3RD UPDATE/WRITETHRU SUNDAY AM: After Friday posts Those distributors complaining that they can’t find a release date on the calendar can just shush.
Why? Because you didn’t book any wide releases over Labor Day weekend! Distribution often preaches that movies are a 52-weekend business per year, and for the second time since 2017, the Labor Day stretch is an exception to that rule.
The truth of the matter is that we’re in this situation because no one wanted to play into New Line’s It: Chapter Two next weekend. That sequel is expected to suck all the air out of the post-Labor Day frame with a $90M-$110M opening. The majors sat on the sidelines over Labor Day two years ago for the same reason: New Line’s It, which went on to be September’s best opening of all-time ($123.4M). Still, adult audiences have continually shown that they’ll go to the movies over the four-day holiday. It’s a frame where a wide specialty release can find an audience. This weekend would have been a great time to open New Line’s critically acclaimed and audience embraced Blinded by the Light, or maybe even Fox’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, versus the previous pig-pile periods they launched in a few weekends ago.
Sans wide studio product, Comscore is expecting summer for the period of April 26 through Labor Day Monday to ring up $4.86 billion, which is 1% higher than the same period a year ago. Any media outlet that’s measuring summer from the first weekend of May is bonkers. And, by the way, it was a very successful season largely due to Disney product, and despite some worn-out franchises like Men in Black International, Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Dark Phoenix. I’ve over-written this: for movie theaters summer began when Avengers: Endgame posted the biggest opening of all-time with $357.1M, just like its predecessor Avengers: Infinity War did the year before (which, at the time, charted the prior opening record of $257.7M). Funny, some argue that summer should end next weekend after It: Chapter Two opens. Read our full summer 2019 box office wrap here.
Among those specialty releases taking advantage of Labor Day are Roadside Attractions’ The Peanut Butter Falcon, which, in weekend 4, rises from 996 locations to 1,249, for an estimated $2.9M 3-day (-2%) and 4-day of $3.8M, for a running total of $8.8M. Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak audiences gave the Shia LaBeouf-Dakota Johnson movie in its second weekend of polling 4 stars, with a 62% definite recommend. Showing up are 46% females over 25, 34% males over 25, 12% females under 25, and 8% males under 25.
Amazon’s Sundance pick-up Brittany Runs a Marathon jumped from 5 locations to a total of 49 for an estimated 3-day of $414K (+72%) and 4-day of $539K in weekend 2, for a running total of $765K by Monday. Amazon added some runs in NY & LA and took very limited runs in 12 new markets. Original runs are down only because there were Q&As last weekend. New bookings are respectable in Los Angeles and mediocre in New York. Best play was in Scottsdale, AZ at the Camel view, followed by Landmark’s LA. Pic was the No. 1 play in a number of new commercial houses: Arclight in Pasadena, Westlake Village Cineapolis, Sherman Oaks Arclight. Pic was No. 3 in the 20 plex of Bella Terra in Huntington Beach, CA –and that’s something to be proud of.
A24 had an extended director’s cut of Ari Aster’s Midsommar at 2 hours and 50 minutes (the original was 2 hours and 27 minutes) and that made $650K for the 3-day, $810.7K for the 4-day for a running total of $26.87M in weekend 9. Among zany, crazy genre movies, this fresh-faced cast pic, which cost only $10M net, made more stateside than Darren Aronofsky’s mother! which boasted a star-cast led by Jennifer Lawrence and cost 3x more ($17.8M domestic).
As expected, Lionsgate/Millennium’s Gerard Butler threequel Angel Has Fallen still owns the top spot for the 2nd weekend in a row, with an updated estimated $11.6M 3-day (-46%) and 4-day of $14.5M (there was a major glitch in some gross systems earlier today, oops) taking its 11-day total to $43.6M, 9% ahead of the running total of previous chapter London Has Fallen at the same point in time, which finaled at $62.5M domestic. Angel‘s second Friday is estimated at $3.1M, -60% at 3,336 theaters.
Universal’s R-rated Good Boys at 3,458 in weekend 3 is seeing $9.2M (-21%) 3-day and a 4-day of $11.6M for a $586M running total by EOD. The pic will soon eclipse the total domestic take of Uni/Point Grey’s 2018 R-rated teen pic Blockers, which ended its run at $60M. Disney’s The Lion King is in the No. 3 spot with a 4-day $9.245M in weekend 7, with a running total of $523.4M.
Among second-weekend holdovers, Sony Affirm’s Kendrick brothers teen athlete faith-based pic Overcomer has a second weekend of $5.7M at 1,827, -30%, for a 4-day of $7.8M and 11-day of $19.2M. Fox Searchlight’s horror comedy Ready or Not at 2,998 counted $5.6M (-30%), 4-day of $6.6M and 11-day of $21M.
Sony had an extended cut of Spider-Man: Far From Home which touted extra scenes, and they got a hold of 200 Premium Large Format screens and 233 Imax as part of their 3,162 theater count, milking $5.4M for the 4-day and eventually making $400M more of a reality (running cume is at $385.9M).
Blumhouse/OTL’s microbudget Don’t Let Go, released and marketed by Tom Ortenberg’s Briarcliff Entertainment, is seeing an $800K Friday, including $150K Thursday night previews, a $2.4M 3-day and $3M 4-day at 922 locations in 131 markets. Pic in combined domestic P&A and production costs was $10M. There’s a low threshold here for this to turn a profit, and those close to the film tell me a final B.O. of $6M gets them into a position where Universal can exploit other global ancillary outlets to push this pic to break-even (a lot of this microsbudget digital spend genre distributors say $10M is a great number for these films). A portfolio of these tiny movies is a cash cow business for Universal, apparently. Still, rival distributors are definitely not impressed. Pic played best on the East Coast, but was even mediocre in those runs. Don’t Let Go came in at the low-end of its projections. But among the ten pics that Blumhouse’s OTL has released, Don’t Let Go is right in the middle among openers, with 2017’s The Resurrection of Gavin Stone being the lowest start ($1.2M). Blumhouse OTL’s Upgrade churned out the second-best opening for the label at $4.67M, and went on to be its highest-grossing title, with close to $12M, landing helmer Leigh Whannell a directing gig on the studio’s upcoming Invisible Man. Upgrade, we’re informed, was profitable for Universal.
Directed by Jacob Estes, the R-rated Don’t Let Go stars David Oyelowo and Storm Reid. Logline: After a man’s family dies in what appears to be a murder, he gets a phone call from one of the dead, his niece. He’s not sure if she’s a ghost or if he’s going mad, but as it turns out, he’s not. Critics didn’t like it at 45% Rotten. Audiences are meh, with 45% definite recommend on PostTrak and 3 stars. Pic drew 38% African Americans, 30% Caucasian, 20% Hispanic, and 9% Asian. Females over 25 led at 39%, guys over 25 at 35%, men under 25 at 13% and women under 25 at 12%.
RelishMix reports that Don’t Let Go has a moderate Social Media Universe of 38.1 M, comprised of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram followers and YouTube/FB views. Pic’s viral rate of 8:1 is below the genre’s norm of 25:1 for earned/owned video re-posts. Star Reid has been active promoting the indie pic to her 856K followers on social media.
“Don’t Let Go has earned an even mix response on social. Fans of thrillers and Sundance movies generally like what they see from the cast, to the potential twists, to the comparables to other interesting time travel thrillers like Frequency and Netflix’s more recent See You Yesterday. Naysayers claim they can see the twist a mile away, and compare the materials to Taken. Despite these over simplistic comparisons, other dubious comments point out that mixing traditional cop/thriller action with a sci-fi/time travel angle is a tough sell,” reports RelishMix.
Forrest Films has, in 970 sites, the faith-based motor-cross/war film Bennett’s War. Logline: After surviving an IED explosion in combat overseas, a young soldier with the Army Motorcycle Unit is medically discharged with a broken back and leg. Against all odds, he trains to make an impossible comeback as a motocross racer in order to support his family. The PG-13 movie, directed by Alex Ranarivelo, took in a horrible $445K over 3-days, $579K over 4 days. Best plays were in the West and the South, but even there the pic was pretty soft. No RT score, which means the pic wasn’t available for review. Pic gets 3 stars on PostTrak, a low 33% definite recommend, with males over 25 at 51%, females over 25 at 25%, males under 25 at 13% and females under 25 at 11%.
Sunday chart below based on studio-reported figures:
WEEKEND B.O. FOR AUG. 30-SEPT. 2
Friday PM’s chart based on industry estimates:
BOX OFFICE FOR AUG. 30-SEPT. 2