Of all the calamity exhibition needs right now as the industry tries to reopen during a pandemic is a hurricane.
Box office analysts are divided on Hurricane Laura’s impact as new fare including 20th Century Studios/Disney’s The New Mutants, Searchlight’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, UAR/Orion’s Bill & Ted Face the Music and Picturehouse’s Fatima try to resuscitate the box office. Some believe the storm, which made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast late Wednesday, won’t have an impact at all, while others think it could hurt the South — a box office area in the midst of reawakening.
Right now, Cinemark is planning closures in Louisiana (Lake Charles) and Texas (Houston, Beaumont, Pasadena, Jacinto City, Webster and Lufkin), with Star Cinemas closing cinemas in Hurricane Laura’s Lone Star state zone. The storm has been downgraded to a Category 1, but about half million people have power outages in the areas where Louisiana and Texas have been hit.
Warner Bros is also opening Tenet in Canada this weekend at around 300 locations, but Disney’s inherited 20th Century Studios Marvel movie The New Mutants is eyeing No. 1 at the domestic box office with an estimated $8 million-$10 million at 2,412 locations including 205 Imax auditoriums, 450 Premium Large Format screens and 75 D-Box/4D screens. Movio Insights told us yesterday that Tenet‘s advance ticket sales, despite not all markets being open, is besting presales of Dunkirk and Interstellar in the U.S., UK and Australia. Warners will roll the pic’s Canadian B.O. into U.S. results starting next weekend.
As for New Mutants‘ $8M-$10M estimate, know that the Josh Boone-directed movie was originally set to open to around $20M. Whittling down from there, figure that roughly 60% of the marketplace is open, but with auditorium capacity safety restraints. And then Hurricane Laura throws in a wild card.
Previews for New Mutants will begin tonight, and the film will be playing at some drive-ins in states where hard-top theaters are closed. Specifically, the new Rose Bowl pop-up drive-in will be playing New Mutants tonight at 10:30 p.m. Ditto for Aramando Iannucci’s David Copperfield; that feature is playing at any drive-in states where hard-top theaters are closed, i.e., the Mission Tiki in Montclair, CA. New Mutants doesn’t have a Rotten Tomatoes score yet, but David Copperfield does, having made its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival a year ago, clocking in at 93% fresh.
As Deadline first told you, Searchlight preemptively bought North American rights to David Copperfield before its TIFF debut. The PG-rated movie starring Dev Patel in the title role is based on the Charles Dickens classic and follows a young orphan who triumphs over obstacles in Victorian England. Booked at 1,360 theaters, including art houses in Stamford, CT, Orlando and Kendall Square in Boston will hopefully clear $700,000-900,000. Given the uneven marketplace with NYC and LA closed, there’s no upside yet in creating a spark for an art house slow rollout. It was better for Searchlight to just go wide with David Copperfield, especially with the big circuits in need of product. Those theaters wishing to preview David Copperfield tonight at 7 p.m. can do so.
Bill & Ted Face the Music, originally intended to be a pure theatrical release, opted to go PVOD and theatrical given the unpredictability of the marketplace. The big chains like AMC, Regal and Cinemark won’t play it, but 1,007 independent theaters will. We’ll see how it does.
Picturehouse’s Roman Catholic faith-based movie Fatima from Italian director Marco Pontecorvo about three young shepherds in Fátima, Portugal, who have visions of the Virgin Mary, is booked at 215 locations, and will also be playing PVOD. Like Bill & Ted 3, the big circuits aren’t playing it because it’s day-and-date. Picturehouse was able to pivot and do a theatrical-PVOD rollout (the latter through Universal) as they owned North American rights. The pic has screened for Archbishops throughout the country who have lent their support with video introductions for the film, along with a big push toward Catholic parishes. Over the summer, the Bob and Jeanne Berney-owned distribution label held 10 pop-drive ins throughout the U.S. which previewed Fatima to full lots including the Palladium in Hollywood, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, and Soldier Field in Chicago, as well as plays in Simi Valley, CA, Boston and Kansas City.
Solstice Studios’ Unhinged after opening in the U.S. on Friday currently counts a running total through Wednesday of $6.2M at the domestic box office. The Russell Crowe movie jumps from 1,823 sites to 2,300 this weekend. From 27 offshore territories, the pic’s international B.O. is north of $10M.
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