Writethru Sunday AM: What a fascinating business. This weekend a $35 million-budgeted horror movie in its fifth frame will gross close to nine times its production cost with a running domestic B.O. total of $304.5M.
At the same time, a $155M-plus attempt to reboot a cult sci-fi franchise may not even make it to $100M by the end of its domestic theatrical cycle.
We are, of course, comparing New Line/Warner Bros.’ It and Alcon Entertainment/Sony’s Blade Runner 2049, and the latter is now looking at a three-day weekend of $31.5M as of Sunday AM, down from the $32.6M the industry spotted on Saturday morning. That’s an awful start for this brilliantly crafted cinematic opus directed by Denis Villeneuve and executive produced by Ridley Scott. In fact, Blade Runner 2049‘s projected weekend isn’t that far from Scott’s summer misfire, Alien: Covenant ($36.1M). Forecasts for Blade Runner 2049 having been falling since Friday at noon from $45M to $36M late last night to now this.
By some miracle, should Blade Runner 2049 get into the low $40Ms by Sunday, it’s still not a fantastic start for this tentpole-size budgeted sci-fi film. One financier remarked that they weren’t impressed by Friday’s early European B.O. results for the sequel, and that it’s now up to Asia to save Blade Runner 2049.
Those affiliated with the movie have been saying that $400M is the magic break-even number, but Deadline sources believe that’s far from true. One source with knowledge of the budget claims it’s significantly lower, in the $170M range versus the $155M being floated around. To Alcon’s credit, they took advantage of foreign credits and rebates, shooting Blade Runner 2049 in Hungary. One insider even asserts they came in under their original proposed budget. Blade Runner 2049 marked arguably a third opportunity for Alcon Entertainment, the production label backed by FedEx founder Fred Smith, to graduate to tentpole fare after delivering low-to-mid-budget cash cows like The Blind Side to Warner Bros. Previous $100M-plus attempts and fails include the 2015 Point Break reboot and Johnny Depp’s Transcendence.
Nonetheless, this is truly a very depressing result for Blade Runner 2049: Here was a passionate attempt to revive a cult classic, be completely faithful to its original property, from its mind-blowing production design to its sophisticated plot, and now, kerplunk. Similar to the way that time was on the side of the original Blade Runner — it’s a groundbreaking piece of filmmaking that has far surpassed its initial commercial prospects (it bombed back in 1982, making close to $28M stateside) — perhaps history will also be kind to Blade Runner 2049. The jaw-dropping sequel is truly an awards season film, and should Warner Bros. rally behind Blade Runner 2049, perhaps more people will find it. On the PR side, Blade Runner 2049 is Villeneuve’s best opening as a director, besting Arrival‘s $24M, and it’s also Ryan Gosling’s, his previous being Crazy, Stupid, Love with $19.1M.
The biggest challenge for Blade Runner 2049 is that the brand hardly means anything to those under 40. We heard for some time that there was concern among those close to the film that the younger crowd wouldn’t show up. Indeed, that’s what we’re seeing, with ComScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak showing those under 25 repping 24% of all ticket buyers. On CinemaScore, it’s worse: 14% under 25. Overall, CinemaScore showed 71% males giving the pic an A-, the 50-set repping a third of the crowd. It’s too bad that Alcon couldn’t hook more of the 25-34 crowd (repping 23% on CinemaScore) because they enjoyed Blade Runner 2049 the most, with a solid A. As we’ve continually emphasized, when making a movie of this size, you can’t reap a fortune off of one quadrant alone, and in Blade Runner 2049’s case, that’s men over 25 who turned up at 53%.
In addition, what’s choking Blade Runner 2049 is the movie itself. The sequel is based off the original’s Byzantine mythology, and the only people who are apt to appreciate Blade Runner 2049 in all its zenith are those who know the first film like the back of their hand, more specifically the 2007 director’s cut, which raises the question that Harrison Ford’s android hunter (called “replicants” in the movie) is really a robot himself. Furthermore, with so many re-release cuts of Blade Runner, did movie-goers even know which one to watch before heading to the theater? Blade Runner 2049‘s solid $4M Thursday reported robust advance ticket sales, an A- CinemaScore, and overall 83% positive PostTrak audience score, indicating that the faithful came out to watch the sequel to this 35-year-old film. Hence, many believe this weekend’s ticket sales will be largely front-loaded. There was an effort made by Alcon to get younger crowds on board and caught up with the pic’s lore with an elaborate timeline presentation at Comic-Con (later shared on Facebook), as well as three custom-made YouTube shorts starring Jared Leto and Dave Bautista that explain the events leading up to Blade Runner 2049. Such great lengths aren’t paying off.
The trailers and footage pushed out for Blade Runner 2049 are truly gorgeous. However, coming away from CinemaCon, rival marketing executives became suspicious over the footage shown during Sony’s presentation. Whenever a trailer sports dazzling visuals and lacks a hooking story line, studio marketing executives immediately smell a problem (case in point: Valerian and Ghost in the Shell). Either that, or the movie is too complex to craft a concise sales pitch in a two-minute spot. Alcon Entertainment was the architect when it came to Blade Runner 2049’s marketing campaign and controlled the positioning and budgeting. Various sources have dinged Blade Runner 2049’s campaign in its failure to address the brand’s generational divide. Who is Ryan Gosling’s character? Why does the movie take place in 2049? How about a reminder of why Harrison Ford’s character is so important? If you’re over 40, you might know the answers to these questions. Apparently, Alcon did not want to reveal any spoilers or plot points in their materials. In his review of the sequel, Deadline’s Pete Hammond said that before a critic’s screening, a letter from Villeneuve was read asking the press not to reveal any plot details, to let audiences discover the movie for themselves. “This movie is so complex and complicated, I couldn’t give the plot details of Blade Runner 2049,” exclaims Hammond. The obsession over side-stepping spoilers in materials provided zero upside. If that’s the marketing tactic, how did those behind Blade Runner 2049 expect to introduce a property to a new generation? “I think they tied it too close to the vest. Is everything a big spoiler?” remarked one rival studio marketing boss. While one can feasibly describe The Martian and Gravity in a sentence, some found it impossible to summarize Blade Runner 2049 coming away from the trailers: It was all robots, young cop and old cop.
In addition, that 163-minute running time is a killer. Forget about the fact that Blade Runner 2049 has its slow moments. Once you count the trailer pre-show, how do you ask audiences to commit four hours of their time to sit in the theater? Not only does that limit the number of showtimes in a given auditorium, but with these screens failing to generate income, it will be a challenge to keep Blade Runner 2049 on screen. If things couldn’t get more complicated, there’s a number of loose ends in Blade Runner 2049, ones which will likely keep those leaving the theater debating. Exclaimed one rival studio executive today, “You’d think that at 163 minutes, they’d have some closure.”
We’ll be parsing through how big the losses are here for Blade Runner 2049, but one thing is for sure is that Warner Bros. will arrive largely unscathed. They have no equity in the Denis Villeneuve feature and are collecting a distribution fee between 8-10%. Any P&A dollars stateside is backstopped by Alcon. Industry estimates figure $130M overall P&A for Blade Runner 2049. Sony, too, doesn’t have equity in Blade Runner 2049, but co-financed, contributing an estimated $90M before rebates and credits. They receive a distribution fee plus a share of the global profits (are there any??). It is Deadline’s understanding that Sony’s money is recouped in front of Alcon’s.
20th Century Fox’s The Mountain Between Us is struggling with $10.1M in second. It’s an old-fashioned movie with a been-there, done-that type of survival premise (remember Everest two years ago?). And at 51% Rotten, it’s a film that an older adult audience will avoid. Production cost before P&A for this Kate Winslet-Idris Elba combo is an estimated $35M. The Mountain Between Us also earned an A- CinemaScore, with 63% of females turning up, 50% over the age of 50, and 89% over the age of 25. The 37% of all guys who bought tickets didn’t shrug it with an A- CinemaScore. But again, no one is going because we’ve seen it all before.
Lionsgate/Hasbro’s My Little Pony tanked with a $8.8M start. Rivals initally were impressed on Friday that this young girl pic could wind up in the double digits. Hasbro financed this evergreen toy property pic, with Lionsgate handling for a distribution fee and taking on P&A. Pic received an A- CinemaScore.
Focus Features’ Stephen Frears movie Victoria and Abdul pops into the top 10 with a great $4.1M at 732 sites. Judi Dench is all abuzz in being a leading contender for the best actress race this season for her turn as Queen Victoria. In addition, Fox Searchlight’s Battle of the Sexes is having a nice hold of -29% after having a bit of a slow start last weekend with $3.4M. A24’s The Florida Project is posting the best theater average of the weekend with $38K from four houses in New York and Los Angeles.
Studio reported figures as of Sunday AM:
Studio reported weekend figures as of Sunday AM:
1.)Blade Runner 2049 (ALC/WB/SONY), 4,058 theaters / $12.74M Fri. (includes $4M previews) /$11.4M Sat/$7.4M Sun/ 3-day cume: $31.5M / Wk 1
2.)The Mountain Between Us (FOX), 3,088 heaters / $3.5M Fri. (includes $400K previews) / $4.2M Sat/$2.4M Sun/3-day cume: $10.1M / Wk 1
3.) It (NL/WB), 3,605 theaters (-312) / $2.7M Fri. /$4.3M Sat/ $2.6M/ 3-day cume: $9.65M (-43%) / Total: $304.9M / Wk 5
4.)My Little Pony (LG), 2,528 heaters / $2.97M Fri. (includes $290K previews) / $3.45M Sat/ $2.38M Sun/3-day cume: $8.8M / Wk 1
5.) Kingsman: The Golden Circle (FOX), 3,488 theaters (-550) / $2.3M Fri. /$3.6M Sat/ $2.2M Sun/ 3-day cume: $8.1M (-52%) / Total: $79.96M / Wk 3
6.) American Made (UNI), 3,031 (+7) / $2.34M Fri. /$3.46M Sat/ $2.25M Sun/ 3-day cume: $8.07M (-52%)/Total: $30.4M/ Wk 2
7.) The Lego Ninjago Movie (WB), 3,611 theaters (-436) / $1.6M Fri. /$3M Sat/ $2.1M Sun/3-day cume: $6.75M (-42%) / Total: $43.8M / Wk 3
8.) Victoria & Abdul (FOCUS), 732 theaters (+655) / $1.2K Fri. /$1.6M Sat/ $12.9M Sun/ 3-day cume: $4.1M (+279%)/Total: $5.95M/ Wk 3
9.) Flatliners (SONY), 2,552 theaters / $1M Fri. /$1.07M Sat/ $1.05M Sun/3-day cume: $3.8M (-42%) / Total: $12.3M /Wk 2
10.) Battle of the Sexes (FSL), 1,822 theaters (+609) / $695K Fri. /$1M Sat/ $635K Sun/ 3-day cume: $2.4M (-29%) / Total: $7.7M / Wk 3
The Stray (PURE) 640 screens, $185K Fri/$246K Sat/ $119K Sun/3-day: $550K/Wk 1
A Question of Faith (PURE), 608 theaters (-53) / $127K Fri. /$187K Sat/$121K Sun/ 3-day cume: $435K (-58%)/Total: $1.77M/ Wk 2
The Florida Project (A24), 4 theaters / $53k Fri. /$55K Sat/$44K Sun/PTA: $38K/ 3-day cume: $152,6K / Wk 1
Industry estimates for the weekend of Oct. 6-8 as of Saturday morning:
1.)Blade Runner 2049 (ALC/WB/SONY), 4,058 theaters / $12.6M Fri. (includes $4M previews) / 3-day cume: $32.6M / Wk 1
2.)My Little Pony (LG), 2,528 heaters / $2.97M Fri. (includes $290K previews) / 3-day cume: $10.6M / Wk 1
3.)The Mountain Between Us (FOX), 3,088 heaters / $3.5M Fri. (includes $400K previews) / 3-day cume: $10M / Wk 1
4.) It (NL/WB), 3,605 theaters (-312) / $2.68M Fri. / 3-day cume: $9.28M (-45%) / Total: $304.5M / Wk 5
5/6.) American Made (UNI), 3,031 (+7) / $2.34M Fri. (-61%) / 3-day cume: $8.12M (-52%)/Total: $30.5M/ Wk 2
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (FOX), 3,488 theaters (-550) / $2.3M Fri. / 3-day cume: $8.04M (-53%) / Total: $79.9M / Wk 3
7.) The Lego Ninjago Movie (WB), 3,611 theaters (-436) / $1.6M Fri. / 3-day cume: $6.4M (-45%) / Total: $43.5M / Wk 3
8.) Victoria & Abdul (FOCUS), 732 theaters (+655) / $1.2K Fri. (+300%) / 3-day cume: $4M (+267%)/Total: $5.9M/ Wk 3
9.) Flatliners (SONY), 2,552 theaters / $1.1M Fri. (-48%)/ 3-day cume: $3.7M (-43%) / Total: $12.2M /Wk 2
10.) Battle of the Sexes (FSL), 1,822 theaters (+609) / $697K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.4M (-29%) / Total: $7.7M / Wk 3
Til Death Due Us Part (IND), 562 theaters (0) / $202K Fri. (-59%)/ 3-day cume: $686K (-55%)/Total: $2.56M/ Wk 2
A Question of Faith (PURE), 608 theaters (-53) / $126K Fri. (-68%) / 3-day cume: $423K (-59%)/Total: $1.76M/ Wk 2
The Florida Project (A24), 4 theaters / $50k Fri. /PTA: $38K/ 3-day cume: $152K / Wk 1
3rd Update, 12:05PM: Alcon Entertainment/Sony’s Blade Runner 2049 is currently looking at an opening day between $17M-$18M, which is in the range that Gravity and The Martian opened at. However, industry estimates at this minute don’t figure that the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 opus will crack $50M. Still, TBD. Currently, Blade Runner 2049‘s tracking is between $44M-$46M, right where tracking saw this film all along. A rival distribution chief calls the result “respectable” for this very pricey pic, which carries a reported production cost north of $155M net before P&A. Again, Blade Runner 2049‘s three-day is also close to what Mad Max: Fury Road debuted to – $45M- and that was another redux of a cult sci-fi classic. Whether this film legs out and isn’t front-loaded will be determined by its CinemaScore and further ticket sales tonight. Warner Bros. is handling domestic distribution as part of its service deal with Alcon.
ComScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak showed glowing audience reactions: 21% of last night’s crowd said they’d watch the 163-minute movie again in theater, and the sequel hooked an 85% overall positive score. Guys under-25 who attended at 14% responded the best with an 89% overall positive. Men over 25, natch, were the dominant crowd at 56% and a 87% total positive score. Then there were females over 25 (20%, 80% positive) and females under 25 (10% of the crowd, 77% overall positive). Last night’s ticket buyers gave Blade Runner 2049 a shiny 66% overall definite recommend. Sixty-seven percent of Blade Runner 2049‘s crowd last night was walk-up business, while 16% bought their tickets in advance over the last week.
Lionsgate’s My Little Pony is trotting into second with $3M-$3.5M today and a $10M-$13M opening.
New Line/Warner Bros’ It is unstoppable, and will stick in third place with a $2.6M fifth Friday and $10M weekend, a 41% ease, as the Stephen King movie moves to $305.3M by Sunday.
20th Century Fox/Chernin’s survival romance The Mountain Between Us is currently at $3M for today and $8M-$10M for the weekend.
Universal/Cross Creek’s American Made looks to slot fifth with $7.5M-$9.5M in weekend two, a 49% decline for a running cume by Sunday of $31.8M at the high-end. 20th Century Fox’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle is looking at $7M-$8M in weekend three, -56% for a running total near $80M by Sunday.
More updates tonight.
2nd Update, Friday 7:31 AM: The numbers are in and Warner Bros. is reporting $4M for Alcon Entertainment/Sony’s Blade Runner 2049. That’s on the high end of what we reported late last night and above the preview nights of such movies as Mad Max: Fury Road, Prometheus, The Martian and Gravity (which in all fairness started with 10PM showtimes). We’ll know in a few hours whether Blade Runner 2049 will crack $50M which would be a solid start for this $155M-plus net budgeted epic. The Denis Villeneuve-directed sci-fi sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic expands to 4,058 theaters today. Imax auditoriums alone grossed a solid $800K last night.
Mad Max: Fury Road in the middle of May 2015 posted a first day of $16.6M, while October’s top releases Gravity posted a day one of $17.48M back on Oct. 4, 2013 and The Martian $18.1M in October 2015. However, the best opening day in October belongs to Paramount/Blumhouse’s Paranormal Activity 3 which cleared $26.3M and went on to post a three-day of $52.6M, the third best debut for the month.
Elsewhere, 20th Century Fox/Chernin’s The Mountain Between Us drew $400K from 7PM showtimes at 2,535 theaters. The Kate Winslet-Idris Elba survival romance movie expands to 3,088 venues today. Pic has a 51% Rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes. In regards to comps, Lionsgate’s Blake Lively romance The Age of Adaline did $575K on its Thursday night, before posting a $5M opening day and $13.2M weekend. Lionsgate’s My Little Pony also held previews last night and drew $290K at 1,800 locations. At this time of year when school is in session, this is a Saturday and Sunday matinee movie. Pic opens at 2,528 theaters today.
Outside of those films previewing, 20th Century Fox/MARV’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Universal/Cross Creek’s American Made essentially tied last night for the top spot respectively pulling in $1.044M and $1.041M. Counting $71.9M through two weeks, Golden Circle is pacing 3% behind its 2015 predecessor. In its first week, Tom Cruise’s American Made has made $22.3M.
New Line/Warner Bros.’ It grossed $1M at 3,197 theaters. Through four weeks, the movie has accumulated $295.3M and it is expected to cross the $300M threshold this weekend.
1st Update, Thursday 10:06PM: Based off early evening estimates, Alcon/Sony’s Blade Runner 2049 via Warner Bros. is looking at a Thursday night in the vicinity of $3.5M. As we always footnote on these uber-early estimates, that number can go higher or lower, but there’s a feeling that ticket sales could push to $4M by the end of tonight. Note, this evening forecast does not come from Warner Bros.
Blade Runner 2049 started previews at 7PM tonight and expands to 4,058 theaters tomorrow.
Should Blade Runner 2049 hit these projections, it will be close to the preview nights of such cult sci-fi franchises as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ($4.1M), Mad Max: Fury Road ($3.7M), Prometheus ($3.56M off 1,368 midnight showtimes). But most of all, Blade Runner 2049‘s Thursday night would be higher than The Martian ($2.5M) and Gravity ($1.4M off 10PM and midnight shows). Gravity and The Martian hold respectively the top two openings for October with $55.8M and $54.3M. It’s way too early to project whether Blade Runner 2049 gets that high. For the last four weeks tracking has had the Denis Villeneuve directed, Ridley Scott executive produced sequel in the mid $40M range.
Reviews have been spectacular for Blade Runner 2049 at 90% Certified fresh. Ditto for advance ticket sales. On Fandango, Blade Runner 2049 is outpacing Mad Max: Fury Road, Gravity, The Martian, Interstellar and Prometheus prior to opening weekend. Movietickets.com was also showing a similar streak with Blade Runner 2049 clicking ahead of Villeneuve’s previous film Arrival by 6x and last summer’s War for the Planet of the Apes ($56.3M opening) by 3x.
Gravity posted a first day of $17.48M back on Oct. 4, 2013 while The Martian earned $18.1M. However neither title holds October’s record opening day; that belongs to Paramount/Blumhouse’s Paranormal Activity 3 which cleared $26.3M and went on to post a three-day of $52.6M, the third best debut for the month.
Blade Runner 2049 is another big budget gamble for Alcon Entertainment following such $100M-plus budgeted pics Transcendence and Point Break and cash cows like Oscar winner The Blind Side ($29M production cost, $309.2M global B.O.). Sony co-financed Blade Runner 2049 which reportedly carries a net production cost of $155M (some believe it’s higher) before P&A. Sony is opening the sequel in 61% of all foreign territories this weekend sans South Korea, China and Japan. Sony’s contribution to the bottom line before tax credits and rebates is figured at $90M. Warner Bros. is getting a domestic distribution fee around 10%. Originally, this project fired up six years ago when Alcon heads Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson secured franchise rights from Bud and Cynthia Sikes Yorkin including TV and ancillaries. In sum, it took a village to make this sequel to Scott’s 1982 film happen.
Also previewing tonight is 20th Century Fox/Chernin’s The Mountain Between Us which opens at 3,088 tomorrow and Lionsgate/Hasbro’s My Little Pony which will play at 2,528 locations. Fandango reported earlier this week that My Little Pony was outselling Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie ($23.8M opening), The Emoji Movie ($24.5M) and Smurfs: The Lost Village ($13.2M) at the same point in their pre-weekend sales cycles.