The Hot Blog Archive for August, 2017

BYO Good Taste

stripper

Quiet weekend for new movies in most of the country… What feature-length from the past year has recently popped up on video or streaming that everyone else ought to grab hold of? Or something amazing that hasn’t been available for a long time?

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Weekend Estimates by Contractual Obligation

Weekend Estimate 2017-08-27 at 10.41.17 AM

I’m not sure of the last time we had a weekend without a $10 million movie… and really don’t want to know.

You ugly… ya ya… you ugly!

I have learned over decades not to make events of any single weekend (or two) into a symbol of the entire industry. Bias confirmation is often incorrect, whether positive or negative.

More significant than any theories about the sky falling is the lack of new releases from majors (or their Dependents) or even serious hopefuls from indies. Obviously, the blame for the low high-end can be blamed on the weakness of holdovers from the first two weekends of August. Fox might be wishing they held Apes until August and one wonders whether Baby Driver could have added $20 million to its domestic total if it had stuck to its original slot.

But in terms of this specific slot and new movies, a new release has grossed more than this weekend’s #1 in each of the last three summers: Don’t Breathe (WB), War Room (TriStar) and If I Stay (WB).

Warner Bros has no regular slots for the Conjuring films and this, the fourth of the group, is the first in August. Had it opened this weekend, it would have likely delivered the $35m it opened to a couple weekends ago. Likewise, logic would suggest that either Paramount’s mother! or WB’s It would have slotted in here rather than in back-to-back weekends in September. My guess is that WB wanted to leave room for Annabelle: Creation to run and that Paramount, which moved mother! into September late in the game, couldn’t get a full launch together in time for this weekend. The current record for a late August opening is about $10m less than for a September opening, so with WB feeling very ambitious with It – projections are now looking at a $70m opening or more – September looks like the better berth.

Anyway… the answer to the current “slump” – which will get worse next weekend – is that unless The Dark Tower was a hit that almost no one thought was going to happen in recent months, there is nothing really surprising about where we are now. It’s not the industry… it’s the movies in release.

Look at last August, where you had five major studio holdover August releases over $7 million on “this” weekend… Suicide Squad, Kubo, Sausage Party, Pete’s Dragon and War Dogs which joined the two new releases in the Top 7. This weekend’s Top 7 consists of two Weinsteins, a Lionsgate, and a Bleecker Street/Fingerprint Releasing, plus three major studio holdovers, only one of which was released in August, the other two in weekends 6 and 8.

If you are serious about wondering why this weekend sucked liked a starving baby, look to the schedule, not alternative entertainment opportunities. Wasn’t the fight, although the $100 price tag could have slowed some plans to leave the house. Wasn’t Netflix. Wasn’t pre-season football. The simple truth is, with due respect to some terrific indie films, nothing out there that would draw big box office numbers.

And next weekend… NO wide releases. Tulip Fever, which pushed out a red-band last week to assure some small part of the ticket-buying public that you will see Alicia Vikander naked, and the Close Encounters re-issue in 4K on 700 screens or so. There is no reason to expect even an $8 million top-movie over the three-day next weekend. (I will be in Telluride and trying to avoid the cataclysm projected by the trades when that happens.)

And you know what would KILL next weekend, breaking every kind of record even more dramatically than it appears to be heading towards a weekend later? It.

As for the rest… Wind River expanded decently. By next weekend, Logan Lucky will be the biggest Bleecker Street release of all time, albeit co-released by Fingerprint Releasing.

Three-digit per-screens for Detroit, The Only Living Boy in New York and Good Time are greatly disappointing. Worth noting that all three have title problems, in terms of marketability.

The Chinese market is re-opening for foreign business and should give worldwide gross boosts to Dunkirk, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Valerian.

Have a lovely holiday. I will be in Telluride, and if there is any box office commentary from me next weekend, it will be via Twitter.

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Friday Estimates by The Dregs Of Summer Klady

Friday Estimates 2017-08-26 at 10.39.46 AM

I’ve been dealing with a sinus infection the last few days… almost over… like the summer… like my will to write about failure.

There isn’t much to say about this week, aside from wrapping up the summer. And I need a clearer head for that.

Everything is perspective. There are six $600 million+ worldwide movies this summer. There were only five last summer. There were only six in the massive summer of 2015. This notion that the entire industry is operating on only high-octane is wrong. And the business of high-octane remains as treacherous as ever. (Same with medium and low octane.)

Is there franchise fatigue? Yes. And no. Of the Top 10 films this summer, only Dunkirk was an original… and amazingly, by Nolan standards, it did better in the U.S. than the rest of the world. His film passes $400m worldwide today.

Was Pirates a disappointing gross for Disney? Sure. But it still will make (a little) money.

Alien: Covenant will find a road to breakeven. The Dark Tower could still make it to black ink… or more likely, some red, but not dead red. Valerian was pre-sold so that it won’t kill anyone. Really, King Arthur is the only major disaster of the summer. And (somehow), Guy Ritchie is on to remake a Disney classic. (When a female director can make that kind of recovery, we will know things have gotten better on the equality scale.)

The summer was blah. Wonder Woman was the only big positive surprise at the major studio level. Everything else was pre-packaged and carried great expectations that were mostly undelivered. But not disastrously. Even while Dunkirk could have gone terribly bad, it went well… but not well enough to be a great positive surprise worldwide (and worldwide grosses are the only grosses that matter).

Anyway… giving myself a headache… literally.

See you tomorrow. Go to the indie cinemas… terrific stuff out there.

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Heartbreaker: Jean-Pierre Léaud On Truffaut (1’48”)

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BYOB RIP Jerry, Dick, and …

jerry lewis dick gregory

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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….

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Friday Estimates by The Box Office Man’s Bodyguard

Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 10.42.02 AM

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.

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BYOO (Bring Your Own Opinion)

Birmingham_IMAX_Tour_-_Film_Reels_for_the_Projector_Close



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!

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

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.

Charlottesville.

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.

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Friday Estimates by Klady: Creation

Friday Estimates 2017-08-12 at 9.09.48 AM
Meh.

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.

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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.

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“The people with the money are assholes. They look back and they want to stay in a safe place, while the filmmakers want to go forward. And sometimes we as filmmakers fuck them up because we’re also assholes, but we’re crazy assholes. You need to be pretty brutal. Frank Capra’s movies can make you cry, but he was a tough motherfucker.”
~ Guillermo del Toro

“The sad and painful truth is that pretty much everyone in this town knew who Harvey was. I have had long talks with my most liberal friends. Did we know he was a rapist? We didn’t. But did we know that for decades he has been offering actresses big careers in exchange for sexual favors? Yes, we did — and make no mistake, that is its own kind of rape. And did we all — or did any of us — refuse to do business with him on moral grounds? No. We ALL STAYED IN BUSINESS WITH HIM. I have never done business with Harvey but I can tell you with certainty that I would have — because I was recently approached by a film festival he sponsors. They asked me to submit my short film for their consideration and I did it without thinking twice. I am a dyed-in-the-wool feminist and a vocal one at that. So why didn’t I think twice? Because this entire town is built on the ugly principals that Harvey takes to an horrific extreme. If I didn’t work with people whose behavior I find reprehensible, I wouldn’t have a career.”
~ Showrunner Krista Vernoff