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.

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 Forecast: Can ‘Finding Dory’ Retain First over Crowded 4th of July?

seen-on-badchix-the-purge-election-year-first-official-trailer-01

Between holdovers Finding Dory and Independence Day: Resurgence and newcomers The Legend of TarzanThe Purge: Election Year and The BFG, it’s going to be a very busy weekend at the box office.

Unless something drastic happens, it looks like Finding Dory is set to easily take first once again over the holiday weekend. Well, technically it isn’t the holiday, as the 4th happens to fall on a Monday this year. Typically, the releases for this week will open on the Wednesday before the Holiday, but because of this unusual circumstance, they’re simply opening on a normal Friday. That means all the new releases will probably open a bit lower than normal but have above average results on the 4th. As a result, it would make more sense to compare this weekend with Memorial Day than usual 4th of July releases.

With direct competition from The BFG (which Disney strangely set for just 2 weeks after Dory) it’s undoubtedly going to get a bit cannibalized. Still, it should wind up with at least $35 million for the weekend, and closer to $45 million over the four day weekend.

The Purge: Election Year marks the third installment in the very successful Purge franchise, which started off with a major surprise back in 2013. The original Purge cost just $3 million to produce, but opened to nearly $35 million in its opening weekend alone. That was one of the biggest surprise hits in years, and instantaneously a franchise was born. However, the film received poor word of mouth and ended up being absurdly front loaded, making nearly 53% of its total from opening weekend alone. Regardless, an $89 million worldwide total for a film that cost a fraction of that is undoubtedly a success. The Purge: Anarchy was debatably more successful. Despite opening lower, word of mouth led it to hold much better and wind up out grossing its predecessor by a solid $7 million. Despite the increased political angle and ramped up chaos in its marketing, it’s still going to have a hard time overcoming the “yet another Purge movie” mantra. As a result, lower grosses are inevitable. Look for The Purge: Election Year to wind up with around $25 million over the holiday.

Two big budget live action fairy tale adaptations hit theaters this weekend, but neither of them look like they’re going to be successful. The BFG will likely top The Legend of Tarzan thanks to its Steven Spielberg and Disney brand recognition, which should get some family audiences in the door. The Legend of Tarzan looks more like last years uber flop Pan than Disney’s infinitely more successful Jungle Book adaptation, and its box office results will reflect that. With a $140 million price tag for The BFG and a $180 million tag for The Legend of Tarzan, it looks like a double feature flop for the weekend.

Also opening is A24’s Swiss Army Man in 636 theaters. The film has relied primarily on internet hype and buzz, which has turned out to be much cheaper and more effective for the kinds of films that A24 releases. While it certainly has gotten a fair amount of attention, it doesn’t seem like something that will end up being a hit with general audiences. Green Room was debatably more hyped, but only opened with around $400K from 777 theaters. Don’t be surprised if Swiss Army Man ends up even lower than that thanks to its bizarre talking corpse premise.

Bar for Success

The Purge: Election Year is in good shape if it can hit $25 million over the four day weekend. The Legend of Tarzan and The BFG both carry massive price tags, and as a result really need to hit $40 million each over the holiday weekend, though that’s seeming less and less likely.

Predictions

(4 Day Weekend)

  1. Finding Dory – $48M
  2. The Purge: Election Year – $29.5M
  3. Independence Day: Resurgence – $21M
  4. The BFG – $19M
  5. The Legend of Tarzan – $17M

Swiss Army Man – $300K

 

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: Can ‘Independence Day’ Surge Into First?

id4-gallery3

It’s going to be a crowded weekend before 4th of July, with a bit of something for everyone going into wide release. For the teen horror audience, there’s The Shallows. For the blockbuster audience, there’s Independence Day: Resurgence. For the adult history audience, there’s Free State of Jones, and finally The Neon Demon for the art house crowd. However, it’s still likely that Finding Dory is going to win the weekend.

A few months ago, it seemed like all but a guarantee that Independence Day would follow suit of other reboot/sequels of incredibly popular licenses and open in the $65-$70M+ range. However, the hype has been way below average for a film of this caliber, and due to a numer of different circumstances, expectations have been lowered into a far more modest $45-$50M range. For a $200M film, that wouldn’t be a great result, but it’s looking more and more likely. For starters, the film is sitting at a very mediocre 55% on Rotten Tomatoes. That isn’t really going to help or hurt the films performance, as its only a bit lower than its predecessor. Considering how drab most of the summer releases have been, don’t be shocked if Independence Day opens under $40 million for the weekend.

The Shallows could very possibly hit a surprisingly strong third place debut ahead of Free State of Jones this weekend. Surprisingly, the film has gotten a very strong 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, far above average for any sort of shark themed horror film.

Free State of Jones seemed like it could work as solid counter programming for adult audiences, but now that’s seeming less and less likely. The film has received a terrible 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a lack of marketing is also going to hurt. Don’t be shocked if Jones opens with under $10 million.

Also opening is The Neon Demon in a very surprisingly high 783 theaters. Considering the directors last film, Only God Forgives was released in about 1/10th of that, this result is very surprising. The film has very limited appeal outside of the art house crowd, and has had almost zero marketing, making it questionable as to why the studio chose to gave it such a wide release. Ultimately, expect The Neon Demon to only gross between $1-$2 million.

In limited release, A24’s very hyped Swiss Army Man is getting released in just 3 theaters this weekend. Supposedly the film will get a nationwide release next weekend, but it would be surprising to see such a bizarre, niche film getting released in over 1,000 theaters. Still, A24 has had a surprisingly successful track record recently, so don’t be surprised if they can turn this one into a hit.

Bar for Success

For a massive budgeted reboot of a very well known 90s film, Independence Day Resurgence really should be getting to at least $55 million this weekend. Free State of Jones is good with $15 million, while The Shallows is fine at $10 million. For a film that has very little appeal and zero marketing, The Neon Demon is okay if it can get past $2 million for the weekend.

Predictions

  1. Finding Dory – $76M
  2. Independence Day Resurgence – $42M
  3. Central Intelligence – $18M
  4. The Shallows – $17M
  5. Free State of Jones – $11M

– The Neon Demon – $1.2M