Sunday AM Writethru: Updated with NYC B.O. data While Disney’s animated release of Raya and the Last Dragon led the weekend box office with $8.6M at 2,045 theaters, the movie’s less than stellar result has left agita in the bellies of many exhibition and studio executives. Read on.
Raya‘s start is 41% below last weekend’s $14.1M opening for Warner Bros.’ Tom & Jerry, and that movie was available for free on HBO Max, versus Disney’s $30 to Disney+ subscribers to watch the film. Raya‘s sour B.O. can largely be attributed to No. 3 exhibitor Cinemark, as well as Harkins, and Canada’s Cineplex blocking the title over Disney’s refusal to budge on terms give the title’s availability on Disney+. Raya‘s opening was also less than Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Croods: A New Age’s $9.7M 3-day take during its Thanksgiving stretch. There’s also the notion that Croods: A New Age may have been more of a four-quadrant title than Raya, which leans mostly female.
Disney’s Sunday AM box office note to the press didn’t provide any details as to how Raya did on Disney+, nor did they make any executives available to provide comment. The studio recently changed Distribution heads going from Cathleen Taff to UK-based Tony Chambers. Global debut including 23 offshore territories, plus China, puts Raya‘s start at $26.2M.
Even though New York City reopened after 50 1/2 weeks of closure due to Covid, Raya isn’t the type of movie that would set the city on fire, say like a Marvel movie. The city’s cinemas have a 25% capacity auditorium restrictions and it’s restart saw all films in the five boroughs fueling the NY DMA (which includes Connecticut and New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester County theaters) to become the No. 1 B.O. market in the country over the weekend, with Friday and Saturday racking up $744K, +525% from a week ago for the region.
Still, Raya‘s release is striking plenty of fear for rival distributors and for exhibition. That’s particularly after Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s recent remarks Monday at a virtual investment conference hosted by Morgan Stanley in which he said things like, “The consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before,” and that given how the pandemic has brought a number of movies into the home, he’s not sure “there’s going back” to the way films were theatrically distributed prior. Even though Chapek said, “We certainly don’t want to do anything like cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run,” many are concerned all of this is code for Disney moving forward with their theatrical day and date Disney+ model, and that Black Widow may emulate the same distribution path as Raya on May 7.
Keep in mind that even if Los Angeles is reopened by that date and auditorium capacity restrictions ease, Disney still needs the rest of the world to move ahead with Black Widow and make the $1 billion grossing film that everyone wants to see, that is, for the title to remain a pure theatrical release.
What’s scaring many about Raya is that Disney gets to keep 100% of whatever they’re making from the $30 Disney+ PVOD purchase of Raya. Disney doesn’t have to split that PVOD revenue with any exhibitor. It was explained to me that Raya‘s $30 price point on Disney+ is roughly equivalent to the rental that Disney would get from five or six movie tickets. Wow. While I’ve heard Warner Bros. has been a partner with exhibition, and has made a deal on terms for their same day HBO Max titles, Disney hasn’t budged.
I’m told that Disney’s terms with exhibition for Raya were a two-week minimum play with a scale that starts at a 50% rental if the film grosses ultimately between $0 and $37.5M, and then 51% if the domestic gross finals between $37.5M and $50M. While those terms aren’t stiff in a regular marketplace, we’re still in a pandemic, and people aren’t flocking to the movies in great numbers. Plus, movie theaters have to compete with the whole Disney+ PVOD of it all. How fair is that for movie theaters?
Let’s see what happens with Black Widow, and if Disney emulates a Raya theatrical-Disney+ distribution pattern for that title. I would like to give Chapek the benefit of the doubt. Back at December’s Disney Investor Day, he clearly emphasized that a robust Disney+ slate wouldn’t be possible without the power of the big screen and the franchises it has created. He’s also the guy who crushed the theatrical-DVD window, starting with Alice in Wonderland back in 2010; and the studio still walked away with a $1.025 billion global gross on that movie.
Disney didn’t burn down the house to keep warm back then, and I still don’t think they will now. Currently, the studio says that Black Widow is still going theatrical on May 7, and exhibition hasn’t heard otherwise. They’re just very suspicious, since there weren’t any trailers for the Marvel movie on Raya this past weekend, only those for Disney’s May 28 theatrical release Cruella.
From a sheer box office optics point of view, one can argue that Disney left money on the table with Raya by boxing out Cinemark and Canada’s Cineplex. Why would you do that with a film like Raya, that has an A CinemaScore, is 95% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and fantastic PostTrak audience exits of 92%, with an 78% recommend from the general crowd?
Only Disney knows the answer to that question. When it comes to the potential non-reporting of Disney+ Raya PVOD figures, no news is good news. For anything greater would throw the motion picture distribution model off its axis.
Raya opened to $2.5M on Friday and grew to $3.6M on Saturday. The Don Hall and Carlos Lopez Estrada-directed feature in PostTrak audience exits pulled in a largely 57% female crowd, with a third of those who purchased tickets being under 17 years old. The diversity breakdown was 37% Caucasian, 22% Black, 21% Asian and 20% Hispanic. Raya played best in Salt Lake City, I hear, but it had very good numbers for the pandemic in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Washington DC, Houston, Seattle, Phoenix; the list goes on. Disney’s exits show 57% females leading, 48% general audience, 27% parents and 25% kids. Forty-eight percent of those who purchased tickets were under 25.
The social media chatter for Raya was mixed-to-positive according to RelishMix. This despite the fact that Disney’s online marketing machine was in full operation here during the pandemic for the release. Says RelishMix: “Raya is benefiting from the social Mouse House expansion over the year with addition of the Disney+ 9.6M SMU, plugging in Disney Animation 25.1M, big Walt Disney’s 79.4M social media universe and a unique social page for Raya which is clocking 100K. Since the Super Bowl spot drop, the two key Disney big game spots are at 8.2M views, with 81M YouTube owned and earned views. There’s also 25 videos on Facebook with 14.8M views. The overall social media universe for the Disney animated feature counts 259.1 million which is at 86% of the norm for family animated. All things considered by pandemic stats, that’s good.”
Warner Bros’ second weekend of Tom & Jerry ranked second at 2,563 locations (+88), with an industry estimated Friday of $1.6M, -60% from a week ago, and 3-day of $6.6M, -53% for a ten-day running total of $22.95M.
There was chatter among rivals heading into the weekend that Tom & Jerry could possibly steal No. 1 away from Raya, given how that film didn’t have Cinemark. That wasn’t the case. What’s clear here is that the second weekend drop on these theatrical-HBO Max titles are steeper than expected. Remember, Wonder Woman 1984 dropped 67% in weekend 2, and that was over a New Year’s Weekend, typically a big time for moviegoing.
‘Chaos’…Truly And Why The Movie Tanked
With 50% of the nation’s 5,8K U.S. and Canada theaters still closed, there’s really no way for any movie to make great bank. But still, when you have a tentpole, why not delay it? Talk about a great package on paper: Star Wars‘ Daisy Ridley + Spider-Man‘s Tom Holland + filmmaker Doug Liman in YA property Chaos Walking. All together, what studio wouldn’t spend $100M on that, and invest in reshoots? Chaos Walking lived up to the first half of its name with an awful opening of $3.8M at 1,980 theaters. Yikes, that number even had 217 Imax screens which made $300K and 400 premium large format screens at its disposal.
From what I hear, the movie is collateral damage in Lionsgate’s executive shuffle between former Motion Picture Group co-President Erik Feig, who left in February 2018, and returning Motion Picture Group Co-Chair Joe Drake. The first cut of the Liman film was quite rough, however, Feig is known to turn such frogs into princes. Essentially after his departure, the film had the stain of being part of the former regime and there wasn’t any heart left at the studio to get it into greater shape beyond the reshoots.
Lionsgate, of course, is known for its YA streak with Hunger Games and Divergent, however, what a wasted opportunity here to not get a feature like this in better form. The movie had a social media star in its marketing with Holland who pulls in close to 48M on his social media and co-star Nick Jonas who has a social media universe of 58.3M followers. Those two rep 75% of the pic’s overall 139.5M SMU.
With such paltry exits as a B CinemaScore, horrible reviews at 24% Rotten, and a PostTrak of 70% and a 43% recommend, it’s clear Lionsgate knew what they had and used the pandemic to dump the movie, rather than hold it for a healthy marketplace. Word is that the studio has already written off the pic’s loss. Chaos Walking‘s opening weekend lines up with box office sources’ projections. The Liman directed sci-fi feature pulled in 54% guys, 58% over 25 with the 18-34 demo repping 53% of ticket buyers. Diversity breakdown was 55% White, 21% Hispanic, 15% Black, and 9% Asian. Top markets were New York, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago, Houston and Denver.
In fourth place is Focus Features’ Eddie Huang movie Boogie, which did $440K on Friday and $460K on Saturday at 1,252 locations for a $1.2M opening. Pic landed a C+ CinemaScore. Rotten Tomatoes score was low here at 44% and PostTrak OK, with 70% and 55% recommend. Guys bought tickets at 53% with over 60% between 18-34, and the 18-24 demo repping over 40%. Diversity mix was 44% Black, 20% Hispanic, 18% Asian and 18% Caucasian. Boogie was best on the East Coast with New York, Philly, Boston, Chicago, and Miami among its top markets.
Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Croods: A New Age in weekend 15 scored at 1,604 locations earned a $200K Friday, -28% from a week ago, a $360K Saturday and a 3-day of $780K, -38% for a running total of $53.6M.
The overall weekend box office is estimated to gross $25.2M this past weekend, +14% from a week ago. That’s likely the combo of more theatrical wide releases and NYC back in business. However, it could have been more if Raya was a pure theatrical release.
The top 10 chart for the period of March 5-7:
1.) Raya and the Last Dragon (Dis) 2,045 theaters, 3-day: $8.6M/Wk 1
2.) Tom & Jerry (WB) 2,563 theaters (+88), 3-day: $6.6M (-53%)/Total: $22.95M/Wk 2
3.) Chaos Walking (Lionsgate) 1,980 theaters, 3-day: $3.8M/Wk 1
4.)Boogie (Focus) 1,252 theaters, 3-day: $1.2M/Wk 1
5.) The Croods: A New Age (Uni) 1,604 theaters (-308), 3-day: $780K (-38%)/Total: $53.6M/Wk 15
6.) The Little Things (WB) 1,448 theaters (-405), 3-day: $550K (-41%)/Total: $13.6M/Wk 6
7.) Wonder Woman 1984 (WB) 1,217 theaters (-317)/3-day: $511K (-27%)/Total: $44.4M/Wk 11
8.) The Marksman (Open) 1,050 theaters (-364)/3-day: $500K (-29%)/Total: $13M/Wk 8
9.) Judas and the Black Messiah (WB) 984 theaters (-366), 3-day: $282K (-42%)/Total: $4.4M/Wk 4
10.) Monster Hunter (Sony) 1,074 theaters (-164) 3-day: $260K (-43%)/Total $14.4M/Wk 12
11.) Nomadland (Searchlight) 600 theaters (-650), 3-day: $203K (-39)/Total $1.4M/Wk 5
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