This weekend MoviePass basked in a tad of sunlight as their Sundance co-acquisition with The Orchard, Bart Layton’s American Animals, posted a solid $35K per theater, translating into $140K at four locations: Los Angeles’ The Landmark and Hollywood Arclight and New York’s Lincoln Square and Union Square. All of the theaters except Arclight accepted MoviePass.
Sure, we’ve seen bigger opening theater averages this year, read Fox Searchlight’s Isle of Dogs ($60K), Warner’s 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s re-release ($50K) and IFC’s The Death of Stalin ($46K), but $35K is pretty good.
Also factor in that American Animals was the No. 1 title at the Arclight, beating such big pics as Solo: A Star Wars Story in the Dome, No. 1 at the Landmark, No. 2 at Lincoln Center and No. 3 at Union Square — big venues, and an impressive ranking considering all the major studio and mini-major fare that’s out there that studios are dumping millions of dollars of P&A on. We hear that the partnership between The Orchard and MoviePass Ventures was certainly worthy, yielding strong results for an edgy heist film that also was propped by an 84% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score. No one is griping, everyone is happy. Deadline figures that MoviePass’ percent share of the box office was north of 25%-35% for the weekend, which is above their aggregate for indie titles. The Orchard isn’t releasing MoviePass percent share figures, and will continue to dive into the data well past the pic’s nationwide wide break to 600 venues on June 22. Note that MoviePass’ membership reign is strong in New York and L.A.
MoviePass Ventures and The Orchard went equal on the $3M acquisition of the pic and P&A., with the monthly ticket service tubthumping the film strongly on its app to its 3M-plus subscriber base from the onset. Pic, which stars American Horror Story‘s Evan Peters, follows a group of friends who plot a heist to lift priceless Audubon prints and rare books from Transylvania University’s special collections library. The monthly movie ticket service did a big push for Thursday night previews offering free posters and American Animals swag to its members. At a MoviePass Tribeca film festival party last April, they played the trailer on a loop to attendees at the Roxy hotel theater. Orchard has said in the press that the upside to MoviePass is that by marketing with them, a distributor can see who actually watched the promos and who bought tickets, and that’s data other means of movie advertising such as billboards and TV spots can’t deliver precisely, only sampling stats.
Depending on who you talk to in the industry whether it’s an exhibitor or major studio distributor, there’s an eagerness on their behalf to see MoviePass go away, specifically over the fear that ultimately rental wise both sides would have to take a haircut. Granted, MoviePass isn’t in a good place right now with its parent company Helios & Matheson getting hammered at the stock market with a near low $0.44 share price over news of its limited amount of cash reserves and ambitious $9.99/month service which provides a subscriber one free ticket a day.
However, MoviePass isn’t dead, and they’re determined to have a footprint in the theatrical space, evident in their recent acquisition of Emmett Furla Oasis Films and the launch of MoviePass Films. This follows their news at Sundance to take a greater stake in indie films being released, in an effort to drive business toward them. Studio and exhibition rivals argue MoviePass won’t be able to weather this blockbuster summer at the box office and will darken by Labor Day.
But, summer isn’t over yet.