3rd Writethru Sunday AM final: The March box office was divided between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, and if a film didn’t have the goods to survive, it was gone.
April will arguably have only one ‘have’, and that’s Universal’s Fate of the Furious next weekend which is looking at a three-day of $100M-plus per industry sources, with all other titles for the month falling by the wayside. It’s also because of Furious why there isn’t any new male testosterone product in the marketplace this weekend: No one wanted to play into the eighth-quel’s fire. So in regards to the month’s have nots, April’s mudslide began this weekend with Sony’s Smurfs: Lost Village buried in third with an estimated three-day opening of $14M, though rivals believe it’s in the $13M range. Smurfs 3 trails family DreamWorks Animation/Fox’s The Boss Baby and Disney’s almighty Beauty and the Beast which are filing $26.3M and $25M respectively. While these figures may not wow on paper, the business overall this weekend was +15% from last year at the same point in time, posting $121M. That’s when Universal’s The Boss led all films with a $23.6M opening.
Stateside, Smurfs 3 is not something to boast about, particularly for a branded franchise: It’s lower than the last Ice Age: Collision Course which was rock bottom for that series ($21M FSS) and it’s lower than Warner Bros.’ Storks ($21M, final domestic $72.7M, $182.3M global, $70M production cost) which was a stinker. Though it has an A CinemaScore, which is better than the A-s achieved for the first two films, at best it gets to $60M here in the states, but Sony keeps tub-thumping how 75% of the global gross on Smurf films comes from abroad. If that’s the case that means $240M worldwide B.O. for Smurfs 3, about $108M shy of Smurfs 2‘s $347.5M global ticket sales. The Angry Birds Movie made $350M worldwide at the B.O. off of a $73M production cost and $100M P&A, yielding a $72M profit after all revenue streams. Reported negative cost for Smurfs 3 is $60M due to production at Sony’s Vancouver studio, with a global P&A that’s supposedly way less than Angry Birds, so with $125M combined theatrical costs + ancillary costs on Smurfs 3, it might have a shot at being profitable should combined rental, global home entertainment and TV revenue streams hit $256M. Rivals weren’t wowed by the film’s overseas B.O. last weekend of $15.1M in 32 territories. Problem is that China ticket sales dropped between the first two Smurf movies from $39M to $22M. Nancy Tartaglione will have more on Smurfs 3‘s overseas results, and we dissect the potholes in the Smurfs franchise further down.
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s Going in Style is besting its $8M-$10M tracking with $12.5M. That gross in relation to its estimated $25M production cost isn’t amazing, and we’ve blasted Warner Bros. for their low budget guy comedies in the past for these types of numbers. But, Going in Style is different in that it’s aimed at the elderly and that demographic shows up to the theater slowly, not to mention these pics fare well in the TV market. CinemaScore shows 72% over 50 giving Going in Style an A-, and that’s the vital piece of news here outside the pic’s overall B+ CinemaScore. The core demo loved the movie.
“The real story here with these movies appealing to older audiences is that when they have excellent word of mouth, they post high multiples. The Intern came in with a 4.3x multiple and Last Vegas posted a 3.9x,” said Warner Bros. domestic distribution czar Jeff Goldstein. The most popular showtimes were at 7PM, with the 5PM early bird showings filing second.
Screen Engine/ComScore’s PostTrak showed female audiences segueing to a male majority with 53% guys on Going in Style while 74% were over the age of 25, 39% were over 45. Eighty-three percent of the audience gave it a total positive. On CinemaScore, women at 53% also thought it was an A-. Forty percent of all CinemaScore ticket stub holders came out for the trio of Michael Caine, Alan Arkin and Morgan Freeman.
Pureflix’s Faith-based title The Case for Christ is coming in way lower than where we originally saw it, in 10th place with $3.9M. The film received an A+ CinemaScore which comes as no surprise due to the faith-based who show up on opening night (Ben-Hur, as bad as it was, received an A-). Pic is based on the bestselling 1998 book about journalist Lee Strobel, who was an atheist and in effort to disapprove his wife’s Christian faith, ultimately finds the Lord. The pic is planted on this weekend to play into Holy week. Strobel has been flying around the country for months doing interviews to tell his story and raise awareness for the film. Pureflix held mini-screenings, showing footage to Christian leaders for their endorsement. Guides were distributed to churches, in particular a 16-page Easter Outreach campaign program to help churches use the film to reach new members. Also, the book was re-released with the new cover to match the theatrical one-sheet. Pic is directed by My Date With Drew‘s Jon Gunn and stars Faye Dunaway, Robert Forster, Erika Christensen and Mike Vogel as Strobel.
Meanwhile, Focus Feature expanded its Jessica Chastain WWII movie The Zookeeper’s Wife and while it’s currently notched in 11th place, it dipped 19% in its second weekend with $2.88M with a running cume of $7.6M that outstrips Chastain’s specialty titles A Most Violent Year ($5.7M final domestic), the disastrous Miss Sloane ($3.5M), and will soon overtake Tree of Life ($13.3M). Given its World War II theme and momentum, the pic brings to mind Weinstein Co.’s Woman in Gold which was a little 2015 spring indie darling ending its run at $33.1M (granted, it had a different type of limited rollout). That 60% fresh Rotten Tomatoes certainly helps too. Focus acquired the Zookeeper’s Wife in the U.S. along with Universal who took key international territories as a pre-buy at Cannes back in 2013. Production took a while to get started as Niki Caro had to shoot her previous film McFarland USA first.
How do you raise the stakes on a Smurfs sequel? Why, by having them meet more Smurfs in a lost village. It’s apparent, the masses aren’t buying it. The studio has called this movie a reboot, and it only is in the sense that it’s pure animation from top to bottom and not a live-action hybrid like the first two films. Arguably, it’s a challenge to go higher than the high stakes the first film set by dropping the Smurfs in our own live world, specifically New York City. And building Smurfs 3 around another pop star – in this case Demi Lovato (only 5% came out for an actress in a lead role per CinemaScore) taking over Smurfette from Katy Perry – doesn’t add anything new. The trailers sold a juvenile humor (Brainy Smurf being eaten by a flower), and if Sony was serious about rebooting the series, they’d rip a page from Hotel Transylvania which is centered around Adam Sandler. What Smurfs needs is a defining marquee comedic sense of humor — ala Sandler in Hotel Transylvania, Steve Carell in Despicable Me or Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy in Shrek — that rings through the film, breathes life into it, and shakes it up. And if you’re going after young girls (62% of the audience were females), how about Melissa McCarthy? It’s one of the reasons why Illumination’s Chris Meledandri has made Carell a creative partner in the Despicable Me movies beyond his voiceover duties. Sure, you’ll lose some of the wholesome luster of Smurfs, but maybe people will be more excited to see it. Much like the first 2011 feature blew up Peyo’s canon ($563.7M worldwide), the same thing has to boldly occur again for the longevity of this franchise on the big screen.
Some box office analysts are certainly screaming about the bloody release date: Why open Smurfs: The Lost Village in the wake of Beauty and the Beast and The Boss Baby? Typically animated features are spaced out on the summer release calendar by at least three weeks. Sony’s thinking here was to play into Easter business and take advantage of kids off from school, which for K-12 jumps from 28% on Monday to 74% on Good Friday. Again, if there was something cool to see here, business might be better, but Smurfs 3 is a handholder feature toon and it’s in competition with an anarchistic animated comedy in Boss Baby, and a live-action Disney musical legend in Beauty and the Beast.
Despite the low result here for Smurfs 3, Sony and the cast took to the street to sell the movie. Various online clips showing how the characters are animated and how Lovato and co-stars Rainn Wilson, Ellie Kemper and Michelle Rodriguez acted out their voiceovers went viral. Lovato and Joe Mangianello lit up the Empire State Building in blue to honor International Day of Happiness in conjunction with the United Nations Foundation and UNICEF. They even stopped by the UN before the General Assembly. The event garnered over 125M impressions. Parent bloggers across the country were engaged for the entirety of the campaign, from the trailer launch to the pic’s premiere. Bloggers were invited to share materials from coloring pages and Easter decorations to trailers and clips. They hosted screenings across countries, and attended the premiere and interviewed talent at the junket. The theme of the premiere was “Give Back To Your Village”. Sony Pictures Animation gave back to their village by naming Culver City America’s Smurfs Village with local businesses also participating in this city-wide event.
Neon/Voltage’s Anne Hathaway-Jason Sudeikis psychological monster romantic drama Colossal holds the best screen average of the weekend to date with $31,4K. Fox Searchlight’s Chris Evans-Jenny Slate drama Gifted about a single man raising his prodigy niece is making just under $500K in 56 locations.
For the weekend of April 7-9 based on studio estimates as of Sunday AM:
1.) The Boss Baby (20thCentury Fox/DWA), 3,829 theaters (+56) / $6.9M Fri. / $11.8M Sat/$7.6M Sun/ 3-day cume: $26.3m (-48%)/ Total: $89.3M/Wk 2
2.) Beauty and the Beast (DIS), 3,969 theaters (-241) / $6.8M Fri. /$10.59M Sat/$7.58M Sun/ 3-day cume: $25M (-45%) / Total cume: $432.3M/ Wk 4
3.) Smurfs: The Lost Village (Sony), 3,610 theaters / $4.15M Fri. (includes $375K previews) / $5.6M Sat./$4.26M Sun/3-day cume: $14M /Wk 1
4.) Going in Style (WB/VR), 3,061 theaters / $4.2M Fri. (includes $600K ) /$4.8M Sat/$3.4M Sun/ 3-day cume: $12.5M (includes previews of $600K)/Wk 1
5.) Ghost in the Shell (PAR/DWA/REL), 3,440 theaters (0) / $2.1M Fri. /$3.1M Sat./$2.09M Sun / 3-day cume: $7.35M (-60%)/Total: $31.57M/Wk 2
6.) Saban’s Power Rangers (LGF), 2,978 theaters (-715) / $1.65M Fri. /$2.7M Sat/$1.79M Sun/ 3-day cume: $6.2M (-56%) / Total cume: $75.1M / Wk 3
7.) Kong: Skull Island (20th/Legendary), 2,753 theaters (-388) / $1.5M Fri./$2.5M Sat/$1.77M Sun/ 3-day cume: $5.8M (-32%)/ Total cume: $156.5M / Wk 5
8/9.) Logan (Fox), 1,949 theaters (-374)/ $1.1M Fri. /$1.8M Sat/$1.15M Sun/$4.05M (-34%)/ Total cume: $218M / Wk 6
Get Out (UNI), 1,574 theaters (-270) / $1.2M Fri. /$1.8M Sat/$1.02M/ 3-day cume: $4.02M (-29%)/ Total cume: $162.85M / Wk 7
10.) The Case for Christ (Pureflix), 1,174 theaters / $1.5M Fri./$1.3M Sat/$1M Sun/ 3-day cume: $3.9M /Wk 1
11.) Zookeeper’s Wife (FOC), 804 theaters (+263) / $815K Fri. /$1.2M Sat/$853K Sun/ 3-day: $2.88M (-12%)/Total: $7.6M/ Wk 2
Gifted (FSL), 56 theaters / $145,8K Fri./$196,7K Sat/$K Sun/ $8,5K screen average/3-day cume: $476k /Wk 1
Their Finest (STX/Europa), 4 theaters / $19k Fri./$16k screen average/ 3-day cume: $77k /Wk 1
Colossal (NEON), 4 theaters / $45k Fri./$47KM Sat/$33K Sun/$31,4K screen average/ 3-day cume: $125,8K /Wk 1
For the weekend of April 7-9 based on industry estimates as of Saturday AM:
1.) The Boss Baby (20th Century Fox/DWA), 3,829 theaters (+56) / $6.88M Fri. (-56%) / 3-day cume: $26.3m (-48%)/ Total: $89.3M/Wk 2
2.) Beauty and the Beast (DIS), 3,969 theaters (-241) / $6.8M Fri. (-47%) / 3-day cume: $25.1M (-45%) / Total cume: $432.7M/ Wk 4
3.) Smurfs: The Lost Village (Sony), 3,610 theaters / $4.1M Fri. (includes $375K previews) / 3-day cume: $14M /Wk 1
4.) Going in Style (WB/VR), 3,061 theaters / $4.2M Fri. (includes $600K ) / 3-day cume: $12.2M (includes previews of $600K)/Wk 1
5.) Ghost in the Shell (PAR/DWA/REL), 3,440 theaters (0) / $2.1M Fri. (-72%) / 3-day cume: $7.2M (-61%)/Total: $31.45M/Wk 2
6.) Saban’s Power Rangers (LGF), 2,978 theaters (-715) / $1.7M Fri. (-58%) / 3-day cume: $6.3M (-56%) / Total cume: $75.2M / Wk 3
7.) Kong: Skull Island (20th/Legendary), 2,753 theaters (-388) / $1.5M Fri. (-37%) / 3-day cume: $5.6M (-34%)/ Total cume: $156.4M / Wk 5
8.) The Case for Christ (Pureflix), 1,174 theaters / $1.5M Fri./ 3-day cume: $4.5M /Wk 1
9/10) Get Out (UNI), 1,574 theaters (-270) / $1.2M Fri. (-29%) / 3-day cume: $4.1M (-28%)/ Total cume: $162.9M / Wk 7
Logan (Fox), 1,949 theaters (-374)/ $1.1M Fri. (-35%) / 3-day cume: $4M (-34%)/ Total cume: $218M / Wk 6
11.) Zookeeper’s Wife (FOC), 804 theaters (+263) / $813K Fri. (-21%) / 3-day: $2.6M (-19%)/Total: $7.3M/ Wk 2
Gifted (FSL), 56 theaters / $146K Fri./ $8,75K screen average/3-day cume: $490k /Wk 1
Kaatru Veliyidai (AIM), 110 theaters / $110k Fri./ 3-day cume: $373k/Wk 1
Colossal (NEON), 4 theaters / $45k Fri./$30K screen average/ 3-day cume: $120K /Wk 1
Their Finest (STX/Europa), 4 theaters / $19k Fri./$16k screen average/ 3-day cume: $64k /Wk 1
2nd UPDATE, midday: Right now it’s a dead heat in terms of who takes No. 1 this weekend with DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox’s The Boss Baby and Disney’s Beauty And The Beast each eyeing $25 million apiece. Both are between $6.5M-$7.5M for today. Meanwhile, Sony’s Smurfs: The Lost Village is looking at $13M-$15M for the weekend at 3,610 theaters after an estimated $4M today including $375K previews.
In regards to Smurfs 3, it’s up to global — where this property mints 75% of its gross — to do the job on this one. It pays to point out that if Smurfs 3 keeps its weekend range, it’s not that far off from the opening of its predecessor, Smurfs 2 (off 14%). Why is Smurfs 3 here in a logjam of two family monoliths? Essentially its looking to cash in on spring break crowds and play into Easter. Savvy teens might flock to Boss Baby or Beauty, but Smurfs 3 is meant for the attention spans of handholders, and any tween girl bedazzled by Demi Lovato.
Warner Bros/Village Roadshow’s Going In Style is coming in at the top of its tracking with $10M after $3.5M today including that $600K Thursday night.
Pureflix’s The Case For Christ is projected to make $1.7M today and $5M for the weekend at 1,174 theaters. Last night in lieu of previews there was a Fathom event for the film.
While a dull weekend on paper, there can be worse things for the industry than two films performing to $25M-plus this early in the spring before Easter. Essentially, everything will get excited next weekend when Fate Of The Furious opens. It’s really the only film that will own April’s biz as all newcomers drop beside it — much like The Jungle Book was the cornerstone a year ago before the first weekend of May.
PREVIOUS, 7:24 AM: It was an early night for previews yesterday with both Sony and Warner Bros trying to pull in kids and the elderly, respectively, for showtimes starting at 5 PM: The Culver City studio with Smurfs: The Lost Village and the Burbank-based one with Zach Braff’s remake of the 1979 George Burns-Art Carney-Lee Strasberg comedy Going In Style. This morning, WB reports that Going In Style knocked off $600K for the Village Roadshow co-production, crushing Smurfs 3 which made $375K at 2,731 locations.
Some insiders nicknamed Going In Style‘s previews “The Early Bird Special.” The remake stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin as lifelong buds who knock over a bank. Tracking has the $25M-budgeted pic at $8M over three days, which is close to what another 50+ demo movie, A Walk In The Woods, debuted at during the Labor Day 2015 period ($8.2M). Hidden Figures filmmaker Ted Melfi penned the remake of Edward Cannon’s 1979 story.
Granted, it’s not summer, so you can’t expect much from Thursday night for a kids film like Smurfs. But spring break is still in effect, with 14% K-12 schools off today rising to 28% by Monday according to ComScore.
Next to branded hand-holder IP, Smurfs: The Lost Village ranks below the preview nights of last July’s fifth Ice Age: Collusion Course ($850K) and Sony/Rovio’s The Angry Birds Movie ($800K). It’s even below Warner Bros’ Storks, which made $435K — and that wasn’t a moneymaker. Angry Birds opened to $38.2M, while both Ice Age 5 and Storks busted pass the $20M mark. Smurfs: Lost Village is expected to log in the mid-teens, which if that happens, won’t be that far away from Smurfs 2 debut ($17.5M).
Smurfs 3 threw out the whole live-action/animation concept that the first two films played with. The first Smurfs was a huge success ($35.6M stateside opening, $142.6M domestic, $536.7M worldwide) with its unique storyline of smurfs literally living in our present world. Smurfs 2 was considered a bust with a $125M negative cost and $347.5M global. However, the film did churn a 4x multiple off its domestic opening with $71M.
The conceit of Smurfs: The Lost Village is that it’s built around pop singer Demi Lovato as Smurfette, which means the studio is zeroing in on young girls. Smurfs: Lost Village has some of the best reviews of the trilogy: a 36% Rotten Tomatoes rating to Smurfs’ 22% rotten and Smurfs 2 13% rotten. Smurfs: Lost Village supposedly has a production cost of $60M — which would be 52% cheaper than part 2, and any Illumination Animation title known to man. While that number is questionable, it’s obvious Lost Village needs all villagers from all foreign countries of different shapes and sizes to make good on its success.
Smurfs: The Lost Village is the first title in the trilogy to play outside of summer, and it arrives at a time when spring is already dominated by two big family pics in DreamWorks/Fox’s The Boss Baby and Disney’s Beauty And The Beast. Our box office analysts show Boss Baby winning the weekend at $30M in his second frame followed by Beauty‘s high-$20Ms in her fourth weekend, but it wouldn’t be shocking if they traded places. Beauty was first last night with $3.1M at 4,210 theaters and a running cume of $407.3M, while Boss Baby made $2.7M at 3,773 venues with a week’s take of $63.1M.
Paramount/DreamWorks’ Ghost In The Shell filed third with $1.15M at 3,440, ending its week with $24.2M. Mid-week business didn’t help this $250M production (that’s including P&A).