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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

fridsay est 063018

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

weekend pass 4

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…)

Friday Estimates

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 4.01.12 PM

Hot Button Rules of Thumb (first published in 2006)

Monday, June 11th, 2018

Top 10 Hot Button Rules of Thumb

I just ran into this list, posted somewhere 8 years ago.

There is really only one specific change. In item #2, the DVD market has changed and international has become a much more significant force. I would still say that $150m domestic is still not a blockbuster, but often the start of a road to more than $300 million in returns to the distributor and/or funders. These days, a blockbuster starts anywhere between $200m – $250 domestic, depending on expected international results. There were 11 films over $200m domestic in 2012 and 13 in 2013. And in most cases, production costs of the films in that range have gone up substantially as well.

TOP TEN HOT BUTTON RULES OF THUMB

1. Great Media Outlets’ Standards Are Less Stringent When The Subject Is Entertainment And That Sucks.

2. $150 Million Is No Longer A Blockbuster In Theatrical… But Right Now Represents The Start Of A Road To More Than $200 Million In Returns to The Studio In Most Cases Thanks To The New DVD Market And Expanded International Theatrical Market.

3. Successful Movie Advertising Sells One Idea At A Time… And There Actually Has To Be An Idea Worth Selling.

4. The Story Of The Moment Is Almost Never The Real Story.

5. There Are Very Few Journalists In Entertainment Journalism.

6. Talent Is Your Friend Until It’s Time For Talent Not To Be Your Friend.

7. Reviewing Scripts Or Test Screenings Is Selfish And Immoral… You Do Not Know What Effect Sticking Your Nose Into Process Will Have And More Often Than Not It Is Negative.

8. Opening Weekend Is Never About The Quality Of The Movie.

9. There Are Things I Know And Things I Don’t Know And Sometimes They Change.

10. Love What You Do And Do What You Love Or Get The Fuck Out.

Top 10 News Stories – Hot Button, Dec 2017

Monday, June 11th, 2018

Top Ten Movie News Stories of 1997

There was lots of movie news this year, but not much that will be remembered. Here are the 10, in inverse order, that I think will be.
10. Death — Death is always a major story. There were some big ones this year (in alphabetical order): Chris Farley, Samuel Fuller, Burgess Meredith, Robert Mitchum, Dawn Steel, Jimmy Stewart and Fred Zinnemann. And my father, Sidney. You’ll always be with us, whatever the format.

9. DreamWorks starts releasing movies — Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen cut the red tape and the result was The Peacemaker, Amistad and Mouse Hunt. Tough out there, huh boys?

8. Star Wars — The 20th anniversary release proved that the franchise is still the biggest with over $250 million for the trio in North America alone. Now Fox has the inside track on the prequel, due Memorial Day weekend, 1999. And though it’s a sure bet to gross well over $500 million, that’s nothing compared to the billions in merchandising. Start lining up now.

7. Disney vs. Fox’s Anastasia — Fox was the home of paranoia as Disney released the same seven-year-old re-release that they do in early November and the same new film that they do every Thanksgiving. With Anastasia doing just $50 million domestic, who won the war? Sony’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, which dominated the pre-Thanksgiving fall by giving audiences what they wanted instead of trying to fight an entrenched franchise.

6. The Return of Julia – Bankable women movie stars are almost as rare as producers who can balance their own checkbooks. The return of the redheaded, smiling, big-opening Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding is a triumph for the entire industry. You can never have enough major movie stars. Just don’t greenlight Mary Reilly 2 by mistake.

5. Black filmmakers — As the studios were getting out of the business of making relationship films with major white stars, young black filmmakers were filling the void. Ted Witcher‘s love jones, Kasi Lemmons’ Eve’s Bayou and George Tillman Jr.‘s Soul Food all made their mark at the box office with strong stories and compelling characters. Meanwhile, Set It Off director Gary Gray got a greenlight for The Negotiator, the first film ever directed by a black director with a budget over $40 million. It’s about time.

4. Titanic — The saga of the budget. The PCP-laced seafood chowder. The delay from the July release date. The bad press. The reports of a $300 million budget. Entertainment Weekly’s generous rewriting of history, reducing the film to an almost palatable $200 million. The mob at the Japanese opening. The success. What a story! And the eight or so Academy Award nods ain’t gonna hurt either.

3. Studios rebound critically/Indies subside — Last year, the Academy Awards were so independent that even the media couldn’t tell the nominated stars from their publicists. This year, the studios are back. Miramax will be pushing Good Will Hunting, but aside from that, expect a studio landslide of nominations. What happened? Better movies overall. And the more good movies, the more likely that the ones form the major studios will be recognized.

2. Warner Bros. in flux — After being the most stable studio in town for years, the WB has suddenly become The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. Batman and Robin, Fathers Day, Mad City and Steel all made my Ten Worst list (coming this weekend). And L.A. Confidential, the favorite for the Best Picture Oscar, underperformed badly. So who got fired? Marketing President Chris Pula, perhaps the savvyest guy around. Another dead messenger. Another screwed up studio.

1. Sony Succeeds — This was the biggest surprise of them all. Hit after hit after hit came from the failed tenure of former film chief Mark Canton. A record breaking $1.25 billion year with more than 20 percent of the domestic going into Sony pockets. And Godzilla is still awaiting its Memorial Day 1998 monster release. Last month, new movie chief John Calley announced a load of projects poised to get rolling, amongst the very first of his tenure. We’ll know if they worked sometime in 1999. Meanwhile, where’s Mark Canton? Heading back to the Warner Bros. fold. It’s a small world after all.

My First Online Column. June 6, 1997

Monday, June 11th, 2018

take one


 

Whole Picture

Chapter One: The Truth
“YOU WANT THE TRUTH?! YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!” — Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men

Jack Nicholas So, you want to know how show business really works? OK. Let’s start at the beginning. Attributing the quotation above to Jack Nicholson is a little like crediting your 6-year-old nephew with coming up with “Allllll- righty then!!!”

Jack Nicholson is an actor. A great actor. And the magic that he does, in cahoots with a whole lot of help, is to make you feel that he was really upset and reacted to Tom Cruise. But he didn’t. Not really.

Demi Moore See, Aaron Sorkin wrote a play that ran on Broadway and probably a dozen guys said those words eight times a week in various productions, but Rob Reiner went to the theater one night and liked what he saw, so he and his partners at Castle Rock, who had a lot of cash lying around from Japanese businessmen (see: Sony), who knew virtually nothing about how to make movies (see: Peter Guber/Jon Peters), bought the feature rights to the film and Reiner, who decided to direct Sorkin’s screenplay based on his play, talked Cruise into being in the movie, which led, in part, to Demi Moore and Nicholson joining the cast and then, one day, 80-odd people got together in a giant empty sound-proofed box (a soundstage) in Los Angeles that had a set in it designed to look like a real military court in Washington, D.C., and after they did a master shot (generally, all the actors doing the entire scene from start to end), Tom did his close-ups and then Jack did his close-ups and on some take, Nicholson said those words and the performance was great and the sound was good and there was no dirt in the gate (like hair in the projector at the movies) and Reiner said, “Print,” and the lab didn’t screw it up and the editors (Academy Award nominees Robert Leighton and Steve Nevius chose the close-up and spliced it together and every one of about a dozen people agreed that it worked and the composer (Marc Shaiman) created the mood music and the film was test-screened and audiences went wild when Nicholson went off and they used it to sell the hell out of the movie, which led you into a movie theater where you bought popcorn and Coca-Cola products and generated enough profit to convince Ted Turner to buy Castle Rock.

Run-on sentence, you say? Artistic license, I say.

And besides, you’re missing the point. THAT was the shortened version of how Jack ended up arching his brows and making your heart beat faster. I didn’t mention the screenplay development, the casting of secondary roles, the pre-production, the lighting, the electrics, the costumes, Demi Moore‘s bust in that uniform, the publicists, the caterers, the foley artists, the trailer producers and hundreds of other steps that help make magic.

John Cusack Magic. That word. Sleight of hand. Illusion. It’s the little things that you barely notice. Hair that doesn’t move in a stiff wind. Characters who never pass wind. Wind that blows at the moment the lovers part. It’s perfect skin and Joe Pesci‘s hairline. It’s perfect teeth and airbrushing so heavy that actors are unrecognizable (Minnie Driver and John Cusack are great-looking people, but who are those people in the Grosse Pointe Blank ads?). It’s photographing an actress only from the left side because she’s more Wicked Witch than Dorothy from the right. It’s Dennis Quaid‘s voice in Dragonheart … OK, that wasn’t so magical. But you get the point.

It’s also Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise Absolute magic, that guy. Most of you will go to the movies to see him no matter what the movie is. That’s why he’s worth $20 million a picture to nervous studio chieftains. Because almost every time out, 3 or 4 million of you will pay for tickets the first weekend his movie opens. That’s movie magic. But what the hell do you really know about Tom Cruise? Almost nothing. He has charisma. He makes good choices about who he works with. Just look at his last dozen directors — Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire), Brian DePalma (Mission: Impossible), Neil Jordan (Interview With A Vampire, The Crying Game), Sydney Pollack (The Firm, Tootsie), Ron Howard (Far and Away, Apollo 13), Rob Reiner (A Few Good Men, When Harry Met Sally), Tony Scott (Days of Thunder, Crimson Tide), Oliver Stone (Born on the Fourth of July), Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Diner), Martin Scorsese (The Color of Money, GoodFellas) and, most recently, the Howard Hughes of directors, Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut, 2001:A Space Odyssey). Only three of the dozen haven’t been Academy Award or Golden Globe nominees, and those three directed Cruise in mega- hits Mission: Impossible, Top Gun and Cocktail. Magic.

Tom Cruise Cruise also has the most powerful publicist in Hollywood by his side, Pat Kingsley of PMK. Bad buzz about homosexuality, Scientology, marital problems and “the squeaky voice machine” (A Scientology invention to make Tom’s voice more mellifluous, reportedly added to the equipment list of Far And Away) have all melted into the background as true-life tales of Tom saving lives, Tom defending Nicole and Tom winning a Golden Globe have taken center stage, no matter what the vultures of the press (me included) might prefer (it makes our job so much easier). Magic. Almost enough to make Tom … well … tall.

The truth is made of A-cup breasts and 3 feet of duct tape. It’s 49 years old and dates 23-year-olds. It can’t eat dairy and it’s two months late on its BMW lease payments. The truth was a high-priced call girl before she started playing virgins in the movies and became your bedroom fantasy for seven bucks a crack instead of $300. Like the old joke: A man asks a woman to sleep with him for $1 million and she says “yes.” Then he says, “Well how about for $5?” Offended, she says, “What do you think I am?” He responds, “I know what you are. We’re just negotiating the price.”

So now the real question: Can you handle the truth? If you can, I’ll write it for you, as best as I can, every week, right here. You want to know how the studio system really works? I’ll tell you. How is advertising designed to trick you into going to bad movies? I’ll tell you. How does Oprah‘s weight get the cover of the tabloids and a gay TV actress get the cover of Time? If you believe the tabloids got scooped, go to another site now. If you know better and want to know more, stick around. Hang with me and I’ll give you The Whole Picture. Bookmark it, baby! Questions? E-mail me, and I’ll do my best. But first, some answers: 1. Yes, they’re implants. 2. No, you can’t get paid for that, unless you can figure out how to light it. 3. Maybe, but I’ll need blood work results first.

 

Weekend Estimates by Sex Flip Klady

Sunday, June 10th, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-06-10 at 10.48.02 AM copy

Hard to really analyze the Ocean’s Eight opening. It feels… about right.

It’s not explosive. It’s not a step backwards for a franchise idea. It will be profitable, but insignificant financially. The “empowered” movie of the summer still looks to be Crazy Rich Asians, which WB tagged to Ocean’s “prints.”

If Sandra Bullock is as smart as she has been, she will take this franchise by the horns and find a young, clever screenwriter or screenwriters to write a movie worth making with this remarkable group of actresses. Or get some old hands in there who know their way around this kind of material. Talk Edgar Wright, who loves women and loves a good puzzle, into doing it. Or get Amy Seimetz to direct a script from Glazer and Jacobson and Ed Solomon. Bullock made a not-so-great film with David Gordon Green… but go get David and the people he works with to make something more indie. Or Richard Linklater. Write something that Chivo would consider directing (but pass on, because he is Chivo) and then get a great DoP who isn’t Chivo (maybe Peter Andrews?). Maybe get serious about the difference between a 50-year-old woman and a 25-year-old woman… which would give the movie something more interesting than just another heist. Just whatever you do, don’t make another mediocrity… because Ocean’s 8 is one and it is mostly on the script, which has nothing to say except “take this ride you are so familiar with you could call every beat out and get 85% of it right.” Y’all gathered one of the groups of actresses ever assembled for a movie and didn’t give them anything much to do when all the audience wants to do is to love them. Frustrating.

Solo dropped, in its third weekend, pretty much like Deadpool 2. Nothing extraordinary there. But the soft start makes that normal trajectory an ongoing disappointment. That should put Solo around $190m at this time next weekend and past $200m domestic. But not by a lot.

Meanwhile, Deadpool 2 is on track to pass $300m domestic and around $700m worldwide. The film’s budget roughly doubled the original’s… but they could have spent more and didn’t… which is a huge win.

Hereditary is easily A24’s biggest opening ever (by 48% over The Witch) and once again shows the upside of publicity-centric, targeted, relatively inexpensive marketing. The story for this film will get more interesting, as it is more accessible to wider swaths of the potential audience than was The Witch, which did about 3x opening. Lady Bird is A24’s #1 domestic hit, with $49 million. Can Hereditary threaten that? It would be unusual for a horror film and the summer is getting to its strongest run of films now, but… who knows?

Hotel Artemis wanted to rely on the John Wick audience to make the connection… which doesn’t actually exist. Drew Pearce, who wrote-produced-directed, is hot in Hollywood. But less so today than last Sunday. He assembled a remarkable cast… but whether it is the fault of the movie (haven’t seen it) or just the marketing, no one seems to have known or cared.

Adults are clearly hungry for something worth seeing, with strong numbers for RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hearts Beat Loud and the re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Meanwhile, quickly fading MoviePass had its second weekend and first expansion for American Animals, which will have to stretch to get close to $1.5 million domestic, in spite of MoviePass pumping it hard to its membership of (allegedly) 3 million. To be fair, it’s in the same space as The Orchard releases The Dinner and The Overnight. Does this suggest that MoviePass has a future in distributing movies? No. The Orchard curates an interesting set of films and relies heavily on VOD and streaming sales to profit. MoviePass is a company built on the idea of theatrical. And the stock, which peaked at $38.86 in October is now selling for 35 cents a share. So….

Weekend Estimates 060318

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

Weekend Est 2018-06-03 at 3.47.45 PM

Keeping it to myself…

Friday Estimates by Still Solo Despite The Media Han On Its Head Shoving Down

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

friday estimates 051218

Deadpool 2‘s second Friday off 77% from its f1rst Friday
Avengers: Infinity War off 70%.
Guardians 2 off 70%.
Spider-Man: Homecoming off 73%.
Pirates last Memorial Day off 73%.
X-Men: Apocalypse the Memorial Day opener in 2016, off 75%.

Solo off 77%… THE SKY IS FALLING!!!!

Tthis is an annual occurrence. Every summer, in the last couple decades, there has been a summer movie or two that has gotten overpraised and anointed falsely and a movie or two that has gotten slaughtered by the media for no apparent objective reason. It’s never the movies that are truly the most loved or the most disliked. It’s usually the step down in both categories.

I would love to tell you that there is now a formula for killing a franchise. But no. Look to the more traditional answers on Solo and you will find the much more likely culprit(s).

The Marvel, Zach Snyder DC films, and X-Men films are instructive… because you can’t build a consistent trend line on them. There are some simple consistencies, but they all get crushed by reality in various ways. For instance, the standalone Wolverine movies undergrossed the X-Men films… until Logan outgrossed X-Men: Apocalypse. Or Wonder Woman nearly doubled the domestic gross of Justice League. Or Black Panther, the fourth Marvel movie in less than a year, almost doubled the domestic gross of any of the other three and then Avengers: Infinity War did similar business just 2 months later.

Just because you don’t understand what happened doesn’t make it magic.

I am not suggesting that there are easy answers. Except for this one: look at the movie and how it was sold. And look at the movie and what story LucasFilm decided to make and whether it had any real connective tissue to the trilogies from which it was spun.

Deadpool 2 is not going to do Deadpool business. However, it will be an R-rated comic book movie that does $600 million worldwide. Fox marketed the crap out of it and it probably niche’d itself a little more and suffered the tyranny of the not new. Deal.

Adrift will be well into the top half of STX openings. Could it have been more? Probably. But Woodley seemed someone M.I.A. in the process of pushing the film and the quirks of the movie kept STX from going, as it probably should have anyway, the full “this is woman, hear her roar” on the marketing. Here’s a hint… men were never going to go.

The disaster of the summer to date, for me, is the sub-$3 million opening of Action Point. How do you kill a Johnny Knoxville movie about, essentially, Camp Jackass? Paramount found a way. I will pay to see this movie, because even though I find the “smash Johnny in the balls” thing obnoxiously childish, the movies have always made me laugh. They are low-rent crap and they know it and they don’t care because they are honest and having fun being idiot boys. And it may be the worst of all the Jackass-y movies… doesn’t mean that you need to signal it to the audience with bull fight marketing. There are 23 Rotten Tomato reviews of the major studio release on 1,682 screens… 57 for American Animals… 31 for Breath, which as best I can tell is only playing at the Angelika in NY. Someone chose not to do their job here.

Speaking of American Animals, nice number per screen. Should be a $25k per screen for the weekend on four, around $110k for the weekend (aka 10,000 people seeing the film). For MoviePass, which was hoping to spark off of this film which they bought partial rights to, the gross is unhelpful and even if every one of the ticket buyers was inspired to see the film and pay by MoviePass, that’s less than half a percent of MoviePass subscribers seeing the film and the loss on every ticket almost equal to the film rental being paid back to to the company as an owner. They were always going to lose money on this title, but the low tipping point where this adventure might have gotten interesting for the investors/stock market was somewhere around a $2.5 million gross (10% of subs)… but really $5 million for it to be at all impressive, representing 20% of subs (assuming 100% of viewers are MoviePass subs) being driven to a movie because of being a MoviePass subscriber.

4-Day Estimates

Monday, May 28th, 2018

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Weekend Estimates by Underwhelmed But Unhysterical

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

257CA8DF-D53F-46EE-A4E7-5E0AA0EDDFB7

The vortex of Solo box office disappointment is hard to escape. Many of the theories being floated are surely true… but not in all-caps. As with so much these days, every fact is an excuse to spin one’s broader, and often irrelevant belief into a bigger picture.

My sense is that theatrical is not only healthy, but an increasingly critical piece of the financial puzzle for studios as we move into a post-theatrical world of endless content available on demand at all times for relatively small amounts of money via subscription (which will just be an expansive version of cable when we look back at it in 2030.)

Others—most media—are committed to the theatrical sky falling because of the tyranny of The New. So take it all in with thought and perspective.

I was right there at the beginning, going at the inevitability of Disney screwing up the Star Wars brand with too many films and not enough invention. So I should be celebrating the non-$100m opening. I am still vocal about the mistake they made firing Lord & Miller. I should be jumping on Solo’s grave. But I am not doing either. Because doing so is stupid and thoughtless.

Deadpool 2 is over $200m domestic in 10 days and about 15% behind the original phenom. Boo-hoo. They will only make a fortune instead of a fortune and a bit. Losers!

Maybe the media was too busy celebrating Netflix being overvalued to the point of insanity, carrying hhree years worth of gross earnings in debt, but still positioned by Wall Street to be the AOL of the era.

And again… I love Netflix. They are very, very smart. The value is glorious. They have been a force that benefits consumers from the start, whatever the actual disposition of Netflix. But the stock valuation is insane. And that is dangerous because at some point, it will cost a lot of jobs, likely starting with Fox.

Happy Memorial Day!

Friday Estimates by So Low Klady

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

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So yeah… not the expected number for Solo.

What does it mean?  It means you can’t let the brand sell itself.

The reaction from veteran marketers is fearful, but you that doesn’t really account for the fact that brands are being sold in much greater quantity, at a much greater pace, than ever before.

And people have short memories.

Remember when DreamWorks Animation went to three films a year? It lasted one year. Ancient history? 2014.

And you have to wonder, why would Disney break their own rhythm by putting a Star Wars film in summer and none at Christmas until 2019?

With this question, the question about Solo… why did Kathy Kennedy take the idea of breaking from the trilogies as well as scuttle it by firing the filmmakers who were hired to break from tradition? Will she ever admit that this was a mistake? Because what she got was neither fish nor fowl… and it shows in every bit of marketing.

The greatest irony is that Disney is the home of Marvel, where this code has been cracked to greater success than anywhere else. The lesson in how well Thor built to Infinity War and how Ant-Man and Doctor Strange were pure standalones that brought their own value before the characters were integrated into the bigger structure is very significant.

When I see a Larry Kasdan interview taking about Solo being off the traditional Star Wars timeline, first I say, “bullshit.” Then I ask, “If it’s off the timeline, how come it’s so boring?”

Rogue One should have been be,used as a one-off, but instead, LucasFilm took a terrible lesson from it.

(Spoilers for Solo coming!!!)

You don’t have to kill off everyone who doesn’t land in the trilogy timeline!!! The gag works once. Then move along!

Spoilers Over

If they wanted to do Young Han Solo, we should have seen the relationship whe these two were kids. If you wanted to make what the audience wanted, where were Jabba and Boba Fett?

Solo is no disaster, artistically or commercially. But it is an example of fear-based filmmaking at the highest level. And those wrong choices have met strong (come on, people… don’t lose your mind over expectations), but underwhelming box office.

And Deadpool 2, which was 100% committed to its foundation, should have moved up a week when Avengers did. Solo is making this weekend sad.

Weekend Estimates by Deadklad 2

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

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Deadpool 2 is the biggest not-first-weekend-of-May May opening. Ever.

The previous top in this category was Shrek 3, which was part of the Triple Trilogy summer of 2007, which also owns the Memorial Day record with Pirates 3 at $115 million, which gives Solo a target for next weekend.

That summer, 11 years ago, inspired a lot of the Chicken Little-ing we’re getting about theatrical these days. It turned out that 2007 was the first $4 billion summer, which has led to $4 billion every summer since (except last summer). Similarly, 2007 came the year after 2006 failed to match the then all-time high summer of 2004… thus, the falling sky.

And even if Solo is soft next weekend, it will surely best $100m, making this only the second summer in history to have three $100m+ openings by the end of May. (Yes, I am counting Avengers.)

But keep obsessing on Netflix’s claim of 80 “movies” this year. That must be the important story in film this year. Now quick… name a Netflix movie that came out this year.

Did it take you 5 seconds? 10 seconds? Have you come up with a title?

I love Netflix. I am happy they are spending. I am glad to watch their films. But they are not important to the current or future theatrical business at this time. They have raised some of the prices for films at festivals, which makes festival buying less attractive for indies, but that’s a blip. Five years ago, there were other market forces. Remember, Hamlet 2 happened without streaming.

Anyway… Deadpool 2 is fine. Paramount has to be underwhelmed by Book Club’s launch. I think it and Life of the Party suffered from being back-to-back and seeming so niched as being about older women getting their grooves back. Both needed another marketing gear. And nice per-screen on 4 for First Reformed.

Friday Estimates by The Royal Wedded Klady

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

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BYOB: Solo Spoiler

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

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BYOB: Solo Non-Spoiler

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

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Weekend Estimates by 3-Weekend Klady

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-05-13 at 11.48.57 AM

I still don’t have much to say about the weekend.

Avengers: Infinity War is a big, fat hit… as it must be.

Opening the second weekend of May is, as it has long been, fraught. Last year, it was $19.5m and $15.4m million for Snatched and King Arthur, respectively… almost exactly what the 2 new wide openers launched to this weekend.

There have been bigger openings in this slot. Neighbors opened to $49 million. The Great Gatsby opened to $50 million. Dark Shadows to $30 million. Bridesmaids to $26m. Robin Hood to $36m. And the first Star Trek reboot opened to $75 million a decade ago.

Who knew, when Tammy got slapped for opening to $21.6 million in the summer of 2014, that it would be on the high end of WB comedy opens from then on. Only Get Hard and Central Intelligence, out of 19 comedy releases by WB since Tammy, opened better. Those films were 3 and 2 years ago. And specifically, Life of the Party is the best WB comedy opening since Central Intelligence since June 2016.

None of this makes this opening look heroic. But context matters. And somehow, one gets the feeling that this same film opened by Universal would have launched in the high 20s. WB still opens certain films well. But comedy is hit or miss.

Warners has opened 23 movies to $30 million or more in the last 4 years (out of 92 total releases). The 3 Conjuring Universe movies were the cheapest. As mentioned before, 2 comedies. 5 were DC movies. 8 were reboots or existing franchise sequels (It, Godzilla, Kong, Hobbit, Fantastic Beasts, Mad Max, Tarzan, Blade Runner) 2 were The Rock (San Andreas/Rampage). Plus The Veteran 3: Sully, Ready Player One, and Dunkirk.

This is out of 92 WB releases in these last 4 years. For perspective, Universal has has 25 $30m launches out of 69 total releases in the same 4 years. Fox hit $30m opens on 22 of 63 releases. Sony has gone 11 of 81 in the last 4 years, which is the real reason Amy Pascal lost her job, no matter how many stolen e-mails Ben Fritz wants to analyze. (If you think I am blaming Ms. Pascal for what Tom Rothman has done, she was 6 of 34 in this category when you go back another 2 years, to 2012. So, Summer 2014 – 2018, 14%. 2012 – 2014, 18%. And now that you are playing with that stat, the Summer 2014 – Summer 2018 stat for WB is 25% and U is 36%. Of course, Disney is at a stoopid 64%. And Paramount comes in at a round 20%.)

The opening, in context, for Life of the Party is okay. McCarthy/Falcone is, when budget is in check, still a good bet. If I were them, I would set a deal at one studio where they feel great about a specific marketer who gets them and give up a few bucks to make a permanent home work. Their next film together is scheduled for WB in late 2019. The entire studio may be flipped by then.

Breaking In is from Universal’s new second favorite producer, Will Packer, who delivered this on a #1 Son (Blumhouse) budget. As such, good opening. Packer flipped between thrillers and comedies for Sony/Screen Gems for years. This was a start on the Universal future. Not the brightest launch… but okay. The studio has two films a year with him for the next while.

Holds, overall, were good. RBG expanded from 34 theaters to 180 and did $6,060 per screen and $1.1 million for the weekend. The per-screen king of indie was Magnolia’s brilliant doc, Sara Driver’s Boom for Real, charting the rise of Basquiat with great footage from the era and real insight not only in the artist, but the New York art scene of the 80s. It’s only on 1 screen and that would be in downtown New York City. So this makes sense. But the movie is a treat for anyone interested in the last great art scene.

Close by is Roadside’s Beast, a modern, non-singing version of the classic Beauty tale. Right on its per-screen heels is a period location-heavy version of The Seqgull, starring Saoirse Ronan and Annette Bening, which by some count would be a better opening, given that it is on 50% more screens (even if that’s just two in this case).