6TH Write-thru, Monday: Updated with actual B.O. figures Hurricane Matthew wasn’t that much of a threat after all, as 125 theaters reopened yesterday for business, a majority of them in Florida. What business was curbed was limited to the coast with moviegoing gradually increasing inland. For a No. 1 grossing title like Girl on the Train, business is estimated to be off by a negligible 1-2%. But in no way did Matthew damage business like Snowstorm Jonas did when it left theater chains in a deep freeze during the weekend of Jan. 22-24 according to sources.

Interestingly enough, that cold weekend clicked more ticket sales at $113.6M than this weekend, which drew an estimated $104M per ComScore. But that blame falls less on Matthew than the ennui that’s fallen over the autumn B.O. Autumn tickets sales continue to drop with this weekend per ComScore, off 9% from last weekend and 13% off from a year ago. Essentially there’s a glut of adult-skewing titles in the market, and a lack of four-quad movies like last year’s The Martian (which grossed $100M in 10 days) and Sony’s family title Hotel Transylvania 2. Post Labor Day this year, Sully is the only $100M-plus grosser to date. Magnificent Seven, currently at an estimated $75.8M might get near the century mark. Box office cash registers won’t ding repeatedly until Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange arrives during the first weekend in November.

girl on the train

Responsible budget-to-B.O. gross DreamWorks’ The Girl on the Train via Universal posted $24.5M at 3,144 venues off a mid-$40M reported production cost, which marks a good return of the DW label to its former distribution partner of the early aughts. Based on a hot chick lit title, The Girl on the Train was always programmed to win No. 1. But the most intriguing question of the weekend was how Fox Searchlight’s The Birth of a Nation would survive in the wake of its filmmakers’ 17-year old rape accusations which came to light in August, and the answer is not well, with a FSS of $7M. For weeks now many saw this critically acclaimed antebellum slave revolt Sundance Film Festival title opening in the single digits, and many in exhibition and distribution point to director/star/producer Nate Parker and co-writer Jean Celestin’s media maelstrom as preventing Birth of a Nation from crossing over beyond its core African American demo (who turned up close to 60% this weekend). Birth of a Nation earned a solid A, and even some A+s among the under 25 sect, but with a $17.5M acquisition cost for Searchlight, a P&A between $10M-$20M, pic’s opening doesn’t have the power to leg out to 12 Years a Slave numbers ($56.7M), which is what the distributor was hoping when they spent a record amount of cash at Sundance.

looper

Many yearned to compare Girl on the Train to Gone Girl given their source material’s fervent readerships and genre similarities. But they’re truly two different types of thrillers, Gone Girl arguably having the higher plot stakes and twists as well as Ben Affleck’s star power, and even director David Fincher’s draw (opening for that October 2014 title was $37.5M, final domestic was $167.8M). But the positive takeaway here for Girl on the Train is that it proves leading star Emily Blunt, when paired with the right material, can open a movie on her own sans a leading male co-star. CinemaScore exits showed that 24% of all moviegoers cited Blunt as the main reason why they went to the movie (that’s a great number for a star), while 59% were fans of the novel. Girl on the Train was sold on her image and its opening smokes Blunt’s previous notable debuts, i.e. The Adjustment Bureau (co-billed with Matt Damon, $21.7M FSS), Looper (with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, $20.8M), and The Huntsman: Winter’s War (Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, $19.4M). A decent packaging of star with property.

Girl on the Train gets a B- CinemaScore, and while that might seem severe, it’s typical for feature adaptations of chick lit: Gone Girl (B), Fifty Shades of Grey (C+), The Devil Wears Prada (B), and The Nanny Diaries (B-). The older femme readers show up with their friends, then deconstruct the pic to death and its departures from the source material. On PostTrak, moviegoers at 53% said they’ll spread the good word on Girl on the Train which is OK. The only demographic to give Girl on the Train thumbs up was the under 18ers who hugged her with an A+, but only 2% of that crowd was able to attend this R-rated thriller. Uni started getting the word out about Girl with a poster reveal and trailer drop at CinemaCon. Social media monitor RelishMix noticed that Girl on the Train from three clips earned a very high viral-spread rate of 26:1 (the average ratio pass-around rate is 10:1). Blunt isn’t socially activated, however, social conversation pointed to the property’s readers wanting to see the film with #TheGirlOnTheTrain along with #GirlOnTheTrain, #GirlOnTheTrainMovie and #GirlOnTheTrainFilm propelling 16.4K unique hashtags over the last month with steady growth last week of 5.5K. The latter was spurred by a post from Girl co-star Laura Prepon (4.3M SMU) clocking 132K Likes from the red carpet.

Business for Girl on the Train didn’t see the low double digit spike on Saturday over Friday that we’ve seen in the past from other bestselling chick lit titles on the big screen, read Gone Girl, Fifty Shades of Grey and even The Light Between Oceans; raising only 2%. Big older female audience here for Girl on the Train at 62% women, 89% over 25. Uni collects a distribution fee on the release.  Twenty-two percent of the audience took their spouses or partners while 20% went along with 2-4 friends.  Girl on the Train is an upscale audience film and rallied in venues that tout premium amenities and seating. Big stops for Girl on the Train included NY’s Union Square, the Hollywood Arclight, NY’s Lincoln Square, Empire, 84th Street, Arclight Sherman Oaks and the Garden State Paramus.

middle-school

CBS/Lionsgate has Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life which is landing in seventh with $6.87M. CBS built this $9M title, co-financed by Participant Media and James Patterson Productions, as a mini cash cow once all ancillaries are accounted for; much like the Mae Whitman/Bella Thorne vehicle The Duff which skewed a bit older with an $8.5M production cost, $10.8M opening and $34M domestic B.O. Middle School received a great grade from CinemaScore crowds, A-, which is the same result that Duff earned generating a 3.1x multiple. Duff sold 300K Blue Ray/DVDs according to ComScore ($10 retail) along with 4.4M rentals ($2M) a pop which revenue-wise is close to what it made at the domestic B.O. Middle will hopefully emulate these revenue streams off a domestic B.O. that’s expected to eclipse $20M.

In an effort to stoke kids about Middle School, guerrilla reps for the pic were sent out to elementary and middle schools to hang posters and hold screenings. One rep at a local Castaic, CA school gave a talk to the school about movie marketing too. Social media monitor RelishMix noticed a positive conversation on social about Middle School fueled by the book’s fans with comparisons to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Middle School is also benefiting from Patterson’s involvement. He’s bringing his 3.8M fans and followers to the mix with consistent posts and Middle School materials.  But the rest of the cast, from social star Rob Riggle to co-star Lauren Graham (who together count 2.6M followers across social), are moderately plugging the film.

Audience split was 50/50 female-male with 58% under 25. Fifty-six percent of the audience bought tickets because it was a family movie. Middle School earned solid As for its under 25 demo and under 18 (54%) according to CinemaScore. On PostTrak exits, Middle School moviegoers weren’t over the moon with 47% saying they’d recommend the movie to friends. Parents dragged those opinion exits down with a 31% recommendation, but kids were bullish at 60% (very good). Fifty-nine percent of the audience was between 10-12 according to PostTrak with close to 80% of the kids giving it a very good or great grade.

birth-of-a-nation

Deadline hears that in some of the African American-demo theater locations where Birth of a Nation is playing, it’s the top title. These cities include Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, Baltimore, Norfolk, VA and in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood of L.A. Overall, the majority of the business for Birth of a Nation was in the South. Based on the film’s A CinemaScore, it’s apparent that the film still emotionally affects crowds as it did during its Sundance Film Festival premiere. Producer Kevin Turen has said in interviews that there have been “screenings where 90% of the audiences are left in tears”.

Fox Searchlight focused on a ‘call to action theme’ in its provocative posters and in Birth‘s trailer, which featured Andra Day’s “Rise Up” R&B anthem. There was also a grass-roots campaign with Searchlight sending sermon pamphlets to 80K churches and study guides to 30K schools with private screenings of Birth of a Nation being held for groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus and the Conference of National Black Churches.  The Mayor of Compton, CA, Aja Brown, also held an advance screening. Despite Searchlight harnessing these opportunities, or any arguments that its marketing campaign was too fierce (re: a one-sheet of Parker’s Nat Turner being hung by the American flag) or any debates whether the movie should have been platformed – all of this is for naught in regards to its impact on the B.O. Parker/Celestin’s past at Pennsylvania State University took the spotlight and is attributed by many in the distribution and exhibition community as the biggest thorn in the film’s side, preventing it from crossing over to a broader audience. I hear that Birth of a Nation wasn’t confined solely to specialty houses, but was spread out between African American-demo, suburban and metro multiplex locations. You can already see that any good word of mouth isn’t spreading. Despite moviegoers at 63% telling ComScore’s PostTrak that they’ll tell their friends about the movie, business only upticked 2% between Friday and Saturday. The one upside for business on Birth remains today, which is when many in its core audience head to the movies after church.

Final weekend figures from ComScore on Monday for Oct. 7-9:

  1. The Girl On The Train, Universal, $24.5M, 3,144 locations, $7,804 average, 1 week.
  2. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, 20th Century Fox, $15.1M, -48%, 3,705 locations, $4,087 average, $51.2M, 2 weeks.
  3. Deepwater Horizon, Lionsgate, $11.5M, -43%, 3,259 locations, $3,537 average, $38.3M, 2 weeks.
  4. Magnificent Seven, Sony, $9M, 3,696 locations, -42%, $2,438 average, $75.8M, 3 weeks.
  5. Storks, Warner Bros., $8,29M, -39%, 3,608 locations, $2,299 average, $49.96M, 3 weeks.
  6. The Birth Of A Nation, Fox Searchlight, $7M, 2,105 locations, $3,327 average, 1 week.
  7. Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life, Lionsgate, $6.87M, 2,822 locations, $2,437 average, 1 week.
  8. Sully, Warner Bros., $5M, -39%, 3,058 locations, $1,638 average, $113.2M, 5 weeks.
  9. Masterminds, Relativity Media, $4M,-38%, 3,042 locations, $1,341 average, $12.7M, 2 weeks.
  10. Queen Of Katwe, Disney, $1.6M,-35%, 1,259 locations, $1,293 average, $5.39M, 3 weeks.
  11. Don’t Breathe, Sony, $1.38M, -42%, 1,066 locations, $1,294 average, $86.95M, 7 weeks.
  12. Suicide Squad, Warner Bros., $1.1M, -41%, 972 locations, $1,156 average, $322.5M, 10 weeks.
  13. MET Opera: Tristan und Isolde, Fathom Events, $1.08M, 900 locations, $1,200 average, 1 week.
  14. Bridget Jones’s Baby, Universal, $843K,-63%, 915 locations, $922 average, $22.8M, 4 weeks.
  15. Snowden, Open Road, $743K, -62%, 787 locations, $944 average, $20.2M, 4 weeks.
  16. Blair Witch, Lionsgate, $518K, -67%,668 locations, $776 average, $20.1M, 4 weeks.
  17. Sausage Party, Sony, $471K, +148%, 1,071 locations, $440 average, $97.3M, 9 weeks.
  18. Premam, BlueSky Cinemas, $447K, 120 locations, $3,725 average, $522K, 1 week.
  19. When The Bough Breaks, Sony, $443K, -63%, 460 locations, $965 average, $29.3M, 5 weeks.
  20. The Secret Life Of Pets,, Universal, $340K, -23%, 339 locations, $1,005 average, $365.4M, 14 weeks.
  21. Top 10 for weekend of Oct. 7-9 per Sunday AM studio-reported estimates: 

1). The Girl on the Train  (UNI/DW), 3,144 theaters / $9.37M Fri. (includes $1.23m previews)/$9.55M Sat./$5.7M Sun./ 3-day cume: $24.7M / Wk 1

2). Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children  (FOX), 3,705 theaters (+182) / $4M Fri. /$6.6M Sat./$4.45M Sun./ 3-day cume: $15M (-48%)/Total: $51M/Wk 2

3). Deepwater Horizon  (LG), 3,259 theaters (0) / $3.3M Fri. /$5.1M Sat/$3.3M Sun/ 3-day cume: $11.75M (-42%)/Total: $38.5M/ Wk 2

4.) Magnificent Seven  (SONY), 3,696 theaters (+22) / $2.6M Fri /$4M Sat./$2.5M Sun/ 3-day cume: $9.15M (-41%)/Total cume: $75.9M/ Wk 3

5). Storks  (WB), 3,608 theaters (-314) / $2.1M Fri. /$3.7M Sat/$2.6M Sun/3-day cume: $8.45M(-37%) /Total: $50.1M/ Wk 3

6). Birth of a Nation  (FSL), 3,042 theaters / $2.6M Fri. (includes $350k-$400k previews)/$2.7M Sat./$1.765M/ 3-day cume: $7.1M / Wk 1

7). Middle School  (CBS/LG), 2,822 theaters / $1.95M Fri./$2.88M Sat/$2M Sun/ 3-day cume: $6.9M / Wk 1

8). Sully  (WB), 3,058 theaters (-659)/ $1.45M Fri. /$2.3M Sat/$1.5M Sun/ 3-day cume: $5.27M(-36%)/Total: $113.5M / Wk 5

9). Masterminds  (REL), 3,042 theaters / $1.2M Fri. /$1.8M Sat/$1.1M Sun/ 3-day cume: $4.1M (-37%)/Total: $12.78M/ Wk 2

10). Queen of Katwe (DIS), 1,259 theaters (+17) / $443K Fri./$739K Sat/$436K Sun/ 3-day cume: $1.6M (-36%) / Total cume: $5.4M / Wk 3

NOTABLES:

americanhoney

Premam  (BSKY), 120 theaters / $144k Fri./$206K Sat/$134K Sun/ 3-day cume: $484k / Wk 1

Denial  (BST), 31 theaters (+26)/ $57k Fri. (+50%) / 3-day cume: $230k (+45%)/$7,4k PTA/Total: $330k/ Wk 2

American Honey  (A24), 25 theaters (+21) / $25k Fri. (0%)/$33K Sat/$30K Sun/ 3-day cume: $89k (+25%)/3,3k PTA/Total: $185k/ Wk 2

The Greasy Strangler  (FilmRise), 11 theaters/ 3-day cume: $25k/ Wk 1

2ND UPDATE, Friday Noon: Despite grossing a notable $1.23M last night, DreamWorks The Girl on the Train from Universal isn’t expected to post Gone Girl opening numbers. That 2014 20th Century Fox release which was also based on a hot-selling piece of chick lit grossed $1.25M on its preview night before turning in $13.1M for Friday and $37.5M for the weekend, but Girl on the Train is now looking at $9M-$10M today for a 3-day that’s in the $24.5M-$26.5M range. This was to be expected given that the Paula Hawkins source material has a different set of thrilling vibes than the shocking twists of Gone Girl, plus that movie boasted Ben Affleck as its lead and David Fincher as director. In all fairness to Emily Blunt, this is arguably the first vehicle that rests on her shoulders sans a prolific male star like Matt Damon, Johnny Depp or Tom Cruise. It’s fine for a pic that cost in the mid $40M range before P&A.

20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is looking at a second weekend that’s -45% to -52% for $14M-$16M in second, which could raise the Tim Burton-directed movie to $52M by Sunday. Mark Wahlberg environmental thriller Deepwater Horizon from Lionsgate/Participant is right behind with $11M, -47% for a 10-day haul of $37.8M.

Fox Searchlight’s Birth of a Nation with a $3M Friday and $7.5M-$9.5M will arrive in sync with its tracking, however, many say for a wide release such as this in 2,105 theaters (one of five in Searchlight’s history to debut north of 2,000), a $17.5M pick-up cost, and $10M-$20M P&A; it’s just not a strong enough start to linger for the rest of awards season. And other African American-awards season-centric fare is coming down the road with Focus Features’ Loving, A24’s Moonlight, and later in the year, Paramount’s Fences and 20th Century Fox’s Hidden Figures (which is apt to get an awards season release before going wide during the Jan. 13 MLK holiday weekend. Again, by evening, all these estimates should change.

CBS/Lionsgate/Patricipant’s Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is looking at $2M-$3M today and $7M-$9M. If it’s going to pop, it’s tomorrow during the day since it’s a family movie.

1st UPDATE, Friday 7:10AM: Universal’s release of DreamWorks’ The Girl on the Train collected $1.23M from 2,401 Thursday night showtimes starting at 7PM. That’s just $20K less than what 20th Century Fox’s Gone Girl, which was also based on a female-skewing bestselling novel, made in its Thursday night previews before posting a $13.1M Friday, $37.5M weekend during Oct. 3-5, 2014. Hopefully last night’s momentum continues to work in Girl on the Train‘s favor. Industry projections for the film are in the high $20M range. Earlier this week Fandango noticed that advance tickets sales for the movie were outstripping 2013’s Prisoners. Directed by The Help‘s Tate Taylor, The Girl on the Train carries a production cost before P&A in the mid $40M range with a 46% Rotten Tomatoes score.

In the movie based on the , Emily Blunt stars as Rachel, a struggling alcoholic going through a divorce. Rachel believes that her ex-husband’s neighbor Megan has the ideal married life, and watches her from a train, but then she goes missing.

Deepwater Horizon Mark Wahlberg

Despite theater closures yesterday along the southeast coast due to Hurricane Matthew, it doesn’t look like business slowed that much for films ranking on the top 10 chart: Lionsgate/Participant Media’s Deepwater Horizon has been the No. 1 film over the last two days, grossing $1.4M on Wednesday and an estimated $1.37M yesterday, -2%. B.O. trackers think that the pic’s A- CinemaScore and good reviews will maintain a decent second weekend hold of around -40% for the Peter Berg-directed/Mark Wahlberg-vehicle, on track for $11M-$12M. In its first week, Deepwater Horizon mined an estimated $26.8M.  Last weekend’s No. 1 champ, 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment’s Miss Peregrine‘s Home for Peculiar Children will beat Deepwater Horizon for a second place notch with a second weekend take north of $14M. Through seven days, the Tim Burton-directed movie grossed $36.1M.

Birth Of A Nation, The

Also hitting the marquees this weekend is Fox Searchlight’s $17.5M Sundance Film Festival acquisition The Birth of a Nation which has been besieged by its director/star Nate Parker and screenwriter Jean Celestin’s past involving the accused rape of a Pennsylvania State University classmate 17 years ago. Parker was acquitted, maintaining the sex was consensual, while Celestin was initially convicted, but later received an appeal. Despite having the best reviews out of this weekend’s three wide entries at 77% fresh, many sources in distribution and exhibition are skeptical whether critics’ praise will fuel the ticket sales for Birth of a Nation in the wake of its controversy. Pic, based on the slave revolt led by Nat Turner in Southampton County, Virginia in August 1831, is booked at 2,105 venues and is expected to open to $5M-$8M. Birth of a Nation generated $350K-$400K from more than 1,600 venues yesterday with many exhibitors reporting that the movie was the No. 1 title in their complexes. Last night outside the Hollywood Arclight theatre which was playing Birth of a Nation, Fvck Rape Culture held a silent candlelight vigil honoring victims of rape and sexual assault.

CBS Films/Lionsgate’s Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is looking to lure families with kids 6-12. Pic, based on the James Patterson bestseller, is playing at 2,822 venues with a weekend projection of $7M-$8M. In terms of pic’s economics it’s not that far from CBS’ teen girl release The Duff which cost around $9M; Middle School was also co-financed and co-produced by James Patterson Productions with Participant Media executive producing