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Tomorrowland never knows.
It’s odd to leave Cannes not having fallen fully in love… with a movie.
I have one more shot this morning before heading to the airport… Sorrentino’s Youth, which is already part of the Searchlight family. I will miss the Gaspar Noe as well as Michel Franco’s Chronic, for which I have hopes. There’s also a Hou Hsiao-Hsien. And no doubt, there will be fireworks in the Fassbender/Cotillard Macbeth, though placement as the closer is almost always bad news.
I really liked a lot of films this year. And really didn’t suffer through dogs. My most “what is this doing in competition?” experience (Maryland) was still a pretty good film for what it was.
We may have seen the Best Foreign Language Oscar winner in Son of Saul, which is about the Jewish Holocaust, is well made, and isn’t going to embarrass anyone giving it their vote. What it stirred in me was a consciousness that there are classes of film that, currently, require something truly new in meaning for me to be seriously interested. Holocaust film is one of those. Son of Saul delivers a new look and feel, but the content, for me, was nothing new. As a Jew, I have seen pretty much every Jewish Holocaust movie made in America or Europe in my 50 years (and from before) and the bar is high. Shoah remains the most profound Holocaust film experience for me. Tim Blake Nelson’s The Grey Zone, which in 2001 more directly addressed the issue of Jews participating in killing Jews in the camps, is flawed, but underrated.
Son of Saul touches on the issue of how what humans are capable of doing when they have a certain distance and how that can change instantly when that distance is erased. But without a more complete explanation of that key theme, the film has the feel of a thankfully blurry tour of Nazi death camp operations, the sounds and blurry images allowing audience imagination to run free. That part of the film didn’t touch me. The emotional depth of the film for me was when a survivor of the shower room gassing is then finished off, requiring an autopsy so more can be learned about how to kill efficiently. That said more to me than an oven and the attendant horrible noises.
I have no ill words for anyone who loves Son of Saul. How people connect to content like this is profoundly personal. And unless another film rises, I will not be unhappy with this film winning the Oscar. The director is clearly a real talent. And anything that makes people think and feel in a deep way is of great value.
Brillante Mendoza’s Taklub is also, really, a holocaust drama. The holocaust here starts with a specific family, but this becomes a symbol of the massive tragedy of tsunamis in the Philippines. Wonderful, understated performance by Nora Aunor. Slow. Painful. Real.
I quite like and respect Carol from Todd Haynes. Blanchett is great, but the story here is Rooney Mara, who walks a very difficult tightrope, having to play a bit of a blank slate while also blossoming in the process without the script making a big deal out of her evolution. Beautiful. What the film doesn’t deliver is explosions… which is why it is so good… but is also why I am not head over heels. It is a film of the moment, even though it is wonderful in that it isn’t trying to be that. It is just a human story, reflecting one shade in a complex human matter.
There is so much I loved about Sicario. Unfortunately, the problems I have with it are embodied by its central character. It just so happens that the role is that of a woman – in a genre slot usually played by men – played by the great Emily Blunt. My issues have nothing to do with the gender of the character or Ms. Blunt’s performance. For me, there were just too many – one is too many – “She only did that because it’s a story point” moments. Of course, the character is the audience surrogate in a world she doesn’t quite understand or agree with in principle. But when the character does things that the audiences already understands to be stupid, you lose the audience… or at least me.
There are some mysteries, but I basically understood two of the main characters from the moments of their introductions in the film. And the secrets of their specific goals, as unveiled through the film, made sense and were exhilarating. Great performances by Josh Brolin, as the film’s whip, and Benicio del Toro, as the seething id. And a tremendous performance by Blunt… but her motivations are explained to her repeatedly. BZZT! And she is set up in the script as one kind of character (the first one in the door that she just kicked down) who has little experience “working cases,” but is then, suddenly, the uptight rules-pusher in her new surroundings. I’m not asking for by-the-book character without complexity. What works about the character is that she has to confront her ideas about the morality of the work she has chosen. But for much of the movie, her moral compass is inflexible and I didn’t believe that for a second. And she is just such a fuck-up. She gets a couple of moments of competence with a weapon, but mostly, she is a pawn whose dumb choices are somehow counted on to be wrong by The Boys. And there is no real payoff, unlike, say, a movie like To Live And Die In LA, in which the sidekick becomes the master. Again, maybe that is now a cliche. But it is better than what I saw on that screen… that is, aside from the stuff in the film that I LOVED. (Did I mention Roger Deakins’ spectacular work in grades of brown?)
Lately, the box office conversation has become more and more about rationalizing the numbers.
Are the Pitch Perfect 2 numbers a bit surprising? Yes. Are they really shocking, given a trajectory that we have seen before? No. Does it make the case for female directors? No. But it shouldn’t have to, which is the great Catch-22. Arguments are made about “women’s films” not doing as much business as “guy’s films” and that premise is both true and false.
The world market follows the boy cinema model commercially. If you want to be in the $700 million and up category and aren’t doing a variation on Disney Princess, your product is going to skew butch. Just is. Sorry.
But one of the current Hollywood myths is that this group of films, which dominate the noise, is all Hollywood does or wants to do. Just not true. And “smaller” films – $20m – $40m – are still a key part of most studios and can be massively profitable.
In the case of the moment, Pitch Perfect, Elizabeth Banks drove that train the first time as she has the second time. People are obsessing on female directors right now, so that is what people are taking about. But there would be no Pitch Perfect 2 for Ms. Banks to direct and to open so well without Ms. Banks killing herself to get PP made in the first place as a producer.
This is the problem with the victim conversation. It gets myopic in a hurry. The outcome for both films has been exceptional. Female produced movies are as important as directed ones and ones starring female actresses and supported by female actresses. But there is a strange hierarchy that develops around anger and aspiration that makes it all a blur of headlines. In order to build a better future for Hollywood, we have to start celebrating the wins as well as complaining about the inequities.
Flipping over to Mad Max: Fury Road… do people realize that the last Mad Max movie was, literally, 30 years ago? Did WB, which sold it as a sequel more than as an original, realize this… or did they get caught in much the same mistake that doomed Edge of Tomorrow last year around this time?
Mind you, if Max got to a $55.3m opening, that would still be Top Ten for R-rated openings in history… which is only a shocking failure to a fool. Sixteen R-rated movies have opened to $50m or more in history.
But bigger picture, the two films were in direct competition, but only in so much as young people were anxious to see either or both. The market is a lot bigger than a combined $120 million (or whatever it will be) for the duo.
All the rationalization and guesses can be put aside. The bottom line is, “Did people feel compelled to see this on opening weekend?” And you can throw out quality as an issue too. It means almost nothing on opening weekends. People made their decisions, for the most part, a week or two ago (some longer, as in both cases this weekend). But aside from the core, opening is about picking an audience and selling that audience. 99.999% of ticket buyers most opening weekends have not seen the movie before. All they can know is what they have been shown and how interested they are conceptually.
The media has created this win/lose thing about box office, assisted by bad manipulative choices by studios, that creates lies every weekend. The business is not just the Top Three. International means more than domestic in very roughly 80% of movies these days. Costs are a very important – and closely held – part of the picture.
If Pitch Perfect 2 gets to $400 million worldwide, it will still not be as profitable as Avengers: Age of Ultron. But it could well the second or third most profitable film of the summer… ironically, because it is so specific demographically.
This is when I start hearing pushback from those who want to say that “women’s films” is a ghetto and it’s terribly unfair. And I say, “Embrace the freaking ghetto!” Summit is an imperfect company, but few were as smart as they were in cheaping out the Twilight movies from start to finish. (Yes, the budgets rose… but not exponentially as happens on many franchises.). They knew their sliver of the market and they owned it. They didn’t chase the bigger market. And they made a fortune.
This is also true of the Transformers franchise, which has grown in budget, but hasn’t gone insane.
The biggest niche in the world is cool. But so are the smaller ones. And there are fortunes to be made on women… on Black audiences… on Spanish-speaking Americans… on old people… etc.
None of what I am writing is a claim that there doesn’t need to be serious consideration to the numbers of high-ranking filmmakers that are female and/or of color. There is an institutional bias. It is real. It is baked in at this point. And it needs to be addressed. But let’s not always throw the baby out with the bath water. Judging success and failure in there’s areas by the hysteria of opening weekends and half-ass analyzing the Top 100 grossers each year is doomed to impotence as a strategy.
And before anyone Plessy v Fergusons my ass, sorry, but making movies is not analogous to schooling or voting rights or white and black bathrooms. If you think that, you have gotten caught in the web of your own rhetoric.
It is about opportunity. And in the film business, opportunity is a legitimate/equal chance at getting what you want to make financed and distributed. That does not mean that the bullshit argument of “there could be 15 well-budgeted indies for every Avengers they don’t make” a truth. It is a false notion.
I’m not saying we need Avengers to float everything else either. We don’t. Avengers is its own thing. It has nothing to do with whether a movie like Selma does $50m domestic or $150 million domestic. And it really has nothing to do with whether Ex Machina does $30 million or $15 million.
Meryl Streep, the patron saint of women and older actors, hasn’t stopped working for a second since Prada. She has made tiny indies and large wannabe franchise films. She draws a legitimate amount of interest to be a true movie star. There are male stars she is “worth” more than and others she is “worth” less than.
Jennifer Lawrence is, in my opinion, about as big a movie star as there is right now. If reports that she got $15 million for Joy are true, she probably got overpaid for a small film. If she got paid $15 million for any of the last 3 Hunger Games, she was wildly underpaid. It has nothing to do with male co-stars. Her perceived value is her perceived value. She should have banked at least $100 million of the Hunger Games‘ $3.5 billion theatrical haul. If she didn’t, blame her agent, not Hollywood sexism. It is the industry’s job to pay as little as possible for the most valuable talent and the agent’s job to shake the tree for every dime. Math has no sex or color.
Anyway… rant over for now.
For those of you who have lost yours, please get a grip. Take the measure of it all with severe, rigorous honesty. Celebrate Ava DuVernay as an incredible success story. Stop selling the myth of her film or career being victimized by The Man. Take the win. Be proud of it. Start pushing for the next one who is not as powerful and tough as Ava. Embrace talent not victimization… even when you are suffering victimization in many quarters. Punch out of the corner…. don’t look for some ref to save you… because they never do.
And slow down on all the box office pronouncements. The media is still unwilling to embrace what a good studio year 2014 was. Lots of wins. Few losses. Profits don’t come on a scale with overall box office. They come film by film, budget by budget. Same as it ever was. We are all moving so fast to define everything these days, we lose track of this truth. But it is the truth. It has been the truth for 40+ years. And it will be the truth for decades to come.
Amy is more than a great doc. It is a shot to the solar plexus… I imagine, even more so for those of us who cover Hollywood or celebrities than anyone else outside of her personal friends. Asif Kapadia not only creates an intense intimacy with a massively talented singer and songwriter who has become a cartoon character of insobriety, but in telling her tale, he points a finger at many, including the media machine.
We, the media, are accomplices in the murder of Amy Winehouse. No doubt, her parents and her ex-husband are much higher on the list of causes of her tragic death at the comedic/horrible oft-repeated celebrity death age of 27. We are complicit. As another writer smartly offered, Kapadia makes us complicit specifically in the act of watching the doc, much of which is built on paparazzi footage. But I take a step further. As we cover this festival of a billion flashes without blinking an eye… many of us pushing snippets of the lives of the talent that is here endlessly for weeks before and through the 10 days of the festival… profiting by minimizing and disrespecting the integrity of artistic effort on display at Cannes… we brew a potion that is deadly for some, crippling for others, and yes, a non-issue for yet others. But it is too easy to simply point the finger at the obvious targets of Amy Winehouse’s parents or his heroin-pushing boyfriend. The hands of the media are not clean.
Perhaps the most horrible part of Amy is that she wasn’t, as she is most often portrayed in the media, a lost cause without a support system. She had people who really loved her and who she could trust. She had friends and family. She even had good fortune, in terms of circumstances changing to her advantage at times (like her husband being jailed at one point).
The film is an intense reminder that celebrities are actually real people… that they live day-to-day when we are not watching via the media… that they have insecurities and virtues and vices that are not meant for us, the public. The film didn’t anger and pain me about the infrastructure of celebrity. As many have said, some handle it better and some worse. It was the casualness with which Winehouse was painted into Class Lunatic that makes me enraged at the whole enterprise. She may have died either way. But we, in the press, held her life so cheaply.
The film starts with pre-teen Amy and works its way through her early work, her emancipation, the lukewarm success of “Frank” in the UK, and everything that happened once “Rehab” made her a worldwide superstar virtually overnight. After a while, the viewer can do a lot of the work for themselves, having perspective on Winehouse’s behavior and physical state from before, during, and after her falls from sobriety.
Much as Senna did, Amy doesn’t allow talking heads, though Kapadia seems to have done a lot of audio interviews and does have a couple of talking heads, borrowed directly from other Amy Winehouse-related TV efforts. But the storytelling is slick, clean, and seamless. And when it ends, you have lost not only a legendary talent, but a friend.
I haven’t felt the emotional hammer come down like this in Cannes since Amour. It took me more than an hour to recover. I may not actually be recovered. I may never quite be the same. I am seeing the world, and more specifically my work, through Amy-colored glasses right now. And I hope not to forget that feeling as, through the normal course of work, I feel that urge to not show enough respect to the talent, or anyone really.
So… <b>Pitch Perfect 2</b> will outgross the original’s entire domestic gross on opening weekend. Mind you, it is a sequel, the original was a post-theatrical phenom, and a May berth isn’t the end of September. But however you cut it, an achievement for Elizabeth Banks and crew, not so much as a director (quality is a non-issue on opening weekend), but as a producer, Banks should now have a lot of elbow room to push out moderately-priced films for the next couple of years. She is now where Paul Feig was after <b>Bridesmaids</b> or should be. The only restraint will be that she is a one-hit wonder. But she should have a number of well-funded chances to change that.
How should you feel about <b>Mad Max: Fury Road</b> opening? Well, it may still be a Top Ten opening for an R-rated film. And historically, the biggest R-rated opening ever is still $92 million. So don’t get too depressed. The pitch for the film was more one-note than the reviews or the film itself. I’ll be shocked if a dearth of women isn’t a part of the story by Sunday.
It’s been an interesting start to this year’s annual family reunion. Some inspired filmmaking, but aside from the most commercial movies here – Mad Max: Fury Road and Inside Out, both playing out of competition – there is a distinct lack of greatness worth fighting about into the night.
Legendary names like Woody Allen and Gus Van Sant have delivered some of their weakest work here. Favorites from recent festivals, like Matteo Garrone and Yorgos Lathimos, have delivered visceral, compelling work that seems to lose its way as they slide into the third act. The style of gentle, thoughtful Asian cinema is on display with Kore-Eda and Naomi Kawase, but lovely though it may be, it doesn’t pack the big punch.
Rams (aka Hrutar) is an odd stand-out, telling the tale of estranged brother farmers in their golden years faced with the end of their prize-winning bloodline of livestock as well as their family bloodline. Twenty hours after viewing it and having that “it’s a slow, weird sheep movie” feeling, the complete and flawless nature of the universe Grimur Hankonarson creates for the film is feeling a lot stickier than I would ever have expected. There is something sublime about the film that becomes of even greater value when set against the backdrop of such big swings and such unfortunate near-misses.
Also, there is Son of Saul, which seems destined to become a big deal, though I found myself more interesting in the gimmick of the film – a visually myopic experience of one man who is in a unique position to wander through as horrible a place as has been on this earth, the business end of a Nazi death camp. The film has been touted for being shown on 35mm, though the filmmaker has actually made the film in 1.33:1 ratio, emulating the filmmaking of the period. After about 30 minutes, the character who we are attached to finds one dead body of unique interest and the film becomes about his effort to bury this one, properly overseen by a rabbi, not just burn it with the others. For me, this is when the visual gimmick of the experience, for me, starts to interfere profoundly with the emotional journey of the story. There is no denying that the power of any recreation of the Jewish Holocaust. But for me, it is a starting point, not enough as a backdrop. Personally, I felt like I was having one of those “you are in it” Holocaust experiences from Jewish summer camps… which inevitably devolves from the reflection on how horrible it is to be seen as something less than human by other humans to “when’s lunch?” at some point. The most profound notion that stuck with me as I watched the film was that these Jewish men are doing this to other Jews while we know, as the film tells us up front, that they will all be killed within months as they reach the human boiling point of their agreement to participate in this kind of work. That narrative tension was much more interesting to me than the very personal story that the film chooses and, for me, didn’t go anywhere more profound than the first blush of the idea.
The film most likely to find critical acclaim in the festival so far is The Lobster, which has the surrealistic premise of a society setting rules for coupling, oddly reflecting Woody Allen’s Sleeper and Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange with the surrealist bent of someone young and hip like Richard Ayoade. It’s a film you want to fall in love with… and you have to, a little. But even from the early unrolling of its premise, there is a sense that it is not being sculpted with quite a sharp enough knife. Then, it loses its bearings, as it flips the premise on its head and tries to define the tyranny of The Loners. It is such a deep vein that the film is tapping, making it all the more frustrating when it can’t close the deal. Or maybe, on multiple viewings, it will.
If there is a problem with all film festivals, none more than Cannes, it is that the pressure to have strong opinions about complex ideas in an instant is as real as running into the first person you know within minutes of seeing any film. Like fine wine, really good films need time to breathe. But there is this truth too… real greatness is felt in the gut and can come instantly and undeniably. I am still waiting for that on this particular journey… that is, aside from George Miller kicking ass.
Avengers: Age Of Ultron held well, though it has now fallen off the original by $59 million ten days into its run after being only $16m behind after last weekend. Still, the massive international numbers assure a gross well above $1 billion, though a domestic fall-off of somewhere between $100-150m may keep it from matching or passing the original… though the asterisked grosses from China could be decisive.
Hot Pursuit looks tiny next to Thor & Co, but $13.2 isn’t a disaster… just a fender-bender. Could write off about $5m or breakeven with all ancillaries and perhaps some international benefit from Ms. Vergara.
The Age of Adeline held really well, though all of the holds are reflecting the Avengers explosion that blew up the entire box office last weekend. (That and, of course, all the people who didn’t see Adeline and others because of The Big Fight. Ha. Ha. Ha.) It’s running a little behind John Wick, but this tiny film has a legit chance to be the biggest domestic grosser from Lionsgate-Summit – aside from Hunger Games and Divergent – in the last couple of years.
It looks like The D Train will go onto the “why we do VOD day-n-date” list for IFC after a straight theatrical release for the Sundance hit. Just $430 a screen on 1009 is no one’s idea of success. And indeed, while I can’t say this one was destined for big success either way, the pitfalls of small companies attempting wide-ish theatricals (just over the 1000 screen threshold) is clearly on display here. A significant financial risk in advertising… but not really enough to grab a wide enough audience to make it worth the risk.
Next weekend will be the big test for Ex Machina, which is probably past peak box office after its expansion of 750 screens to 2004. Can they hold screens? Is there another audience wave to come?
Four domestic indies had excellent per-screen numbers this weekend. The cleaned-up Apu Trilogy did $14,700 on a single screen. I Am Big Bird did $9300 on one. Sony Classics’ Saint Laurent, a surprise hit at Cannes last year, did $8800 per on 4. IFC found success on two screens with The Seven Five, drawing $7950 per on two screens. Happily, I can strongly recommend all four of these films (six, really).
(NOTE: Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s drop from last Friday’s preview-included number is 74%. The estimated drop above is based on a clean Friday number of $57.8 million.)
Going to keep it brief. A:AoU is doing great… not as great as the Friday matinee screeching ignoramuses suggest. A strong hold still puts it closer to $75m than $85m. But maybe they all think the word of mouth on the film is great and that there was $10m in lost revenue last weekend that is going to appear this weekend. Anything is possible. More likely… $75m… which is nothing to sneeze at… but isn’t the second biggest weekend ever. It’s #3. Boo-hoo. The reporting of numbers should not be an exercise in marketing… let the marketers do the advertising after the facts roll out.
Hot Pursuit is not a hit… but it’s not a carwreck, either… well, not this weekend, at least. Last summer, movies got into the 40s and 50s from this kind of launch. But I don’t think this one will have great legs, in spite of the great legs in the film (ha ha sexist fun ha). There is no indication that Reese Witherspoon has international muscle either, plus it is a comedy based on the idea of Southern vs Colombian, so I wouldn’t expect it to translate, simply meaning… no help there.
Ex Machina is taking its next big step, expanding from 1279 screens to 2004. The result on Friday was a 29% uptick, which is good. Of course, last weekend was depressed by the Avengers opening, so it’s a bit tricky to read the uptick. The Friday estimate, though up, is still well off the first Friday of expansion on the film. Still, a big success for A24, likely passing their previous #1 all-time, Spring Breakers, by the end of tonight.
The only new indie expected to get close to $10k per screen is the Chinese The Left Ear.
The hypesters were on overdrive about the Avengers: Age of Ultron opening and actually managed to make it seem like a disappointment in some quarters. Can’t get much more idiotic than that. #2 all-time domestic opening. #1 all-time worldwide opening. Over $625m in the pot after opening weekend with well over $275 million of that coming back to Disney/Marvel. The movie could have cost $300 million (not saying it did… but that it could) and $150m into worldwide marketing and still, it is a lock to go into profit (actual profit, not studio accounting profit) before the end of this month, if not the end of next week.
Now… I have said before and I still believe that Avengers 2, like Captain America 2, showed the vulnerable underbelly of Marvel… not because these films aren’t still doing sensational business, but because we are beginning to see the limitations of the genre vs. the very broad appeal they have achieved in theatrical. We haven’t seen a Matrix Reloaded response yet (to a film that was arguably a natural step for the series and a major step up in action and effects), but we can see that line being walked. And the long-term problem for Disney remains that pretty much every one of their event movies (now moving from three or four a year to seven or eight) has to make at least $500 million worldwide in theatrical (taking all ancillaries into account) in order to be bottom-line profitable. Avengers 2 also reminds us of the issue of age and the Marvel timeline. Robert Downey, Jr. just turned 50 and he’s already pushing the expiration date on his Tony Stark role. He’s apparently signed on for more work, including the “it’ll never happen” “Iron Man 4″ and a likely $60m payday. But like all hot genres, first comes heat, then comes overabundance, then comes endless repetition, and then, it’s all over for a decade or so.
This SNL piece is very clever and smart and well done. But why isn’t it laugh out loud funny, which it feels like it should be? I think it’s because it’s too true… an insight into Marvel that we already feel. And, it seems to me, that there is a lack of some of the harshness and sexism that the missing Iron Man character (Lorne pushing for a Downey SNL appearance and not wanting to poison the well?) would surely bring to the piece.
Also, we have been suffering from a lack of cultural weight from these mega-movies for years now. It’s been 13 years since the first $100 million opening, Spider-Man. Only four of the 30 films to achieve this have been the first in a series. First Spidey, first Potter, first Hunger Games, first Avengers. None have been true originals (a group in which I would include films made from source material that doesn’t being a massive audience with it).
But the bigger question… do these films that have more than 10 million Americans in attendance on opening weekend have a strong cultural impact? Spider-Man did. The first Pirates sequel did. Dark Knight did. The overall Potter and Twilight franchises did, though neither launched at over $100 million. But something has changed. I would say that the first and second Transformers films had much more impact than the bigger-opening third and fourth. Whether a good movie like Toy Story 3 or a terrible one like Alice in Wonderland, these films seem nearly instantly irrelevant culturally. Since Dark Knight, the only film in this weight class that I think really had impact was the first Avengers, which felt not only like a coronation, but like the best of what Marvel had done to that date, all of the characters except Iron Man in a better groove than they had ever been in before (Iron Man brought his voice, unabated).
The most $100 million openings in a year is four. Most in a summer, three. We have two for the year already (one in the first week of “summer”) and EIGHT more with the potential to launch at $100m-plus (Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World, Inside Out, Terminator: Genisys, Minions, M:I 5, and Fantastic Four) this summer alone. Obviously, not all of them will make it. But I do believe the record of four in a year will be tied or broken before this summer is over. The two Disney films are the only “originals” in the group and neither is likely to get there, though they have a good chance of being amongst the leggiest films of the summer.
And for the record, next summer will have only The BFG as a big-expectation title that is not a sequel or reboot. As of today, that is it… unless you want to count Suicide Squad as an original (a reach).
And just look at what they are currently trying to shove into March 2017: Wolverine, Kong: Skull Island, Beauty and the Beast, Allegiant 2, The Mummy, Ghost in the Shell, Animated Smurfs. If they want to push back, there is a Lego Batman film in mid-February and if they want to push forward, Furiouser is there in the middle of April.
In the present, even with a 65% drop, A2 wins next weekend with $65 million and nears $300 million domestic in 10 days… and near a billion worldwide.
So when your friends tell you about how theatrical is marginalized, give them a smack in the head. They deserve it. (Probably have for years.) And then, move to the other perspective. The theatrical movie business is healthy, in spite of everything that is being created to challenge it daily. But… what is the impact of all this short-run ecstasy? Or does it even matter?
As for the rest of the box office… zzzzzzzzz….
Nothing dared open against A2 on more than 150 screens. Cinderella shifted to second-run houses and got a nice bump on its way out. Nothing else in the Top 14 dropped less than 50%. That includes one of the two Cinderellas of winter/spring indies, Ex Machina (the other being It Follows), which didn’t do a big screen add against Iron Man, but may be too late to build any further, having to settle for $16m – $17m, which will be plenty to become the top A24 movie.
Nice per-screens on tiny counts include Iris, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, and Welcome to Me.
I think that Heck, which debuts on HBO Monday, could actually make some nice money in post-HBO theatrical. People would come to theaters with great sound and a group experience for this film, even if they can get it on HBO. Won’t happen much, but should.
It’s the second best opening day (by estimate) in North America. It will likely be the biggest opening worldwide, breaking the $500 million mark for the first time ever (though it is worth keeping in mind that this is a very new category and #2 all-time happened just a month ago with Furious 7‘s $398 million. Like the $100 million opening (A2 will be the 30th in 14 years), $300 million worldwide openings are an eye-popping stat that once seemed impossible and is now expected annually (14 since the first in 2005, though this one relies on worldwide day-n-date openings, which are less rare than they were, but still not ubiquitous).
Although this opening day is estimated to be $2 million higher than the previous Avengers, the trend in these last three years has been to more front-loading. So Avengers‘ $207 million domestic opening record may be safe. But if so, A2 will still be #2 all-time. And the worldwide opening record of $484 million will almost surely fall.
It is absurd to discuss any notion of disappointment to come with numbers like this, but… Avengers did 3.85x worldwide opening. And the real challenge for Avengers: Age of Ultron will be to manage that kind of multiple again. And even if it does, after a record-beating $500 million worldwide opening, that would still be short of $2 billion. In that rarefied air, there is Hulk-sized profit. Even a less-than-generous reading of all the numbers says that A:AoU will be hundreds of millions into profit in theatrical alone. But at this level, studios turn into “size queens” and want to threaten every record. And this does not seem to be where this one is going. It will just have to settle for being the #3 film of all-time and only the fourth to crack $1.5 billion. Let the tears flow.
Nothing else is likely to gross as much as $7 million this weekend domestically.
Opening on just 10 screens, Carey Mulligan’s fireworks show Far From The Madding Crowd will do about $15k per-screen, well off of A:AoU‘s per-screen, but beating out all others.
And Ex Machina is now on the descent, adding a few more screens, but off 58% against the Avengers onslaught and likely off in the high 40s for the weekend. Still, the film will pass the $10 million mark today, only the second A24 release to do so.