Writethru Sunday AM after Late Friday/Saturday AM posts: What’s up with late October at the box office?

If the first weekend of May is known as the official launch of summer and guarantees a $100M-plus opening title, then the third and even fourth weekend of October can officially be known as a dumping ground for mediocre, broken movies.

Lionsgate

No disrespect to Lionsgate’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween. That film is absolutely working, stoking its audience and winning the weekend off a respectable low $20M production cost with an estimated three day of $21.65MBoo 2! is the tenth Perry title to open at No. 1, and it’s Lionsgate’s fourth No. 1 weekend this year so far. But the rest of this weekend’s wide entries went to the dogs.

The success of Boo 2! needs to be commended. Here’s a comedy, made for just the right price, which is working with its core audience, down 24% from the opening of its first movie a year ago. That type of box office gold from opening to opening is a feat that most comedy stars can’t even pull off from studio film to studio film. Talk about risk: Boo 2 looks cookie-cutter and is arriving in the marketplace exactly 12 months after its first installment. You’d think audiences would turn their backs on this. However, Tyler Perry knows his audience, and knows how to reach them. The bulk of them are older women, most churchgoers, but with the Boo movies Lionsgate has aimed and succeeded in growing Perry’s fan base.

Similar to the first film a year ago, Boo 2 played to a broad audience with African Americans (38%), Caucasians (31%), Hispanics (21%) and Asian (4%) according to Screen Engine/ComScore’s PostTrak. That general audience play led to the first chapter’s over-performance, even generating bucks well beyond Halloween with a final 2.56x multiple of $73.2M. In addition, Boo 2! drew more females than Boo!, 65% to 52%, and drew more of the over-25 crowd, 65% to 60%. In sum, older females enjoyed Boo 2! with an overall positive score of 73% and a turnout of 36%, versus their 32% turnout on the first Boo!. The sequel even received an A- CinemaScore to Boo!’s ‘A’ grade last year. 64% of Boo 2‘s crowd was female, with a 61% over 25, 39% under 25 split. Boo 2! is the 20th Tyler Perry film,  and his canon counts, with this movie a running $943M box office total.

Lionsgate launched the official trailer for Boo 2! with a world premiere live event, presented by Kevin Hart and Lionsgate’s Laugh Out Loud comedy network, with exclusive access for fans and a Q&A with Tyler Perry and cast. The studio leveraged the reach of 125M+ fans across social and video platforms with multiple Twitter Q&As, Facebook Live events, Instagram Stories, Custom Social Content, and more. The campaign ramped-up significantly on Friday the 13th, timed to tickets going on sale, with a digital road book including a custom MADEA Snapchat Lens, which garnered over 80M impressions, Twitter Trend, and an Atom Tickets ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ offer. There were also these cool, 1970s road movie-inspired one-sheets (see right) which were part of the outdoor push. One of the highlights of Perry’s TV interview tour was his appearance on The Tonight Show as Madea, who served as President Trump’s new communication director. The video drew 1.5M views on YouTube, and 15M views overall.

Jem and the Holograms
Universal Pictures

Boo 2‘s success aside, the weekend preceding the final weekend of October/Halloween frame has recently become a place where a slew of titles are booked, only to watch them die. Last year, there was nearly five wide entries, until it was whittled back to four. Most of them did fine (Boo!, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Ouija 2). But then there was Keeping Up With the Joneses, which opened the floodgates for the broad comedy recession we’ve been weathering this year. Two years ago at this time was a true junkyard, with The Last Witch Hunter, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Rock the Kasbah and Jem and the Holograms all falling apart. This weekend, the multiplex marquee looks like a Netflix menu, with Warner Bros./Skydance’s $120M-plus budgeted Geostorm rained out with an estimated $13.3M, the critically acclaimed Only the Brave which isn’t overindexing with $6M, Universal/Working Title’s The Snowman turned to slush with $3.4M, and PureFlix/Paramount’s Same Kind of Different As Me arriving below tracking with $2.6M.

So what gives? It’s almost like there’s some joke among distribution chiefs: ‘Hey, now’s our chance when the marketplace is weak to unload our bombs.’

Jigsaw
Lionsgate

In regards to the quantity of wide releases this weekend, distributors will typically argue that they’re respectively vying for different demos. But there’s certainly some cannibalization among the older male audience with Snowman, Only the Brave and Geostorm (all three drew over 50% males, and between 77%-89% over 25). Geostorm‘s dominant crowd were guys over 25 at 36% per PostTrak). Another reason for the number of new releases is that the majors are trying to make some headway as they enter the final weekend of the month. That pre-Halloween/Halloween weekend is boom or bust, and if you have a horror film, like Lionsgate does in its Saw reboot Jigsaw, well, more power to you. God forbid you’re not a horror film opening during the Halloween stretch, then you’re Inferno ($14.86M opening), Sandra Bullock’s Our Brand Is Crisis ($3.2M FSS), or Bradley Cooper’s Burnt ($5M FSS).

But quantity aside, the reason why we’re seeing so much lackluster product is because the marketplace is purging itself before November kicks off the holiday season. That’s when the box office gets seriously competitive between four-quad movies, titles geared squarely at specific demos (A Bad Moms Christmas) and strong awards contenders in play. If you can’t stand the heat, get off the screen: 15 days after Entertainment Studios announced it was going wide with its $4M TIFF acquisition Chappaquiddick over the Thanksgiving stretch, the indie studio is changing gears, punting the Ted Kennedy movie to April 6, and opting for a platform release of the Christian Bale western Hostiles in December. It’s just too crowded.

This weekend’s misfires are falling apart for a variety of reasons. First of all, despite all the bad ink about Geostorm, CinemaScore audiences tolerated the Dean Devlin-directed movie with a B- over The Snowman‘s D (ouch). Those who actually watched Only the Brave enjoyed it with a solid A. But why aren’t more people seeing it? All three films reek a sense of been-there-done-that, and if there isn’t any spectacle, why pull away from Netflix on a 70-inch TV at home?

Warner Bros.

Geostorm in its materials looks like every other disaster film that Devlin has produced, i.e. Independence Day: Resurgence, or that his former collaborator Roland Emmerich has made, i.e. The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. Social media monitor RelishMix confirms this in the online chatter on Twitter and Facebook, stating, “Convo for Geostorm is decidedly mixed, tilting negative. Most moviegoers who took the time to comment compare the movie to other disaster films like Armageddon and Day After Tomorrow — even Independence Day.” Screen Engine/PostTrak audiences gave Geostorm a paltry 67% positive and a low 49% definite recommend. Pic earned an A- among the 10% of the under-18 crowd that showed up. The over-25 set at 77% gave Geostorm a B-. Twenty-four percent bought tickets because of Gerard Butler.

Warner Bros.

There’s an argument made by some insiders that the recent disasters in Houston, Puerto Rico, and Florida are preventing the masses from attending what was intended to be escapist entertainment, because it hits too close to home. Images of flooding in ad spots have been exchanged for that of desert areas freezing over. Sure, the present-day environment might be one factor curbing turnstiles. However, CinemaScore shows that 45% of the audience came out because it was a disaster movie. For the most part, Geostorm was troubled very early on in its plotting, and required $15M worth of re-shoots overseen (with Devlin’s approval) by Jerry Bruckheimer, who hired helmer Danny Cannon and writer Laeta Kalogridis to fix the film. Reports are that Bruckheimer’s fingerprints shot up test scores by 15-20 points. Geostorm went into production back in October, 2014 before earthquake movie San Andreas became a hit at the box office ($155.1M domestic, $474M global).

Why was Geostorm made? Warner Bros. believed three years ago there was a global hit in Skydance’s B movie; it centered around various countries working together to quell the raging environment. Warner Bros. will survive this disaster film just fine – they share the cost with Skydance and Ratpac, not to mention the Burbank, CA. lot is currently leading all majors at the 2017 domestic box office year-to-date with $1.7 billion (Jan. 1-Oct. 19), +9% over the same period last year.   

Sony

For Only the Brave, its 89% certified fresh score isn’t creating a stampede. Despite the stellar cast of Miles Teller and Josh Brolin, there’s a TV-movie-of-the-week feeling around this pic in its execution. The whole heroism aspect isn’t pulling in the American Sniper crowd, and that’s a topic which should be Monday-morning quarterbacked, because if there’s one area Only the Brave should be over-indexing, it’s in the Red States. Remember Ron Howard’s Backdraft 26 years ago? That’s the last major motion picture which comes to mind when it comes to the topic of firefighters. That movie opened to No. 1 over Memorial Day weekend. It possessed spectacle and want-to-see at the time. Yes, yes, Only the Brave is a different movie. But its message isn’t provoking more people to go. The same environmental argument that’s curbing Geostorm‘s business, could also be hurting west coast business for Only the Brave given California’s raging seasonal wildfires. If you live in the Santa Rosa, CA and Napa wine country area — Only the Brave just hits way too close to home. Says RelishMix about the social conversation, “While the film is timely and inspirational, some have expressed worry that this may be a Hollywood cash grab.” In fact, the philanthropic initiative of the film, The Granite Mountain Fund, was set up to drive donations to support firefighting as well as the towns and families connected to and impacted by hotshots and their work. The fund is driving donations directly to the firefighting industry in California. Overall, one wise rival marketing executive points out, “Tragedy is a hard sell” and Only the Brave centers around these firefighters who perished in the Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013.

Universal

The Snowman? No, they don’t wanna see The Snowman.  True, it’s made for a responsible $35M budget, arguably for a European crowd, and counts some $10M at the foreign B.O.  But the movie’s plot structure is far too sloppy and complex for critics  (just read some of the reviews) and moviegoers. But a serial killer thriller? We’ve seen this all too often before, Clarice. “Some believe this story-line has been over-done,” says RelishMix. In a recent interview with the Norwegian Broadcasting System, director Tomas Alfredson said he wasn’t surprised by the critical backlash. The production of this feature adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s best-seller was rushed, hence keys scenes weren’t even shot. When Alfredson got to the editing room, he realized that he didn’t have everything and a jigsaw puzzle ensued. Working Title has seen better days this year with the $227M success of its $34M-budgeted Baby Driver and its awards contender Victoria and Abdul from Focus Features, which is looking at $2.1M in its wide break in weekend 5 at 1,060 theaters and a total running domestic cume of $14.8M by Sunday.

Wonderstruck
Amazon

Top averages for limited releases include Amazon/Roadside Attraction’s Wonderstruck from Todd Haynes cashing in $17K at four New York and Los Angeles venues; A24’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer at four sites for $28,6K and Abramorama/National Geographic’s documentary about revolutionary apes researcher Jane Goodall, Janeearning $19,7K at three sites.

Studio reported Sunday estimates for the weekend of Oct. 20-22:

1.) Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (LG), 2,388 theaters / $7.47M Fri. (includes $760k previews) /$8.84M Sat/ $5.3M Sun/ 3-day cume: $21.65M / Wk 1

2.) Geostorm (WB/SKY), 3,246 theaters / $4.3M Fri. (no previews) / $5.6M Sat/$3.37M Sun/3-day cume: $13.3M / Wk 1

3)Happy Death Day (UNI/BLUM), 3,298 theaters (+149) / $3M Fri.  /$4.1M Sat/ Sun/ 3-day cume: $9.38M (-64%)/ Total: $40.7M/Wk 2

4.)Blade Runner 2049 (ALC/WB/SONY), 3,203 theaters (-855)/ $2M Fri. /$3.2M Sat/ $1.9MSun/3-day cume: $7.2M (-54%) /Total: $74M/ Wk 3

5.) Only the Brave (SONY), 2,577 theaters / $2M Fri. (includes $305k previews) /$2.3M Sat/ $1.56M Sun/3-day cume: $6M / Wk 1

6.) The Foreigner  (STX), 2,515 theaters / $1.6M Fri./$2.4M Sat/$1.44M Sun/ 3-day cume: $5.45M (-58%)/ Total: $22.8M/Wk 2

7.) It  (NL/WB), 2,560 theaters (-616) / $1M Fri. /$1.6M Sat/ $885K Sun/3-day cume: $3.5M (-42%) / Total: $320.2M / Wk 7

8.) The Snowman  (UNI), 1,812 theaters / $1.34M Fri. (includes $270k previews) / $1.27M Sat/ $826K Sun/3-day cume: $3.4M / Wk 1

9.) American Made  (UNI), 2,559  (-539) / $931k Fri. /$1.3M Sat/ Sun/ 3-day cume: $3.16M (-43%)/Total: $45.5M/ Wk 4

10) Kingsman: The Golden Circle (FOX), 2,318 theaters (-664) / $855K Fri. /$1.36M Sat /$785K Sun/3-day cume: $3M (-44%) / Total: $94.6M / Wk 5

 

Notables:

Same Kind of Different As Me (PURE/PAR) 1,326 theaters, $1.36M Fri /$725K Sat/ $475K Sun/3-day: $2.56M/Wk 1

Marshall (OR) 821 theaters, $428K Fri  /$655k Sat/$426K Sun/3-day: $1.5M (-50%)/Total: $5.46M/Wk 2

Golmaal Again (REL) 265 theaters, $253K Fri/$406K  Sat/4350K Sun/ 3-day: $1M/Wk 1

Professor Marston & The Wonder Women (AP) 959 theaters (-270)/ $65K Fri/$100K Sat/ $65K Sun /3-day: $229K (-69%)/Total: $1.3M/Wk 2

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (A24) 4 theaters, $43k Fri /$40K Sat/ $32K Sun/PTA: $28,6k/3-day: $114,6K/Wk 1

Wonderstruck (RSA/AMZ) 4 theaters, $25k Fri /$26K Sat/ $18K Sun/PTA: $17k/3-day: $68,8k/Wk 1

Jane (ABR/NatGeo) 3 theaters, $18k Fri /$24K Sat/$18K Sun/PTA: $19,7K/3-day: $59K/Wk 1

********** 

Industry estimates for the weekend of Oct. 20-22 as of Saturday AM:

1.) Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (LG), 2,388 theaters / $7.46M Fri. (includes $760k previews) / 3-day cume: $21.5M / Wk 1

2.) Geostorm (WB/SKY), 3,246 theaters / $4.3M Fri. (no previews) / 3-day cume: $13M / Wk 1

3)Happy Death Day (UNI/BLUM), 3,298 theaters (+149) / $3M Fri. (-74%) / 3-day cume: $9.4M (-64%)/ Total: $40.7M/Wk 2

4.)Blade Runner 2049 (ALC/WB/SONY), 3,203 theaters (-855)/ $2M Fri. / 3-day cume: $7.3M (-53%) /Total: $74.1M/ Wk 3

5.) Only the Brave (SONY), 2,577 theaters / $2.15M Fri. (includes $305k previews) / 3-day cume: $6.2M / Wk 1

6.) The Foreigner  (STX), 2,515 theaters / $1.6M Fri. (-66%) / 3-day cume: $5.4M (-59%)/ Total: $22.8M/Wk 2

7.) The Snowman  (UNI), 1,812 theaters / $1.34M Fri. (includes $270k previews) / 3-day cume: $3.6M / Wk 1

8.) It  (NL/WB), 2,560 theaters (-616) / $992k Fri. /3-day cume: $3.28M (-46%) / Total: $320M / Wk 7

9.) American Made  (UNI), 2,559  (-539) / $936k Fri. / 3-day cume: $3.25M (-41%)/Total: $45.6M/ Wk 4

10/11) Kingsman: The Golden Circle (FOX), 2,318 theaters (-664) / $851K Fri. /3-day cume: $3M (-44%) / Total: $94.6M / Wk 5

Same Kind of Different As Me (PURE/PAR) 1,326 theaters, $1.35M Fri /3-day: $3M/Wk 1

 

 Notables:

Marshall (OR) 821 screens, $425K Fri (-59%) /3-day: $1.4M (-53%)/Total: $5.35M/Wk 2

Professor Marston & The Wonder Women (AP) 959 screens (-270)/ $65K Fri (-74%) /3-day: $225K (-69%)/Total: $1.3M/Wk 2

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (A24) 4 theaters, $42,7k Fri /PTA: $31,2k/3-day: $125K/Wk 1

Wonderstruck (RSA/AMZ) 4 theaters, $25k Fri /PTA: $18,5k/3-day: $74k/Wk 1

Jane (ABR/NatGeo) 3 theaters, $18,5k Fri /PTA: $18,5k/3-day: $55,5K/Wk 1

 

2ND UPDATE, MIDDAY: Lionsgate’s Tyler Perry‘s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween at this point in time looks to ring in $8 million today at 2,388 theaters for a $22M-$23.5M start. The original built word of mouth throughout the weekend and played beyond it’s core African American demographic. We’ll see if there’s a similar trend later tonight. Boo 2 is critic-proof at 10% Rotten.

Warner Bros

Warner Bros./Skydance’s disaster movie three-years-in-the-making, Geostorm, is logging $4.5M today with anticipated $12M-$13.5M at 3,246 theaters, at the top of its tracking. Still, that’s a lousy start for this movie which some say cost $120M, while others contend it’s higher. Warners didn’t hold any Thursday night previews and the Rotten Tomatoes rating has fallen to 15% Rotten off 24 reviews.

At this point in time, Los Angeles Times, Variety and Entertainment Weekly are the only premium national publications that have provided their thoughts on the film — all bad. Pic currently counts an overseas B.O. of $13.7M off small Asian territories. The Dean Devlin-directed movie opens in 50 additional overseas markets this week including Germany, Russia, Korea, Brazil, Australia, Spain, the UK and Mexico.

This would put Blumhouse/Universal’s Happy Death Day in third with an $11M second weekend at 3,298 sites, down 58%, for a 10-day haul of $42.3M.

Alcon Entertainment/Sony’s Blade Runner 2049 in Weekend 3 is set to earn $7.2M-$7.4M, down 53%, after a $2.1M today. Pic dropped 855 locations moving from 4,058 to 3,203. Cume by Sunday EOD will be $74.3M.

Black Label/Sony’s Only the Brave is eyeing $2M today and $6M for the weekend at 2,577 after drawing $305K last night. Not a good ignition for this firefighter movie. Pic just clocked a 90% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Universal

Universal/Working Title’s The Snowman thriller looks to vaporize into thin air with a $4M-$5M start after a $1.75M Friday including last night’s $270K previews. Pic directed by Tomas Alfredson cost $35M before P&A and has collected $10M abroad. Critics loathe the movie at 10% Rotten.

PureFlix/Paramount’s Same Kind of Different as Me is drawing $900K today and $3M for the weekend at 1,362 sites. Distributor is handling theatrical only while Paramount will handle all ancillaries after its 40% investment. 

We’ll have more updates for you tonight.

1ST UPDATE, 7:57AM: Lionsgate’s Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween raked in $760K last night at 2,000 locations. A year ago, the first installment posted $855K on Thursday night before it surprisingly beat its mid-teen tracking estimates with a No. 1 win of $28.5M against Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Boo 2! expands to 2,388 theaters this weekend.

Despite its exorbitant production cost, Warner Bros./Skydance’s Geostorm did not try to get a leg up last night and hold Thursday night previews. Some locations, such as the Hollywood Arclight, started showtimes at midnight. It’s a popcorn movie, and for that reason, the studio decided to shield the Dean Devlin feature directorial debut from critics. Reviews are dropping today and so far ten of them account for a 30% Rotten Tomatoes score. Tracking has this movie opening between $10M-$12M. Foreign already has at least $10M in the bank from minor Asian territories. The only prayer for this disaster pic is for Gerard Butler’s star wattage to click overseas.

Warner Bros.

Where Warner Bros. has been winning out this week is with the Alcon Entertainment/Sony film Blade Runner 2049 which led all titles yesterday with $1.29M. The Denis Villeneuve-directed movie was No. 1 daily, Monday through Thursday and currently counts a two-week running cume of $66.85M, +31% ahead of the same period as the director’s previous sci-fi movie Arrival (final box office $100.5M). Despite the onslaught of five wide entries this weekend, Blade Runner 2049 isn’t dropping a huge number of screens, moving from 4,058 to 3,203, -855 locations. Blade Runner 2049 is looking at a 40%-45% decline in Weekend 3 with $8M-$9M. Blumhouse/Universal’s Happy Death Day will aim to keep the replicant sci-fi drama out of second with a $11M-$12M second weekend after collecting an estimated $31.3M in its first week. Yesterday, the Christopher Landon-directed horror comedy made $1.12M in second place.

The Black Label-financed, Sony distributed Only the Brave took in $305K last night in previews starting at 7PM. The movie which follows the true story of the firefighting team the Granite Mountain Hotshots, boasts the best reviews out of this weekend’s wide entries at 89% fresh, but is only expected to bring in $6M-$7M. The pic co-produced with di Bonaventura Pictures, Condé Nast Entertainment, Relevant Entertainment was made for an estimated $38M.

Universal/Working Title’s The Snowman made $270K at 1,551 sites. Tracking has the Michael Fassbender thriller higher than Only the Brave for the weekend around $10M. We’ll see.

Also debuting today is PureFlix/Paramount’s faith-based Same Kind of Different as Me which is expected to make $3M-$4M at 1,362 sites.