If there was ever a weekend when distributors were looking to cannibalize one another this is the one, as five fresh wide releases are hitting theaters. What gives? One reason is that most distributors want to avoid Halloween next weekend (October 30-November 1), which is falling on a Saturday. The holiday is expected to throw a knife into the beating heart of a theatrical business day that is typically more vibrant than Friday. Families with young kids will be trick-or-treating and costumed teens and college students will be at Halloween parties. As such, frosh scare fare including Paramount’s Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, which has traditionally opened during this October frame, and Lionsgate’s Vin Diesel actioner The Last Witch Hunter are vying for the under-25 crowd.
Wide release pileups also occur among titles when each one is heavily weighted toward a specific demographic. Industry estimates see Sony’s Goosebumps with the upper hand at No. 1, dipping 36% with $15M in its second FSS. Yesterday, the Rob Letterman movie fell to third with $1.17M since most adults head to the movies mid-week. They spent the most on The Martian ($1.6M) and Bridge Of Spies ($1.4M).
Last Witch Hunter at an estimated 3,000 locations is looking at $13.3M. Diesel’s last solo effort, the 2013 sequel Riddick, made $19M and drew 53% over 30 and 59% male.
Of all the films that will leg out from this crowded pack, thanks to awards season, is Universal/Legendary’s wide expansion of Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs. Having already collected $2.3M after 11 days in release, Steve Jobs goes from 60 playdates to 2,491 with an eye at making $11M-$12M. The Aaron Sorkin-scripted biopic about the Apple Computer creator and the backstage drama prior to the company’s product launches saw a near twofold surge from $522K in its first session to $1.5M in its second. Foot traffic has been spurred greatly by its strong reviews, with an 85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Industry observers noticed that in cases where Steve Jobs played at two venues in the same town, an art house and a multiplex, it was the art house that fared better.
As we already detailed last Thursday night for Ghost Dimension, it’s bound to play to a lower opening of $10M-$12M (some even think high-single-digits) than its previous sequels as most major exhibitors thumbed down Par’s distribution plan to fast-track the film to VOD after it falls below 300 runs. Instead, Ghost Dimension will play at 40%-50% fewer screens than its previous installment at 1,500 playdates with bookings at AMC, National Amusements and Alamo Drafthouse. The whole idea here is for Par to make more money on VOD than theatrical. The film is playing in 3D. Its budget was in the mid-teens. Ghost Dimension is also going out in 90% of the foreign marketplace this weekend.
Open Road’s Bill Murray comedy Rock The Kasbah follows a down-on-his-luck music manager who, while on a tour in Afghanistan, discovers a teenage girl with an extraordinary voice and launches her in the country’s most popular TV show Afghan Star. Weekend estimate is $6M at 2,012 screens with previews starting at 7 PM. Open Road began banging the drum for this at San Diego Comic-Con where Murray showed up at the film’s panel as his character Richie Lanz. There were tastemaker screenings in East Hampton hosted by Jimmy Buffet in August with Murray, Bruce Willis and Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, John Mellencamp, Roger Waters and more. Last night’s premiere included the entire cast plus special guests Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez.
Lastly, there’s Uni/Blumhouse’s Jem And The Holograms which is based on the cult ’80s Hasbro line of multi-colored hair rock dolls. There was also an animated TV series which ran from 1985-1988. Made for an estimated $5M budget, the studio is hoping to gross at least that much over FSS. The project was a labor of love for director Jon M. Chu who has helmed titles in the Step Up series as well as Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never and Believe.
On the studio specialty side, Focus Features is opening Suffragette in four New York and Los Angeles theaters. The film, which stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep, details the feminist movement in Great Britain. Pic has already made $4.5M in its homeland after bowing there last weekend.
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