Monday Final Weekend Writethru: Warner Bros./DC’s Justice League‘s estimates slid all weekend long to a final stand still of $93.8M. After declining 31% on Sunday to $22.7M, greater than the $24.1M projected, the Zack Snyder-directed movie should finally see $100M tomorrow after what many are projecting to be a $6.5M-$7M Monday. Still a huge upset for what was expected to be a high point for the DC universe, especially when you consider that tracking had this movie at a $110M-$120M projection last week, $325M worldwide. Overseas for Justice League even came in lower with $185M, $279M worldwide. Batman v. Superman was better in its $422.5M global debut thanks to the Easter holiday around the world, better currency exchanges rates last spring, not to mention it was a long-awaited fanboy playground fantasy that was finally conceived on the big screen. While the studio was selling fresh faces like Cyborg, Aquaman and The Flash in the cast, missing (intentionally) from all the materials was the DC superhero that everyone knows: Superman.
Given how BvS bowed on the Easter holiday weekend, that movie dropped 69% in weekend 2. Justice League has the advantage of playing into the Thanksgiving stretch, which gives it more of a cushion, and the industry is forecasting a 56% decline for a low $40M 3-day, $60M-$65M 5-day.
“It’s not just about the opening weekend, but it’s about the length of the run, especially given the extremely lucrative Thanksgiving holiday. We have lots of room to run,” said Warner Bros. domestic distribution boss Jeff Goldstein yesterday. Justice League will look to 35% K-12 out today and Tuesday, a number that swells to 74% by Wednesday, along with colleges, which will grow from 13% tomorrow to 59% on break by Thanksgiving eve.
On a bit of an upside, audiences seem to be enjoying Justice League more than critics’ 39% Rotten Tomatoes score: CinemaScore crowds gave Justice League a B+, the same as Suicide Squad and an improvement on BvS‘s ‘B’. CinemaScore’s audience sentiment jives with what PostTrak saw on Thursday night, with a four-out-of-five stars score, 85% overall positive and high 69% definite recommend. Females (42%) liked Justice League more than men (58%), giving it an A- to their B+. Under 25 (31%) gave the super friends movie an A-. Man, if they could only show up en masse now.
What a bold move by Lionsgate by counterprogramming a female-skewing (68%) family title Wonder against (what was originally perceived as) an event film, Justice League. The $20M pic was co-financed by Participant Media, Walden Media and TIK Films in China. And it wasn’t like Justice League was without a female audience, with a 41% turnout who gave it an A-, thanks to Wonder Woman. It truly was a gamble that’s paying off, with Wonder beating its Sunday morning estimate by $500K with $27.5M. That number reps Participant’s best opening ever (beating The Help‘s $26M). Advance ticket sales continue to fuel Wonder today with a $4M take, $31.5M by the end of today. A year ago, when Warner Bros. had Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, STXfilms programmed the R-rated, critically acclaimed female-skewing title The Edge of Seventeen, and that failed to get its audience with a $4.75M opening. Many complained that STX was cannibalizing their audience. However, with mostly males heading to Justice League at 58%, Lionsgate found a way to break through. Lionsgate said at CinemaCon and on earnings calls that they had the highest test film in Wonder in the company’s history (but they said that on Deepwater Horizon and Patriot’s Day). However, they owned up to that statement. Given the great reception to the film, they scheduled Wonder here so that it could benefit off the 5x-plus multiple play. Essentially, when a studio has that type of test scores, it allows them to be bullish with their strategy, and planning. Saturday at $10.3M was +6% over Friday in industry estimates. Over-25 crowd registered at 66%.
Despite the under-performance of Justice League stateside, the film fared better than WB’s Fantastic Beasts ($74.4M) last year, and coupled with Wonder’s success, overall ticket sales this weekend saw a surge of 26.8% over the same frame a year ago with $200.3M. This year (Jan. 1-Nov. 19) at $9.39 billion is still lagging behind last year at -4.3%
Still, how dismal is it for Justice League and DC?
This event movie at a reported estimated production cost of $300M was ten years in the making, and was intended to be the pinnacle for the Warner Bros./DC universe, introducing new characters such as The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman, guys who could hopefully hold their own franchise weight separately down the road with their own movies. But an opening that’s 44% lower than Batman v. Superman‘s $166M opening? Ouch (the movie was profitable at $105M+). Still, it comes as no surprise. Fans and critics blasted BvS for Zack Snyder’s less-meat, no- filling visual direction. So the question asked is why did Warner Bros. tap him and screenwriter Chris Terrio again? Blame the development executives who were babysitting this project, not Warner Bros. marketing, who was out in front with an energetic campaign a year-and-a-half in advance. The first clip of Justice League showing Batman and Aquaman premiered at San Diego Comic-Con 2016. Every fanboy knew this movie was coming, and WB marketing, following the success of Wonder Woman, smartly capitalized that in a new trailer that dropped at last July’s Comic-Con by featuring more of the female superhero’s kickass. In addition, WB global marketing efforts accumulated 126 partners worldwide, with a total of $350M in promotional and paid media support from such brands as AT&T, Gillette and Mercedes Benz.
To Warner Bros’ brass credit, they did listen to some of fans concerns following BvS. Justice League is shorter at two hours (to BvS’ 2 1/2 hour run time) and has more humor, thanks to the Flash and Aquaman and because of Avengers helmer Joss Whedon stepping in for Snyder after the director had to step away due to a tragedy. Despite the promise that Whedon brought, there was no way he could re-shoot the entire movie. As one rival studio executive told Deadline, “I’ve never heard of a director completely changing the DNA of a movie when he’s called in for re-shoots. That’s inherent in the script from the onset.”
Deadline’s Pete Hammond griped in his film review that Justice League “ranks as a setback for the genre after three previous winners this year: Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming and the current Thor: Ragnarok.” And more to that point on those titles in regards to their critical and commercial successes, there’s a lot to be said about respectively enlisting the visions of independent directors Patty Jenkins, Jon Watts, Taika Waititi (and let’s not forget Troma Entertainment vet James Gunn on the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise) when it comes to superhero movies. “The independent directors and writers are better at creating sympathetic characters. It’s like Jon Favreau working on the first Iron Man: It was grounded in a reality. Despite the fact that it’s a superhero movie, if you can identify with the characters on a realistic level, it’s going to work,” explained one film packager who gave praise to former Warner Bros. Pictures Group president Jeff Robinov as an executive who “empowered great filmmakers and safely micromanaged the process,” thus yielding such successes as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight $2.45 billion-grossing DC trilogy. Going forward, Warner Bros. is entrusting its DC franchise to such directors as The Conjuring‘s James Wan with Aquaman, Annabelle: Creation‘s David F. Sandberg on Shazam! and War for the Planet of the Apes’ Matt Reeves on The Batman. And, of course, Jenkins returning for Wonder Woman 2.
There is also something to be said about putting a DC film that’s so lackluster in quality within close proximity to a platinum-reviewed and well-received Marvel movie on the calendar. We’re, of course, talking about Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok: The Waititi-directed movie is cutting into Justice League‘s business with a three-day of $21.7M, in third place. That’s fanboy cash which could have gone to Justice League if the film wasn’t so damn close to the Thor threequel. For non-fanboys: They seriously get DC and Marvel movies confused, yet another reason why they should distance themselves in the marketplace. Again, these dating decisions are made years in advance, and as you close in on your date, it’s a challenge to reschedule. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman were spaced out by a month, and the former didn’t step on the latter. The last occurrence of a DC film following closely in the wake of a Marvel title occurred in July, 2012: Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man opened on a Monday due to the July 4th holiday falling on a Tuesday, with Warner’s Dark Knight Rises debuting 17 days later. Comparing their first seven days, Spidey made $137M to Dark Knight Rises’ $225M. The Nolan movie was the more beloved film critically, and CinemaScore-wise, notched an A to Spidey‘s A-. Hence, Dark Knight Rises’ business wasn’t slowed because it was the more premium of the two superhero releases. Unfortunately, that’s not the case this time around with Justice League.
Lastly, the Rotten Tomatoes score maneuvers with Justice League arguably backfired. Rotten Tomatoes has a new Siskel & Ebert-like Facebook show, See It/Skip It, whereby they exclusively reveal a wide release’s RT score before it hits their website. This delayed Justice League‘s RT rating until late night Thursday. That scenario is a studio’s dream: Delay your RT score as late as possible so it doesn’t impact your tracking and deep-six your advance ticket sales (and major studios’ research shows evidence of this continually). However, the whole Justice League stunt was reported by the press as some sort of cover-up by Warner Bros, and some sources believe that could have contributed to even more film reviewers being unnecessarily cynical about Justice League. Rotten Tomatoes has put it out there that it’s part of the show’s m.o. to publish scores on See it/Skip it 12 hours after its airing. Warner Bros. has nothing to do with that delay. This is a new show and some other movie will be in the same scenario like Justice League week after week.
I hear from credible financial sources who are privy to Justice League‘s budget that if the film clears $700M-$750M global, after ancillaries, it would profit, but a breakeven scenario exists in the high $600M global B.O. range which is where this Snyder opus is bound to final. One source close to the film contends that global P&A is $100M, but that’s ridiculous: Warner Bros. was introducing three new superheros, plus BvS and Suicide Squad had global P&A spends in the $150M range. Why would they cut their costs? So, combined global P&A and production cost is at an estimated $450M. Warner Bros. gets more from ancillary markets than other studios, and Justice League talent doesn’t cut in until profit.
Also, realize that the Gal Gadot quotient could be slow to show up to Justice League. Older women were there for Wonder Woman during opening weekend, with PostTrak showing females 25+ (37%), followed by guys over 25 (34%), females under 25 (17%), and men under 25 (12%). However, the share of women grew over time for Wonder Woman. Gadot’s Wonder Woman does have her moments in the movie. For Justice League Thursday night, PostTrak showed men over 25 in bulk (41%), men under 25 (25%), females over 25 (21%) and females under 25 (14%). Eleven percent of Justice League‘s B.O. came from 400 Imax locations, or $10.3M. That’s the fifth-best DC debut for the large format exhibitor.
In regards to Wonder‘s explosion, Fandango called this one: They saw the exorbitant pre-sales from school groups and knew Lionsgate had something special here. The thing is, no one knew early on in the weekend just how big it would be because the pre-sales were so huge. Wonder earns an amazing A+ (and we know how rare those are in CinemaScore), with a 70% female audience and 65% over the age of 25.
As part of their outreach to schools, Lionsgate developed and distributed a robust resource guide for third to sixth grade teachers to integrate the movie in their classrooms as a way to teach kindness and inclusion. Over 7,800 teachers have participated to date, including 10K student design projects submitted and 400 classrooms receiving the opportunity to see the movie first with a livestream Q&A with talent Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs, and IzabelaVidovic. GapKids was a major partner and ran a robust content program during back-to-school, with custom spots featuring talent Tremblay and author RJ Palacio. An additional social media challenge resulted in over 9.5M impressions and participation with film & celebrity talent. Additional key partners all had kindness or charitable brand overlays, included P&G’s Crest, Visa, HelloFresh, Roma Boots, and Funoogles. Also, with each Wonder ticket purchased on Atom Tickets, the mobile app ticket seller is donating $1 to The Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, for a maximum donation of $100K.
Entertainment social media analytics firm RelishMix is impressed by the 101M-plus social media universe built up for Wonder across Twitter, YouTube views, Instagram and Facebook. Since the teaser dropped in May, there were 200M cross-platform video views. Overall, heading into the weekend, the social chatter was positive, spurred by fans of the book. “The movie is speaking to parents who have children with any number of physical and/or developmental challenges…There is a lot of heartfelt discussion of how the video materials have been speaking to families and it’s legitimately touching,” reports RelishMix.
Sony Affirm’s $20M-budgeted animated title The Star, co-financed with Walden Media fell below its Sunday $10M estimate to $9.8M. Walden Media squawked when Sony dated The Star on the same date as Walden’s Wonder; they feared one film would cannibalize the other’s mom-led audience (which is happening). Sony Affirm went after the faith-based crowd and is praying for a huge multiple through the holiday (they could conceivably be at $20M by the Sunday after Thanksgiving). The Star received an ‘A’ CinemaScore, which clearly indicates that the faith-based showed up. The audience was comprised of 67% females, with an even 50/50 over/under 25. It’s a challenge to comp to the movie, as there’s been so few Biblical animated movies. The last faith-based animated titles which come to mind are 2002’s Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie ($6.2M opening at 940 theaters, $25.6M domestic take) and its 2008 counterpart, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything ($4.3M at 1,337 sites, $13M final domestic). The Star will likely hit a wall when Disney/Pixar’s Coco opens Wednesday, which is expected to make $65M over five days, with the potential to over-index, thanks to Hispanic family audiences.
On the specialty side, A24’s ever-powerful Lady Bird climbs to No. 8 with a $10,6K per theater and $2.5M weekend at 238 sites. The Greta Gerwig feature directorial goes wide on Wednesday, and as one distribution vet who has no skin in the game praises it, “All the adults are going to go see it.” Fox Searchlight’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri also pegs to the No. 9 spot with a $1.1M second FSS. Sony’s Denzel Washington attorney pic from Dan Gilroy, Roman J. Israel, Esq. isn’t doing so hot at the ArcLight Hollywood, AMC Century City, AMC Lincoln Square NY, or Regal Union Square NY, with a low per-theater of $15,5K or $62K. Critics are split at 55% Rotten, which doesn’t help this sophisticated adult feature. Pic premiered at TIFF and cost $22M before P&A. There were multiple financiers, including MACRO, Topic, Cross Creek Pictures, Bron, The Culture China, Image Nation and the Abu Dhabi Content Fund. Roman J. Israel, Esq. breaks wide on Wednesday.
Final weekend reported grosses from ComScore for Nov. 17-19:
- Justice League, Warner Bros., $93.8M, 4,051 locations, $23,165 average, 1 Week.
- Wonder, Lionsgate, $27.5M, 3,096 locations, $8,898 average,1 Week.
- Thor: Ragnarok, Disney, $21.7m, -62%, 4,060 locations, $5,337 average,Total: $247.2M, 3 Weeks.
- Daddy’s Home 2, Paramount, $14.4M, -51%, 3,575 locations, $4,038 average, Total:$50.2M, 2 Weeks.
- Murder On The Orient Express, 20th Century Fox, $13.8M,-52%, 3,354 locations, $4,117 average, Total:$51.7M, 2 Weeks.
- The Star, Sony, $9.8M, 2,837 locations, $3,459 average, 1 Week.
- A Bad Moms Christmas, STX Entertainment, $7M, -39%, 2,948 locations, $2,375 average, Total: $51M, 3 Weeks.
- Lady Bird, A24, $2.5M, +110%, 238 locations, $10,573 average, Total: $4.7M, 3 Weeks.
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Fox Searchlight, $1.1M,+242%, 53 locations, $20,796 average, Total:$1.5M, 2 Weeks.
- Jigsaw, Lionsgate, $1M,-68%, 1,201 locations, $901 average, Total: $36.5M, 4 Weeks.
- MET Opera: The Exterminating Angel (Fathom) $950K, 900 locations, $1,056 average, 1 Week.
- Blade Runner 2049, Warner Bros., $626K, -59%, 466 locations, $1,343 average, Total: $89.3M, 7 Weeks.
- Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, Lionsgate, $471K, -76%, 718 locations, $656 average, Total: $46.6M, 5 Weeks.
- Geostorm, Warner Bros., $410K, -75%, 502 locations, $817 average, Total: $32.7M, 5 Weeks.
- Loving Vincent, Good Deed Entertainment, $404K,-21%, 212 locations, $1,904 average, Total: $4.6M, 9 Weeks.
- Let There Be Light, Atlas Distribution Company, $363K, -68%, 542 locations, $669 average, Total: $6.7M, 4 Weeks.
- The Florida Project, A24, $300K, -45%, 217 locations, $1,380 average, Total:$4.3M, 7 Weeks.
- Lego Ninjago Movie, Warner Bros., $255K, -68%, 455 locations, $561 average, Total: $58.9M, 9 Weeks.
- Only The Brave, Sony, $242K, -74%, 363 locations, $668 average, Total:$17.6M, 5 Weeks.
- Happy Death Day, Universal, $225K, -82%, 427 locations, $526 average, Total: $55.3M 6 Weeks.
Studio reported estimates as of Sunday AM for Nov. 17-19 weekend
1.) Justice League (WB), 4,051 theaters / $38.8M Fri. (includes $13M previews) /$33M Sat/$24.1M Sun/ 3-day cume: $96M / Wk 1
2.) Wonder (WB), 3,096 theaters / $9.7M Fri. (includes $740K previews) /$10.3M Sat/$7.1M Sun/ 3-day cume: $27M / Wk 1
3). Thor: Ragnarok (DIS), 4,080 theaters / $5.8M Fri. /$9.7M Sat/$6.3M Sun/ 3-day cume: $21.7M (-62%) / Total cume: $247.3M / Wk 3
4.) Daddy’s Home 2 (PAR), 3,575 theaters (0) / $3.9M Fri. /$6.4M Sat /$4.5M Sun/ 3-day cume: $14.8M (-50%)/ Total: $50.6M/Wk 2
5.) Murder on the Orient Express (FOX), 3,354 theaters (+13)/ $4M Fri. /$5.9M Sat/ $3.9M Sun/ 3-day cume: $13.8M (-52%)/Total: $51.7M/ Wk 2
6.)The Star (SONY), 2,837 theaters / $2.8M Fri. (studio did not report previews) / $4.1M Sat/ $3M Sun/3-day cume: $10M / Wk 1
7). A Bad Moms Christmas (STX), 2,948 theaters (-667) / $2.3M Fri./ $2.8M Sat/ $1.7M Sun/3-day cume: $6.9M (-40%) / Total cume: $50.9M / Wk 3
8). Lady Bird (A24), 238 theaters (+201) / $725K Fri. / $1.06M Sat/$743K Sun/3-day cume: $2.5M (+110%)/ Per screen: $10,6K / Total cume: $4.7M / Wk 3
9.) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO (FSL), 53 theaters (+49) / $333K Fri. / $452K Sat/ $368K Sun/3-day cume: $1.15M (+246%) / Per screen average: $21K /Total: $1.5M Wk 2
10). Jigsaw (LG), 1,201 theaters (-1,450) / $325K Fri. /$481K Sat/$264K Sun/ 3-day cume: $1.07M (-69%) / Total cume: $36.4M / Wk 4
Roman J. Israel, Esq. (SONY), 4 theaters / $23K Fri. /$24K Sat/ $18K Sun/PTA: $16,3K/ 3-day cume: $65K / Wk 1
Industry estimates as of Friday night for the weekend of Nov. 17-19: – chart still updating, but updated for new releases and second weekend holdovers.
1.) Justice League (WB), 4,051 theaters / $38.8M Fri. (includes $13M previews) / 3-day cume: $96M / Wk 1
2.) Wonder (WB), 3,096 theaters / $9.7M Fri. (includes $740K previews) / 3-day cume: $28.3M / Wk 1
3). Thor: Ragnarok (DIS), 4,080 theaters / $5.8M Fri. (-68%) / 3-day cume: $20.3M (-64%) / Total cume: $245.9M / Wk 3
4.) Murder on the Orient Express (FOX), 3,354 theaters (+13)/ $4M Fri. (-63%) / 3-day cume: $14.1M (-51%)/Total: $52M/ Wk 2
5.) Daddy’s Home 2 (PAR), 3,575 theaters (0) / $3.9M Fri. (-64%) / 3-day cume: $13.6M (-52%)/ Total: $49.4M/Wk 2
6.)The Star (SONY), 2,837 theaters / $2.8M Fri. (studio did not report previews) / 3-day cume: $10.2M / Wk 1
7). A Bad Moms Christmas (STX), 2,948 theaters (-667) / $2.3M Fri. (-43%)/ 3-day cume: $7.3M (-36%) / Total cume: $51.3M / Wk 3
8). Lady Bird (A24), 238 theaters (+201) / $725K Fri. (+86%) / 3-day cume: $2.4M (+100%)/ Per screen: $10K / Total cume: $4.6M / Wk 3
9.) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO (FSL), 53 theaters (+49) / $330K Fri. (+224%) / 3-day cume: $1.1M (+231%) / Per screen average: $20,7K /Total: $1.49M Wk 2
10). Jigsaw (LG), 1,201 theaters (-1,450) / $324K Fri. (-71%) / 3-day cume: $1M (-71%) / Total cume: $36.4M / Wk 4
Roman J. Israel, Esq. (SONY), 4 theaters / $23K Fri. /PTA: $14K/ 3-day cume: $70K / Wk 1
The Breadwinner (GKIDS), 3 theaters / $4K Fri. /PTA: $5,9K/ 3-day cume: $18K / Wk 1