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Friday Estimates by Klady of the Party

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

Friday Estimates 2018-05-12 at 10.27.37 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend Estimates by OverKlady

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-05-06 at 11.04.36 AM

What can one say?

Avengers: Infinity War isn’t the biggest anything.

The media has become sick with its endless need for everything to be a horse race. Ten days into its run, Infinity War is the fifteenth highest grossing film ever, both domestically and worldwide. It’s a massive success, supported by many other massive successes. We are now in the stage of the film’s theatrical life that will be driven by consumer word-of-mouth and as the best of the three or four Avengers films (I count Civil War), it should be strong for at least the next month.

Another sickness is “reporting” on box office from the perspective of an inflexible agenda.

Have you read any stories about how IP has taken over Hollywood? (Rhetorical question… these stories are unavoidable and relentless.)

And have you read any stories this year about the uptick in successful originals? No?!?! Really?!?! Surprise.

Analysis of this gets sticky. But if one is to be fair, the changes are obvious. (I hate year-vs-year comparisons seeking to make broad comments about how the industry is changing. Four years is about the minimum for me. But I am speaking to how media is covering all this and it is, at its conceptual core, stupid.)

These stats are all based on the year to May 5 and with domestic grosses over $40 million.

2017 Sequels – 9
2018 Sequels – 5

2017 Non-Sequel IP Films (inc Blumhouse & Tyler Perry) – 5
2018 Non-Sequel IP Films – 6

2017 Originals (inc Blumhouse/TP) – 5
2018 Originals – 9

2017 Productions Over $100m – 10
2018 Productions Over $100m – 6 (with Tomb Raider claiming under… make it 7 if you don’t buy that)

2017 Gross As Of May 5 (roughly) – $2.45b
2018 Gross As Of May 5 – $2.54b

That’s about a 4% bump from this time last year. The overall year, according to Mojo, is 5.5%. So there must be some uptick below my $40m domestic Mendoza line as well.

So where are the news stories about how this year is kicking ass and doing it with fewer sequels and less IP? Brooks? Pam? Brent? Anthony? Ben?

There is a real chance that 2018 will be the first $12 billion year at the domestic box office.

How will the media explain that theatrical is dead at the end of this year?

Yes, the tide towards a majority of big films being all-IP, all-the-time is coming. It’s summer. This summer offers 12 sequels and 4 reboots/spin-offs/whatever, plus Teen Titans Go. But there are more than 22 (I don’t believe everything saying it will open wide will open) originals opening wide this summer.

The biggest titles are going to be the sequels. No question. But the majority – even in the summer – will be originals. And of those, only Skyscraper is a big-budget, franchise-launching effort.

Next weekend, two major studios release two non-IP movies wide, Breaking in and Life of the Party. Avengers will win for the third weekend in a row. But both newcomers should open in the 20s, based on the history of the talent. I understand that this isn’t what film writers are looking for… they want shiny objects that draw lazy “wow” hits. But these writers are creating a falsehood when they minimize mid-range movie success in favor of endless coverage of the mega-movies (rarely mentioning their mega-price tags) while claiming that there is no mid-range business anymore. Just because they refuse to cover the profitable middle does not mean that it doesn’t exist and that it is not a key part of the annual profitability of every studio except Disney.

And I will tell you what… when the Disney backlash comes – and it will – that will be bullshit too.

Theatrical is a mature business. It isn’t an ocean. It is a lake. Lakes have waves, too. But they tend to be a lot less volatile. And I know, volatile is where the fun is.

We are in stupid times.

Netflix’s market cap is $140 billion. Paramount (aka Viacom B) is $12.5 billion.

Objectively, in the long view, Paramount’s assets today are worth more than Netflix’s actual assets. But the stock market values Netflix at more than ten times what it values Paramount.

Why? Because Netflix has a stable revenue stream and the market fantasizes growth in the future. Paramount has been treading water as a studio for a decade-plus and has been unsuccessful in creating a path to its own future.

If you value a major studio’s library (inc Paramount TV. Nickelodeon, etc.) at $400 million a year for a streaming company to lease, Paramount’s current stock value is just over 30 years of leasing.

Why aren’t Netflix or Sony fighting to purchase bargain-basement Paramount before it reunites with CBS, where it will become viable competition? Because they are missing the value.

Netflix is not actually in the film business and reiterated this through its CEO this week, who signaled that they were getting out of the Cannes business forever. They don’t need Paramount. They don’t need the headache of owning and operating an actual movie studio. At least, they don’t need it right now. They are focused on creating their own content. And what no one wants to say out loud is that the further down that path they go, the more they are susceptible to the slings and arrows of every other content-driven business in the market… and the more easily the current library-heavy companies will be able to compete.

Sony? They want to sell their entertainment side and might be shy about potential regulatory limitations created by the gonzo Trump administration that would embarrass them and limit their ability to compete freely in the U.S. market.

By the way, the Fox film and TV market cap is half of Netflix’s. Insane. But Disney is not getting ripped off, buying most of Fox. This deal works for both sides (aside from the laid-off workers).

CBS/Paramount’s market cap will be in the low 30s when they are finally put back together. But I would expect Les Moonves to double that in less than five years by mining the value that exist, ignoring the ones that have lost their weight, and going hard after Netflix and DisneyOTT (and Hulu and Amazon) immediately. Moonves has already learned lessons from the mediocrity that CBS’s OTT is. He knows that you can’t sell people what they already have for free and ask for them to pay for it.

Theatrical is a healthy business that should be supported and upgraded wherever and whenever possible.

OTT is a business in its infancy and will be the norm for home entertainment for decades to come.

There is nothing incompatible about these ideas.

Everyone is obsessed by Disney, which has an amazing situation that no one can recreate.

But Universal is the studio that should be examined.

Universal has released 71 films in the last four years and all four of those years have been among the five most profitable years in the studio’s history.

Here is how the domestic grosses break down by category…

IP/Non-Animated Sequels (15) – $2.42 billion
Animation (4) – $1.2 billion
Horror (18) – $1.14 billion
Comedy (18) – $1.2 billion
Drama (16) – $680 million

So, the obvious questions:

1. Why doesn’t Universal make more animation when they can’t seem to miss?

Answer: Because the limited output has something to do with the success. Only 19 animated films have ever topped $260 million domestic. Universal’s last four Illumination films are four of them and Despicable 2 is their fifth. Pixar has seven. Disney has four. And DreamWorks has three. Universal acquired DreamWorks Animation (now, just “DreamWorks”) and so they have eight titles and Disney has 11.

History has shown that Pixar at one film a year is optimal. Same for every other animation studio. Expansion undeniably thins the quality of the output and in animation, which is the leggiest of the genres and thus, most reliant on word-of-mouth and repeat business, quality (as defined by the audience, not critics) matters a lot.

2. Why not make more IP-driven product and sequels, though the track record is not nearly as strong as animation?

Answer: Because it is also a unique challenge.

2 Fast & Furiouses
5 Curtain Droppers: 2 Pitch Perfects, 3 Fifty Shades
2 Sequels That Probably Dead-Ended: Ted, Snow White
2 Sequels On Life Support: Jason Bourne, Pacific Rim
1 Smash Hit Relaunch: Jurassic World
1 Disastrous Relaunch: The Mummy
1 Output Deal: The Great Wall
1 International-Only Hit: Warcraft

So where to go from here with these films?

Fast & Furious and Jurassic are on the high shelf with animation.

The Universal Monster re-launch ends… again… the second failure to launch in the last 15 years. When will they try again?

There will be some kind of 50 Shades spin-off. Jason Bourne might be over… maybe they will try again. Pac Rim is an issue of Legendary, where they have a lot of issues.

Not a lot there. If you look at the current upcoming schedule for the studio, it’s a F&F film for three years straight (2019-21), four animated sequels in 2020, an attempt to launch a Pokemon franchise next year, and lots and lots of comedy and horror (at least five a year from Blumhouse and on the comedy side, Will Packer, in 2019 and 2020). There are FOUR untitled Universal event films in 2020.

3. Will they ever make a drama again?

Answer: I’m sure.

Yes, dramas make less money for the studio than more “marketable” movies and the biggest worldwide grossing drama in these last three years (Straight Outta Compton) “only” grossed $202 million. But that film was also a lot more profitable for Universal than Jason Bourne, which grossed twice as much.

If you want to make $70 million dramas, you are kinda screwed… even at Netflix. There is no one in that business right now.

Then again… no idea what the budget on First Man is. But I bet it is too high to make Universal execs comfortable. They may end up with a win anyway, but the 23 years since Apollo 13 did $355 million worldwide is a long time. And Universal is also betting on Bob Zemeckis for a drama based on 2010 documentary Marwencol, which is a great thing to do, but no lock at the box office. Those are on the slate for this year. What they mean for years moving forward…?

Everything is off the central examination of the weekend’s box office. But there wasn’t much worth saying about it. Overboard did better than should have been expected… still, meh. Focus couldn’t figure out how to sell Tully, even though they really liked the film. Just not a very interesting weekend.

Happy Seis de Mayo!!!

Friday Estimates by Thanos Jr Klady

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

Friday Estimatres 2018-05-05 at 8.58.08 AM

Weekend Estimates by An Avenger In Every Pot Klady

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

Friday Estimates 2018-04-29 at 11.15.19 AM

Nice opening. Klady still has Avengers a million behind Force Awakens. Mojo is pushing a flat $250 million.

All of this is marketing now.

The worldwide number is more impressive, up $90 million from the previous leader, with China kicking in the next couple weekends.

Boo-birds will find another way to say that this is not good for the theatrical box office. Too concentrated or whatever excrement they can pull out. Zzzzzz

What can I tell people who don’t want to hear? There will be six $100 million openings before July. The record for a full year is eight. And then, there will be a massive wave of “middle class” openings between $50-$80 million with Ant-Man and the Wasp, Skyscraper, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Mission: Impossible: Fallout, and two possible cartoon openings getting to $50m+ with Hotel Transylvania 3 and Teen Titans Go To The Movies.

But that doesn’t include al the programmers than will open between $20-$50 million: Life of The Party, Book Club, Action Point, Ocean’s 8 (which could blow up even larger), The First Purge, Equalizer 2, The Meg and Crazy Rich Asians.

That’s 19 solid-to-sensational openings in three months, playing to all fields… but wah wah wah, no one wants to go to the movie theater anymore. Someone forgot to tell movie lovers. And this is just the domestic box office. There is a momentary downside to this. No film without an Avenger on more than 40 screens did more than $5,000 per screen for the weekend. And only three did more than $3,000 with any screen count.

Nice number for Disobedience on 5five managing $47K per. Those are well-attended screenings. Will be interesting to learn how many Orthodox Jews attended.

A Quiet Place, the opposite of Infinity War, crosses $150 million on Tuesday or Wednesday. It will be Paramount’s first $150 million domestic movie in the last 21 months, the first $150 million original in 29 months, and one of only eight $150m domestic grossers for the studio in the last five years (five of those being franchise sequels).

And Black Panther dropped only 10%, as Disney tries (likely in vain) to get the film to $700m domestic and to pass Star Wars: The Last Jedi on worldwide gross (that happens this coming week).

Friday Estimates by Kladyos

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

friday estimates 651 2018-04-28 at 10.21.10 AM

There isn’t a lot to say. Number is huge. Number was expected. Presales indicated it would be short of Force Awakens. Which it is. Still, why would anyone quibble about a $200 million opening? (Here’s your daily reminder that theatrical is dying… not.)

A Quiet Place didn’t officially lose screens… but they lost theaters, as Avengers ate most of the multiples at ‘plexes. The Avengers claim of 4474 theaters likely means 15,000 actual screens this opening weekend, if not more. This means fewer options for seeing other movies like A Quiet Place. A 49% Friday drop for the film is actually good news. And it will improve over the weekend.

Black Panther, losing theaters, got a bump out of the Avengers arrival. Impressive.

Everyone else lost more than 50% of last week’s number. Welcome to the summer.

In limited release, Disobedience worked as counterprogramming. Orthodox Judaism, hot chicks (who are also two of our best actresses), and self-empowerment deliver over $40k per screen for the weekend.

Implications Of The Academy Rule Changes By David Poland

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

The Immediate Future Of Subscription Moviegoing

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Weekend Estimates by Super Pooper Klady

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-04-22 at 10.32.09 AM copy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Friday Estimates 2018-04-21 at 9.54.30 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

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

On Bill Mechanic’s Break with the Academy

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Weekend Estimates by Tax Day Klady

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Estimates by Giant White Monkey Klady

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

Friday Estimatest 2018-04-14 at 1.12.44 PM

Friday Estimates By Len Klady COMMENTS CLOSED

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 9.56.47 AM

Weekend Estimates by Quiet Klady Blocker One

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-04-08 at 9.44.30 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that is fine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Estimates by A Quiet Klady

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

Friday Estimates 2018-04-07 at 8.04.43 AM

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

So what happened?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend Estimates by Not So Ready Player Klady

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

Wknd Est Corr 2018-04-01 at 11.51.35 AM

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

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

Friday Estimates By Len Klady

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

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Weekend Estimates by Still Pacific Klady

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Weekend Estimates 2018-03-25 at 9.47.12 AM

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

Friday Estimates by P-Rim Kladyo

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Friday Estimates 2018-03-24 at 10.02.49 AM

Pacific Rim Uprising is about 29% off opening day of the original. But as the movie makes clear, it is not meant for you dumb Americans. This is probably the most complete embrace of Chinese talent into top-lining roles of a mega-budget movie yet. And if China can double the business to over $200 million, (Chinese-owned) Legendary can afford to take the hit at home.

I thought the movie was… fine. Of course, it is idiotic and chaotic. Of course, it is shot with too many close-ups with too little insightful storytelling. Of course it is sadly missing Guillermo del Toro’s soul and romanticism. But as big robots and monsters banging through unpopulated cities (The BvS Rule) goes, it’s engaging enough.

And the fact that it will win the weekend – in what will become a lot tighter race by the end – means nothing about it or Black Panther. Timing. Both Wrinkle & Tomb would have won against this sixth weekend of Panther. Meanwhile, BP will pass Last Jedi‘s domestic total today (probably already has) and Avengers falls by the end of the weekend. Holding it from the very top of the worldwide charts will be international grosses, which may or may not crack 50% of the total gross. We can discuss that in detail in a few weeks.

Also opening, Sherlock Gnomes gets thrown onto the lawn by Paramount as they await word on whom they will all be working for this summer. This is a movie of weird pedigree, as it is a sequel, but not. There are recurring characters between the two films (the first, Gnomeo & Juliet, released in 2011). There is writer crossover, but in the end, it seems the lead writer of this new film was not connected to the original… nor the director. And of course, the film went from a Starz/Miramax co-production picked up by Touchstone (at Disney) to a Paramount Animation film, co-funded by MGM. This is us, indeed.

Regardless… flop.

Soderbergh’s iPhone epic (which you would never know was shot on an iPhone, but might guess 16mm at times), Unsane, opened on 2,023 screens and won’t get to $2,000 per screen. I don’t know the details of spends and such on the marketing, so to make any strong comments based on guesses would be wrong.

This is what I do know:
1. Claire Foy is a terrific actress who cannot open a movie in America. A TV star is a TV star is a TV star. No signs she is breaking out of that soon.
2. Universal would have opened this like any Blumhouse movie and would have launched to no less than $15 million.
3. No one needed to know that it was shot on iPhone.
4. Soderbergh either needs to work with movie stars or be the movie star.

Isle of Dogs is mired in controversy around the issue of cultural appropriation. Searchlight’s choice to go out on 27 screens is the first opening that wide for Wes Anderson since his debut, Bottle Rocket. My guess would be that the film wasn’t getting traction and an opening on four or five of $500k or $60k would be pushed out as a negative result. That, of course, would be absurd. But we are now in the time of the tail wagging the dog, as we have a load of box office writers who are relentlessly negative and have no institutional knowledge over time, so everything is always a win or a loss. Instantly. Destructive.