5th Update Sunday 7AM: With updated chart as of 9AM A dull weekend at the box office, and Saturday night really didn’t move the needle that much. Disney is calling Solo: A Star Wars Story at $29.3M, -65%, for a running total of $148.9M. This is after a Saturday that was +51% over Friday with $12.4M. That’s the lowest second weekend for any Disney Star Wars title, plus the 20th Century Fox released Episodes I-III. For any big event title that opened over Memorial Day weekend, a mid 60% drop in weekend 2 is common; it’s just extremely painful for Solo because it didn’t start out so high. In the previous update, we continued to harp on what went wrong. But clearly that A- CinemaScore and overall 87% positive score from PostTrak isn’t triggering word of mouth to hook more people into the theater. There’s still too much bias out there against this pic, which is, anecdotally, not a bad Star Wars movie.
20th Century Fox’s Deadpool 2, made $23.3M in weekend 3,-46% from the big Memorial Day stretch – a great hold coming off of last weekend’s big Sunday for $254.6M. The point is, business is still strong for this R-rated superhero, and don’t think just because it’s rated R, it’s not stealing money away from Solo. Pic is on its way to $300M+ stateside, the first DP made $363M.
The rest of the weekend’s counter-programming really wasn’t something to scream jolly to the sky about, but two out of three of their distributors are fine with their own results. One thing is for sure, the Paramount R-rated Johnny Knoxville comedy Action Point tanked with an estimated $2.3M off a $19M budget in 9th place, the star’s lowest wide release debut ever, even lower then the 2012 Paramount comedy Fun Size ($4.1M). We expound on what went sideways here.
STXfilms’ Shailene Woodley-Sam Claflin survival romance Adrift is coming in at $11.5M, per the studio, after a $4.3M Saturday, +1%. Though not jaw-dropping for this $35M title, STXfilms has things structured in this co-finance between Lakeshore, Huayi Brothers, and Ingenious co-production where they only have 8% exposure on the budget and are on the hook for an estimated $25M P&A. If they get in the $40Ms on the film, after all ancillaries, they’ll see cash. Other sources in the film finance world, question how it’s even possible for these small STX pics to make money, especially when they don’t mushroom in their business to the size of Universal/Blumhouse titles. It’s no The Fault in Our Stars, Woodley’s big romance summer hit from four years ago ($48M opening, $124.8M domestic cume). But that property had a huge young female fan base, given the John Green book. Adrift‘s opening is in the range of Fox’s fall survival romance The Mountain Between Us ($10.5M), and under Fox’s teen drama Paper Towns ($12.6M opening, $32M domestic off a $12M budget) and Lakeshore/Lionsgate’s co-production Age of Adaline ($13.2M, $42.6M) starring Blake Lively.
BHTilt’s Leigh Whannell’s sci-fi horror pic Upgrade is the micro-budget label’s second-highest debut ever, after The Darkness ($4.95M opening, $10.7M) with $4.5M. These pics are launched with a very thrifty under $15M P&A, largely anchored around digital, and targeted toward a 17-40 male crowd, with a booking of 1,500 locations. Pic won the SXSW Audience midnight award. Audiences gave Upgrade a 78% positive score, with a 46% definite recommend, per PostTrak. Upgrade had the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of any wide release opening of the weekend, with 85% from critics.
The Orchard-MoviePass Ventures’ Sundance acquisition American Animals raked in a solid $35K per theater, with $140K at four New York and Los Angeles sites. The movie was No. 1 at the Landmark and Hollywood Arclight, beating such big pics as Solo in the Dome in the latter venue. Pic was No. 2 at Lincoln Center and No. 3 at Union Square.
Shout out to Pantelion/MGM’s Overboard, which, in its 5th weekend with $45.5M, became the highest-grossing title for the Lionsgate Spanish label, besting Eugenio Derbez’s Instructions Not Included ($44.4M).
Studio-reported weekend figures:
4th update and writethru, Saturday AM after 12:33AM post: It’s a truly awful post-Memorial Day weekend, and it’s not because we’re following a high volume period. Any major studio could have programmed a truly big event title here and reversed the marketplace’s fortune for the better; witness Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman a year ago, which soared to a $103.2M opening, became the highest grossing pic of the summer at $412.5M, and broke glass ceilings commercially for a live-action movie by a female director.
The other wrench slowing business down is Disney’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, which really isn’t much of a holdover with an estimated second weekend of $28.8M, down 66%, with a running domestic cume of $148.3M. Now, it’s common for a No. 1 Memorial Day opening title to fall in the mid-sixty-percentile range (that’s because the weekend is coming off a big Sunday). But this is the lowest second weekend for a Star Wars movie out of Disney/Lucasfilm’s latest crop, and the 20th Century Fox released Episodes I-III (which, in all fair comparisons, had their second weekends cushioned by the Memorial Day holiday stretch).
Here’s how the top 10 looks this weekend per industry estimates:
While many in the industry argue that five months is too soon for another Star Wars movie following Last Jedi, the fact of the matter is moviegoing is a product-driven business (duh). Solo arrived in the marketplace with too much stink about its behind-the-scenes melodrama, which spread like wildfire on social, and likely impacted critical and audience perception. Even if you pushed Solo to Christmas, it would still have a blemish. Despite the movie’s solid positive exit scores, Solo‘s problem isn’t with audiences leaving the theater, but getting the non-fans in the door. While fanboys may not discriminate on movie ticket pricing, a family of six is going to think twice before they rush to Solo. We’ll see how overseas fares this weekend before we analyze Solo‘s losses. But saying that Disney won’t endure a write-down due to Star Wars merchandising is foolish. That’s an excuse up there with “the dog ate my homework.” First, franchise pics that bomb don’t yield toy sales, especially in this landscape with Toys R Us out of business, a toy retailer that owned a 15% market share. Second, industry sources inform Deadline that Last Jedi missed its $600M merchandise revenue target with a $450M take. As an aside, we hear that small town exhibitors were still on the hook to paying Disney a 65% rental on Solo, but without the four-week commitment that came with Last Jedi.
Of the titles playing against Solo, Fox’s Deadpool 2 remains great in its third weekend with an estimated $23.5M, -46%. Fox was originally going to launch DP2 this weekend, but preferred to go before Solo, and now they’re really eating into the pic’s business. Some will argue that DP2‘s audience greatly differs from Solo‘s, but franchise films are franchise films, and DP2 is pulling in the masses. It’s going to make more than Solo, profit-wise and box office wise, by the end of its runs. DP2 will be at $254M+ by Sunday and Solo will be lucky to final at $225M stateside.
There’s a trio of pics counter-programming Solo and as a whole, they’re not really doing much to trigger a rush to the multiplex. STXfilms/Lakeshore’s efficiently budgeted Adrift, which is clearly targeting females, is on track to make $11M ,which is just above Lakeshore’s other romance co-production, Age of Adaline ($13.2M), and above Fox’s romance survival pic, The Mountain Between Us ($10.55M). We hear STX’s exposure on this $35M production is $3M plus an estimated $25M in P&A. Budget was largely covered by $20M in foreign sales, co-financed between STX, Lakeshore, Huayi Brothers and Ingenious. If STX gets this film past $30M, they should be OK after all ancillaries. But if it rallies past $40M, that would be great. RelishMix says social media buzz on the title is mixed, that they’ve seen this lovers-in-peril story before. CinemaScore came in at a B, which is less than the A- earned by both Mountain and Adaline. Adrift pulled in 62% females per CinemaScore (similar to Mountain), 69% over 25 (Mountain skewed much older at 89%). Those under 18 at 19% enjoyed it the most with an A-. Woodley’s fans turned out at 26% giving the pic a B+.
SXSW midnight audience winner Upgrade is coming in ahead of its $3M tracking with $4.3M, and on its way to becoming the second-highest debut for BH Tilt. Typically, these BH Tilt pics are structured whereby if they do more than a 2x multiple, then business is great. Read The Darkness, their highest opener at $4.95M, churned out a $10.7M gross. These films have less than half the P&A spend than a traditional studio release, and it’s focused toward a specific demo with a targeted digital spend. We hear this is a benchmark title from Insidious Chapter 3 director and Saw thespian Leigh Whannell; that raises the bar of his wheelhouse. Upgrade has some of the best reviews of the new releases this weekend at 86% fresh (exceptional for a genre release) and up there with American Animals 84%. Upgrade follows Grey Trace, a technophobe in an utopian near-future when computers control nearly everything – from cars to crime-surveillance – who is paralyzed in a freak mugging. But when a billionaire technologist offers him an experimental paralysis cure – an implanted computer chip called STEM – Grey finds that the chip has a voice and mind of its own. Marketing efforts for this pic were largely digitally-driven toward men 17-40. There were branded content partnerships with Bloody Disgusting, Crypt TV, Twitter, Fandango, and takeovers on YouTube and IMDB. There was some national TV and outdoor campaigns in LA and NY, as well as a 15-city advance screening tour with Whannell in person.
And my how the mighty have fallen: Johnny Knoxville’s R-rated Action Point comedy is closed down for business with a $2.2M take. That’s lower than the studio’s F-graded avant garde gothic title mother! ($7.5M) and a few cents short of Suburbicon’s disastrous opening ($2.8M). Yes, blame it on the previous administration, but it stands to reason that Paramount would want to be back in business with Knoxville after the 2014 Jackass hit Bad Grandpa ($32M opening, $102M domestic take) which continued his streak of comedy stunt cash cow pics. There was even an effort to keep this movie cheap at $19M, which is respectable for a raunchy comedy nowadays. Apparently Action Point was so bad that Paramount tried to unload it, but could not. Many cite that the lack of Knoxville’s Jackass peeps (or label) makes a difference (Ryan Dunn is dead, and Steve-O and Bam Margera have taken different points of view on sobriety, which is supposedly pausing the next Jackass title). But overall, Knoxville’s shtick has grown long in the tooth, especially for a 47-year old guy. RelishMix’s read on social media agrees. Critics crucified Action Point with a 16% Rotten Tomatoes score, finding it boring, by-the-numbers and deflated. CinemaScore is a C+, which is below the A-, B+s and B that the Jackass movies have earned. Paramount tried to sell the movie in its retro cartoonish one-sheet as an Animal House or National Lampoon type-movie. No one wanted to take the ride. Sixty-eight percent males bought tickets, per CinemaScore, for a 50/50 over-under 25 split. Close to half of all ticket buyers came out for Knoxville.
Meanwhile, Book Club is doing well for Paramount with $6.9M, just down 32% from the sizeable Memorial Day weekend 3-day. At $47.4M, the pic has bypassed other senior-demod pics like Going in Style ($45M), Woman in Gold ($33M), and well beyond A Walk in the Woods ($29M).
Shoutouts this weekend: Black Panther stands $900K from the seven century mark, with a $232K weekend at 284 locations and a cume by Sunday of $699.1M. The Orchard and MoviePass Ventures’ Sundance acquisition American Animals is off to solid start with a $33,8K per theater average and estimated $135K weekend at four NY and LA venues. Coupled with some Thursday previews, American Animals was No. 1 at the Arclight, no. 1 at the Landmark LA, No. 1 at Regal Union in NYC, and No. 4 at Lincoln Center beating big pics like Solo and DP2. Female Bollywood title Veere di Wedding by director Shashanka Ghosh is posting a great 3-day of $1.3M at 150 theaters.
1st Update, Friday AM: STXfilms/Lakeshore’s Adrift started previews last night collecting $725K, a Thursday night take that’s above the latter’s romantic co-production Age of Adaline which made $575K on its first night before earning $4.96M on Friday and a $13.2M opening. Analysts expect a low-to-mid teens debut for the Shailene Woodley-Sam Claflin action drama which follows a couple as they’re shipwrecked after a hurricane. Pic will be in play at 3,015 theaters.
Overall, it’s expected to be a sleepy weekend at the B.O. with Disney’s Solo: A Star Wars Story making under $40M in weekend 2 at No. 1, still a disappointment. Last night, the Ron Howard-directed sequel earned $4.4M for a week’s take of $119.6M.
Paramount also has the Johnny Knoxville stunt comedy Action Point which is expected to file under $10M at 2,032 theaters. The pic held some midnight shows last night, and we’ll report those soon. Both Action Point and Adrift were made for a song: the Knoxville pic cost a reported $19M before P&A while the Woodley weepie cost $35M split among STXfilms, Lakeshore, Huayi Brothers and Ingenious.
BHTilt has the horror comedy Upgrade in 1,400 venues and it’s expected to collapse with around $3M. Goalpost Pictures and Automatik Entertainment also produced the title. Leigh Whannell wrote and directed this pic which won the Audience Award for midnight screenings at SXSW. Guys 17-40 are the sweet spot, particularly those with primary interests in sci-fi and action genre cinema, and who also might be gamers.
The Orchard and MoviePass Ventures are also opening their Sundance acquisition American Animals at four New York and Los Angeles theaters.