5th Update/writethru Sunday AM: Following Saturday and Friday posts, refresh for Sunday chart and more analysis.
Why did three studios book new titles against Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame‘s second weekend?
They truly believed they were counter-programming the monster hit and could somehow survive: Lionsgate’s Long Shot with females, The Intruder with African Americans, and STXfilms’ foray into feature animation UglyDolls aimed at young girls. They knew what they were doing and blaming Endgame–which Disney is calling at $145.8M, the second-best second weekend ever after Star Wars: Force Awakens’ $149.2M)–is like saying the dog ate their homework. One B.O. analytics source even cynically opines to us, “It’s quite conceivable that even without Endgame, none of these films would have performed.” Endgame can celebrate that it’s crossing $600M in a record 10 days today with $619.7M, faster than Force Awakens (12 days), Infinity War (26 days) and Black Panther (31 days).
As we mentioned earlier today, pure Darwinism was in full effect in the marketplace: If there’s a line outside the multiplex for Endgame, and a showtime of a rival title is barely full, consider such movie canceled. This was a rampant trend last weekend and upset several majors, and it’s sure to have occurred this weekend even though distribution execs and exhibition have contracted promises. Rivals see Endgame‘s second weekend higher, at $148M, with Disney reporting a Sunday of $43.7M, -29% from Saturday’s $61.4M. Imax’s second weekend for the 22nd MCU title drew $12.1M for $49M.
For those obsessed about box office who are wondering why Endgame isn’t at the $180M that we were informed at the start of the week, the reason is because Endgame cleaned up a ton over the week during a non-holiday period with $116.8M. Force Awakens had the benefit of literally the whole nation on break during the year-end holidays.
Let’s go through the new stuff one by one:
Screen Gems’ The Intruder beat Lionsgate’s Long Shot, $11M to $10M. Intruder cost significantly less at $5M net, while Long Shot was in the $40M-$50M range (before P&A), which was what The Spy Who Dumped Me cost. Spy didn’t start with a $12M opening because critics weren’t wild about it at 49% Rotten, and the pic ended its stateside run with $33.5M.
The Intruder director Deon Taylor is like a Blumhouse unto himself, and knows how to make movies fast and at a low budget. He has two movies set for release this year: African American femme cop pic Black and Blue, and horror comedy Meet the Blacks 2: The House Next Door, with another three features in post. He was immediately taken by David Loughery’s script about a crazed older man who sells his prized California wine country estate to a young married couple, but refuses to let go of it emotionally and stalks them.
Taylor read the script in a short period on his phone. The pic speaks to the divide in Trump nation. Even though Screen Gems doesn’t have the micro-budget, over-index streak that Universal does with Blumhouse, they’re improving, i.e. the $7.7M The Possession of Hannah Grace, which made $43M WW back in December, and enormously better than the $9M The Escape Room, which grossed $155.1M around the globe at the start of the year. Intruder is a straight play for the core demo at an extremely reasonable price, which hopes to survive the wake of Endgame‘s hurricane.
Intruder drew 34% African American, 34% Caucasian, 19% Hispanic and 9% Asian. Females over 25 at 36% were dominant, followed by Men over 25 at 30%, with females under 25 at 21% and men under 25 at 12%. A low 44% definite recommend here.
In promoting the pic, Sony held “Screamback Screenings” nationwide, which were extensive influencer and word-of-mouth previews encouraging audiences to “scream back” at the screen, using hashtag #TheIntruder. Taylor and the cast toured HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to host screenings and participate in events and Q&A’s with the students. Even stopped by Deadline/Hyundai’s studio at the Tribeca Film Festival, interview below:
RelishMix says that Intruder‘s social media size of 70.6M across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube views and Instragram is good, with Sony’s social assets composing nearly half of the pic’s online reach. “The film has no outstanding social notables to speak of, but instead has done an adequate job of engaging the drama/thriller fans who see the pic as ‘a guilty pleasure’ and enjoy the elements of creepy tone and violence captured in the film’s few official materials,” says the social media analytics corp. Intruder gets 2.5 stars on PostTrak, with CinemaScore not publishing its grade.
Long Shot landed the same CinemaScore of The Spy Who Dumped Me, a B. The pic jumped around the calendar in regards to a release date, i.e. Feb. 8, 2019, then June 7.
Lionsgate had confidence in the movie, brought it to SXSW and CinemaCon where it played well with audiences (ComScore/Screen Engine’s Postrak gave it 3.5 stars and a 57% definite recommend), and set the opening date for this weekend to make headway into Mother’s Day, and to also stay away from the summer’s other counter-programming comedy, Amazon’s Late Night on June 7.
Critics enjoyed Long Shot at 83% certified fresh on RT, and it’s a shame, given those dynamics, that it’s not performing better. Yes, a different release date, perhaps. But there’s something else in the sell of this pic about a wrinkled reporter who, in adulthood, finally scores his first crush, now a US presidential candidate: Rival marketing execs say it’s a hard to believe that someone like Seth Rogen’s character could land someone like Charlize Theron’s. Right, but isn’t that the conceit of the film? Oh, the irony. Last night, Adam Sander joked on SNL‘s Weekend Update that he made the same movie about a frumpy guy and a hottie four times before Long Shot: It’s not a fresh set-up. Lionsgate’s hope here is that the pic legs out to a big multiple, hopefully better than Rogen’s 3.5x average. Pic’s production cost was covered by Lionsgate’s standard model of financing partners and foreign sales.
Females over 25 numbered 39%, males over 25 were 33%, females under 25 were 16%, and males under 25 were 12%. Sixty one percent were Caucasian, 20% Hispanic, 10% Asian and 7% African American. Long Shot played best in the big cities, especially in the West. The Intruder played best in the North-East and South.
Oh, UglyDolls. This was STX’s serious attempt to launch itself in the feature animation space. They were convinced it was a universally appealing brand, with the potential to reach a massive audience on every screen and experience, and a meaningful way into feature animation. It’s not, with a Sunday reported $8.5M start. Even if this feature toon, based on the 2001 plush toy line by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, hit its tracking of $12M-$14M, that’s still not a great opening for a film that was primed to be a big franchise for STX, starring pop stars such as Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monae and Pitbull. UglyDolls played best in the West, Mid-West, and South-West. But even there it wasn’t great.
CinemaScore audiences gave the film a B+, but PostTrak shows on their exits that audiences and families weren’t thrilled with general audiences at 32% giving it 2.5 stars, kids under 12 repping 49% of the crowd giving it 3 stars, and parents at 20% giving it 2 stars. Girls under 12 outnumbered boys, 63% to 37%. Only a 51% definite recommend. These are low grades from kids who generally are over the moon about anything they see.
STX jumped the gun, believing they had the goods on this, developing a 26-episode series for Hulu, which launches next year, and taking all rights to the UglyDolls property, including worldwide merchandising and licensing rights for toys and consumer products. The film was a big part of the studio’s CinemaCon session, with Clarkson closing it with a live performance of her song “Broken and Beautiful”.
STX was floating around a production cost of $45M net for UglyDolls, co-financed with its Alibaba Chinese partner (the pic qualifies as a Chinese co-production and STX could see a 40% rental). Deadline has learned through very reliable sources the pic’s net was around $53M. Even though this pic’s opening and production cost isn’t that far from Long Shot, readers need to understand that the commitment, and commitment by promotional partners, was something greater on this project.
Still, why so ridiculously cheap, especially for a CGI pic? Reel FX outsourced some of the production work to Montreal for rebates, with some of the pic’s production completed in China to qualify as a co-prod. Apparently, we hear that the film was made in 12 months, and not in an elongated means that takes most studio feature productions several years to churn out as they generate different cuts of the pic during pre-production.
STX reportedly went low on its TV spot spend (reportedly a $40M stateside P&A) opting for free PR stunts, such as Clarkson singing her song on The Voice, as well as the media value the studio had from 100 promo partners and products, including McDonald’s, Hasbro as the global toy licensee, Walmart, Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s, Outright Games, Party City, Cold Stone Creamery, Pinkberry, Ferrero, Pez Candy, Original Sprout, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Hybrid Apparel and The Ad Coun.
There’s a view from some STX insiders that the film was a mere extension of the UglyDolls brand, that its B.O. result won’t damage the greater Hulu series or the toy line. Well, the pic’s opening isn’t doing any types of favors for the IP either. No wonder why Mattel is so slow to develop their toylines into films, i.e. Barbie and He-Man: They want to ensure that they don’t mess it up, and do any damage to their legacy cash cow lines.
Here are the studio-reported figures as of Sunday AM;
WEEKEND B.O. FOR MAY 3-5
BOX OFFICE FOR MAY 3-5
1st Update, Friday 7:38AM: This weekend, three wide entries will encounter the behemoth second weekend of Avengers: Endgame, which is expected to surpass Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ second-weekend record of $149.2 million. Even though these pics are attempts at counterprogramming the tentpole in the marketplace, it’s clear that Endgame already did damage last night with an estimated $21.7M Thursday. That compares with the $660,000 made by Lionsgate’s Seth Rogen-Charlize Theron screwball comedy Long Shot at 2,500 theaters, and the low $300K made by STXfilms’ stab at animation, UglyDolls at 2,250.
Screen Gems’ $5M thriller The Intruder, which is vying for African American audiences, stayed tough with an $865K preview last night from 5 PM showtimes at 2,073 theaters. Last year, Deon Taylor’s previous thriller Traffik from Lionsgate/Code Black earned $225K off 7 PM showtimes in 900 locations. Sony is seeing $9M for The Intruder, but don’t be surprised if it goes higher.
Long Shot has the best reviews of the three at 83% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and the hope here by Lionsgate is that the film legs out — Rogen pics apparently have a 3.5x multiple off their opening. A $15M would be so sweet, but some are thinking it’s more in the $9M-$11M range. Long Shot plays at 3,230 theaters starting today.
All three distributors –STX, Lionsgate and Screen Gems– knew they were programming in the wake of a giant, and they knew Endgame was going to emulate or improve upon the success of Avengers: Infinity War, which posted a first week of $338.3M. Endgame currently has $474M, and is expected to cross $500M today in its eighth day of release — that will beat Force Awakens‘ 10-day record to that milestone.
Last year at this time, MGM/Lionsgate/Pantelion’s Overboard made $14.7M, but that was squarely aimed at Hispanic and female crowds. Long Shot leans female, and the whole plan for Lionsgate was to be out ahead of Mother’s Day next Sunday, a big femme moviegoing time. Long Shot‘s Thursday of $660K isn’t that far from Overboard‘s Thursday preview of $675K, with the latter earning a $4.8M Friday.
Tracking has UglyDolls between a $12M-$14M opening. Thursday nights when school is in session isn’t a prime time for a hand-holder film that skews toward young girls (comScore reports only 1% K-12 off); it’s a matinee play. As such, UglyDolls’ Thursday night, which began around 5 PM, is lower than The Emoji Movie ($900K during summer) and Sony’s Angry Birds ($800K). UglyDolls’ Thursday isn’t that far from Smurfs: Lost Village ($375K), which opened in early April 2017 to $13.2M and ended its run at $45M. Critics hated all three movies, with UglyDolls at a 31% Rotten RT score.
STX says that this CGI pic before P&A cost $45M net on its foray into franchise animation, a qualified Chinese co-production with Alibaba Pictures (which means a 40% rental, not 25%-27% rental out of China). We’ve heard the production cost is in the low-$50M net range, but more on that later. Pic was made by Reel FX with outsourcing to Montreal (where the rebates come from), with some work completed in China so that UglyDolls could qualify as a co-production.