Sunday AM Update/Writethru: With most of the majors sitting on the sidelines this Super Bowl weekend, 3-day ticket sales have dropped to $74.7M per ComScore.
As we projected, that’s the lowest Super Bowl weekend gross in 19 years, the previous low being $66.3M. This year’s weekend ticket sales figure is also -21% from a 2018’s Big Game weekend. The weekend’s ticket sales are also lower than any frame last year (the first frame of December drew the year’s rock bottom at $85.3M). You have to go back to Aug. 25-27, 2017 to find a weekend that’s even lower, that period totaled $69.3M. Again, don’t blame Super Bowl itself even though it does suck 60%-70% out of Sunday’s tills when compared to Saturday. Blame the fact that a majority of the majors (except Sony with Miss Bala) failed to provide exhibitors with any fresh wide releases. Super Bowl weekend has historically delivered good Friday and Saturday returns for a family title or male-targeted genre film.
True, you wouldn’t put a new four-quad release here. But there is money being left on the table, especially if you subscribe to the business principle that moviegoing is a 52-weekend-a-year-business. Super Bowl weekend “is a gamble,” said one distribution boss Friday morning. Either that, or everyone was really scared that Universal/BVI/Blumhouse’s Glass would take all the air of the marketplace for three weekends in a row.
After Friday midday estimates saw a blinking contest between the M. Night Shyamalan film and STXfilms/Lantern’s The Upside, Glass still has bragging rights, with a studio-reported $9.5M third weekend win, -50%, which would bring its running total by Sunday to $88.6M, -10% behind Split at the same point in time, which ended its domestic run at $138.2M.
The Upside nabbed a fourth weekend of $8.8M, which puts its running total by EOD at $75.6M. The Neil Burger-directed pic has held at the box office in a way that no one expected. It was -26% in weekend 2, -20% in weekend 3, and it’s -26% in weekend 4 here.
STXfilms gets credit for getting this movie in shape, editing it from an R to a PG-13 and really keeping this remake alive more than year after it was sidelined by the Weinstein Co. implosion, sitting on Rotten Tomatoes with a low RT score post TIFF. While it’s a US remake of a hugely successful French movie, The Intouchables ($426.6M WW B.O.), The Upside is fresh enough (largely thanks to Kevin Hart) in its appeal to draw a new audience. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of Sony’s remake of Mexico’s 2011 Oscar entry Miss Bala, which the studio reports is opening to $6.7M after a Saturday of $2.88M up over Friday’s $2.76M.
Tracking indicated that Miss Bala wasn’t going to wow heading into the weekend. However, Sony, realizing that it was a niche play, vied to keep this action film at a responsible $15M cost before P&A. That said, the weekend ticket sales aren’t anything to crow about. They speak for themselves.
The one positive thing we can say here is that Sony did try to find a good place on the calendar for the title, a weekend without any fresh major studio competition. And box office business logic dictates that if there’s one movie that can over-index on Super Bowl weekend, it’s an action movie. Despite Sony planting a flag here, no one is coming to see Miss Bala. Those who did show up gave it three-and-a-half stars on PostTrak.
A 28% Rotten Tomatoes score doesn’t help move traffic to Miss Bala either, nor do sour reviews like Chicago Sun Times’ Richard Roeper’s, who slams, “Run away from Gina Rodriguez’s ludicrous drug running shoot-em-up…Miss Bala is an early contender for a spot on my list of the worst movies of 2019.” Roeper also took umbrage with the fact that the MPAA rated the movie PG-13 instead of R, and that the movie had way too much violence, with the org being unnecessarily harder on Eighth Grade, which was saddled with an R rating.
There was a lot of pride here for Sony and the filmmakers in making Miss Bala: 95% of the cast and crew were Latinx. Even more good reason why the movie should be winning at the box office and not failing. Sony should have used all its powers to get this one right, and propel it to over-index. Rival industry sources question why the Mexican Oscar entry was even remade. “The remake drains everything that was good about the original film, adds nothing, and is a mere shoot-’em-up, which we’ve seen before. What’s the ‘want-to-see’ in this new version?” gripes one rival major studio marketing guru. Also, in an age where Narcos is ruling on Netflix, some criticize that Miss Bala didn’t eventize itself enough in its marketing to persuade audiences to get off the coach and watch a female-crusading drug cartel action film.
RelishMix says that social outreach and activity were moderate for Miss Bala, with a social media universe size of 66M. Viral video rate was a very low 6:1. Aislinn Derbez (daughter of Mexican movie star Eugenio Derbez) has the biggest social media draw in the cast, with 11M across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, versus star Rodriguez, who counts 4M. RelishMix overall noticed mixed-to-negative buzz on social for Miss Bala. The question is: Did Rodriguez’s Jane fans show up? And did they accept a new facet of the actress from what they’ve seen on TV?
Miss Bala‘s fans were comprised of 42% Hispanic, 34% Caucasian, 12% African-American, with 10% Asian. The 18-44 crowd repped 81% of the slim audience here. Males over 25 were the pre-dominant crowd at 35%, followed by females over 25 at 30%. Overall, a near split, 51% male. Miss Bala played best in the west and southwest, but even there, we hear, it wasn’t great.
We’ve seen these female-driven shoot-’em-ups before, i.e. TriStar’s Colombiana with Zoe Saldana, and last year’s Proud Mary (another unique genre revival which also tanked). Both respectively opened higher than Miss Bala here at $10.4M and $9.9M. A $10M-$12M start would have been decent start for Miss Bala, profit wise.
In better news: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse becomes Sony Animation’s highest-grossing movie at the domestic B.O., with $175.2M besting Hotel Transylvania 2‘s $169.7M.
Other highlights: Fandango reported on Friday that their early access Saturday screenings for DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World have exceeded expectations, with hundreds of showtimes selling out. The DWA threequel will play at 1,000 early access screenings taking place at select AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark Theatres, Marcus Theatres, Harkins Theatres, Southern Theatres, National Amusements, B & B Theatres, and many more. The pic via Universal opens on Feb. 22. This morning, we hear Hidden World did gangbusters. These early paid screenings are becoming a barometer to a pic’s potential success (unlike when studios use to boast that they ‘sold out’ on a free screening. That doesn’t mean anything. However, when a bulk of moviegoers shell out bucks early on, it’s a very good indicator).
Documentaries continue to work on the big screen in the New Year with Warner Bros.’ release of Peter Jackson’s WWI’s nonfiction title They Shall Not Grow Old earning $2.4M in 10th place for a running total of $10.7M. The previous scattered three-day Fathom run of the movie earned $8.3M. This is the first weekend that WB played the doc in several theaters–735–over three days. The movie will soon takeover last year’s Three Identical Strangers ($12.3M) and soon RBG ($14M). Unfortunately when Warners took the doc, it was too late to qualify for the Oscars, but they, together with Fathom, have truly struck an audience here. Propelling They Shall Not Grow Old have been the studio’s maestros Worldwide Marketing EVP JP Richards and PR Exec Stephanie Phillips, as well as Massey Rafani who built the creative campaign.
This weekend marketing for They Shall Not Grow Old included a hyper-targeted national TV campaign focusing on key network programs, cable news shows, and major network series such as 60 Minutes, Dateline, ABC World News, and CBS Evening News. Film society screenings were held in Philly, Phoenix and Minneapolis, and there were also regional word of mouth screenings with college veteran unions, WWI college history classes, military/history museums, Wounded Warrior Projects, vet Centers, ROTC programs, the American Legion, and historical societies. Exhibition chains also lent their support with digital pushes on their social media handles and reaching out to local military orgs for support.
Black Panther is back at 250 AMC theaters for Black History Month (Feb. 1-7) following the movie’s SAG best ensemble win. Nearly 500 Black Panther screenings nationwide are already full or nearly full based on the number of tickets claimed, and as of Friday, close to 50% of all seats allotted had been claimed for the entire week.
Bleecker Street’s Arctic at four NY/LA locales made $56K in its opening for a $14,1K screen average.
MGM/New Line’s Creed has dashed past $200M worldwide.
Studio reported estimates as of Sunday AM:
WEEKEND B.O. FOR fEB 1-3
Industry estimates as of Saturday AM:
BOX OFFICE FOR FEB. 1-3
1st Update: Sony’s English-language remake of the 2011 Gerardo Naranjo movie Miss Bala began previews Thursday night grossing $650,000 at 2,050 theaters in what is expected to be a low and slow Super Bowl weekend at the box office.
Miss Bala is the only wide release this weekend, expected to draw $7M-$10M in a frame where Universal/BVI/Blumhouse’s Glass in its third weekend is expected to excel with $11.3M. Through yesterday, the M. Night Shyamalan pic counts $79.1M through two weeks, running 6% behind the director’s Split from two years ago.
While business will drop anywhere from 60%-75% from Saturday to Super Bowl Sunday for most non-family movies, the weekend has improved significantly for male-oriented pics like 2009’s Taken ($24.7M) or American Sniper, which in 2015 made $30.6M over the Big Game weekend, the pic’s sixth frame. People do go to the movies over Super Bowl weekend, and plan their moviegoing on Friday or Saturday. But if there’s nothing amazing on the marquee, then forget about it.
Why didn’t any more major studios program here during Super Bowl LIII? Says one studio boss this morning, “It’s a gamble.”
We’ll see if business builds for Miss Bala. Even though it has a 29% Rotten Tomatoes score, it could over-index with Latinx audiences thanks to Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez in the title role. It will be interesting to see whether the shoot ’em up is critic-proof. Twilight helmer Catherine Hardwicke directed this remake, which follows a woman who finds a power that she never knew she had when she is drawn into a dangerous world of cross-border crime.
Miss Bala’s Thursday night is ahead of the $600K for Fox’s Hitman: Agent 47 ($8.3M opening), the Jennifer Lopez January 2015 thriller The Boy Next Door ($500K Thursday, $14.9M opening) and far ahead of the $200K for Machete Kills ($3.8M opening).
Among regular pics in release yesterday, Glass led all titles with $1.2M, up 3% over Wednesday for a second week take of $24.5M.
STXfilms/Lantern’s The Upside was second $940K for a three week running cume of $66.7M. Universal/DreamWorks/Participant’s Green Book was third with $580K, up 7% over Wednesday, with an 11-week running total of $51.5M.
Counterprogramming for the weekend: Warner Bros. Peter Jackson WWI doc will play in 735 theaters this weekend after its Fathom Events play; current cume is $8.3M. It’s just another doc that’s working on the big screen in the wake of RBG, Three Identical Strangers and Won’t You Be My Neighbor.
Bleecker Street has the Joe Penna-directed Cannes Film Festival survival thriller from last year, Arctic, starring Mads Mikkelsen at New York’s Angelika and Landmark W. 57 and Los Angeles’ Landmark and ArcLight Hollywood.