Super Bowl weekend isn’t necessarily the worst frame at the box office, and distributors over time have learned to navigate it. Yeah, yeah, business is going to slide Sunday, but there’s still a decent amount of business to be had Friday and Saturday. It just depends if there’s a movie on the marquee that people want to see — it’s as simple as that.
Super Bowl weekend his yielded seven titles that have opened north of $20 million and over the last 10 years total ticket sales for the FSS period have averaged $103.6M. For all the chatter about losing guys on Sunday (which is true), you have movies like American Sniper putting up $30.7M in its sixth weekend two years ago — the second-best haul over the Big Game weekend, and testosterone franchises like Liam Neeson’s Taken launching to $24.7M. And of course, there are riches to be had when playing toward young females: Disney’s Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best Of Both Worlds Concert Tour remains the top opening ever over Super Bowl weekend with $31.1M, followed by the Channing Tatum-Amanda Seyfried romanceDear John at $30.5M. Essentially, if you book a solid title, audiences will come.
This weekend, Paramount has the PG-13 horror title Rings, about a videotape that kills people, and it’s vying for genre crowds against Universal/Blumhouse’s monolith Split, which has held the No. 1 spot two weekends in a row. The last Ring movie, the second in the series, played 10 years ago. Rings is directed by F. Javier Gutierrez who was behind IFC Films’ Before The Fall.
The first Ring was released by DreamWorks and directed by Gore Verbinski in October 2002. It was a huge sleeper hit, debuting to $15M and cranking out a mind-boggling 8.6 multiple of $129.1M domestic. The Ring Two, which was helmed by the original Japanese Ring director Hideo Nakata, opened in March 2005 and posted a first weekend of $35M which ranks among the top 10 horror pic openings (final domestic $76.2M).
This Rings? It’s only expected to make between $12M-$14M and it could easily get scared away from No. 1 by Split, which is expected to gross $13M-$14M. Through yesterday, the M. Night Shyamalan movie has tallied $81.1M, and it will edge closer to $100M this weekend. Flat out amazing for a movie that cost $9M before P&A.
Rings cost a reported $25M before P&A and while the PG-13 title is the first choice among women under 25, it’s showing a definite interest of 68% among guys over 25. Originally, Rings was to debut over (pre) Halloween weekend, but it fled that frame since Ouija: Origin Of Evil was in its second weekend (generally distributors space genre titles apart by three weeks). Previews start Thursday at 7 PM.
Then there’s STX’s The Space Between Us, which in its TV ads looks like it’s also after young girls with its inter-planetary teen romance. Originally slotted to launch over the Christmas holiday, Space Between Us flew over to Super Bowl weekend. Definite interest is predominant here among females under 25 (40%) and first choice as well (5%). STX would like to see it do between $8M-$10M; rivals have it coming in on the lower end. The upside? STX’s share of the $30M production cost was less than $3.7M after foreign licensing, tax credits and co-financing.
Universal/Amblin/Walden Media’s A Dog’s Purpose is projected to earn $10M-$12M in its second weekend, which would be a 40% decline for the pic. Through yesterday, the Lasse Hallstrom-directed family film, which has faced controversy, has grossed $20.5M through five days.
The last wide release to debut this weekend is Sony Pictures Classics’ The Comedian which like The Founder and Gold before it is an adult-skewing title originally primed to stoke awards-season voters — but fell greatly short. The film follows an older insult stand-up comic played by Robert De Niro who after assaulting an unruly fan in a club,is forced to serve time and becomes a changed man during parole. The Comedian will open in 800-plus theaters and it’s only expected to make $1.5M-$2.5M as La La Land and Hidden Figures continue to amass dollars.
Globally, La La Land is expected to move its running cume to $250M.