SUNDAY AM UPDATE: At a time when the box office looked to be making progress, especially with No. 2 chain Regal reopening more theaters, it was a downer of a weekend.
Lionsgate’s R-rated Spiral: From The Book of Saw, starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, came in with $8.7M, under the $10M-$15M many were hoping for. This despite the fact that it’s the 6th No. 1 opening for a Saw movie.
New Line/Bron/HBO Max Angelina Jolie western Those Who Wish Me Dead was not an event film like many of the titles in her resume, opening to $2.8M. Warners pushed this movie more for its streaming service as opposed to theaters, unlike its most recent opening weekend successes, Godzilla vs. Kong ($31.6M) and New Line’s Mortal Kombat ($23.3M).
Netflix’s Zack Snyder zombie movie Army of the Dead, which has a 7-day exclusive theatrical window, was no Demon Slayer, coming in below the $1.5M-$2M industry projection (based on presales), with an estimated $780K at what I’m being told now is really 430 theaters (not 600). Comscore reports a total weekend for all films of $27.5M.
Note many of the new films, such as Spiral and holdovers like United Artist Releasing/Miramax/MGM’s Wrath of Man ($3.7M in weekend 2, -55% for a $14.6M cume), aren’t four-quad titles. Rather, they are targeted demo features. If you remember going back to last August, before Tenet‘s intentions to restart the box office, there were a few targeted demo movies leading up to that film’s release, i.e. Solstice Studios’ Unhinged and Disney/20th’s New Mutants.
Those movies were expected to grease the wheels before a tentpole opening. True, that big B.O. debut never happened for Tenet because of New York and LA’s closure at the time. Anyway, what we have now is an appetizer smorgasbord heading into to summer’s kickoff Memorial day weekend of Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II and Cruella. Lionsgate had to go early with Spiral before A Quiet Place Part II soaks up all the genre action in the marketplace.
Netflix doesn’t report box office numbers, and shields them from rival studios in Comscore. By all unofficial records, Army of the Dead is the biggest theatrical opening for a Netflix movie. The streamer’s multi-Oscar winner Roma posted an estimated $200K over the 5-day 2018 Thanksgiving frame. But remember, the streamer’s m.o. isn’t about opening box office records. Rather, it’s driving subscribers to its service.
Even though Army of the Dead is boasting a per-theater average of $1,8K, I’m told that’s really not that impressive. How’s that? Drilling down on the numbers, I hear only 35 theaters made over $3K+. Compare this to Spiral, which saw 800 theaters making more than $3K+.
A majority of Army of the Dead‘s theater count comes from No. 3 exhibitor Cinemark, which made a deal with Netflix to play its movies during the pandemic. Cinemark Boss Mark Zoradi was over the moon about his deal with the streamer, as expressed at a recent MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit.
Big exhibition has surely changed its tune when it comes to playing movies with severely truncated theatrical windows. It only speaks to how desperate they must be right now. Many tell me that the reason why Cinemark is so giddy is because they’re receiving either generous rental terms or four-wall bookings from Netflix.
Army of the Dead was received by critics with a warm 74% positive and a great 83% positive from Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak audiences. That’s great, but it makes one wonder if an opportunity was missed here by not giving this film a significantly longer theatrical window. Netflix craves feature franchises, and before Army of the Dead even hit the service, they already greenlit a number of spinoffs associated with the IP. Franchises are created by creating premium experiences theatrically.
When you make a movie available in the home and theaters simultaneously, or on an extreme shortened window, there’s less premium to the movie. Netflix should ponder the following: What would happen if the streamer truly turned Army of the Dead into a big theatrical event and then dropped it on the service 30-45 days later. Would they see a bigger spike in subscribers from those who lost on seeing Army of the Dead the first time around? Couple that momentum with a few big theatrical event movies. Netflix, think about it.
Warner Bros. knows the meat is in a theatrical window. Why else then would they commit to one for their 2022 slate? However, at the same time, they’re attracted by what Netflix has done with their Oscar-bait movies. It’s a much more efficient, lower marketing cost means of distribution, especially when it comes to risky older adult-demo fare which could fail at the box office and spoil its awards season chances.
It wouldn’t be shocking if more adult-demo titles like Taylor Sheridan’s Those Who Wish Me Dead pull off some sort of truncated theatrical/HBO Max play in the future. Remember, all those adult films that failed for Warners at the B.O. during the fall of 2019 (i.e. The Goldfinch, The Good Liar, Motherless Brooklyn) when Joker was excelling? If the studio had to do it all over again, odds are those would be HBO Max movies, to respond to older adult consumer tastes.
Previous Sheridan movies have had big film festival launches, which, in turn, spelled riches for arthouse, including those he directed, i.e. Wind River (world premiere at Sundance, final domestic B.O. $33.8M) and those he scripted, i.e. Sicario ($46.9M) and Hell or High Water ($27M, both titles launched at Cannes). I have to think that if Those Who Wish Me Dead had the opportunity to be an arthouse event, New Line would have saved this title for Cannes.
But given the diagnostics here on the movie of a B CinemaScore, 62% fresh Rotten Tomatoes critics rating and dismal PostTrak exits of 72% positive and a 44% recommend, the studio likely believed it was better to release this title on the streaming service. A near-even split here between males and females, with 81% over 25 and 51% over 35 on PostTrak. Diversity demos were 46% Caucasian, 26% Hispanic, 13% Black and 15% Asian/other. Cinemascore reports that 16% of the audience under 25 gave Those Who Wish Me Dead an A-.
Those Who Wish Me Dead‘s top 10 theaters were 1. Vali Hi Drive-In Minneapolis, 2. Cinemark Albuquerque Rio, 3. Preferred Georgetown Drive-In (Indiana), 4. AMC Burbank, 5. West-Wind Sacramento Drive-In, 6. Ford Drive-In Detroit, 7. Santikos Casa Blanca San Antonio, 8. Stars & Stripes Drive-In Austin, 9. Tibbs Drive-In Indianapolis, and 10. AMC Century City Los Angeles.
Spiral‘s underperformance can be attributed to many factors, i.e. everything is finally reopening, especially here in California, as the pandemic clicks down and the CDC lifts its mask policy for those who are vaccinated. People are distracted with proms and school year-end activities. It’s not that moviegoing is facing stiff competition as we ramp back up. But people are only going to make time for those titles they feel they can’t miss out on.
Compounding the above is the fact that the domestic exhibition infrastructure isn’t fully ablaze, with only 66% of all US/Canada 5,88K movie theaters open, with provinces in the Great White North like Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba still under lockdown. Canada, which typically accounts for 7% to 10% of the weekend box office, is only drawing 2% this weekend.
Factor into this that Spiral is not a four-quad movie, and is a complete reimagination of the Saw films as we know it. The response to that? B- CinemaScore, 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, and very low Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak audience reactions of 63% in the top two boxes, with a 43% recommend. Spiral drew 56% guys, 58% over 25 but with only 25% over 35 years old. Diversity demos were 35% Caucasian, 28% Black, 26% Hispanic, & 11% Asian/Other. Spiral played best on the East Coast. Three-hundred and thirty nine Imax auditoriums drove $1M of Spiral‘s business for an 11% share of its weekend.
Many overestimated Spiral heading into the weekend, given some of the metrics they were seeing on social, i.e. the pic’s social media universe, per RelishMix, was big at 124.1M, well-above the horror genre norm off nine-Lionsgate owned videos on YouTube, with 21.5M views and 35 videos on Facebook measuring 13.57 views.
A big component of the pic’s marketing was 21 Savage, who posted on his Vevo YouTube channel to 7.5M subscribers, a combination of an audio track with 452K views, a teaser video from Tuesday of opening week, and a full ‘Official Music Video’ with 2.48M views. 21 Savage also posted the final teaser to Spiral to his 21.4M followers across social media, with his Instagram clocking 664K views for the trailer.
Fourth place belongs to Funimation/Aniplex’s Demon Slayer which is booked at 1,930 theaters (-170) in weekend 4 making $513K (-41%), $796K on Saturday for a weekend of $1.77M (-36%) for running total of $41.9M.
Fifth place goes to Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon which in weekend 11 posted $395K on Friday, -6% from a week ago, $760K on Saturday (+92%) and a weekend of $1.718M, -11% for a running total of $46.1M.
Notable titles that had limited openings include Roadside Attractions’ YA movie Finding You, which grossed at 1,314 theaters a 3-day of $954K. The Brian Baugh directed and written title follows Finley, a talented aspiring violinist, who meets Beckett, a famous young movie star, on the way to her college semester abroad program in a small coastal village in Ireland. An unexpected romance emerges, as the heartthrob Beckett leads the uptight Finley on an adventurous reawakening, and she emboldens him to take charge of his future, until the pressures of his stardom get in the way.
RT critics score was at 69% fresh, with meh audience reaction of 71% positive and 46% recommend on PostTrak. Females were the most active ticket buyers here at 62%, with 81% over 25 and 53% over 35 years old for this PG movie.
Diversity demos were 70% Caucasian, 14% Hispanic, 6% Black, & 10% Asian/Other. The most amount of play here came from the Mid-West and South. A $693 per-theater gross here.
Focus Features’ pick-up of Timur Bekmambetov’s thriller Profile grossed $260K at 2,033 theaters on both Friday and Saturday for a weekend of $670K, for a $330 per-theater average. Profile follows an undercover British journalist who infiltrates the online propaganda channels of the so-called Islamic State, only to be sucked in by her recruiter. The pic earned a B CinemaScore, with lower PostTrak exits at 65% positive and a 37% recommend. Critics weren’t wowed at 59% Rotten. Audience make-up was guys at 54%, 79% over 25 with 40% over 35 years old. Diversity mix was 53% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic, 17% Black, & 9% Asian/Other. Most prominent markets were West and Southwest.
Weekend B.O. for May 14-16, 2021
1.) Spiral (LG) 2,811 theaters Fri $3.7M/Sat $3M/Sun $1.9M/3-day $8.7M/ Wk 1
2.) Wrath of Man (UAR) 3,007 theaters (+132)/Fri $1.05M/Sat $1.6M/Sun $1.1M/3-day $3.7M (-55%)/Total: $14.6M Wk 2
3.) Those Who Wish Me Dead (WB) 3,188 theaters/3-day $2.8M/ Wk 1
4.) Demon Slayer (Fun/Ani) 1,930 theaters (-170)/Fri $513K/Sat $796K/Sun $461K/3-day $1.77M (-36%)/Total: $41.9M/ Wk 4
5.) Raya and the Last Dragon (Dis) 2,285 theaters (-30), Fri $395K/Sat $760K/Sun $563k/ 3-day: $1.718M (-11%), Total: $46.1M/Wk 11
6.) Godzilla vs. Kong (WB/Leg) 2,484 theaters (-221),/3-day: $1.46M (-27%)/Total: $95M/Wk 7
7.) Mortal Kombat (New Line/WB), 2,465 locations (-508) / 3-day $1.32M (-45%)/Total: $39.9M/Wk 4
8.) Finding You (RSA) 1,312 theaters (-125) Fri $327,5K/Sat $368,6K/Sun $258K/3-day: $954K/Wk 1
9.) Army of the Dead (Netflix) 430 theaters /Fri $265K/Sat $323K/Sun $192K/$780K/Wk 1
10.) Profile (Foc) 2,033 theaters, Fri $260K/Sat $260K/Sun $150K /3-day: $670K /Wk 1
Here Today (Sony) 1,200 theaters, Fri $157K/Sat $228K/Sun $145K/3-day $530K (-41%)/Total: $1.9M/ Wk 2
Top Gun (Par, re) 153 theaters, Fri $61K/Sat $85K/Sun $53K/3-day $200K/Re-issue cume: $248K/Lifetime total $180M/Wk 1 of re-issue