SATURDAY AMUPDATE: The guts of the summer box office have been reached, with Sony’s new C CinemaScore horror film The invitation lead with $6M-$7M in 3,114 theaters. Like the late Andy Rooney, I get a lot of mail from sources. But in this case it’s about why it’s important to be careful when beating the box office: we’re still in the pandemic, we’re not back yet, it’s not good for our business to be mean, blah blah .
However, simply putting random movies in the cinema without major P&A spend is not good for the box office or the exhibitors. This weekend will be the lowest-earning weekend of the summer yet, with an estimated $54 million for all titles (some even lower). If it makes anyone feel better, it’s not the worst weekend of the year. That’s from January 28-30, when all titles made $34.9 million, per Box Office Mojo.
On some level, I get it: It’s the end of August. A majority of kids are going back to school (Comscore says 32% were out of K-12 yesterday, with 38% lectures on break), and Sony has traditionally had a horror movie during this latter part of the summer. don’t breathe was a huge hit for them in late August 2016, opening for $26.4 million and ending at $89.2 million.
But let’s face it, the more you spend, the more you gross. Admittedly, the diagnostics here on this period vampire thriller with a critical rating of 29% on Rotten Tomatoes and an audience rating of 53% doesn’t justify a studio spending a lot of money to open it. But we’ve seen Sony do better with less: their August 2018 movie Slender man, which had a D-, 8% critic score and 17% audience on RT, opened for $11.3 million and had multiples of 2.7 million for a domestic endgame of $30.6 million.
Chat on social media on The invitation wasn’t terrible at mixed positive, according to RelishMix, with “fans coming and shouting Vanilla Sky, ready or not, twilight, Meghan Markle and Jordan Peele also movies. Chatter wonders how these ingredients look good for a wild date-night vampire getaway.”
Let’s move away from the pandemic excuse that people don’t want to go back; it’s just about the product. Disney proved that last year by opening a Marvel movie over Labor Day weekend with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to record vacation results of $94.6 million. Great movies will draw people in at any time of the year.
Yes, theaters need that, that’s product. But let’s put some umpf after it if we’re serious about the theater window and longevity of this part of the business. What’s sad when exhibitors’ Covid bailout money runs out is that they’re desperate for something, and are powerless when it comes to a major studio dictating that the summer’s first major franchise title, Halloween ends, goes theatrically day-and-date. Let’s not be idiots, that maneuver will have major consequences. Enough of this broadest crowd craze between streaming and theatrical. Peacock is hungry for paid subscriptions.
It’s not rated like the PG-13 The invitation is an old-fashioned movie: it’s aimed at the 18-34 people who now go to movies, that demo represented 57% of picture ticket buyers to date. Like the average PG-13 horror title, The invitation skewed more feminine at 57%. Those under 35 represented 70% of the diversity demos crowd with 44% White, 23% Hispanic and Hispanic, 18% Black, and 15% Asian/Other. The Jessica M. Thompson-directed film was most accepted on the coasts and in the South. Seven of the top ten runs were in LA, which tended towards Latino and Hispanic moviegoers.
And not to bully Sony, but lately, yes, you, Lionsgate, are guilty of short-circuiting P&A on YA film fall, which opened for $2.5 million and stands at $5.9 million, and with diagnostics from 74% reviewers on RT and 78% audience rating, along with B CinemaScore. With such results, there seems to be money on the table there. That photo could have been more useful. In short, let’s stop with the cute economic slide rule games at the box office, and how to take advantage of less BS, and really commit to theatrical. Can we do that, studios? Of course, if it’s a bad movie, send it to the home market, just like they used to do with movies like The Last Temptation II. Shipping horrible movies to the home market isn’t some brand new business model.
Given the lack of product this weekend, MGM/UAR went significantly further than expected at the premiere of George Miller’s film festival in Cannes 3000 years of desire, which, apart from a 67% Rotten Tomatoes and B CinemaScore, opens for $2.9 million in 2,436 theaters. Guys actually showed up to this Idris Elba-Tilda Swinton genius romance, with 51% between the ages of 17-34 and 48% over the age of 35. Diversity demos were 55% white, 16% Latino and Hispanic, 13% black, and 16% Asian/ otherwise . Pic’s ticket sales come from the major coastal cities, with AMC and Alamo holding the top ten.
But hey, Amazon, why don’t we go wide on a Sylvester Stallone movie? When are you guys going to grow up, realize you bought MGM and start releasing wide theatrical titles and box office reporting? I mean, like the kind of tent poles!? Cherish and behold the theater studio you bought, don’t waste it!
Why the hell is the movie focused directly on service? The last Stallone movie Rambo: Last Blood opened for $18.8 million. That’s a diamond mine by pandemic box office standards. I agree with Warner Bros Discovery Boss David Zaslav on this one: why do you shed the patina (and future enhancements) of a theatrical film by sending it straight home? Has it occurred to you that perhaps more toilet paper could be sold from a title with a theatrical window than just dropping on the service? I mean, you have a billion dollar cost of… Lord of the Rings: The Power of the Rings series next weekend (only the rights were picked up by the streamer for $250 million). That alone should trigger an early Christmas season for the marketplace site. On Rotten Tomatoes, the audience loves Samaritan at 82%.
RelishMix noticed the online convo for the movie, and believes Samaritan could have been a contender at the box office, with fans expressing “absolute admiration for Stallone, all he represents in the film industry and the heroic characters he plays,” to those “also intrigued that this aging superhero project isn’t a Marvel — or DC production and that in itself has interested fans in a unique way.”
The goal is to get people to leave their homes, not stay at home.
Top ten movies for the weekend:
1.) The invitation (Sony) 3,114 locations, Friday $2.6M3 days $6M-$7M/Wk 1
2.) bullet train (Sony) 3,513 (-268) theaters, Friday $1.54 million (-31%), 3 days $5.5M (-31%)/Total $78.1 million/Wk 4
3.) Top Gun: Maverick (Par) 2,962 (-7) theaters, Friday $1.35 million (-13%), 3 days $4.9 million (-17%), Total $691.3M/Wk 14
They need to bring this to $700 million. Come on!
4.) Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (Cru) 2,941 theaters (-77), Friday $1.3 million (-88%) 3 days $4.83 million (-77%)/Total $31M/ week 2
5.) Beast (Uni) 3,754 (+11) theaters, Friday $1.3 million (-70%) 3 days $4.3M (-63%)/Total: $19.5M/Wk 2
5.) DC League of Super Pets (WB) 3,284 (-253) theaters, Friday $1,065 million (-25%), 3 days $4.3M (-24%)/Total $74.1 million week 5
7. ) 3000 years of desire (UAR) 2,436 theaters, Friday $1.16 million3 days $2.9 million/Wk 1
8.) Minions: Rise of Gru (Uni) 2,494 theaters (-160), Fri $670K (-29%), 3 days $2.73M (-27%), Total: $354.77M/week 9
9.) Thor: Love and Thunder (Disney) 2,450 (-305) theaters, Fri. $694K (-35%), 3 days $2.65M (-35%)/Total $336.5M/week 8
10.) no (Uni) 1,909 (-472) theaters, Fri $630K (-40%), 3 days $2.19M (-39%), Total $117.6 million/Wk 6
11.) Where the crayfish sing (Sony) 2,216 cinemas (-392), Friday $650K (-28%), 3 days $2.15M (-31%)/Total $81.7 million/Wk 7