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

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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.

 

 

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

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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

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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: ‘Finding Dory’ Set to Reinvigorate Lifeless Box Office

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After a somewhat underwhelming May and a very disappointing June, Finding Dory is set to be one of the first (and possibly the last) mega blockbuster of the summer. With its strong brand recognition, total lack of competition, and massive potential audience, Dory has a legitimate chance at taking the animated record for opening weekend, which is currently held by Shrek the Third with $151 million (adjusted for inflation).

Finding Dory has more or less no limit to what it could pull in this weekend. The original Finding Nemo is a staple in Pixar’s filmography, and also their highest grossing film to date when adjusted for inflation, with a whopping $483 million in its original run back in 2003. Not only was that a remarkable feat for an original animated film, but it did that during one of the most crowded summers on record. Now, more then a decade later, it has a much wider potential audience. Not only do you have any family audiences familiar with Pixar, but you also have kids that grew up watching the original who are nostalgiac fans, ready to see the characters again. Throw in a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, and there’s a very good chance that it winds up with over $120 million for the weekend.

For historical comparisons, last years Inside Out took in $91 million on its opening weekend, which was far above its $70 million expectations. Toy Story 3 is probably the closest comparison, however, with $116 million back in 2010. With a bit wider audience and less competition, it seems like Finding Dory can wind up a good bit above that.

Also opening this weekend is action comedy Central Intelligence, a fairly standard looking buddy cop movie that has entirely relied on its two stars to make it a hit, right down to using both of their last names in the films tagline. Kevin Hart may not have the appeal that he used to, but Dwayne Johnson definitely does. He managed to get San Andreas to over $50 million last summer. There are more than enough jokes in the trailer to make it seem worthwhile, and could work as a solid mixup to traditional summer fare. There’s a good chance that Central Intelligence ends up opening with over $30 million.

As far as last weekends releases, they’ll probably see above average drops. That’s typical for smaller releases that come out before the weekend of a mega blockbuseter; films like Spy and Insidious: Chapter 3 saw abnormally large drops last year after the release of Jurassic World, but managed to bounce back in the later weeks. Warcraft will probably drop around 65% or more, while The Conjuring 2 and Now You See Me 2 will probably drop over 50%.

In the limited release market, Eli Roth’s Clown is opening in a very surprising 100 theaters. The film was made in 2014 with virtually zero budget, and shelved for the past few years. Typically, a midnight movie like this would get a Video On Demand release or be unceremoniously dumped into a few theaters before disappearing. However, 100 theaters is surprising, but ultimately Clown probably won’t hit $100K for the weekend.

Bar for Success

Finding Dory is in good shape if it hits $100 million for the weekend. Meanwhile, Central Intelligence is in good shape at $30 million.

Predictions

  1. Finding Dory – $139M
  2. Central Intelligence – $36M
  3. The Conjuring 2 – $19.5M
  4. Now You See Me 2 – $10M
  5. Warcraft – $8.5M

 

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

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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.