4th Update, Sunday AM writethru following Saturday AM post, w/updated chart: There isn’t a studio executive out there who would disagree: the weekend opening for Universal’s Good Boys –now at $21M this morning per Uni– is fantastic for the theatrical business. Saturday rang up $7.3M last night after Friday’s $8.3M, with $5.3M expected for today.
With comedies long-believed dead at the box office and gobbled up by streaming, here comes an R-rated raunchy one that shows the genre has a pulse. Yes, there was A Madea Family Funeral back in March that opened to $27M. But we’re talking original comedies here, and Universal can lay claim in the comedy drought that the genre is one of their core competencies. The studio owns the biggest original comedy openings of the past three years with Good Boys, Blockers ($20.55M), Night School ($27.2M) and Girls Trips ($31.2M). In these times of haves and have-nots at the box office, typically moviegoers have been getting their comedy fix in tentpole genre hybrids like Deadpool and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Another firework here for Uni: With Good Boys, the studio will match Disney with six films that have opened to the No. 1 position in 2019 (Glass, Us, How to Train Your Dragon 3, Secret Life of Pets 2, Hobbs & Shaw and this weekend’s release) and will have a total of ten weeks atop the domestic box office, the most of any studio outside of Disney. While other studios have hit No. 1 with a franchise or branded IP, Uni is the only studio to deliver two No. 1 openers–Us and Good Boys–that were original movies. Another thing to shout about here at the domestic box office: Like CBS Films’ Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Good Boys shows that lower budget films can still thrive on the big screen. Not all of them are simply intended to be seen on mobile phone streaming app.
Why did this movie starring a trio of largely unknown child actors (except for Room‘s Jacob Tremblay) pop, especially in a weekend with a cluster of five wide releases? Good Boys was expected to come in around $11M-$12M.
Plain and simple: The movie is damn funny.
Beams Universal Domestic Distribution Boss Jim Orr this morning, “Really a very simple reason as to why Good Boys was able to cut through this very crowded late summer landscape. The film is hysterically funny, with tremendous writing and directing from Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, and brought to you by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and James Weaver’s Point Grey — the reigning kings of comedy.”
There’s some elements in the marketplace which are working in Good Boys’ favor: It’s been about a year since the 18-34 sect (who showed up at 67%), who are the sweet spot for a raunchy comedy, have been served one (yes, Good Boys is R, and the Kevin Hart-Tiffany Haddish movie Night School was PG-13). The mid-August, get-back-to-school period is a rich one for launching a comedy and seeing it leg out, and the history is there from Universal’s American Pie 2 to Point Grey’s previous late summer laugh riot, Sausage Party, in 2016.
Uni waited the summer out for Disney to get through their blockade of Avengers, Aladdin, Toy Story 4 and Lion King so Good Boys wouldn’t get steamrolled, all the while screening the comedy widely following its world premiere at SXSW, specifically at 40 colleges before summer breaks. There was also a 100-screening blitz across the country on Aug. 7 “Wednesday Friendsday” in celebration of National Friendship Day.
Social media monitor RelishMix reported that word-of-mouth heading into the weekend was “for those interested to see this latest Seth Rogen creation, they’re laughing at the moments captured in the trailer, comparing to Superbad and other young-cast R-Rated comedies. The target segment of the film has most certainly been reached, and they’ll show up in the same spirit as horror genre fans show up.”
Good Boys gets an 83% on PostTrak, with a 60% definite recommend, plus an 80% Rotten Tomatoes certified fresh rating, and those are ratings you can take to the bank (CinemaScore gave Good Boys a B+, which has been standard for a comedy, just below Superbad‘s A-, which Good Boys producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg wrote and executive produced, and higher than Sausage Party‘s B.
Yes, there were concerns that Good Boys might miss its 18-34 demo. Superbad made sense: it’s relatable, because it’s about high school. But potty mouth adolescent kids? The movie is about 12-year-olds, so anyone that age would have to jump the rope to see it in a multiplex, while at the same time, were older kids going to think that the pic is cool? Hitting that critical word-of- mouth in testing was key for Uni, and they eroded that obstacle bit by bit.
The first red-band trailer for Good Boys dropped following SXSW and clocked 53M views to date, more than any of Universal’s recent red-band trailers. A green band trailer was released in June, timed to a packed E3 screening, and was also featured across Twitch networks through a sponsorship of the first Twitch Fortnite World Cup tournament, amassing 26M+ views. There was a second red band trailer launched in July, in combination with a Snapchat partnership, which targeted age-appropriate users on the platform for one week.
Digital takeovers included Spotify, Fandango and ESPN. Custom content pieces included a College Humor sketch featuring the Good Boys trio sneaking into their own movie, and a co-branded episode of The Cut’s Keep it 100. An 8-bit game, “Highway to ‘Hell Yeah,’” GIFs and custom social content appeared across digital platforms, including the cast’s social channels, resulting in a 23M+ footprint. Rogen, natch, was the social media star of the film with 12.2M followers across his channels.
TV spots, some of which featured a special shoot with Rogen interacting with the pic’s kid stars, aired across summer reality shows like The Bachelorette, Big Brother and America’s Got Talent, along with a strong cable presence in shows like Fear the Walking Dead, Drunk History and Grown-ish. Additional media highlights included Shark Week, the NFL Hall of Fame Game, MLB and WWE Raw and Smackdown.
Now that we’re in the thick of the weekend, we can finally see if Sony’s Angry Birds Movie 2 is tough enough. That said, we can start throwing rocks at the sequel. Sorry, Sony, but Angry Birds Movie 2 cost more than the nearest rival family pic Paramount’s Dora and the Lost City of Gold, $65M to $49M and is doing less business over 6-days with $16.3M than what the teenage girl opened to in 3 days ($17.4M). Yes, we get it, it’s animation and more expensive, but if Dora can’t rest on her results stateside, neither can Angry Birds 2. Luckily the Finnish video game from Rovio has an offshore appeal (the sequel already counts $5.5M+ overseas, the first movie made 70% of its global $352.3M outside U.S./Canada). But at a time when it’s essential for franchises to outdo their previous installments, or at least not drop significantly when you’re an animated pic, there’s nothing to squawk about here with an estimated 3-day of $10.5M versus the $38.1M that the first 2016 movie opened up to. Saturday at $4.4M was up 60% over Friday. Though a seven-year old brand, the feeling is that Sony capitalized on the first pic three years ago just in time, and this sequel is a little long in the feather. Even more so, like Secret Life of Pets 2 earlier this summer — where was the must-see in the marketing here that demanded audiences rush out and see Angry Birds 2? The materials here looked too similar to the 2016 pic.
Entertainment Studios boss Byron Allen has recounted many times how he saved the first 47 Meters from Weinstein Co./Dimension. Allen saw the pic’s potential theatrically and reaped the money that the pic’s former owner was about to leave on the table (if memory serves me correct Allen literally had Walmart trucks with 47 Meters DVDs turn around, preventing the shark movie from hitting store shelves so he could distribute the pic on the big screen). 47 Meters was a little indie which opened to $11.2M back in June 2017 beating Sony’s R-rated Scarlett Johansson movie Rough Night, a near young female rival, and ultimately making $44.3M stateside, which is big money for a label like Entertainment Studios. The pic was released at the right time just as Mandy Moore was seeing a revival on NBC’s This Is Us. The sequel stars Empire‘s Nia Long and Sylvester Stallone’s daughter Sistine Rose Stallone. While audience always knew 47 Meters was the low budget shark pic, and this sequel cost a thrifty $12M with foreign sales covering a majority of the budget, there’s no higher stakes being conveyed here in the marketing to want them to flock like they did the first time around. Thus, a $9M opening for Uncaged. That’s a big improvement on Friday’s midday estimates, no one is spotting a double digit opening here. Uncaged gets a C+ CinemaScore to the original’s C, with a 2 1/2 star (ouch!) from PostTrak exits. Females showed up at 53% with 56% between 18-34 years old. The mix was 47% Caucasian, 25% Hispanic, 15% African American, & 13% Asian/Other. The shark sequel played best on the East Coast along with the South-West.
Some in the media like to whine: Why didn’t an indie movie platform? Well, and I can’t emphasize this enough: in order to have a platform release, you need over the-top-reviews, which will eventually enable the pic to crossover to a larger audience. While platforming has always been the means for awards season bait to thrive in the 4th quarter, it’s becoming more so that’s the only time of year when you can platform. When a specialty release doesn’t platform, it’s because it cost too much, doesn’t have the reviews, nor the proper tee-off (i.e. launching to great acclaim at a signature film festival). And when a pic costs a lot, the best financial plan is to go wide, make as much money as you can so that you can quickly capitalize on the ancillary window.
That’s the case here with why Annapurna/UAR’s Cate Blanchett movie Bernadette went wide at 2,404 theaters. The pic we hear cost well north of $20M, and critics, the catalysts for any specialty pic’s business, killed it at 44% Rotten. Meh exits of B and 3 1/2 stars on PostTrak aren’t going to help the film either. All of this yields a horrible $3.45M for the Richard Lanklater directed pic which Blanchett actually got behind in digital ads and pushed. Saturday was up over Friday, $1.3M to $1.2M. Some of the females at 65%, 85% over 25, 38% over 45, are familiar with the pic’s novel by Maria Semple, others don’t know what to make of the marketing and what the pic is about. Blanchett’s Blue Jasmine platformed in late July 2013, ultimately finaling at $33M+ domestic, well before the Farrow scandal resurfaced again for Woody Allen. That $18M budgeted pic could afford to platform because the Oscar wattage on Blue Jasmine then was loud in regards to the actress’ chances for a best actress win (which she eventually won). Even Blue Jasmine at its widest break during Labor Day weekend made $3.98M at 1,179 theaters over the 3-day portion of the holiday. That just gives you the idea of the bandwidth for an older-skewing Blanchett solo drama.
Now Blinded by the Light could and should have platformed, especially with a 90% Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes score, A- CinemaScore, and 4 1/2 stars on PostTrak. Pic’s sad opening at $4.45M now in 9th place (up from the $3.5M we saw yesterday). With a fresh-face cast, this film needed to be primed for adult audiences, and Warners could have done so, especially since it came out of Sundance. Rival distribution chiefs think Blinded by the Light, given its great critical and exit response, should have rolled out in September to build word of mouth. You can play into success with a platform release, but you can’t unspend money. Now that Warners has blown this money on P&A, they can’t play into the pic’s potential success now. Why didn’t Warners platform? Likely the same reason –believe or not– why Annapurna had to go fast with Bernadette: The studio spent too much money on the movie, and in this case, $15M for a Sundance indie pic purchase is a huge chunk-of-change. Another thing that could be impacting Blinded by the Light is that film is following too quickly on Universal/Working Title’s Yesterday ($71.6M domestic!), another British pop music ode. While that movie paid homage to the Beatles, Blinded is a nod to Bruce Springsteen. Those who showed up, largely on the coasts, were 53/47 Male and 54% over 35, with the single-largest quad being 55+ at 27%. The mix was 63% Caucasian, 17% Asian/Other, 17% Hispanic, & 3% African American. Overall, outside Detective Pikachu and Annabelle 3, it’s been a hard summer for Warner Bros with Godzilla 2 not performing up to snuff, The Kitchen (-60% in weekend 2 with $2.2M, now at $10.3M), The Sun Is Also a Star and Shaft failing to work. Granted, Godzilla was the expensive out of all of them. That $120M-plus opening for It: Chapter Two can’t come soon enough.
Summer 2019, which doesn’t have a Meg or Crazy Rich Asians is shrinking its gap with summer 2018, when you start the season on respective Avengers weekends in the end of April. Right now we’re $4.52 billion for April 26-Aug. 18, which is close to 1% ahead of the same period a year ago.
Sunday AM chart per studio estimates:
WEEKEND B.O. FOR AUG. 16-18
Saturday Morning’s chart:
BOX OFFICE FOR AUG. 16-18
2nd Update, Friday Midday: Universal’s Good Boys is headed for a surprise opening of $20M. Industry estimates have it there after what is expected to be an $8M Friday.
If these projections maintain, Good Boys will rep the biggest original comedy opening of the year with Universal boasting the the biggest comedy openings of the past three years following last September’s Night School and 2017’s Girls Trip. Good Boys is also poised to be the first R-rated comedy at No. 1 since Uni opened The Boss back in April 2016. Nobody does comedy nowadays better than Universal. The numbers speak for themselves.
Uni will wind up with the top two pics of the weekend with Hobbs & Shaw in weekend 3 with $12.4M, -51% for a running total by Sunday of $132M. Disney’s Lion King is third with an estimated $11.7M in weekend 5 at 3,560 theaters with a total by Sunday of $495.9M.
Angry Birds 2 is seeing $8.7M in 4th place which would bring its 6-day total to $14.4M.
CBS Films’ Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is eyeing 5th place with $8.1M in weekend 2 with $38.2M by Sunday.
Paramount’s Dora and the Lost City of Gold is at $7.5M, -57% for a running total of $32.9M.
Entertainment Studios’ 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is seeing between $6.5M to $6.7m for the weekend.
Annapurna’s Where’d Ya Go Bernadette is seeing $1.35M today, including $200K in previews last night for $4M. Audiences enjoyed the pic last night more than critics giving it 4 stars and a 60% defintite recommend. Forty-four percent of the audience was over 35, 80% over 25. Females over 25 made up close to half the audience with an 89% positive rating.
New Line’s Blinded by the Light, is seeing $1.4M-$1.5M today for an estimated $4.3M opening.
1st Update, Friday AM: Universal’s R-rated Good Boys nabbed $2.1 million in Thursday night previews at 2,600 theaters which began at 7 PM. Exits are solid for Good Boys with 4 stars on Post Trak and a 61% definite recommend. Critics aren’t too cruel on the comedy at 79% fresh.
In regards to other R-rated comedies aimed at the 18-34 set, Good Boys’ Thursday is higher than Universal’s 2018 Blockers ($1.5M) and just under R-rated August 2016 pic Sausage Party ($3.25M), which like Good Boys also came from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s Point Grey Pictures. Good Boys’ take is also higher than Tag‘s $1.3M last summer and 2018’s Game Night ($1M).
Directed by Gene Stupnitsky and co-written with Lee Eisenberg, Good Boys follows a trio of sixth grade friends who ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs, being hunted by teenage girls, and trying to make their way home in time for a long-awaited party. Good Boys cost $20M net before P&A.
The 18-34 crowd repped 72% of Good Boys’ audience Thursday night. Males 25+ were the dominant demo at 34%, followed by males under 25 (25%), females over 25 (21% –they loved it the most at 85%) and females under 25 (19%). Caucasians repped 50% of the audience, Hispanics 19%, African Americans 16% and Asians 11%.
It’s been a while since any R-rated comedy has opened at the box office (and by that we mean, one that has made a dent, we’re not being technical here commenters; we know there was Booksmart, duh). You could say that the last one was Deadpool 2, because people now get their comedy fixes in a superhero film. However, in regards to pure comedies, it’s Universal who is largely making the genre work on the big screen in this Netflix era with pics such as Blockers ($20.55M, $60.3M), last September’s Night School (PG-13 but a $27.2M opening, $77.3M) and of course 2017’s R-rated Girls Trip ($31.2M, $115.1M).
Meanwhile, Entertainment Studios’ 47 Meters Down: Uncaged starring Sistine Rose Stallone and Nia Long bit off $516,000 at 2,015 locations, also from showtimes that began at 7 PM. Pic expands to 2,853 theaters today. The Johannes Roberts-directed sequel we hear cost $12M net. It’s Entertainment Studios’ fully financed and owned feature, with foreign sales covering some of the cost. Pic only received 3 stars from PostTrak last night with a 52% definite recommend. Turnout was males 25+ (38%), females 25+ (29%), females under 25 (17%), and males under 25 (16%). Females enjoy the shark sequel more than guys, 80%-65%. Diversity demos were 47% Caucasian, 30% Hispanic, 15% African American and 6% Asian. A 52% on Rotten Tomatoes here for the shark sequel.
Heading into the weekend, it’s expected that Universal’s Hobbs & Shaw would three-peat at No. 1 with a high-teens result. R-rated movies typically land most of their bread during the late-night hours, so if Good Boys is going to surge at its 3,204 theaters, it will be during that time frame. Good Boys is projected to come in the $11M-$12M range alongside 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, the second weekend of the Guillermo del Toro-produced and co-storied Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and The Lion King‘s fifth weekend.
Annapurna’s Cate Blanchett drama Where’d You Go, Bernadette and New Line’s $15M Sundance acquisition Blinded By the Light are expected to be the misfires of a back-to-back five wide-release weekend with results in the $4M-$5M range, both aimed at adults. The irony is that Bernadette was thumbsdowned by critics at 45% Rotten, while Light has the best reviews of the weekend out of the five wide entries at 90% certified fresh.
Sony is hoping for $16M-$17M from The Angry Birds Movie 2 for the Tuesday-Sunday stretch. Since Tuesday, the animated pic has made $5.7M, with $1.4M yesterday (-17% from Wednesday), and ranked fourth for the day behind Hobbs & Shaw ($2M, $119.6M running cume), Lion King ($1.95M, $484.2M cume) and Scary Stories ($1.69M, $30.1M first week). Sony’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was fifth with $1.3M, and a running total in week 3 of $106.7M, while Paramount’s Dora and the Lost City of Gold in sixth pulled in an estimated $1.22M ending its first week with $25.4M.