6TH UPDATE, SUNDAY AM FINAL: With Chart and Overseas B.O. highlights Matinees proved magical for Amblin/Universal’s The House With a Clock In Its Walls which pulled in an estimated $11.5M on Saturday, which repped a huge 47% surge over Friday’s $7.8M (which included Thursday night’s $840K previews).
With an opening $26.9M, the haunted family title easily ranks as director Eli Roth’s best opening over — the first time he’s crossed over into the PG genre as a filmmaker — besting 2006 horror title Hostel which opened to $19.55M. Among his feature-length directorial credits, House is also Roth’s best reviewed at 68% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Three autumns ago, Universal had the Guillermo del Toro haunted house R-rated pic Crimson Peak which couldn’t find its audience as it straddled arthouse and genre fans, upsetting the latter with a $13.1M opening and $31M domestic final. But when this haunted house fare is geared toward kids, it rallies. Worldwide debut is $35.5M, scared up by 22 offshore territories that earned $8.7M including Germany and Brazil.
“We fell under the spell of this movie from the moment it was pitched to us and it’s clear audiences this weekend have been enchanted as well. Holly Bario and the entire team at Amblin stirred this potion with director Eli Roth and the talented gang of filmmakers and combined an exciting story with an irresistible cast. With Universal’s marketing magic, The House with a Clock in its Walls was positioned for success at the box office this weekend and beyond” said Amblin Co-CEO and President Jeff Small.
“Eli Roth known more for his genre titles has captured Amblin’s essence of throwing kids into extraordinary circumstances,” exclaimed Universal President of Domestic Theatrical Distribution Jim Orr about the pic’s success this weekend.
Brad Fischer and James Vanderbilt’s Mythology Entertainment produced and packaged The House with the Clock in its Walls. The title was attached to Mythology seven years ago when the company was launched. Writer/producer Eric Kripke was hired and because of Mythology’s association with Cate Blanchett on Truth, they were able to sell the film to Amblin.
The pic played evenly throughout the nation over-indexing in the family friend Mountain region of Salt Lake City and Denver and throughout the South with Hispanic audiences who repped 27% of the weekend’s crowd to 53% Caucasian, 10% African American, 5% Asian. Imax drove $2.5M of House‘s business at 400 houses with a new Imax version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video playing before the pic.
The three other wide entries stateside continued to get steamrolled by strong holders with Briarcliff Entertainment’s wide release Michael Moore doc Fahrenheit 11/9 drawing an estimated $1.2M Saturday, +20% for a potential three-day at $3.1M (they should have just gone limited and went for the news about a beefy theater average and expanded from there; we hear that roughly the top 10% of its runs made close to 40% of the pic’s business). Top locations were New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Chicago. Exits polls were excellent at 82% and an A CinemaScore and hopefully, the doc can continue to maintain further traction in its core runs down the road.
Family titles like House can be Rotten Tomatoes-proof, but not weepy melodramas like Dan Fogelman’s Life Itself which made $780K Saturday, about even with Friday, for a $2.1M three-day reported by Amazon. Sony’s Asian American indie thriller Searching boxed the star-ensemble drama out of the top 10 with $2.175M.
NEON/AGBO’s Assassination Nation was slightly higher today than Friday, with an estimated $460K to $418K which is pushing it to $1.1M over FSS. NEON boss Tom Quinn has no regrets over the Sundance pick-up and believes history will be on the side of the teenage rebellion satire: “Sam Levinson has created a bold, visionary and ultimately cathartic response to the dumpster fire that is 2018. We’re admittedly disappointed more people didn’t come out this weekend, but those that did were loud and overwhelmingly positive. It’s going to take more time for Assassination Nation to find its audience, but even Heathers wasn’t made in a weekend (total domestic B.O. $1.1M).”
New Line’s The Nun rose significantly within a breath away of Lionsgate’s A Simple Favor, but Sister Scare didn’t scare the preppy femmes out of second, respectively $10.25M to $10.4M. A fantastic hold for the latter Paul Feig-directed title at -35% and 10-day of $32.5M.
Taylor Swift raved about the movie on her Instagram stories yesterday (see below) to her fans which comes as no surprise to hear that on PostTrak the under 25-set love the Blake Lively-Anna Kendrick movie the most at 84%. However, they’re not leading the way at 19%, it’s still women over 25 (51% with a 79% positive) and their dates, men over 25 (24% with a 72% positive). A Simple Favor earned $5.2M from 36 markets bringing its foreign cume to $10M, global take to $42.5M. UK led the way with $2.1M including previews from 480 screens, and like in the U.S., pic ranked #2 for the weekend behind House. In Russia/CIS, the Feig thriller opened in 4th with $720K from 979 locations while in Australia pic held onto to 3rd grossing $1.1M in weekend 2 for a running total of $3.6M. A majority of the remaining major markets are scheduled to release this week, including France (9/26), Belgium (9/26), Brazil (9/27), Netherlands (9/27), Mexico (9/28), Spain (9/28), and Sweden (9/28).
The Nun is down 44% in weekend 3 and she’s soaring to a greater box office heaven with $100.8M stateside. Overseas, she’s the No. 1 film abroad for the the third weekend in a row with $35.4M at 80 overseas markets on 12,695 screens. Overseas is at $192M, global hallelujah here is $292.8M, besting Annabelle‘s entire global run ($257M), almost Annabelle Creation ($306.5M), and gaining on Conjuring ($319.5M) and Conjuring 2 ($320.3M). At the domestic B.O., she’ll soon beat The Conjuring 2 ($102.4M) and Annabelle Creation ($102M) to become the second-highest grossing title in the Conjuring series behind the first chapter’s $137.4M.
TOP 10 PICS AT THE DOMESTIC B.O. per studio estimates for Sept. 21-23:
Bleecker Street’s Keira Knightley drama Colette about Gigi Nobel-prize winning novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette posted a $39K theater average at four NY and LA venues or $156,7K. Measured against the two-time Oscar nominated actress’ previous limited launches, that screen average is below The Imitation Game‘s $119K but ahead of Never Let Me Go ($27,9K) and Begin Again ($26,8K).
Annapuran’s Sisters Brothers was also solid drawing $122K or $30K per location at four NY and LA runs. Both Sisters Brothers and Colette had excellent RT scores respectively with 82% and 92% certified fresh; ratings you need to have when it comes to launching specialty fare during awards season. The Jacques Audiard comedy western expands to top 10 markets this week. Demo breakdowns were 25-34 year olds at 42% being the largest quad. 82% were college grads.
OVERSEAS: After The Nun at No. 1, the Kar Lok Chin Chinese action pic Golden Job opened in six markets making $21M ($20M in China) in the second best spot at the international B.O. While House rallied for Uni in U.S./Canada, overseas it was all about the Rowan Atkinson slapstick spy comedy Johnny English Strikes Again. The movie opens Oct. 28 stateside, and they always pale greatly here next to the riches they reap abroad, read 2003’s Johnny English made 83% of its global $160.5M abroad and 2011’s Johnny English Reborn made 95% of its $160M WW overseas. The threequel ranked 3rd on the overseas B.O. chart with $17.2M from 27 markets including Russia, Spain, and Australia raising its overseas total to $22.1M. Australia’s $1.87M No. 1 start is in line with Reborn‘s (+1%). Pic’s No. 1 $1.8M in UAE is biggest for an Atkinson pic in the region, Russia’s $1.7M which is also No. 1 is 275% better than Reborn, Spain’s No. 2 $1.4M is 19% ahead of Reborn. 20th Century Fox’s The Predator munched on $15.3M from 82 markets in 4th overseas with a running tally of $54.5M overseas, $94.9M global (Predators ended its WW run at $127.2M, but again The Predator is too price next to that Robert Rodriguez produced thrifty pic with a pricetag of $88M before P&A). Fifth place at the foreign B.O. goes to South Korean historical epic The Great Battle took $9.5M. The movie follows the siege of Ansi Fortress and the 88-day battle that Goguryeo kingdom leader Yang Man-chun and his troops who fought against 500,000 invading Tang dynasty men to defend it during the 640s time period.
4TH UPDATE, WRITETHRU SATURDAY AM: With demos Spooky kids movies still work at the box office, with Amblin Entertainment/Universal’s The House With a Clock in its Walls looking at an estimated $7.8M Friday and $24.6M opening weekend.
Not bad for a pic which cost $40M, 63% cheaper than Tim Burton’s $110M Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, another haunted kids book feature adaptation from two autumns ago.
Meanwhile, the weekend’s fresh counter-programming –Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9 ($2.8M), Amazon’s Life Itself ($2.1M), and NEON/AGBO’s Assassination Nation ($1M)—is going down the tubes.
Much of that has to do with the fact that there’s plenty of solid holdovers standing in these new pics’ paths. Lionsgate’s noir comedy A Simple Favor is No. 2, driven by 70% females, with an estimated $10.5M, easing only 34%, for a 10-day total by Sunday of $32.7M. The Nun and The Predator are occupying ranks 3 and 4, with, respectively, $9.4M and $8M, and that’s hipster pocket change that indie Assassination Nation does not have (plus it has a middling RT score of 65% fresh). The Nun looks to hit $100M by tomorrow.
In regards to the success of House, the third weekend in September has organically been built to serve family and teenage audiences. Read: it’s a place where such movies as Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs ($30.3M), The Maze Runner ($32.5M), and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials ($30.3M) have launched to solid business, even though it’s not a time when many schools are off (ComScore reports only 2% K-12 are currently off). Universal and Amblin met the demo head on, with an IP that media monitor RelishMix says has “lots of fans chiming” on social media, “with memories of the books from childhood, and they’re excited to see the movie adaptation. Also, Jack Black certainly has his fans, and they’re happy to see the comedian in this role. And, like other family/live action films, House definitely has that ‘moment’ that has people talking, in this case, the slimy, gross pumpkins.” Overall, CinemaScore is a B+, which is the same as Miss Peregrine, but below Goosebumps’ ‘A’ grade.
On Screen Engine/ComScore’s PostTrak, The House drew 44% general audience, 19% parents and 37% kids. Those under 25 led the way at 28%, followed by 26% females under 25, females over 25 at 25%, and men over 25 at 21% — essentially evenly spread, which is a distributor’s hope in turnout. The audience gave it three-and-a-half stars overall.
To lure audiences into the movie theater this weekend, Universal leveraged Jack Black’s star wattage with family crowds in the wake of the enormous success of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ($404.5M domestic), with the actor participating in a bulk of custom content, such as the final episode of Funny Or Die’s “IMDB ME,” as well as an appearance on Rhett & Link. Along with the rest of the cast, Black participated in National Read A Book Day Sept. 6, reading from the original The House With a Clock in its Walls.
Praises social RelishMix, “There are numerous positives in this partnership. First of all, the campaign reaches the core audience of the film, which is often those who read the original material. Second, many cast members were not activated to this point – including Jack Black. Finally, other cast members who are not officially on social media, like Cate Blanchett, were able to participate, too. This is a great example of an effort other studios could easily replicate in their own campaigns.” Black is the social media star of the film, counting 10M across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. “The longtime comic actor has been less active on his official feeds, and more visible in special clips cut for the film, like behind the scenes on FilmIsNow and special magic tricks made for the DreamworksTV audience,” reports RelishMix. Those wide releases that opened in late August were set back at the B.O. (read Happy Time Murders), since late night and AM talk shows were on summer break. That wasn’t a problem here with the House cast getting face time on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen.
Simply put, Briarcliff’s Fahrenheit 11/9 went too wide at 1,719 theaters, and that’s why its opening is so low. BoxOfficeMojo shows that there’s only been 7 docs to opening between 1,000 to 2,000 theaters, and most of them are Disney nature docs. This is the widest debut ever for a Michael Moore doc, and the reason why Briarcliff went wide was to get the filmmaker’s anti-Trump message out to the widest possible audience before Election Day. The pic isn’t just booked in the big cities, but small towns, which typically have to wait weeks on end for a Moore movie to hit town. A limited platform release would have done the same trick, buzz-wise, and avoided any lackluster ticket sales in regards to its wide break. Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 earned $23.9M in its opening weekend at 868 venues, but understand that was due to its massive P&A from Lionsgate and IFC; though Briarcliff took out national TV ads for 11/9, they’ve kept their P&A ~$10M. Furthermore, 9/11 had a great taboo groundswell to spur blue state audiences: It was the doc that was so dicey, so Bush-bin Laden confidential, Disney didn’t want Miramax to release it. Top that buzz off with its Palme d’Or win at the Cannes Film Festival; the only doc to take the top prize on the Palais. The only hope here for 11/9 —and note audiences love it with a solid A CinemaScore and four-and-a-half stars on PostTrak while critics enjoyed it at 80% certified fresh–is that it’s living in a rich holdover marketplace for documentary films, i.e. RBG ($14M), Won’t You Be My Neighbor ($22.6M), and Three Identical Strangers ($12M). Each has created business for the other, thanks to in-theater trailering on the previous release. Next to Life Itself and Assassination Nation, 11/9 has a better chance of sticking around in a faithful handful of theaters in subsequent weeks thanks to any awards attention it gets, as well as older adult audiences who catch these films later than sooner in their runs. Biggest demos here were 52% men over 25 and 39% women over 25. Only 9% under 25 showed up.
If you’re a tearjerker movie, you’re as good as dead at the box office, no thanks to film critics who don’t buy into any Kleenex sentiment for such fare. That translates into bad RT scores of 13% Rotten and sends Amazon’s $10M-U.S. rights acquisition Life Itself to its box office grave (former Amazon motion pictures boss Jason Ropell beat out Paramount and Universal for Life Itself rights, the latter studio a sister to NBC which airs director Dan Fogelman’s hit Emmy-winning series This Is Us). Part of the sour message that critics are transmitting about Life Itself is, ‘Why head to the movies when you can watch this This Is Us multi-generational family melodrama on TV on Tuesday night?’ Like Will Smith’s Collateral Beauty, Life Itself isn’t a movie that was built for critics, but general moviegoers, evident in its positive test screenings, five-minute standing ovation at TIFF (that happens at Cannes, not TIFF), and the B+ CinemaScore, which isn’t too shabby (PostTrak audiences like it far less at two-and-a-half stars). Once again, the weepy melodrama film is exhibit A in how RT scores impact certain types of films at the domestic box office. Fogelman in the press blamed white male critics for the bad word of mouth on Life Itself, but there were many top female critics who didn’t go for this movie. Time’s Stephanie Zacharek slams, “So perversely jaw-dropping in its attempts to extort feelings out of us that it could almost be a black comedy. But no, this one is playing it straight.” Turnout here was 54% females over 25, followed by 30% guys over 25. A low 47% definite recommend here.
Neon/AGBO’s Assassination Nation was aiming to make a microbudget play (both companies shelled out $10M for global rights out of Sundance) in the vein of Blumhouse’s BLT releases, but typically success comes with those movies with a $3M-$5M opening, zeroing in on a specific demo. This Sam Levinson-directed pic is coming in at $1M. A digital campaign was largely executed. A wide release was promised versus a platform like The Orchard’s hip Sundance pick-up American Animals (which with MoviePass as its partner pushed stateside ticket sales to $2.8M in the end). While Assassination Nation aims to be daring in its modern day Salem witch trial colliding with Internet hacking, critics such as Amy Nicholson for Variety feel that the teenage satire is an “immature screed” and more of a “Molotov cocktail thrown at a hazy target” in its arresting of sexism, fragile male egos, etc. NEON enjoyed the edginess of the pic; that’s why they bought it for theatrical. Again, blame The Nun and The Predator for chiefly standing in the way of this indie pic’s business. The pic played largely to adults, not the under-25 set, with men over 25 showing up at 32%, followed by females over 25 at 29%. They weren’t wowed with a two-and-a-half stars and 60% overall positive on PostTrak, with a very low 39% definite recommend.
Two of the best-reviewed specialty releases of the weekend, Annapurna’s Joaquin Phoenix-John C. Reilly western comedy The Sisters Brothers (82% certified fresh RT) and Bleecker Street’s Colette (92% certified fresh) have the best theater averages, respectively with an estimated $30K and $41K. Sisters Brothers, which launched at Venice and then played Deauville and TIFF, is looking at $120K at four NY and LA sites, while Colette, which world-premiered at Sundance back in January and recently played TIFF, is making $164K at four NY and LA venues. Bleecker Street and 30WEST snapped up U.S. rights to the Wash Westmoreland movie for mid-seven-figures out of Park City, UT as Deadline exclusively reported.
wEEKEND B.O. FOR SEPT. 21-23
1ST UPDATE, 7:29AM: Amblin Entertainment’s The House With a Clock in its Walls from Universal drew $840K from 2,700 locations on Thursday night.
Note, kids are still in school, so the play for House will be largely from Saturday and Sunday matinees. Thursday’s take is under such spooky family pics like Fox’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, another kids book feature adaptation like House, which earned $1.2M on its Thursday before winning the Sept 30-Oct. 2, 2016 frame with $28.8M. House is above Sony’s Goosebumps which drew $600K at 2,567 theaters on its Thursday night before notching a $23.6M weekend win in mid-October 2015. House is expected to be in the same $20M+ opening neighborhood as those movies with a $20M-$22M take from 3,592 locations. House‘s production cost is far cheaper than Miss Peregrine, an estimated $40M to $110M. House is also under Goosebumps’ $55M pricetag before P&A.
House is based on the children’s book written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey. Director Eli Roth is stepping out of his hardcore genre zone here to helm House. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle actor Jack Black stars alongside Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. Story follows a 10-year-old who goes to live with his uncle whose house has a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead.
Now the September box office will not reach the all-time record of last September’s $698.5M record, of which Warner Bros.’ It repped 41%. But through the first 18 days of the month, September is faring quite well with $413M, 7% ahead of the same running period in 2016 (which finaled at $587.9M) and pacing behind September 2017 by 8%. If this month maintains its current pace, it could wind up being the second-best September ever at $629M. Universal’s Kevin Hart-Tiffany Haddish PG-13 comedy Night School could push the month’s ticket sales even higher as the pic is tracking for a $25M-$34M opening next weekend.
20th Century Fox’s The Predator in its second weekend will ease to about $7M-$9M in its second weekend after a No. 1 take of $24.6M. Its predecessor, Predators from July 2010, ran into Christopher Nolan’s Inception in its second weekend and saw a 72% tumble to $7M. The sixthquel from Shane Black grossed $31.7M in its first week. Early industry reports show that on Thursday The Predator was neck-in-neck with Lionsgate’s Paul Feig comedy noir A Simple Favor drawing $1.24M a piece. That Blake Lively-Anna Kendrick movie is likely to beat the monster for a No. 2 take of $9M-$10M.
Also opening this weekend is Neon/AGBO’s Sundance acquistion of the teen action comedy Assassination Nation which is looking to post around $3.5M; Thursday night previews are estimated around $120K. Amazon has This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman’s drama weepy Life Itself, which hasn’t won over critics with a 12% Rotten score, is expected to earn $4M-$5M; the ensemble pic which stars Oscar Isaac, Antonio Banderas, Olivia Wide, Annette Bening among others earned $100K. Tom Ortenberg’s Briarcliff Entertainment has the Michael Moore doc Fahrenheit 11/9 going wide at 1,719 venues with industry projections seeing $5M-$6M and posted $275K last night. All pics held Thursday night previews.