Update Sunday 9:04AM after Sunday 6:20AM and Saturday AM post: Even with yesterday’s good news about New York’s plans to reopen cinemas on Oct. 23, albeit sans NYC, we’re still a ways off from seeing the domestic box office back on its feet. Roughly 16% of the nation is still closed: Los Angeles County still needs to open, and San Francisco health officials need to OK the sale of concessions for exhibitors to come back in the City by the Bay. Oh, and Regal needs to turn its lights back on. Then what we need is a fire-breathing, all appealing tentpole, but one that’s boosted by a mega 360-degree mega marketing campaign.
For now independent distributors on a budget are braving the way and providing exhibition with titles in an effort to keep the lights on.
Open Road’s Liam Neeson action pic Honest Thief led Friday with $1.3M at 2,425 theaters, a figure that’s just under the $1.4M that Unhinged did on its first combined US debut-Canada Friday (by the way, that guy-driven, red-state Russell Crowe movie crossed $20M, now in its 10th weekend).
Honest Thief clocked a $3.7M three-day, and when rolling in Canada’s gross from last week, its running cume will stand at an estimated $4.2M. Honest Thief is getting an extra boost from Imax, Dolby, and PLF, formats which Neeson action pics don’t typically have access to in a highly competitive major studio tentpole environment. The expectation is that Honest Thief will be No. 1.
The 8th weekend results of Warner Bros.’ Tenet earned $1.6M for a third place slot, taking it to $50.6M domestic. I hear there was a lot of activity on the Christopher Nolan movie in Seattle, where cinemas reopened. Overall, five out of the top ten theatres this weekend were in the Seattle DMA. Scroll down for more Tenet stats.
Best cities for Honest Thief were Miami, Chicago, San Diego, and Atlanta. Imax fueled $150K stateside at 192 venues for Honest Thief, the pic’s global cume for the large format exhibitor being $267K.
“Moviegoers, particularly couples, came back to theatres to enjoy Honest Thief in a theatrical environment and were rewarded with a movie rated 88% on the audience score from Rotten Tomatoes” noted Tom Ortenberg, who recently relaunched Open Road with Josh Green’s Raven Capital. “We expect the movie to perform well for weeks to come“.
PostTrak exits showed 75% in the top 2 boxes for Honest Thief, with a 53% recommend. Males/females were 54/46, with 78% over 25 and 53% over 35. Diversity breakdown was 54% Caucasian, 19% Hispanic, 18% African American, and 9% Asian/other
Directed by Mark Williams, the co-creator of Netflix Emmy-winning series Ozark, Honest Thief follows a notorious bank robber who, in wanting to lead an honest life, turns himself in, only to be double-crossed by two ruthless FBI agents. Kate Walsh and Jai Courtney also star.
Open Road’s media spanning TV, audio, and digital hit males 35+, with secondary targeting of females 35+. Women spiked in both early research screenings for Honest Thief, as the demo rated the movie the highest due to Neeson and Kate Walsh’s relationship in the film. Also stoking the demo was Neeson’s desire to leave his life of crime behind for his new love.
TV media included live sports with multiple spots on the NFL on CBS, ESPN, NFL Network, UFC, and WWE. TV spots also ran on key cable originals like Fargo and Wilderness of Error on FX, AMC’s Walking Dead franchise, NatGeo’s Life Below Zero, and History’s Monster Quest, in addition to cable movies and late night. There were multiple spots on Jimmy Kimmel, including one to support Neeson’s Oct. 9 appearance on the show. Radio ads rans on Barstool Sports, ESPN Radio, and The Dan Patrick Show. Neeson and Walsh also appeared on Good Morning America.
Open Road also partnered with Paper Airplane, the new in-theatre marketing company founded by former Lionsgate execs Mike Polydoros and Will Preuss, to do a significant amount of marketing directly with exhibition partners, including trailer placement on Unhinged and Tenet, and digital and social media partnerships which targeted confirmed purchasers of tickets to past action film and Neeson movies.
On social media, RelishMix observes that Honest Thief has a campaign that’s propped by 5.7M Facebook views from 20 videos off the pic’s official page, with an additional near 10M views on YouTube from four trailers and spots.
Reports RelishMix, “Kate Walsh is loudly and clearly the social star for Honest Thief across her social media universe of 5.7M followers, with an Instagram of 3.2M, plus Twitter 900K and Facebook of 1.6k. She’s activated for the film in between posts for her Boyfriend perfume/beauty product line.”
That look u give ur #boyfriend when ya find out he’s been lying about his past and he’s actually a bank robber… 🙄 #HonestThief is now playing in theaters, kitties! Buy ur tickets today💥 https://t.co/vXEu0Io7t7 pic.twitter.com/qiWbiQpsYb
— Kate Walsh (@katewalsh) October 16, 2020
Overall social media chatter is leaning positive for Honest Thief, with RelishMix further reporting, “Liam Neeson never lies. When he says he is ‘coming for you,’ he’s coming for you,’ cry fans, adding, ‘I will never understand why people continue to mess with Liam.’ Fans are finding materials on Facebook and YouTube as a week of opens chatter continues to build and the film hits calendar. And while select convo calls-out ‘giving away too much’, the trailer plot line twists are pulling positive-swinging chatter for early viewers.”
Critics may have slapped Honest Thief with a 35% Rotten score (only 40 film reviews were reviewed) but Rotten Tomato audiences enjoyed the Neeson pic at 86%.
101 Studios’ War With Grandpa had a second Friday of $721K at 2,260 locations, rose to $1.1M yesterday (+53%) and is looking at a $667K Sunday. The Robert De Niro-Uma Thurman family comedy’s second weekend stands at $2.5M, -31%, which puts its 10-day total at $7.2M.
Disney had a one-two-punch with Halloween catalog titles in spots 3 and 4, respectively, with this weekend’s re-release of the Tim Burton production The Nightmare Before Christmas and weekend 3 of Hocus Pocus. Nightmare did $465K on Friday at 2,194 theaters, $567K on Saturday and expects $291K on Sunday for a $1.3M weekend. Hocus Pocus did $251K on Friday at 1,640, $339K on Saturday, and $166K for what is a $756K 3-day. After taking Mulan and Soul (in addition to other titles) and putting them on Disney+, you know what would have been nice for exhibitors, Disney? Allowing them to show the first three episodes of Star Wars: The Mandalorian on the big screen for one or two weeks before it drops on Disney+ to make a fast buck. It’s nice to see this pop for catalog titles, but nothing beats a franchise.
Freestyle Releasing’s 2 Hearts, the other weekend’s wide entry in 1,683 theaters, took in $565K earning an A Cinemascore from its core female 18-24 audience, but a B overall. 2 Hearts is 11% Rotten off 18 reviews with an audience meter of 83%. Pic as expected skewed toward women at 76%.
Elsewhere, Paramount had a theatrical PVOD release of the Dylan O’Brien feature Love and Monsters which in its theatrical run at 387 venues (which didn’t have window restrictions like the big circuits) did $255K.
Expounding on Tenet:
Pic’s top ten grossing sites were as follows: 1. Paramount Drive-In (Greater LA DMA), 2. Cinemark Lincoln Sq. 22 (Seattle), 3. AMC Alderwood 16 (Seattle), 4. Capitol 6 Drive-In (Greater San Francisco DMA), 5. AMC Southcenter 16 (Seattle), 6. Regal Irvine Spectrum IMAX (LA/OC DMA), 7. AMC Block Orange with IMAX (Greater LA/OC DMA), 8. AMC Pacific Place (Seattle), 9. AMC Woodinville 12 (Seattle), and 10. Cinemark Redwood 20 (SF DMA).
And the pic’s top ten markets were: 1. Orange & Riverside Counties/Greater Los Angeles (~9% mkt share), 2. Seattle (~7% mkt share), 3. Greater San Francisco (~5% mkt share), 4. Detroit (~4% mkt share), 5. Dallas (~3% mkt share), 6. Salt Lake City (~3% mkt share), 7. Chicago (~3% mkt share), 8. Sacramento (~2% mkt share), 9. Phoenix (~2% mkt share), and 10. Greater New York – NJ/CT/PA (~2% mkt share).
Top 10 chart for the weekend of Oct. 16-18:
- Honest Thief (VVS) 2,425 theaters (+2,255), 3-day: $3.7M/Total: $4.2M/Wk 2
- War With Grandpa (101 Studios) 2,260 theaters (+10), 3-day: $2.5M (-31%)/Total: $7.2M/Wk 2
- Tenet(WB) 2,215 theaters (-507), 3-day $1.6M (-24%)/Total: $50.6M/Wk 8
- Nightmare Before Christmas (Dis) 2,194 theaters, 3-day: $1.3M/Total: $51.3M/Wk 1 of re-release
- Hocus Pocus (Dis) 1,640 theaters (-473) 3-day: $756K (-31%)/Total: $43.6M/Wk 3 of re-release
- 2 Hearts (Free) 1,683 theaters, 3-day: $565K/Wk 1
- The New Mutants (20th/Dis) 1,293 theaters (-370), 3-day $465K (-32%)/Total: $22.7M/Wk 8
- Unhinged (Sols) 1,276 theaters (-332) 3-day $425K (-35%)/Total $20M/Wk 10
- Love and Monsters (Par) 387 theaters, 3-day: $255K/Wk 1
- Beetlejuice (WB) 260 theaters (-1), 3-day: $172K (-9%) , running total $74.6M
Friday AM: Open Road’s Liam Neeson action movie The Honest Thief posted a notable first night during the pandemic of $225K in previews.
Neeson’s action movies outside of Taken typically see largely double that or more than triple that in a healthy marketplace, i.e. last year’s Cold Pursuit posted $540K on its Thursday preview, The Commuter did $700K, and Run All Night grossed $455K on its first night, however, we need to keep in mind that the No. 2 exhibitor Regal is closed down (except for seven theaters in California) and, of course, Los Angeles and New York are still shuttered. Industry estimates hope that Honest Thief can peg a similar opening to another meat and potatoes action movie geared at older guys during the pandemic, Solstice Studios’ Unhinged, which did $4M in its first weekend at 1,823 locations (and not every exhibitor was open over the weekend of Aug. 21-23); that Russell Crowe movie on its way to doing a 5x multiple off its first wide weekend with a domestic of $20M.
Most distributors during the pandemic have opted not to report their Thursday night figures because they’ve been so low, but good on Open Road here for sharing the intel. The numbers helps both exhibitors and distributors evaluate the state of the box office, and make programming decisions.
Honest Thief last weekend got an early jump in Canada before its U.S. wide break this weekend, earning $364K at 264 sites.
Honest Thief, the first release under Tom Ortenberg’s revived Open Road, is booked at more theaters than Unhinged had in its first weekend with 2,425 locations. That includes drive-Ins nationwide, 180 IMAX sites, Dolby Vision, and all other premium formats. Forty eight states are cleared to have movie theaters open, excluding North Carolina, with San Francisco movie theaters opting not to open since local health officials prevent the selling of concessions; this despite the fact that the county and the city are in the orange California tier and can accommodate 50% movie theater capacities.
While movie theater marquees during the pandemic have typically accommodated only wide release per weekend (whenever that occurs), this weekend Honest Thief is sharing multiplex space with Freestyle Releasing’s YA faith-based drama 2 Hearts starring Euphoria star Jacob Elordi. That Lance Hool directed and co-written movie is in play at 1,683 locations.
“Open Road is proud to support US theatres with Liam Neeson in a role that audiences will love” said Ortenberg this morning, “We know many Americans across the country are excited to be back at the movies.”
Next week Open Road has the YA sequel After We Collided available in theaters and on PVOD.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.