Writethru Sunday AM after Saturday posts: The James Wan brand, plus some great dating, enabled New Line/Warner Bros.’ Annabelle: Creation to bust past its tracking this weekend with $35M and provide some life to a dilapidated summer domestic box office. At close to $3.3 billion, summer domestic box is off an awful 11% from 2016’s May to mid-August frame.
While Annabelle: Creation, the fourth film in The Conjuring series, easily owns its fourth best opening, that three-day isn’t that far from its previous chapter, 2014’s Annabelle, which had a $37.1M start. Annabelle: Creation received a B CinemaScore, on par with its previous chapter. But while that one legged out to a 2.3 multiple ($84.3M), the hope here is that this one will final at a higher figure, given its solid reviews.
Annabelle: Creation’s Saturday made $11.6M. That’s 5% above its Friday of $11M when you back out the $4M Thursday previews, so technically, business was up yesterday for the prequel. When you roll in the previews with Friday, then Annabelle: Creation shows a decline of 22%. Annabelle made more on her first Saturday, close to $14M after a $15.4M Friday that included $2.1M previews.
“No doubt, the marketplace has been sluggish, but when you look at it through this lens, the result for Annabelle: Creation is impressive. Movie-going begets movie-going, and that makes it hard to get a lot of enthusiasm. However, there’s no question that Annabelle Creation received a lot of enthusiasm in a really strong way this weekend,” said Warner Bros. domestic distribution czar Jeff Goldstein this morning.
We all know that moviegoers have been fickle toward comedies this year. But what that genre is always up against is the fact that it needs stars to work and excel at the B.O. It’s for that reason why it’s hard to cap the budgets on them. Compare this to horror, where you can make a movie in the single-digit to low double-digit range and not overspend on talent, relying on concept alone. New Line wins here with Annabelle: Creation with a low $15M before P&A spend. However, the label has always had a great history with horror and evolved with moviegoers’ tastes. With The Conjuring franchise, New Line has sought to restore quality to horror films, and the fruits of their labor are in the ticket sales, which indicate that this current four-pic franchise is destined to ultimately click past $1 billion. “In the horror space, New Line excels,” beamed Goldstein, giving a shout-out to the label’s chiefs, Carolyn Blackwood, Richard Brener, and Toby Emmerich (who, since the making of Annabelle 2, is now Warner Bros. Pictures president and chief content officer). A horror film like Annabelle: Creation also has the potential to over-perform in the Catholic countries of Latin America and Western Europe.
New Line/Warner Bros. marketing didn’t just rest on their laurels and rely strictly on producer Wan’s name, The Conjuring brand, and dating potential alone. What was key in selling Annabelle: Creation was conveying to audiences that this wasn’t another schlocky, psycho doll movie. Chucky, it’s not. Despite having the same CinemaScore as its 2014 version, critics are enjoying the prequel sequel more at 69% fresh, versus Annabelle‘s 29% rotten. Drilling down, CinemaScore also shows that those under 18 (18%, A-), 35-49 (21%, A-), females (52%, B+) and the under-25 crowd (46%, B+) enjoyed Annabelle: Creation the most.
While the first Annabelle was considered campy, director David F. Sandberg and scribe Gary Dauberman delivered a higher quality film, and New Line marketing, led by Blair Rich, WB Picture’s President of Worldwide Marketing, aimed to sell audiences on exactly that. The trick with any sequel is justifying its existence, and her team made good on their promise in their Annabelle: Creation one sheet –“You Don’t Know the Real Story”– and its trailer, showing how this tormented doll’s soul came to be via a family tragedy. The studio built out the narrative first in the trailer, then applied the screams. In addition, New Line/WB took a page out of The Conjuring playbook and previewed Annabelle: Creation at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Whenever a studio does that, especially with a horror film, they have to make sure they have the goods, as they premiere the pic before critics. New Line knew it would work, garnished great reviews out of the fest, and ratcheted up their Rotten Tomatoes score to 100%, where it remained in the weeks leading up to the pic’s opening. Following the L.A. Film Fest, Annabelle: Creation was previewed as part of New Line’s Scare Diego on the preview night of Comic-Con with the cast in attendance. There were also 26 satellite screenings across the country.
Other prolific stunts include a VR experience of a haunted dollhouse, which put you in Bee’s room. In addition, New Line/WB capitalized on Aug. 6, National Doll Day, by taking a group of fans, along with WWE wrestler Rey Mysterio, to Isla de las Munecas (The Island of the Dolls) located south of Mexico City in the canals of Xochimilco. Legend has it that after witnessing the drowning of a young girl, the island’s owner started hanging dolls around the island to please her haunting spirit. Then many years later, the owner died in the same spot where the girl drowned. The group of explorers traveled to the island with Annabelle, where a shaman performed a ritual to cleanse her spirit. Check out the video below. In addition, the studio reached out to faith-based audiences, Hispanics, and African Americans.
The second wide-release opener for the weekend, Open Road’s Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, is well below its tracking, with a dull $8.9M start. Forget indie, what’s being sold here? While WB/New Line went to great lengths to distinguish their horror sequel from its predecessors, not to mention a hackneyed killer doll sub-genre, it’s not clear what’s so special about these cartoon talking animals. RelishMix nails it: “The Nut Job 2 has mixed convo, leaning negative, heading into opening weekend. Granted, its target audience is not old enough to really chime in on social media…Plenty of moviegoers are asking, ‘Didn’t they steal Kevin Hart’s bunny character from Secret Life of Pets for this film?’ Others are feeling like the talent of Jackie Chan has been spoiled by NJ2. Still more moviegoers feel the plot has been over-done…” Out of the entire cast, Chan boasts the biggest social following with 65M+ fans across Facebook and Twitter, but he’s only sharing a few Nut Job 2 items, nothing exhaustive. It’s not good when your marquee star’s most recent social post on opening weekend is for another animated feature which has yet to open: Warner Bros.’ Lego Ninjago. Nut Job 2 gets a B+ CinemaScore, which is nothing to brag about when you have an animated movie. Females (57% of the crowd, B+) and those over 35 are weighing down on the CinemaScore for this talking animal movie, as there are pockets who don’t shrug it: Males (43%, A-), under 18 (50%, A-) and under 25 (54%, A-).
Nut Job 2‘s campaign kicked off with a trailer in theaters in December in front of Sing. Open Road worked with promotional partners to reach parents and kids: Carl’s Jr, Blue Diamond Almonds, Menchies, National Wildlife Federation, Humane Society of the United States, iFetch, Kika, Homes.com, Frontier Airlines, PB Crave, National Recreation and Park Association, and Pug Nation of Los Angeles. They sent their Surly character around the country all summer, creating many photo opportunities with kids and families, read at the biggest Hispanic morning show, “Despierta America,” and at Yankee Stadium. In May, they launched a second trailer exclusively with AMC, which garnered 18.6 million-plus views. In July, the outdoor campaign included top markets, with an in-stadium and in-flight presence as well. Last month, Nut Job 2‘s TV campaign targeted all of the major kids, family, and Hispanic networks, and cable outlets such as Cartoon Network, Disney XD, Nickelodeon, USA, TBS, Univision and Telemundo. Key integrated promotions aired all across premiere week on Nick, Cartoon, and many others. Starting five weeks out from release, they had a digital push across core kids and social platforms like YouTube Kids, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Open Road also partnered with Nick.com on a custom game, “Surly’s Coaster Chase,” as well as integrations in top mobile games such as “Cut The Rope” and “Angry Birds.”
Lionsgate’s drama The Glass Castle is drawing an estimated $4.88M at 1,461 locations per Lionsgate this morning. Yesterday’s business totaling $1.86M saw a 12% spike over Friday. Some have told me that’s an OK start for a drama on this level of screens, but damn, if this result isn’t similar to DreamWorks’ dud a year ago, The Light Between Oceans, which was based on another bestselling novel and also failed with a $4.8M start off a 59% Rotten Tomatoes score. Glass Castle isn’t any better at 50% Rotten, and the top critics have graded the pic even lower at 44%. While we overwrite how Rotten Tomatoes is the Roman thumb of life or death for a film’s prospects at the B.O., it couldn’t be more so with adult specialty titles. Similar to The Light Between Oceans, which starred Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, so does Glass Castle with Brie Larson. Glass Castle gets an A- CinemaScore, while Lights received a B+. Eighty percent of Glass Castle‘s audience was female, while 76% were over 25. Some have argued to me that the reason why this movie went in the summer versus the fall is so that it could leg out. Sorry, if you don’t have the reviews on your side, there’s no legging out to be had. In addition, since when is the autumn awards primer season a bad spot for adult dramas?
But the industry reads CinemaScore, not ticketbuyers, and that high grade indicates that fans of Jeannette Walls’ book turned up and were pleased. Still, Glass Castle needs the non-fans to leg out. Spots RelishMix on social, “The ‘mixed’ discussion for Glass Castle comes in from wider moviegoers who are seeing the main assets from the movie and generally feel it looks rather heavy. Some even compare it to Captain Fantastic and other recent, hard-to-swallow yet creative family-driven dramas.” The Light Between Oceans squeezed out a 2.7x multiple stateside with a final of $12.5M, but it also got a lift from Labor Day traffic. When you have a drama at this time of year with top tier talent, you typically position it for awards season and ideally launch it off the fall film festival circuit. That’s not going on here with Glass Castle, and that speaks volumes.
Listen, it’s a completely different scenario from Detroit last week, which should have gone the film festival route, and rode that tide so it could cut through the controversy which has kept many away. Top critics are throwing rocks at Glass Castle for its messy tone, the fact that it doesn’t embrace the dramatic boldness of its source material, which follows the author’s upbringing with dysfunctional parents, and that the film in its conclusion is “selling easy uplift” to its drama, as Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers likes to put it. The Chicago Sun Times’ Richard Roeper was even more fierce in his reaction: “A film that presents overwhelming evidence of Rex and Rose Mary as appalling human beings for 90% of the journey, and then asks us to give them a break? No sale.”
Last year at this time, Lionsgate had CBS’ Taylor Sheridan-scripted Hell or High Water, and they protected that and platformed it following its fanfare debut at the Cannes Film Festival, ultimately yielding four Oscar nominations, including best picture. Likewise, Weinstein Co. is also protecting Taylor Sheridan’s thriller Wind River and making sure it has the longest run possible. The movie expanded from four to 45 screens on Friday and is looking at $642K or $14K a screen. The pic is certified fresh on RT at 87%. (update soon)
As previously reported, Sony-TriStar/Media Rights Capital/Working Title’s Baby Driver is driving past the $100M marker at the domestic B.O. in its seventh weekend after $1.475M at 865 locations. Pic goes wide again on Aug. 25.
Extra props here to Aviron with their femme thriller Kidnap. Rivals thought this movie would drop like a rock, yet here it is, -48% with $5.2M in weekend two and just under $20M. Aviron rescued the movie from Relativity’s financial calamities for an estimated $3M, and it’s already made that amount of money back.
Neon has the Aubrey Plaza-Elizabeth Olsen dramedy Ingrid Goes West, which premiered at Sundance. The pic in three locations is putting up an excellent $47K screen average. The pic, directed by Matt Spicer, is at 86% fresh certified.
A24’s gritty crime genre Good Time, which premiered at Cannes, and has a 92% certified fresh, is looking at a per-theater currently of $34K at four venues in Los Angeles and New York.
Figures per studio-reported estimates as of Sunday AM:
1.). Annabelle: Creation (NL/WB), 3,502 theaters / $15M Fri. (includes $4M previews) /$11.6M Sat/$8.4M Sun/ 3-day cume: $35M /Wk 1
2.) Dunkirk (WB), 3,762 theaters (+252)/ $3.1M Fri. /$4.9M Sat/$3.4M Sun/ 3-day cume: $11.4M (-33%)/Total: $153.7M/Wk 4
3.). The Nut Job 2 (OR), 4,003 theaters / $3M Fri. (includes $330k previews) / $3.3M Sat/ $2.6M Sun/3-day cume: $8.9M /Wk 1
4.). The Dark Tower (SONY/MRC), 3,451 theaters (0)/ $2.3M Fri. /$3.3M Sat/$2.275M Sun/ 3-day cume: $7.88M (-59%)/Total: $34.3M/Wk 2
5.). The Emoji Movie (SONY), 3,219 theaters (-856) / $1.9M Fri./$2.7M Sat/$1.96M Sun/ 3-day cume: $6.6M (-45%) /Total: $63.6M/Wk 3-
6). Girls Trip (UNI), 2,303 theaters (-279) / $2.1M Fri. /$2.7M Sat/ $1.7M Sun/ 3-day cume: $6.5M (-43%)/Total: $97.2M/Wk 4
7). Spider-Man: Homecoming (SONY/MARVEL), 2,607 theaters (-509)/ $1.7M Fri. / $2.6m Sat/$1.8M Sun/3-day cume: $6.1M (-31%)/Total: $306.4M/Wk 6 — updating
8). Kidnap (AVR), 2,418 theaters (+40) / $1.5M Fri. /$2.2M Sat/ $1.55M Sun/ 3-day cume: $5.2M (-48%)/ Total: $19.4M/Wk 2
9.) The Glass Castle (LG), 3,502 theaters / $1.65M Fri. /$1.86M Sat/ $1.37M Sun/ 3-day cume: $4.88M /Wk 1
10). Atomic Blonde (FOC), 2,093 theaters (-1,233)/ $1.2M Fri. /$1.9M Sat/$1.5M Sun/ 3-day cume: $4.6M (-44%) /Total $42.8M/Wk 3
Detroit (ANPA), 3007 theaters (0) / $847k Fri./$1.2M Sat/$927K Sun/ 3-day cume: $3M (-58%)/Total: $13.4M/Wk 3
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (PAR), 556 theaters (+376) / $275k Fri. /$315K Sat/$210K Sun/ 3-day cume: $800K (-17%) /Total: $2.2M/Wk 3
Wind River (TWC), 45 theaters (+41) / $187k Fri. /$260K Sat/ $195K Sun/PTA:$14,2k/ 3-day cume: $642K (+260%)/Total: $870K/Wk 2
Ingrid Goes West (NEON), 3 theaters / $49k Fri. /$52K Sat/$40K Sun/PTA:$47k/ 3-day cume: $141k /Wk 1
Good Time (A24), 4 theaters / $54k Fri. /$45K Sat/ $38K Sun/PTA: $34k/ 3-day cume: $137,6k /Wk 1
The top 10 based on Saturday AM industry estimates for the weekend of Aug. 11-13:
1.). Annabelle: Creation (NL/WB), 3,502 theaters / $15M Fri. (includes $4M previews) / 3-day cume: $36.7M /Wk 1
2.) Dunkirk (WB), 3,762 theaters (+252)/ $3.1M Fri. / 3-day cume: $10.8M (-37%)/Total: $153.1M/Wk 4
3.). The Nut Job 2 (OR), 4,003 theaters / $3M Fri. (includes $330k previews) / 3-day cume: $8.7M /Wk 1
4.). The Dark Tower (SONY/MRC), 3,451 theaters (0)/ $2.3M Fri. (-70%) / 3-day cume: $7.5M (-61%)/Total: $33.9M/Wk 2
5). Girls Trip (UNI), 2,303 theaters (-279) / $2M Fri. / 3-day cume: $6.4M (-44%)/Total: $97.1M/Wk 4
6.). The Emoji Movie (SONY), 3,219 theaters (-856) / $1.9M Fri./ 3-day cume: $6.1M (-49%) /Total: $63.1M/Wk 3
7). Spider-Man: Homecoming (SONY/MARVEL), 2,607 theaters (-509)/ $1.7M Fri. / 3-day cume: $5.8M (-34%)/Total: $306.2M/Wk 6
8/9). Kidnap (AVR), 2,418 theaters (+40) / $1.47M Fri. (-61%) / 3-day cume: $5M (-50%)/ Total: $19.2M/Wk 2
The Glass Castle (LG), 3,502 theaters / $1.65M Fri. / 3-day cume: $5M /Wk 1
10). Atomic Blonde (FOC), 2,093 theaters (-1,233)/ $1.27M Fri. / 3-day cume: $4.3M (-47%) /Total $42.5M/Wk 3
Detroit (ANPA), 3007 theaters (0) / $842k Fri. (-68%)/ 3-day cume: $2.8M (-61%)/Total: $13.2M/Wk 3
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (PAR), 556 theaters (+376) / $275k Fri. / 3-day cume: $784K (-18%) /Total: $2.28M/Wk 3
Wind River (TWC), 45 theaters (+41) / $187k Fri. (+260%) /PTA:$13k/ 3-day cume: $584k (+260%)/Total: $813K/Wk 2
Good Time (A24), 4 theaters / $54k Fri. /PTA: $39,8k/ 3-day cume: $159k /Wk 1
Ingrid Goes West (NEON), 3 theaters / $49k Fri. /PTA:$51k/ 3-day cume: $153k /Wk 1
Update, Friday 12:33PM: Nothing horrific going on here. Rivals see New Line/Warner Bros.’ Annabelle: Creation over-performing with $16M-$17M Friday, on her way to a $38M-$40M three-day. On the low end, that’s just above her first chapter, 2014’s Annabelle ($37.1M). And there is a shot this prequel spin-off touches the $40M range where The Conjuring movies opened.
Important to note that even if Annabelle 2 comes in below these projections, like in the low to mid $30M range (which isn’t where anyone is seeing it right now), that’s awesome, given that New Line spent a song on this with a net production cost of $15M, before prints and advertising. ComScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak shows a near 80% overall positive and a four-star audience reaction to Annabelle 2 with younger females under 25 at 32% leading the way to this R-rated horror flick, followed by older males 25+ at 28%. Of course, young females love it the most, at 83% positive. That demo always travels in packs, with 24% of young females attending with one friend and 28% watching Annabelle 2 with two to four friends. There’s still a lot of kids off from school, with 79% K-12 on summer break, but that figure falls to 59% next Friday, 42% on Aug. 25 and 31% by September 1.
Warner Bros. can also celebrate owning second place with Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, which looks to make $9M-$10M in weekend 4, raising its cume to $152M on the high end by Sunday.
Open Road’s Nutjob 2: Nutty by Nature is slow to crack moviegoers, and is looking at $9M-$10M at 4,003 sites this weekend. It’s still early. Sony’s The Dark Tower could lose out fourth place in its second weekend with $6.5M–$7M, -63% to Universal’s Girls Trip, which is in the same vicinity. The Malcolm D. Lee film will pass $97M by Sunday on its way to $100M — the first comedy to pass that mark this year.
Lionsgate’s drama The Glass Castle, based on the bestselling New York Times memoir, is expected to file between $4M-$5M.
Previous, Friday 7:04AM: The New Line Cinema prequel spin-off to The Conjuring raked in $4M from previews last night. In Thursday pre-shows, that’s a record for a Conjuring title, beating the 2013 movie ($3.3M), Conjuring 2 ($3.4M) and Annabelle ($2.1M). Annabelle: Creation is expected to be the last notable opening of the summer season, bringing in a three-day in the low $30M range at 3,502. We’re not going to see action like this again until Sept. 8, when Warner Bros. and New Line again resuscitate the box office with the feature adaptation of Stephen King’s It, which is expected to take in $50M.
Yesterday, Annabelle: Creation had already tallied $4M overseas. The pic costs before P&A: $15M.
Warner Bros.’ Dunkirk was the top grosser on Monday through Thursday, and has raked in $142.3M through three weeks. In its fourth outing, the Christopher Nolan-directed title is expected to bring in around $11M for a No. 3 slot.
At 4,003 theaters, Open Road has Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, which is looking at a three-day between $12M-$14M. Last night, from shows starting at 5PM, Nut Job 2 collected $330K. Again, the big play for this movie remains Saturday matinees. Open Road acquired domestic, like the first. Red Rover, Toonbox Entertainment, Gulfstream Pictures, and Shanghai Hoongman are producers. Pic carries a production cost around $40M, on par with its sequel. That 2014 indie toon debuted to $19.4M and ended its stateside run at $64.3M.
Lionsgate also has the Brie Larson-Woody Harrelson drama The Glass Castle opening in 1,461 venues, which is hoping for a $5M start.
Sony/Media Rights Capital’s The Dark Tower is expected to fall 60% in its second weekend, with $7.6M. In its first week, the movie, based on the Stephen King bestseller, made $26.4M. The slowdown immediately took effect on this genre mash-up throughout the week: Not only did Dunkirk beat it daily, but also Sony’s own animated The Emoji Movie, which held on to second place on Monday through Thursday. That pic’s two-week run is now at $57M.
We’ll have more updates for you later today.