3rd writethru Sunday AM with final chart following Saturday AM and Friday midday post: The doldrums of December are here, and as remains standard following the lucrative Thanksgiving-Black Friday period, most major distributors abstain from opening any wide entries, except for STX, which is handling animated feature Playmobil. That movie became the fourth- worst opening ever for a pic booked in 2K-plus theaters (according to Boxoffice Mojo) with a reported 3-day this morning of $670K. That’s lower than Universal/Blumhouse’s Jem and the Holograms, which tanked with a $1.37M opening (and final of $2.1M domestic), and not too far from the lowest bottom-dweller for this range, the 2012 film The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure ($443K opening, $1M final domestic).
STX thought there would be some family spillover from Disney’s whirlwind Frozen 2, to the point of working with exhibitors to offer $5 tickets as an experiment with pricing. But unfortunately, STX couldn’t give away Playmobil. For mass moviegoers, Frozen 2 continued to be worth the price of admission, with third weekend of $34.7M, -60%, with a running total by Sunday of $337.5M. For a Disney pic in the post Black Friday weekend, that’s still a high, besting the takes of its previous animated pic holdovers Frozen ($31.6M, -53%), last year’s Ralph Breaks the Internet ($25.5M, -54%), Moana ($28.2M, -50%), and Coco ($27.5M, -46%).
The good news about this year versus last is that we only have to weather one depressing weekend in December. Last year, there were two, given how Thanksgiving fell earlier in November. Sony hopes to put everything back on track with Jumanji: Next Level next weekend, which is eyeing a $30M-$40M opening
Playmobil is a service deal for STX, and they’ll be collecting a distribution fee. Global Road was originally set to release this, also in a service deal, before they went belly-up. STX aimed to have very little skin in the game here, so as not to get hurt, and I hear P&A, which is not backstopped, is in the low single digits, mostly in-theater, especially through exhibs moviegoer loyalty clubs (and many rivals agree — that figure sounds about right, given what they’ve seen). The pic, based on the 45-year-old German toy and featuring the voices of Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, Gabriel Bateman, Adam Lambert, Kenan Thompson, Meghan Trainor and Daniel Radcliffe, cost around $40M. But the pic, made in Canada, was co-financed by a pool of distributors and co-financing partners, including Telemünchen, DMG, Pathé, Studio Canal, Leda Film, Belga Films, Kinoswiat and others. National Bank of Canada and Coficiné backed the international sales. I hear that STX had to go wide with the movie based on the overseas movie deals in place on the pic. I understand 4pm previews were embarrassing on Thursday night, in the $40K range, leading to a $230K Friday (of course, most kids are back to school). If critics loathed this movie at 23% Rotten, then the few who’ve seen it agreed with 1 1/2 stars and an awful 36% definite recommend on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak. General auds made up 31%, while parents and kids under 12 repped 69% of those in seats. Parents had zero patience for Playmobil at 2 1/2 stars, while the kids under 12 have waned from 4 stars to 3 1/2 stars. CinemaScore was a B+, which is never what you want your animated feature to have. Slightly more girls than boys on Friday with 53% vs. 47%. 51% of the audience were between 10-12. Of the few who showed up, 57% were Caucasian, 22% Hispanic, 13% Asian/Other and 8% African American
STX went to exhibs, asked what the proper variable pricing was, and 97% of them agreed to charge a flat $5 ticket price for all showtimes (exceptions are theaters in Canada, ArcLight and Landmark). RelishMix says social media wasn’t on fire, with light conversation and many of the pic’s stars –i.e. Adam Lambert, Anya Taylor Joy, and Jim Gaffigan not even pushing the movie. Meghan Trainer gave the movie a shout-out and a retweet on Twitter to her 2.1M there. But the end result is akin to a tree falling in the woods with no one around. This film will be gone from theaters soon, given the holiday onslaught, with a projected final stateside of $1.5M.
On a down tentpole weekend such as this, specialty distributors typically look to appeal to sophisticated adult moviegoers. Focus Features expanded their Participant Todd Haynes legal drama Dark Waters from 94 to 2,012 theaters in weekend 3 and is seeing $4.1M, with a running total by EOD of $5.2M. That’s not a great result, given the 92% certified fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and A- CinemaScore (PostTrak is lower at 3 1/2 stars). I understand, given the pic’s solid limited start and reviews, that exhibs phoned up for prints; it’s not like Focus/Participant were looking to get greedy. The result is under Sony’s Denzel Washington legal pic disaster Roman J. Israel back in November 2017, which made slightly more money at fewer theaters: $4.4M at 1,669 and fizzled out with just over $13M stateside. Plus, Roman had worst reviews (53% Rotten) and exits (B CinemaScore). Dark Waters follows a corporate defense attorney (Mark Ruffalo) who takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company (hmm, sounds like Michael Clayton). Despite being from Haynes and Participant (which is known for his awards season pedigree), the pic didn’t have the juice and wasn’t launched at a major fall film festival, hence these results. PostTrak exits showed a 60% definite recommend, 51% males, 60% under 35, with the single largest quad being 25-34 years old at 37%. Diversity make-up was 61% Caucasian, 16% Hispanic, 9% African American, and 14% Asian/Other. Dark Waters played best on the coasts, especially in the West, but the numbers were mediocre. Focus can celebrate Harriet crossing $40M this weekend.
The big highlight on the specialty scene is NEON’s release of Cannes Film Festival-winning French pic Portrait of a Lady on Fire from Celine Sciamma. Pic, set in the 18th century on an isolated island, follows a female painter who is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman. They fall madly in love. NEON reports the pic with a $67,1K from two theaters, or a $33,6K average — reportedly one of the best opening averages for a French pic in the US in the last 20 years, behind Amelie and Coco Chanel. Pic won best screenplay and the Queer Palm at Cannes, best cinematography from NY Film Critics Circle, and was one of the top 5 foreign language pics from National Board of Review. Lady on Fire was No. 1 at the Angelika and No. 2 at the Hollywood Arclight behind Knives Out. This week reps the Oscar qualifying run for Portrait of a Lady. The film will return to theaters in early February. On the upside, NEON’s Palme d’Or winner Parasite stands at $19.3M!
Amazon’s reteam of Theory of Everything‘s Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts, a net $40M period meteorologist air balloon movie, is receiving a truncated theatrical-streaming release, with a drop on Prime on Dec. 20. Of the numbers we’ve gotten our hands on for this pic, 48 theaters are showing around $30K-$31K. Note the pic is booked at 186 locations, and some are four-walled (which is what Netflix does), so that’s not the 100% gross. Again, these figures don’t come from Amazon, as they aren’t reporting. But they’re industry estimates from what’s spotted on exhibs’ POV sales systems. Again, this theatrical run is like an advertisement for the pic’s upcoming debut on Prime. It’s not a traditional platform release like Jojo Rabbit, where money is pumped into ads weekly. Most of the ad spend, I understand, will hit this coming Friday to tee-up Prime. We heard a couple of weeks ago that Netflix’s $200M production The Irishman only made $5M from its theatrical (despite packing arthouses; of course, the viewership numbers reported yesterday were the bigger prize, with 17M in its first 5 days). Pic was originally expected to be a theatrical release with an early debut on some Imax theaters. But Amazon cut its losses here (largely, I would say, on the theatrical P&A side). Pic was ultimately 72% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Though alright critically, an adult pic like this has to be at high-pitch critical levels to survive the onslaught of awards season. Amazon tried to give some push to this pic with premieres at Telluride and TIFF back in September.
Sunday AM studio reported estimates:
1..Frozen 2 (Dis)/4,348 theaters (-92)/Fri $7.8M /Sat $16m/Sun $10.7M/, 3-day $34.7M (-60%)/Cume $337.6M/Wk 3
2…Knives Out (LG/MRC)/3,461 theaters/ Fri $4.1M/Sat $6.2M/ Sun $3.7M/3-day $14.1M (-47%)/Cume $63.4M/Wk 2
3..Ford v Ferrari (Fox/Dis)/3,746 theaters (+161)/ Fri $1.8M/Sat $2.9M/Sun $1.7M/3-day $6.537M (-50%)/Cume $91.1M/Wk 4
3..Queen & Slim (Uni/MakeReady/Bron)/1,715 theaters (+25)/ Fri $1.9M /Sat $2.8M/Sun $1.7M/, 3-day $6.53M (-45%)/Cume $26.8M/Wk 2
5..A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/TriStar)/3,491 theaters (+256)/Fri $1.55M/Sat $2.2M/Sun $1.4M/3-day $5.2M (-56%)/Cume $43.1M/Wk 3
6..Dark Waters (Foc)/2012 theaters (+1918)/ Fri $1.4M/Sat $1.6M/Sun $1.1M/, 3-day $4.1M (+560%)/Cume $5.2M/Wk 3
7..21 Bridges (STX) 2,465 theaters (-200)/Fri $810K/Sat $1.2M/Sun $840K/3 day $2.88M (-48%)/Cume $23.9M/Wk 3
8..Playing With Fire (Par/Wal) 2253 (-426)/Fri $460K /Sat $955K/ Sun $585K/3 day $2M (-53%)/Cume $42M/Wk 5
9..Midway (LG/Cent) 2100 (-277)/Fri $550K /Sat $869K/Sun $521K/3 day $1.94M (-51%)/Cume $53.4M/Wk 5
10..Joker (WB/VR/Bron) 956 theaters (-190) Fri $290K/Sat $455K/Sun $295K/3-day $1.04M (-47%)/Cume $332.1M/Wk 10
11..Last Christmas (Uni) 1260 theaters (-592) Fri $320K /Sat $430K/Sun $260K/3-day $1.01M (-50%)/Cume $33.4M/Wk 5
12..Harriet (Foc) 1000 (-84) Fri $250K/Sat $360K/Sun $200K/3-day $810K (-56%)/Cume $40.8M/Wk 6
13..Parasite (NEON) 333 theaters (-49)/Fri $180K/Sat $290k/Sun $230K/3-day $700K (-30%)/Cume $19.3M/Wk 9
14..Playmobil (STX) 2,337 theaters/Fri $170K/Sat $280k/Sun $210K/3-day $670K/Wk 1
Saturday AM estimates
- Frozen 2 (Dis)/4,348 theaters (-92)/Fri $7.8M (-77%), 3-day $34.6M (-60%)/Cume $337.5M/Wk 3
- Knives Out (LG/MRC)/3,461 theaters/ Fri $4.1M (-61%)/3-day $14M (-48%)/Cume $63.3M/Wk 2
- Queen & Slim (Uni/MakeReady/Bron)/1,715 theaters (+25)/ Fri $1.9M (-56%), 3-day $6.5M (-45%)/Cume $26.8M/Wk 2
- Ford v Ferrari (Fox/Dis)/3,746 theaters (+161)/ Fri $1.9M (-64%)/3-day $6.4M (-51%)/Cume $89.3M/Wk 4
- A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/TriStar)/3,491 theaters (+256)/Fri $1.6M (-69%)/3-day $5.2M (-56%)/Cume $43.1M/Wk 3
- Dark Waters (Foc)/2012 theaters (+1918)/ Fri $1.4M (+600%), 3-day $4M (+567%)/Cume $5.1M/Wk 3
- 21 Bridges (STX) 2,465 theaters (-200)/Fri $803K (-63%)/3 day $2.7M (-50%)/Cume $23.8M/Wk 3
- Playing With Fire (Par/Wal) 2253 (-426)/Fri $465K (-72%)/3 day $2.1M (-51%)/Cume $42M/Wk 5
- Midway (LG/Cent) 2100 (-277)/Fri $568K (-66%)/3 day $1.9M (-51%)/Cume $53.3M/Wk 5
- Last Christmas (Uni) 1260 (-592) Fri $304K (-60%)/3-day $1M (-49%)/Cume $33.4M/Wk 5