“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
~ James Gray
The Hot Blog
Lego Batman stepped up a bit from Friday estimates, but it’s fallen even further behind The Lego Movie in that comparison. Odd, but that is the nature of a phenom like the first Lego film.
Fifty Shades Darker didn’t have a drop-off in the 60s, but that is more a function of where it started than its support. It dropped (slightly) more than the second weekend of Ghostbusters did last summer after the two films had $46m openings. That said, Darker does have a strong enough base that it will (obviously) be over $100 million domestic and it is reporting $187m international already. So it is already pretty close to profit in theatrical, even with marketing costs. Expect a tighter, more publicity-heavy campaign for the final film of the trio, with a cut in marketing spending to maximize profitability for an already sold and clearly defined audience, a la Twilight.
The Great Wall did mediocre business. Not an outright disaster. Not the success that some are “reporting” based on Chinese grosses. The film will lose a nice chunk of money for Wanda. But not enough to matter.
John Wick: Chapter 2 dropped almost the same amount as weekend two of the original, though from a much higher launch. So it is well past the original’s gross ($43m) already and has a good chance of passing the worldwide gross of the original with domestic alone ($89m). The movie likely cost twice as much, based on the very cheap first film, but still, nicely profitable and see you at the Wick 3 opening next summer. (Will they get Sandy Bullock for that one?)
Speaking of profitable and Lionsgate, La La Land is looking like the most profitable non-franchise film ever for the indie studio that is married to Summit. It will end up the sixth-highest grossing film (domestic and worldwide) for the distributor, topped only by Twilight and Hunger Games films. The only other LGF films within box office range, the Divergent series and Expendables, were a lot more expensive.
Hidden Figures is a huge hit for Fox as well. Domestically, it is one of the studio’s 5 biggest grossers of the last three years, including two DreamWorks Animation films (which shouldn’t really count, as Fox only distributes).
Moonlight is not likely to catch up to The Witch or Ex Machina domestically for A24’s all-time best grosser, but at just $4 million behind, it has been an enormous success.
And don’t forget that Manchester By The Sea has more than doubled the gross of any film previously released by Roadside Attractions, with $46m. It is also a giant leap for Amazon Studios, the company that owns distribution rights, more than tripling their previous highest grosser, Love & Friendship. Given the amount of cash Amazon has, I would say that buying Roadside outright for some scores of million and letting the current team run all their theatrical distribution (with Bob Berney as a top-paid consultant) and to have a 5 film release line-up of their own choosing each year would be a win for both sides.
Fist Fight seemed like an easy sell. Ice Cube opens. Charlie Day is a popular supporting comedian. Kinda funny premise. But something went wrong on the way to the multiplex and only Lottery Ticket opened worse for a movie starring Ice Cube in the last decade. My theory is that the pitch was surprisingly unclear. We all got that Ice Cube wants to kick Charlie Day’s butt. But why? Does it make sense? What is the movie? Clearing up a misunderstanding? Day’s character becoming Rocky? What’s funny about Cube’s rage? The ads focus on a few jokes, but leave one wondering what the hell the movie is? And even if they wanted to sell something the movie is not, they needed more clarity.
A Cure For Wellness was aggressively unclear. I am a Dane DeHaan fan, but he isn’t Johnny Depp. You have to sell the movie, whatever the hell it is. I don’t think the new regime at Fox was too interested in killing themselves to save this one. Stacey Snider was at DreamWorks, but not for the Gore Verbinski era there. I believe Verbinski is massively talented. But if he wants to become “the Pirates king” again, he needs some better IP. James Mangold’s Logan is exactly the kind of movie he could kill for Fox or another studio. A real studio budget… but not a crazy one. Pushing expectations. Getting back to making things work when you don’t have every option on earth for the world’s most dramatic stunts or images.
Todos Queremos A Alguien is another Lionsgate effort to crack the Spanish-language market in America. Bless them for that. Highly under-served. 353 screens. Modest success. (Also known as Everybody Loves Somebody.)
2017 Oscar Shorts has become a nice annual event for Shorts International and Magnolia. $1.6 million for a shorts program is nothing to sneeze at. I don’t know how much of this money gets back to the filmmakers, but that could be nice too.
Slow-fading IP and soft originals define this box office weekend. The Lego Batman Movie will be a modest success, degree depending on international. But it’s already 20% or so off of The Lego Movie and that is with Batman, a character that almost always wins. Estimates of what The Ninjago Movie might do should probably be revised well below $100 million. That may cause a push at WB to push the recently pushed back Lego Movie sequel to a closer date again.
Fifty Shades Darker is not a disaster, financially. But domestically, it is a gray shadow of the original and the promise of the franchise. Some Big international markets seem sure to be off by significant percentages as well. Film #3 is already shot and really, there is nothing to be done to fix what is wrong here. So expect lower numbers the third time, but again, not to the point of not being profitable.
The Great Wall didn’t die… but is not strong. Matt Damon’s brand gets a boost from this opening at all.
Ice Cube is looking at his worst opening in over a decade with Fist Fight. The only one nearly as soft was Lottery Ticket, which was a non-spin-off spin-off of the Barbershop brand, but at WB, where selling to the “urban” audience is not generally a strength. I have to say, I was the target audience for this movie… but I’m not sure anyone selling it knew that.
A Cure For Wellness openly sickly. Fox spent on it. But you didn’t really get the sense they were all in on this one. Perhaps they should have pushed it into August, after Valerian, hoping that release established a commercial branding of Dane DeHaan, which it might. (He’s great… but not an opener.)
No $10k per-screen openers on the limited/exclusive scene this weekend.
So I gave too much respect to Fifty Shades Darker. The Friday number, with its hardcore must see-ers, was the anomaly. This one dropped like a stone the rest of the weekend. Off 45% from the first film in the series. If that translates to the entire run, $90m domestic is the target and the international… who knows? 45% international off would be $222 million, about $310 worldwide. Still profitable. But no one at the studio will be thrilled with the energy needed to launch the third next year. As long as the international holds – and it could hold much better than domestic – there will be profits. But pushing out the third in a series when you know your once-big-hit will do $70 million max domestic is a cranky activity.
The Lego Batman Movie delivered on its Friday launch as one would expect from a family film… but will it pace Moana and Sing and The Lego Movie? Lego opened significantly better. But it found a legit adult audience. and was less about the kids. There are benefits both ways. And looking at the Ninjago trailer, the best long-view chance for the franchise is young kids, not adults. So this may be a good sign for WB.
John Wick: Chapter Two flexed more muscle than expected and becomes a more realistic opportunity to get to $100m domestic. That may become overstatement by this time next weekend. But $29.4 million puts Wick 2 in the top tier of Lionsgate openers, behind only franchises that were always meant to be franchises. So take the win.
Hidden Figures just keeps going. Now it looks like $150m is the domestic minimum and $175m is realistic. La La Land is coming back to earth more quickly, but still a remarkable run and it should be near $140 million when it wins Best Picture. The Weinstein Company is being cautious with Lion, but doing nicely, holding well and passing $30 million. Arrival will have passed $100 million domestic by this time next weekend. Manchester by the Sea remains solid. And Moonlight passed the $20m barrier this weekend.
The only $10k+ weekends in limited/exclusive were A United Kingdom from Searchlight on four and Kedi from Oscilloscope on one.
I’m Not Your Negro is doing strong doc business, though the real box office surprise for docs this award season is The Eagle Huntress, which has done $3 million.
-30%. -16%. +100%.
This would be as good a weekend as any to see the future of the IP-obsessed trend in Hollywood. Those who want to believe things are great with remaking everything will point out that all three of these movies will make money in the end. And that is true. Those who are more circumspect will note that even with down opening days, it is unlikely that either of the first two sequels will enjoy a 3-day multiple as good as the original and that the third cost at least double what the original cost. And someone who hates the IP trend will note that… well, they will stew, as 2 of the 3 got great reviews and the third will make up for domestic losses overseas.
The bigger question is… will studios burn their own houses down relying on ever-weakening over-used IP before the trend ends and they move back into a more moderate posture? Or will they get so desperate to make the trend work that they day-n-date their own industry beyond the point of recovery?
In some ways, just being off 30% should be a relief to Universal and Team 50 Shades. Tracking, at one point, had the second of three (so far) dropping 50% or more. I expect this launch to get worse today, not better. Still, if $55m is the 3-day, Universal would have taken that the first time and they won’t die from it this time. This is also one of those cases where international is dominant, having done 2.4x what domestic did the first time around. So even if this one drops hard and ends up at $110m domestic, international is sure to be $250m at a minimum. Even with an increased budget, $360m is a success for everyone involved… just not as much of a success. And it could well be higher than that. And if the third film drops to $250m worldwide… still making money… not a ton at that point… but making money. It is a truly hideous movie. Everyone involved should be embarrassed. But everyone also gets a new house or two or five.
The Lego Batman Movie is not an underdog. So the drop in the opening, which I think WB anticipated in recent weeks based on how hard the push got, is disappointing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Batman is the King of IP Cash. Iron Man may seem to be kind of the hill right now, but when Downey stops wearing the suit, whoever follows will fall back in line behind Batman. And when WB decided to make a Batman Lego film the next in what they hope will be an annual series from now until forever, they were clearly intending to boost the franchise into its future, not to stay just below even from the phenom of the original. But it didn’t.
Lego Batman is going to make a lot of money (gross and profit). $300m worldwide is pretty much guaranteed. But it is also going to bring the fantasy of the Lego cash cow back down to earth. Even with great reviews, the “you have to see this… I know you think it’s for kids, but it’s for everyone” phenomenon of the first film is not going to keep getting extended to a bunch of Lego movies. Sorry. Just not. I suspect that this film will be the peak of the Lego franchise, aside from the first theatrical Lego movie. (Worth noting that there is a metric ton of Lego “movies” on streaming, cable, and in video games, so the novelty of active Lego characters isn’t really there for kids either.) Assuming the September Ninjago movie is terrific, I would expect it to do half of whatever Batman Lego does… and then, some panic will set in, as it has on Fantastic Beasts.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is a sequel to a modest hit that has become a cult-y favorite since the original’s release 2.3 years ago. This opening doubles the opening of the original, which is great for them. It still leads to a modest success, well under $200m worldwide, unless it really takes off overseas in some unexpected way. And it might.
Paramount looks like it will have a solid year to come, but the winter campaign has been surprisingly disastrous. They may actually lose money on Rings, though they might also break even sometime late this year in post-theatrical… but just barely. They will be upside down on xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. They already took the writedown on Monster Trucks. Silence is barely on their spread sheets, but will still lose a little for the studio. And Allied will bleed red. Fences looks like breakeven will be a happy ending. Arrival is the one financial bright spot… but it is not quite as bright as expected.
They have Ghost in the Shell (aka Scarlett Painted White & Rendered Even More Flawless), Baywatch, and Transformers V… 3 purely commercial vehicles coming down the pike. The whole line-up until next fall. I truly hope they hit them out of the park. I worry that there isn’t a single middle movie for 10 months, which could be a surprise hit. All 3 of these films need to be major hits to get credit for being hits at all. And that is a heavy burden to carry.
Compare this to Sony, which is also fighting uphill right now. 8 releases before next fall, only 1 of which, Spider-Man Homecoming, needs to gross huge numbers to be seen as a success. They are still swinging for the fences with Life and The Dark Tower, but not on insane budgets. And the hopefuls include a Scarlett Johansson comedy, an Edgar Wright comedy, and Danny Boyle’s return to Trainspotting with the full crew intact, plus two Sony Animation films, which won’t be expected to do Disney numbers. It could be that nothing surprises joyfully. But if Spidey does great – which I think it will – and 1 or 2 of the others breaks out, Sony is back on its feet.
On the other hand, if Paramount runs the table with 3 movies and does over $2 billion worldwide with them, they too are going to be seen as being back on their feet.
Nice roll-out on 4 for A United Kingdom, with $4500 per screen on Friday. Duckweed, a $90m comedy hit in China arrives on 27 screens here and is performing modestly.
Super Bowl eats Sunday at the box office. Rings falls like a stone, allowing Split to rise to the top again, though the Split estimate seems a little high. Both Hidden Figures and La La Land estimate with an eye to being Sunday counter-programming. Again, finals may vary. And The Space Between Us finds too much space in theaters. And I Am Not Your Negro dominates in limited (45 screens), more than doubling any other film’s per-screen for the weekend.
Covered most of this weekend yesterday.
Split passes $100m domestic before next Friday. Becomes Jason Blum’s #1 all-time domestic grosser next weekend.
Sony made a point of sending out international numbers on Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, which has already done almost $95m internationally to its soft numbers here at home.
Likewise, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is chasing worldwide breakeven with $112m international in the bank and just under $40m at home.
Rogue One, by the way, is just over $1 billion thanks to China’s $69 million… which is really like $35 million in juxtaposition to the returns in other international markets… but still, just over a billion. Anyone who claims Disney didn’t expect to get to this number is living in a fantasy. But anyone who assumes they expected a lot more is equally (more, really) deluded. The film performed almost exactly as expected.
The only Oscar bump in play is with smaller movies, like The Saleman, Toni Erdmann, The Red Turtle, and I Am Not Your Negro, which is not the frontrunner for Best Documentary, but may make Team OJ chafe a little.
Lion expanded to 1405 screens from 575 and did modestly well, but most of the bump for Best Picture movies in wider release is just slower droppage.
The Ring, which was a DreamWorks property converted from the Asian horror films, embodies the entire cycle of too much of current box office. The first film was an underdog that opened decently, but then grew very long legs, grossing $1m or more for 9 weeks. As a comparison, last year’s only horror film to gross $100m domestic, The Conjuring 2, had five such weeks. The Ring launched a craze on the film world, as Asian remakes appealing in particular to young women, and then domestic horror appealing to young women was a huge trend for a number of years.
The Ring 2 opened huge ($35m) by 2005 standards, #15 for the year. Then, unlike its predecessor’s 8.6 times opening weekend, it did 2.2X opening. And with that (and The Grudge 2), the heat was off and no Asian horror remake has since grossed more than $40 million domestic.
And now, Rings is a reboot of a dormant franchise, 12 years from its last incarnation, riding the tide of studios mining ancient IP. This one will do okay, having kept its budget in line with the market, though one wonders why they didn’t cut this budget in half and give it the Jason Blum treatment. If you look at the list of high-end producers on the film, that may explain the problem… they may have made it for something like Jason Blum money and still ended up with a $25m reported budget. That is a given cost of rebooting successful, older IP. Paramount particularly carries this weight with DreamWorks rights.
Anyway… Rings will probably make a little money when all is said and done. Not a flop. Not a smash. Grist for the mill.
Split, which will end up being #2 for the weekend, is more than that. Original production. Cheap. Big grosses. Cash cow. Looking forward to Splitter. (Just kidding… haven’t even seen this one… in no rush… but McAvoy looks like he is having great fun.)
Hidden Figures remains muscular, as I suspected it would be back in September, when at the Toronto event. It will pass the Oscar Best Picture frontrunner, La La Land, either this weekend (Super Bowl sluggish) or during the week. Arrival, the third Best Picture nominee which will likely gross $100m domestic, dropped its screen count in half this weekend, slowing the process. But it’s only $2 million away… hard to imagine Par not pushing it over.
The Space Between Us is barely made any room for itself in the market, looking at a weekend under $3.5m as Super counterprograming.
I Am Not Your Negro is riding great, well-earned reviews to a $10k+ 3-day per-screen. It will be the only one in that category this weekend.
Split holds strong and will be Jason Blum’s second franchise (wasn’t one… is now) to crack $100m domestic. A Dog’s Purpose did well… but didn’t explode with families on Saturday, muting the celebration a smidge. Hidden Figures is holding like a champ, passing $100m, though it is still chasing La La Land, which is $2.5m ahead. Resident Evil: The (Alleged) Final Chapter had, by a good bit, the worst opening of the series… but the international is where the money is and Sony knew that going in. Gold barely opened. CBS and Lionsgate really pushed hard for Patriots Day, but haven’t found the hook, even for the Peter Berg audience. The Salesman leads at arthouses, likely to open well before Trump’s Muslim ban, but surely buoyed by Farhadi’s inability to come to The Oscars, scoring $22,900 per screen.
There’s not a whole lot more to dig into here than in the brief above. Was A Dog’s Purpose hurt by the bad publicity drummed up by TMZ and PETA? Maybe. A little. But not a lot. The only real argument that it had any effect at all is if you believe it was going to blow up surprisingly large because of the dog-loving audience. That didn’t happen. But was it going to happen either way? I have no idea.
Jason Blum has created (with others) a cash-cow genre for studios large and small, but Split looks like it will be his biggest success, especially in a mature segment. His top domestic grosser is $108m and that is sure to be cracked by Split by post-Super Bowl weekend.
xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is another nail in the coffin of studios chasing old IP of mediocre value.
Toni Erdmann was considered the likely Oscar winner for foreign language. But The Salesman is now looking like it might be the rarest of Academy events… a straight-up political vote in defiance of Donald Trump.
Split becomes a monster for Universal, likely to hold off the family film, A Dog’s Purpose, also from a happy Universal, scoring early in 2017 with 2 non-franchise films, reminding the industry that IP is not the only way. Resident Evil 6 doesn’t care much about the soft US opening. Their grosses have been 80% international the last 2 films, both over $195 million. La La Land and Hidden Figures both pass $100m domestic this weekend, buoyed by Oscar noms. Even with a nice expansion bump, Team La may be a little disappointed that the bump isn’t bigger. They’ll live. And the weeekend bump may well be bigger than the Friday. Gold fools.
Split kills it in a multiple of xXx: The Return of Another Old Mediocre Franchise. Hidden Figures holds strong while La La Land sees its first traditional dip, though it will be looking for Oscar nominations Tuesday to turn that around next weekend. The Founder rolls out like a franchise its financiers don’t really believe… to mediocre results. The only movie of any size release to do better than $6200 per-screen was the #1 film, a sure sign of a soft weekend.
Last year, the only $40 million horror opening was for The Conjuring 2 in the summer. Last year, there were only five originals that opened over $40 million (Deadpool, Zootopia, The Secret Life of Pets, Trolls, Moana) and the only one that was live action was only barely an original. The #1 original opening last January was 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi with $16.2m and only Kung Fu Panda 3 opened to more than Split.
The opening for Split remarkable. Was it helped by the Women’s March and men free to head to the theater on Saturday? Does it change the face of theatrical cinema? Obviously not. Would it have been well-served by a day-and-date VOD opening? No. It would have cost this title tens of million of dollars in profits. And if Universal is honest about it (not that anyone will ask them), they know this. Split could do Paranormal Activity numbers all around. Huge profits… in theatrical and post-theatrical. This is why windows matter. Studios will fail if they try to cherrypick box office losers for day-and-date. The theatrical system will collapse in time. Very, very dangerous.
xXx: The Return of Xander Cage continues a clear string of soft results for IP for which there is minimal demand. xXx did $271 million worldwide. The sequel – a better movie, but without Diesel – did $71 million worldwide. Now… the question is, will international territories save this from the ash heap of movie history? Allegedly, it has scored $50 million in its first weekend overseas. Triple that and this film will be within range of profitability, maybe.
Hidden Figures‘ strong holds continue. It’s a terrific audience movie, no matter how poorly directed and how many opportunities for improvement were missed. And I expect an Oscar nominatios for Best Picture on Tuesday, and it will then pass $100 million next weekend.
Also headed over $100 million then is La La Land, which took a funny smack on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend about people getting angry at friends who don’t love the movie 100% (https://youtu.be/abn6cPxrc5w). The film took a 42% hit this weekend, which may or may not have been affected by the Women’s March, but isn’t shocking. Expect an expansion and a big uptick next weekend.
The Founder snuck out like a Big Mac fart this weekend. I like the movie more than a little. Others don’t. But either way, TWC didn’t push too hard. In an era of IP obsession. With the biggest restaurant chain in the world as the center of the film.
Terrible weekend in arthouses overall. The high mark was $6,970 per-screen. Only six films over $2000 per-screen outside of the Top 10. Yick.
Appropriate that Split multiplied the #2 Friday grosser. Universal delivered one of those half-dozen-a-year campaigns that is ubiquitous. Festivals. Great outdoor. Couldn’t use an OTT without McAvoy’s mug showing up. Probably tight on straight TV buys, using publicity to make it up. And massive results. Perhaps last summer’s second Purge sequel was the inspiration. The result, so far, is identical. Very impressive.
xXx: The Return of Xander Cage continues the string of flops in the “why exactly are they making a sequel to a movie that wasn’t really a hit?” genre. Vin Diesel is a massive star… in one franchise and one franchise only. We have learned this three times. Until he finds another gear that people like, he is Chris Tucker. Deal with it.
Hidden Figures has a nice hold. La La Land has its first normal drop. No doubt, they are looking to Oscar noms on Tuesday to stem the slow bleed next weekend.
The Founder flounders… because they didn’t really try. “They” is not TWC staff, but the bosses, who treated the film like a bastard child and that tone leaked into everything thy did to sell (or not sell) the film.
No 10k per-screen titles at the arthouses.