6th Writethru, Monday AM: Similar to MLK Weekend, why is there so much lackluster product being dumped again over a four-day holiday? Did the majors make some sort of insider pact to release their weakest titles at the same time?
A couple of reasons. First, the studios knew that that they were going to be playing into the strong momentum of Warner Bros.’ The Lego Batman Movie, Universal’s Fifty Shades Darker and Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 2. Second, when a studio has a yoke of a film hanging around its neck, it needs to make as much money back as possible, and a four-day weekend, where there’s a decent amount of the public accessible –read 84% of K-12 and 34% colleges off today — is a prime time.
But this is becoming something of the norm: Holidays, once prized launch pads, are becoming the home to more and more stale product (i.e. The BFG, Terminator: Genisys over the July 4th frames, Alice Through the Looking Glass and Tomorrowland over Memorial Day weekend) as the studios look to other non-holiday weekends to pull people in with premium product. Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas still seem to be a safe haven. Another big reason we’re not seeing a Deadpool-type film programmed here is because when Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day coincide on the calendar in one weekend, it’s an opportunity for the studios to make big money. Despite the fact that most movies saw an improvement in their weekend estimates from Friday to today, the wide entries have slowed the four-day holiday to $181M, off 35% from last year’s Deadpool Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day combined period.
Universal/Legendary’s The Great Wall can’t scream profitability yet with a global take at $266.25M against a $150M estimated production cost and estimated $110M-$120M P&A. The studio and financier always knew the U.S. market was going to be a dog, but if they’re going to try to maximize ticket sales, a four-day weekend is the best time to do so. Saturday was +19% over Friday, pushing Great Wall‘s opening-weekend figures higher than what we saw at the start of the weekend, with $18.5M over three and $21.7M over four in third place. Imax screens numbering 366 repped $3.4M of Great Wall’s gold. In regards to the audience turnout for Great Wall, despite reports that the media blasted it for whitewashing, Asians repped the pic’s second-biggest demo, per Screen Engine/comScore’s Posttrak at 26% behind Caucasians at 43%. Still, based on its poor reviews and B CinemaScore, Great Wall doesn’t have the mortar to build it to a three-time multiple in U.S./Canada. Overseas cume for this Zhang Yimou epic raised to $244.6M from releases in 21 additional Uni territories.
On the bright side for Uni, combining Split, A Dog’s Purpose, Great Wall and Fifty Shades Darker, the studio commands 35% of the weekend’s four-day ticket sales.
Warner Bros.’ The Lego Batman Movie is still the big man at the B.O., posting the biggest Friday-to-Saturday jump in the top 10 with an estimated +92% for $14.7M, sending his three-day to $33M and four-day to $42.5M. By the end of today, Lego Batman will stand at close to $107M, making it the second title after Uni/Blumhouse’s Split ($124.9M) to cross the century mark this year. Universal’s Fifty Shades Darker is well on its way to becoming the third title to cross $100M at the some point in the near future. Christian Grey tightened his ropes around second place, seeing a higher three-day of $20.4M (-56%) and a projected four-day of $23.3M for an 11-day take of $91.9M.
New Line/Warner Bros.’ Fist Fight really thought it had a shot to be the alternative choice for guys in a market ruled by a caped brick crusader and a male dominatrix. However, the low-stakes concept of a schoolyard fight between teachers coupled with the fact that there’s two other guy options in the market — Great Wall and the sleeping power of Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 2 (three-day $16.1M and a great -47% , four-day $19.1M) — prevent Fist Fight from creating noise. It’s set to make $12.2M this weekend, and $14.5M over four.
Here are the pluses and the minuses on Fist Fight: Of the three wide new releases, it’s the cheapest and most responsible, with a low -20M production and an industry-estimated low $30M P&A. That’s keeping with the New Line style. The cost also was spread around to other financial partners including Village Roadshow. Late-night showtimes, as is typical with R-rated comedies, have pushed this to higher projections than expected throughout the weekend. “We’re hopeful, and we see signs that there’s a bigger upside,” said Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein.
Others at the studio are confident that Fist Fight is headed toward some sort of profitability, but a number of other sources we hear from say break-even is doubtful given that this movie is a pure domestic play, and it’s apt to final in the $30M range stateside. We’ve seen Ice Cube and New Line post better starts in the past. This is a low-concept movie that you can watch as a TV series on HBO (it’s called Vice Principals), and this schoolyard comedy concept even failed with moviegoers 30 years ago (it was called Three O’Clock High). Comedies have become increasingly more challenging to launch in the present marketplace. They really need to hit a zeitgeist, and it’s almost like moviegoers have Hangover fatigue: That franchise set the bar so high in regards to brilliant comedies and B.O. that everything pales in comparison for moviegoers.
It can also be argued that fewer comedies annually are popping on a mass level. The semi-comp here for Fist Fight is New Line’s R-rated Hall Pass, which opened in February 2011, drew a similar amount of males as Fist Fight (55%), opened to $13.5M and finaled at $45M domestic, with $83.1M global. That had the benefit of Owen Wilson’s star power. Fist Fight‘s production cost is 36% less than Hall Pass’ $36M. Only 53% of the audience on PostTrak said they would definitely recommend Fist Fight to a friend (very low). Thirty-nine percent bought tickets because it’s a comedy, while 27% came out for Cube and Charlie Day.
Even though John Wick 2 is slotted in fourth place behind The Great Wall, he’ll have the longer legs this winter into spring. It has a shot at making it to $100M. The sequel already has beaten the first installment’s $43M domestic final cume by 37%.
20th Century Fox/New Regency’s A Cure for Wellness is still in ICU with a $4.3M three-day and $5M four-day — a complete disaster next to its $40M budget. This is a beautifully shot movie, made by an auteur, and somewhere in it there’s a good movie. Audiences and critics loathed it, and since the pic’s plot was so Byzantine, it made it a challenge for the studio to sell in trailers and TV spots. Unlike Gore Verbinski’s first Ring movie — in which you watched the videotape and died in seven days — A Cure for Wellness lacked a pitch that was conveyable. Foreign doesn’t look like it provided any medicine for this cinematic malady, with 36 markets only grossing $4.5M, that includes South Korea and France.
This year’s running B.O. of $1.54 billion fell behind 2016 over the period of January 1-February 20 by close to 5%. Pin that on the power of Deadpool last year.
Studio-reported figures for Presidents Day weekend as of Sunday AM:
1. The LEGO Batman Movie (WB) 4,088 theaters /$7.4M Fri. /$14.2M Sat/$11.4M Sun/$9.5M Mon/3-day: $33M (-35%)/4-day: $42.5M/Total:$107M /Wk 2
2. Fifty Shades Darker (Uni) 3,714 theaters (+4) /$6.8M Fri. /$8.3M Sat/$5.2M Sun/$2.9M Mon/ 3-day: $20.3M (-56%)/4-day: $23.2M/Total: $91.9M/Wk 2
3.The Great Wall (Uni/Leg) 3,325 theaters /$5.9M Fri. (includes $970K in previews)/$7M Sat/ $5.5M Sun/$3.25M Mon/3-day: $18.4M /4-day: $21.65M /Wk 1
4. John Wick: Chapter 2(LG) 3,113 theaters /$4.1M Fri. /$6.7M Sat/$5.3m Sun/$2.9M Mon/3-day: $16.1M (-47%)/4-day: $19.1M/Total:$61.3M/ Wk 2
5. Fist Fight (WB/NL) 3,185 theaters /$3.8M Fri. (includes $600K in previews)/$4.8M Sat/$3.56M Sun/$2.3M Mon/3-day: $12.2M /4-day: $14.5M/Wk 1
6. Hidden Figures (Fox) 2,217 theaters (-450)/$1.8M Fri /$3M Sat/ $2.3M Sun/$1.5M Mon/3-day: $7.2M(-9%)/4-day: $8.7M/Total:$144.1M /Wk 9
7. Split (Uni/Blumhouse) 2,445 theaters (-516) /$1.9M Fri /$3M Sat/$2.2M Sun/$1.2M Mon/3-day: $7.1M (-25%)/4-day: $8.3M/Total:$124.9M /Wk 5
8. A Dog’s Purpose (Uni/Amblin/Walden) 2,400 theaters (-625)/$1.4M Fri/$2.4M Sat/ $1.9M Sun/ Mon $1.6M/3-day: $5.7M(-22%)/4-day:$7.4M/Total: $52.5M/ Wk 4
9. La La Land (Lionsgate) 1,587 (-478) /$1.1M Fri /$1.9M Sat/$1.5M Sun/$82oK Mon/3-day:$4.58M (-9%)/4-day: $5.4M/Total:$134.4M / Wk 11
10. Lion (TWC) 1,542 theaters (+205) /$1M Fri /$1.8M Sat/$1.4m Sun/$979K Mon/3-day: $4.1M (+4%)/4-day: $5.1M/Total:$37.4M/Wk 13
11. A Cure for Wellness (New Reg/Fox) 2,704 theaters /$1.5M Fri. (includes $300K in previews)/$1.6M Sat/ $1.2M Sun/$650K Mon/3-day: $4.35M /4-day: $5M/Wk 1
Everybody Loves Somebody (LG) 333 theaters /$262k Fri/$347M Sat/ $318K Sun/$223K Mon/3-day: $927K/4-day:$1.1M Wk 1
4th WRITETHRU, Saturday AM: Typically during a four-day holiday stretch, studios try to release some of their best product so as to capitalize on those moviegoers off from work and school.
But for the second time since MLK, we’re seeing a number of studio wide releases die over the Presidents Day period, while last weekend’s holdovers are rallying.
Warner Bros’ The Lego Batman Movie and Universal’s Fifty Shades Darker are posting great holds from what we were originally saw, with an even bigger bump from Monday’s business which will see 84% K-12 off from school with an additional 34% colleges on break (ComScore).
Lego Batman is dipping 39% in its second weekend at 4,088 theaters with $32.1M over three and an estimated $41.9M over four. Cume by Monday is expected to stand at $106.4M. The Chris McKay-directed animated movie easily wins Friday with $7.5M.
Fifty Shades Darker, thanks to playing into the Presidents Day weekend, is only expected to shed an amazing -55% with $20.8M over FSS. Four-day is at $23.9M with a running cume by EOD Monday of $92.6M. Uni expected this hold all along: Darker was never going to weather the -74% drop of its predecessor which made 56% of its domestic gross over a four-day combined Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day stretch. As we saw coming out of Darker‘s Valentine’s Day $11M climax — fans love what they see, and they’re going.
Even though Lionsgate/Summit’s John Wick: Chapter 2 is ranked fourth behind Uni/Legendary’s The Great Wall, the Keanu Reeves movie is also reaping the rewards of playing into the four-day holiday loaded with great word of mouth and totally excellent reviews. The sequel’s projected -51% ease in its second weekend isn’t that far from Kingsman: The Secret Service, Fifty Shades’ male counterprogrammer two years ago. That movie declined -49% in its second weekend. John Wick 2‘s will lift an estimated $15M over three and $17.8M over four for a near $60M 11-day haul.
Uni is experiencing a ying-yang situation this weekend. With great riches from Fifty Shades Darker and fantastic holds from Split (-24%) and A Dog’s Purpose (-18%), comes a great low from the Matt Damon Legendary fantasy epic The Great Wall which is turning to dust stateside with a projected $17.1M over FSS and $19.7M over four in third place. The movie was chiefly built for China’s great moviegoing population as well as other foreign territories that are dazzled by such flashy action epics. The financiers and producers knew they weren’t going to win the United States over with this $150M epic (which carries an estimated $110M-$120M P&A), hence the reason why they opened in China and other territories first where the movie has already amassed $225M.
When the first trailer dropped last fall, some U.S. media outlets griped over the pic’s whitewashing with lead actor Damon, who they believed appeared as a savior type to the Chinese. But that’s not how the film plays out storywise. Furthermore, Middle Kingdom moviegoers embraced this Zhang Yimou pic so much, they spent $171M to see it. Yimou and the cast emphasized at their New York Comic-Con panel The Great Wall‘s multi-cultural efforts and attributes in front and behind the camera in addition to the powerful portrayal of women.
So, why aren’t Americans watching?
Essentially, moviegoers here haven’t totally jibed with these new, expensive East-West collaborations like Warcraft and Great Wall. Plus, as critics observed, Great Wall sacrifices great story for great action. The Wall Street Journal‘s Joe Morgenstern exclaimed, “(It) isn’t a bad idea for a fantasy, but the computer-generated monsters, like the film as a whole, are numbingly repetitive, and devoid of any power to move, scare or stir us” while New York Times’ Manohla Dargis points out, “The whole thing plays out as if it had been thought up by someone who, while watching Game of Thrones and smoking a bowl, started riffing on walls, China and production money.” Audiences who dared to shell out for Great Wall gave it a B CinemaScore, which is under the B+ that Warcraft received. Even though Great Wall isn’t based on a videogame, production-wise, it’s the closest B.O. comp. Those under 18 thought Great Wall was great with an A-, but only 13% of them were in the theater. Sixty-four percent of Great Wall‘s crowd was comprised of men, 36% females, 71% over 25 with 43% buying tickets because of Damon.
Does The Great Wall turn a profit? Wanda’s response to the pic’s sour fortunes was “the failure is fictitious.” We’ll have to wait until Uni reports their overseas ticket sales for an additional 21 territories this weekend including Australia, Korea, Russia and the UK. Rival distributors have severe doubts that the film in its entirety will be in the black. Uni limited its exposure to a reported 25% while the rest is broken up between Legendary, China Film Group and Le Vision Pictures. Distribution partners in the PROC are CFG, Le Vision, Wanda and Legendary East. Because it’s a new type of Chinese co-production with the U.S., 40% of that $171M B.O. can be brought back to the U.S. versus the usual 25%-28% rental that many Hollywood films count from PROC. But one financier tells us there’s no money in Chinese video or TV for U.S. productions. We’ll be watching this one closely. The Great Wall has been seen as a potential financial model for future China-U.S. co-productions.
Remember that 1987 Universal comedy Three O’Clock High? It was about a nerd’s high schoolyard battle with a bully. That concept didn’t work back then at the B.O. ($3.7M) and neither is Warner Bros/New Line’s Fist Fight 30 years later with the R-rated comedy grossing $3.9M Friday, $1o.7M over three and $12.3M over four in fifth place. New Line kept this comedy at a low $25M budget with a low $30M estimated P&A spend. Cube, who typically plays the angry straight-man in a comedy, has made magic before with such co-stars like Kevin Hart. But don’t blame the marquee power of Cube’s co-star Charlie Day. It’s the concept that’s at fault with Fist Fight. Even though the school yard fight is between teachers here, and not students like Three O’Clock High, it’s the same low stakes comedy, and that’s not enough to pull people off the couch and into the multiplex. Those yearning to watch this type of bawdy comedy can take in HBO’s Danny McBride series Vice Principals on demand at home. Reviewers are the biggest bully at 34% rotten. CinemaScore crowds gave the movie a B, which is under the B+s earned by Day’s Horrible Bosses movies and Cube’s Ride Along (A) and Ride Along 2 (B+). Essentially, there’s a lot of low-brow humor in Fist Fight, versus the cleverness of say a New Line title like We’re the Millers. That movie’s clever high concept centered around a pot dealer who creates a fake family to move a shipment across the border. Because of Fist Fight‘s low-brow humor, it comes as no surprise to learn who turned up: Those under 18ers who could buy tickets gave Fist Fight its best grade of an A (19%), while under 25 (39%) graded it an A-. Males repped 54%, over 25 were at 61%. Fifty-five percent were in auditoriums because they love R-rated comedies, while 42% came for Cube and Day.
RelishMix noticed a divide in the social conversation for Fist Fight. Some felt in this environment of anti-bullying and teachers education issues, Fist Fight “took place in the wrong environment. To these comments, other fans are reigning down with harsh criticism, saying this looks like the funniest comedy in years. This contingent loves the R-rating, the red band trailer – and the cast. It’s just a true notable to see such impassioned discussion happening for a rated-R comedy.” Heading into the weekend, Fist Fight had its best promoters in Ice Cube (25M+ followers across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) as well as Tracy Morgan’s 4.3M. However, viral video views of the trailer according to Relish Mix have been at an awful 5:1 –that’s the rate at which trailers for Bad Santa 2 and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot were being spread around, and those titles bit the dust at the B.O. We hear despite this snafu, New Line likes Fist Fight director Richie Keen and have already signed him to helm the action comedy Partners.
And if you thought The Great Wall and Fist Fight were singing the blues, New Regency/20th Century Fox’s A Cure For Wellness at 2,704 theaters in 11th
ninth place with $4.1M over three and $4.7M over four is DOA. New Regency is carrying the weight for this $40M budgeted Gore Verbinski-directed title. Fox showed off the first 30 minutes at a December product reel, and as beautiful as the film looked (and critics have noticed that), it’s as confusing as all heck. As a result, it’s not stoking genre crowds with a C+ CinemaScore. There’s a mixed message here in the marketing: It’s a genre thriller but Fox positioned it like it was a mass-appealing pic for guys, and shelled out for a Super Bowl ad (and we know those went for $5M per 30 seconds). According to CinemaScore, mostly females at 55% turned out on Friday, 56% over 25. Fifty-one percent bought tickets because it was a trippy genre film, while 13% were DeHaan fans.
In a desperate maneuver, Fox tried to pique interest for Cure with a fake news site about the pic’s spa setting this week (saying it’s where Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met, plus that Lady Gaga’s half-time show was a tribute to Muslims). The digital stunt blew up in the studio’s face with RelishMix noticing social media’s ire in response to the marketing tactic. To add further insult to injury, the Pico Blvd studio apologized on Thursday for the ambitious promo. Prior to the whole fake news incident, RelishMix says that the film’s social marketing was “challenged by a cast with limited social reach with Dane DeHaan chiefly promoting the movie to his 800K followers. But the film’s cast has less than 1M total official followers.” Despite Fox running spots on its sister network FX as early as last year, the cool ads looked akin to those from American Horror Story and Shutter Island, however, the negative social conversation revealed a truth according to RelishMix: “It gravitated toward the tone of, ‘this isn’t showing me anything new.'” It was very clear coming away from Fox’s product reel that Verbinski was fully aware that there was no cure for A Cure for Wellness; its B.O. battle imminent. The director said the challenge entailed “getting people to come. We’re not based on a theme park ride or toys. We don’t have plans to make a sequel. It’s a big ask to have people to come to theater.”
On the other hand, Fox’s Hidden Figures continues to perform strongly with $7.1M over three (-11%) and a four-day of $8.7M. When all is said and done, this $25M production will likely wind up at $200M worldwide. An estimated $52M global P&A gets this to $18M in the black during theatrical, plus once TV and video ancillaries are counted, many see at least a $47M profit for this three-time Oscar nominee. AMC Theatres and 21st Century Fox are screening the Ted Melfi-directed movie for free today in 14 cities in celebration of Black History month.
Industry estimates for the weekend of Feb. 17-20, Presidents Day weekend as of Saturday AM:
- The LEGO Batman Movie (WB) 4,088 theaters /$7.5M Fri. (-45%)/3-day: $32.1M (-39%)/4-day: $41.9M/Total:$106.4M /Wk 2
- Fifty Shades Darker (Uni) 3,714 theaters (+4) /$6.8M Fri. (-69%)/ 3-day: $20.8M (-55%)/4-day: $23.9M/Total: $92.6M/Wk 2
- The Great Wall (Uni/Leg) 3,325 theaters /$5.9M Fri. (includes $970K in previews)/3-day: $17.1M /4-day: $19.7M /Wk 1
- John Wick: Chapter 2(LG) 3,113 theaters /$4.1M Fri. (-63%)/3-day: $15M (-51%)/4-day: $17.8M/Total:$59.9M/ Wk 2
- Fist Fight (WB/NL) 3,185 theaters /$3.8M Fri. (includes $600K in previews)/3-day: $10.7M /4-day: $12.3M/Wk 1
- Hidden Figures (Fox) 2,217 theaters (-450)/$1.8M Fri (-17%)/3-day: $7.1M(-11%)/4-day: $8.7M/Total:$144.1M /Wk 9
- Split(Uni/Blumhouse) 2,445 theaters (-516) /$1.9M Fri (-27%)/3-day: $7.2M (-24%)/4-day: $8.5M/Total:$125M /Wk 5
- A Dog’s Purpose (Uni/Amblin/Walden) 2,400 theaters (-625)/$1.4M Fri (-18%) /3-day: $6M(-17%)/4-day:$7.9M/Total: $53M/ Wk 4
9. La La Land (Lionsgate) 1,587 (-478) /$1.1M Fri (-17%)/3-day:$4.7M (-4%)/4-day: $5.6M/Total:$134.7M / Wk 11
10. Lion(TWC) 1,542 theaters (+205) /$1M Fri (even) /3-day: $4M (+1%)/4-day: $4.8M/Total:$37.1M/Wk 13
11. A Cure for Wellness (New Reg/Fox) 2,704 theaters /$1.5M Fri. (includes $300K in previews)/3-day: $4.1M /4-day: $4.7M/Wk 1
Everybody Loves Somebody (LG) 333 theaters /$262k Fri/3-day: $881K/4-day:$1M Wk 1
PREVIOUS, 7 AM: Universal/Legendary’s $150M China-U.S. co-production The Great Wall drew $970,000 last night at 2,470 locations from shows starting at 7 PM. That figure casts a shadow over Warner Bros/New Line’s R-rated comedy Fist Fight, which only made $600K, as well as 20th Century Fox/New Regency’s A Cure For Wellness which collected $300K at 2,215 venues from showtimes starting at 8 PM.
Even though Warcraft was based on a video game, it’s a comp here to The Great Wall because it was the last mega-epic collaboration between Legendary and China. And similar to Warcraft, The Great Wall cleaned up in the Middle Kingdom and is destined to tank in the U.S. Warcraft, which was released during the summer when more kids were out of school, drew $3.1M in its Thursday preview at 2,632.
For Uni and leading man Matt Damon, The Great Wall is definitely not expected to be Jason Bourne in its opening this weekend, banking only a three-day in the high teens. To date, the movie has amassed $225M abroad, 76% of that coming from China, with further build outs this weekend in 21 additional markets including Australia, Korea, Russia and the UK. Stay tuned through the weekend whether this movie breaks even, but it looks daunting. Nancy Tartaglione details the East-West film model, and because it’s the first sanctioned co-production between China and a U.S. studio by Middle Kingdom’s current standard, the revenue return on ticket sales there is at 40%, not the usual 25-28%. Legendary financed with Universal (who reportedly has 25%), China Film Group and Le Vision Pictures. Distribution partners in the PROC are CFG, Le Vision, Wanda and Legendary East.
Fist Fight is hoping for a high teen take over the 3-day portion of Presidents Day four-day weekend. 2oth Century Fox also has New Regency’s A Cure for Wellness which is looking at a sickly take between $6M-$8M. Both titles touted lower budgets than normal for a studio with A Cure in the $40M range, and Fist Fight around $20M, but it’s the latter that will fare better.
Following a huge Valentine’s Day take of $11M, Universal’s Fifty Shades Darker pulled ahead of Warner Bros.’ The Lego Batman Movie in its running total, and through yesterday remains on top. Fifty Shades Darker was No. 1 yesterday with $3.39M and an estimated week’s take of $68.7M while Lego Batman was third with $2M and a running total of $64.6M. Lionsgate/Summit’s John Wick: Chapter 2 slotted second on Thursday with $2.06M and a seven-day total of $42.1M.
But all that is expected to change this weekend.
Lego Batman Movie is forecasted to be the No. 1 winner with $30M+ thus growing longer than the Christian Grey sequel which will bed $16M+ while John Wick 2 should gross between $15M-$18M.
Overall, Presidents Day is expected to be a down at the box office due to the lackluster product, however, distributors are hoping that 17% K-12 off on winter break will make some sort of a difference. All of the wide entries have crappy reviews with Rotten Tomato ratings as follows: A Cure for Wellness (42%), The Great Wall (37%) and Fist Fight (29%).