4th Update, Sunday AM Final: 20th Century Fox hoped that at an $88M production cost The Predator would reboot the franchise with better CGI and an ensemble cast, but the sixthquel wound up making close to the same amount of money as the thrifty-priced Robert Rodriguez produced $38M 2010 version with an opening of $24M. Still good enough to stand on top of the box office, but not good enough to be a better Predator movie than its predecessor.
Predator‘s Friday and Saturday ticket sales looked exactly like Predators respectively with $10.4M and $8.5M. Being a genre pic, The Predator was frontloaded. Among all the six titles in the franchise, which includes its Alien crossovers, The Predator‘s opening ranks 3rd behind Alien vs. Predator ($38.2M) and Predators ($24.7M).
As we mentioned, you can’t blame Hurricane Florence or the last minute sex offender controversy that hit The Predator at TIFF last week. The latter was a scandal that had more resonance in industry circles than the general moviegoing commerce world.
What’s to blame here? In its trailers and one sheets, The Predator did little to attract anyone who wasn’t a hardcore fan of the franchise. Also Predator wasn’t better than Predators with a C+ CinemaScore, and less favorable reviews at 34% on Rotten Tomatoes versus 65% fresh for the last one. On the bright side, this weekend’s results for The Predator aren’t damning enough to the point where Fox can’t reboot this sci-fi monster series again down the road; but they have to raise the stakes or bring Arnie back. Updated exits show 66% over 25, 62% male. PostTrak showed earlier this weekend males over 25 were the biggest audience at 45%, while males under 25 numbered 21% to females under 25 at 11%. The young kids aren’t going for it. Imax reaped $2.6M from 400 Predator runs.
Fox began preaching to the faithful about Predator at San Diego Comic-Con in a Conan O’Brien-hosted panel. It was the only title that Fox dedicated to their SDCC presentation. Partnerships included Carl’s Jr./Hardees, FYE/TWE, Indian Motorcycles, Loot Crate, T-Mobile and Acer computers (overseas). In the last week, Comedy Central had a custom Predator gameshow “Masters of Predator” vignettes featuring two fans teaming up with cast members for a game show style round of trivia. There were also mini-specials (5 mins) and custom content that aired on FX, FXM, BET, Syfy and HBO. There were advertisements both digital and standard at MLB and NCAA games. Hispanic moviegoers, who traditionally turn out for genre pics, were targeted via promotions during the Liga MX games on Univision and during the network’s sports desk and Deportivo segments. Hispanic moviegoers repped 23% of The Predator‘s business this weekend to 45% Caucasian.
Warners is reporting the second weekend for The Nun‘s at $18.2M in 2nd, -66% for a domestic of $85M, and a worldwide that’s north of $209M.
Lionsgate’s noir comedy thriller A Simple Favor from director Paul Feig and starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick came in just ahead of its $12M-$15M projections with $16M in 3rd. Saturday made $6.3M and was up 6% over Friday’s $5.9M which speaks volumes because Friday includes $900K of Thursday previews. We hear that at the Arclight near Manhattan Beach, CA business was through the roof at an early evening show last night, that they moved the show to a bigger auditorium. This has been the case with various locations throughout the weekend which have been adding showtimes. It’s a “word of mouth” movie says a rival studio marketing consultant and the expectation is that it will leg out. That’s not only indicated by its B+ CinemaScore, A- for those under 25, but also in the fact that it drew an 86% over 25 audience. And those adults in this fall marketplace will take their time to come to the cinema. It’s a different type of Feig movie than his broad raunchy fare like Bridesmaids and Spy but it leaves audiences smiling. A less expensive pic at $20M than the $40M pricetag on Lionsgate’s previous femme-targeted pic The Spy Who Dumped Me (granted, an action pic) which earned $12.1M in its opening, but saw business fall 18% between Friday and Saturday. A Simple Favor went in this corridor to get ahead of A Star Is Born which will nab every female imaginable on Oct. 4; many in distribution keep buzzing how that Lady Gaga music pic has the potential to hit high notes at the B.O., well past its mid $20Ms projection for a potential $30M-$40M opening.
In the changing marketplace of theatrical and streaming, adult dramas are getting hit the worst, and if you don’t have stellar reviews, it spells for disaster at the box office, and even when you do have the reviews like Detroit at 84% certified fresh, there’s no guarantee of theatrical spoils (that Kathryn Bigelow pic opened wide to $7.1M and crashed at $16.7M). In addition, during awards season time, your title has to truly be in the zeitgeist; something that A Star Is Born was able to achieve in its word of mouth out of TIFF. This brings us to Studio 8/Sony’s White Boy Rick, which off a divided 64% fresh RT score, is crashing at $8.8M, a 4th place dismal result for this intriguing awards contender, and the third straight misfire from Studio 8 after Alpha ($34.3M) and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk ($1.7M). It was a hard subject to market commercially in its visceral bleak take on the 1980s Detroit inner-city crack cocaine culture. Furthermore, if you’re an adult drama, you have to be a high concept, which this story is not in its true story of a teenage crack-dealer-turned-law enforcement informant. Why did Black Mass pop to a $22.6M opening and White Boy Rick did not? First, there was a groundswell of buzz with the former about Johnny Depp’s sublime performance before opening, coupled with the fact that Black Mass was a gangster film, and White Boy Rick more of a drama, and the latter has the harder time commercially. White Boy Rick pic cost $30M before tax credits/rebates, and around $28M-$29M net. There’s some data out there that shows Sony spent more than Lionsgate and Fox this weekend in TV spots for A Simple Favor and Predator. That’s a real head scratcher considering how White Boy Rock came on tracking in low total awareness and the fact that Predator opened close to 3x more than White Boy Rick. We’ve analyzed what went sideways further with White Boy Rick in the previous update. Studio 8 fully financed White Boy Rick production cost and marketing. It’s a distribution deal for Sony.
PureFlix’s faith-based Unbroken: Path to Redemption has remained on track with a $2.35M opening in 9th, yet is still terribly low, ranking 12th out the distributor’s 14 releases to date. An ‘A’ CinemaScore here, female heavy at 56% with 85% over 25; all standard with faith-based titles.
Brian Brooks will expound more on the specialty market but Samuel Goldwyn opened A Boy. A Girl. A Dream with $75k on 61 screens. A24 had The Children Act starring Stanley Tucci and Emma Thompson at 3 locations for a $6K per screen and $20K take off 70% RT. RLJE Films has the Nicolas Cage cult suspense pic Mandy which off a 94% certified fresh RT drew $244K at 92 runs. Mandy is also available to watch on SVOD. Roadside Attractions had Lizzie starring Chloe Sevigny as Lizzie Borden and Kristen Stewart as Bridget Sullivan. The Craig William Macneil-directed movie premiered at Sundance in January and made $48K at four runs or $12K a screen. Not amazing.
Elsewhere, Paramount/Skydance’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout is officially the highest grossing title in the franchise at the domestic B.O. with $216.1M beating 2000’s Mission: Impossible II ($215.4M). It is also Tom Cruise’s second highest grossing title at the domestic box office after War of the Worlds ($234.2M).
Studio reported estimates for the weekend of Sept. 14-16:
3rd Update, Saturday AM: With chart On the bright side, The Predator‘s weekend estimate hasn’t gotten any lower, but rather higher at $26M, off a $10.4M Friday.
There was some concern on Friday afternoon that the pic would sink below the opening of the 2010 version, which debuted to $24.7M.
Still, at a $88M production cost that’s 132% higher than the budget for the Robert Rodriguez-produced Predators ($38M), several questions can be asked: Did the latest sequel literally move the needle? Did Predator dogs make a difference here? Did the movie find a new audience? It doesn’t look like it, because on ComScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak, males over 25 were the biggest audience at 45%, while males under 25 numbered 21% to females under 25 at 11%. It appears as though the hardcore fans showed up.
While the angle of this Predator was a child triggering the whole alien invasion upon Earth, were potential moviegoers able to distinguish that? Was that enough to send more to the theater? Arguably the one-sheet campaign for Predator and Predators sure looked similar. In fact, you could swap one out for the other. Also, the less expensive 2010 version received better reviews (65% fresh) than this one (35% Rotten).
The point being, did spending more money on The Predator even matter? The CinemaScore for The Predator was C+, the same as Predators. PostTrak was three stars and a 66% overall positive, with a low 52% definite recommend. One thing for sure is that the spend was enough to beat The Nun in its second weekend, which is now looking at $18.4M, -66%, for a 10-day total of $85.2M. Relish Mix noticed mixed reactions on social media about The Predator, with naysayers saying, “enough is enough,” in regards to another monster sequel, with “Fans of the original lamenting the fact that this Predator still doesn’t look as good as the first, starring Schwarzenegger. They are not getting the sense of humor nor the urgency for this latest take on this beast from outer space.”
On the other hand, RelishMix does give credit to Fox for a socially activated cast who’ve remained committed from their appearance at San Diego Comic-Con through and including opening week. “The original writer, Shane Black, was brought back for this entry, and given the director’s chair, too. The clips tease the Predator vs. Predator storyline,” says RelishMix, adding, “Despite the recent controversy covered in the Los Angeles Times concerning Olivia Munn sharing a scene with a convicted child offender, she is the social star of The Predator, with 3.2M fans. She’s made a lot of appearances recently, most notably on Ellen – and publicity is still publicity.” Keegan-Michael Key has the second-biggest following in the cast, counting 1.4M across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Film finance sources currently think The Predator has a shot to make up any domestic shortfall abroad, potentially grossing more than the 2010’s $75.2M foreign, which repped close to 60% of that pic’s $127.2M WW haul. This time, foreign could potentially rep 65% or more on The Predator, given the improved cinematic infrastructures overseas. Plus, there’s an expanding middle class abroad with disposable income, per Deadline finance sources. “It could make or lose $30M in the end,” said one finance suit, who believes that it will come down to international TV in regards to Predator‘s potential bailout; that is, based off an estimated $120M global P&A. However, in regards to that $88M price tag for this sixthquel, our source adds, “During the Tom Rothman-Jim Gianopulos days, that type of spending on a genre film like this would just not happen.”
It’s interesting – the film that skipped the fall film festival circuit, Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor, is getting the best reviews of the wide entries this weekend (82% Certified fresh), better than the movie that’s been positioned as an awards season contender and played at TIFF and Telluride. Of course, we’re talking about White Boy Rick (63% fresh). Lionsgate’s A Simple Favor is also making more and slightly over-indexing with a projected weekend of $16M, in third place to Studio 8/Sony’s White Boy Rick‘s dour $9.1M in fourth.
A Simple Favor gets a B+ CinemaScore, the best audience grade out of the wide entry trio this weekend, and in-line with many other Feig-directed titles, i.e. Ghostbusters, Spy, and Bridesmaids (all B+) and just under The Heat (A-). Let’s see how Saturday goes down and whether grosses get higher, because there’s a great conceit here in Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick’s rivalry onscreen and the fact that the latter has to investigate the former’s disappearance. It’s darker than Feig’s previous titles and a noir which he has never dabbled in.
Yet, despite the pic’s over-indexing, there’s something about this movie that makes it feel like the gross should be higher. Its opening is fine in regards to its $20M production cost (remember, Lionsgate covers over half of the budget in foreign sales). It’s more Hitichcock noir thriller than broad Feig comedy, but still that shouldn’t hurt it. Lionsgate delivered such pristine, clear, beautiful coherent one-sheets, delivering on the haute sensibility of its IP and its two leads, Lively and Kendrick, facing off (compare this to Warner’s absurdist, eclectic game piece posters for its critically-acclaimed Game Night, which opened to $17M). Together, they command a near 50M social followers, which they’ve leveraged. And Lionsgate has pulled off some great stunts: At CinemaCon, the duo taught the crowd how to make the perfect martini, ending with Feig passing out. Online, there was Lively’s ‘disappearance’ from Instagram, plus a Wired clip of the two stars answering the web’s most- searched questions (2.6M views). Plus, there was a Lively motion graphic on her Instagram (5.6M views). In total, A Simple Favor‘s video content online has racked up 115M videos views to date, up from 75M, per Lionsgate.
A Simple Favor drew 67% females, 68% over 25 on PostTrak, and a 76% overall positive, at three-and-half stars.
It is upsetting when great movies die at the box office, and White Boy Rick‘s misfire here at a cost of $30M before P&A is not that far from Universal’s Steve Jobs three autumns ago, which cost the same and tanked on its wide break weekend with $7.1M at 2,493 theaters. There was a lot of passion that went into getting White Boy Rick off the ground, and at one point, there were three projects about the teenage crack dealer/government informant set-up around town: Studio 8’s Logan and Noah Miller spec, Darren Aronofsky and Scott Franklin’s Protozoa Pictures’ script from Andy Weiss, and Universal’s option on the article The Trials of White Boy Rick, which had Joseph Kosinski attached to direct. The version by Studio 8, who financed, won out and, by the end of the day, merged Weiss’ version with Logan-Miller’s. Soon after, a star was arguably born in the discovery of non-actor Baltimore native Richie Merritt for the title role (casting discovered him in the principal’s office, in trouble) alongside Matthew McConaughey, who, once again, shows off fresh layers as the teen’s desperate low-life father. There are other great performances here: read Jennifer Jason Leigh as a tough-as-nails Fed, and Bel Powley as Rick Jr.’s drug-addicted sister. In the wake of the film’s release, the pic’s director Yann Demange is on a shortlist for Bond 25.
White Boy Rick tested in the 90s at one screening and Sony played their cards correctly, moving the pic to a mid-September release (instead of August) after it landed spots at TIFF and Telluride. If they went to late in the fall, like November, they’d bump up against Steve McQueen’s crime pic Widows.
For the most part, the critics who are divided (63% fresh) killed the business on White Boy Rick. They complained that the film tackled too many subjects at once, and that the African-American characters were drawn too thin. What’s upsetting is that there’s a riveting, gritty crime drama here that holds its own weight against Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco, and Black Mass, and it’s being shorted out at the box office.
Sony executed a one-sheet campaign to hook sophisticated audiences with grainy photos of McConaughey’s Rick Sr. and Merritt’s Rick Jr. walking side-by-side, and embracing, with a ’70s vibe to them. The one below literally shouts out the pic’s plot in block letters. Yet some rival marketing executives believe that Sony didn’t differentiate White Boy Rick enough from other modern day gangster pics like Black Mass, that it was all same old, same old. That’s one hurdle. Awareness was soft in tracking, which indicated to some that the media spend was treated like an indie opening. Then there was the title itself, which some felt repelled by, “as worse as Gringo,” said our marketing source.
So how does a studio even begin to win with this one?
Dramas are always a challenge at the B.O., but Warner Bros. opened its gangster pic Black Mass to $22.6M three Septembers ago. White Boy Rick‘s ‘B’ CinemaScore is the same as Black Mass’ grade. On PostTrak, the pic has a low 64% overall positive, and very low definite recommend of 44%, so it’s not working with some moviegoers. Fifty-five percent males showed up, and 70% over 25.
In this Rotten Tomatoes-ruled world, it’s crucial for any studio to get ahead of the reviewers and set the pic’s tone. There are a lot of important topics in White Boy Rick that focus on our nation’s double standards in the war on drugs, and how severe drug sentencing laws have destroyed lives. Rick Wershe Jr, now 49, spent three decades behind bars as a nonviolent drug offender. After being paroled from his Michigan sentence, he continued to be jailed in Florida after confessing to a stolen car ring. He won’t leave jail until Christmas 2020. One rival awards consultant criticizes that, in the fall film festival run-up for White Boy Rick, there weren’t many think pieces in the media about Wershe Jr.’s status or the pic’s attitude toward our justice system. Sony apparently tried to place such pieces, but in the Trump-dominated news cycle, it was a challenge. Such teeing-off in advance of reviews could have possibly quelled the pungent critical reaction to White Boy Rick. Black Mass worked because there was hot buzz ahead of time about Johnny Depp’s metamorphosis as Whitey Bulger.
Nonetheless, it’s still possible for Sony to pull a rabbit out of its hat with White Boy Rick during awards season. Last year, their movie Roman J. Israel received a tepid response out of TIFF and ultimately flopped at the domestic box office with just under $12M, and they still locked down a sixth Best Actor Oscar nomination for Denzel Washington. After Steve Jobs died and the media declared its awards chances dead, the Universal release won Golden Globes for Kate Winslet (best supporting actress) and Aaron Sorkin (best screenplay), as well as Oscar noms for Winslet (supporting) and Michael Fassbender in the lead actor category. So, there’s some hope for White Boy Rick. It’s just an even larger uphill battle.
PureFlix’s Faith-based title Unbroken: Path to Redemption is looking at $2.38M, in 9th place. We’ll have a chart in the morning. PostTrak shows 60% females, 84% over 25, 37% over 55. Four stars here from director Harold Cronk’s faith-based audience.
wEEKEND B.O. FOR SEPT. 14-16
2nd Update, Friday Midday: The Predator is walking toward an estimated $25M opening at this point in time, a three-day sum just a few bucks ahead of 20th Century Fox’s 2010 version Predators which debuted to $24.7M and a C+ CinemaScore. The Shane Black directed R-rated sci-fi pic will see $10M today, which of course includes those $2.5M previews from last night.
Once overseas is counted — and Predators saw close to 60% of its $127.2M WW from foreign, I hear this $88M version will be fine. Why is it more expensive? More CGI, the hiring of Iron Man 3‘s Black as director and the ensemble cast which includes Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key and more versus the Robert Rodriguez thrifty produced Predators at $38M.
New Line’s The Nun will take second with $18M-$20M, -65% which is a typical fall for a horror pic in weekend 2. On the high-end, she’ll be at $86.8M by the end of all church services on Sunday.
Lionsgate’s A Simple Favor we hear is overindexing with an estimated $6.5M-$7M and an opening between $16M-$18M. Before P&A, the Blake Lively-Anna Kendrick black comedy cost a little over $20M. Between Lively and Kendrick they have a social media reach that’s close to 50M per RelishMix across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and they’ve been tubthumping.
Lionsgate launched their campaign and debuted their first teaser trailer on May 2 with a novel ‘Missing Person’ social media stunt, where Lively seemingly deleted her Instagram account, removed all posting history, unfollowed every one of her friends including husband Ryan Reynolds and went ‘missing’ from her 23M followers. The viral reaction yielded hundreds of millions of social media impressions, Lively resurfaced a day later, when she and Kendrick dropped the #WhatHappenedToEmily? teaser trailer, kicking off A Simple Favor‘s campaign. To date there’s been 75M video views across social platforms.
Studio 8/Sony’s White Boy Rick is heading toward $10M. Social media analyst Relish Mix says that Rap star YG “is the social star of White Boy Rick. While not activated early on in the campaign, recently he has been actively promoting his new album – and his new movie, Rick. He brings his 11.3M Fans/Followers to the promotion.”
Despite having no official Instagram account, White Boy Rock star Matthew McConaughey has 7.5M followers between Twitter and Facebook, and he’s been sharing a lot of Rick materials. He’s appeared twice on Kimmel – the first to debut the trailer, and recently this week, too – and he’s also visible in TIFF clips and interviews. McConaughey is joined by executive producer Darren Aronofsky (400K Followers TW/IG) and co-stars like RJ Cyler, too.
More analysis later.
1st Update, Friday 7:11AM: 20th Century Fox’s reboot of The Predator grossed $2.5M last night in Thursday previews which started at 7PM.
That’s lower than the $4.2M previews made by Ridley Scott’s R-rated Alien: Covenant from May 2017, which went on to a $36M opening, and just under the $3.4M made by Kingsman: The Golden Circle which continued on to a $39M three-day. Tracking has forecasted that The Predator has a shot at No. 1 with $25M-$30M. As we mentioned earlier, Hurricane Florence nor the sex offender controversy that dogged Predator last week at TIFF will be a stumbling factor at the B.O.
The previous version of Predator in 2010 entitled Predators and produced by Robert Rodriguez for $38M (before P&A) posted a $10.4M opening day, and $24.7M weekend. This Predator cost more at an estimated $88M. Predators finaled at $52M stateside, $127.2M worldwide. The best opening for a Predator movie belongs to its Alien crossover, Alien vs. Predator which debuted to $38.2M and legged out to $80.2M. One saggy part of The Predator is that his Rotten Tomatoes at 35% Rotten is well below Predators 65% fresh.
Next to regular films in release, The Predator inched out New Line’s The Nun yesterday which earned $2.2M, -12% from Wednesday for a week’s take of $66.8M, still a record in The Conjuring universe, besting the first 2013 film’s $61.7M seven day run. She is expected to come in around $25M in weekend, but many are giving the edge to The Predator for No. 1.
Lionsgate’s Paul Feig’s dark comedy A Simple Favor earned $900K at 2,400 theaters. The film, which did not play the film festival circuit like Predator at TIFF and White Boy Rick at Telluride and TIFF, has the best reviews of the studio wide entries this weekend at 84% fresh. The Anna Kendrick-Black Lively pic is expected to file in the mid teens. A Simple Favor will widen to 3,102 locations today. Next to recent femme-demo pics in their previews, A Simple Favor is higher than last weekend’s Peppermint ($800K Thursday, $4.6M Friday, and $13.4M opening) from STX and just under their Amy Schumer comedy I Feel Pretty ($1M Thursday, $6.2M opening day, $16M three-day).
Studio 8/Sony’s White Boy Rick earned $575K last night from 2,176 locations that began at 7PM. Sony moved this one around the calendar from Jan. 26 to Aug. 17 to finally this weekend. A TIFF launch likely had plenty to do with the Matthew McConaughey gritty crime pic finding a place in September in a tee-up for awards season. The RT score has improved on White Boy Rick to 61% fresh (it was previously in the Rotten realm). While critics are divided on this pic, hopefully the increased positive sentiment will push this $30M budget movie (before tax credits) past its $8M-$10M weekend projection. Other comps here: BlacKkKlansman posted a $650K Thursday before its $10.8M opening (that pic is now up to $44.6M stateside off a 95% certified fresh RT score and A- CinemaScore) and Detroit did $525K before earning a lackluster $7.1M opening.