6TH WRITETRHU, Monday finals: Don’t blame the Super Bowl for the lackluster performance of this weekend’s new entries: Paramount’s Rings and STX’s teen romance The Space Between Us, which are opening to $13 million in second place and $3.77M in ninth, respectively.

Money was left on the table here by those distributors who decided to opt out. Sunday aside, this is a weekend where the right testosterone property (American Sniper, Taken in previous years) can truly pull the guys in, especially over Friday and Saturday. Counter-programming works too, aka anything designed for females. But the property has to be big enough to stoke them, i.e. Hannah Montana, or a Nicholas Sparks bestseller, and we have two titles here — Rings and Space — going for teen girls.

Super Bowl weekend posted $98.5M, a 3% uptick over last year’s Big Game weekend, but off 30% from last weekend. On average over the last 10 years (2007-2016), Super Bowl weekend has raked in $103M-plus in total ticket sales with the average drop from the previous weekend being 21%. The highest-grossing Super Bowl weekend was 2008 with $128M; that’s when Disney’s Hannah Montana concert movie opened to $31M, repping the biggest debut for a title over the NFL weekend.

Slowing Rings considerably is the holdover power of M. Night Shyamalan in all his thrilling glory. Paramount properly spaced Rings on the third weekend of Universal/Blumhouse’s genre title Split, but no one knew the latter was going to be this big: It’s the first title in Shyamalan’s resume to hold the No. 1 spot at the B.O. for three weeks in a row since 1999’s The Sixth Sense (that movie dominated for five weeks at the top spot through Labor Day weekend). It’s also the first three-week No. 1 holdover for Universal since Straight Outta Compton in 2015. Late-night estimates put Split at $14.4M for the weekend, and a running cume by Sunday of $98.5M, down 8.5% behind Sixth Sense at the same point in time. That movie ended its stateside run at a phenomenal $293.5M, but don’t expect Split to put those kinds of figures as it will be slowed by the pre-Valentine’s Day gang of Lego Batman, Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick: Chapter 2 next Friday.

rings
Paramount

Some executives believe that Rings’ opening is OK in light of the awful reviews it received (Rotten Tomatoes score: 6%). Unless a horror film is a breakout hit a la Conjuring 2, this mid-teen range is the neighborhood where such PG-13 titles as STX’s Bye Bye Man and Uni/Blumhouse’s Ouija: Origin Of Evil open. But truly, if you think about it, this is an awful start for a once-classic millennial horror franchise. And at a $25M production cost, and reported high-$20M to low-$30M stateside P&A, Rings would have had to debut to $20M to be considered a theatrical success. Some are comping Rings to Ouija: Origin Of Evil, but that movie had a lower overhead with a $9M production cost and global take near $82M.

Ever since New Line began rebooting vintage classic horror titles with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003 ($28M opening), the B.O. trend has been that most of these high-gloss remakes open to $20M-plus, i.e., 2009’s Friday The 13th ($40.5M), 2010’s A Nightmare On Elm Street ($32.9M), 2007’s Halloween ($26.3M), and the list goes on. Heck, even the poorly received redux of MGM’s Poltergeist from 20th Century Fox debuted to $22.6M. The first two Ring movies rang up $410.7M in combined worldwide takes, and when a vintage title such as this has been absent for close to 12 years, there should be a notable want-to-see. There’s not, and fans aren’t happy with what they saw Friday night: Rings received the lowest CinemaScore of the series with a C-, which ranks below Ring‘s B- and Ring Two‘s C+.

Naomi Watts in 2002's 'The Ring' on a landline phone.
Naomi Watts in 2002’s ‘The Ring’ on a landline phone.
DreamWorks

The horror films that currently excel in the market are propelled by huge Rotten Tomatoes scores and very much auteur-driven — a name like James Wan alone brings in busloads. Rings lacks a notable filmmaker at its helm, and it’s funny, because the first two movies arguably met the criteria of today’s horror standards: the 2002 Ring was overseen by then-burgeoning visionary Gore Verbinski and boasted a 72% fresh RT score, while Ring Two was directed by the property’s original Japanese maestro Hideo Nakata.  

One rival marketing executive remarked that the Rings campaign was confusing from the onset, and it never defined for the audience whether it was a remake or a reboot. Early spots felt like a remake (there was a scene where a girl answers an old 1990s phone) while closing spots introduced more elements that made Rings feel like a reboot. “They [the studio] never answered the fundamental question of why they needed a sequel,” said another studio marketing exec. “The young people who go to horror don’t remember the original, and the people who do know it didn’t have the question answered for them.”
On social, RelishMix reports that the conversation for Rings was mixed, further challenged by the limited social activation by its cast (Big Bang Theory‘s Johnny Galecki was the prime tubthumper with 1.6M Instagram followers).
Landline phones are still in style in 2017's 'Rings'
Landline phones are still in style in 2017’s ‘Rings’
Paramount

“Many moviegoers are tired of horror remakes and even compare what video materials they’re seeing for Rings to Poltergeist, Evil Dead and other recent remakes. Plenty of comments poke fun at the very center of the plot, as in, ‘If you just don’t watch the short video of the girl… you’re OK, right?’ Further, the horror audience is very aware that this movie is based on a Japanese classic, and they’re wondering what new elements it offers. They certainly don’t like the landline phone, which is in the video clips and has been mentioned several times in convo, observes RelishMix.

Diving into CinemaScore, the grades for Rings look like a stoner’s report card: Males at 46% gave it a D+, as well as 35-49 (9%) and over 50 (10%). The female crowd under 25 gave Rings a C and women repped 54% of all ticket buyers, while the under 25 demo repped 67%.

Sources close to the property say that there was research early on that justified the need to make another Ring movie, especially among its young female target audience. In Paramount’s defense, they continually jumped Rings around the calendar, trying to find the best date: First it was Nov. 13, 2015, then April 1, 2016, and then Oct. 28. But Ouija: Origin of Evil, another PG-13 title was opening the weekend before, so Rings rolled to Super Bowl weekend. Overseas is at $15.2M with those Latin American territories where horror reigns faring well: Brazil opening to No. 1 ($2.7M), Mexico at No. 2 ($2.2M), Columbia, Panama and Chile at No. 1.

THE SPACE BETWEEN US

There’s no money to be made from STX’s The Space Between Us even if the studio’s share of the $30M production cost was less than $3.7M after foreign licensing, tax credits and co-financing. However, after rentals, they only made an estimated $1.9M and they’re still on the hook for a $20M estimated P&A. Those CinemaScore audiences who bought tickets to the Peter Chelsom-directed movie gave it an A- while critics shot it down with a 15% Rotten Tomatoes score. With an opening this low, that grade means nothing. The pic squarely targeted young females with its weepy relationship between a boy on Mars and a girl on Earth. But when you’re a movie going after that audience, it pays to be based on a bestselling piece of YA literature, not an original piece of IP. That’s the biggest hurdle here for Space Between Us. Further complicating its fate is that the movie doesn’t have any stars a la Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, or Shailene Woodley that teen girls would go out of their way to watch. Originally, this movie was scheduled to be slaughtered over the holiday season. Unfortunately moving it to a less-busy frame isn’t doing Space any favors. Those who actually decided to drive to the theater and watch Space Between Us included women (66%, A-), under 25 (52%, A-) as well as under 18 (35%, A-).

the-comedian
Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics’ The Comedianwhich critics have thrown apples at with a 24% RT rating, is suffering with $878K (not $1.1M as reported y’day) at 848 sites. Sean Penn was originally set to direct Robert De Niro with Kristen Wiig back in October 2011 from Art Linson and Comedy Central roastmaster Jeffrey Ross’ script. Mike Newell stepped in when the movie secured its financing, but then stepped out due to scheduling. By July 2015, Taylor Hackford was aboard to steer the ship. SPC tried to give this movie a push during awards season, premiering at November’s AFI fest, but the pic didn’t catch on in the clever way that Martin Scorsese’s previous De Niro stand-up feature The King of Comedy did in 1982. Also, it’s hard to make movies about stand-ups in an era when Louis C.K. authentically owns the sub-genre and elevates it to cinematic class with FX’s Emmy-winning Louie. You can’t compete with that, and any film critic with any innate knowledge and fandom for Louie is going to compare Comedian with that high-bar. Like Gold and The Founder, The Comedian wasn’t in the awards conversation, and the fact that reviewers loathe it spells bad business for this older adult comedy.

hidden-figures-la-la
20th Century Fox/Lionsgate

The box office battle between SAG cast ensemble winner Hidden Figures and PGA/ seven-time Golden Globe winner La La Land is real with the Ted Melfi-directed female African American NASA number crunchers movie taking over the running cume of the Emma Stone-Ryan Gosling musical by an estimated $600K $1.3M for an estimated $119.5M by Sunday. Moviegoers are moved by Hidden Figures’ themes of unity and progress in the face of a controversial Trump presidency which is clamping down on immigration, and fostering hate. Many believe La La Land to be the Oscar best pic frontrunner, further propelled by its 14 noms. That alone is expected to rebound the original musical past Hidden Figures in the end. But at this point in time, Hidden Figures has the edge stateside. Worldwide is a different story for La La Land as it hit $268M through Sunday, and $300M by next weekend or when China opens on Feb. 14. That’s close to the $306M collected by 2002 Oscar best winning musical Chicago. 

Dev Patel - Lion.jpeg
The Weinstein Company

Weinstein Co.’s expanded Lion from 575 locations to 1,405 and a saw a 60% surge in its weekend for $3.76M and a running cume of $24.4M. Director Garth Davis, who is counted out of the Oscar race for best director, took home best first time feature director last night at the DGA awards. Last night, Davis said that people come up to him on the street and share with him how Lion has personally touched their lives. Said Davis, “The film has given people the courage to adopt. And refugees the courage to find the family that they’ve had to leave behind in fleeing a situation. You make a movie and it has a second life. This is one of those movies.”

Denzel Washington - Fences.jpeg
Paramount Pictures

Also among Oscar-nominated fare, Arrival at $97.4M is fighting its way to $100M off its eight noms including director and best picture. Fences with a running total of $52.6M in its eighth weekend has taken over Amadeus ($51.97M) as the fourth-highest grossing film based on a play; the top three spots belong to A Few Good Men ($141.3M), Driving Miss Daisy ($106.5M) and Steel Magnolias ($83.7M). Last weekend, Viola Davis won best supporting actress at the SAG awards and Denzel Washington best actor. The August Wilson feature adaptation counts four Oscar nominations.

i-am-not-your-negro
Magnolia

Other notables this weekend include A Dog’s Purpose which jumped from fourth to third place over the weekend thanks to matinees with a 42% ease from last weekend for a running total of $32.6M. Uni/Amblin and Walden Media received very good news over the weekend with an independent third party investigation by American Humane learning that animals weren’t harmed during production.

The Oscar-nominated feature documentary I Am Not Your Negro is posting the weekend’s best theater average with $15,9K and a three-day of $686K at 43 sites. The Magnolia released pic directed by Raoul Peck envisions late author and social critic James Baldwin’s unfinished book Remember This House. The docu analyzes race in America using Baldwin’s words, and connects black history from the Civil Rights through #BlackLivesMatter. You can read more in Deadline’s Specialty Box Office report.

Final actuals per ComScore for Feb. 3-5:
  1. Split (Uni) $14.4M, -44% 3,373 locations, $4,276 average, Total: $98.5M, 3 weeks.
  2. Rings (Par), $13M, 2,931 locations, $4,436 average, 1 week.
  3. A Dog’s Purpose (Uni), $10.5M, -42%, 3,178 locations, $3,307 average, Total $32.6M, 2 weeks.
  4. Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox) $10.1M, -27%, 3,401 locations, $2,996 average, Total $119.49M, 7 weeks.
  5. La La Land, (Lionsgate), $7.3M, -40%, 3,236 locations, $2,278 average,Total $118.2M, 9 weeks.
  6. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, (Sony) $4.7M, -65%, 3,104 locations, $1,515 average, Total $22M, 2 weeks.
  7. Sing, (Uni) $4M, -37%, 2,293 locations, $1,767 average, Total $262.8M 7 weeks.
  8. xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage, (Par), $3.8M, -55%, 2,478 locations, $1,564 average, Total $40.2M 3 weeks.
  9. The Space Between Us, (STX), $3.77M 2,812 locations, $1,343 average, 1 week.
  10. Lion (TWC) $3,76M, +60%, 1,405 locations, $2,676 average, Total $24.4M, 11 weeks.
  11. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, (Dis) $2.9M,-45%, 1,613 locations, $1,812 average, Total $524.6M 8 weeks.
  12. Monster Trucks, (Par) $2.1M,-48%, 1,901 locations, $1,140 average, Total $31.1M, 4 weeks.
  13. The Founder, (TWC), $1.4M, -45%, 936 locations, $1,532 average, Total $9.8M, 3 weeks.
  14. Gold, (TWC), $1.37M, -60%, 2,166 locations, $635 average, Total $6.1M, 2 weeks.
  15. Moana, (Dis), $1,33M, -46%, 847 locations, $1,579 average, Total $242M 11 weeks.
  16. Manchester By The Sea, (AMZ/RSA), $1.3M, -36%, 974 locations, $1,360 average, Total $43.8M, 12 weeks.
  17. Fences, (Par), $1.2M,-15%, 948 locations, $1,302 average, Total $52.6M, 8 weeks.
  18. Patriots Day (CBS/LG) $1.1M, -60%, 1,003 locations, $1,100 average, Total $30.2M, 7 weeks.
  19. Moonlight, (A24) $1M, -33%, 842 locations, $1,190 average, Total $19.4M, 16 weeks.
  20. Sleepless, (OR) $889K,-49%, 672 locations, $1,323 average, Total $19.2M, 4 weeks.
 Notables:

 

The Comedian (SPC) 848 theaters  /3-day: $878K /Total: $892K/Wk 1 (includes gross from Academy run)

I Am Not Your Negro (MAG) 43 theaters  /PTA: $15,9K/3-day: $686k /Wk 1
Top films per studio-reported figures for Feb. 3-5 as of Sunday AM:
1.) Split (UNI/Blumhouse) 3,373 theaters (+174)  /$4.8M Fri /$7.5M Sat/$2.3M Sun/3-day: $14.6M (-43%)/Total: $98.7M/Wk 3
2.) Rings (Par) 2,931 theaters /$5.64M Fri. (includes $800K previews)/$5.62M Sat/ $1.74M Sun/3-day: $13M/Wk 1
3.) A Dog’s Purpose (UNI/Amblin/Walden) 3,178 theaters   (+120)/$2.8M Fri /$5.5M Sat/$2.5 Sun/3-day: $10.8m (-41%)/Total: $32.9/Wk 2
4.) Hidden Figures (Fox) 3,401 theaters (+50)/$3.1M Fri /$5.3M Sat/ $1.7M Sun /3-day: $10.1M (-28%)/Total: $119.4M/Wk 7
5.) La La Land (Lionsgate) 3,236 (+100) /$2.3M Fri /$3.8M Sat/ Sun $1.3M/3-day:$7.45m (-39%)/Total:$118M/ Wk 9

6.) Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (SONY) 3,104 theaters  (0) /$1.37M Fri  /$2.28M Sat/$850K Sun/ 3-day: $4.5M (-67%)/Total: $21.8M/Wk 2

7) Sing (ILL/UNI), 2,293 theaters (-409) /$895K Fri. /$2.1M Sat/$1.09M Sun/3-day cume: $4.08M (-36%)/Total: $262.9M/Wk 7

 8.) Lion (TWC) 1,405 theaters  (+830) /$1.1K Fri /$1.9M/$962K/3-day: $4M (+57%)/Total: $24.7M/Wk 11

9.) The Space Between Us (STX) 2,812 theaters   /$1.4M Fri. (includes $170K previews)/$1.73M Sat/$690K Sun/3-day: $3.82M/Wk 1

10.) xXx: The Return Xander Cage (PAR/REV) 2,478 theaters (-1,178)  /$1.1M Fri /$2M Sat/$600K Sun/3-day: $3.7M (-57%)/Total: $40M/ Wk 3

NOTABLES:

Gold (TWC) 2,166 theaters   /$462K Fri /$706K Sat/$282K Sun/3-day: $1.45M (-58%)/Total: $6.2M/Wk 2

The Comedian (SPC) 848 theaters  /$324k Fri  /$414K Sat/ Sun $362K/PTA: $1,3K/3-day: $1.1M /Total: $1.2M/Wk 1 (includes gross from Academy run)

I Am Not Your Negro (MAG) 45 theaters  /$223K Fri  /$301K Sat/$105K Sun/PTA: $13,9K/3-day: $629k /Wk 1
***************
Top films per industry estimates for the weekend of Feb. 3-5 as of Saturday AM:

1.) Split (UNI/Blumhouse) 3,373 theaters (+174)  /$4.8M Fri (-39%)/3-day: $14.3M (-44%)/Total: $98.4M/Wk 3

2.) Rings (Par) 2,931 theaters /$5.6M Fri. (includes $800K previews)/3-day: $13.3M/Wk 1

3.) Hidden Figures (Fox) 3,401 theaters (+50)/$3.1M Fri (-16%)   /3-day: $10.2M (-27%)/Total: $119.5M/Wk 7

4.) A Dog’s Purpose (UNI/Amblin/Walden) 3,178 theaters   (+120)/$2.8M Fri (-46%)  /3-day: $10.1m (-45%)/Total: $32.1/Wk 2

5.) La La Land (Lionsgate) 3,236 (+100) /$2.3M Fri (-32%)/3-day:$7.4m (-39%)/Total:$118.2M/ Wk 9

6.) Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (SONY) 3,104 theaters  (0) /$1.37M Fri (-72%) / 3-day: $4.1M (-70%)/Total: $21.5M/Wk 2

7) Sing (ILL/UNI), 2,293 theaters (-409) /$902K Fri.(-31%) /3-day cume: $3.9M (-39%)/Total: $262.7M/Wk 7

8.) Lion (TWC) 1,405 theaters  (+830) /$1.1K Fri (+83%) /3-day: $3.6M (+57%)/Total: $24.3M/Wk 11

9.) The Space Between Us (STX) 2,812 theaters   /$1.39M Fri. (includes $170K previews)/3-day: $3.5M/Wk 1

10.) xXx: The Return Xander Cage (PAR/REV) 2,478 theaters (-1,178)  /$1.1M Fri (-50%)/3-day: $3.4M (-60%)/Total: $39.8M/ Wk 3

NOTABLES:

Gold (TWC) 2,166 theaters   /$462K Fri (-60%)/3-day: $1.47M (-58%)/Total: $6.2M/Wk 2

The Comedian (SPC) 848 theaters  /$324k Fri  /PTA: $1,120/3-day: $950k /Wk 1

I Am Not Your Negro (MAG) 43 theaters  /$201K Fri  /PTA: $13K/3-day: $560k /Wk 1

2ND UPDATE, Friday midday, Split & Rings At Each Other’s Throats for No. 1: It’s a genre smackdown this weekend with Universal/Blumhouse’s Split and Paramount’s Rings trying to hack the other away from the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office. Because we’re looking at noon estimates, we’ll call it a photo finish (they’ll spread farther apart by tonight). Right now, Rings has the edge over M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological thriller, $14 million to $13.7 million, but no surprise if they swap positions. Rings looks to win Friday with $5M at 2,931, while Split will settle for second with $4.75M.

At its current pace, Rings will place under Ouija: Origin Of Evil, October’s PG-13 horror title which debuted to $14M. By Sunday, Split will count close to $98M for its three-week gross.

Rings has an 8% Rotten Tomatoes Score — substandard at a time when film reviewers have fallen head over heels for riveting genre product like Don’t Breathe and The Conjuring 2. 

hiddenfiguresjp-master675

20th Century Fox’s Hidden Figures is strong in the top 5, looking at an estimated $3.4M today at 3,401 and a FSS of $10M$11M in its seventh weekend. Total cume by Sunday should reside at $120M. The pic’s Oscar Best Picture and box office competition, La La Land from Lionsgate/Summit, is looking at $7M-$8M and close to $118M. Wedged between the SAG ensemble winner and the PGA feature winner is Universal/Amblin/Walden Media’s A Dog’s Purpose with $8m-$9M and a 10-day take by Sunday of $31M.

And STX’s The Space Between Ussplattered with a 16% Rotten Tomatoes score, is currently in free-fall at the box office, landing way outside the orbit of its pre-week $8M-10M tracking with an estimated $2M Friday and a $5.2M opening.

the-comedian
Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics’ The Comedian is bombing at 848 auditoriums with a projected $275K and a $800K weekend. Critics were cruel with a 25% Rotten Tomatoes score; for an upscale art house film like this, that’s poison ivy.

PREVIOUS, Friday 7:31 AM: Paramount’s Rings, the third film in the horror series since 2005, drew $800,000 last night from 2,155 locations which had showtimes starting at 7 PM. Industry estimates believe it’s too close to call this weekend whether Rings freaks Split away from the top spot. Forecasts have them both coming in between $12M-$14M.

Rings, a feature adaptation of the 1998 Japanese title from Hideo Nakata, was a huge sleeper hit when it was released in 2002, debuting to $15M and posting an enormous 8.6 multiple of $129.1M domestic. The Ring Two, which was helmed by Nakata, opened in March 2005 and debuted to $35M, an opening that ranks among the top 10 first weekends for a horror pic (final domestic: $76.2M).

Rings is essentially a reboot of a once popular franchise of sorts because the last movie was close to 12 years ago. Compared to other recently rebooted horror classics, Rings is far behind in its preview cash: Evil Dead, even though it was rated R, drew $1.8M, while Fox/MGM’s Poltergeist made $1.4M (it was PG-13 like Rings) on their Thursday nights. Evil Dead went on to make $25.7M and Poltergeist $22.6M in their opening weekends.

The closest PG-13 genre comp for Rings is Ouija: Origin Of Evil, which made $722K on its Thursday night before posting a $5.5M Friday and $14M weekend. However, Ouija 2 cost $9M, and Rings cost a reported $25M before P&A.

Split
Universal Pictures

Split made $1.5M last night, raising its two-week running cume to $84.1M and by Sunday will come closer to the $100M mark — that will make it M. Night Shyamalan’s fifth movie to cross the century mark stateside in his career.

space-between-us
STX

STX’s released their teen romance The Space Between Us which grossed $170K last night. Forecasts are between $8M-$10M for this younger-female skewing title. It’s common to program these types of movies during Super Bowl weekend. Ditto for the PG-13 Rings, which will likely pull in more females under 25. STX’s share of the $30M production cost was less than $3.7M after foreign licensing, tax credits and co-financing.

Universal/Amblin/Walden Media’s A Dog’s Purpose is projected to earn $10M-$12M in its second weekend, which would be a 40% decline for the pic.

Sony Pictures Classics has The Comedian starring Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Harvey Keitel, Edie Falco and Danny DeVito. The movie will play in about 800 sites but is expected to make less than $2.5M.