A BTS concert in Seoul this weekend will hit a milestone, with tickets for Saturday’s theatrical event in the U.S. priced at what might be a record $35 and the show poised to become the highest-grossing worldwide event-cinema release ever.
Trafalgar Releasing will present two Saturday screenings of BTS Permission to Dance on Stage: Seoul on some 700 screens in the U.S. and Canada and 3,000 screens worldwide. Shows to some territories including North America will be tape-delayed given the time difference. (If it were live to the U.S., it would screen at 3:45 a.m. ET.) The ticket price is premium for theaters but dwarfed by the outlay required for in-person concert tickets, if you can get them. It’s why exhibitors really like this growing space.
“I am very encouraged there is a live concert. It’s selling very, very well, and we are adding screens where we can,” said Sonny Gourley, VP Film at Marcus Theatres. “I know it’s BTS, but maybe we have got something here [for] someone who does not want to pay hundreds of dollars. I wish I could tell you that the next Billy Joel and Foo Fighters [concerts] are in our theaters.”
“We go to where the live technology is installed and to the best venues and the best markets,” said Trafalgar CEO Marc Allenby. The distributor has worked with the massively popular K-pop group on previous films, “so we have a good understanding of where their fan base is.” It said BTS’ 2019 Burn the Stage, with theatrical grosses of roughly $18.5M, holds the worldwide record for event cinema, defined as an engagement of less than one week.
A Cinemark rep said the chain’s been seeing “great enthusiasm” on social and through ticket sales for this stop on the latest world tour series headlined by the pop icons.
Meanwhile, the Telugu-Hindi film Radhe Shyam opens on at least 750 screens, a much wider-than-average release for an Indian film and in fact the widest release of the weekend. It’s also welcome — as The Batman soldiers on amid zero new wide releases and a sprinkling of indie films. “It’s been rocky,” Gourley said.
The period romantic drama is written and directed by Radha Krishna Kumar and stars Prabhas and Pooja Hegde.
The large Indian film business produces movies in dozens of languages and has been a stalwart of the North America box office, with as many as two or three films arriving day-and-date with India each weekend now that Covid has waned. They play big circuits (the only foreign films not shown in arthouses) often in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil versions.
AMC’s Nikkole Denson-Randolph, SVP Content Strategy & Inclusive Programming, said the largest U.S. chain has been focused on the space for at least a decade, starting small and expanding to more than 100 theaters nationally working with about 30 distributors. It also plays films in Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Bengali or Gujarati, depending on the market.
Sooryavanishi, ’83 and Antim – The Final Truth have been the best recent performers, with Gangubai Kathiawadi opening at No. 11 at the box office two weeks ago and holding well last weekend.
Radhe Shyam, presented by Great India Films, happened to be a highly anticipated pic. RRR, opening March 25, is expected to be one of the biggest in some time.
“It’s a segment that we emphasize,” said Marcus Theatres’ Gorley, particularly Telugu –for which he said St. Louis is the circuit’s biggest market.
Indian audiences typically don’t lean on traditional film marketing but word of mouth from family overseas coupled with community grassroots marketing often driven by favorite stars and directors. They tend to be front-loaded and are booked for weeks at a time.
Justin McDaniel, Cinemark’s SVP Global Content Strategy, touts Indian cinema’s “steady and avidly loyal fan base” and said the circuit has found success in various U.S. markets for “Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood, Pollywood and Mollywood movies” – referring, respectively, to regional Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Pashto and Malayalam productions. “We look forward to building on our program’s performance and delivering more of these diverse films… including the upcoming release of the highly anticipated RRR.”
Below is the Radhe Shyam trailer. There’s no version available with English subtitles, though the films in theaters all have them.
Elsewhere in specialty:
Netflix presents The Adam Project at 25 Cinemark theaters and streaming. The family sci-fi adventure directed by Stranger Things and Free Guy‘s Shawn Levy opened at the Bay Theater last Friday and held a one-night preview event at 220 Cinemark locations on Wednesday. That included a live Q&A with star Ryan Reynolds. He plays a time-traveling pilot who teams up with his younger self (Walker Scobell) and his late father to come to terms with his past while saving the future. Also starring Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Zoe Saldana and Catherine Keener. Deadline review here.
(Netflix also noted that The Power of the Dog moved to 75 theaters in 40+ cities with Oscar showcases at several circuits, and said this brings the “cumulative” number of screens the film has run on since release, but not at the same time, to nearly 2,000.)
Screen Media presents mystery thriller Gold from Anthony Hayes on about 160 screens. Written by Hayes and Polly Smith. Staring Zac Efron with Susie Porter and Hayes. In the not-too-distant future, two drifters traveling through the desert stumble across the biggest gold nugget ever found and dream of immense wealth. One leaves to secure the tools to dig it out. The other keeps watch, enduring a harsh climate, wild dogs and mysterious intruders while battling a sinking suspicion.
SuperLTD presents comedy-horror All My Friends Hate Me on 27 screens. Directed by Andrew Gaynord. Written by Tom Palmer and Tom Stourton. The college-reunion-goes-awry pic that premiered at Tribeca has a 92% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Stournton stars as Pete, whose old gang from college is throwing him a birthday party out in the countryside. He grows increasingly unnerved by his friends’ inside jokes and snarky comments as the atmosphere goes from awkward to terrifying.
Magnolia Pictures presents sci-fi drama Ultrasound by Rob Schroeder in five theaters (LA, Chicago, Seattle, Tulsa, Birmingham). Based on cartoonist Conor Stechschulte’s graphic novel, Generous Bosom. Stechschulte wrote the screenplay. Glen (Vincent Kartheiser) has car trouble driving home late in a rainstorm. He seeks help at the home of an oddly friendly middle-aged man, Arthur (Bob Stephenson), and his younger wife, Cyndi (Chelsea Lopez). The couple pours him a drink, and then more drinks, followed by an unexpected offer that Glen can’t refuse. It’s an 81% with critics on RT.
And Blue Fox Entertainment Presents documentary I Am Here by Jordy Sank, a profile of 98-year-old South African holocaust survivor Ella Blumenthal as she reveals to her family her astonishing life journey and her unwavering appreciation of life. In 82 theaters.