The Hot Blog Archive for April, 2018

Weekend Estimates by An Avenger In Every Pot Klady

Friday Estimates 2018-04-29 at 11.15.19 AM

Nice opening. Klady still has Avengers a million behind Force Awakens. Mojo is pushing a flat $250 million.

All of this is marketing now.

The worldwide number is more impressive, up $90 million from the previous leader, with China kicking in the next couple weekends.

Boo-birds will find another way to say that this is not good for the theatrical box office. Too concentrated or whatever excrement they can pull out. Zzzzzz

What can I tell people who don’t want to hear? There will be six $100 million openings before July. The record for a full year is eight. And then, there will be a massive wave of “middle class” openings between $50-$80 million with Ant-Man and the Wasp, Skyscraper, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Mission: Impossible: Fallout, and two possible cartoon openings getting to $50m+ with Hotel Transylvania 3 and Teen Titans Go To The Movies.

But that doesn’t include al the programmers than will open between $20-$50 million: Life of The Party, Book Club, Action Point, Ocean’s 8 (which could blow up even larger), The First Purge, Equalizer 2, The Meg and Crazy Rich Asians.

That’s 19 solid-to-sensational openings in three months, playing to all fields… but wah wah wah, no one wants to go to the movie theater anymore. Someone forgot to tell movie lovers. And this is just the domestic box office. There is a momentary downside to this. No film without an Avenger on more than 40 screens did more than $5,000 per screen for the weekend. And only three did more than $3,000 with any screen count.

Nice number for Disobedience on 5five managing $47K per. Those are well-attended screenings. Will be interesting to learn how many Orthodox Jews attended.

A Quiet Place, the opposite of Infinity War, crosses $150 million on Tuesday or Wednesday. It will be Paramount’s first $150 million domestic movie in the last 21 months, the first $150 million original in 29 months, and one of only eight $150m domestic grossers for the studio in the last five years (five of those being franchise sequels).

And Black Panther dropped only 10%, as Disney tries (likely in vain) to get the film to $700m domestic and to pass Star Wars: The Last Jedi on worldwide gross (that happens this coming week).

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Friday Estimates by Kladyos

friday estimates 651 2018-04-28 at 10.21.10 AM

There isn’t a lot to say. Number is huge. Number was expected. Presales indicated it would be short of Force Awakens. Which it is. Still, why would anyone quibble about a $200 million opening? (Here’s your daily reminder that theatrical is dying… not.)

A Quiet Place didn’t officially lose screens… but they lost theaters, as Avengers ate most of the multiples at ‘plexes. The Avengers claim of 4474 theaters likely means 15,000 actual screens this opening weekend, if not more. This means fewer options for seeing other movies like A Quiet Place. A 49% Friday drop for the film is actually good news. And it will improve over the weekend.

Black Panther, losing theaters, got a bump out of the Avengers arrival. Impressive.

Everyone else lost more than 50% of last week’s number. Welcome to the summer.

In limited release, Disobedience worked as counterprogramming. Orthodox Judaism, hot chicks (who are also two of our best actresses), and self-empowerment deliver over $40k per screen for the weekend.

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BYOINFINITYWAR Spoilers, If You Like

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Implications Of The Academy Rule Changes By David Poland

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The Immediate Future Of Subscription Moviegoing

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Weekend Estimates by Super Pooper Klady

Weekend Estimates 2018-04-22 at 10.32.09 AM copy

A Quiet Place continues to overperform even itself, Super Troopers 2 couldn’t double its Friday haul (although it’s still $4 million from the total of the original, so why would anyone complain?), I Feel Pretty failed to do 3x opening (ugly), and IFC’s Ghost Stories is the only $10,000 per screen of the weekend, albeit on only one screen.

A Quiet Place continues to be the date movie of the year, getting a 45% Saturday bump in its third weekend in theaters. That’s not a Black Panther pattern, but it’s pretty great. The movie is well ahead of Split and Get Out, the thrillers of early last year, after three weekends. The biggest question now is the dating, which may feel like it wasn’t given room before the summer movies launch, made worse by Avengers 3 coming out a week before the normal summer start. Paramount may get lucky and find that AQP plays to the audience that waits a few weeks to act on word-of-mouth and are also not interested in comic-book movies. The only head-to-head competition through May is Breaking In, for which Universal has not put on the full court press. So maybe $200 million domestic is possible.

Paramount’s next question mark will be why they put Book Club the week after a Melissa McCarthy movie with a theme about a mature woman acting like a kid. Obviously, Ms. McCarthy is 30 years younger than the Book Club crew… but she is a current, undeniable box office star and the Book Club crew is not, even though it looks like it should be a hit property. (Not saying it will be… not saying it won’t.)

As much as the hit movie calendar has expanded in the last couple of years, finding the right date is still critical. And you have to wonder, why is the Johnny Knoxville movie so early in the summer (October is his money slot and wouldn’t his schtick play better in summer after the mega-movies?) and why is a Tyler Perry movie pushed into November for the first time in his career?

I Feel Pretty was in trouble when it launched on Friday and it managed to get worse. Many female critics rejected it and men weren’t in a rush from the start. Whatever the flaws of the film, making the campaign all Schumer all the time was a big mistake. There is plenty of material to work with that was dropped in favor of Schumer hitting her head and acting goofy. You can’t sell it as a movie about finding your strength when the ads are telling us that the lead is delusional about being powerful.

Super Troopers 2 did great… just not as great as the opening day suggested could be possible. Still, the original did $18.5 million. The sequel is already at $14.8m. Even if it gets to just $25 million domestic, Searchlight spent carefully and only put it on 2,038 screens and will make money with this title.

Hard to say what Lionsgate was chasing with Traffik. Maybe I just never saw anything because I’m in the wrong market. But it was soft.

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Friday Estimates by The Klady Sequel We Didn’t Know Was Wanted

Friday Estimates 2018-04-21 at 9.54.30 AM

Another weekend, another question about the effectiveness of tracking for estimating opening weekends.

Tracking is not designed to be an accurate reflector of the weekend box office to come, I will say for the millionth time.. When it is used that way, either by the trackers and the distributors, it is abuse, not the intended purpose.

You can learn from looking at the numbers that come to pass and the tracking numbers that came before them. But as a tool to estimate opening weekends, there are more circumstances in which tracking cannot be counted on for that specific thing than there are those in which the numbers align.

I was about to write, “This weekend,” when the fact is that we still  know only the Friday numbers. This is what I am talking about: terrible, lazy habits of stating guesses as fact.

With two new films in the Top 3, here is what we know about the weekend number on those three films after Friday. A Quiet Place should end up between $16.8-$17.5 million. This is after two weekends of information: we know it bumps on Saturday (couples are going) and drops consistently on Sunday.

Super Troopers 2 is a happy surprise. Sixteen years ago, Searchlight was wide-eyed about the original and it looked like a franchise launch. But although it was profitable, the gross was not spectacular and small issues got in the way of a sequel. Instead we got Club Dread, which flopped and deeply wounded the Broken Lizard brand. Then Jay Chandrasekhar was taken on by Warner Bros and a Dukes of Hazzard and a Beerfest later, he was a television director and Broken Lizard was comatose.

But in the spirit of Blumhouse, Broken Lizard crowdfunded a chunk of a low budget and got back together with Searchlight. They have a low-end success, but a true one. Even if the bottom drops out – and everyone is only guessing whether it might – a $15 million opening is a surprise and a win, even more so with a smartly cautious 2038 theater count.

And what if (gulp!) it catches on and finds a bigger audience than the BL Cult?

There is another lesson. If Searchlight didn’t own and then exercise their rights to this sequel, it would have wound up on Netflix. You can bet Netflix spent last night trying to find out what the Broken Lizard commitments are going forward. They would be a cheap and proper complement to their Sandler franchise. And you can bet that Disney wants them on their OTT in a couple of years. But instead, with very low risk, Searchlight adds more than $10 million to the profit column of their spreadsheet, which is not nothing.

As for I Feel Pretty… STX got sucked into the Amy Schumer-is-not-really-a-movie star trendline and didn’t fight to overcome it. Of the dozens I have told about Michelle Williams’ brilliant performance in the film, one even knew she was in the movie. Looking at the trailer again (Williams has two quick shots and a “wow”), I was struck by how the pitch, like the film, missed the opportunity completely. The film makes fun of Schumer until she has some level of comeback at the end. But their idea of the movie was a universality of how women who are anything less than model perfect are overly self-critical… and how even those who are model-perfect do the same. Even in the trailer, other women mock Schumer for feeling good about herself. This movie has the same problems that I anticipated when I saw that Schumer had become connected to the wannabe Barbie movie franchise.

(I just erased multiple paragraphs because of a surety that I would be attacked for mansplaining… just not worth it. But it is dead wrong that I should be self-censoring. My silence is not your progress.)

Rampage is, as expected, all about the international. But even as it passes $200m worldwide this weekend, there is a danger of red ink. Ready Player One, which has 200 of its $500 million coming from China is only just into the black (depending on what Spielberg is getting and from what pot).

A reminder: Chinese dollars are worth half of what other theatrical dollars are worth to the distributor. So the true China adjusted gross for Ready Player One is about $400 million worldwide. And even with some big markets to open, Rampage is “really” at $175 million.

The arthouse opener of the weekend is IFC’s Ghost Stories, with over $10,000 in a single haunting.

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On Bill Mechanic’s Break with the Academy

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BYOB: What’s To Love About The Theatrical Experience

Formative stories all the way up to how moviegoing treated you the last time out of the house…

33 Comments »

Weekend Estimates by Tax Day Klady

Friday Estimates 652 2018-04-15 at 9.40.48 AM copy

A Quiet Place was not #1 this weekend, but even if it had been #1, it’s irrelevant. It is easily the bigger box office story of the weekend. A 35% drop in a second weekend that, 1) comes after a $30m+ opening weekend, 2) is not influenced by a holiday weekend, and 3) is not an animated film is extremely rare.

A Quiet Place is #1500 on the big chart of great holds at Box Office Mojo. But there are only 84 movies ever that opened over $30 million and held 65% of the number the next weekend. Twenty-seven of those are animated films, which are stronger holders than any other genre. Twenty-three had second weekend on Christmas, New Year’s or Thanksgiving. That brings us down to 37 titles. Fifteen more are summer releases.

Of the 19 films still on the list, only seven had openings over $40 million and only four launching with over $50 million. They are American Sniper, Gravity, The Martian and now, A Quiet Place.

You may argue that I am being too generous to this film’s numbers, but every standard I have used has been pretty broad and reasonable. Holding better over a holiday weekend is to be expected. Animated films have a unique place. And the bigger the opening, the more challenging a 35% hold becomes.

There are amazing holds like Star Wars VII, Jurassic WorldBlack Panther and the nine other films with $100 million openings that held 50% or better the second weekend. But it is easy to undervalue the performance of A Quiet Place too. When I guessed that it would be a $150 million movie, others thought I was being too ambitious… turns out I was being too conservative. It is $20 million+ ahead of last year’s biggest thrillers, Get Out and Split, after two weekends, suggesting that $200 million domestic is a legit possibility.

Now… Rampage. Meh. But take away the films in which Dwayne was not a lead (aka, not on the one-sheet) and was not animated and is not a sequel and this is his third best opening. Now, adjust with Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle and GI Joe: Retaliation, which were both really reboots based heavily on The Rock’s star power… so Top 5. But, Top 5.

Yes, WB was aiming at San Andreas, not Central Intelligence. But anyone foolish enough to expect F&F numbers deserves to be beaten about the head and shoulders. And of course, the film is already right at $150 million worldwide in its first weekend… which is why Dwayne is one of the few worth the money these days.

Truth or Dare is another Blumhouse win, albeit a small one. Cost nothing. Universal spent a ton on outdoor and modestly on very targeted TV and an aggressive online campaign. Smelled of direct-to-Netflix. But much better than that, financially.

Fox Searchlight is managing Isle of Dogs carefully, but successfully. The expansion from 554 to 1939 screens was more abrupt than Grand Budapest, but less so than Fantastic Mr. Fox, which went from four to 2,033. Dogs should land right between the two previous Searchlight forays with Wes domestically. There is no sign that the strained complaints about cultural appropriation have taken a toll (aside from the ads losing their Asian flair).

Blockers will be (unfairly) used as a cautionary tale over lunches for the next month. It’s done fine. But it hasn’t gotten a second wind. It could easily do 3x opening. But it has not become America’s obsession… especially with young women, where it was expected to explode by many. One wonders whether A Quiet Place, albeit in a very different genre, took its wind.

Amazingly, Sony Animation has its sixth $100 million domestic grosser with Peter Rabbit. Done now, but $300 million worldwide is nothing to hop at. Expect a sequel.

Kino has a hit with Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. Maybe it could have been bigger. I am surprised that I was never invited to see the film before release (or get a link). I am a slave to the rhythm and it would have been high on my watch list.

And Sony Classics has another quiet cashflow film with The Leisure Seeker, very low profile, but also very low-priced for the domestic release and already over $2.3 million.

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Friday Estimates by Giant White Monkey Klady

Friday Estimatest 2018-04-14 at 1.12.44 PM

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Friday Estimates By Len Klady COMMENTS CLOSED

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 9.56.47 AM

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RIP Milos Forman

Milos Forman © 2018 Ray Pride

The President Of Iceland pokes Milos Forman, White House Of Iceland, 2009 Reykjavík Film Festival. (Photo © 2018 Ray Pride.)

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Weekend Estimates by Quiet Klady Blocker One

Weekend Estimates 2018-04-08 at 9.44.30 AM

A Quiet Place delivers more than double the tracking estimates and gives Paramount its first true hit in a long while, greenlit by Team Grey before he left the studio. More in line with its tracking, Blockers opens to “the 20″ and will look at word-of-mouth to define the degree of its success. Opening also-rans are Chappaquiddick and The Miracle Season. In limited, WB scores with Pandas on 33 IMAX screens, while Amazon, in just its second solo release, gets $43k per on three with You Were Never Really Here.

Tracking is an important and valuable resource. As much as it got the A Quiet Place opening wrong, it also gave Paramount the tools to market the movie to get it to this number.

The two times you ever hear wide discussion of tracking is when writers bring up “expectations.” You should read that word as “I have been told this by someone with a vested interest and they are trying to spin the story before, during or after the actual event.” But tracking is one of those things that isn’t meant to be discussed in public. It was not created or implemented widely for the purpose of setting a betting line.

Like political surveying, tracking is an art as much as a craft. We, the public, are offered hard numbers and few even linger on the “+/-3 pts” that is offered as the public mea culpa to the realities of surveying a percentage of people to get a result reflective of the mass. Tracking is meant to tell distributors, first, whether people are aware of the movie that is coming; then, how to decipher who the audience is (and who the audience might become), how strong the passion is for the movie, and where pockets of strength and weakness are around the demos and the nation.

When you see a political survey, you should be conscious of the soup that the surveyor created to come up with that result. Trump’s approval numbers from Rassmussen are not lies, as such. But they are manipulated to be higher than anyone else’s numbers by adding more areas and people who are Trump supporters. That manipulation can be as subtle as gerrymandering is complex. The work of Nate Silver, on the other hand, seems to swim through the moat of surveys and their variables to tell us what result seems the most true. But all the public seems to be capable of processing is the broadest ideas about numbers. People berate the polls about the 2016 presidential election, which Hillary Clinton won by 2.1%. But she lost the Electoral College race by 13.8%.

How is that possible? How does that make sense? Well, you have to dig deep into the numbers… and still guess. I can give you a dozen legit reasons why Hillary Clinton lost on the numbers side alone. 70,000 votes out of 129 million total presidential votes (.05%) change sides and that flips three states and we have a different president. It was that close. But that 13.8% Electoral number looks so much larger. And Nate told us she was 80% certain to win!

Turnout in a political election is the great unknown. Who will show up and vote is much more challenging than “who will they vote for” in projecting wins and losses.

In movie tracking, knowing who will actually leave their house and buy a ticket and who is just really enthusiastic about a movie is, likewise, an impossible ingredient. Companies use history and intuition to make their highly educated guesses. But there is always that window of real people behaving in the quirky way that people will.

And that is fine.

An aside about Oscar prognosticating, even more steeped in guessing, as there are so many fewer data points available. The fact that the awards season gets managed down to a very small group of titles and potential nominees, with so many accurate assessments is shocking on some level and a tribute to the lazy vulnerability of most people, even very smart and experienced people, as well as a reminder that there are standards that changes slightly, but are shockingly consistent and keep us from more revolutionary change.

This is true of tracking, too. It’s not just “we took a survey, here are the numbers.” The numbers are cooked in a stew of traditional stats work and movie industry history with a fair amount of intuition from people who have proven they have that gift. And they are cooked with the goal of finding the facts that will help the distributors’ marketing departments do their jobs. It’s not nefarious. But that bottom line of “what’s the number going to be?” is too bright and shiny for people to see past. And it’s not just civilians who can’t see past it… it’s many execs as well, who are misusing tracking.

No one loses when tracking is low. Jobs are lost when tracking is high.

And remember, even on a $50 million opening, the subject group is about 5 million total. Out of 250 million in the United States. Out of 26 million frequent moviegoers and 125 occasional moviegoers (between two and eleven theater visits a year). We can argue at a bar over whether Movie X is going to appeal more to the frequent or infrequent… or whether it will draw people who go to only one or two films a year. But when your job is to make that call and to estimate an opening gross based on that guess and to get it within 10% of the actual opening because someone in power who really doesn’t understand the number is going to be breathing down your neck… well…

You know what is important? For the stats companies to figure out who is most likely to see A Quiet Place on opening weekend, which is allows Paramount to tailor their message towards that group and to shore up other groups with more closely targeted ads that will appeal to their peculiar resistance.

But if media didn’t make it all about the guessing game and the horserace on Sunday, they would have nothing to “report” and nothing to draw clicks. And to be fair, if media was at all seriously interested in the details, the studios wouldn’t offer them up openly because the threat of extra detailed judgments then occurs and who wants to be watching your back all the time instead of doing your job?

So… Great opening. This is the biggest opening for Paramount since Star Trek Beyond and it is a bigger opening than Interstellar and you have to go all the way back to War of the Worlds (2005) to find a bigger non-franchise opening at the studio. It’s hard to categorize the film, but it would be the #3 Supernatural Horror opening of all-time (as per Mojo) and #2 behind only It as the first of a series.

Blockers had a nice opening. The number is identical to The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which Judd Apatow not only produced, but directed. Only Amy Schumer stands between a month of strong holds and Melissa McCarthy.

Black Panther hits 666 this weekend… millions domestic, that is. Third place all-time domestically, passing Titanic. Domestic #2 Avatar is a box office bridge too far. But wow.

$1.3 billion worldwide for Black Panther worldwide, which shows that international audiences are not unwilling to see Marvel do Black, but it would be wrong not to note that Black Panther is the lowest percentage performer internationally of the $1.3 billion and over club. It is also the weakest international performer in that high echelon of Marvel movies by a couple hundred million, while it is easily their highest domestic performer. History is often wrongheaded, but much less often wrong factually.

62 Comments »

Friday Estimates by A Quiet Klady

Friday Estimates 2018-04-07 at 8.04.43 AM

A Quiet Place is one of those stories where good things happen and no one can take credit for “tricking” the audience into showing up. Tracking had the film’s opening 3-day at about what it madae on Friday (with the now-presumed and incorporated Thursday night).

So what happened?

My guess is women. A Quiet Place is about a family trying to survive with the females and male of equal – but different – importance. Young women have been, at different times, a huge audience for horror-thrillers and this film may have tapped that audience in an unexpected way.

It is also possible that the film is playing like a classic horror film and will go flat through the rest of the weekend. I hope this isn’t the case: I think it will rebound with word-of-mouth if that is the case… but I wouldn’t rule it out.

But this film has gone from what looked like a nice little hit to a potential cash cow. This will be Paramount’s biggest non-franchise opener since Interstellar. And the sequel is set up in the film.

Blockers will be the #1 comedy opening of 2018 to date… but that’s damning with faint praise. The #2 is $17 million for Game Night, which cumed domestically at $66 million (a strong multiple for these days). Blockers will open in the low 20s, though it may find very strong legs as word-of-mouth lets out that it is more na up-sexualized John Hughes film than a chick Porky‘s. (Yes, I know the word “chick” is trouble… please allow for context.)

Another film that reads genre but is more than it appears to be is You Were Never Really Here, which will do something around $60k per screen on three this weekend. It is a demanding, tough movie about a man of violence who is on the edge of self-obliteration… for some a non-starter… for me, a masterpiece by Lynne Ramsey, based on the novella by Jonathan Ames, with an Oscar-level performance by Joaquin Phoenix.

A24 opens Lean on Pete to over $10k per screen.

Entertainment Studios opens Chappaquiddick to a modest $5 million or so, which is about enough to make it to profit, all in.

And The Miracle Season goes onto the heap of Christian outreach films that didn’t reach many Christians.

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“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch

To me, Hunter S. Thompson was a hero. His early books were great, but in many ways, his life and career post–Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail is a cautionary tale for authors. People expected him to be high and drunk all the time and play that persona, and he stuck with that to the end, and I don’t think it was good for him. I always sort of feel mixed emotions when I hear that people went and hung out with Hunter and how great it was to get high with Hunter. The fact is the guy was having difficulty doing any sustained writing at all for years probably because so many quote, unquote, “friends” wanted to get high with him … There was a badly disappointed romantic there. I mean, that great line, “This is where the wave broke, the tide rolled back … ” This was a guy that was hurt and disappointed and very bitter about things, and it made his writing beautiful, and also with that came a lot of pain.
~ Anthony Bourdain