5th UPDATE/Writethru Sunday AM: Refresh for chart and more updates An over-saturated kids franchise pic, an overdone action star, and a low budget horror film aren’t really creating a stampede at theaters this weekend. We’re hearing that it’s the lowest post-Super Bowl weekend in ten years. That’s how much overall business stinks.
It’s been weeks–literally since the holidays–since we’ve had a multitude of pics hit the marquee, and this is what we get: A whole-lotta ho-hum. Next week offers more of the same, specifically quality challenged fare, with the very expensive $170M-plus pic Alita: Battle Angel, another horror movie, Happy Death 2U, and Isn’t It Romantic. Captain Marvel, seriously, where are you??
March looks to be the month when the box office will be on steroids, with that Disney/Marvel pic on March 8, Universal/Blumhouse/Monkeypaw’s Us on March 22, and Dumbo on March 29. Spring will be great.
Paramount’s What Men Want is doing respectable business in regards to its $20M cost (before P&A), with a studio-reported $19M weekend in second place off a $6.6M opening day. The result is a huge improvement for Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson whose Proud Mary wasn’t so happy last year with a low $9.9M opening. The R-rated comedy has the best audience reaction out of all the wide entries on PostTrak, with 4.5 stars and an 82% positive and a 69% recommend. African-Americans repped 41% of all moviegoers, followed by 28% Caucasian, 18% Hispanic and 7% Asian. This gender-flipped redo played best on the East Coast, along with the South. On CinemaScore, the Adam Shankman-directed comedy earned an ‘A’ from its core female audience and an A- from men. The A- is the same as Night School and About Last Night. Based on Comscore’s PostTrack, the audience skewed female at 62% versus male at 38%. By age, the audience skewed older, with 67% over 25, but the majority were between 18-34 (62%).
Many believed that The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part could do $50M+, $40M+ at the very least. Not so with a studio-reported opening weekend of $34.4M. With those pre-Thursday previews, the result is $35M. While the result is +69% over Ninjago‘s $20.4M, it’s down a huge 50% from the first 2014 movie, and -35% from Lego Batman. It’s also far below those $50M-$55M projections from early this week. Business, thanks to matinees, was +83% on Saturday over Friday with $15.6M. The spike isn’t good enough for what they turned in on Friday.
What went amiss here with a film that has an 84% Rotten Tomatoes score? Warner Bros. released too many Lego movies, too close. They released two spinoffs in 2017 alone. What was once a novel sense of humor has worn out. Take those two spinoffs away, and we might be looking at a higher opening here for The Second Part. Time to pause the franchise, or at least reconstruct it significantly if you still want that Pixar-teen-twentysomething audience. You can’t muddy the waters with younger-skewing spinoffs like Ninjago if you want to keep this brand vibrant onscreen. Choose a demo, stick to that and move on.
Also, marketing-wise, what’s the difference between this movie and the first, which was emblazoned with a signature Oscar-nominated slogan song, “Everything Is Awesome”? There’s an astronaut figure, lots of DC superheros, and a manic sense of humor. Doesn’t sound like high-stakes. The sequel went into this weekend with a similar amount of gas that Glass had. RelishMix did spot some great word of mouth from fans, applauded the pic’s great brand partnerships (double the first film valued at $100M), and Chris Pratt’s promotion to his 33M-plus social media followers. But it’s the naysayers who are speaking the gospel truth here about The Second Part: “They’re griping, ‘How many LEGO films have there been?’, saying there’s no way this one will live up to the first movie,” reports RelishMix. The fourth Lego movie in five years reportedly cost $100M before P&A, and there’s a shot that it could still make some money after ancillaries should it follow the trajectory of Angry Birds, with $350M global gross.
The Second Part played best in the west, midwest, and Canada. But even there, it was below expectations. Overall, PostTrak is 4 stars, which means audiences are enjoying The Second Part. Kids under 12 love it more at 4.5 stars and a 70% definite recommend. General audiences repped 43%, kids 39%, and parents 18%.
Typically when grosses skew lower, many say an animated pic is a hand-holder film, meaning for little kids. That’s not necessarily the case here, with PostTrak showing 25-34 as the best demo at 21%, followed by 10-12 at 20%, 7-9 at 17%, 18-24 at 14%, and 35-44 at 14%. Quite promising: On CinemaScore, kids under 18 gave the pic a solid A and they turned out at close to 50%. However, to get those Lego Movie box office figures, these demos need to be more robust. Warner Bros. is also reporting the overall CinemaScore before its Monday publish date with A- for Second Part, which is down from Lego Movie‘s A, the same as Lego Batman, and up from Ninjago‘s B+. The studio was high on this movie and they have to be feeling pretty bummed. Imax drew 6.7% of domestic tickets sales for the sequel at 401 hubs or $2.3M.
The next two wide entries are essentially balance sheet transactions, intended to make some cash, and not intended to over-index at the box office. Lionsgate’s Cold Pursuit isn’t running cold at the box office because of the headlines from Liam Neeson’s reported racist statements; it’s doing an estimated $10.8M per Lionsgate because he’s made way too many man-with-the-gun movies. The result is $200K shy of the $11M opening for the actor’s March 2015 Run All Night (which hooked an A- CinemaScore) and that finaled with a paltry $26.4M. Even though this one is supposed to have a Fargo tone, it looks like another man-with-the-gun movie…in the snow…with a snowplow. Neeson is in Nicolas Cage land now — in fact, he’s been here for quite a while –where all of these pics have run their course stateside, and are financially structured for overseas audiences. Cold Pursuit‘s opening weekend is lower than last year’s The Commuter ($13.7M, which only did a 2.6x multiple stateside for $36.3M, but made close to $120M WW off a $40M production cost). Both pics come to Lionsgate via a StudioCanal release deal. Lionsgate didn’t shell out an MG, they just spent mid-teens for the P&A, and in regards to their books at the end of the day, they expect to break even, if not a bit better.
Three stars on PostTrak here. A low 42% definite recommend. Men over 25 came out at 44%, Females over 25 at 35%. Caucasians bought tickets at 59%, Hispanic at 17%, and African-Americans at 10%. Best play for the film was in the south and the west. CinemaScore doesn’t come out until Monday nowadays. Save this one for the plane.
Orion is following a BHTilt model for their horror pics. The Prodigy cost $6M, they did $6M as expected, and with a $10M end game, or more they’ll be fine for their models. Business was +19% on Saturday with $2.4M, typically horror pics go down. Overall, a majority of audiences were scared away from this run-of-the-mill, child-possessed film, giving it 2.5 stars on PostTrak and really low 64% overall positive. Definite recommend is a low 44%. Males over 25 at 30% were the leading demo, followed by F25 at 25%, then M25- at 23% and F25- at 22%. The Prodigy played best in the West and in the South where 8 of the top 10 runs originated from but even there, it was just OK.
Shorts TV and Magnolia released their annual Oscar Shorts edition on the big screen and it drew a great $912K at 265 theaters which is higher than last year’s opening ($695K at 198 locations) and the 2017 edition ($692K at 206 sites).
The Cannes Film Festival opener from last year via Focus Features, Everybody Knows, from two-time Oscar winning director Asghar Farhadi drew a lowly $18,7K screen average and $75K in business from four NY and LA locations.
Sunday reported studio-figures:
WEEKEND B.O. FOR fEB 8-10
Previous estimates as of Saturday AM:
BOX OFFICE FOR FEB. 8-10
PREVIOUS, Friday AM: Warner Bros’ The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part drew $1.5 million on Thursday night from showtimes starting at 4 PM, and when including the pic’s early January 26 previews, the all-in pre-opening figure for the sequel is $2.1M.
To do $1.5M on a night when there aren’t any K-12 schools off is commendable (0% per ComScore and only 1% colleges off). Warners doesn’t always hold previews for its kids pics during the non-summer or non-holiday periods, i.e., in September 2017 there weren’t any Thursday night previews for The Lego Ninjago Movie. Animation pics have long legs, and the whole reason why Warners is going during a time when schools are in session is to get a leg up on the busy, crowded Presidents Day weekend, which will take off on Valentine’s Day next Thursday.
Tracking had Lego Movie 2 opening between $50M-$55M. Even though Phil Lord and Christoper Miller aren’t directing The Second Part, they wrote it, and critics have blessed it with a Rotten Tomatoes certified fresh of 83%. That is lower than the first pic’s 95%, and Lego Batman‘s 90%, but higher than Lego Ninjago‘s 56% Rotten.
Comparing previews to other Lego movies: The Lego Batman Movie earned $2.2M from 3,500 locations that started at 5 PM. That repped 15% of its $14.4M opening day before exploding to $23M on Saturday for a $53M three-day total and a No. 1 win against Univeral’s Fifty Shades Darker ($46.6M) and Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter Two ($30.4M). The first Lego Movie in February 2014 made $425,000 after 10 PM Thursday night previews and went on to make $69M in its first weekend.
Paramount’s Taraji P. Henson comedy What Men Want was very strong last night with $1.25M. That’s slightly under the $1.35M made by Universal’s Kevin Hart-Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School and ahead of The Upside ($1.1M) and Uncle Drew ($1.1M). Night School opened to $27M. Expectations earlier this week for What Men Want were between $18M-$20M, and that grew to $25M yesterday. Critics have squashed the movie at 45% Rotten, but What Men Want may be able to survive that.
In 2050 theaters last night starting at 7 PM, Liam Neeson’s Cold Pursuit from Lionsgate played earning $540K. That’s lower than the action star’s The Commuter a year ago, which earned $700K ($13.7M opening), but higher than his March 2015 release Run All Night ($455K Thursday, $11M start). Critics enjoyed the movie at 80% fresh. Projections are between $8M-$11M.
Orion’s R-rated horror pic The Prodigy drew $350K last night which is on par with horror pics like 2015’s The Lazarus Effect ($350K preview, $10.2M weekend) and DreamWorks’ R-rated Fright Night ($350K, $7.7M opening); it’s also slightly above BH Tilt’s The Belko Experiment ($325K preview, $4.1M opening). A $5M-$7M start is expected here for Prodigy. Critics aren’t impressed with the movie at 54% Rotten.