The Hot Blog Archive for December, 2016
Pretty normal Christmas/New Year’s window.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is doing great… but it’s 37% off Episode VII so far. But who’s going to cry over $1.3 billion worldwide if that stat holds through its run? No one. And anyone who is wondering whether the film will pass Cap:Civil War as top 2016 release can relax. It will. $1.2b is pretty much guaranteed.
Sing is also doing great… but it’s not catching up to Zootopia or The Secret Life of Pets or Finding Dory. Don’t expect Illumination to dip into the Christmas window again soon.
Passengers is not a complete disaster, which reminds us of one reason why many films like the Christmas window… word of mouth is less influential and more people go to movies on the weekdays. But the film is still dependent on international to do more than paying for its domestic ad buy (if these numbers add up to that).
Moana is in the sweet spot for Walt Disney Animation November releases. It will be the second best of that Nov-Launch group, well behind Frozen, but a solid #3 in the history of WDA.
Fences is doing okay. The film will look for a boost from the MLK holiday as well as Oscar nominations. It’s a relatively inexpensive picture, so the breakeven (projecting post-theatrical) is likely in the 50s. A ways to go.
Why Him? stiffed. It wasn’t that expensive, but it never found that thing that turned on potential ticket buyers. The Christmas window comedy that we used to expect annually has all but died off… until someone finds a film that connects again. It will happen.
La La Land is killing it. The reasonable comps for the film are The Imitation Game and Silver Linings Playbook. Imitation was in 747 venues with a $3,871 per-screen the Friday before New Year’s Day, and Silver Linings was in 745 with a $1,724 per-screen. Totals on that date were $9.6m and $24.5m. La La is at $28 million with a per-screen of $4,160. Those films grossed $91m and $132m. At this point, I would expect La La to surpass them both. Those bold $150m domestic estimates predicted by some may well come to fruition. Big, big win. As the old saw goes… no one wanted to make them.
Collateral Beauty may gross enough to cover the marketing costs of opening wide in December. The film is, by the way, from the new head of the studio. So when journos are writing up those “Is Tom Rothman in trouble?” rumors, they might want to consider that this was Toby Emmerich’s project.
Manchester by the Sea is now Roadside Attractions’ #1 release of all-time. It helps to have a partner as deep-pocketed as Amazon. But the whole team at Roadside deserves an embrace for working the film so effectively. And there could be another wave of significant business off of the Oscar nominations.
Arrival no longer looks like $100 million is in range… though Oscar could change that.
Hidden Figures is lurking as a serious box office contender… yet the question of a Best Picture nomination for Oscar is hanging out there. I would have gone wide this week, showing some box office muscle before Oscar voting starts. Popularity is part of what makes this movie a legitimate threat as a nominee and there just isn’t any serious proof of the success to come right now. It may not matter. In a year of not-happy films, this happy film may become a popular choice in the two or three slot for Oscar voters who are relieved by the feel-good experience. We’ll know in a month, when the film has $75 million or more in its coffers (and growing) before the nominations are announced.
Jackie, Lion, and Silence live on the edge of the box office and, it would seem, on the edge of the Oscar season… each capable of getting in or being left out.
And when discussing Oscar, don’t forget Sully, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Moonlight, Loving and 20th Century Women.
So the controversy here yesterday was over Fences, which was clearly underestimated in its expansion. We’re already looking at an estimate on today’s box office for the film, which is $4.9 million, which could easily be high… or not. How much of an effect will Christmas Day football have? How heavy was the must-see factor yesterday? Even if the film does $15 million in its first three days, that’s soft for Denzel… but it’s not a weekend launch… but it is Christmas/New Year’s week… but but but… Let’s take a deep breath and see where this goes.
Rogue One rolls along, pacing the big Marvel movies more than Episode 7. No one is going to die from a $1.2 billion-grossing Rogue One. And because it truly is a stand-alone film that fits in a very specific niche of the Star Wars Universe, no one is sweating sequels. So… great… success… not world-beating… but fine. IP wins again.
As noted before, Sing is a complete freak when it comes to animated releases. Doing okay.
Passengers remains soft, but looking for answers outside of American airspace. I don’t think it brings down Rothman at Sony. And in fact, it probably reinforces his position on being cheap and not chasing big stars with big price tags. But not a happy Christmas in Culver City.
The hard part is that the big studio has seven weeks before their next release, the next two coming from Screen Gems. And there is some risk. Life will have a lot on its shoulders. Then a four-film summer of a Scarlett Johansson comedy (Rock That Body), Spider-Man: Homecoming, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, and Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. Spider-Man is a gimme. The other three are not, at least commercially. And if the studio goes one for four or broderline successes for the non-Marvels, there will be serious pressure.
Why Him? and Assassin’s Creed are stuck together on the box office chart like a cruel joke. The comedy isn’t burying the studio. No biggie, even if it never really picks up. Assassin’s Creed really needs help from overseas. But either way, they both go on the prior regime’s list.
The expansion party is led by Fences, which went wide, then not-quite-wide expansions for La La Land, Jackie and Lion, plus a strong limited open (25 screens) for Hidden Figures, as well as exclusives for Patriots Day, Silence and Live By Night, and A Monster Calls.
Honestly, there is a bit of self-delusion in doing a deep analysis of this group based on this weekend. Obviously, La La Land should be happy. Fences did fine, if not overwhelmingly. Manchester by the Sea is still out there, solid, and really exceptional for the kind of film it is without a major box office star. The rest? Some of these titles are seriously commercial and will get a full studio release. Others will never be as strong as they were this weekend. Next Monday will offer a clearer picture.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Not a lot to add from yesterday. Weird weekend.
There are a good number of legit successes this month… but not a single one that is a home run. Rogue One is the most obvious example, but Sing also fits… Moana… Arrival… Trolls… Fantastic Beasts. You have to go back to Doctor Strange to find a big movie that feels like it overperformed. Moonlight and now, Manchester By The Sea, are in that category among indies, with La La Land as it expands.
Some are waiting, desperately, on international: Passengers. Assassin’s Creed. Even Collateral Beauty has some hope of an international savior.
Silence and Patriots Day are starting okay. Can’t read the La La Land Christmas Day expansion from today’s estimates. Apparently, Fox isn’t offering an estimate on Hidden Figures for today (sanely). Fences could have box-office-bottomed its way out of a Best Picture nomination.
Here’s your Best Picture race as of today’s estimates…
This morning, Day 9 of Rogue One will hit the opening weekend gross of Episode 7.
There are few things in film as rare as an animated opening in December, happening only 7 times in the history of animated films that would gross $10 million-plus total… except an animated opening on Christmas weekend, which has happened only once before (again, in films grossing $10m+ domestic in total). And who did it that only other time? Universal. With Balto, in 1995.
So Sing is a freak! And its success will be hazy for the next few weeks. The 3-day will be skewed by the holiday. And the international, which has been a huge part of Illumination’s box office game, will not be fully expressed for a while.
That said, the closest comp I see is the original Alvin & The Chipmunks… which is a weak match. But a $13.3m opening Friday in December… earlier and this is a Wednesday opening, but, trying. That film did about $75m in the 11 days of the holiday window that year. Sing will probably do more like $100 million. But it will be looking for a strong January to get it up to the $200 million range to which Illumination has gotten accustomed.
It’s hard to say how bad the situation is for Passengers. The film seems to have already used up any “must see” opportunity. Today is a wild card, as Christmas Eve is usually weak, but it’s a Saturday and most of the NFL line-up is today. So, the question of whether this 3-day can rise to Jennifer Lawrence’s worst wide opening, $12.3m for House at the End of The Street is on the table. Of course, the 5-day gross will be higher than that.
This is Lawrence’s third trip to a big December release. American Hustle did a week in exclusive before going wide the weekend before the holiday and scoring a $19.1m 3-day on expansion. Joy opened on Christmas Day last year and did $17m in its first 3 days.
So Sony will look to the rest of the world to clean up this mess. And it may well do so. Movie stars and pretty images often sell “over there.”
More to come…
Is there any more to say?
The most interesting stat of the day, to me, is the report that La La Land audience is that more than half the audience this weekend was under 30. I am not a great truster of exit polling for movies, but if this is true, it bodes really well for the commercial upside of this film. It tells us that the film will play nationally above and beyond Oscar-motivated audiences. The Oscar-only version of La La is a $40 million grosser. This version could be well over $100m domestic. And I bet the international is shockingly strong, both in Europe and Asia.
There really is no comp that directly matches with the release strategy on La La. The closest I can see is Chicago. It went from a 77 screen opening to 304 screens. La La went 5 to 200. Of course, Lionsgate took its musical out 16 days earlier too. So it feels kinda like a slower, earlier expansion with a similar target ($171 million domestic).
Silver Linings Playbook tried a similar trajectory (16 to 357) in 2012, though with a November launch… and a disappointing expansion that let to treading water until awards legitimacy could come.
I would guess that La La can pile up another $20 million by end of business, January 2, right around $25 million total domestic. It could be more if they add more screens in more markets. I don’t know their precise plan. The big question is how aggressive they will be in the 3 weeks between this holiday and the Oscar nominations announcements on the 24th of January. I don’t think The Globes will help a ton because there is no facility for celebrating what is so great about this film, aside from an Emma Stone speech. I would be looking to fill that window with unique stunts… like live performances of songs from the film on the late night talk show circuit that don’t try to replicate the film, but riff on the spirit.
No change on the Rogue One front. Nor on Collateral Beauty, Will Smith’s worst opening on more than 100 screens (and worse, really, that either of those 2 openings).
Arrival had its worst hold yet (after amazing weekly holds), so that’s a little unhappy for them.
Fences had a nice opening on 4. Nice, but not overwhelming.
Lion expanded a little, did okay. The Orchard had a nice number for Neruda.
A lot of awards chatter movies under $1000 per for the weekend. That isn’t great.
Here is a little chart of the exclusive openings for awards wannabes this year and the results.
Star Warrrrs, fabulous Star Waaarrrrrrsssss…
Reasonably good movie. Too complicated. Cameos are more functional than meaningful. I say, a still-remarkable $1.15 billion worldwide. Nothing there anyone actually needs to see twice.
Of course, if Collateral Beauty turned out to be a Star Wars movie, it too would do $800 million before anyone noticed.
Meanwhile, Collateral Beauty is stillborn and Rogue One is no excuse. It died on its own. Easily the worst Will Smith wide opening of his entire career. Rest in Pieces.
It’s hard to judge the expansions of Manchester and La La by yesterday’s numbers. Both are good. La La’s is better. The level of success will be easier to determine tomorrow (or Monday, really).
|The Conjuring 2||$320.20||$102.50||32.00%||$217.70||68.00%|
|Me Before You||$207.80||$56.20||27.10%||$151.60||72.90%|
|How to Be Single||$112.30||$46.80||41.70%||$65.50||58.30%|
|Barbershop: The Next Cut||$55.00||$54.00||98.20%||$1.00||1.80%|
|The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies||$956.00||$255.10||26.70%||$700.90||73.30%|
|Into The Storm||$161.70||$47.60||29.40%||$114.10||70.60%|
|If I Stay||$78.90||$50.50||64.00%||$28.40||36.00%|
|The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug||$958.40||$258.40||27.00%||$700.00||73.00%|
|We’re the Millers||$270.00||$150.40||55.70%||$119.60||44.30%|
|Jack the Giant Slayer||$197.70||$65.20||33.00%||$132.50||67.00%|
|The Incredible Burt Wonderstone||$27.40||$22.50||82.10%||$4.90||17.90%|
|The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey||$1,021.10||$303.00||29.70%||$718.10||70.30%|
|Journey 2: The Mysterious Island||$335.30||$103.90||31.00%||$231.40||69.00%|
|Rock of Ages||$59.40||$38.50||64.80%||$20.90||35.20|
Emmerich’s movies, aside from the Hobbit films, have grossed $3.7 billion over the past 5 years. Bombs became increasingly rare over those years, but so did risky investments of size. Central Intelligence, which is being positioned as Emmerich’s big higher-end success in recent years, was one of Kevin Hart’s biggest films, but Dwayne Johnson’s lowest worldwide grosser since 2013, though it is also one of his highest grossing non-action films.
Not a ton that wasn’t evident yesterday. La La Land is not expected to reach quite the heights that Friday suggested, though the estimate could be low (or high) for today under the circumstance. Still… make no mistake… a per-screen monster. You almost need Alec Baldwin reading David Mamet’s box office report today: “First place, a $165 thousand Cadillac… second place, $19 thousand steak knives.”
There is nothing less than excellent about Jackie‘s $18,610 per screen expanding to 26 screens in its second weekend. It’s just that La La is dwarfing it for now.
Third place… not fired. Lion‘s $11,130 on 15. Good. Not breathtaking. But it is the third weekend and it is an expansion and on that basis, the number looks even better.
Only two other films managed $5,000 per theater this weekend. Office Christmas Party, the only big wide opener. And Manchester by the Sea, which is probably getting screwed in all the attention to per-screens and slower, later emerging awards movies. It’s at $8.3 million in 4 weeks, which is really excellent for a tough, tough (great) movie.
And so, with Fences, Hidden Figures, Patriots Day and Silence yet to open, here is my first awards box office chart of the year…
I think Sully is iffy in the Best Picture race right now, so Arrival could be the first BP nominee to $100 million and if there are more, they will come from those still in limited (under 1000 screens) or unreleased so far. La La Land and Hidden Figures seem the most likely candidates for this.
Moana is behind Wreck-It-Ralph by date, but Ralph had a 3-week head start. If Moana follows Ralph‘s trajectory, it will just pass $200 million, slightly bigger domestically than Tangled in the Walt Disney Animation family.
Fantastic Beasts will pass $200 million domestic in the next day or two. But it will be the lowest grosser in the JK Rowling universe, domestically and worldwide. But not by a ton. So the question will be how to pump up the next one. What didn’t the push for Beasts satisfy to qualify as a must-see? And how willing will Rowling be to chase a higher gross? Right now, this reminds me a lot (too much) of Amazing Spider-Man, where the number was pretty huge, but not what was aspired to by the studio, so the hit felt like a miss. Unfortunate.
The scary example when you talk about huge per-screen openings is The Master. $147k per on five, the film then settled into terrible numbers and grossed only $16 million total domestically. The thrill is when you look at American Sniper doing $159k per on four and then going on to do $350m domestic. Aside from those two, the $140k per-screen category is all animation, a live show at Radio City where Red State also happened to be playing, and The Grand Budapest Hotel from Wes Anderson, who has had massive per-screen launches for all of his films since Rushmore established him as one of the few must-see filmmakers who also customarily opened in limited. (His only film to ever open on more than five screens was the first, Bottle Rocket, which opened on 28).
Birdman and The Revenant both opened on only four screens to between $100k and $120k per. Moonlight was the high-flier in the category this year until yesterday, with $100k on four.
La La Land is looking at a legit possibility of $180,000 per screen this weekend on five. It is not outside of the realm of the possible that it could catch Grand Budapest at $203k per. Of course, La La is not really on only five screens. It’s in 5 theaters. So, for instance, it is taking up three actual screens at the Landmark here in Los Angeles, on four at the AMC Century City and a whopping five at Arclight Hollywood. I don’t have access to real screen counts for the Grand Budapest opening, although a similar thing must have occurred.
And now… the pushback begins.
“It was okay… but not as great as people were saying.” “They really don’t sing and dance that well.” “The songs aren’t memorable enough.” “You could never really dance in the Hollywood Hills without getting hit by a car.” Etc.
Happens with every movie in this position, every year. I know that it is unfair to expect new viewers to go in without a chip on their shoulders, but do try, dear reader. Every movie deserves fresh eyes. And the charms of La La Land will melt much of this away by next week. And by the time “the kids” are putting the grandparent Academy members’ discs in their Blu-ray players over Christmas, the momentum will be strong with the redhead and the blonde.
It is easy to make too much of a per-screen launch. Dreamgirls, The Master, and Moonlight Kingdom didn’t get Best Picture nominations off of a huge launch (though Dreamgirls did $103m domestic and Moonrise did a strong-for-Wes $46m). Brother Bear was a disappointment for Disney Animation. On the other hand, two of the last six Best Picture winners (Birdman and The King’s Speech) opened exclusively to over $85k each on four. These big openings are a brick on a road, not the road. But a nice brick.
Meanwhile, Paramount finally has a December comedy open well. Office Christmas Party is right down the middle. You see what you get and you get what you see. Box office too. Opening could range from $18 million to $21 million. Do women want to see it? We’ll have a better sense of that tomorrow. The Bateman/Aniston pairing will open better than Horrible Bosses 2 and not as well as Bosses. Better for them and Speck/Gordon than The Switch… but not as wel as Blades of Glory. And, I suspect, the domestic total on the film will be right in the middle somewhere too… between $30 million and $120 million… perhaps dead in the middle, say, $75m. Or maybe it will accelerate. But it’s certainly better than the great Top Five doing $25m. That one broke my heart a little. And the Sony release of the Rogen/Goldberg holiday party film The Night Before opened to half of this. So….
Arrival continues to get attention from both moviegoers and the industry as its holds are excellent. The film is a solid Oscar player, looking at six or more nominations and will eventually be discussed as a spoiler for La La Land for some slow January news days. I’m not arguing against Barry Jenkins as a possible Chazelle spoiler as Director, but if there is to be an upset, I would look harder at Villeneuve, who has more titles that have built a fan base in the industry and made a big hit movie here that also manages to feel very personal.
Solid expansion for Manchester by the Sea, doubling screen count and per-screen dropping about 42%. This one is ready for an awards season boost, but it may have to slog along until January to score some meaningful wins. (This is one of the films really hoping BFCA can be unusually influential in December, contingent on Casey winning.) Miss Sloane does okay in expansion, but the $1,200 per-screen is not going to set off fireworks for Europa. And Nocturnal Animals multiplies their screen-count by 10x, but the per-screen drops by less than half, which is all you can really ask for in that situation. It doesn’t bode well for big grosses, but steady numbers for a very, very challenging film to market.
Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water are still on the tip of tongues in the awards race, both living right on the cusp of possibilities. Hacksaw has not blown up, but it will pass $60m this weekend and has a clear constituency.
How much is there to day about the dead zone?
Drops, indeed, fell into the 40s and 50s from the 50s and 60s of Friday-vs-Friday.
Worst #1 gross for a weekend in a month.
Moana still looking at over $200 million domestic. Fantastic Beasts cracks $200m domestic next weekend and will pass Doctor Strange domestically before Christmas. Arrival becomes the first Best Picture candidate to pass $100 million domestic around the same time.
Trolls is dropping, though it has a couple more clear weekends before Sing.
The choice by Universal to go out with Sing just before Christmas is a big move by the studio. The biggest December opening for animation is just $14 million by The Prince of Egypt, all the way back in 1998. The last 3 Illumination openings were over $80 million. So how will this work out? Star Wars: The Force Awakens proved last December that anything can happen when you have something the audiences really want to see. I’m guessing that Universal is not anticipating a $100m launch, but Frozen did $124 million from the equivalent Friday to 12/21 (12/20 in their case) through the end of the holiday (17 days). And that run started 5 weeks in for Frozen. So for a new film with heavy demand? Well… Minions and The Secret Life Of Pets were the #2 and #3 fastest animated films to get to $200m domestic, 9 and 10 days. This is new territory for a major animated movie, really. I am guessing that the 17-day gross will be between these 2 markers, $124 million and $200 million, which would be record breaking.
Of course, the most attention will be on the Rogue One numbers.
Jackie is easily the king of per-screen this weekend. Reporting $54,840 per on 5. Next best, $10,920 on 4 for Miss Sloane (which, btw, held rather well in exclusive).
There are few weekends of the year that compete with the first week of December, the weekend after Thanksgiving, for futility. Last year, every film in the Holdover Top 10 dropped by 51% or more, 5 of them by 66% or more, compared to the previous Friday. There was one bright-ish note, Krampus, which opened to $6 million.
This year’s sole wide new release is not as fortunate as Krampus, but Incarnate did take advantage of the down weekend to get outsized attention for horror.
The punchline for the weekend is that the 3-day drops were 10% – 15% less than the Friday-to-Friday. Still nothing to write home about, but better than the horror show that today’s numbers appear to be. Moana, for example, is likely a $23 million weekend, a serious drop but not a shocking one.
Among movies beyond their second weekend, Arrival continues to hold best, which has to make Paramount feelgreat.
The one happy story on the board is the exclusive run of Jackie, though the fantasy number on this kind of movie is $100k per. The success that Searchlight seems to be heading for with this title is remarkable for an excellent, although certainly not mainstream film. So take a deep breath and let it play out.