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Weekend Estimates by Klady One

Weekend Estimates 2016-12-18 at 11.16.15 AM

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.

Per Screens Oscar Opens as of 2016-12-18 at 1.24.49 PM copy


Friday Estimates by Is A Star Wars Movie Opening Klady

Screen Shot 2016-12-17 at 8.57.07 AM………………………

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).


BYOB: Rogue One, etc.



What Does Toby Emmerich’s New Line (at WB) Look Like Over Last 5 Years?

The Conjuring 2 $320.20 $102.50 32.00% $217.70 68.00%
Central Intelligence $217.00 $127.40 58.70% $89.50 41.30%
Me Before You $207.80 $56.20 27.10% $151.60 72.90%
Lights Out $148.80 $67.30 45.20% $81.50 54.80%
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%
Keanu $20.60 $20.60 100.00% n/a 0.00%
San Andreas $474.00 $155.20 32.70% $318.80 67.30%
Creed $173.60 $109.80 63.20% $63.80 36.80%
Vacation $104.90 $58.90 56.10% $46.00 43.90%
Hot Pursuit $51.70 $34.60 66.90% $17.10 33.10%
The Gallows $43.00 $22.80 53.00% $20.20 47.00%
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies $956.00 $255.10 26.70% $700.90 73.30%
Annabelle $256.90 $84.30 32.80% $172.60 67.20%
Into The Storm $161.70 $47.60 29.40% $114.10 70.60%
Tammy $100.50 $84.50 84.10% $16.00 15.90%
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%
The Conjuring $318.00 $137.40 43.20% $180.60 56.80%
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.

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BYOB 121516: It’s The Big Studio Holiday Rollout!!!



Weekend Estimates by 2 Weeks To X-Mas Klady

Weekend Estimates 2016-12-11 at 9.59.45 AM copy

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…

Oscar Box Office 2016-12-11

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.


Friday Estimates by KLa La Lady

Frioday Estimates 2016-12-10 at 8.23.31 AM

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.


Weekend Estimates by Moaning Lack of Arrivals That Can’t Be Found By Klady

Weekend Estimates 2016-12-04 at 9.15.15 AM

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).


Friday Estimates by Welcome To Post-Turkey Klady

Friday Estimates  2016-12-03 at 8.29.25 AM

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.


Weekend Estimates by Turkey Hangover Klady

Weekend Estimates 2016-11-27 at 9.15.03 AM

Moana has a solid, if not animation-world-beating start. Fantastic Beasts holds solidly. Doctor Strange still has a mystic hold over audiences. Allied gets out of the geat slow and anticipates big international returns. Arrival has the best hold on the big board. And Bad Santa 2 gets stuck in the chimney, along with Rules Don’t Apply. Muscular exclusive runs for Lion and Miss Sloane lead arthousers while Billy Lynn suffers a per-screen roughly equivalent to one ticket per show through the weekend in an agonizing expansion.

Disney may be going light on the Sunday estimate for Moana, but it still looks like a minimum $200m domestic, $600m worldwide movie any way you slice it. It ain’t Frozen, but it will be in the upper group of Walt Disney Animation movies and the #4 animated movie of 2016, behind Finding Dory, which ultimately passed Zootopia, and #3, The Secret Life of Pets, which will be just over $875m worldwide when it’s done. It’s a testament to Disney’s marketing power in this segment that it will go so high. Released by other studios, it would easily have done half its numbers.

As noted earlier, Fantastic Beasts is fine. It got to $150 million at the same pace as Potter #3 and a day faster than Potter #2. Clearly, it doesn’t have the dramatic heat of the first Potter nor the muscle of the films that came later in the series. But there is plenty to build on.

Doctor Strange lives in a similar place as Beasts. It is an undeniable success. But it’s “only” the seventh best first film of a Marvel character to date. This is going to be a big part of the ongoing discussion of comic book and other CG-driven movies moving forward. How much is enough? Sony was happy to give up on the Amazing Spider-Man version of the franchise after two films that each grossed over $700 million worldwide. I think they will look smart, as I think Spidey 3.0 will be a much bigger franchise. But still, how much is enough for these films?

The same issue will come up for Disney with the offshoots of Star Wars, which are sure to be massive… but not nearly as massive as the core franchise. It will be a few years before there is a real baseline of box office history to judge how annual Star Wars movies ebb and flow.

When you look at 2016, it counters arguments about comic book movie exhaustion, with 5 such films in the worldwide Top 9 right now… and 3 of them being the first films for Deadpool, Doctor Strange, and Suicide Squad. The only real trouble spot in the category this year was X-Men: Apocalypse, which still managed to do $545 million. Still, Marvel seems to be anticipating this problem with significant new character cameos in Civil War. DC also got on this, to some degree, with BvS, with the arrival of Wonder Woman and an ad for Justice League (that felt like an ad). Not quite as skillful, but definitely a trend line to keep in mind.

Allied did not have a great opening, dead in the middle between Zemeckis’ last two films, The Walk and Flight. The problem for this one is that it cost a lot more than Flight. On the other hand, Brad Pitt. He is a big reason why the film is more expensive and why it still has a legit chance at $150 million worldwide or more.

Paramount had happier news with its other “A” movie, Arrival, which dropped just 8% in its third weekend. The film is already pretty much guaranteed to be in profit in theatrical (including P&A… and in simple math, not studio contract math) and could get a big boost from the award season. It’s not like an awards movie that people will need to find after they hear about nominations. It is a well-liked, reasonably commercial film that will have another call to action if award nominations (and critics groups) go as expected.

Trolls continues to roll. It’s running a little behind The Croods, which is the #1 DreamWorks Animation film in the Fox distribution era. But a success any way you cook it. Fox has both DWA movies next year and in 2018, the post-Katzenberg DreamWorks Animation show moves to Universal.

Bad Santa 2 continues the trend of old franchises that people truly love that don’t perform as long-sitting sequels. In this case, it’s been 13 years. They added Kathy Bates, but didn’t give us much of a sense of what she added or why we should come see the reunion. Just for argument, it is a movie I am the prime audience for. I was one of the first raves for the original Bad Santa, seeing it in an early screening when Miramax wasn’t quite sure what they had. I love Kathy Bates. I love the idea of the kid being the same kid, 13 years later. I have been supportive of Broad Green. And I work with the company doing publicity for the film all the time. No discussion of doing anything for the movie. One e-mail the morning after Halloween with a screening time (which I just opened for the first time). Minimal push. Maybe the movie sucks and the team figured it was a write-off and this opening is what it had coming. Maybe Broad Green is tired of losing money and and alley-ooped it, though it is their widest opening and their second best opening as a distributor. Part of me hopes it is terrible because then I won’t feel bad that an opportunity was missed.

Hacksaw Ridge is not giving away its shot. It had the second best hold of the wide releases and could well break through into the award season. I also think the international could be significant.

Rules Don’t Apply is not a happy story. Why did they launch wide? I don’t know. Into a very busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend? I don’t know. With two wonderful young leads who have no opening power (yet) and a legendary star and writer-director who hasn’t been in the market in 15 years? This is a movie that could have had a weekend not unlike Miss Sloane or Lion, a few screens, a 5-figure per-screen, and something to build on.

The only opening Warren Beatty has ever had that was over $6 million was Dick Tracy. And this romantic period piece opened wider than any film he was ever in or wrote or directed. I don’t know whether this film would have been a hit under other release methods… but it wouldn’t be getting punched in the face on Drudge, which really sucks. Doesn’t deserve that. At all.

Speaking of smaller releases with happier stories, Loving (421 screens), Moonlight (618), and Manchester By The Sea (48) are clustered together right around Rules, each with between $1.2 million and $1.7 million coming in over the weekend.

The big per-screen winners for the weekend were Lion and Miss Sloane, with $31k on 4 and $21k on 3.

And the car wreck of the weekend was Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which is setting records for major studio futility in its second wide weekend. It’s brutal. Many bad decisions, aside from the movie itself. Ang Lee doesn’t deserve to be embarrassed like this and I suspect, because he is such a fine filmmaker and so likable, that it will quickly be forgotten (except by those who paid for it).


Friday Estimates by Klady, Mo Ana Less

Friday Estimates 2016-11-26 at 8.48.05 AM

Among Walt Disney Animation films, Moana is only behind Zootopia. But few big animation movies open on Thanksgiving weekend, so it’s too early to get a realistic handle on where this big wave is going. The great news for Disney is that Moana doesn’t face Sing! until December 21, and while Trolls is holding well, it’s not eating the market.

Fantastic Beasts remains a curiosity. It’s doing fine. But what is fine when you are looking for the next great franchise? It would be crazy to expect numbers matching the mature Potter and so far, it is pacing #2 and #3 pretty well. The real question for Beasts is whether it can come close to those 2&3 numbers internationally, where both early Potter films grossed over $545 million. If the film does in the 500s worldwide, it won’t be a failure, but WB will be trying to figure out how to build the franchise.

Doctor Strange is a solid B for Marvel… but that A level is awfully high for any new character to hit. Already closing in on $600m worldwide, it’s a hit in the general marketplace. But how much higher can it go?

Allied is not a hit. Domestically, at least. But the international market is Brad Pitt heaven. So don’t be surprised if this one ends up in the $250 million range worldwide.

Arrival, on the other hand, is holding strong and building with word of mouth. Paramount will get a boost of publicity with Denis Villeneuve coming to town next week and with awards and nominations almost here.

Bad Santa 2 did bad business, too.

Not a good start for Rules Don’t Apply, which probably should have tried to find an audience to build on instead of fighting the wide fight from opening day.

Solid starts for exclusives Miss Sloane and Lion.


Thankful 2016: 20 Years In

I suppose in a year of the potentially horrific, we should be all the more thankful for the joyous things we have in our lives.

My wife. My child. My family. My health.

This is the 20th Thankful column and I am still grateful for so much.But what a long, strange trip it has been.

I am thankful to DP/30 and the variations of it (Celebrity Conversations, Lunch with David) that have become the work that I am still invigorated by every week. Talking to people who really care about their work has, I have found, no expiration date. I learn about them, about the jobs they do, and about myself as I sit down with first-timers, repeat interviewees and that group of people with whom I have now had hours of conversation. I still get nervous for some (Jeremy Irons and James L. Brooks, most recently) and find comfort in the familiarity with others. And while it is considered underperformance by some, I am proud of the 30 million views of the show online.

While on this topic, I am very thankful for the people who come up to me in unexpected places to tell me that they appreciate what DP/30 offers them, as film students, fans or just film lovers. I never quite know what to say, except to thank them for watching. The show has, with more than 1,700 half hours and continuing weekly, become an annual diary of movie history.

I am thankful that so many interesting filmmakers seem to be emerging and finding audiences right now. Who would have guessed that Pablo Larrain would have a hit American movie as well as a beautiful reflection of Chilean history in the same year? Barry Jenkins is back in the saddle and unlikely to get out of it for a long while. Jeff Nichols also has two films this year. Lonergan. Yorgos Lanthimos. Paolo Sorrentino is back with a TV series. Amy Seimetz and Lodge Kerrigan have expanded the Soderbergh Cinematic Universe on TV. (Amy, by the way, was a schoolmate of Barry Jenkins.) Ben Younger is back after 12 years. Denis Villeneuve has been so busy making the next Blade Runner, he hasn’t been around to support his amazing Arrival. Shawn Levy has remade himself as a serious film and TV producer. Taylor Sheridan has written himself into the director’s chair. Mel Gibson is turning heads again. Bayona (as everyone seems to call him) is doing amazing work on a studio level. Amazing work still being pumped out (as expected) by Verhoeven and Chan-Wook Park. Mike Mills just gets better and better. Andrea Arnold.

I am not thankful that I am surely leaving people out who I mean to mention… but I am thankful that someone will remind me and make me feel super guilty before the weekend is over.

I am thankful to watch veteran actresses explode on the screen in their 50s and 60s, from Annette Bening to Isabelle Huppert to Sigourney Weaver to Sally Field to Meryl Streep to Kathy Bates to Susan Sarandon and on… and even when they are playing grandmas (only two in this group this year), they aren’t ever just playing the grandma. Not only are they creating something special in their work, but filmmakers are creating special roles with these movie divas in mind.

I am thankful to Denzel Washington and August Wilson and Margot Lee Shetterly and Barry Jenkins and The Lovings for keeping us from going through another season of #OscarSoWhite, which is critically important to the industry, but gets reduced to a bumper sticker conversation that leads nowhere. I suspect that next year’s Oscars will be less (ahem) colorful next year… not because Academy members are racists, but because the industry simply doesn’t make enough of the kind of movies that are Oscar-nominated with people of color in the lead. Even though nearly every movie of color is in play this year, the miracle is that so many are so good, not that there are enough to make their inclusion in the Oscar raise inevitable. It’s still only six movies. And over a hundred contenders of the lily-white variety. The industry needs to deal with this.

I thank the industry for the increasing availability of filmed content. We have never had as much to choose from. And overall, home entertainment has never been cheaper. But I fear deeply for the misguided whims of major studios looking to break down the system of windows, the classic notion of killing the goose that lays the golden egg. I have been on the bleeding edge of the evolution of delivery. I remember (and owned) the earliest VHS players. I bought illegal copies of movies that were not otherwise available as a teenager. I remember the first Blockbusters, the first format war, the first DVDs (buying gray market hardware from Japan), the launch of sell-thru DVD, the first (horrible) streaming, and the industry destruction of DVD by flooding the market and competing with itself on price. The lesson is that change comes with a combination of demand and acquiescence. This industry has no problem shooting itself in the foot. As volatile as the last 40 years has been in this industry, we are about to face the biggest transition yet. And the diamond standard will be maximizing the first-viewer opportunity… because that will be the only place where premiums will be acceptable to large numbers of buyers. And not just on IMAX screens or for special events. We have to stop thinking that all grosses are equal… they are not. There are now $70 million grossers that make more profit than $400 million grossers. Hell, there are $400 million grossers that lose money. We must find a way to keep the future in perspective and not seek short-term solutions that will undermine the long-term (which might only be five years into the future). Think of the Iraq War and the short-term emotional fix it brought America… then think of the price tag, in lives, in trillions of dollars, in unexpected consequences. It is an absurd analogy only in the count of the dead.

I am thankful for A24 and their fearlessness and also their modesty. They are the current gold standard in quality distribution. Fox Searchlight is still the one with the widest shoulders and the amazing Oscar history. Sony Classics is still the only true art division thriving inside of a corporate studio ecosystem. Weinstein is still the loudest distributor. Focus is finding itself. Roadside Attractions has made a remarkable place for itself, playing to more fields with more diversity of product than anyone (sometimes for better, sometimes not). Newcomers, from Broad Green to Europa to Bleecker Street, are making their mark and evolving. But I don’t think there are many people around this industry who aren’t surprised and amazed and fascinated by what A24 pulls off. Who else would have made The Lobster an $8.7 million hit in America after picking it up from a dying distributor and releasing it two months afterward. They weren’t just satisfied adding it to their library and making the money on home entertainment. I love films from all of these distributors every year. But right now, A24 is the one that, when they decide to go there, you have the sense that something impossible might happen. For a lover of film and the industry, that is nirvana.

I am thankful for the distributors who fill the middle lane, from Oscar-winning Open Road to STX to (this year’s B.O. winner-to-be, again) Lionsgate/Summit to, really Weinstein and Searchlight and Focus, the three of which have feet in both camps. The film industry is having growing pains, trying to figure out where it will land financially, and these companies are releasing movies that aspire to commercial success. But they also have the freedom to be daring. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Sometimes the right films rise and sometimes not. They can’t make you love their films when you don’t, but they often pick films that studios are put off by and it turns out that you like them… you really, really like them.

As I sit here considering the industry, I am thankful for the testosterone of Disney. The mega-budget business is the most misunderstood thing in the business right now. Media swings between the arousal and hype of giant numbers and the manic depression of seeing so much of the media landscape dedicated to giant movies that are, for the most part, mediocre at best. (Of course, the irony that media is upsetting itself by obsessing on shit is beyond most.) Disney is, really, the only company doing what they do. Because Disney is the only company with so much undeniable IP. The concept will implode at some point. Every trend does. But they are not standing still either. Marvel has simply been a lot smarter than DC, which has some great IP, but less so than the, rawer, more humanist Marvel. And they have earned the benefits of their big ideas for how to do this. I don’t have to see every film that comes out of the shoot. And when a really fun one lands (like Doctor Strange), I am as thrilled for that as any other great movie surprise. (Well, not any… but…)

I am thankful that the good people at Paramount are about to have a great run of movies. And I am thankful that some of the less good people at Paramount will likely be saying goodbye in the new year. Hopeful, the powers that be with pick wisely. If there is one constant in the craziness of industry change, it is that studios’ fortunes tend to improve right after major transitions that were meant to get rid of (alleged) failures. Weird. Some of my favorite people in this town are on that lot. I will be rooting for them and their films as I also look forward to the change that will make Paramount a fully functional studio again.

I am thankful for the support of people at studios who appreciate what I have been doing all these years. And I don’t really mind those who do not. I am not hungry the way I once was. I am certainly in a more peaceful place than many of the people employed by studios. I do not fit in the simplistic formula that is in operation at many places these days. I don’t seek being an anomaly, but an anomaly I am. I am not a shiny new object, unclear about who I am or what I offer. But I am a shiny old object for those who care to pay attention. And it has been my good fortune that many do. And for that, I am thankful. Very thankful.

I am thankful for Laura Rooney, who started MCN with me and for Ray Pride, who has become my primary partner is keeping it rolling in the last number of years. And for everyone along the way who contributed a lot and a little and everything in between. There are choices I have made that have been good and others that have been bad… some for me, some for others. But I have always asked that people who participate in my little world of MCN want to be there and are doing work they want to do. And I have been self-indulgent enough to expect the same of myself. Many, large and small, have come and gone during this 15 years here. I’m thankful that I still have some choices.

I am thankful. Period. A lucky man. I am lucky that there are people upset with me because I don’t write enough anymore. I am lucky there are people watching and appreciating my interviews. I am lucky that publicists create space for my oddball product. I am lucky to have a healthy 6-year-old (6 and 99/1000ths, he’d tell you) and a wife who has put up with the nonsense of my life and work for these years.

I am thankful for being allowed to be a part of an industry I love and to have found places for myself over these last 3 decades that make me feel at home. Never too easy. But never too hard either.

Of course, I am thankful to anyone who is reading this. I believe that one should not act in the world to get the response that comes back from your acts (or words). But without you, the readers and watchers, this high-wire act would have been a messy spot on the concrete below long, long ago. I have not held up my part of the conversation with you as much as I once did… and for that, I am sorry. Still, I thank you deeply for engaging. Agree with me or not, thank you for caring enough to care, not just about me and my work, but in the big, wide conversation about movies (and TV too). We are a minority group. We are not under attack, but we are a minority of people, held together with a shared love. Life in the bubble has been good to me. And I thank you.


Weekend Estimates by Kladastic Beasts

Weekend Estimates 2016-11-20 at 10.28.52 AM

Fifteen years ago, this very weekend, Warner Bros unleashed Harry Potter to cast his spell upon us. A $90 million 3-day opening which led to a $318 million domestic gross and $975 million worldwide.

Five years ago, the Harry Potter saga ended. And now Fantastic Beasts and How To Find Them is here… and it didn’t open as well as any Potter film’s 3-day, which is even more disappointing considering that the the last five Potter films all opened on a Wednesday, to take advantage of the demand, but also reducing the demand for the 3-day weekend.

That said, WB went back to the original Potter strategy and came up a little softer on the launch. But this is a successful opening and a big enough sampling by real people that it is now on the movie, not the marketing, to see what heights this franchise-to-be will scale.

But if anyone is telling you this is a massive success and “hooray,” they are full of it. And if anyone is telling you this is a problem opening, they are also full of it. This is right down the middle. This opening suggests a mid-200s domestic gross and a $600m+ worldwide gross. WB would have preferred $800 million worldwide. They would have been in despair at under $500m worldwide. No one can create an instant franchise from scratch. This franchise is, for now, much like Hunger Games (except that THG was much cheaper) or Twilight. Will the audience for this film be loyal? Will the audience grow? Will it dip a bit and stabilize at a lower number? Only time will tell.

The two other newcomers, both wide-ish (over 1,500 screens, under 2,000), opened soft and will hope for redemption over the Thanksgiving weekend. Although they are next to each other on the list of weekend numbers, The Edge of Seventeen doubled the gross of Bleed For This.

The strongest hold in the Top 10 is Hacksaw Ridge, which I suspect could see a significant bump over the holiday.

Jack Reacher and The Accountant are a tale of two movies that are around $137 million worldwide right now. The former is finding most of its money overseas and the latter domestically. Unless there is more money overseas to find, Reacher is now over as a series. The Affleck will be profitable, as it was a cheaper film.

In less-wide release, two strong starts. Manchester by the Sea does $59,350 per on four, which is strong, if not overwhelming. And Nocturnal Animals, which is more of a commercial play, does $13,189 per on 37… which confuses me utterly. But the movie is a tough sell. It’s kind of a women’s movie… kind of a thriller… kind of hard-R… kind of stylish. I say, sell the hard-R and get some money rolling in. But this seems like a play at a wider berth, awards included. I fear for the long-term results of that.

Loving expands solidly to 137 screens, maintaining $6,300 per-screen. This is probably a film that will not have a successful widening until Oscar… which is a long hold from now.

Elle expanded and did okay… but not as well as it would if people really knew what was in the movie. Very hard to sell, especially while hiding the French language. But wow, what a movie! A lot of powerful emotions out there in theaters this award season… but no film would have more intense discussions afterwards at dinner than Elle.

And Moonlight, now on 650 screens, is killing it. $6.7 million is a big number for this film, pre-awards. Everyone involved should be very proud. If it gets the Oscar nominations that are expected, it will be in the teens, at least… which is a huge success for a film that embodies the spirit of everything so deeply valued by artists everywhere.


Friday Estimates by Fantastic Kladys

Friday Estimates 2016-11-19 at 10.31.49 AM


Weekend Estimates by Still Strange Klady

Weekend Estimates 2016-11-13 at 9.36.50 AM copy

Nice holds for Doctor Strange and Trolls lead the way, while a solid unspectacular opening for Arrival offers hope and Almost Christmas is almost a strong opening. Loving expands quite well to 46 screens, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk cleans up in to 2 extremely specialized theaters, and Elle scares up a crowd in 2.

Don’t know that there is much more to say than was said yesterday.

Doctor Strange is $23m behind Guardians’ 10-day. Still, excellent.

Trolls held significantly better than any of the similar openings in the last couple years. It should hit $100 million tomorrow (aka 11 days), which suggests it deserves to be put in a unique class. No animated movie in the last 5 years has grossed over $200 million domestic without opening over $55 million. Until Trolls. (Since 2012, 14 animated films that went on to over $200m domestic opened over $55 million.) The highest grosser amonsgt the under-55 crowd was The Croods, which did $187m domestic after opening to $44m. Trolls is $5.5m ahead of Croods after 10 days and held 15% better on its second weekend. $200 million seems pretty much inevitable and could really take off over Thanksgiving. It has some serious competition in December with Sing, which is also an animated jukebox musical, though I suspect that Sing is looking for the over-55 model for its launch. And there is Moana too.

Arrival is an interesting movie commercially. It’s performing really nicely for an Amy Adams movie… and a little soft for a big sci-fi thriller. And this movie is both of those things. So this number feels fine to me. I think the word-of-mouth is going to be surprisingly strong. Most people I speak to don’t really know what to expect from the film. I get that. I didn’t know either. And I can’t wait to see it a third time soon.

Almost Christmas is really a franchise sequel, seven years later, with slightly odd timing. Quite inexpensive, it should pick up a bit/hold well next week and is likely a money maker, if not a killer app.

Great holds for Hacksaw Ridge and The Accountant, two audience-first movies.

People question Tyler Perry, but Boo! A Madea Halloween is the #2 Madea movie ever. There is magic in that dress.

Loving expands to 46 screens and has a hugely impressive $11,500 per-screen, which is a lot better, in my eyes, than a $59,000 per-screen on 2 or 4. There is not a fortune in this film, but it is a solid indie with strong Oscar future.

Speaking of $59k per-screens on 2, Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk opened in NY and LA and did a strong $59,350. The hard part now is that they have to expand. All hail efforts at art on Hollywood’s dime.

The great Elle grabbed $27,500 per on 2, which for a French-language film is impressive. Yet another film that leaves you thinking about the president-elect. Challenging. Upsetting. Brilliant movie.


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“I was 15 when I first watched Sally Hardesty escape into the back of a pickup truck, covered in blood and cackling like a goddamn witch. All of her friends were dead. She had been kidnapped, tortured and even forced to feed her own blood to her cannibalistic captors’ impossibly shriveled patriarch. Being new to the horror genre, I was sure she was going to die. It had been a few months since I survived a violent sexual assault, where I subsequently ran from my assailant, tripped, fell and fought like hell. I crawled home with bloody knees, makeup-stained cheeks and a new void in both my mind and heart. My sense of safety, my ability to trust others, my willingness to form new relationships and my love of spending time with people I cared about were all taken from me. It wasn’t until I found the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre that something clicked. It was Sally’s strength, and her resilience. It was watching her survive blows to the head from a hammer. It was watching her break free from her bonds and burst through a glass window. It was watching her get back up after she’d been stabbed. It was watching her crawl into the back of a truck, laughing as it drove away from Leatherface. She was the last one to confront the killer, and live. I remember sitting in front of the TV and thinking, There I am. That’s me.”
~ Lauren Milici On “The Final Girl”

“‘Thriller’ enforced its own reality principle; it was there, part of the every commute, a serenade to every errand, a referent to every purchase, a fact of every life. You didn’t have to like it, you only had to acknowledge it. By July 6, 1984, when the Jacksons played the first show of their ‘Victory’ tour, in Kansas City, Missouri, Jacksonism had produced a system of commodification so complete that whatever and whoever was admitted to it instantly became a new commodity. People were no longer comsuming commodities as such things are conventionally understood (records, videos, posters, books, magazines, key rings, earrings necklaces pins buttons wigs voice-altering devices Pepsis t-shirts underwear hats scarves gloves jackets – and why were there no jeans called Bille Jeans?); they were consuming their own gestures of consumption. That is, they were consuming not a Tayloristic Michael Jackson, or any licensed facsimile, but themselves. Riding a Mobius strip of pure capitalism, that was the transubstantiation.”
~ Greil Marcus On Michael Jackson