5th Writethru, Sunday AM after Friday and Saturday updates: Yesterday, matinees drove Saturday business for the Dr. Seuss yuletide classic to an estimated $27.5M, +47% from Friday, keeping The Grinch on track for a $66M opening, per Universal. That’s the best opening ever for a Christmas theme movie, with The Grinch beating himself: Universal’s Ron Howard-directed live action version was the previous best for a Christmas title at $55M. Grinch‘s opening is also Illumination’s 7th No. 1 opening and Uni’s fourth No. 1 opening in the last eight weeks, after The House With a Clock in its Walls, Night School, and Halloween.
Overseas, boosted by the UK and Brazil, delivered $12.7M, sending The Grinch to a $78.7M worldwide start. Other studios see The Grinch grabbing more green stateside at $67M. Universal is estimating today at $19.8M, -28% from Saturday. The animated feature comes in with a thrifty Illumination production cost of $75M before P&A. Unlike The Nutcracker and the Four Realms last weekend, the holiday toon is cheaper and off to a great start for legs in the weeks to come.
However, with U.S. schools acknowledging Veterans Day tomorrow, business for the Mean One could easily click past $70M. ComScore reports that close to half of all K-12 schools will be off Monday, with 28% colleges on recess.
“Chris Meledandri and Illumination were able to take this familiar theme and well-known story and put their unique and incredible touch on it,” said Universal domestic distribution boss Jim Orr about the success of The Grinch this weekend, “Illumination stands for great quality and has become a trusted name in all audience entertainment.”
Even though Grinch isn’t a whopper opening in the $100M Illumination The Secret Life of Pets and Minions sense of the word, The Grinch‘s three-day is higher than the starts of the toon studio’s Despicable Me ($56.3M) and Sing ($35.2M). Legs won’t be a problem during the holiday season. Howard’s Grinch did a 4.7 multiple and hit $260M. Sing, boosted by year-end holiday business, hit $270.3M. An indication that the play-ability for The Grinch was broad were PLF and Imax screens together driving 13% of the weekend. Grinch shared Imax screens with Paramount’s Overlord (around 300) while Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody played in around 30. Hispanic audiences repped 31%, also driving Grinch turnstiles.
The Grinch sells itself. It’s from the Minions factory, and that guarantees a certain sense of humor to moviegoers (one of the most successful trailers, per RelishMix, at 2.5M YouTube views was the one where the Minions actually watch The Grinch trailer in a theater and laugh their butts off). In addition, The Grinch is a beloved holiday classic that, like the 2000 version, expands the story without turning the classic upside down and alienating family crowds.
Critics were split on the 2000 Ron Howard-directed take, with 52% on Rotten Tomatoes taking umbrage with Jim Carrey’s hamming, and they’re split on this one as well at 54% Rotten. Really, the movie isn’t for them, it’s for families, and this weekend reviewers themselves are swinging for the fences, as the best- reviewed wide release on Rotten Tomatoes belongs to World War II zombie hybrid Overlord at 80% fresh.
On Screen Engine/ComScore’s PostTrak, audiences are giving The Grinch a solid 4 stars and an 83% overall positive. It also earns an A- CinemaScore. Parents and kids both gave it 4 1/2 stars. Friday’s audience had a 43% kid turnout, 18% parents, and 39% general audience. 58% moms to 42% dads showing up, with the strongest demos being females under-25 numbering 38% and men under-25 at 27%. Kids and parents give The Grinch around a 75% ‘must see right away’ (definite recommend) with girls under-12 outnumbering boys under-12, 56% to 44%.
Says Social Media monitor Relish Mix in their latest report, “This holiday favorite has legions of loyal fans, whether it’s the original book, the 1960s TV special, or the more recent Ron Howard directed re-imagining starring Jim Carrey – each of these iterations is discussed in turn on social, and then compared to materials from this 2018 version. And, for the most part, fans are in to see The Grinch with their kids, family and friends this weekend. They like Benedict Cumberbatch as the green guy – and the music from the trailers, too.”
During its campaign, there were three trailers for The Grinch which racked up over 262M views worldwide. To amplify awareness, Tyler, the Creator, who has written an original song for the film along with a re-imagined version of the classic “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch“, introduced the third trailer.
Cumberbatch kicked off “The Grinch for Good” activation on the Today Show by encouraging fans to share stories of kind acts while inspiring them to donate to Feeding America through the customized Grinch Amazon landing page. RelishMix noticed that “fans are taking part in a Grinch for Good on the pic’s official FB page. This tactic, like so many others from the campaign, loop in a key story element to the social space.”
As we reported exclusively, The Grinch is further boosted around the world by a promotional partner campaign that’s valued at $80M, versus the 2000 edition’s then-$50M. Keeping the pic’s profile going, Amazon will be sending nearly 10M green Grinch-themed boxes through the end of the year.
Other social efforts for The Grinch included the first animated national filter on Snapchat, which received over 43M impressions, a Halloween lens takeover, and a Snapchat World Lens from November 5-11. A custom Twitter emoji will appear on Grinch-related hashtags throughout the holiday season.
The studio executed a print campaign in the spirit of The Grinch‘s snarky tone with tag lines like “Resting Grinch face” and “Scheme Big” with billboards and bus ads reading “Another remake?! Hope you’re proud Hollywood.” and “Keep honking. It will make everything go faster”.
Illumination/Universal are rebooting The Grinch in a timely fashion, close to a generation since the last feature and in an animated feature-length form which harks back to the classic. Let’s face it, if you’re going to adapt Dr. Seuss to the big screen, you have to go long, and the Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy version does it at 90 minutes versus Howard’s 104 minute-edition. The movie received a further promo boost vertically through the Comcast/NBCUniversal empire with in-show integrations on America’s Got Talent, The Voice and Today. Custom spots were also featured during the NBC airing of the Pyeong Chang Olympics starting in February while a Grinch balloon will be displayed during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. RelishMix praised NBC Uni’s leverage of the Olympics saying, “the campaign reminded these core fans often and with a variety of clips – which is so important in this saturated environment of constant promotion.” Grinch spots also ran during the World Cup and even enlistied NBA basketball stars like Draymond Green and J.R. Smith to interact with The Grinch.
Fox/New Regency/GK Films’ Bohemian Rhapsody did overperform and will hit $100M today per the studio’s calculations. A $13.1M Saturday, +55% over Friday, is taking the second weekend of the Freddie Mercury biopic to $30.8M, a great -40% hold and the sixth Graham King production to cross $100M.
Paramount’s Overlord, which cost $38M before P&A, edged out its R-rated rival, Sony/MGM/New Regency’s The Girl in the Spider Web, $10.1M to $8M in early Sunday AM estimates. Neither film is doing well enough in regards to their openings, a $15M-$20M start would have been great. Spider’s Web was done 4% on Saturday from its $2.86M Friday while Overlord eased 2% yesterday with $3.7M.
Overlord‘s under-performance comes from being a genre hybrid, an audacious World War II zombie movie that can only titillate the heavy metal-video game crowd, and distance everyone else. However critics are impressed with Australian director Julius Avery’s handling of the material, saying that it’s not so campy with Stephen King heralding the director’s work as “early Steven Spielberg”.
The feature is a bit of a foster child at Paramount right now: Not only was it shepherded by the previous administration of the late Brad Gray and production chief Marc Evans, but it’s produced by J.J. Abrams who is looking to leave the lot and take his overall deal elsewhere. Nonetheless, Paramount was impressed by the reviews that came out of Fantastic Fest and we hear that changed their minds in regards to shelling out a bit more P&A (significantly far less than the $40M-$50M domestic spend that Sony is putting out for Girl in the Spider’s Web). In sum, Overlord gets a B CinemaScore and three stars on PostTrak drawing 44% males over 25, followed by females over 25 at 26%. Males over 25 gave the pic its best grade at 75% positive. Overlord, despite its smart zaniness is a calling card for Avery, with more commercial projects headed his way: Deadline exclusively reported that Fox locked him down to write and direct Flash Gordon, of which the filmmaker is a longtime fan.
The failure of The Girl in the Spider’s Web is myriad, despite being cheaper than the 2012 U.S. remake, $43M to $90M. MGM only has 20% skin in Spider’s Web. Both Sony and MGM sold down pro-rata when New Regency bought into the movie with Sony covering the largest part of the production cost.
“Even if this film grosses 70% overseas, it’s hard to see it breaking even,” says one trusted film finance source. Sony is calling the weekend at $8M, and rivals believe it’s lower than that –around $7.7M– with A Star Is Born in the No. 5 spot with $8M, and can’t stop domestic running total of $178M in weekend 6.
For the most part a sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is too late, and while Rooney Mara was a fresh face in the U.S. 2012 remake, 007 Daniel Craig was there to bring in auds. Whether you like Claire Foy in this movie or not as punk hacker sleuth Lisbeth Salander, The Crown star isn’t a substantial marquee draw. During the second weekend of November, adult-targeted films have demonstrated their ability to overindex and leg out past $100M: Last year Murder on the Orient Express opened to $28.6M and 2016’s Arrival debuted to $24M. Not exact comps exactly demo and positioning-wise to Spider’s Web, however, if there’s a movie that can stoke adults now in the marketplace, they’ll come out during this pre-Thanksgiving time. Purists may have the problem that Spider’s Web isn’t officially part of late Swedish author Stiegg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo novel canon (it was written by a publisher-gun-for-hire David Lagercrantz), nor is it based on the supposed later manuscripts on Lisbeth Salander that the late author’s partner purports to be in possession of (she reportedly had three-quarters of the fourth novel). Sony tried to sell this as a Bond film –and the trailers looked great– but that’s what has put off critics. Salander is less a vigilante for abused women in this film and more so a superhero spy, a sell-out whose own queerness has been dialed down say reviewers. This sequel has her involved in a cat-and-mouse storyline involving a missing software program that controls the world’s nuclear arsenal. Not exactly high stakes for what was once a pre-#MeToo complex protagonist.
Spider’s Web gets a B CinemaScore and 75% overall positive score drawing M25 and F25 equally at 39%. Relish Mix says on the social media buzz: “Moviegoers are confused as to why Rooney Mara is not returning to the series. They are also confused why the studio skipped over original entries (referring to the novels) to a lesser known tale. There is also a legitimate, non-polarizing contingent saying that to them, this film’s materials over-emphasize the female protagonist. Whether or not the film has a #MeToo movement theme, some moviegoers feel alienated by the violence.”
RelishMix says that on social media, Spider’s Web is down in various metrics: It has a social media universe across Facebook, YouTube views, Twitter, Instagram that’s under 58M while a thriller of its kind averages around 77M. Videos and clips are being passed around at a low 7 to 1 ratio versus the genre’s 24 to 1 rate. The social media analyst believes it was a mistake for the studio to start a brand new Facebook page for Spider’s Web as opposed to connecting to the original 2012 David Fincher film, and reigniting those fans (which is standard social media marketing practice for many franchise films). As such, the Facebook page is only seeing 200 adds a day versus a normal, healthy average that’s close to 2K.
Industry reports aren’t seeing grosses for Netflix’s Coen Brothers film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which is launching at New York’s Landmark 57 West, The Landmark Los Angeles and the Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco ahead of its global streaming date on Nov. 16. Apparently, other distributors are blocked from seeing the hourlies in the ComScore internal B.O. system.
Bron Studios/Sony’s The Front Runner from director Jason Reitman currently boasts the best screen average for a specialty release this weekend with $14K at four NY and LA venues (or $56K 3-day opening), but that’s really horrible when you consider that it’s a limited launch of an awards contender wannabee. That screen average needs to be between $40K-$50K a screen at the bare minimum for a fall contender’s limited launch. At 62% fresh on RT, critics aren’t impressed. And that score is enough of a scandal to prevent people from voting with their wallets for this political drama about Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential campaign which was derailed by an extramarital affair. In its Tuesday through Sunday run, The Front Runner is expected to make an awful $76K.
Studio-reported Sunday estimates:
Below are the industry estimates as of Saturday AM:
WEEKEND B.O. FOR NOV. 9-11
First update, Friday 7:32AM: Illumination-Universal’s animated feature The Grinch lifted $2.2M last night from Thursday previews at 3,200 locations that started at 6PM. That’s higher than the $1.7M Tuesday night preview they had for their animated musical Sing which opened before Christmas in 2016.
The Dr. Seuss classic, Universal’s second go-round with the property after a 2000 Ron-Howard-directed live action version that was the highest grossing film of that year with $260M stateside, is expected to make $60M per tracking, but some box office analysts believe this film is going much higher in U.S./Canada, between $70M-$80M at 4,141 theaters. One reason is that entire marketplace has been in an overindexing mood lately. Also, Grinch advance ticket sales on Fandango are pacing ahead of Illumination’s Sing from Dec. 2016, which had a five-day launch of $55.8M. Overseas The Grinch is expected to deliver around $10M in 23 markets, which include launches in UK and Brazil.
Illumination rarely plays this end of the year, the last being Sing over Christmas, so it’s hard to comp to their previews. Minions in July 2015 repped their highest preview night with $6.2M. However, Grinch is higher than Big Hero 6 which opened around this time in 2014 ($1.25M).
Given that it’s the off-season for kids pics on Thursday nights currently, this Grinch will boom greatly from matinees on Saturday and Sunday. The 2000 version, which starred Jim Carrey in the title role, debuted to $55M. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the Grinch this time around.
With 20th Century Fox/New Regency/GK Films’ Bohemian Rhapsody pulling in arena-like crowds after a surprise $51M opening weekend and now $69.1M week, together with The Grinch, both pics are expected to run over the other new competition in the market which includes Sony/MGM/New Regency’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web which is tracking at $8M-$10M at 2,929 theaters saddled with lackluster reviews at 49% Rotten, and Paramount/Bad Robot’s zombie World War II movie Overlord, which is expected to make around the same at 2,859 venues off great reviews, 82% fresh.
The Julius Avery movie made $900K in previews last night which is more than Spider’s Web $635K at 2,620 sites that started at 7PM. Overlord‘s figures are on par with the Thursday previews of Annihilation ($900K, $3.9M Friday, $11.1M opening) earlier this year and the Guillermo del Toro gothic spooky pic Crimson Peak ($855K Thursday, $5.3M Friday, $13.1M opening). Bohemian Rhapsody meanwhile is expected to have a solid second weekend hold like most musicals do in the -40% to -45% range with $28M-$30M.
The sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo is based on the 2015 fourth novel in the Milllennium series however, the book wasn’t written by the initial trilogy’s author Stieg Larsson, rather the author who took over the series David Lagercrantz. The first movie, which was directed by David Fincher, and starred 007‘s Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in a career-defining Oscar nominated role as punk sleuth Lisbeth Salander, cost $90M before P&A and opened over the year-end holiday season with a ho-hum $12.7M but legged out to $102.5M. At $43M, Spider-Web is 52% cheaper than Dragon Tattoo and stars Claire Foy in the Salander role with the pic directed by Don’t Breathe helmer Fede Alvarez.
Sony also has the Bron Studios release The Front Runner at four NY and LA locations about Gary Hart’s presidential bid which was disrupted by an infidelity scandal. That movie hasn’t been doing so hot during the midweek after an Election Day opening earning $20K to date. Last night the pic made $7K, which is up 16% over Wednesday’s $6K.