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BYO Nice La-deeeeeeee… Jerry Lewis

Young Jerry

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Weekend Estimates by the by…

Weekend Estimates 2017-08-20 at 9.55.27 AM

Do I really have to say anything here? I feel like I already covered things in this meh weekend.

It stuns me that there have been 27 $400 million domestic grossers (Wonder Woman joined last week).

The Big Sick will pass $40 million and is a serious candidate for a Best Picture nomination.

The Trip to Spain did a great $27k per on 36.

Strong expansion for Ingrid Goes West.

Detroit will gross almost exactly what The Hurt Locker did domestically.

Gook opened well. Good Time expanded pretty well. Wind River is underdelivering. Patti Cake$ is a work in progress, but word of mouth is going to have to kick in fast.

I’m going to go watch my print of The Day The Clown Cried….


Friday Estimates by The Box Office Man’s Bodyguard

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Eighteen months ago, Ryan Reynolds solo-starred a $132 million opening. The Hitman’s Bodyguard will be his #2 non-animated opening of the last five years.

Samuel L. Jackson has been in 20 movies in the last five years, with widely ranging box office, not only from co-star Marvel franchises, but from movies sold heavily on his stardom.

One could easily make an argument that a $22 million-ish opening for The Hitman’s Bodyguard is solid for these two actors at this time. It’s better than a big studio launch with Reynolds like Life. The xXx reboot launched to only $20 million with Jackson AND Vin Diesel. Why would anyone expect more without a supersuit from these two?

On the other hand, two funny guys with strong personalities, jaunting around Europe shooting people seems like a potentially giant R-rated hit movie. Why not a Kingsman-level opening? Why not a third of the Deadpool open?

These are the discussions that give studio execs ulcers. Same with Atomic Blonde. Charlize is glorious. Wonder Woman and Girls Trip suggest that women will show up for female leads. The high style of the film was made for advertising. 75% on Rotten Tomatoes wouldn’t scare anyone away. $18.3 million open.

For that matter, how hard do you have to try to open a Will Ferrell comedy to $8 million? His first wide opening to a number that low in more than 15 years!!! And that doesn’t even take Amy Poehler’s fans into account.

Logan Lucky is another barrel of monkeys. It will open pretty much the way that lower-profile Soderbergh movies open. Big number for Bleecker Street. Not a sensational number for Channing Tatum or James Bond.

Annabelle: Creation dropped almost the same as the first film of these two. The parent franchise, The Conjuring, opens stronger and drops faster.

Girls Trip passed $100m domestic on Thursday.

Decent expansion for Wind River, grabbing $1 million on Friday on a third or a quarter of other films in the Top 10.

Soft opening for well-liked Patti Cake$ and Marjorie Prime.


BYOO (Bring Your Own Opinion)


At Bulldog’s suggestion, for a different sort of give-and-take: A sentence or two about the last four movies you saw and where/how you saw them… Go!


Dee Rees Addresses Sundance’s L. A. NEXT FEST

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Weekend Estimates by Klady: Creation

Weekend Estimates 2017-08-13 at 10.15.42 AM copy

Annabelle: Creation is off about $2 million from the opening of the first Annabelle, which is almost exactly how much The Conjuring 2 was off of The Conjuring. Ahhh… consistency. Dunkirk holds strong and while summer is ending and September is loaded, there is no other major IMAX event coming for six weeks. Nut Job 2 is 3. The Glass Castle manages near $5 million on only 1,481 screens, which is good, because they are spending less on ads. Baby Driver crosses $100 million. And Ingrid Goes West and Good Time battle to be sexually undefined leader of the exclusive launch.


This discussion feels trivial today… especially since it’s not an interesting moment to discuss box office.

It’s time for a summer wrap-up, but that will wait for the middle of the week.

Be well, all.


Friday Estimates by Klady: Creation

Friday Estimates 2017-08-12 at 9.09.48 AM

It’s been an uninspired summer and this is an appropriately uninspired weekend to close it out.

Annabelle: Creation will win easily. As The Conjuring 2 opened to within $1.5 million of The Conjuring, Annabelle 2 looks like it will open within $1.5 million of Annabelle.

With Dunkirk holding strong at #2, this is the first time in at least a decade (I stopped my research with 2007) in which WB has had the #1 and #2 movie on a weekend.

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature could crack $10 million, but won’t come close to the surprise success of The Nut Job.

If The Dark Tower opened bigger, a 62% second Friday drop wouldn’t be bad. But…

Girls Trip is slowing, but still pushing along to $100 million sometime in the next five or six days.

Spider-Man: Homecoming passes $300 million domestic, which neither Amazing Spider-Man movie did, but it is lagging behind both ASMs worldwide. Worldwide will likely pass ASM2 worldwide, but not ASM.

The Glass Castle tiptoed out and will do about $3k per screen on 1,461.

Detroit, in its second weekend, starts the weekend out of the Top 10, likely to gross less than $4 million for the 3-day.

Ingrid Goes West and Good Time roll out well in exclusives, with Good making a little more on four but with Ingrid doing a better per-screen on three.


Tipping Point: The Streaming Wars Are About To Start (in 2020)

The pieces are coming together.

Disney is the first to announce that it will launch a proper studio streaming-app business in 2019.

The non-renewal of the deal with Netflix will “open up” $450 million or so for the streamer… but the number is irrelevant to both Netflix and Disney, although all the headlines seem to find this the most important angle.

Netflix can do a deal with another studio, though the price will be higher.

But Disney is going after the future. Completely guessing at a number here, but… $8 a month… 10 million subs in the first year… almost a billion in gross revenue.

$5 more a month for ESPN? Add 5 million more subs and we’re at $2.34 billion. (And ESPN drops to 60m cable/satellite households. About $3.6 billion annually.)

$2 more a month for Marvel and $2 more for Lucasfilm. Let’s say those two entities drive another 5 million subs in that first year. The streamer is now generating over $4 billion a year.

And that’s just the first year or so, with only about 40% of Netflix’s penetration.

I think $17 a month for those services (including ABC, Disney films and Pixar), is a doable number in the current marketplace. It will eventually be high… but that’s down the road. Things get more complicated down that road. Cable and satellite will find a way to re-assert themselves. Consumers will have a lot more options.

Who’s next in the pool? AT& T seems like a sure bet. They have a more complicated portfolio than Disney. For instance, they own DirecTV, which generates over $30 billion a year. Still, the interest in keeping revenues at the satellite provider high hasn’t kept DirecTV from offering a streaming bundle product, DirecTV Now.The big trick they have to figure out is how to keep the numbers up among the top tier of spenders, who pay $150 a month-plus for service.

Add to this mix Warner Bros film and TV content as well as HBO (which already has a $15 a month streaming option), Cinemax, and streamer Warner Archive, while also hoping to keep monthly numbers going up or even remaining stable.

Of course, there is also the potential for heavy cost savings for the DirecTV brand, if they slim down. The spend a fortune paying the channels they carry. This is a big complication moving forward for both AT&T and Comcast, as a big part of their spending and revenue is based on paying competitors for broadcast content while the current trend is leaning on selling your own created content as exclusive.

Comcast is already the most integrated business in the game, bringing in individualized companies, rather than isolating them. For instance, you can get Netflix through your Xfinity cable box. Comcast has also developed a much more complete system of video on demand for broadcast on their system than, say, DirecTV, where it is still more sporadic.

Like Disney (unlike the planned AT&T/Time-Warner combinaton), Comcast has a major broadcast network. All three have studios that produce both film and television. AT&T/Time-Warner will have the biggest library to work with once the merger lands, but Disney may have the must-subscribe library, with the power of family films, ESPN, Marvel and Lucasfilm. (Stories suggesting that Netflix might keep the Marvel or Lucasfilm packages for more years seems truly foolish for Disney, even if there seems to be some upside in cash money. If they are serious about launching streaming, they need to launch with full aggression.)

The upside for Netflix is that as the studios (and the broadcast and major cable networks with them) build out these standalone options, the plateau Netflix is on can expand from the mid-50 million subs to the ubiquitous 100 million subs. Netflix can keep spending about where it is now and double their domestic revenue. This would still make their stock price significantly too high for the real value of the company, perhaps even more so because the market would now see the massive competition landing on the company’s doorstep.

Other major content producers will follow the lead. Fox is the most obviously analogous to Comcast, AT&T, and Disney as they have a broadcast network, cable nets, big film and TV businesses, and the biggest library of the last three major studios. Financial concerns at Sony and Paramount could propel those companies into a more aggressive position than their current status would befit.

Also, this movement could force another reconsideration of Viacom reconnecting Paramount (etc) and CBS. If the price point does become $15, selling CBS, Showtime, Paramount and Nickelodeon as standalones is not happening. Even if the base price is $8 a month, the real world is not going to pay these companies $32 a month for their content, which represents only about 20% of what is out there.

The giant question that remains: How will Comcast and AT&T combine the new not-really-a-la-carte universe of On Demand (expect a new name to be coined soon) and their traditional cable and satellite businesses, which represent over 75% of American households right now? Every 10 million households subscribed is about $8 billion a year in gross revenue. A skinny package that cuts the monthly cost to consumers in half may be a solid foundation for most American households and the future of these delivery systems with a-la-carte purchases adding to that total.

But if Comcast has their gross cable revenue cut in half and then every buyer pays an additional $15 a month for NBC/Universal, they are still 25% short. Hard bridge to cross. Is the uptick in home internet service where them make up (and/or exceed) their original revenues?

AT&T is more complex, already in the process of trying to expand its home internet position, leveraging the DirecTV audience to wire as many homes with their broadband services as DirecTV has subs. Comcast’s position, in this case, is a bit better than AT&T’s as change is hard and AT&T likely needs to make up the shortfall indicated above with broadband revenues (unless they have a bigger idea).

And then there is the next evolution. Even if the price for each major studio and the connected cable nets, broadcast nets, etc, is $15 apiece, there are six of them and we are at $90 a month for the complete package… before adding Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. That makes it $120 a month. Now add all the cable nets, like FX and AMC, nickel-and-diming, but still adding on. The average spend on what comes to America’s TVs is not going up to $150 a household anytime soon.

And so, bundling will begin. How much will people pay to not have commercials? Maybe an added $30 a month per household is realistic (if you include broadcast TV). How does that get cut up? Is there going to be enough for those broadcasters?

There will be those who will be happy to overpay. (Same people who the film industry fantasizes about when discussing collapsing windows.) But the average spend is going to be under $85 a month for most households for many years to come. So how do you cut up the pie when streaming comes to shove?

That is the next big story.

For now, Disney is the tipping point. If they fail early on (and separating out Marvel and Lucasfilm could cause that), the evolution will slow. If they are a hit, the evolution will be like sound in film… virtually overnight as everyone chooses to eat the financial costs to avoid being shoved out of the business completely within a few years.

It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna get ugly. And in about 10 years, consumers will have the most access for the most reasonable price in the history of filmed entertainment. A price will be paid. That is what this next decade will be about… who pays it and how much it hurts.


Disney And Netflix In Several Short Tweets (updated)

Disney  logo Netflix_Logo_DigitalVideo_0701


“9/11″‘s Back With A Second Trailer, Now With More Charlie Sheen Explanation Than Ever

After the overwhelming response to the trailer for Charlie Sheen’s 9/11, the filmmakers release 9/11! Part Deux. You have been warned.

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Weekend Estimates by Numbers in Black Klady

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The weekend went from bad to worse, as The Dark Tower turned out to be front-loaded, managing only 2.5x Friday for the weekend and Detroit, great reviews and all, managed only 2.8x Friday. Kidnap did 2.7x Friday, but that was expected, given its genre. Meanwhile, holdovers Dunkirk, The Emoji Movie, and Girls Trip were all over the 3x Friday line. The Weinstein Company had a strong start on four screens for Wind River, delivering over $40k per.

Friday is about expectations, which has not been a good thing for movies or journalism. And 3-day estimates are about gaining perspective over a full launch of a film.

Neither was pleasant this weekend, especially for two of the three newcomers. The Dark Tower, which may have been inexpensive enough not to cost anyone at Sony their job, couldn’t get to a $20 million opening. You have to go all the way back to 1998 to find a first week of August without a $20 million opener. Snake Eyes and Halloween: H2O. Memories light the corners of my mind.

Still, even with the weak weekend, The Dark Tower is the #2 Stephen King opening of all time. A big chunk of that is timing, as 28 of the 41 Stephen King adaptations launched more than 20 years ago, when opening weekend wasn’t the studio-created obsession that it is now. (The hysteria about shortening the windows didn’t come from audience preference. It’s been driven this way for decades now.) Still, 1408 is the only $20 million opener and The Green Mile is the only film to gross over $72m domestic. So dream as we might about the master of thrills, one of the greats of the past two generations, delivering big hit movies, history tells us otherwise. Could this change, in what is really the third wave of King movies? Sure. It might explode. But more likely, The King Fantasy will continue to be fool’s gold. Some really good, memorable films made throughout. But more niche product than mass product for moviegoers.

$10 million for Kidnap is a win for the new distributor. It suggests $25m at minimum for theatrical, which should more than cover the careful marketing and give the film a bigger price tag in post-theatrical. Lots of existing distributors would be happy with this number for a not-so-great film with a star who doesn’t have a ton of opening power.

And Detroit. Just couldn’t close the deal. Part of the failure is the reality of a hard movie. A lot of it is misunderstanding what is hard about the movie. I covered this thoroughly yesterday.

Dunkirk continues to roll. It’s turning out that the closest Nolan comp is Batman Begins, though Interstellar seems close as well. Both suggest high 180s is where the final domestic is headed. There is already another $180m in the bank from international.

Girls Trip is slowing down, but has $100m domestic well within its sights.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is going to crack $300m domestic next weekend. International is well behind the Amazings, but China could make up the difference all by itself.

The two $10k per-screeners this weekend are Wind River and Columbus. With $40k+ per, the door is open for Wind River. But we have to be patient to see how they expand.


Friday Estimates by Excelslinger Klady

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This is a crazy weekend.

First, The Dark Tower. With due respect to everyone who wants to kick the guy, this is why Tom Rothman survives and thrives (with thriving at Sony to come). He took a Stephen King book that the King Cult loves and he looked at the numbers. The Green Mile is the massive anomaly. It grossed more than double any other Stephen King-based film ever worldwide. 1408 is the second biggest hit, although it was sold more like a traditional horror/thriller than a Stephen King adaptation. Aside from those two, no other Stephen King-based film has grossed over $62 million domestic or $50 million international (and 1408 “only” did $133m worldwide).

So… would a $150 million effects spectacular based on a Stephen King book have been a smart bet for Sony?

The real question will be international. Can the film do $100 million or more elsewhere? If so, it’s a hero. But even if it does $50 million, the budget on this film keeps Sony safe from significant loss. And if you are harboring a fantasy that they could Mummy it, which is to say, have Tom Cruise draw $300 million-plus internationally… well… Passengers.

The punchline is that this opening suggests that Tom Rothman will survive The Dark Tower and while it will not make him super-hot, it will get him to Jumanji after a summer with two hits, a breakeven or better (TDT), and a small loser (Rough Night).

And when It opens to this number or worse, watch it get celebrated as succeeding over its head. (Truth is, It should open better than this… but we’ll see.)

Kidnap is a direct-to-video movie if ever there was one. Yet here it is, David Dinerstein’s Aviron Picture’s first theatrical release, opening to around $10 million and likely to gross at least $25 million domestic on minimal marketing spend. This follows Entertainment Studio’s 47 Meters Down, which somehow grossed $43 million domestic.

With A24 and the launch of Neon getting all the (deserved) media love, there is a new strain of distributor emerging. (Worth noting that four of the six $10m+ domestic grossers for A24 were genre films.)


Another new distributor, as Annapurna puts it out there. Great team of industry veterans. Strong movie. Strong reviews. Dud opening.

If the rest of the weekend goes well, they will open to about the same as Girls Night.

Some have argued that the date is wrong. I would agree that was a miscalculation if they thought they could be the Hell or High Water of this summer. However, World Trade Center ($19m), The Butler ($25m), and a lot of black-audience-targeted movies suggest the opportunity is there. But the argument, which I consider absurd, that Kathryn Bigelow was an inappropriate director for this film because she is white, held back any momentum in selling to the black audience, without enough time for more than a few selected mea culpas by Bigelow. And I think the marketing was ambivalent about race as a focus in the sell of this movie.

Detroit – which was never going to be an easy sell, released to huge numbers – needed a longer runway. The excitement of “Kathryn Bigelow’s next movie” isn’t that of Christopher Nolan… but it does exist in a very real way. And that is what carried anticipation through the summer. It was seen as The Closer.

First problem… the movie turned out not be about the riots. Team Annapurna knew this. Like any other audience, critics don’t like to think they know what they are getting and then being surprised. And although the Rotten Tomatoes scores suggest otherwise, many writers I spoke to said the film gave them whiplash.

Second problem… when the actual movie came into focus, it was hard as nails. You have to let people – even professionals, if not especially professionals – know that this is coming. Moreover, you need to set the table for the emotional response. Non-horror movies do not do well when the word-of-mouth is, “It’s painful to watch.” You need to turn that to, “It hurts because we are still going through this today in America and across the globe.” That takes time.

Third problem… the “white writer, white director problem” is one I hadn’t anticipated. (Maybe that is a reflection of white privilege, but while I understand that some stories are so steeped in black culture as to make a white reflection of them off-putting, this doesn’t seem to be one of those stories.) But as it started to show, the film needed champions in the black culture… champions who should have been lined up for months, even before the issue was brought up in the press. Kathryn Bigelow has been an earnest supporter of more diversity in the directing ranks for years. Where were the people who she fought for when she needed some support? And if they were signaling a problem a month ago, the team should have taken very different, more transparent actions to save the commercial release of the film.

Fourth problem… what the hell was up with that last second exclusive release last weekend? I’m sure there were plenty of good arguments for it, but it was almost assured to fail because it wasn’t really marketed and the 50,000 people who saw the film aren’t enough to create the kind of word of mouth that will push wide release numbers. What it does is muddy the waters. I would have felt a lot better about them pushing the wide by two weeks, to go to 100 screens this weekend, then 200 next weekend, then wide, rather than to throw a tiny amount of chum in the water early that won’t attract a big fish.

Fifth problem… the movie and its public face. I love the movie. But who did the opening animation? I bet it was a black artist. Perhaps a prominent black artist. Why don’t I know that? Why doesn’t everyone know that? And if it is am imitation of some black artists, Bigelow screwed up. It draws attention to itself as ethnic art… so either do it right and talk about it openly or don’t do it.

I’m glad the marketing shifted to “What happened at The Algiers” 10 days ago… but that was 10 days ago. Until then, you would have thought it was a series of stories taking place during the frenzy of the riot.

It is one of the most basic ideas of movie marketing that you need to have a clear sell. I have seen very few campaigns over these last 20 years that switch focus or tone and work out well.

And the truth is, we will never know if the movie would have opened or done better if the push was clearer and more aggressive, as I have suggested here. Hindsight isn’t really 20/20. We all just want to believe that something is 20/20.

But Detroit deserved better than an $8 million opening.

Nice limited per-screens for Wind River and Columbus.


The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook