Sunday AM Writethru: With great success comes continued great chaos for the theatrical experience this past week. On the plus side, the domestic box office is continuing its rebound during the pandemic, with the second weekend of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings earning $9.7M in its second Friday, -67%, for an estimated 3-day of $35.7M, -53%. That’s the third-biggest second weekend for a September release after It ($60.1M) and It Chapter Two ($39.6M).
Disney responds after the Marvel pic’s record Labor Day frame opening last weekend of $94.6M by announcing that the rest of its domestic release slate for the year will honor a theatrical window ranging from 30-45 days per pic. Great, right?
But then Universal decides to take a solid franchise sequel they’ve been holding during the pandemic, Halloween Kills, and go day-and-date with it on Oct. 15. This, coupled with news that Paramount Chairman & CEO and largely respecter of theatrical windows, Jim Gianopulos, is exiting the studio as ViacomCBS doubles down on streaming service Paramount+.
Seriously, what the hell is going on? Does the town think we’re going to sit on our couches and watch our cell phones for eternity? The big screen is the curation of great product, don’t ya get that? How should we sift through a sea of titles on streaming menus if we don’t know what’s great yet?
Warner Bros. which has turned the post-Labor Day frame into a blockbuster frame, staring with 2017’s It (with a $123.4M opening), and has continued to rule it with horror movies, as It Chapter Two ($91M) and The Nun ($53.8M) will have to look forward to regaining its rule over this weekend next year with the New Line adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, because this weekend’s James Wan’s Daria Argento-inspired Malignant via New Line doesn’t quite cut it, with a theatrical debut of $5.57M, per Warner Bros., after a $2M Friday. Argento-like Giallos don’t exactly spell blockbuster; read Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 reboot of Suspiria, which only did $2.48M domestic, $7.9M WW.
While we can always rely on HBO Max for siphoning grosses, Malignant actually divided audiences with a C CinemaScore, and even worse, PostTrak exits at 59% positive and a 38% definite recommend, despite most critics giving the pic a 77% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score. The movie had an ending with a big twist, so it was hard for WarnerMedia to market the movie, and if you do a deep dive in reviews, you find that the pic was gory. The Associated Press’ Lindsey Bahr says, “If you must see Malignant, a theater might honestly be the best bet. That way, at least you can laugh along in utter shock with your fellow theater-goers,” while calling the Wan-directed title a “thanklessly humorless and offensively sadistic film that fails to capture any sort of authentic emotion or make any meaningful statements about trauma.” Eeeks.
Wan and Warner Bros have easily moved on from this blunder. He’s already in production on Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. If you’re here at TIFF, you can’t watch the movie on your phone, because HBO Max isn’t available in the country. Either head out to Cineplex to see it, or rent it on PVOD here. Malignant, I hear, cost $40m before P&A, and was a co-production between Starlight and New Line.
Malignant pulled in 68% 18-34, the tried and true moviegoers coming out during the pandemic, leaning 57% male and 68% over 25. Diversity breakdown was 42% Caucasian, 25% Latino, 18% Black and15% Asian/other. Pic’s best ticket sales were in West and South, with L.A. venues dominant, filling out the top ten runs with two from San Antonio.
Social media analytics corp RelishMix noticed a mixed reaction in the run-up to Malignant‘s opening. They further report:
“With another short dated run-up, the studio has used the New Line social channels with 368K existing fans for Malignant, across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram instead of quickly building out channels from scratch, which you could argue might be a savvy tactic. On the heels of the Wan produced The Conjuring 3 back in June, on New Line, this is efficient. Emphasis is on YouTube videos engagement, most brisk with 22.1 million views with Facebook light at 2.5M for 8 videos and one boosted across New Line, Warners and HBO Max with awareness stats just under the norm at 88.4M.”
Focus Features has the Paul Schrader-directed noir The Card Counter, which, after launching in Venice, is 86% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The pic, which is likely to rank No. 7, is set to make $1.05M at 580 locations in 119 markets for a $1,8K theater average after a $420K Friday. While the arthouse isn’t screaming back, it’s a notable take for a limited Focus release currently in less than 1K theaters, and the second-highest specialty release of the year behind its Anthony Bourdain documentary Roadrunner, which opened to close to $2M in 927 theaters and finaled at $5.2M. Schrader’s Oscar-nominated First Reformed during the summer of 2018 had a platform release opening at $97,5K in four theaters over Memorial Day weekend, and ultimately finaling stateside at $3.4M.
The movie is on a 17-day window and had some OK runs in New York, LA, Phoenix, San Diego and Austin. Top cinemas for Card Counter over the weekend were AMC Century City, LA, AMC Grove, LA; AMC Lincoln Square, NY; The Landmark, LA; Camelview, Phoenix; AMC Tustin, LA; AMC Burbank, LA; AMC Americana, LA; Alamo Brooklyn and AMC Porter Ranch, LA.
“Following the great response out of Venice and Telluride, we’re thrilled to see moviegoers around the country responding with the same enthusiasm for what Paul’s created on screen with Oscar, Tiffany and Tye,” said Focus president of distribution Lisa Bunnell. “And to see the specialty film audiences returning to theaters in these numbers is exciting, not just for Focus, but our entire industry.”
Sony Affirm had the faith-based title from producers the Kendrick Brothers, Show Me the Father, which made $275K on Friday for a $700K 3-day from 1,073 locations. No reviews yet, but those who watched it enjoyed it with an 88% on PostTrak and a 67% recommend. The pic nabbed an A+ CinemaScore, which is not surprising, given faith-based moviegoers showing up. Pic skewed 53% guys, 71% over 35 and 52% over 45 with 63% Caucasian, 15% Black, 17% Asian/other and 5% Latino showing up. Pic played in the faith-based tracks of the Midwest and South, with the strongest draw in the Southeast. The Rick Altizer-directed movie features captivating stories interwoven with inspirational truths about the fatherhood of God.
The third movie in the Anna Todd ya series After We Fell hit 45 markets in Canada, with OK figures out of Quebec and Montreal coming in with an estimated $428,3K opening. Fathom Events has the threequel hitting theaters on Sept. 30 and Oct. 4.
According to theatrical analytics firm EntTelligence, Shang-Chi entered its second week at No. 1, helped by the same things that got it to that record-breaking number last week: Patron attendance from premium large formats, coupled with high average ticket prices in dense markets. Over Friday and Saturday, Shang-Chi had an average ticket price of $12.93 compared to its first Friday and Saturday in week one of $13.62. The Destin Daniel Cretton-directed MCU title continued to play well during the day. Yesterday, over 35% of ticket sales were for shows during the late afternoon to early dayparts, 3PM-6PM. New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco continued to push the weekend’s B.O. with higher ticket prices than the national average.
We’re updating the top 10 chart with Sunday AM numbers
1.) Shang-Chi (Dis) 4,300 theaters Fri $9.7M (-67%),/Sat $15.3M/Sun $10.7M/ 3-day $35.7M (-53%), Total: $145.6M/Wk 2
2.) Free Guy (20th) 3,650 theaters (-235)/Fri $1.47M (-30%)/Sat $2.65M/Sun $1.688M/3-day $5.8M (-35%)/Total $101.8M/Wk 5
3.) Malignant (NL) 3,485 theaters Fri $2M/3-day $5.57M/Wk 1
4.) Candyman (Uni) 3,279 (-290) theaters/Fri $1.4M (-52%)/Sat $2.1M/Sun $1.29M/3-day $4.83M (-53%)/Total $48M/Wk 3
5.) Jungle Cruise (Dis) 2,800 (-275) theaters/Fri $571K (-36%)/Sat $1.16M/Sun $709K/3-day $2.4M (-40%)/Total $109.9M/Wk 7
6.) Paw Patrol (Par) 2,820 (-184) theaters/Fri $490K (-50%)/Sat $1.04M/Sun $680K/3-day $2.2M (-45%)/Total $34.6M/Wk 4
7.) Don’t Breathe 2 (Sony) 1,708 (-468) theaters, Fri $330K/Sat $530K/Sun $290K/3-day $1.15M (-50%)/Total/$30.2M/ Wk 5
8.) Card Counter (Foc) 580 theaters/Fri $420K/Sat $390K/Sun $290K/3-day $1.1M/Wk 1
9.) Show Me the Father (Sony) 1,073 theaters/Fri $300K/Sat $225K/Sun $175K/3-day $700K/Wk 1
10.) Respect (UAR) 1,307 (-800) theaters/Fri $141K/Sat $226K/Sun $136K/3-day $503K (-59%)/Total $23.1M/Wk 5
11.) After We Fell (VVS) 230 theaters/Fri $215,6K/Sat $126,6K/Sun $85,6K/3-day $428,3K/Wk 1
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.