The Hot Blog Archive for December, 2015

Who Could Open Your Movie To $20 Million Today?

I asked the question in today’s box office piece about whether Jennifer Lawrence is the only sure opening star right now. She is not. But the list isn’t long.

It’s Sunday. I don’t want to do a deep analysis of each person on these lists and the many who might seem like candidates who do not really qualify. But those I have listed have shown the drawing power outside of the various massive franchises in which most have participated. That’s why two Avengers are on my “iffy” list.

Still, it is worth noting… two women, three men of color, only four white guys.

You Can Count On Them Opening Your Film
Matt Damon
Johnny Depp
Will Ferrell
Kevin Hart
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Jennifer Lawrence
Melissa McCarthy
Mark Wahlberg
Denzel Washington

Borderline, Either For Lack Of Star Titles or Perhaps Falling Backwards
Robert Downey, Jr.
Scarlett Johansson
Brad Pitt
Seth Rogen
Shailene Woodley

22 Comments »

Weekend Estimates by Force Choke Klady

Weekend Estimates 2015-12-27 at 9.27.45 AM

Is there anything new to say about Star Wars? Not since yesterday.

Daddy’s Home lost a little heat over the weekend and won’t come close to Will Ferrell’s Talladega Nights opening, but still, solid. It’s a few million more (3.3) than The Other Guys, which was the first Ferrell/Wahlberg team-up. Given the Christmas box office trajectory, it could be closing in on $100 million by the end of next weekend, pretty surely over over $80 million.

Jennifer Lawrence delivers her best non-action opening weekend and her third best non-action weekend overall for Joy, behind the first two expansion weekends of American Hustle. But the difference is less than $2 million, even though Hustle was loaded with a bunch of other name actors. Even with mixed reviews, Lawrence is a powerhouse and she is the clear center of the movie, which is really the first time David O. Russell has made a film with such a singular lead since Spank The Monkey, 21 years ago… and even then, it really was a (forgive the term) a 2-hander.

The question really is… do we have a real domestic box office-opening movie star who is not named Jennifer Lawrence?

Having given up his crown, Will Smith opened Concussion to $10.9 million, which is about half what one would have expected from him eight years ago.

Point Break closes out Warner Bros’ nightmare year. Twenty-two films, two $100 million domestic grossers, six openings under $10.3 million, four films grossing over $76m domestic, thirteen films grossing under $50 million domestic. It was a hard year. There are people who think I have it out for Warners, but that is completely false. I root for Warner Bros.

The failure of 2015 for Warner Bros is the nightmare template for stupid trend following that argues against originals and mid-priced movies. Fourteen of their twenty-two films were originals. None of the sequels/remakes were mega-movies by design, though the ultimate budgets on Mad Max: Fury Road and Pan put them in that price category. But the reboots of Point Break, Rocky (Creed), and Vacation had their own voices and aspirations (some for better, some for worse). Creed is the only hit of the trio, on its way to over $100 million. The only cynical Hollywood thinking you really see in their 2015 line-up is Entourage. Lots of not-very-good films, but not just trying to cash in.

Twenty-two films on the WB dance card for 2016 at this point. Four aspiring mega-franchise films in the hopper, two DCs, a Potter spin-off, and the already reportedly troubled Tarzan. There are some interesting titles in the mix. Some talent working against type. Ambitions in the fall. But it looks like the year is going to hang heavy on the big titles. And if one or two goes down before they get to Fantastic Beasts next December, there could be massive turnover at the studio, if not a sale/spin-off of the entire enterprise by Time-Warner. Anything under $800 million worldwide for Batman vs Superman and things get desperate fast. Anything over $1.1 billion and people start strutting in Burbank again, at least for a while. I am not a Zack Snyder fan, but I would love to see things go well for that film and get the studio rolling again.

The Big Short expands to 1585 screens and does solid, but not sensational business. The 1585 screen choice is smart, but is big enough that the studio is hitting the markets where they think the film will play strong, leaving the weak regions to benefit from awards glow in a couple weeks, they hope. But it’s not like 3000 screens would have doubled the gross (though it may have pushed the film into the Top 5). $35 million – $40 million domestic total is the viable ambition for the rest of the holiday.

The limited release battle is skewed. The Hateful Eight is (allegedly) on 100 screens. The film is running at 3:05, though The Revenant‘s 2:36 running time ain’t nothin’. The Revenant is only on 4 screens… which is a little silly, bur does make the numbers jump… especially since every one of those screens is really 2 or 3 screens at the 4 theaters while Hateful is on 1 screen at a time because of the 70mm play. There were/are, in actuality, 3 Revenant showtimes for every 1 Hateful this weekend on screens where both played.

It’s hard to find fair ways of comparing a 100-screen, 4-a-day run to a 4-screen, 15-a-day run. Personally, I don’t really think either was a good choice. If the to films don’t get serious Oscar nomination love, they are both going to be in trouble financially.

The entire history of $50k-per-screen exclusive openings on Christmas weekend is 5 films deep. American Sniper, The Revenant, There Will Be Blood, Evita, and The Thin Red Line. Only Sniper – given that Revenant just opened – grossed over $51 million domestic.

Nice opening for IFC on 45 Years.

awards aspirants 2015-12-27 at 12.04.48 PM

13 Comments »

Friday Estimates by Spoiled By Now Klady

Friday Estimates 2015-12-26 at 9.52.42 AM

It’s a dense pack of movie openings and holdovers on Friday.

Star Wars continues to kill it, setting records every day. Thursday/Christmas Eve was the only day of its run so far that the film didn’t top the best December day ever (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – $37.1m ). It passes $500 million domestic on Sunday. It wouldn’t be shocking – in terms of how December holiday weeks roll and how this film is playing – for the film to pass $850m domestic by the end of the holiday period (January 3), passing Avatar‘s domestic record of $761 million next Friday, the 28th. So clearly, Star Wars will own the domestic record – soon – but the worldwide is still a long shot, pretty sure to pass Titanic‘s first-release $1.8b total, but still looking to come up $500m – $800m short of Avatar‘s $2.8m worldwide.

What does this mean? What is interesting to think about is that we usually laugh at the rest of the world for buying our junk in much bigger numbers than we will in America. In this case, the numbers may well end up being bigger domestically than internationally… which has only happened in the billion dollar-plus class with… wait for it… Batman (The Dark Knight).

Will Ferrell had his second best opening ever for a leading role (Lego Movie/Austin Powers 2 excepted) and what may – given December – end up being his best opening weekend ever. Not coincidentally, the current #2 also co-starred Mark Wahlberg (The Other Guys). This is a strong commercial comedy pairing.

Joy had Jennifer Lawrence’s best non-action opening day and David O. Russell’s best single box office day ever and could come close to a $20m 3-day.

Concussion and Point Break are soft, though this is less of an issue for Concussion – a drama – than action flick Point Break. Will Smith can’t power these dramas to outrageous numbers anymore, but a $50m gross for Concussion would be a great success.

The Big Short expanded on Wednesday and is playing well. The film could well crack $35 million before the holiday is over. It’s a hard sell and that is a pretty good result… which could get a lot better if Paramount can pull off a slew of Oscar nominations.

We have a tale of two limited engagements. There is The Hateful Eight, which is on 100 screens… and only 100 screens. The per-screen of $19k for Friday is less impressive on the surface… but given the one-screen-per-theater-count limitation and the high screen count for an exclusive release, it’s more impressive that it would appear. The film will have the best per-screen average of any film with more than 18 screens and less than 4000. That’s a pretty wide berth… and a pretty rare group of strong openers to start with. More context… it is the second highest per-screen ever for a film over 18 screens… and the only film to do better with more than 18 screens for a weekend was Star Wars: The Force Awakens last weekend.

The Revenant is a more conventional case. It’s 4 screens can expand to 8 or 12 or more, as needed (Star Wars withstanding). Still, $42,500 per for one day is exceptional. The record for a 3-day on four is $203k for The Grand Budapest Hotel. It isn’t that. It’s not American Sniper ($158k per on 4) either. But it is right there with Moonrise Kingdom, Steve Jobs, Dreamgirls, American Hustle, and The Imitation Game. There is a lot of variety in that group, so what we know is that we don’t know from these numbers.

12 Comments »

Weekend Estimates by The Klady Awakens [SPOILERS LIE WITHIN]

Weekeend Estimates 2015-12-20 at 9.27.07 AM

Star Wars: The Force Awakens breaks all open records, reminding us that if the audience wants to see something and they don’t want to be the only one at the office on Monday who doesn’t know what the spoilers are, you could open it in one theater on Jakku and they will somehow show up.

We are now in a period in which leaps in how huge an opening are happening, which doesn’t make them any less impressive.

Here’s a chart of which films hit which landmark (by 10s) first.

bo landmarks by 10s

The estimated leap from Jurassic World to Start Wars 7 is $31 million. The big leap before that was the $38 million leap from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2‘s $169 million in 2011 to The Avengers‘ $207 million in 2012. The leap before that was 2006’s Pirates 2’s $136 million to 2007’s Spider-Man 3’s $151. Before that, there was a relatively wide space between not only big leaps, but the record itself, as Spider-Man was on top with $115 million from 2002 until 2006’s Pirates 2’s $136 million.

We’ve seen the top opening grow $123 million, more than doubling itself, in just 13 years. Of course, 13 years before that, Batman set the opening record with $40 million, so what is more weighty, the 13-year $75 leap (2.9x growth) or the current 13-year leap (1.9x growth). And in 2028, can we expect the first $500m domestic opening?

The rest of the weekend wasn’t very interesting. The Danish Girl acquitted itself well in its expansion to 81 screens. The Big Short dropped, but still has a nice 8 screen per screen. Likewise, Carol continues to kick along on 16 with solid per-screen averages.

Oscar contenders bo as of 122015

78 Comments »

Friday Estimates by Klady Ren

Friday Estimates 2015-12-19 at 10.00.34 AM

Look at the size of that thing!

I have long said that any date could accommodate any sized movie… if the movie is what people want to see. I underestimated the degree to which Disney could build the “must see” frenzy for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. By the time they got to the $100 million pre-sale, almost all of which was for this weekend, it was over. Well done.

What is the weekend total going to be? No one knows. The holiday total? No one knows. The overall total? No one knows. Everyone is only guessing. I am only guessing.

But I have said that I think it will break the daily record for everyday it shows in the month of December and the holiday days of early January. And I still believe that. The top “today” ever before was The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King‘s $27.5 million in 2003 (actual date: 12/20). The “top Sunday” is Avatar‘s $24.7 million in 2009 (actual date: 12/20). There are estimates that have Star Wars doubling those numbers… some tripling.

Do keep in mind that as big as this opening is, it is “only” a 40% bump over the previous top December opening record. If that held and Star Wars VII improved the record-matching Saturday and Sunday, it would do $73.1m over the weekend for a $192m opening weekend. But no one wants to hear that so… we shall see.

Sisters tried to ride the wake of Star Wars, though I am not sure counterprogramming is much of a thing in the presold ticket era. No one is showing up at the theater and getting turned away from The Force Awakens and saying, “Let’s just go Sisters instead.” Still, though this opening is well off of Baby Mama, the previous Fey/Poehler outing, it should do well to be in the holiday window, where decent word-of-mouth should allow it to play well for the next couple of weeks and match or surpass Baby Mama‘s $60m domestic total. Wahlberg and Ferrell are in their way, though that seems like it might be a great double feature Saturday combo.

21 Comments »

The Thing I LOVED In Star Wars: The Force Awakens (SPOILERS)

Rey.

She is, as the oft-mentioned Ms. Knightley before, a perfect sexy tomboy.

Somehow “tomboy” seems like a phrase that is unacceptable in 2015. And there is much good cause for that. The top hard asses on the big screen that happen to be female these days are Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie (less recently), who are not going to be mistaken for tomboys in any of their roles, whether playing objectified women or toughies.

Perhaps we should call it a “Tom” boy, referencing Tom Hanks… attractive, but not threatening… immediately likable and bright, never pretentious. But no one much imagines Tom Hanks wielding a weapon and shooting from the hip.

But the truth is, it is not the sexy side of Daisy Ridley, covered in carefully applied dirt and faux lack of make-up, that makes Rey so appealing. It is her journey.

HERE’S WHERE IT GETS SPOILERY IN A MINOR WAY

The Force Awakens is a coming of age movie and she is the one coming of age. And she does so in the film. And it is, pretty much, the only thing the film completes successfully. (Note: COMPLETES. The word is used intentionally. It is not to start an argument that this is the only thing in the film that works. Not what I am saying here.)

The moment of that competition – really two moments in one segment – is the only truly great moment in the movie.

14 Comments »

5 Things I HATED In Star Wars: The Force Awakens (SPOILERS)

This is an all-spoiler piece, so I am putting the content after a click-thru, so no one will see it by mistake. If you clicked through from elsewhere, it’s on you.

SPOILERS
SPOILERS
SPOILERS

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Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (No Spoilers Until Marked Light Spoilers) WITH SPOILERS IN COMMENTS

I don’t feel like making a detailed, spoiler-ed argument for a very small percentage of readers who have actually seen The Force Awakens. So I am  writing a few spoiler-free graphs, then clearly marking a place for a few soft spoilers, then I will stop… until Thursday or Friday, when I will publish a spoiler piece about the film.

JJ Abrams is a talented, skillful, good guy. But his career in movies to date has been defined by what he’s not: he’s not DePalma/Woo/Bird/McQuarrie, he’s not Gene Roddenberry, and he’s sure not Steven Spielberg. Add to that now, he’s not George Lucas.

Nothing to be ashamed of. He has put himself in a position to be compared to some of the most special filmmakers of several generations. He has not shown the unique skills to stand besides these greats as different but debatably equal, more so with story than anything else. I believe he loves the films of these filmmakers, as he professes. But I don’t think he always understands what makes them magic for audiences. (In the case of Mission:Impossible III, his first directorial feature, I think he simply didn’t have the skills to deliver at a high level.)

The basics of what made Star Wars so important and indelible are not on display in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The “materials” from the film are all there on display, from some characters to lightsabers to Tie fighters. But JJ missed the soul.

Star Wars was not a film in a rush. The characters were allowed to marinate. As much as characters in a space opera can make sense, they made perfect sense. Archetype after archetype. Mix those elements well. Pour over special effects, including character make-ups and puppets, which felt fresh back then. Serve.

The Force Awakens rushes past so fast, so busy leaping from one step to the next, so uninterested in offering direct exposition instead of trying to trick the audience, that not only doesn’t it work as a standalone film, but it is missing the depth of emotion and of fun that the original films have.

Yes, there are lots of jokes. But for me, some of them recalled the Apocalypse Now Redux turn of adding Kilgore material that made one of the most disturbing scenes in film history into a punch line. Can you imagine Darth Vader’s rage getting a laugh? Me neither.

And emotionally, you need to let the characters have enough space so that when they confront their emotions, you really care deeply. This film too often relies on the series’ history to bring depth. By the time you found out Luke was Leia’s brother, you were invested in his romantic interest in her… which made that a great moment. Here, you have some big emotional ideas that zoom by like another phalanx of TIE fighters.

There is some really cool stuff. Things that should age well. But the freedom to load frames with a lot more action than in the originals – sometimes in flight, sometimes in character-heavy towns – is subtraction by addition.

Daisy Ridley is a natural movie star, albeit a genetic knock-off of Keira Knightley and Kate Beckinsale. John Boyega is solid, but gets hung out to dry by the screenplay too often for my taste. Adam Driver’s hair is fabulous, though he seems about eight years to old to be what his character is, ultimately. Oscar Isaac is well photographed and charming, but not a fully-formed character. Lupita Nyong’o is animated (great voice). Domhnall Gleason as the tightest-assed Brit ever is a glorious good time. Max von Sydow wasted. Andy Serkis, by no fault of his own, is a major mistake. But a well cast film.

The film is a bit overscored, but what a score. Thing is, I can’t imagine how this film will qualify in a very picky Academy branch that seems to love to disqualify films for overusing previous material. A lot of that here. They might look the other way, but maybe not.

I don’t love the film. I don’t hate the film. But I was profoundly frustrated by the film because it kept being close to becoming something great. So I hold great hope for Rian Johnson’s film.

Make no mistake… you can hear JJ Abrams’ voice in this film. Much more than I expected. Not to the benefit of the film. There is a lot of Star Trek in this Star Wars. But the brilliant idea of his first Star Trek film – Star Trek Babies – overcame his limitations as a director. Not so much here.

There are plenty of people who will enjoy this film. Some will love it. I will be back to see it again in a few days, tickets already paid for. And maybe my Star Wars-y expectations will be lowered enough that I will see the movie that is there, with all of its Star Wars elements, for more of what it is than what it is not.

LIGHT SPOILER SECTION

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Weekend Estimates by Not Quite As Big A Heart Klady

Weekend Estimates 2015-12-13 at 8.56.32 AM

Okay… welcome to Star Wars Week.

The only thing worth discussing at all about this weekend’s box office is awards movies, which had a pretty good weekend. That and whether THG:Mock2 actually won the weekend or if that’s funny math which Universal won’t dispute because, well, why fight over the $11m opening of a film that won’t hit $25m?

Moving on…

Here is the list of all-time openings since 1989, in order, and the percentage of the growth from one to the next.
Top Box Office Opener Growth Chart

 

And here is the same chart on just December openings…

Top Dec Box Office Opener Growth Chart

 

There are legitimate variables.

The three Rings movies were all 5-day openings. So the numbers at the end of their first weekends were $75 million, $102 million, and $124 million.

The Thursday game has changed since those openings, initially reported separately then folding into the “3-day” as though there wasn’t a fourth day. So let’s give that to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Remember, the highest grossing film in domestic and world history, Avatar, did not have a record opening when it opened in 2009. 2003’s LOTR: Return of the King still holds the 5-day record.

So here is the only way you can really make the leap to a $200 million-type opening for SW7. Go back to Spider-Man in 2002, which smashed the previous record and opened to $115 million. Compare that to the current record holder, Jurassic World, which opened to $209 million last summer. That’s an 82% increase. Now, add 82% to the 5-day total for Return of the King and you get to $226 million for the Star Wars long 3-day.

So… if you choose to assume that December movies open and play the way they do for some reason other than “shrug,” you realize that this seems rather unlikely.

When you look at December and realize that the two highest grossing movies in history opened in that month and neither set a record – Titanic wasn’t even the #1 opening that December, beat by Scream 2 – you realize how silly getting worked up about that is.

A 30% leap in opening would be a record unto itself. And let’s give Star Wars‘ 3-day all of Return of the King‘s 5-day as a foundation. That’s still “just” $161 million, a breathtaking 89% growth mark over the current December opening record.

Yeah… a $200 million is possible. Hey… a $300 million domestic opening is possible.

But if you have any interest in math or history, a 135% increase (that’s what $200 million would be) in the record is, literally, 108% beyond anything that has previously happened in the modern history of box office.

Just for laughs, I looked at November, which has had a similar growth curve on opening weekends. And even there, the leap from record-holder The Hunger Games: Catching Fire to a $200 million opening would be an unprecdented-in-the-last-18-years 27%.

Oh yeah… and the best Star Wars opening ever, $108 million for Revenge of the Sith in 2005… not a record. Couldn’t beat Spider-Man‘s 2002 record even then.

So, sanity intact, I think $160 million is about the cap – including Thursday – for the Star Wars 7 opening. This would be record-shattering. And just to spite me karmically, I fear that the number will be in over $170. But $200m makes no sense to me. it would be singular… in all of movie history.

And it would be unnecessary for this film to achieve the real goals to which Disney and the fans aspire, which is really Titanic‘s first-run $1.8 billion, a record that has not been touched by any film other than Avatar. But films are getting closer, thanks to the growth of international box office. I think that ambition is completely legit. SW7 may not get there… but it has a chance… because it is would be realistically obtainable 8% growth from the current non-Cameron Top Worldwide Grosser, Jurassic World. This ambition I do not mock.

May the gross be with you.

Now, back to this weekend.

The Big Short
had a great weekend. Do I think it’s just math that has its estimate at more than 3x opening Friday with a December record-breaking eight-screen opening at a lithe $40k over Memoirs of a Geisha‘s 2005 result? No. I don’t think Paramount was going to let down the trades who they fed that record-breaking story on Friday night. A variation on less than 10% from reality – and remember, today is still a 100% estimated gross – is never going to cause a fight. And it’s a goofy stat to begin with, as there have only ever been five eight-screen openings to do over $35k in movie history (Big Short, Geisha, Match Point, Dead Poets, and Young Adult). So I will start again…

The Big Short had a great opening weekend. Excellent. Eight screens is an unusual number, but the only opening under 10 screens that can really compete is Steve Jobs‘ $130k on 4. The wider box office will surely be kinder to Big Short, but it’s not clear how much kinder. American Hustle had a similar start and went on to $150m domestic last year. The Imitation Game did $91m domestic. The Grand Budapest Hotel did $59 million. And, sadly, Steve Jobs has done only $18 million. Only a wide expansion will tell.

Four awards movies expanded this weekend. Three of the expansions were from four screens to 24 (The Danish Girl), 17 (Youth), and 16 (Carol). The most impressive of the three is Carol, which had the best per-screen by almost double the second most impressive, The Danish Girl. But D-Girl was solid. And Youth‘s expansion was also successful, but the future of the film is still blurry. The most impressive expansion was Room, which was already at 175 screens before going to 204 this weekend. The per-screen was not sensational, but its incremental screen count growth (17%) led to 6% in gross growth, which suggests that at this level, while not marquee-busting, the film can continue to expand and find a nice-sized audience. Of course, for all of these films, the big day will be the Oscar announcements. That’s when movies flirting with $5m grosses can become $30 million grossers in a month.

And here is a stat that a tweet by the lovely and talented Mark Harris caused me to conjure up… Room has grossed more than any other film to be on as few screens (or fewer) in 2015. $4.2 million on a max of 204 screens (which is only this weekend, so not really even fair, but it is still on top). The #2 grossing film to be on as few as 204 screens in 2015 is What We Do In The Shadows, which grossed $3.5 million while never having been on more than 154 screens. The No More Than 300 Screens champ for the year so far (note: more screens than Room has yet played) is I’ll See You In My Dreams, which did $7.4 million, never having been on more than 290 screens. And the master of the under-500-screen domain is Amy, which did $8.4 million on no more than 435 screens at any time in its run. Love & Mercy on top of the 700 count group ($12.6m), Mr. Holmes on top of the 800 count group ($17.7m), and Spotlight is current top of the under 1100s ($20.2m), though more screens are coming.

 

BP Aspirants in theaters 2015-12-13 at 11.47.06 AM

42 Comments »

Friday Estimates by Moby Len

Friday Estimates 2015-12-12 at 10.17.48 AM

Another fabulously weak weekend!!!

David Carr used to love “King of the Midgets” as a descriptor. Never more appropriate than in what should be In The Heart of the Sea‘s #1 weekend. The marketing campaign is very pretty, but it’s unclear about the human side of the story, which limited the upside.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 has pretty much caught up with Mockingjay 1 (day-vs-day) domestically, for those keeping count. International is a bit harder to get a handle on, but it Mock 2 may end up closer to Mock 1 than people thought when it launched.

Creed is holding, but not at a high level. The Academy just got the discs yesterday and today, so now it’s up to WB to get the discs into the DVD players or to get voters into theaters. The situation is recoverable, but if WB works it as hard as Paramount worked Selma in December of that year, they can overcome.

The big new entry is The Big Short, which will have an excellent $75k per screen on eight this weekend. But as Universal found out on Steve Jobs, these big exclusive numbers can be deceptive. To Paramount’s benefit, they have a lot of male movie star talent. This film’s box office is one of the more interesting stories to come this month. Could be shockingly high… or disappointingly low. We will only really know when it goes wide… and then it will be by December standards, not Star Wars standards.

10 Comments »

Weekend Estimate by Krampus Klady

Weekend Estimates 2015-12-06 at 9.29.18 AM

Krampus is a slightly more expensive non-Blumhouse Blumhouse effort. And the results are solid. This would be the #12 Blumhouse opening (4 Paranormals, 2 Insidiouses, 2 Purges). Sure they would have liked more, but this is, traditionally, a horrible box office weekend. And I think there is some sense that this film will play longer than most of the cheapie horror film genre because of the Christmas theme and some really supportive word-of-mouth. We’ll see. They did fine either way.

Creed is not becoming a phenomenon. This is frustrating for all kinds of people who believe in this film. A 49% estimated drop is not a disaster at all, especially this weekend. But 30something percent would have felt like something was taking hold. (On a good weekend, that symbolic win would be more like 25% or less.) I know that I am still telling people that they need to see this film and they are still shrugging, which ticks me off. Michael B. Jordan deserves a Best Actor nomination and if he is nominated, he has a legit opportunity to win. (That would not be a prediction of a win, but a comment on opportunity.) But the film needs momentum to ramp up… now. Star Wars is now eating the media whole, sight unseen, so the window for attention is tiny.

The Good Dinosaur isn’t doing good. It’s only about $7 million ahead of 1998’s A Bug’s Life, the second Pixar movie, which ended up with $163m domestic in a much less crowded family market. We’ll see whether international box office and merchandising can make this film a success as Cars 2 was, in spite of having been the only Pixar movie to gross less than $200 million domestic in 18 years. There is a good chance that Dino is heading in that same direction here in America.

Not a lot else that is very interesting. The Hunger finale is about $30m behind the next “smallest” domestic result after 17 days with $227 million. Even so, $300m domestic is likely. And the film should pass $300m international this weekend on its way to no less than $350m int. No tears for this extended franchise needed.

Likewise, Spectre is nearly $200 million ww ahead of any Bond film other than Skyfall. Boo-hoo.

Carol remains the per-screen champ, still only on 4 screens, with The Danish Girl and Youth also delivering to the small count. Nice start for the niche doc – must-see for serious film lovers – Hitchcock/Truffaut.

On near 1,000 screens, strong showings from bother Spotlight and Brooklyn.

BEST PICTURE CHASERS IN RELEASE
Spotlight – Open Road – 2.9 (2,970) – 980 – 16.6
Brooklyn – FxSrch – 2.5 (2,730) – 906 – 11.3
The Martian – Fox – 1.6 (1,390) – 1140 – 220.8
Trumbo – BleeckerSt – 1.0 (1,490) – 660 – 4.2
Bridge of Spies – BV – .70 (1,300) – 536 – 68.6
Room – A24 – .20 (1,140) – 175 – 3.8
Suffragette – Focus – .15 (770) – 193 – 4.3
Carol – TWC – .14 (36,020) – 4 – 0.81
The Danish Girl – Focus – .10 (26.050) – 4 – 0.35
Youth – FxSrch – 78,800 (19,700) – 4 – 0.08

34 Comments »

Oscar Doc Shortlist

Amy
Best of Enemies
Cartel Land
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
He Named Me Malala
Heart of a Dog
The Hunting Ground
Listen to Me Marlon
The Look of Silence
Meru
3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets
We Come as Friends
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Where to Invade Next
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas