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No hiding Hidden Figures this weekend. With an excellent 11% drop (with the help of an 800-screen increase), it is the only $20 million 3-day grosser this weekend. Also revving the engines this weekend with the top per-screen in the Top 10 was La La Land, expanding 333 screens, about half of them IMAX, popping 42% (plus, not minus) from last weekends 3-day and closing fact on $75 million domestic. Sing and Rogue One had good drops, helped as the whole chart is by estimates in the middle of a holiday weekend.
The most eye-popping stat on the board is the 19233% increase for Live by Night, but not enough pop for WB, which still only got a $5.2m weekend out of its Ben Affleck period thriller. Also changing dramatically, Patriots Day, which went wide and got a modest $11.9 million for its effort.
Top English-language-market per-screen was 20th Century Women, which A24 is parsing cautiously, hoping to get a bump from Oscar noms in 9 days.
Newcomers The Bye Bye Man, Monster Trucks and Sleepless were somewhere between “meh” and “moan.”
Have to run this morning, but Hidden Figures has a good Friday-to-opening-Friday hold. The expansion helped. But I would expect the 3-day drop to end up in the teens. Bye Bye Man is on the old Screen Gems measure… $20m is a big win… $14.8 million is okay, but no champagne. CBS can’t be thrilled with the Patriots Day expansion, even with a 10,000% jump. It’s still looking at less than $25m cume at the end of the holiday 4-day. Timing is brutally hard given the amount of politics and American discussion every day in people’s lives since the election. La La Land has a decent expansion… this one including IMAX screens. Expectations are so high for this one that perspective on box office is a little skewed too. It’s not about winning or losing… it’s about how big the win will be. Sleepless and Monster Trucks are similar, except one will lose $100 million and the other won’t.
It’s possible. The holiday schedule mixes things up. But Rogue One has not previously done 3x Friday over a 3-day weekend, and the estimate this weekend is 3.6x Friday for a $100,000 ‘win” over Hidden Figures… Which is estimating 2.9x on Friday. You tell me, which film will be more affected by playoff football? Which estimate feels more realistic?
Rogue‘s run at #1 is surely over next weekend. Hidden Figures should hold strong on the 4-day MLK holiday and the expansion of Patriots Day should win the weekend. So maybe Disney wants to get one more “#1 film in America” set of media pieces today and tomorrow morning.
Rogue One has now cracked the barrier of half of what Episode VII did last year domestically. Internationally, it is running at about the same pace. The film will pass $1 billion worldwide and do slightly more than half what VII did. Some will tell you that this is shockingly strong. Others will tell you that it’s a bit of a disappointment. But it’s a win, either way. And I do expect Young Han Solo, or whatever it’s actually called, to be bigger than this because it will be both Star Wars AND something fresh, as opposed to filling the crack between movies, which is great, but doesn’t encourage repeat viewing from fans who are not obsessed.
Hidden Figures? A $25 million movie that ends it first wide weekend with $25 million at the box office? Already won. And this looks to be a really big win for Fox. I expect it to be between $80 million and $100 million when it gets to its first weekend as a Best Picture nominee. Figures and La La Land will compete to see which gets the biggest Oscar bump, a phenomenon that has faded badly recently. Fox made this work last year with The Revenant, which did $117 million after nominations… although nominations were 10 days earlier last year, 21 days into the Revenant run. This season, Hidden and La La will both be over a month into their runs before nominations are announced. (which, by the way, is HORRIBLE planning by The Academy).
Sing is creeping up on the original Despicable Me domestically… though I would bet against Illumination trying the December slot again anytime soon.
Underworld: Blood Wars opened soft. International awaits.
La La Land doubled its screen count and stayed even. I gather the decision involved stats that suggested that they would get a similar bump next weekend, even with an expansion weekend under their belts. Hope so for them.
The hideous Passengers is still chugging towards $100m domestic and $250m (or better) worldwide. So… it still may lose some money, but those who were ready to hang Tom Rothman from the Columbia rainbow will have to put away the pitchforks and torches for now.
Here is an Oscar Best Picture chaser chart…
Hidden Figures pops, although I suspect that longterm, there is more upside than this. The Help has almost the same number on opening Friday. Of course, here it is after 12 days in limited release (25 screens) and back with Help, they opened on a Wednesday, siphoning off some of the Must-See. Still, I can see Hidden Figures accelerating, not only on word of mouth, but on MLK weekend. And then… Oscar nominations that the media seems to be finally be accepting as likely.
Slapping myself on the back, I noted way back at the 12-minute presentation at TIFF in September that Figures and Jackie were the only two events that stood out from Venice/Telluride as award-significant in Canada. All that Figures could do to keep itself out of the Oscar race would be to stink. And it doesn’t. The star power of the three leads and Costner and a great story overcome flaws. But this is an audience film, bigly. As it’s turning out, Jackie is hanging on to a reasonable hope of being nominated while Figures is surging as one of the two really “fun” films of the Oscar season.
The other opener this week is almost as retro as Hidden Figures. Underworld hasn’t had a new entry in five years. Kate Beckinsale and her spandex skin haven’t aged a day… But the domestic audience for this franchise may have aged out. This opening will be the worst of the franchise, including the Rhona-Mitra-For-Kate moment in 2009. But here is what makes it interesting past this weekend: the international on the 2012 film, with Beckinsale’s return, was double any other in the franchise’s history, just under $100 million. So if they can duplicate or improve on that, Sony will be very happy indeed, even if the domestic is meh.
The only other real change on the board is the La La Land expansion, from 750 to 1515. I’m sure there was demand from exhibitors. I’m not sure I would have chosen this weekend. La La ain’t The Revenant, which went wide the weekend after New Year’s last year. Even American Sniper waited until MLK weekend to go wide two years ago. American Hustle and Black Swan are also bad comps because they went wide in December, riding the holiday. I would have suggested waiting until next weekend, getting the MLK and the Globes wins benefits to expand. And, of course, this expansion is not over. A $7500 per-screen is still quite nice and the movie is already in the black (considering all revenue streams), but another week of anticipation wouldn’t have killed anyone.
Drops on the rest of the chart all make sense for this weekend.
This category is not about underseen films so much as films that just have a weird aura of “meh” around them… in my view, unfairly. Some did good box office. Some did almost nothing. This is not a list of films that I wish made more money. It’s when you are at a dinner party and the title comes up and there are (to me) a surprising number of shrugs or distinct punches thrown in their direction.
Before the list, there are three titles that I have not seen that may fit in this category: 10 Cloverfield Lane, A Bigger Splash, and The Accountant . Another title seemed destined for this list, but found its way to the light, and that is The Lobster, which still splits rooms, but certainly gets its due now.
The 15 Most Underrated Films of 2016 (in alphabetical order)
The BFG – A boundary-pushing work by Spielberg that straddles the line between reality and the visual feel of a children’s book, in the tradition of Jumanji and in many ways, Avatar. For my money, we have never seen a human mo-cap effort as effective and emotional as Mark Rylance’s giant. Is it still a children’s fairy tale? Yes. It was never going to be E.T. because the giant is Elliott and the live child is the extraterrestrial. And the imagery was not “normal” with an oddity in it. All that said, not a picture that deserved to be dismissed by so many.
The Brothers Grimsby – Really f-ing stupid. Yes. No question. And as profane as the day was long. But I laughed a lot at this raunchfest. Would make a great double feature with Sausage Party, which was equally realistic. This spoof of James Bond films by way of The Man In The Iron Mask (or here, the man in the adult diapers). How does one rate a movie in which the climax is based on explosives being shot directly into the lead character’s rectum? Well, either that – and the sexual absurdities that swing both ways and maintain the general tone of a two-hour long fart joke – makes you laugh or it does not. I expected nothing… but I laughed, quite a lot.
Deadpool – I know. Massive hit. Some good reviews. But I still feel that there is a lot of head shaking out there. There is a lot about the movie that makes no sense. But the team make sweeping anachronistic choices with the material and the thing held together. It didn’t become Team America, where there were moments of unforgettable glory, but the movie didn’t really work. This movie works. And it deserves real respect… not just for its box office.
Denial – This film did okay at the box office. Okay with critics. But it is better than that. At the center of the film is a performance by Rachel Weisz that challenges in that it is dead-on bringing to screen the real Deborah Lipstadt… who is a character of a style that turns a lot of people off. But that was not only the truth, but a part of what makes this movie excellent. Tom Wilkinson and even Timothy Spall, as The Holocaust Denier, have it easier. Their characters are quieter. Spall’s David Irving is particularly suited to this moment in history, committed to his lies without flinching… like the president-elect. There was nothing easy about selling this film and as I noted earlier, they did pretty well. But this film will be much better remembered in time
Dheepan – Won at Cannes after being shown late in the festival (aka, after most of the media had left) and got kicked in the male private parts for its trouble. But a great movie. Jacques Audiard – who should more often be compared to an international filmmaker who is getting due credit this year, Paul Verhoeven – is a consummate master of serious sociopolitical drama combined with genre. Dheepan is a serious look at the troubles of immigration in the UK… combined with Death Wish. It is a remarkable, painful, angry, scary, truthful film. Take a look at it without the “did it deserve to win Cannes” weight hanging on it and see.
Indignation – This Phillip Roth adaptation by James Schamus got some rave reviews and did pretty good business. But again… not good enough. It’s a complex, frustrating story that chooses not to explain itself at every turn with some great, great performances.
The Light Between Oceans – Derek Cianfrance made 2016’s great weepie. But it’s more than that. It’s a film that takes its time to linger in spaces with broken people who are trying to navigate right and wrong and finding a way to love in the deepest of ways. As with all Cianfrance films, there is more to get into than one story. He loves layers. And you could really break this movie down into any one of 4 or 5 stories. But the reaction to this film was kind of like if you narrowed Sophie’s Choice‘s entire weight down to only The One Choice. As I have said many times, it isn’t that hard to make an audience cry or scream. But to have them take themselves into that space where they are truly empathizing with those characters, however unlike them in fact, that is movie magic.
Louder than Bombs – I love this movie. It just gets me. Deep emotion. Brutal intellectualism. Characters desperately seeking answers that they don’t really know they are even seeking. The third great performance of the year by Isabelle Huppert. The best work I have ever seen from Jesse Eisenberg. This is not a film that answers every question. It asks you to do a lot of the work. But I found it deeply fulfilling.
Maggie’s Plan – A bonbon from the generally tough filmmaker, Rebecca Miller. Clever, witty idea. Wacky, Fun performance from Julianne Moore. Gerwig. Hawke. The ascendant Travis Fimmel. You could feel the push-back after it premiered at Toronto. I still don’t know why. I thought Miller did what Woody Allen hasn’t done these last 20 years… moved the New York rom-com into an interesting modern place.
Nocturnal Animals – The problem with being seen as Oscar bait is that people expect something other than compelling, original, thoughtful entertainment from your film. And I think that is the case here. From the audacious opening of large, naked women dancing unabashedly for our amusement and fascination to the extreme schizophrenia between the story and the story in the story to the mad performances of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Mike Shannon and the Quaaluded sexuality of Amy Adams here, this is the kind of hard-R mayhem that I could imagine being held up as the very highest of low art. It’s never camp. But it’s never, as a film, as sharp-edged as the precision imagery of Tom Ford. It’s not even to be compared to Verhoeven’s work, which has a relative softness and does have campiness. It’s a singular piece of filmmaking. And that alone should be thrilling more “big thinkers.” I am still surprised how much it sits with me.
Pete’s Dragon – David Lowery is an artist. There is no mistaking it, even in a big studio movie like this with an animated dragon at its center. Lowery aims at the heart and hits the mark, over and over and over again. A beautiful movie and I only wish that every kid will end up seeing it, in whatever format, and feel its pleasures.
Silence – I haven’t written about this film because, really, I don’t feel ready. What I do know is that I feel the film and felt the film more watching it the second time. There is so much going on in this material. And I feel like the more “entertaining,” really meaning “more violent” version of this film would have been made by Scorsese in years past. But what is here is not just beautiful shots or great acting moments The effort to connect with God courses though the veins of this film and makes the audience as uncomfortable as the priests, who are also witnesses more than victims. I fear this is one of those films that will be forgotten for decades and rediscovered by another generation as one of the lost masterpieces of my generation of film writers and critics, much less audiences. More when I go back the third time… and fourth…
Snowden – Oliver Stone’s best movie in years because it is his first film that isn’t selling a political position in forever. I have never been as convinced about Snowden’s position in stealing secrets he committed himself not to expose as when I watched this film that wasn’t trying to force feed me him as an angel. However hard it is to listen to him, Joseph Gordon-Levitt committed to a character that was often uncomfortable to watch and hear and gives a great performance of both range and subtlety. I don’t think anyone really wanted a political film this year. Too much real life to deal with. But those who missed this missed a good one.
Why Him? – Not brain surgery. Unlike Meet The Parents, this film is based around a paranoid father of a potential bride who is dead wrong about his wannabe son-in-law. James Franco plays a wide open, giant-hearted character and never shows a moment of cynicism. He may be crazy and dumb about some things, but he is love embodied by man. And as the family comes along, they all get their great moments. So does Cranston. This is just a really likable piece of entertainment and too many people are just assuming it is a junky money-grab rip-off. Nope.
Zero Days – You really have to go back to Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room to find a Gibney doc that tells such a technically complex story and makes it so understandable. This movie is already on Showtime, so more people have a chance to see it. But it is perhaps the most important doc of this year regarding world politics and for some reason, it just isn’t catching on with the big talkers. I love many other docs and get the draw… but man, this is the right film at the right time and I just don’t get the lack of traction. It’s not perfection personified. But it is such a rich vein of information about the digital culture. Watch it.
It’s hard to describe exactly what makes a DP/30 interview one of my favorites. Honestly, I am already questioning my choices as I push “publish” on this entry. There are so many other DP/30 interviews from this year (I’m not including Celebrity Conversations on the list) that I love for so many odd reasons. Mica Levi fascinated me for every minute I was in the room with her. Casey Affleck took me to unexpected places, which is air to me. Finally got to sit with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and they were wide open. Greta, Jessica, Brolin, Frears, Juno… all regulars on the show who I would travel to talk to any day of the week. (Again, just the DP/30 list… the year wouldn’t be the same without regulars shot for Ovation this year, like Amy Adams or Felicity Jones or Nicole Kidman or Mike Shannon.)
Shot Alden Ehrenreich for the 2nd time… the first being for his debut… and he is a good guy on his way to being a big star. Refn is always wild. Finally got Colin Farrell and Cliff Martinez and Sarandon and Fenton/Barbato and Gillian Jacobs and Miles Teller and Kate Beckinsale and Tracy Letts and others I never really expected like Tori Amos and Shawn Levy and the fascinating Kyra Sedgwick. And that doesn’t even start on the directors: Damien Chazelle, Barry Jenkins, Pablo Larrain, Ken Lonergan, Denis Villeneuve, Garth Davis, Garth Jennings, Jeff Nichols, Bayona (still to be published), and Tom Ford, amongst others. And the amazing couple the work together, writing, directing, producing movies and are likely to have the first Oscar grace their home this February. And documentarians.
I get to talk to a lot of incredibly talented people about work that moves them deeply.
But there is something about these 15… something truly unexpected… something silly… something real… something that stuck with me in a different way.
The only one of these shot by Ovation is the hour with Jeremy Irons, which will air it a 23 minutes at some point, but which I intentionally made an hour. Expect longer interviews in 2017.
The holidays did the job they were meant to do, though there were no truly positive surprises. Strong numbers for Rogue One lead the way. Sing delivers strong numbers, but not up to Illumination’s recent history, although it is already past Trolls. (Moana is ahead of both.) Passengers‘ $61 million seems okay… until you look at the movie’s cost. La La Land has the best per-screen of any film in more than 25 venues, with 750 runs. Hidden Figures and Patriots Day seem primed for strong January expansion.
Pretty normal Christmas/New Year’s window.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is doing great… but it’s 37% off Episode VII so far. But who’s going to cry over $1.3 billion worldwide if that stat holds through its run? No one. And anyone who is wondering whether the film will pass Cap:Civil War as top 2016 release can relax. It will. $1.2b is pretty much guaranteed.
Sing is also doing great… but it’s not catching up to Zootopia or The Secret Life of Pets or Finding Dory. Don’t expect Illumination to dip into the Christmas window again soon.
Passengers is not a complete disaster, which reminds us of one reason why many films like the Christmas window… word of mouth is less influential and more people go to movies on the weekdays. But the film is still dependent on international to do more than paying for its domestic ad buy (if these numbers add up to that).
Moana is in the sweet spot for Walt Disney Animation November releases. It will be the second best of that Nov-Launch group, well behind Frozen, but a solid #3 in the history of WDA.
Fences is doing okay. The film will look for a boost from the MLK holiday as well as Oscar nominations. It’s a relatively inexpensive picture, so the breakeven (projecting post-theatrical) is likely in the 50s. A ways to go.
Why Him? stiffed. It wasn’t that expensive, but it never found that thing that turned on potential ticket buyers. The Christmas window comedy that we used to expect annually has all but died off… until someone finds a film that connects again. It will happen.
La La Land is killing it. The reasonable comps for the film are The Imitation Game and Silver Linings Playbook. Imitation was in 747 venues with a $3,871 per-screen the Friday before New Year’s Day, and Silver Linings was in 745 with a $1,724 per-screen. Totals on that date were $9.6m and $24.5m. La La is at $28 million with a per-screen of $4,160. Those films grossed $91m and $132m. At this point, I would expect La La to surpass them both. Those bold $150m domestic estimates predicted by some may well come to fruition. Big, big win. As the old saw goes… no one wanted to make them.
Collateral Beauty may gross enough to cover the marketing costs of opening wide in December. The film is, by the way, from the new head of the studio. So when journos are writing up those “Is Tom Rothman in trouble?” rumors, they might want to consider that this was Toby Emmerich’s project.
Manchester by the Sea is now Roadside Attractions’ #1 release of all-time. It helps to have a partner as deep-pocketed as Amazon. But the whole team at Roadside deserves an embrace for working the film so effectively. And there could be another wave of significant business off of the Oscar nominations.
Arrival no longer looks like $100 million is in range… though Oscar could change that.
Hidden Figures is lurking as a serious box office contender… yet the question of a Best Picture nomination for Oscar is hanging out there. I would have gone wide this week, showing some box office muscle before Oscar voting starts. Popularity is part of what makes this movie a legitimate threat as a nominee and there just isn’t any serious proof of the success to come right now. It may not matter. In a year of not-happy films, this happy film may become a popular choice in the two or three slot for Oscar voters who are relieved by the feel-good experience. We’ll know in a month, when the film has $75 million or more in its coffers (and growing) before the nominations are announced.
Jackie, Lion, and Silence live on the edge of the box office and, it would seem, on the edge of the Oscar season… each capable of getting in or being left out.
And when discussing Oscar, don’t forget Sully, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Moonlight, Loving and 20th Century Women.
So the controversy here yesterday was over Fences, which was clearly underestimated in its expansion. We’re already looking at an estimate on today’s box office for the film, which is $4.9 million, which could easily be high… or not. How much of an effect will Christmas Day football have? How heavy was the must-see factor yesterday? Even if the film does $15 million in its first three days, that’s soft for Denzel… but it’s not a weekend launch… but it is Christmas/New Year’s week… but but but… Let’s take a deep breath and see where this goes.
Rogue One rolls along, pacing the big Marvel movies more than Episode 7. No one is going to die from a $1.2 billion-grossing Rogue One. And because it truly is a stand-alone film that fits in a very specific niche of the Star Wars Universe, no one is sweating sequels. So… great… success… not world-beating… but fine. IP wins again.
As noted before, Sing is a complete freak when it comes to animated releases. Doing okay.
Passengers remains soft, but looking for answers outside of American airspace. I don’t think it brings down Rothman at Sony. And in fact, it probably reinforces his position on being cheap and not chasing big stars with big price tags. But not a happy Christmas in Culver City.
The hard part is that the big studio has seven weeks before their next release, the next two coming from Screen Gems. And there is some risk. Life will have a lot on its shoulders. Then a four-film summer of a Scarlett Johansson comedy (Rock That Body), Spider-Man: Homecoming, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, and Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. Spider-Man is a gimme. The other three are not, at least commercially. And if the studio goes one for four or broderline successes for the non-Marvels, there will be serious pressure.
Why Him? and Assassin’s Creed are stuck together on the box office chart like a cruel joke. The comedy isn’t burying the studio. No biggie, even if it never really picks up. Assassin’s Creed really needs help from overseas. But either way, they both go on the prior regime’s list.
The expansion party is led by Fences, which went wide, then not-quite-wide expansions for La La Land, Jackie and Lion, plus a strong limited open (25 screens) for Hidden Figures, as well as exclusives for Patriots Day, Silence and Live By Night, and A Monster Calls.
Honestly, there is a bit of self-delusion in doing a deep analysis of this group based on this weekend. Obviously, La La Land should be happy. Fences did fine, if not overwhelmingly. Manchester by the Sea is still out there, solid, and really exceptional for the kind of film it is without a major box office star. The rest? Some of these titles are seriously commercial and will get a full studio release. Others will never be as strong as they were this weekend. Next Monday will offer a clearer picture.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Not a lot to add from yesterday. Weird weekend.
There are a good number of legit successes this month… but not a single one that is a home run. Rogue One is the most obvious example, but Sing also fits… Moana… Arrival… Trolls… Fantastic Beasts. You have to go back to Doctor Strange to find a big movie that feels like it overperformed. Moonlight and now, Manchester By The Sea, are in that category among indies, with La La Land as it expands.
Some are waiting, desperately, on international: Passengers. Assassin’s Creed. Even Collateral Beauty has some hope of an international savior.
Silence and Patriots Day are starting okay. Can’t read the La La Land Christmas Day expansion from today’s estimates. Apparently, Fox isn’t offering an estimate on Hidden Figures for today (sanely). Fences could have box-office-bottomed its way out of a Best Picture nomination.
Here’s your Best Picture race as of today’s estimates…
This morning, Day 9 of Rogue One will hit the opening weekend gross of Episode 7.
There are few things in film as rare as an animated opening in December, happening only 7 times in the history of animated films that would gross $10 million-plus total… except an animated opening on Christmas weekend, which has happened only once before (again, in films grossing $10m+ domestic in total). And who did it that only other time? Universal. With Balto, in 1995.
So Sing is a freak! And its success will be hazy for the next few weeks. The 3-day will be skewed by the holiday. And the international, which has been a huge part of Illumination’s box office game, will not be fully expressed for a while.
That said, the closest comp I see is the original Alvin & The Chipmunks… which is a weak match. But a $13.3m opening Friday in December… earlier and this is a Wednesday opening, but, trying. That film did about $75m in the 11 days of the holiday window that year. Sing will probably do more like $100 million. But it will be looking for a strong January to get it up to the $200 million range to which Illumination has gotten accustomed.
It’s hard to say how bad the situation is for Passengers. The film seems to have already used up any “must see” opportunity. Today is a wild card, as Christmas Eve is usually weak, but it’s a Saturday and most of the NFL line-up is today. So, the question of whether this 3-day can rise to Jennifer Lawrence’s worst wide opening, $12.3m for House at the End of The Street is on the table. Of course, the 5-day gross will be higher than that.
This is Lawrence’s third trip to a big December release. American Hustle did a week in exclusive before going wide the weekend before the holiday and scoring a $19.1m 3-day on expansion. Joy opened on Christmas Day last year and did $17m in its first 3 days.
So Sony will look to the rest of the world to clean up this mess. And it may well do so. Movie stars and pretty images often sell “over there.”
More to come…