Sunday AM Update: Here’s something we didn’t see in Canada last weekend with Unhinged which says a lot about the overall domestic marketplace right now: Business went up between Friday and Saturday by 10%, moving from $1.4M to $1.56M. Overall 3-day for the Derrick Borte movie is now estimated at $4M at 1,823 theaters, and the running total including last week’s Canadian run is $5M. Last weekend, Unhinged saw a 8% decline in Canada between Friday and Saturday.
That uptick this weekend essentially indicates that word of mouth is working for the film, and that there’s an interest by audiences to get back to the cinema, especially on a Saturday night, which is typically a peak day for moviegoing. Even when the majority of hard-top theaters were closed, and drive-ins leading the business during the pandemic, we did still see a boost on Saturday over Friday in moviegoing even with catalog titles largely in play. It’s just a small ray of sunshine that moviegoing habits aren’t completely broken.
Those making hasty generalizations about the weekend box office, quickly assuming that these numbers aren’t dazzling, need to take into account that only 12 of the top 28 DMA markets are open with hard-top theaters in NY, CA, NJ, Maryland, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, and Arizona closed. We’re not apt to see pre-pandemic numbers until the lights are fully back on, coast to coast and with a major franchise tentpole on the marquee.
While other notable star-studded genre titles like IFC’s The Rental and RLJE Films’ Tax Collector debuted in both theaters and PVOD, why didn’t Unhinged?
“That’s not how we set ourselves up to be as a studio, releasing movies to both theaters and PVOD. Also, somebody has to support movie theaters and the 150K jobs they represent. We can help. We also have theatrical distribution and exhibition partners around the world that are part of the deal, and its required that we release our movies theatrically wide here,” says Solstice Studios President and CEO Mark Gill.
Here’s what’s interesting: The top five locations for Unhinged were drive-in theaters despite big chains AMC, Regal and Cinemark reopening. That’s because those drive-ins were in big metropolitan areas where the hard-tops are still closed. Unhinged‘s top venues were the Paramount Drive-in in LA, Solano Twin Drive in Concord,CA; the Sacramento Drive-in, the Ford Wyoming Drive-in in Dearborn, MI; and the Capital 6 drive-in in San Jose, CA. After that top five, we get largely into the top-grossing hard tops which were Santikos Casa Blanca, the Warren 14 in Oklahoma City, Cinemark Pharr Town Center in Pharr, TX, the Tibbs Drive-in in Indianapolis as No. 9 and then the AMC Dine-In at Disney Springs 24 in Orlando, Fl.
Top markets for Unhinged included Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, Las Vegas, Denver, Cleveland, Toronto and Austin.
As more theaters reopen next weekend, Unhinged will move its location count to 2,300.
“What’s heartening is that more theaters are calling for the movie. The want the movie now. They see that we gotta climb up the stairs. We climbed up the first flight, and we’re encouraged,” says Gill who is looking forward to an $8M take on the Russell Crowe road rage movie by Thursday.
Most multiplex’s screens will be split between Unhinged and Disney/20th Century Studios’ long-delayed New Mutants next weekend. There will also be some Inception prints, but Warner Bros. still isn’t reporting numbers on the 10th anniversary re-release of that Christopher Nolan movie.
Crowe, of course, has been a fantastic supporter of Unhinged. Whenever the studio has asked him for any support in the marketing, the Oscar winner over-delivers, which was the case with two of his viral social media videos. One of them “Russell Reads Reddit r/AmItheAsshole” drew 1.4M hits in its first 24 hours and was re-tweeted by Edgar Wright.
Entertainment social media analyst RelishMix reports before this weekend that Unhinged‘s social media universe across YouTube views, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram was at 23.1M with a reposting video viral rate of 15:1. The average wide release studio thriller pre-pandemic would average a social media universe of 78.6M, and a reposting rate of 24:1 (granted, an apples to oranges comparison given how many distributors aren’t providing box office comps to their feature openings since our exhibition infrastructure isn’t completely back on line).
Among the positive chatter that RelishMix spotted on social media for Unhinged: “Fans who are amused by the rage and tone of the plot are onboard and calling out how ‘Every single Karen, those people who seek to turn each and every social interaction into a passive aggressive power struggle, deserve this.’ Discussions which are sarcastically playing off of Crowe’s strong performance are one of the films most driving convo points by far, ‘LOL so he’s coming after her and her kid and murdering people cause she aggressively honked at him in traffic and won’t apologize? This may be the greatest movie ever made.'”
Paramount’s Canadian release of SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run earned $550K at 326 locations (+26 sites) in the No. 2 spot, -36% from last weekend’s $865K opening, for a running total of $2.06M. The movie hits U.S. PVOD early next year, followed by a CBS All Access launch.
LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions’ teenage romance movie Words on Bathroom Walls also saw a 19% gain between Friday and Saturday, for a reported 3-day of $462,050 at 925 theaters for what is a No. 3 ranking. Friday clocked $147,3K, Saturday was $174,8K, and Sunday $139,8K. The Thor Freudenthal directed movie was 82% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and earned an A CinemaScore.
Roadside confirms that the movie drew 54% females with 62% between 18-34 with an 81% overall positive rating on PostTrak. Anecdotally, teenage girls on Twitter are saying that they’re trying to get their parents to allow them to go to see Words on Bathroom Walls. The pic’s best area of play was the Southwest with top markets being Dallas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Minnesota, Houston, Atlanta, and Orlando.
Well Go USA’s Cut Throat City earned $265K at 407 locations, while Peninsulaopened to $225K at 156 sites.
The Tax Collector grossed an estimated $121,8K in its third weekend on 121 screens, for a per-screen average of $1,007 and a new cume of $813,3K.
IFC’s The Rental in weekend 5 drew $108K at 105 sites for a new running total of $1.5M. IFC also had the period drama Tesla starring Ethan Hawke, which made its world premiere at Sundance, debuting to $42K at 108 sites.
STX/Miramax’s re-release of The Gentleman in weekend 31 clocked $100K at 33 sites for a running total of $36.4M.
Saturday AM update: Solstice Studios braved the continuing pandemic and assisted the major exhibition circuits to reopen this weekend in the US with their Russell Crowe road rage action movie Unhinged.
It raised a $1.4M Friday, including some Thursday previews at 1,823 theaters. The projected weekend is expected to be $4.2M, and the movie has already clocked $1M from its first week in Canada. By the end of this weekend, the running cume for the Derrick Borte action thriller will stand at $5.2M, and Solstice is seeing a complete running total by this coming Thursday at $8M. Unhinged‘s expected 3-day of $4.2M is the biggest weekend for the film out of any territory where it has opened to date.
Solstice Studios boss Mark Gill told Deadline this morning, that he’s relieved: “Nobody had any certainty that people would go back to the movies at all, and the results we’re seeing here aren’t dissimilar to what we’ve seen in Europe, Canada, in Australia. It’s slow and steady.”
“Based on this performance and multiples we have seen in the international release of the film, we are confident that we will hit our goal of $30 million box office at a minimum by the end of the movie’s theatrical run in North America,” said Shari Hardison, head of distribution for Solstice Studios, the picture’s producer and distributor. “We have a lot of stairs to climb, but the first steps are encouraging.”
There are no comps for Unhinged. The best rule to measure its success by are the foreign territories, where it has opened where it has shown to leg-out. Before this weekend, the movie had clocked close to $9M abroad from such offshore markets as Australia, Russia, Germany, UK, etc.
While Cineplex Odeon has their full circuit up and operating this weekend in Canada, the following states’ hard-top cinemas remain closed in the US: New York, California, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina and Arizona. AMC has about 20% of its 661-multiplex count in the US open right now. Regal has 37% of its 539 cinemas reopened, with Cinemark counting 70% of its 525 locations having lights on. The mainstream press has created this do-or-die mentality about this weekend’s box office, that if results aren’t back up to their usual pre-pandemic norms, that exhibition is just done, and we should embrace a life of streaming. That’s absolute hogwash. We’re dealing with a marketplace that isn’t operating at its full potential, with auditoriums at capped capacities, and many major markets closed. NY and LA alone account for 8-10% of a pic’s weekend. The
vibrancy of box office numbers in regard to what they were will take some time, and that will depend on who’s open and the type of mega tentpole IP in the marketplace. It may not necessarily be out of the gate with Warner Bros. Tenet, which is expected to be a slow burn. But perhaps the great weekend box office comeback occurs during the latter part of the fall with Wonder Woman 1984, No Time to Die, Soul, etc. If you have any doubts about exhibition’s life, just take a look over at China, which, after being closed by COVID-19 since January, came alive this weekend with local hit The Eight Hundred, which is up to $82M in its first few days plus previews, set to hit $100M by end of Sunday. Solstice should be commended here for being the first wide release to get movie theaters reopened, and believe me, there are small exhibitors who are grateful. Any time they here that a movie is going to PVOD, even an arthouse-like film like Judd Apatow’s King of Staten Island, their hearts truly break. And that’s not a hasty generalization.
Top markets for Unhinged included Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and Orlando. These are the markets that are usually washed out by New York and California theaters with big box theaters, with big lobbies that make people feel safe enough to attend, with enough air and space to breath. The audience draw was 56% male/44% female, with 71% of the audience over 25. Diversity breakdown was 70% Caucasian, 16% African American and 9% Hispanic. The latter demo, typically a solid moviegoing crowd, is posting a low turnout, as such states as California and New York are closed (though drive-ins are still open).
Exit polls weren’t available at the time of this report for Unhinged. But Solstice is hopeful about the pic’s near 80% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Unhinged, though, has a 49% Rotten grade with critics.
Also opening this weekend with results to be reported tomorrow: Roadside Attractions’ teenage romance drama Words on Bathroom Walls at 931 theaters in the U.S. There’s also Well Go USA’s stateside opening of South Korean hit Peninsula at 165 locations, and Cut Throat City at 400 sites. IFC has Tesla in 108 venues.