Is it truly a marketplace for branded tentpoles and uber low-budget fare at the box office as the pandemic eases? And is everything in between just future programming for a streamer?
Surely if you ask any filmmaker, established or budding, they truly don’t want their art lost to obscurity in a streaming queue, or worse, to have their movie’s demand be tied to algorithm.
This weekend, three movies aimed at families and guys aged 18-34 will hopefully expand the theatrical marketplace, that is before Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sucks up all the air. DreamWorks Animation/Universal’s original villain movie The Bad Guys looks to do the best out of three with $15 million, while Focus Features’ Robert Eggers’ violent $70M Viking epic The Northman is eyeing between $8M-$12M, and Lionsgate’s Nicolas Cage satire The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is unfortunately tracking in the mid-single digits, at $5M-$7M.
All three have great reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — how often do you see that? Bad Guys is currently 93% fresh, Northman is 88% certified fresh, and Unbearable Weight is 93% fresh. All of this will be occurring in a weekend where one of two family films will reign: either Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in weekend 3 or Warner Bros.’ second frame of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore with $18M-$20M each.
Even though Dumbledore beat Sonic 2 on Tuesday, $3.2M to $3M, the former lost traction on Easter Monday when a sizeable chunk of kids were off school; the blue hedgehog beat the J.K. Rowling wizard, $4.5M to $3.68M. It was a clear indication that the B+ CinemaScore was a huge stone in Dumbledore‘s pocket.
Bad Guys is based on the New York Times bestselling book series and centers on a crackerjack criminal crew of animal outlaws — Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos) and Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina) — who are about to attempt their most challenging con yet: becoming model citizens. After several heists, Mr. Wolf brokers a deal to keep them outta jail, and that is that they’ll go good. Etan Cohen adapted the screenplay and Pierre Perifel directs.
The low projection stems from the pic being a piece of original IP, not to mention the amount of family competition onscreen. Universal benefits from 17% K-12 schools off on Friday. The pic, booked in 4,000 locations, starts previews on Thursday at 5 p.m.
The Northman stars Alexander Skarsgård as young Viking Prince Amleth who is out to avenge the death of his father (Ethan Hawke) after the elder’s life is taken by the prince’s uncle. Nicole Kidman and Anya Taylor-Joy star. Focus has opted to go wide with this New Regency co-production in 3,223 theaters. The pic is on a 17-day window and the studio has been promoting the epic on TV extensively. Focus is hoping that the same 18-34 crowd who showed up for A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once comes out for this film, which was shot in Ireland during the late summer 2020. Arthouses still need product, and Northman comes at just the right time for them. Previews start at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent played gangbusters at its SXSW world premiere in mid-March, with Cage showing up to partake in the fun. However, the movie on tracking is looking to get beat by The Northman. If word of mouth takes hold, and the audience finds this movie, then maybe it exceeds projections. Cage plays himself in the downturn of his career (which is so not true right coming off of his critically acclaimed turn in Pig), and out of desperation accepts an offer to appear at a birthday party for a billionaire superfan (Pedro Pascal). The Leaving Las Vegas Oscar winner is soon tapped by the CIA to assist in nabbing the guy, who is believed to be a drug lord. Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz and Neil Patrick Harris co-star in the movie directed and co-written by Tom Gormican. Previews start at 6 p.m.
Also opening in New York and Los Angeles this weekend from Sony Pictures Classics is The Duke, from director Roger Michell and starring Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent. It’s 1961, and Kempton Bunton, a 60-year-old taxi driver, steals Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. The movie is 95% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Deadline’s Jill Goldsmith will have a full specialty preview Friday.
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