

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The grand jury prize in the documentary competition was split between
The Farm, by Jonathan Stack and Liz Garbus, and Frat House, by Todd Phillips
and Andrew Gurland. Phillips showed a bit of his own frat house mentality
during the course of his acceptance speech. After thanking the people that
were pivotal in helping to get his film made, Phillips left the stage by also
thanking Seymour Butts (apparently Phillips may be watching too much of “The Simpsons”).

The Waldo Salt Award for excellence in screenwriting went to High Art‘s Lisa
Cholodenko
. Stunned by the honor, Cholodenko exclaimed to the audience, “I
feel like I should be wearing some Bob Mackie dress.”

The dramatic audience award went to Smoke Signals, while the audience’s choice
for best documentary went to Jeff Dupre‘s Out of the Past. Smoke Signals also
won the filmmaker’s trophy for best drama, while Steve Yeager‘s Divine Trash
was honored as the filmmakers’ favorite documentary.

Other giveaways: the Documentary Directing Award to Moment of Impact
director Julia Loktev; Dramatic Directing Award to Pi‘s Darren
Aronosfsky
; Best Cinematography in a Documentary to Wild Man’s Blues
Tom Hurwitz; Best Cinematography in a Drama to 2 By 4; The Freedom of
Expression Award to The Decline of Western Civilization: Part 3‘s Penelope
Spheeris
; Special Jury Prize for Acting to Miss Monday‘s Andrea Hart; the
Latin Cinema Award to Carlos Marcovich‘s Who The Hell is Juliette?; and
Special Recognition in Short Filmmaking to Debra Granik, director of Snake Feed.

Even though Sunday is officially the final day of the festival, most of Park
City’s temporary guests spend the morning packing away their snow globes and lip balm, making room
for local Utahans to catch screenings of the winning films.








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Numbers in parenthesis indicate January 16-19 weekend box office position.

Box office results for the January 23-25 weekend, 1998.

1. (1) TITANIC

Weekend: $25M Total: $274.4M

2. (new) SPICEWORLD

Weekend: $11M Total: $11M

3. (2) GOOD WILL HUNTING

Weekend: $9.1M Total: $49M

4. (4) AS GOOD AS IT GETS

Weekend: $7.6M Total: $76.6M

5. (3) FALLEN

Weekend: $4.9M Total: $16.9M

6.(7) WAG THE DOG

Weekend: $4.7M Total: $23.8M

7. (5) HARD RAIN

Weekend: $3.7M Total: $12.8M

8.(6) HALF BAKED

Weekend: $3.1M Total: $12M

9. (new) PHANTOMS

Weekend: $3.1M Total: $3.2M

10. (8) TOMORROW NEVER DIES

Weekend: $.3M Total: $115.5M

Source: Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc.









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  • Kate
  • Ving Rhames
  • vintage sneakers
  • Chinese
  • Prozac

  • Gia
  • Jack Lemmon
  • designer sneakers
  • Japanese
  • Viagra











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Monday, January 26, 1998

The Rosie O’Donnell Show
(3:00 p.m. EST — syndicated):
Bill Pullman

NIGHT CRAWLERS

Late Show With David Letterman
(11:35 p.m. EST on CBS):
Farrah Fawcett

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
(11:35 p.m. EST on NBC):
Rupert Everett

Tuesday, January 27, 1998

EARLY BIRDS

Today
(7:00 a.m. EST on NBC):
Elton John

Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee
(9:00 a.m. EST — syndicated):
Farrah Fawcett

NIGHT CRAWLERS

The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show
(11:00 p.m. EST — syndicated):
David Alan Grier

Late Show With David Letterman
(11:35 p.m. EST on CBS):
Robert Duvall

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
(11:35 p.m. EST on NBC):
Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore






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WEEKEND REVIEW

Were there movies out there this weekend? Between the Super Bowl and
Suborning Bill, movies seemed like a low priority for a change. Titanic
made its $25 million. The Spice Girls managed to snap up $11 million
(if anyone out there knows why, please e-mail me). The Good movies
(Will Hunting and As it Gets) did good in third and fourth. Fallen fell
in a pretty standard way. The only newcomer to the Top Ten was
Phantoms with a weak $3.1 million open.

MILESTONES: Titanic passed Jaws’ $260 million domestic gross to become
the 10th most popular film of all time. Jaws, who had to turn down a
cameo in the film due to rust, refused to comment. But a spokesperson
for the mechanical shark rambled on about the box office to production
cost ratio and mentioned that Quentin Tarantino had recently visited
Jaws on the Universal Studio tour and they were hoping to have “good
news” about a comeback in the near future.

MILLSTONES: President Clinton was getting wagged so hard by the tale of him
being a dog that it could snap his presidency. New Line has
decided not to capitalize on the current problems in the White House,
but Iraq has. Saddam Hussein is claiming that he is now expecting an
American assault on Iraq as a Clinton distraction.

ABOVE THE FRAY: Ben Affleck, Phantoms most marketable co-star and Golden
Globe award-winner for co-scripting Miramax’s Good Will Hunting, was not out on the
talk circuit pushing his newer film. Given that Phantoms is from
Miramax division Dimension, that might be internal strategy to keep
Affleck pure for Academy consideration. Or Ben’s head might be too big
to talk sci-fi. Only his publicist knows for sure.

READER QUOTE OF THE DAY: From Marc A, “I don’t doubt Titanic‘s doing
well, but these numbers seem
impossible! I’m waiting to hear that Titanic is healing the sick this
weekend.”

E-MAIL PROMPT: There’s gonna be a Reader Line Of The Day even if I have
to start making them up, so give me a break. Be a part of The Hot
Button
. E-mail me your thoughts on Titanic, the Spice Girls, Pulp
Clinton or on anything else.












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In its fourth year, Slamdance is no longer the new-kid festival at Park City.
Instead, Slamdance has evolved into a viable (and crucial) component of
the Park City festival experience. One new addition to this year’s festival was a screening day for the winners on Friday. Also, the welcome addition of the
filmmakers’ lounge made Slamdance a haven for wary filmmakers looking
for a cup of coffee and some quiet, civilized conversation. The lounge
also featured video screenings throughout the day of short works
including Marina Zenovich‘s hour-long indie doc Independent’s
Day
(a project that started two years ago as a study of Slamdance).

The slate of competition films and special screenings drew sell-out
crowds consistently throughout the week. In addition to the opening-
night party with techno sensation Moby, Slamdance hosted two
other major events at The Underground: The Red Elvises (a Russian
rockabilly band that provided the energetic Six-String Samurai
soundtrack) rocked Park City late into the night at a post-screening
party on Wednesday. The closing-night festivities also proved to be a
good time, as filmmakers, volunteers and audiences celebrated another
successful festival.

The early buzz is that Sundance and the Park City Chamber of Commerce
are attempting to block the return of Slamdance in 1999 by refusing to
issue festival permits. If they are successful in blocking Slamdance
from playing in Park City, everyone loses. At its worst, Slamdance
serves as a constant reminder that Sundance is not the end of the world.
As Slamdance develops its own identity as the place to
discover new talent (all of its competition films are by first-time
directors), Sundance continues to screen works by established directors that already have a distribution deal. At its best, Slamdance
has shown that there are damn good films that should
be seen and that deserve an industry audience. Let’s hope the big kids see it in their hearts to extend a
welcome hand to Slamdance in 1999.








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McBeal’s Baby

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Everyone seems to be going goo-goo over television’s hottest show, Ally McBeal. But it is not the cutesy Ally who has people talking. Instead, it’s her little buddy — the dancing baby. For complete details on how this whole thing started rolling, go to creator Ron L.’s
Official Dancing Baby Website. Included, of course, is the original dancing baby as well as a link to an unofficial site that features 13 movies of his creation getting down and (in some cases) dirty.










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Who do you think’s been with more women, President Clinton or Saddam Hussein (see The Hot Button)?


President Clinton

Saddam Hussein





Results


This weekend we asked you, “Who do you think’s a better “performer,” Bret Michaels or Tommy Lee?”


64% of you said Bret Michaels.





DP/30Podcast: Free Solo

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Friday Estimates – Felt Falls To GlamAsians

Saturday, August 25th, 2018

Friday Estimates 2018-08-25 at 10.51.34 AM 651

Friday Estimates: Modestly Rich Asians,

Saturday, August 18th, 2018

Friday Estimates 081818

Hollywood have given all the love it can give to Crazy Rich Asians, but the movie still has work to do to find a big mainstream audience. There is nothing wrong with a $23 million 3-day or even a $20m 3-day, especially after $8.8 million was siphoned off on Wed/Thurs. But… let’s be adults about this. The film is going to have to find a strong post-release word-of-mouth gear to get close to $100 million domestic. And that is the magic boundary. There is absolutely nothing about the film that makes it less accessible to whites, blacks, middle easterners, eskimos, greeks, etc. It is a 18+ family comedy that every ethnic group will find familiar. But I am afraid that in all the celebration of finally making an “all-Asian” movie at a studio, the studio forgot that they had to tell the rest of the audience why it was relevant to them. And I am not suggesting that the ticket sales were “all-Asian,” either. I am just saying that this movie opened as you might anticipate opening a mid-August studio comedy with some cultural standing. This is the number you would have gotten from a Julie & Julia or an Eat Pray Love. But the buzz around this movie was bigger than those. So you wonder why the 5-day isn’t more like $40 million. I know that some will be upset that anyone rain on the parade. And this opening is by no means bad. But greatness is measured, with a very commercial movie, but its box office as well as the quality and the cultural significance.

I haven’t seen Mile 22. This number is good considering the fairly soft sell and the terrible reviews across the board. On the other hand, if you look at Mark Wahlberg’s recent box office history, his status is dimming a bit when he is not attached to an existing franchise or sequel. He and his people should be taking a hard look at why this is and what they can do. Working with Peter Berg is never a bad idea, especially when the actor connects so well. But they need to find something that just plain wins. He needs his Taken. Or he needs another Scorsese infusion, which the Ridley Scott film was not. He has a great 3rd act waiting to happen. But time for a rebrand.

Good weekend at the art houses. The Wife, We the Animals, Juliet, Naked, Blaze will all do at least $10k on 2 – 4 screens each.

Friday Estimates: Meg Eats, Slender Man Thin, BlacKKKlansman Burns Gently

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

Friday Estimates 2018-08-11 at 12.04.25 PM

The Meg will likely be the biggest opener of the summer for Warner Bros, with a number in the low 40s. The most striking thing about this is that WB put out such an unambitious summer slate by their historic standards. They should have a much better fall/holiday run. But even looking at next summer, one wonders if we will ever again see the studio flex all that muscle it used to show off constantly. Still… Crazy Rich Asians next weekend… so it could be a heavy August slate of wins for WB.

Slender Man arrives with a whimper. Will Screen Gems ever develop a strong post-Clint voice?

And BlacKKKlansman has a mixed launch. Strong for Spike and in this 1500-screen range, solid for Focus. But it’s still a $10 million launch focused in all the locations that are expected to be strong for this film. Expansion is not going to change the trajectory. So you can look at it as Spike having a single day that is better than the total grosses of his last 3 films. Or you can look at it as his best opening, with the exception of Inside Man, in the last 15 years. Or you can look at the opening as stronger than a couple of Focus’s other 1500 screen openings, The Ice Harvest and The World’s End, which are both beloved films. Or you can look at it as the Florence Foster Jenkins or Hell or High Water of this summer. Or you could see it as a $25m domestic-grossing disappointment. It’s all about perspective. And this opening allows for many variations in perspective.

Nice single screen opening for Skate Kitchen… which everyone should try to see on a big screen, though it will be a hip movie to watch on phones for many years to come.

Weekend Estimates: Oh Pooh! The Audience That Dumped Them

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-08-05 at 10.55.23 AM

For those who wrote (snicker, snicker) about how the “Wonder Woman weekend” was a lost opportunity earlier this summer, we present The First Weekend Of August. home of 2016’s $134 million opening of Suicide Squad. This first weekend in August, the Top 17 movies grossed $134 million.

Reality is not complex on this issue. There are a few weekends (14 or so) that offer, most often, more opportunity. And there are a few weekends (3 or so) that offer, most often, less opportunity. And then there are about 35 weekends or so in every year that are absolutely neutral.

But even weekends of opportunity offer nothing remotely close to a guarantee. And the same is true of the “dead” weekends.

If it were somehow ready and Captain Marvel was not a piece of the puzzle and Marvel decided to fill the Star Wars hole in December, they could put Avengers 4 on the first weekend of December, forever considered a dead zone, and open the film to $200 million or more.

Avengers: Infinity Wars abandoned “the first weekend of the summer” this year and won… and you can expect them to do it again, though they will wait until January or so to shake out anyone thinking of trying to steal April 26. And like the traditional “best weekend” that was Memorial Day every summer and evolved into “the weekend before Memorial Day” (before being supplanted to the less crowded first weekend of May), “the start of the summer” will become the last week of April for all films moving forward.

This is all loaded down by superstition too. WB will release a horror film on “It Day” this year and sit on the date for It: Chapter 2 in September 2019, leaving completed film in the can for more than 6 months because somehow, they think that the film needs to return to that slot. 100% fear based. The sequel can’t open or total out much better than the original ($124m/$328m), no matter where it is released. But if they move it to the summer, where there is more opportunity, and the film underperforms the original, the studio will be accused of making the mistake of moving it. And if WB leaves it in exactly the same place, at a cost of a few extra million, that complaint is voided. This is not a WB issue. It’s every sequel.

When they move Solo to summer and fail (by SW standards), everyone screams about breaking the release rhythm. But the reality is, they just didn’t do a good job selling the movie and then the movie itself was not what people had been hoping for when they hired Lord & Miller and it flopped. LucasFilm Queen Kathy Kennedy grabbed hold of the double-edged sword. She wasn’t happy with the work by Lord & Miller, right or wrong. But the safe bet would have been to let the movie go on and let everyone blame them if it was bad. So on some level you have to give her credit for making the very hard choice. But the flipside – and not all that unusual – is that she could have let the movie she didn’t love move forward and it could have hit in a way she could not see… and then she could get all the money and take credit. (None of this reflects on Ron Howard, by the way, who came in an did the profession work he was asked to do.)

This is the insanity of the film business. Commitment to deep, true feelings and passions are absolutely in play. But cynical “let’s not stick out neck out too much” is also in play. The “brave” thing can be the wrong thing. And the by-the-book choice can be the right thing. And very few people outside the immediate circle of the film are going to know… including some people who are close enough to know the true stories and still don’t understand what happened.

Using the Solo example, Kennedy took the riskiest path, which she saw as the safest path. 50 people (or fewer) can offer any real opinion about whether her view of the Lord/Miller work was accurate or premature or just wrong. And the “risky” path of just letting it play out as it was going was less risky for her and Star Wars, but also may have led to a triumph that she could not predict st the stage the film was at when she pulled the plug. Taking the path she took has shaken faith in the entire franchise (which is silly) because she went traditional, reshot most of the movie, and still couldn’t get close to the bullseye. Combine that with other Hamlet moments in the production of the re-booted franchise’s first 5 films and there is perceived trouble in River City.

And then there is the biggest safety error when the project was being reconsidered mid-production… a couple scenes with Jabba The Hut and Boba Fett could have been worth 100s of million at the box office. They were expending a ton more money anyway, so why not give up on multiple “Solo” spin-off movies and just give the audience what you know they want? So much safer. But again… Kathy Kennedy took a giant risk and didn’t pander. And audiences kicked her ass as, in some part, a result.

There are a million – almost literally… maybe literally – choices along the road to putting a big movie on the big screen. You can fail at virtually any stop on the chain. And you can overcome failure in virtually any part of the chain with a triumph in another part of the chain. The rules are clear… and utterly irrelevant… and everything. No one knows anything, as The Great Goldman wrote.

Will The Meg explode into theaters next weekend? You can look at tracking and guess. Or you can tell me how it feels.

Whatever they are saying publicly, people at WB are sweating today, wondering if they have done everything they could do to open that film. People love the materials… but will that get them into theaters? If it opens soft, no one will question the date. If it opens better than expected, people will question the date. And that is the eternal conundrum. Both failure and success bring questions that are hard to answer. The only thing that doesn’t is when, as happens a few times a year, something does SO WELL that everyone just bows. Get Out, Wonder Woman, It, Black Panther, being the latest ones. Me? I would argue that those super-sized successes each had a very different path to their super-sizing. There is no group lesson.

But in Hollywood, almost everyone is trying to sell their cow for magic beans.

And really, who can blame them?

This weekend, no magic in the beans. One disaster out of three… but from a company that was just sold and is deeply demoralized.

Nice holds helped along by the soft newcomers.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post topped per-screen numbers… and this next week, the talent will be out selling the weekends to come for FilmRise. An unusual choice. Bold. And how things work in much of the indie promo these days. #NOKA

Friday Estimates: Disney Can’t Quite Open Non-Superhero Pooh, Lionsgate Dumps Spy By Mistake, Fox Goes Dark

Saturday, August 4th, 2018

Friday Est 2018-08-04 at 9.05.21 AM

Weekend Estimates: Mission Succeeds But Doesn’t Blow Up, Titans Go Boom Boom

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-07-29 at 12.03.02 PM

A solid Mission: Impossible opening for Mission: Impossible.

You can’t complain about it. It’s the best in the series. But you can’t crow about it either. It’s the #7 opening of the summer (if you include Avengers, which I do).

It will gross between $195m and $210 million domestic and between $375m and $500 million internationally, a worldwide box office range of $570 million to $710 million.

Four of Cruise’s Top 5 worldwide grossers are M:I movies. This will push #5 down to #6. Could he his 3rd best ever. Could be his best. We’ll know in time and it won’t be because of domestic box office.

There is something nice about consistency. And this is one of the most consistent franchises in the world. In a way, it is a bit like Bond, pre-2012. Consistent growth for a mature franchise, not nothing shocking. Then BOOM, Skyfall almost doubles Quantum of Solace, which was the #2 all-time Bond grosser when it was released. The franchise goes from $500 million something a movie to over $1 billion. SPECTRE fell back a bit, but only to $880 million, which is still a giant leap in the franchise’s history.

I think that people expected this Mission to somehow be Skyfall. McQuarrie did a great job with the last M:I film (his first) and this was the payoff.

But… it’s not. Still right in the pocket.

I thought that Tom Cruise, while in amazing shape, looked every minute his 50seomthing years. It’s one of the things I liked about the film. But maybe we have to come to grips with movie stars, sans CG-driven ideas, being capped at $500 million international, a number Cruise has never broken.

Even Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, which did almost a billion worldwide, was just barely past $500 million international… and aside from F&F, it was his biggest international movie by over $230 million.

I have been writing for years that the people who rage on about the CG and Franchise of it all have a flaw in their thinking… that the giant numbers are replacing “better” work, and in this case, the power of movie stars. My position is that big CG filmmaking has created a new space for the film industry and that comedies, dramas, movie stars, etc – our beloved elements of the past – are still there and thriving in many cases. They are just overshadowed by the big movies in a media culture that is primarily interested in drawing the most attention possible, not telling a well-rounded story.

The measures of the movie world have changed dramatically. Screaming into the ether about how cruel the world is that has brought unto us the billion dollar gross is just willfully missing the facts.

Friday Estimates: Mission Teen (Not So) Impossible Go

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

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Weekend Estimates: Mamma, You’ve Been Equalized!

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-07-22 at 12.33.50 PM

Okay… I had fun with the title of this, but if there is anything I can emphasize first about box office, it is that there was no race this weekend between The Equalizer 2 and Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again. Both movies opened. Both had wildly different constituencies. They took different directions over the course of the weekend and the “race” between them was coincidental, not comparative.

There are a few weekends a year when a film or a couple films are so dominant on an opening weekend that they really do crowd out other films. This is not one of those.

There have been four weekends with more than $200 million in domestic grosses amongst the top 12 films in release. That is when a film or films can crowd other films out of their position. There are occasional occurrences of films that really compete heavily with the same demos when one can “win out” over the other. But that is what distributors pay their executives not to allow to happen.

A couple brief thoughts on this specific weekend to come…

The story of the weekend at the top of the charts is that both opening sequels, Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again and Equalizer 2, fell off the cliff on Saturday, victims, in part, of the relatively recent practice of counting Thursday shows after 7p as Friday box office.

There is not enough experiential evidence to call this a box office trend at this time… however… the other 2 openings that had a similar trajectory over their opening weekend in this opening range were Fifty Shades Freed and Ocean’s 8. It was not true of Ready Player One, Rampage, A Wrinkle In Time or Pacific Rim 2, all of which opened between $28m an $42n this year. Last summer, Girls Trip also had a similar trajectory ($31m open), though it didn’t drop as hard on that first Saturday.

So the question of whether this is a “ladies night” phenomenon has to be considered. Big Friday… high anticipation from a specific demo… never a better day than that first Friday/Thursday night. Of course, horror movies tend to take this to an even greater extreme. To some degree, this is also true of “black movies.”

Everyone is hypersensitive these days to the discussion of these demos. And we should be. They have been underserved and often mistreated forever. Still… the numbers are the numbers.

There is nothing wrong with niches, either in the work itself or the embrace of them commercially. It is a bit… maybe ironic… that the push for women and POC in mainstream studio films comes at a time when the business of so much of studios has become about serving niches, niche by niche. The intensity of the split doesn’t have to happen… but studios are not great at subtle shifts. They get very black and white (no pun intended), in great part because of the size of the dollars involved for them.

But I digress…

The answer to the weekend is that E2 dropped less than MM2 on Saturday… though again… both dropped.

A24 had a nice expansion for Eighth Grade. Blindspotting opened well on 14. Both, like Sorry To Bother You should be on more “traditional” multiplex screens. This is not a criticism of the distributors, but of the current system. Opening multiplexes up to indie product more aggressively should be coming back in style, while studio mega-movies invading indie theaters has been the trend in the last 5 years.

Bleeker Street also scored with McQueen on a single screen and IFC got Far From The Tree in gear, also on 1.

Friday Estimates: Mamma Equalized 2

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

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Weekend Estimates: Johnson Haze

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

weekend estimates 2018-07-15 at 9.58.48 AM

Hotel Transylvania 3 started Friday stronger than its predecessors, but is estimated to end up between 1 & 2 for a completely expected launch. Dwayne Johnson, however, was rocked, not only missing the top slot with Skyscraper, but falling to #3 in estimates for the weekend. Eighth Grade and He Won’t Get Far On Foot launch well, each on 4 screens.

Friday Estimates: Blob Beats Rock

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

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BYOB

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

byobriot

Weekend Estimates by JW2,2

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-07-01 at 11.38.52 AM

Friday Estimates

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

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Sicario grossed $47 million domestic, $38 million international. This start for Sicario: Day of the Soldado suggests that its sequel will be over $100 million worldwide, so… a win.

Uncle Drew is a cheap movie and will be over $15m this weekend. It is not the launch Lionsgate was hoping for with its very aggressive marketing and promotional effort. But the hope is that it will be the silly, feel-good film that takes off. Either way, it will be a profitable effort… even though it is unlikely to do as much as it did in the US this weekend in the entire rest of the international market.

Leave No Trace and Three Identical Strangers are doing excellent per-screen business on 9 and 6 screens.

Weekend Estimates by Goldblum Cameo

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

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So Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom is the latest example of why making weekend projection based on Friday numbers (especially on Friday afternoon) is dumb. Projectors were off by more than 10%. Could have gone the other way. Whether JW2 opened to $150 million or not will only really matter in the history books and when future guys like me do data analysis and look at the $150 million tipping point as reference. (My bet would be that another $2 million shows up in the “Actuals.”)

Kinda sick of feeling compelled to point out how well things are going. We now have 5 $100 million domestic grossers this summer, plus Avengers 3. Last year? 3 at this point.

If you include Avengers and J-World actuals over $150m, this will be the first summer ever with 3 $150m openings. Interesting notes on that is that Avengers has been part of the only years with 2 or more $150m summer openings (2012 and 2015) and the last one (2015) was in tandem with… Jurassic World.

The only box office blemish on this summer so far is Solo. And for all the speculation, no one talking to press really knows the story of what the future holds for LucasFilm’s spin-offs. Maybe they should give the control of those to Feige, as he has done them brilliantly for Marvel. I continue to content that Solo would have done better if they just stuck with Lord & Miller… the budget wouldn’t have exploded… and while it may not have done Rogue One numbers, it would not have lost money as Solo has. I’m sure someone thinks I am wrong… but Lord/Miller is 4 for 4 in profit. They have not had a flop. (And for the record, I don’t put any of this on Ron Howard, who did heavy lifting in a bad situation because he is an A #1 pro.)

Won’t You Be My Neighbor brings the rare appearance of a doc in the Top 10 at the box office… especially in the middle of the summer… though RBG got there twice in May. Great summer doc season this year, including a bunch of titles that will not do this kind of business. This includes the Jarecki film, The King, which was the per-screen king for arthouse this weekend. Get going.

Next weekend brings 2 movies that should get a good reception, albeit not mega-numbers, from audiences. Uncle Drew tantalizes as a potential summer break-out feel-good comedy, skewing to black audiences first, but getting more color blind as it rolls along, like Girls Trip. And Sicario 2 (Day of the Soldado is a HORRIBLE title to sell a movie with) is a movie that has critics twisted up in knots, but really is “the kind of movie they don’t make anymore.”

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is not a real sequel or more than a kissing cousin to the Denis Villeneuve masterwork (co-authored by Roger Deakins in a very real way). Nor is it the kill-kill-kill movie that they are selling in the ads. The opening sequence of this film is a good lead towards understanding the way the two films relate. It is tough and interesting, but nowhere near the gut punch of the original’s opening sequence. But not being one the great films of the decade doesn’t make it anything less than a solid film, unique in today’s studio output. It lingers on the theme of loyalty amongst mercenaries, which was a small part of the original Sicario. And it takes its time.

The end of the film is a hat tip to the Sicario Cinematic Universe, which I wouldn’t mind seeing at all… but I can’t argue with those who don’t care for it either.

Friday Estimates Analyzed by Dino David

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Friday Estimates 2018-06-23 at 11.21.43 AM

Never know when it will be the last one…

And not very interesting. Just another weekend of massive success. The 4th $125m+ opening in 8 weeks of a one-week extended summer season. Hasn’t happened before. Best before was Captain America: Civil Wars, Finding Dory, and Suicide Squad over the entire summer. I don’t actually foresee any ore this summer, but I do see 8 or 9 legitimate hits to come.

Here is the idea… wait more than a decade and bring back a beloved franchise,s how some promise, and you have a shot at an absolutely insane opening. The next film will not open as well. But it might gross the same or more.

Then there are franchises with bigger openings to the 2nd film, like The Dark Knight trilogy or The Hunger Games, which saw their second films open to $2 million and $6 million over their $150m+ launches for the first of their series. Wow. Big whoop.

My point is… J-World: Fall opening over $125 million and under $150 million is an epic non-story. Well, except that it’s a terrific gross.

I am also very curious about why some critics seem to have a raptor claw up their ass about this film. It is better than any Jurassic movie other than the first. Yet reading reviews, it seems that some critics were expecting something other than a Jurassic Park movie… like the dinosaurs were going to Wakanda or something. If you love movies and you can’t handle a dinosaurs teaching humans a lesson in humility because scientists and money grubbers do stupid shit, you might need a new job.

Don’t get me wrong. If you don’t like the movie, you don’t like the movie. But I haven’t read a bashing criticism that was much more considered than, “This shit again?” Boring. Lacking perspective. Afraid to pick on the mess that is Ocean’s 8 or Tag?

Hold on! My DirecTV just went blank! Who is reading this?!?!?

Nice hold for Incredibles 2… which I wouldn’t mind seeing again today.

Would You Be My Neighbor? is going RBG-like numbers. Finding that feeling of integrity and nostalgia would seem a good way to postilion any doc about now.

Later, gators…

Weekend Estimates by Mr. Credible

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-06-17 at 10.02.09 AM

Fourth time there have been 3 $150 million openings in a year. (150 is the new 100.)

About to be a record-breaking 4 $150m openings in a year… and all before July 1.

I don’t actually expect a 5th, given the poor opening of Solo and the lack of a Star Wars film over Christmas. However, we will tie the record for $100 million openings before July 1 with 5 next weekend. And I see 4 potential additions to that during the rest of the summer and 4 more in the fall/winter. Obviously, not even half of those 8 will make the mark. But the annual record is 8 and that is well within reach.

Theatrical is dying. Kids don’t go to the movies. Etc, etc, etc… blah, blah, blah…

I can’t say this enough times – and you won’t hear me say it many more times in public – the future is coming… subscription access to virtually everything is coming… and theatrical window will, above all, be the way success is defined in the future of movies. Streaming services, of which you will subscribe to a group, not unlike the cable bundle, will tout their successes and numbers only to keep subscribers from churning. Someone will try to charge a premium for early access in 2021 and the experiment will fail. There will be no YouTube Red in the future, but people will pay for subscriptions to get YouTube access overall… and life will go on. If you want it, you will pay for it in some manner.

And the only way to pay for Avengers movies and Pixar movies, etc, as we know them now, will be theatrical. Eyeballs will be cheap. Dollars will be – as they really are now, though people are all in a tizzy – the way things are measured. And the difference between a movie that premieres on Disney Family Streaming and a Pixar movie will be the billion dollars that the Pixar movie adds to Disney’s coffers. And don’t think that money is minor. Figure 100 million households in America paying $10 a month for Disney Family… that’s $12 billion a year. One movie improving revenues by 8.5% is major. And if you think Comcast is leaving behind the $370 million for Fifty Shades Freed‘s spin-off stepchild, you are wrong.

We are all too distracted by the shiniest, most expensive objects. The giant movies are great and highly profitable in all windows. But the middle business is business too. And when the film/tv business gets capped – nearly permanently – by what is currently being touted as the disruption of streaming, it will matter even more. For a lot of companies, a $24 billion cap on annual revenues across 200 million paying households worldwide is a step up. But when there is nowhere to go from there, they will all chafe.

The Incredibles 2 not only broke the record for an animation opening… it smashed it by $45 million.

Decent hold for Ocean’s 8, following a decent opening. A successful movie, even though it is not very good. As I have said a thousand times, succeeding with mediocrity is the real test of growing opportunity in Hollywood for women and POC. (By the way, I expect “POC” will be seen as a glib diminutive sometime in the next couple years.)

Tag is not It. But it felt somehow appropriate that a mediocre movie that is so Toby Emmerich, sold with such mediocrity, opened on WarnerMedia’s opening weekend to such a mediocre number. I know that the people employed by Warner Bros are capable of better on every level. But if you look hard at the last couple of years, there have been some very beautiful weeds, but the garden is pretty lame. How much will change how quickly at the studio that seems on a collision course with a Best Picture win and a surprise smash with Crazy Rich Asians to compliment a run of mediocrity or outright flops. (I so want to believe in The Meg.)

And Gotti goes into the potty. Though, I have to say, $1.7 million for what looks like an endless disaster is a tribute to Travolta working the movie. And some loonies will attribute it to MoviePass’ involvement… which will be deeply misguided.

(More to come…)

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I remember very much the iconography and the images and the statues in church were very emotional for me. Just the power of that, and even still — just seeing prayer card, what that image can evoke. I have a lot of friends that are involved in the esoteric, and I know some girls in New York that are also into the supernatural. I don’t feel that I have that gift. But I am leaning towards mysticism… Maybe men are more practical, maybe they don’t give into that as much… And then also, they don’t convene in the same way that women do. But I don’t know, I am not a man, I don’t want to speak for men. For me, I tend to gravitate towards people who are open to those kinds of things. And the idea for my film, White Echo, I guess stemmed from that — I find that the girls in New York are more credible. What is it about the way that they communicate their ideas with the supernatural that I find more credible? And that is where it began. All the characters are also based on friends of mine. I worked with Refinery29 on that film, and found that they really invest in you which is so rare in this industry.”
Chloë Sevigny

“The word I have fallen in love with lately is ‘Hellenic.’ Greek in its mythology. So while everyone is skewing towards the YouTube generation, here we are making two-and-a-half-hour movies and trying to buck the system. It’s become clear to me that we are never going to be a perfect fit with Hollywood; we will always be the renegade Texans running around trying to stir the pot. Really it’s not provocation for the sake of being provocative, but trying to make something that people fall in love with and has staying power. I think people are going to remember Dragged Across Concrete and these other movies decades from now. I do not believe that they will remember some of the stuff that big Hollywood has put out in the last couple of years. You’ve got to look at the independent space to find the movies that have been really special recently. Even though I don’t share the same world-view as some of my colleagues, I certainly respect the hell out of their movies which are way more fascinating than the stuff coming out of the studio system.”
~ Dallas Sonnier