Weekend Report: ‘Star Trek’ Takes Off, ‘Lights Out’ Shatters Expectations

lights-out-official-stills-017-1280x720

It was a very busy weekend at the box office, and moviegoers decided to spread the wealth, with five different films all making over $20 million this weekend. Among the newcomers, Star Trek Beyond took in a solid if unspectacular $59 million, but the real story was newcomer horror film Lights Out, which was able to make more than fellow newcomer Ice Age: Collision Course, which flopped in fifth place with just $20 million.

Star Trek Beyond is the third film in the rebooted Star Trek franchise, and took in an estimated $59.6 million in its opening weekend. Among its predecessors, Star Trek Into Darkness opened about $10 million higher, but it also opened on Thursday instead of Friday. Overall, this wasn’t a great start, but it was enough to avoid being labeled a disappointment. With a steady stream of competition in the next few weeks, look for Star Trek to finish with around $160 million.

In second, The Secret Life of Pets continued to do well, bringing in an additional $29 million. Despite being in its third week of release, that’s $9 million higher than Ice Age did in its opening weekend.

Third and fourth place were too close to tell; literally. Both Ghostbusters and Lights Out were estimated to take in the exact same amount, $21.6 million. This is extremely unusual, but my guess is that Lights Out edges out Ghostbusters by just a hair.

Regardless of which place it came in, Lights Out still did phenomenally well in its opening weekend. Carrying a production budget of just $4.9 million, the film pulled in a whopping $21.6 million, a fantastic start for a PG-13 horror film with no brand recognition or recognizable stars attached. This great start can be attributed to the films fantastic marketing, which did a great job of making the simple yet effective premise known in the first 30 seconds, in which a woman walking around an eerie textile factory sees some sort of figure that can only appear in the dark. Often times the most successful horror films are ones with some sort of simple, easily marketable premise. That isn’t everything, however; the film genuinely looked scary, and an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes likely convinced any skeptics to check it out. Director David Sandberg has already been picked up to helm Annabelle 2, set for release next may.

Continuing in the trend of disappointing sequels, Ice Age: Collision Course bombed with just $20 million all the way down in fifth place. Considering the $105 million production budget and recognizable franchise, this is a terrible start. Even with competition from Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets, there’s really no reason as to why any animated film from a major studio should open with less than $30 million. Even The Angry Birds Movie managed to pull in nearly double this, despite being based on a phone game that peaked in popularity years ago. This could wind up being another Warcraft, grossing over $400 million worldwide with only around 10% of which coming from the domestic market.

Several new noteworthy releases came out in the specialty market, including the British comedy Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, which took in a solid $1.88 million from 313 theaters. Indian film Kabali grossed $4 million from 236 theaters since its excellent start on Wednesday. The only problem is that it was absurdly front loaded, making nearly half of that just from Wednesday alone, when it opened in third place. Hillary’s America expanded into nationwide release, making a solid $3.7 million from over 1,200 theaters. That’s a solid start for a documentary, and was likely aided by the Wikileaks release of over 20,000 DNC emails. That’s just lucky timing, but it will still probably gross over $10 million by the end of its run. Don’t Think Twice opened exclusively in one theater, and pulled in a phenomenal $90K. Given that the film is about a sketch comedy show, and New York is obviously the filming location of Saturday Night Live, the connection makes sense.

Among various holdovers, The Purge: Election Year became the highest grossing film in the series domestically, with an excellent $76 million and counting. Independence Day: Resurgence finally topped $100 million, but that’s really nothing to celebrate given that the first film did that in a matter of about 4 days when adjusted for inflation.

Advertisements

Weekend Report: ‘Ghostbusters’ Fizzles Out, ‘Pets’ Repeats in First

Melissa McCarthy;Kristen Wiig;Kate McKinnon;Leslie Jones

It wasn’t a great start, but thanks to a built in fanbase and plenty of media attention, Ghostbusters avoided being labeled a bomb with a $46 million opening weekend. That wasn’t enough to take first place, however, which instead went to The Secret Life of Pets, which took in $50 million over its second weekend. Meanwhile, Cafe Society got off to a fantastic start in limited release, while The Infiltrator flopped.

Ghostbusters had predictions all over the board in the weeks leading up to its release, with many claiming the film would be dead on arrival with a weekend of under $30 million, while others said that it would pull in over $70 million. Turns out neither of those were right, but the film still wound up on the lower end of those expectations. The controversy and nostalgia likely pushed it to a much higher opening then it would have otherwise, meaning that a potential sequel would have a difficult time recreating this number. A similar result happened with this summer’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, which made less than half of its predecessor despite better reviews and a slew of fan favorite characters. While it certainly wasn’t a flop, this will probably result in a drastically scaled back or even cancelled “cinematic universe”.

Director Paul Feig stated in an interview recently that the film would need to take in around $500 million worldwide just to break even, but there is the idea that Sony may be willing to take a small loss on this film if it means they can have a reliable franchise and kickstart their other plans, such as a male-oriented spinoff and several sequels. These plans are further evidenced by the “Ghost Corps” logo on both the poster and in the beginning of the film. However, that plan seems less likely now that the film failed to generate the opening that it really needed.

So where can Ghostbusters go from here? Well, there are some rumors that Sony has artificually inflated the numbers for this opening, and that when the actuals come in it could be notably lower. Take this with a grain of salt, of course, but it wouldn’t be terribly surprising. Between a rush of fans and curious moviegoers wanting to see the film as soon as possible, combined with a mediocre B+ Cinemascore and a slew of competition on the horizon (Star Trek BeyondIce Age: Collision Course, Lights OutJason Bourne and Suicide Squad) it’s looking like Ghostbusters is going to play less like a Paul Feig movie and more like a traditional blockbuster. If the $46 million number holds, it will likely wind up somewhere around $120-$130 million. If it’s lower, then perhaps around $110 million, but only time will tell.

In first place, The Secret Life of Pets was down 52% to $50.5 million. That’s not a great hold, but the film is doing so well that it doesn’t really mean all that much. Illumination Entertainment’s releases tend to be a bit more front loaded than other studios, but it can still likely wind up with over $300 million. In fact, there’s a decent chance that it winds up outgrossing Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which would bump the DC tentpole down to 7th place. With several other contenders that could potentially do the same (Fantastic BeastsSuicide SquadMoana and Rogue One) there is a small but very real chance that Batman V Superman winds up outside of the top 10 for the year.

All the way down in 8th place, Broad Green Pictures’ The Infiltrator bombed with just $6.7 million since Wednesday. This is by far the biggest release yet for the new distributor, whose only other three releases are Knight of CupsThe Dark Horse and The Neon Demon, which bombed in wide release just a few weeks ago. With a budget of $47.5 million and a questionable release in just 1,600 theaters, it doesn’t look like The Infiltrator will be able to top $20 million domestically.

Among other holdovers, The Legend of Tarzan finally crossed the century mark with $11 million in its third weekend. This is easily one of the biggest surprises of the year, and could wind up with more than $120 million domestically. The Purge: Election Year is just days away from crossing the total gross of The Purge: Anarchy to become the highest grossing film in the series. With $6 million this weekend, it looks like the surprise horror hit will wind up close to $80 million, far more than originally expected.

Playing in just five theaters, Cafe Society got off to an excellent $355K, with a per theater average of $71K. That’s much higher than Irrational Man from the same weekend last year, but notably lower than Blue Jasmine from 2013, which took in over $100K average in 6 theaters. Still, this is an excellent start, and the film seems widely appealing enough to get some sort of nationwide expansion over the next few weeks. Elsewhere in the limited release market, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party grossed a solid $82.5K from just 3 theaters. That’s a similar number to 2016: Obama’s America from 2012, which grossed around $33K from 1 theater back in 2012. Hillary’s America is expanding into 1,200 theaters next weekend, but hasn’t gotten anywhere near the amount of media attention that 2016 did. The latter ended up grossing over $33 million domestically, making it the second highest grossing political documentary ever, only behind Fahrenheit 9/11 from 2004.

 

 

Weekend Report: ‘Secret Life of Pets’ Roars Into First

secret-life-of-pets-4

Illumination Entertainment officially cemented itself as a major name in animation, with their latest film The Secret Life of Pets taking the highest opening ever for an original animated film. Thanks to its strong marketing campaign and appealing premise, the film opened to a phenomenal $103.1 million. That’s way higher than last years Inside Out and only around $12 million lower than Minions.

It’s really hard to overstate just how impressive this debut is. Even with the marketing, the premise of talking animals is usually not one that can lead to such a monstrous debut. Disney’s Zootopia had zero competition and ended up $28 million lower in its opening weekend. Granted, that was a February release as opposed to July, but it gives an indication of how credible Illumination is as a brand.

In fact, the only ones not celebrating this release are Sony Pictures. Next week, they have the highly controversial Ghostbusters set to open, and with a big chunk of the family audience taken out, it’s looking like Pets will be able to maintain first place next weekend.

Also opening was wedding comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, which took in a solid $16 million. That’s notably above the $10-$12 million expectations going into the weekend, but still isn’t a great start for a film that cost $33 million. For comparisons sake, Dirty Grandpa opened with around $11 million, while Neighbors 2 took in $21 million. Overall, this is a fine start for the R rated comedy, which should be able to pull in over $40 million by the end of its run.

Surprisingly, second place didn’t go to Finding Dory this weekend. Instead, The Legend of Tarzan held surprisingly well after its breakout 4th of July weekend, down just 47% to $20.6 million. That brings it up to $80 million in just two weeks, and should be able to top the $100 million mark without breaking a sweat. At this point, it seems likely that the film winds up with over $110 million, making it one of the biggest surprise hits of the year.

Don’t feel too bad for Finding Dory, however, as the film managed to top fellow Disney release Captain America: Civil War to become the highest grossing 2016 release to date.

The Purge: Election Year took an unsurprisingly sharp fall, down 63% to $11 million. Believe it or not, that’s actualy the best hold yet for any film in the franchise. That’s especially surprising consdering it seemed like the Fourth of July weekend would attract extra attention. The first film fell over 70% in its second weekend, but that was mostly due to the very poor reception and word of mouth. By the third film, however, it became pretty clear what it was going to be, and audiences seemed to respond accordingly. With $58 million in just two weeks, it looks like Election Year will be able to pass the original film, and could even top the $71 million total of Anarchy. Don’t be surprised if a fourth Purge film gets greenlit any day now.

The final release from last weekend was The BFG, which failed to save face in its second week of release. Suffering a 60% drop, the film took in just $7.6 million. That’s less than half of what The Legend of Tarzan has made with the same amount of time in theaters, and about 2/3’s of what The Purge Election Year has made, despite costing fourteen times as much to produce.

In the limited release market, the only noteworthy opening was Captain Fantastic with a so-so $98K from four theaters. Given the strong reviews and appealing premise, it seemed like this really had the potential to break out, but a $24K per theater average for a film like this isn’t anything to write home about. It should be expanding in the next few weeks, but don’t expect it to get into more than 200-300 theaters at the most.

Action comedy Central Intelligence was able to top the century mark this weekend, bringing its new total to $108 million. Considering its still in sixth place, it should be able to wind up with around $120-$130 million by the end of its run. Speaking of which, The Conjuring 2 is just about to hit that same number, with a total of $99.3 million after 5 weeks of release.

 

 

Weekend Report: ‘Dory’ Repeats, ‘Tarzan’ Exceeds

the-legend-of-tarzan-4k

Over a very crowded Indpenendence Day weekend, both The Legend of Tarzan and The Purge: Election Year surpassed expectations, both opening over $30 million. Additionally, Finding Dory had yet another strong hold as it gets closer and closer to $400 million. On top of that, Swiss Army Man and Our Kind of Traitor both opened well in limited release. The only disappointing result was The BFG, which marks Disney’s third misfire in 2016.

Finding Dory retained first for the weekend, though not by nearly as much as expected. The film would up just $3 million ahead of The Legend of Tarzan with $41 million. After the 4th, it should be past the $380 million mark, and it’s only a matter of time until the film surpasses $500 million, easily making it the highest grossing film of the summer.

In second place, The Legend of Tarzan surpassed expectations in a big way with a surprisingly strong $38 million opening. Adding in the Holiday, and it could top $45 million. That’s an incredibly strong rebut for a film that basically had flop written all over it from the very beginning. It’s not a great start for sure, as the film carries a very hefty $180 million price tag, but this is definitely one of the films that I never would’ve guessed would even get close to the century mark. It’s not a guarantee that Tarzan hits $100 million, but if it can, that’s a great result for Warner brothers.

In third, The Purge Election Year actually wound up more than $10 million ahead of Disney’s The BFG, despite only carrying a $10 million budget. Thanks to strong marketing and the political tie in (including the not so subtle ‘Keep America Great’ tagline) the film was able to seem more relevant than ever, and wound up hugely surpassing expectations. The only bad news is that due to the tie in with the Holiday weekend and the fact that it dipped nearly 36% on Saturday, Election Year is likely to burn out very quickly. It’s likely that it will wind up with around $65 million total, or just around what the original Purge made, but considering it was estimated to open in the low $20 million range a few weeks ago, this is a big win.

In fourth, The BFG flopped with just $19 million. Considering it had the Disney branding, Steven Spielberg directing, and a $140 million budget, that’s very disappointing. What it likely came down to was that the trailers simply didn’t offer much of a story, instead focusing on the whimsical fairy tale aspect over any sort of legitimate plot. Not to mention, The Legend of Tarzan definitely had the more action-packed appeal that summer moviegoers look for. Opening on the same weekend was definitely a bad move, but it seemed for sure like The BFG could take on Tarzan. Ultimately, the film could approach $60 million domestically, but probably no more than that.

Even with the added bonus of the holiday weekend, Independence Day: Resurgence plummeted 60% to just $16.5 million in its second weekend. As of now the film is up to just $72 million, and its going to be a tough road to $100 million from here.

Just outside of the top 10, Swiss Army Man pulled in an impressive $1.4 million from 636 theaters. That’s more than triple what Green Room pulled in from over 100 more theaters, which is strange given that the films seemed to have similar appeal. However, A24 did a good job at marketing Swiss Army Man as more of a standard wide release, rather than an ultraviolent niche arthouse flick. Word of mouth seems strong so far, which could lead Swiss Army Man to pull in over $4 million. Compare that to last weekends The Neon Demon, which opened with just $589K and fell nearly 80% in its second weekend. Granted, Swiss Army Man was much more widely appealing, but it is still interesting to compare.

Also in limited release, Our Kind of Traitor opened with an impressive $1 million from just 373 theaters. The film was given essentially zero marketing (I follow the film industry to a fault and I hadn’t even heard of it before Thursday) and is typically the kind of limited release that pulls in under $1K per theater average. However, for some reason or another, this film ended up doing decent business.

 

Weekend Report: ‘Finding Dory’ Strong, ‘Independence Day’ Stumbles

id4-gallery4

Despite 20 years of fan buildup and a massive budget, Independence Day Resurgence failed to capture the audience of more successful reboots, and added to the long list of disappointing would-be blockbusters in 2016.

Finding Dory easily retained first place without breaking a sweat, down 46% to $73 million. That’s one of the best second weekends for an animated film ever, and brings its domestic total up to $286 million in just two weeks. Unless The BFG or The Legend of Tarzan really ends up surprising next weekend, it looks like Dory could score a three-peat in first place.

In second place, Independence Day Resurgence opened with just $41 million. That’s lower than the $50 million that Fox claimed they were hoping for, which in reality means they were banking on an opening of $60 million plus. While it was definitely an odd choice to not release the film over the actual holiday weekend, there’s a few reasons why they didn’t; for one, the actual 4th of July happens to land on a Monday, meaning that in a rare turn of events, the films slated for release will actually be released on Friday, rather than the usual Wednesday start. The original Independence Day pulled in $186 million over its five day start back in 1996 (adjusted for inflation, of course) while Resurgence is likely going to just barely break past the century mark. While it should hold up slightly better than average next weekend, a B Cinemascore and 32% on Rotten Tomatoes will keep it from becoming  a long term hit.

In third place, Central Intelligence edged out The Shallows with $18 million. That’s a decent hold for the action comedy, which has amassed $69 million over two weeks. It’s likely that the film will wind up with around $95 million total.

In fourth place, The Shallows surpassed expectations with a strong $16 million opening weekend. Most box office predictions had the film pegged at high single digits (except this one, not to brag) but its solid 75% on Rotten Tomatoes and strong marketing appealed to the teen demographic, who ended up making this a solid win for Sony. The series has had a few small hits such as this and Miracles from Heaven, but an awfully high number of misfires, including Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesThe 5th WaveConcussion, and The Brothers Grimsby. Their upcoming summer slate isn’t terribly promising, either; Ghostbusters is definitely a wild card, but a $154 million budgeted production isn’t exactly something the studio wants to feel iffy on, while Sausage Party is going to have a hard time hitting a mainstream audience.

In fifth place, Free State of Jones flopped with $7.7 million. Going into the weekend, there was some hope that the film could serve as decent counterprogramming for adult audiences, but awful reviews and a general lack of interest kept that from happening. With a $50 million price tag, it was by far the priciest release for distributor STX Entertainment, who’s only other wide releases were The Gift at $5 million, The Secret in their Eyes at $19.5 million, and Hardcore Henry at $2 million. This definitely isn’t a good result for a rather high profile historical drama, which should’ve at least hit the $10 million mark. With very little appeal in overseas markets, don’t expect Free State of Jones to break $50 million worldwide.

With a 49% hold in its third weekend, The Conjuring 2 surpassed the total gross of Annabelle, bringing its new total to $86 million, and past $240 million worldwide. There’s still a very slim chance that the film could pass $100 million, though it seems more likely that it will end up at around $95 million.

Finally, The Neon Demon was a massive flop, bringing in just $606K from 783 theaters. While director Nicolas Winding Refn may have procured a small following in the art house crowd, the ultra violent and sexualized horror thriller had no place in a release as wide as this. Speaking of which, Swiss Army Man opened in 3 theaters and started off with an excellent $114K, giving it a per theater average of $38K. The film is set to go wide next weekend, though no official theater count has been made available from the studio.

 

Weekend Report: ‘Dory’ Finds Huge Box Office Success

FINDING DORY

Unsurprisingly, Finding Dory had one of the best openings of all time for an animated film, pulling in a fantastic $136 million in its opening weekend. Central Intelligence also got off to a strong start, while Warcraft had one of the worst drops ever for a film playing in over 3,000 theaters.

Finding Dory, the long anticipated sequel to the 2003 surprise hit, opened in 4,305 theaters with an estimated $136.1 million. That’s up significantly from the original films $99 million opening (adjusted for inflation), but it isn’t actually the highest opening ever for an animated film, despite many headlines saying the opposite. Both Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third both opened to around $150 million each, and that was without the addition of 3D and IMAX. Shrek was a big hit when it first came out, but didn’t have a massive opening weekend by any stretch. Instead, it became a word of mouth hit that ended up holding extremely well and doing gangbusters on the home video market, leading to significantly increased demand in a sequel. This same pattern was seen in the Matrix and Pirates of the Carribean series. Finding Nemo came out when Pixar was just starting to really gain traction thanks to Monsters, Inc and Toy Story 2. As a result, there wasn’t the same massive jump in audience that some had expected. Regardless, it’s a fantastic result, and should have no problem topping Captain America: Civil War to become the highest grossing film of the summer.

In second place, Central Intelligence opened with around $34.5 million. The action comedy was sold exclusively on the star power of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, which ended up actually being a smart move. While Kevin Hart isn’t the massive draw he used to be, Dwayne Johnson still is, leading films like San Andreas and Pain and Gain to unexpected success. While some thought that this might really become a breakout hit (some were predicting $50M+) this is still a very respectable start.

In third, The Conjuring 2 was down 62% in its second weekend. That’s obviously worse than the original Conjuring, but considering it was going up against such a massive film, a bigger drop was inevitable. Still, by horror sequel standards, it wasn’t actually all that bad. $100 million domestically still isn’t totally out of the question.

Warcraft was down an atrocious 73%, making just $6.5 million. That’s lower than even the most pessimistic of expectations, and one of the worst drops on record for a major film playing in over 3,000 theaters. This is undoubtedly a disappointment for Universal, as it will have a hard time making it to $50 million at its current rate.

In the limited release market, there were a few notable new releases. Clown, the Eli Roth horror film, made an atrocious $27K from just 100 theaters. At an average of around $11 per ticket, most theaters sold just 24 tickets over the entire weekend. The other release, Seoul Searching, opened exclusively in the AMC Empire 25 in New York City. Many showings were entirely sold out, meaning that the only limit for this film was its availability. It’s possible that it will get a small expansion into a few dozen theaters, but likely no more than that.

 

Weekend Report: ‘Conjuring 2’ Soars Past Disappointing ‘Warcraft’

con2-fp-043

After a fantastic international opening, plenty of online buzz and the future of video game adaptations riding on its shoulders, all eyes were on Warcraft and its domestic performance this weekned. However, general audiences instead chose to go with The Conjuring 2, leaving Warcraft on the low end of already low expectations.

The Conjuring 2 surpassed its low $30 million range expectations for a fantastic $40 million opening. That’s especially impressive considering the massive hype behind the original Conjuring, whose $41 million opening remains the highest opening weekend ever for an original R rated horror film. Also impressive is that this managed to retain 90%+ of the audience despite the disappointing Annabelle, which was panned by critics and audiences back in 2014. Had Warner Brothers stuck with their original October 2015 release date and not had the bad buzz of Annabelle, this likely could’ve opened over $50 million. Regardless, a big budget horror film with solid name recognition and good reviews wound up being just what audiences were looking for, as there hasn’t really been a successful horror film since The Witch back in February. Considering The Conjuring 2‘s Friday to Saturday drop was actually better than its predecessor (14% for this compared to 18% for the original) there’s a very good chance that this winds up with over $100 million domestic, which would be a stellar result.

On Friday, it seemed like there would be a strong competition for second place between Warcraft and Now You See Me 2. Ultimately, Warcraft had the upper hand, but not by much. The film opened with just $24 million, which is a terrible result for a $160 million production, regardless of any overseas results. With this kind of opening, it would be tough to get past $60 million or so, meaning there’s a legitimate chance that less than 10% of Warcraft‘s final gross comes from the domestic box office. The film is already nearing $300 million worldwide (primarily thanks to China) but it is still impossible to say that this is a good result to open $16 million lower than a horror sequel that cost a fraction of what this film did.

In third place, Now You See Me 2 took in a decent $23 million. That’s notably down from its predecessors $29 million opening back in 2013, but isn’t terribly surprising. In fact, it’s actually a fairly solid result considering the mixed reviews of both films and plenty of competition. Now You See Me never seemed like something that really warranted a sequel, but Lionsgate decided to greenlit it anyway, with a $90 million budget nonetheless. Ultimately, look for Now You See Me 2 to wind up in the $65 million range, which is a fine result.

Last weeks surprise hit Me Before You had a slightly disappointing 51% drop from its opening weekend. It seemed as though it may have had a chance to hold on well throughout the next month or so as solid counterprogramming, but ultimately there was just too many choices, and not enough interest.