| September 23, 2020
Let’s start again with…
THE UNTOUCHABLES (alphabetical order, as of July)
|A Quiet Place II|
|Coming 2 America|
|The Conjuring 3|
|The Croods 2|
|The King’s Man|
|The Last Duel|
|No Time To Die|
|Top Gun Maverick|
|West Side Story|
|Wonder Woman 1984|
Okay. Obviously, Warner Bros and Disney took a leap into experimentation with Tenet and Mulan. Both failed. (See Episode II)
That leaves a studio big-title library of 16 films waiting their turn. Wonder Woman 1984 pushed to December… primarily to give WB enough time to make whatever its release decision will be in a month or so.
Six of the titles are already dated in 2021… where many of them are still as likely as not to have to be moved again. But it takes the pressure off.
With the remaining 9 titles, let’s go to the calendar.
Black Widow. Disney is at their marketing “shit or get off the pot” point on this film for a November 6 release date. It’s moving to 2021.
No Time To Die and Soul, November 20. Marketing has started for the Bond movie, shared by Universal and MGM, but they have until the first week in October to make a real decision. Disney has now had its nose bloodied on Onward and now, Mulan. Unlike Hamilton, which is the only Disney movie to actually move to the Disney+ platform without a SuperPremiumVOD scheme, this film is a $200 million investment before marketing. Imaginary scenarios about churn don’t make it a sound financial decision to throw a $200 million lollypop to save some small percentage of a $350 million a month revenue business.
Bond films gross between $400 million and $800 million internationally. America is important, but international is the profit center. This film cost between $250m and $300m. So international is even more critical. If Bond does Tenet numbers internationally, the film has an outside shot at breakeven, even if the U.S. market opens up a bit more.
So the decision is just that simple. It’s not going to open America on Peacock. Netflix might be able to buy it for $550 million or so. (Not exaggerating.) But why would they, really?
In the next two weeks, Universal will either see a realistic path to $500 million international for No Time To Die or NY and LA will open theaters and a path to $400 million international will suffice. OR Universal and MGM will push the film to 2021.
December has the other six 2020 “untouchable” titles. Two from Disney/Fox, 2 Warner Bros, a Universal and a Paramount.
I don’t know what Free Guy cost. I am guessing over $150 million. Disney surely already knows whether they think this is a PG-13 Deadpool or your basic $200m worldwide Ryan Reynolds grosser. If it is the former, it is not opening in December. There is no route to the numbers needed, especially since it is a comedy and Reynolds, even in Deadpool, is a 40/50 domestic/international kind of star. If they think they can get an opening going for Free Guy, but that it is going to be disappointing for audiences, they could shoot for this December date, if either or both NY and LA have open indoor theaters as of Halloween.
West Side Story is not overly expensive ($100m) and obviously has Oscar ambitions. This is very different math. At this price and with the possibility (I think it’s 50/50 or worse) of an Oscar season, Spielberg and Kushner’s re-imagining of this classic show could be the next Disney+ PVOD experiment at something more like the $20 price point with a wide an international theatrical release as possible. It could also attempt a hybrid domestic theatrical with VOD where theaters are not open… if NATO can find a way to get members to agree. Drive-in premieres make perfect sense for this content, though I’m not sure how Spielberg will feel about the viewing experience.
Unless something dramatic changes by November 1, Wonder Woman 1984 is not opening in a traditional theatrical for Christmas. The title leans domestic, in terms of box office. So WB needs to have the possibility of at least $200 million domestic for this film to go forward into release. So they are not just waiting on the virus, they are waiting on Bond. If Bond moves or generates $400 million or less worldwide, Princess Diana will be on the move again.
Dune is a curious one. WB bet $200 million on one of the great working commercial directors in the world (more by quality than $) and the rising stars of Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, and Jason Momoa. Denis has never had a $300 million worldwide grosser. So is Dune still untouchable? Again, a lot relies on the studio’s feeling about the film. In a perfect world – the old one – is this a $350 million grosser or a out-sized $700 million-plus worldwide event? WB knows what they think they have. So… potential outsized grosser = unlikley Dec release. Not so comfortable with it being a surprise box office hit means they could take another Tenet shot with this title.
The Croods was a grower, not a show-er. And it also did double international over domestic. So what of The Croods 2? Very Trolls 2, except that they will want serious international numbers. So the target is $250 million minimum international and a domestic PVOD play, perhaps at $15 instead of the Trolls 2 $20 rental price. I don’t see this film being released in any way – unless Netflix buys it for $250 million – until Universal sees a realistic $250 million international theatrical opportunity.
Coming 2 America has the very real potential to be the highest grossing Paramount-made release this century not named Transformers or Mission:Impossible (the deal for Indiana Jones 4 DQs it). When a company has had a dry spell like Paramount, giving away what might be the last coconut in the desert is not so easy. Now again… Paramount knows what is in the can. I do not. And comedies lean domestic. And though Eddie Murphy was doing better internationally in the 90s, he has leaned domestic as well. So… this title is a jump ball. Probably the least likely answer is a straight worldwide release on Dec 18. Anything is possible, but Magic 8 Ball is overheating here. Netflix, which bought the upcoming Beverly Hills Cop IV, is possible. $275 million worldwide for Bad Boys For Life didn’t encourage Paramount. C2A would likely be the most popular release on Netflix in any year. $250 million. Alternatively, Paramount could see try a variation on Mulan for the newly re-named Paramount+ streaming service. Sign up for $75 for a year on Paramount+ or $130 for Paramount+ and Showtime streaming and you get access to Coming 2 America. Or pay for a month and $20 for the movie as long as you have the subscription. And there is that lingering possibility that Bond opens and does over $100m domestic and Paramount goes for it in December or January.
The first “untouchables” scheduled for 2021 are not until February. So I am going to leave that hornet’s nest alone for now.
In terms of the next group that I laid out in the first episode of this scoreboard…
POTENTIALLY TOUCHABLE (as of July 2020)
|355 (Kinberg directed – Chastain/Cruz/N’Yongo)||U|
|Clifford The Big Red Dog||Par|
|Death on The Nile||Disney/Fox|
|I’m Your Woman (Rachel Brosnahan, Julia Hart dir)||Amazon|
|The New Mutants||Disney/Fox|
|News of the World||U|
|Peter Rabbit 2||Sony|
(Paramount’s Without Remorse is dated 2021… and is being discussed for a sale to Amazon. 7/23)
Of this group, only Death on the Nile is currently being marketed, with Disney releasing a new trailer last week for what is still officially a November release.
The New Mutants was thrown to the wolves by Disney 3 weekends ago… $30 million worldwide. $100 million writedown by Disney.
News of the World is still dated in December and is seen as a Hanks Oscar play (not really Greyhound) for director Peter Greengrass. This one will be caught up in Oscar decision-making. Do they drop it on VOD or streaming with some kind of theatrical where possible, walking the line for what still could well be a cancelled award season? I don’t know. All kinds of viable options and 6 weeks or more to decide.
Respect, 355, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, Rumble, and Cinderella are all dated for January. All 5 could easily be converted to streaming/VOD fodder. Modestly commercial entertainments without a huge price tag.
Clifford The Big Red Dog moved to 2021. I’m Your Woman is Amazon and will be an awards decision. And Deep Water is a Fox adult thriller from Adrian Lyne and Disney will likely hang onto it for a Hulu push sometime in 2021… or it could be fodder for theatrical if exhibition is still holding a lot of screens open and Disney is happy to write this one off.
On the arty front, Nomadland, Ammonite, On The Rocks, and The Father are the ones that seem to be in play, via Searchlight, Neon, Focus, and SPC. Everything else is in play. Throw a dart.
Next: Episode 3b: After The Fall, What Does The Road Ahead Look Like?
| September 23, 2020
| September 17, 2020
| September 16, 2020
“Half a century ago, my father made a body of work that shocked the art world. Not only had he violated the canon of what a noted abstract artist should be painting at a time of particularly doctrinaire art criticism, but he dared to hold up a mirror to white America, exposing the banality of evil and the systemic racism we are still struggling to confront today.My father dared to unveil white culpability, our shared role in allowing the racist terror that he had witnessed since boyhood, when the Klan marched openly by the thousands in the streets of Los Angeles.”
Four Museums Postpone Philip Guston Career Retrospective, Saying His Anti-Klan Imagery Does Not Belong In This Moment
| September 25, 2020
"On September 10, James Packer’s $200 million megayacht IJE was harbored in Tahiti, where it was scheduled to stay for three months. A bailiff attempted to board the luxury liner to serve the film producer and financier and was told to return the following day because Packer was not there. When the bailiff returned, IJE was pulling out of the harbor and heading to Bora Bora with the Australian billionaire onboard. Meanwhile, in Bulgaria, a process server was attempting to serve Millennium Films CEO Avi Lerner at his Eastern Europe studio. Simultaneously, disgraced film producer Brett Ratner and former Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara were served at their homes in Los Angeles. Sources say the four men were notified of a petition filed September 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court by a woman named Melissa Parker, who was facing off against Clark Grandin, Bruce Hamilton, Gregory Kemp and Walter Nelson. The names wouldn’t ring a bell with anyone in the Hollywood community. That’s because they are pseudonyms, with Parker being a stand-in for Charlotte Kirk — the British actress at the center of a scandal that has led to the ouster of two studio executives from their top perches, Tsujihara and NBCUniversal chief Ron Meyer. The defendants are, in fact, Ratner, Tsujihara, Packer and Lerner. The men have used these pseudonyms in legal documents since 2017 in an attempt to shield their identities amid explosive claims."
| September 25, 2020
Aaron Sorkin: "When you bring home a puppy, it’s said you should get a crate that is big just about big enough for the puppy to move around. That confined space will make the puppy feel secure. It’s the same with me. I like the four walls of the court and the office. I only have one movie under my belt, Molly’s Game, which had three principal characters. This film has eleven stars, most of whom are leads in their own movies and it has riots and teargas scenes. That’s not part of the puppy crate. Just writing the words, 'Exterior: Scene' on a screenplay makes me dizzy.... When I left Spielberg's house [in 2006], I called my father because I didn’t know about the events Steven was referring to. I said yes because it was Steven and he said there was a trial, so I thought courtroom and that was enough.”
| September 25, 2020
Jonathan Lethem: "The sensation of sitting alone in the theater is one I compulsively compare to going to a brain laundromat. I’m there to have my brain rinsed in the stream of images. I specify “compulsively” because I think of this comparison every time I go. Watching a big screen in the dark relaxes and restores me, and takes me out of the realm of criticism and language that too often overtakes my pleasure at the immersive flow of reading. Those personal “sites”—immersive reading, dreamy-attentive moviegoing—are primal for me, and sacred."
September 24, 2020
| December 13, 2019
| December 4, 2019
| December 4, 2019