The Hot Blog Archive for March, 2018

Friday Estimates By Len Klady

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BYOEaster Egg SPOILERS

READY PLAYER ONE

What are you going to see? What do you expect to find?

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Weekend Estimates by Still Pacific Klady

Weekend Estimates 2018-03-25 at 9.47.12 AM

Well, there is a new #1, though it is an underwhelming weekend-vs.-Friday for Pacific Rim Uprising. Six weeks of Black Panther just wore the unusual level of excitement, especially with kids on Saturday, out… which still leaves BP as #5 all-time domestic with plenty in the tank to get to #3 all-time. Sherlock Gnomes broke through the $10 million opening tape like a movie with a much smaller marketing budget. Paul, Apostle of Christ outran the Midnight Sun and Steven, The Apostle of Soderbergh. Isle of Dogs got its $58k per screen average, but is looking less strong that other recent Wes Anderson films.

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Friday Estimates by P-Rim Kladyo

Friday Estimates 2018-03-24 at 10.02.49 AM

Pacific Rim Uprising is about 29% off opening day of the original. But as the movie makes clear, it is not meant for you dumb Americans. This is probably the most complete embrace of Chinese talent into top-lining roles of a mega-budget movie yet. And if China can double the business to over $200 million, (Chinese-owned) Legendary can afford to take the hit at home.

I thought the movie was… fine. Of course, it is idiotic and chaotic. Of course, it is shot with too many close-ups with too little insightful storytelling. Of course it is sadly missing Guillermo del Toro’s soul and romanticism. But as big robots and monsters banging through unpopulated cities (The BvS Rule) goes, it’s engaging enough.

And the fact that it will win the weekend – in what will become a lot tighter race by the end – means nothing about it or Black Panther. Timing. Both Wrinkle & Tomb would have won against this sixth weekend of Panther. Meanwhile, BP will pass Last Jedi‘s domestic total today (probably already has) and Avengers falls by the end of the weekend. Holding it from the very top of the worldwide charts will be international grosses, which may or may not crack 50% of the total gross. We can discuss that in detail in a few weeks.

Also opening, Sherlock Gnomes gets thrown onto the lawn by Paramount as they await word on whom they will all be working for this summer. This is a movie of weird pedigree, as it is a sequel, but not. There are recurring characters between the two films (the first, Gnomeo & Juliet, released in 2011). There is writer crossover, but in the end, it seems the lead writer of this new film was not connected to the original… nor the director. And of course, the film went from a Starz/Miramax co-production picked up by Touchstone (at Disney) to a Paramount Animation film, co-funded by MGM. This is us, indeed.

Regardless… flop.

Soderbergh’s iPhone epic (which you would never know was shot on an iPhone, but might guess 16mm at times), Unsane, opened on 2,023 screens and won’t get to $2,000 per screen. I don’t know the details of spends and such on the marketing, so to make any strong comments based on guesses would be wrong.

This is what I do know:
1. Claire Foy is a terrific actress who cannot open a movie in America. A TV star is a TV star is a TV star. No signs she is breaking out of that soon.
2. Universal would have opened this like any Blumhouse movie and would have launched to no less than $15 million.
3. No one needed to know that it was shot on iPhone.
4. Soderbergh either needs to work with movie stars or be the movie star.

Isle of Dogs is mired in controversy around the issue of cultural appropriation. Searchlight’s choice to go out on 27 screens is the first opening that wide for Wes Anderson since his debut, Bottle Rocket. My guess would be that the film wasn’t getting traction and an opening on four or five of $500k or $60k would be pushed out as a negative result. That, of course, would be absurd. But we are now in the time of the tail wagging the dog, as we have a load of box office writers who are relentlessly negative and have no institutional knowledge over time, so everything is always a win or a loss. Instantly. Destructive.

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Weekend Estimates by White Panther Klady

Weekend Estimates 2018-03-18 at 10.27.25 AM

This week, as last week, the story is less the performance of the “next #1″ hopeful than the remarkable family hold of Black Panther. The overall drop of 34% is excellent. But the real story is that Saturdays have become Black Panther Day in the weeks since its opening.

Opening weekend, Panther was down on Saturday but mostly because of Thursday grosses, which are now reported as part of Friday grosses, and the big must-see audience that flocked to theaters on Friday. But in the four weeks since, 65% up on Saturday from Friday, 85%, 83%, and 55% this weekend. This weekend’s Saturday bump was more in line with Beauty & The Beast‘s bumps last year… but those 80s… and even that 65 is pretty amazing for something other than animation. For instance, the last Avengers movie – already franchise-established as ki-ffriendly – had Saturday bumps only in weekends three and five,  and only because of big openings ($69m and $55m) that depressed Friday sales.

Besides families, you could also stake a claim that Panther plays male/female stronger than most superhero movies and that it has also had unusual muscle as a Saturday date night choice.

Tomb Raider failed to manage 3x opening Friday, keeping it from the elusive (and so meaningless) weekend crown. While BP leapt 55% on Saturday, Tomb Raider was down… but it wasn’t because Friday was SO HUGE. We haven’t see a Friday number aside from Panther over $10.25 (A Wrinkle In Time) since 50 Shades Ender on February 9 ($18.4m). No… these soft Saturdays are a combination of product that excludes some demos (at least over that first weekend), little-to-no family appeal, and overall limited excitement. Get up over $15 million on Friday and we start to look at the opening day making a Saturday bump a challenge. But at $9m? No.

I would also guess that we will find that women didn’t come out in big numbers for Tomb Raider, as black audiences did not make a special space for Wrinkle (in that case, I think, the less frequent moviegoers used up by Black Panther for a while).

Blaming Black Panther for Tomb Raider not opening better is spin. 100%. If WB had found women who wanted to see a sleeker, less sexualized Tomb Raider, they would have added at least $10 million to this haul. But they didn’t. And as far as I can tell, the pitch to women started way too late to make an impact. Tomb Raider was never going to be Wonder Woman. Vikander shows a charm that she really hasn’t before (much more effective than Man From UNCLE). And more than Angelina Jolie having a natural Lara Croft body in skin-tight, sheer fabrics and lips like a human caricature, Vikander’s Croft is a physical underdog who just works harder and thinks harder (and gets luckier) than everyone else (aka everyone male). The marketing didn’t convince me any more than it seems to have convinced women. (And the film is imperfect.) But seeing the movie did convince me. And that’s not Black Panther‘s fault.

And as much as I like Walton Goggins as an actor, he was never going to put a single butt in a seat as the villain opposite her… and that was a big chunk of the sale. Christoph Waltz can’t be (and shouldn’t be) in every movie, but they couldn’t get a Sam Jackson or Jeff Goldblum or Kurt Russell or Michael Keaton or Jason Schwartzman or Michael Cera or Jamie Foxx or someone who would unterst an audiences? (To be fair, first thought in this notion was Chris Walken as added bait in The Rundown… which also failed to open.)

Now, Jesus as your leading man… also, no guarantees. So when I Can Only Imagine, which is religious, but does not feature Jesus as a character, opens to $17 million, more than 4x any prior Roadside Attractions opening, you know they targeted and found their audience. Following 2014’s dual religious smashes of Son of God and Heaven Is For Real, we have seen eight-figure openings for War Room (2015), Risen, Miracles from Heaven (both 2016), and The Shack (2017), but this is the strongest over that period. There have also been 50+ small distributor misses and a half dozen studio-level releases that opened to under $7 million. In Christian numbers there seems to be a formula that works and a market to be reached with the right pitch and the right amount of money. $17 million is a very strong number here.

Love, Simon is a win on principle for the gay community. At the box office, not so much.  $11.5 million isn’t a rejection. And ultimately, it won’t cost Fox that much to have made the movie. So if it is a breakeven with a purpose that has to count as a win.

I am a Focus fan. But what the hell was anyone thinking about putting an Entebbe movie in theaters in 2018? 838 screens tells you pretty much everything you need to know. I can’t think of anyone who would be a much better choice for an Entebbe movie than José Padilha. And it is a Working Title movie, which i assume obliged Universal to release the film domestically. But if ever there was a movie that, just based on the material and how many times we have been here, should have been sold off to HBO… Are there Comcast rules about selling anything off to Netflix? The avenue of overpayment was likely not in play. And politically, Israel is the victim in the Entebbe story and that pushes against today’s dominant social discussion (without prejudice either way by this writer in this context). This is a great idea for a challenging, talk-after-the-movie Padilha arthouse movie.

Also opening in the Top 20, Raid from Eros… which with $5410 per screen on 78 is a hit for the micro-distributor.

Jumanji: Welcome To the Jungle cracks $400m domestic… Nice expansion for The Death of Stalin… nice per-screen for Flower on 3… Keep The Change delivers for Kino.

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Friday Estimates by Tomb Panther Klady

Friday Estimates 2018-03-17 at 8.17.54 AM

Tomb Raider takes the top slot. Will it hold through Saturday, where Black Panther has been extraordinarily muscular?

Panther will pass $600 million domestic this weekend, whichever slot it lands in. Tomb Raider is on course for $85 – $100 million domestic and will rely on international to make it a financial hit or failure, regardless of whether it is the #1 movie in America this weekend. (I am on record saying that Tomb Raider will get a sequel either way… and it should. Hard to open, but a movie franchise with a lot of potential with a very human female lead. It’s an imperfect movie with strong bone structure.)

The surprise of the weekend is I Can Only Imagine, based on an inspirational Christian song, rolled out by Roadside for Lionsgate, and on its first day outgrossed any opening 3-day weekend in Roadside history. Last year, Lionsgate released Christian entry The Shack to $16.2 million. Imagine‘s opening day is 13% better, leading to the projection of an opening 3-day of $18.1 million… which would be the seventh highest open in this niche, on just 1629 screens, which is less than half the count of any of the films ranked #1-#5 and well being #6 (3048 screens).

Roadside’s highest grosser is Manchester By The Sea at $48 million domestic. I Can Only Imagine is likely to top that.

Love, Simon – or at least the pitch – seems anachronistic in the year after Call My By Your Name and even the return of “Will & Grace.” But I am told that I am being too much of a sheltered straight guy and that the world needed a basic rom-com.

A Wrinkle in Time has a modest Friday 2 drop… but no recovery in sight.

Peter Rabbit will pass $100 million this weekend. Red Sparrow will check out with less than Game Night. (Ouch)

And in the per-screen fight, The Orchard’s Zoey Deutch-starrer, Flower, smashes the $10k per barrier and will be somewhere around $25k per on 3.

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Weekend Estimates

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Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 11.52.42 AM

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Hear This…

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Friday Estimates by Wrinkled Klady

Friday Estimates 2018-03-10 at 9.05.36 AM

A Wrinkle in Time opens soft against expectations. But in the Disney category of off-brand brand movies (Pete’s Dragon, The BFG), it is doing well. The comp that fits best is the Alice sequel, which opened to a $9.7m Friday in 2016 and had a $27 million weekend.

What elements have gone into this opening? Weak reviews versus The Oprah. Black identity angle versus the Black Panther wave, which could have exhausted the filmgoing interests of infrequent black moviegoers for a few months. A limited amount of quality family film content versus a second trip to Panther, which has found a strong place with family audiences, including little kids.

My sense going into this month was that Disney was going to ride the Black Panther wake with this film, knowing they had a not-good movie that had some beautiful images to use in the sell, as well as a sense of the moment. But that may have backfired by Panther being so big that it consumed the entire moment. Or maybe we would see the same result or worse at another time. More of a history with Wrinkle will offer a clearer guess… but like so many things in this magical business, it will be only an educated guess. (First person who mentions Rotten Tomatoes gets a kick.)

Black Panther will likely win the weekend. After an explosive launch, the big story of this film domestically is the power it has shown on Saturdays versus Friday numbers. A 65% bump in weekend 2 and 85% last weekend. Split the difference and Panther will do $17.5m today and $11m on Sunday for a $37.5m 3-day and a $558.5m domestic cume.

Disney kicked in with the international cume early this weekend, with a $20m China launch to announce reaching the $1 billion mark. That Chinese open seems to be close to Thor: Ragnarok. But Panther may still s come up short of domestic in international numbers.

Aviron is one of the new distributors trying to find its thing. Its second release is a sequel to the 2008 Rogue release, The Strangers. Turns out no one was waiting breathlessly for the sequel and will show up only modestly for this weekend’s horror entry.

Red Sparrow is not a pretty picture. It’s running about double the mother! gross, but it cost about 2.5x as much. International is stronger, but it seems clear that if Jennifer Lawrence wants to the audience to follow her to new parts of her personality as an actor, she is going to have to find ideal vehicles or slow it down and work smaller roles in bigger movies. It has to be a very odd thing to have the kind of power she has and to have to seriously consider how she walks through this very delicate moment in her career at the age of 27. But that is a champagne problem. I am rooting for her.

Whatever the magic trick to opening Gringo (STX), which is a fun action comedy that is maybe too complicated to easily sell, or The Hurricane Heist (Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures), which sounds like an early 1980s HBO movie, the young distribution companies making the effort couldn’t find the answer.

I would bet good money that Tully will be one of my favorite movies of 2018. But Focus has to be conscious of how they play it,  and Gringo‘s failure to launch should make them nervous. Charlize off-key – which I love and still think Young Adult is one of the great films of the decade – is a hard sell.

Also hard to sell was Thoroughbreds, which should have been laid off to A24 somehow, because Focus has struggled to get traction for a movie they seem to like a lot. A 549-screen release screams, “We give up.” You know what Focus film last opened to a count like this? Book of Henry. Focus also dumped The Zookeeper’s Wife, the most successful grossing opening in the 500-plus screen range last year, taking $17.6 million domestic. Universal seemed to lose the thread on Everest in 2015 and a 545-screen opening, but then expanded to over 3000 screens the following weekend and wound up with a $43 million domestic cume (but likely making a profit, thanks to international). And going back to 2010, Focus opened the international doc, Babies, to 534 screens, doing $7.3 million which is very strong for a doc. Those are all the positive stories. Mostly dumps and re-releases in the 500 range in the last decade.

The Death of Stalin will be the per-screen champ of the weekend, a film that would be more loudly championed before we knew Armando Iannucci so well. It’s a Marx Brothers movie set in the political hysteria upon the death of a real life monster. I don’t know where this will sit with me in the big picture of 2018, but something woudl be missing from my year if I didn’t see it. You will laugh hard. Some jokes will miss. Some will go over your head. There will be nothing else like it this year.

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BYOB Oscar 2018

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Weekend Estimates by Oscar Boy Klady

Weekend Esitmates 2018-03-04 at 9.10.07 AM

Black Panther pounces on $500 million domestic. Red Sparrow estimates a $16.8m launch, which is #7 among seventeen 2,000-screen openings this year. It’s a weak J-Law open in that the other two in this range were Christmas releases, giving them a big advantage over the first weeks. Death Wish is a bad movie that manages not only to poke at open wounds in America, but to do it in a way so generic as to make it insulting to those being killed on America’s streets.

Meh.

Saw Death Wish. It was so bland that I watched a few minutes of a movie I utterly despise – Hostel II – to remind myself of Eli Roth having had ambition as a misogynist prick at one point. Now, he is… unbleached paper.

I don’t know the history of the script, but I know that Joe Carnahan is not Mr Bland. Even if they felt compelled to avoid a lazy use of race, the film might have been better had our antihero been mistaken about race and turned in the process (while slaughtering people) or if he had a chip on his shoulder about being rich or something… anything… ANYTHING.

I don’t like hateful movies. But boring non-committal movies are even worse.

Boring weekend at the box office. Seven of the nine Best Picture nominees are still in theaters. Here’s how they looked this weekend.

OScars bo 2018-03-04 at 9.34.48 AM

The real story here is that “small” movies did a strong amount of business. This is the legacy of the expanded field (5+). The field is laid out almost exactly as the noms would probably have been had we been in a year with only five nominees. Dunkirk and Get Out, plus Shape and 3 Billboards, and either Lady Bird or Darkest Hour. Would that have made anyone feel better? Would anyone have been happier with Call Me By Your Name and Phantom Thread left out?

Of course, in a five-film race, maybe Universal would not have gone wild selling Get Out. A24 might not have had nominees three years in a row… or any… and likely no win for Moonlight. The Spielberg of The Post may have been more aggressively positioned. Et cetera. Lots of moving parts.

It’s endlessly fascinating that many of the people who are most passionate about The Academy picking “better” films are also into going back to 5 BP nominees, which would retard their interests more than anything else they could do.

I am going to watch E! for the first time in years, just to see how people deal with Seacrest. It reminds me of the moment after Fallon messed up Trump’s hair so adorably. “Are we still doing Fallon?” was a popular question. Tonight, will they do Seacrest or will they go to the anorexia queen or skip E! completely?

Have fun…

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BYOscarPre-ShowBlog

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Friday Estimates by Red Spare Ol’ Klady

Friday Estimates 2018-03-03 at 10.38.21 AM

Black Panther… still cruising. Floating with the other five phenomena that have done similar numbers (four, really, as The Force Awakens dwarfs them all). There have been six $600-million domestic grossers. Avatar and SW:TFA are the only two that have a 7 or better in the front of their ultimate number. Will Panther beat Avengers? Who cares? #1 or #2 all-time Marvel movie is an indistinct distinction. The success is profound either way.

Jennifer Lawrence is a true movie star. She is a lovable figure with an undeniable kind of power who draws a crowd to watch. The question is, how does she navigate what has undeniably become her Eddie Murphy problem? Which is to say, she is a powerful underdog figure who now has power. How many times can characters in movies underestimate her? Yet it is that underestimation and her ability to overcome that draws us to her. You can drink too much and fall up the stairs and say outrageous things in real life and be charming, but in a movie, that feels contrived. And at $20 million a movie, it’s hard to hide in plain sight.

The problem with Red Sparrow is not that Jennifer Lawrence isn’t good in the movie. And Francis Lawrence did a great job behind the camera. The problem is that 90 minutes of Jennifer Lawrence being abused and passive is not the $20 million Jennifer Lawrence. And really, neither was the one in Passengers. Nor the one in mother! (for which she didn’t get paid the big bucks, but you get my drift). It’s almost as though, in making choices, Ms. Lawrence is digging deeper and deeper to be vulnerable enough that she can come back.

She is 27 years old.

She is rich beyond a lifetime of need.

I believe in this actress. I believe in that person. And I look forward to seeing new work from her for the rest of my life. Taking a year to get a breath and consider what she really wants to do moving forward is the smartest move possible. No one is going to forget her. And no one is going to pay her $20 million for her next film. (Don’t weep to much for her. $10 million-$15 million is still likely.)

Bruce Willis has insight into the problem of becoming a huge movie star and no one really wanting to see anything but the same trick as you get older. I haven’t see Death Wish, but I guarantee that Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan – on Netflix – is a better version. But only Wes Anderson has been insightful enough to find the other Bruce Willis, around whom there is no mayhem, these days.

Game Night is not being resurrected by word of mouth. The bottom line, in this could-be-a-remake-of-the-failed-Rough-Night, is that while you can see many wonderful ideas in this film, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein are not competent film directors. They can become competent. And they have the other esthetic skills to be better than that. But until they can stage a scene around a table, none of the trick shots are going to matter and the amazing cast they had will not get all the comic wins they earned on the soundstage.

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The Hot Blog

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“We’re all going to die so it makes it very easy. I haven’t always thought that way but I’ve realized it’s the truth. I think age gets you there, questioning your mortality… When you realize that, it’s so liberating, it’s so free, you can fly! There’s no need to hold on to anything. Like, think of the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you; it’s probably happened to 500 million people as well. Who gives a shit!”
~ Steve McQueen

“Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater—one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen—people he’s never known—with equal intensity—with equal venom. Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race—to despise an entire nation—to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God–a God who calls us ALL—His children.”
~ Stan Lee, 1965