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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by Klady

Weekend Estimates 2013-10-06 at 9.16.18 AM

Gravity is not only a hit out of the gate, but I suspect we will see unusually long legs on this one. The biggest challenge will be holding enough 3D and IMAX screens to let it play all the way out. If I were Warner Bros, I would be planning another big 3D and IMAX push for mid-January into February on the heels of (without crowding) the next Hobbit movie. People want to see the film in 3D and IMAX and given the now pretty solid expectations of a lot of Academy love, certainly in nominations, there is money to be made there.

For a little perspective on the weekend itself, it’s less than a 10% improvement on the previous top October weekend and it does have as marked a 3D bump advantage as any film since Avatar. Still, there should be no reserve shown with champagne flowing at Warners and especially in their marketing department. I truly believe this is Sue Kroll’s highest achievement at the studio. There is no franchise to sell… no sequel… no history at all. And it’s not an easy idea. It’s a spoiler-fest. And like the movie itself, the campaign hit both women and men with great skill. Yes, it’s easier when you have the media behind you so relentlessly. But this and Magic Mike really deserve special places of honor on the wall of the marketing offices. They are the kinds of campaigns they will teach in movie marketing classes (if there are such things).

Now… the only downside was that the studio definitely cannibalized their other strong release in the market, Prisoners, which took a 48% hit, playing in the hardcore demo of over-25s for Gravity, though Gravity will, I think, see its demo continue to widen (younger and older) as word-of-mouth continues. Mostly, the (deserved) Bullock/Cuarón lovefest sucked all the media oxygen out of the room for the last week-plus, so you don’t see much lingering on Prisoners.

Nor did most people probably know that Runner Runner was even opening. Besides the title, which I hate, they just got unlucky on this one. Good date choice, bad date luck. No one was waiting for the next Justin Timberlake/Gemma Arterton film with an Affleck guest spot… which is not to say that the actors aren’t appealing. But they need some serious media attention on top of advertising to get the opening where it needs to go. And that was not available this week. And Fox didn’t do anything extraordinary to force the issue. But it was never going to be a cakewalk for this one. Fortunately for the film, it’s already doing better overseas.

The are two other new openers in the million-dollar-plus club, both in mid-range releases (300-800, I guess). On top was Pulling Strings, which appears to be in English, but is focused on the Spanish-speaking market. It is about 1/3 the size of Instructions Not Included, but this is a market that Lionsgate is now working hard and this seems like a pretty decent result on just 387 screens. The other was Roadside’s output-deal-release, Grace Unplugged, a Christian-themed film, that did okay. It is the best opening in that niche this year.

It was a pretty soft weekend for openings in the arthouse market. No one did better than a $10,100 per-screen… and that was on just 2 screens. The widest new release in this niche was Parkland, which managed just $1210 per on 257 screens for $310k or so.

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46 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Klady”

  1. Etguild2 says:

    A lot of people eating some crow today. What a strange year for WB…started the year with a string of flops, the heart of blockbuster season was marked by movies that were barely profitable or were perceived as misses, and now they have a string of under-the-radar/unlikely hits with MILLERS, GRAVITY and CONJURING.

    FilmDistrict might do well to fight for some screens here in the next few weeks for INSIDIOUS 2 for Halloween. It’s held well after Week 2, already matched EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE.

  2. Waterbucket says:

    So satisfying to see a great movie winning the box office battle. I don’t see how Gravity could lose best picture and best director.

  3. Etguild2 says:

    DP, PULLING STRINGS is mixed-language. I’d say 60/40 Spanish.

    Also, RUNNER RUNNER wasn’t a hard sell, partly because it’s atrocious but also JT just isn’t a box office draw, and the J.LO circa 2001 album/movie release at the same time thing only worked that one time. JT spent a whole week on Jimmy Fallon, and while there was a lot of press for 20/20 Part 2 (which killed on the charts this week), there was barely a mention for RUNNER RUNNER.

  4. Vanessa says:

    Gravity can easily lose Best Picture and Best Director, and it probably will. 12 Years A Slave is seen as the more “important” film, being called the greatest film about slavery ever and compared to Schindler’s List. It will be a chance for AMPAS to feel progressive and reward the first African-American director ever and 12 Years A Slave is going to play MUCH BETTER in DVD screeners than Gravity (which loses I’d say 75% of it’s appeal when not seen in 3D).

    This is great for the WB but also really inflated because of 3D. I’d say Inception is still the most impressive sell of WB’s slate since it didn’t have the advantage of 3D or the “space spectacle” crutch to rely on and was a much more complicated premise but also a much more ambitious script and project.

    This was basically a thriller set in space with a lot of impressive special effects and the 3D bonus.

  5. JoJo says:

    Vanessa, you sound bitter about Gravity for some reason. Get over it.

  6. christian says:

    Bullock wil certainly be nominated. And hey, an original script not based on any IP. Hmmmm….

  7. Etguild2 says:

    @vanessa, you remind me of Sarah Palin or Karl Rove after the 2012 election. Spinspinspin.

  8. Vanessa says:

    @JoJo @Christian @Etguild2 and you all sound defensive about it lol. The film was a great experience in the theater but it isn’t a masterpiece or a classic. A.O. Scott of the New York Times review of the film is the most accurate. It’s technically the most impressive film I have ever seen but the script has issues and the performances are nothing special.

    You mad cause I think that? You get over it lol.

  9. christian says:

    I never said it was a masterpiece or a classic. But it’s something unique and original and visually stunning.

  10. Joe Leydon says:

    I have not yet seen either Gravity or 12 Years a Slave — though, unlike many people here, including our host, I have seen Pulling Strings and Grace Unplugged — but I wonder if, as Vanessa suggests, Slaves will be received more enthusiastically as Best Picture material by Oscar voters.

    BTW: It would appear that the negative campaign against Captain Phillips already has begun. Some members of the crew of the real-life captain evidently are suing the guy for placing them in danger. Seriously.

  11. Bulldog68 says:

    I don’t think great Box Office cements an Oscar win. It does possibly cement the nomination. See Avatar. If 12 Years a Slave bombs then it will hurt it’s chances however. But then again, maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. Avatar did get beat by the $17m grossing The Hurt Locker.

  12. Felicia says:

    Steve McQueen is British, not American. If he wins he will be te first Black director, but not the first African-American one.

  13. LexG says:

    Did anyone else think Bullock was surprisingly HOT?

  14. Bulldog68 says:

    But she looked kinda spaced out though.

  15. anghus says:

    Felicia, in America, everybody is African-American even if they’re not American.. or African.

    cause we’re dumb.

  16. Tuck Pendelton says:

    Sad to see Rush didn’t have a better hold. Very enjoyable popcorn movie, and I thought the whole cast was great.

    Saw Gravity friday night (the old Vista in LA) and was nervous about box office, the theater was about 2/3 full. Guess that’s been alleviated. Congrats to WB and the filmmakers, it’s a tremendous film.

  17. Vanessa says:

    My showing wasn’t full either, maybe half, but since 80% of the sales came from 3D and I live in NYC and tickets for 3D are over $20 bucks here that probably helped a lot.

    Yes, I meant it’ll be the first time a black director wins and I stick by that. I just think that AMPAS will see 12 Years a Slave as a more important film and will pat themselves on the back for rewarding it and McQueen. Plus if you read The Hollywood Reporter article about all of the things they had to go through to get the film made, it easily has the strongest narrative of the lot. Sorry but “the greatest film about slavery ever made” trumps “the greatest space film ever made” with AMPAS every single day of the week.

    I haven’t even seen the film, I just think it’s totally the film that AMPAS would go for – much moreso than Gravity despite the reviews. Critics are not members of AMPAS.

  18. Joe Leydon says:

    LexG: Sandra Bullock always is hot. Not hot enough to get me to see The Heat, but hot nonetheless.

  19. Bulldog68 says:

    C’mon Joe, I’m sure you’ve subjected yourself to worse things than The Heat.

  20. leahnz says:

    ’12 years a slave’ being more academy-friendly than ‘gravity’ isn’t exactly a newsflash, the academy loves it some ‘historical epic with a message’ and is also notoriously stingy and snooty with a big ol’ stick up their ass when it comes to rewarding sci-fi in categories other than technical — tho a nom for sandy b. if it comes to pass could really be a rarity and something out of the box, as only the second leading role nomination ever from a sci-fi spectacle since weaver for ‘aliens’ (i think…is that right? you go girls. i’m seeing ‘gravity’ tomorrow, psyched for it but trying to ignore overhyping syndrome)

  21. Bulldog68 says:

    The thing Leahnz, is that the Academy has normally gone for these‘historical epic with a message movies, particularly when they deal with race in a way that assuages some of that white guilt we hear so much about. See The Blind Side, Lincoln, Amaistad, The Help, and most other movies showing noble white people enabling blacks to have a voice.

    Now we have two Oscar buzzed films in one year, 12 Years and The Butler, directed by black men, and I can’t speak for 12 Years because I have not seen, but from what I heard, I’m not sure it contains too many upstanding white folk, and to add insult to American injury, the abolitionist played by Brad Pitt is Canadian.

    Sometimes it’s tougher for them to swallow things from that perspective.

  22. Joe Leydon says:

    Bulldog: Well, I did undergo radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Is it more fun than that?

  23. Tuck Pendelton says:

    Last year the academy voted on the thriller released from WB over the important historical movie that’s about slavery.

    Just to point out, they don’t always go for the quote “obvious” choice quote. Sometimes, I know it’s a strange thought, they go with the film they like more.

    Frankly, No Country for Old Men, The Departed, Argo. They go with thrillers often in recent history, so I’d say Gravity has a fair shake.

  24. leahnz says:

    bulldog, that’s an interesting point – i’d thought how refreshing (and possibly progressive) to see fairly traditional black-themed stories told by black filmmakers for a change, but i hadn’t really given much thought to the lack of a ‘white man saviour/enabler’ angle (or in a rare case ‘white woman’ as in ‘the help’) as told by white male filmmakers as a possible roadblock to oscar glory…hopefully the academy, as it very, veeery slowly becomes less ‘old white male’-centric and stodgy, can rise above such petty ‘traditional’ contrivances to embrace a (hopefully) emerging paradigm

    also re: tuck’s comment: no country, the departed, argo – yeah but none of those are sci-fi; according to the track record, in the eyes of the academy in terms of rewarding sci-fi in the big, main categories, sci-fi is stinky pooh-pooh not-real-movies

  25. Vanessa says:

    No. The only reason they went with Argo over Lincoln is because the only thing that AMPAS likes to reward more than historical narratives are movies where Hollywood saves the day. I mean, of course they would reward Argo, it makes Hollywood out to be the big hero. Plus, Argo is not sci-fi or set in space and in 3D. It had a very strong and clear premise and narrative.

    There is no white savior in 12 Years a Slave, but don’t think that white guilt won’t factor in who AMPAS votes for – it most certainly will.

  26. Bulldog68 says:

    But Vanessa, wasn’t Argo a Science Fantasy set in the tradition of Star Wars? I keeed I keeed.

    @Joe: I’m betting yes. I passed two kidney stones. Not even close to cancer I’m sure. But I’m betting The Heat is less painful than that too. Any day spent watching a bad movie is better than any day you have to do anything in that area in which you are not willing participant.

    Go bad movies.

  27. bl says:

    There are no other wide release
    3D movies until November 1st
    and other than a couple dozen Imax engagements of Captain Phillips there are no domestic Imax titles
    until Enders Game also on that date.

    I Frankenstein and Robocop already have Imax screens locked up for late January and Early February. However there would be room for a one week
    reissue on January 17 with Seventh Son no longer on that

  28. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    ” But it’s something unique and original and visually stunning.”

    So was Prometheus.
    Vanessa is on the money. Gravity won’t play well on academy iphones but 12yrs may cause severe moisture damage.

  29. Bulldog68 says:

    Anybody else worried that while Gravity resonates, it does for a very short time. Meaning it clocks in at a breezy 90 mins. If it wins Best Picture

  30. Bulldog68 says:

    Sorry, I hit send prematurely. I’m heard it happens sometimes to guys my age. Lol.

    Anybody else worried that while Gravity resonates, it does so for a very short time. Meaning it clocks in at a breezy 90 mins. If it wins Best Picture….. it will be the shortest Best Picture in Academy history.

    Is 90 mins enough time to generate enough gravitas for Gravity to sink in?

  31. christian says:

    My response to GRAVITY doesn’t factor in Academy voters.

  32. Amblinman says:

    @Jeffrery Boam

    ” But it’s something unique and original and visually stunning.”

    So was Prometheus.

    Yes, but Gravity was actually a *good* movie.

  33. anghus says:

    Prometheus was a prequel to Alien and therefore a franchise movie. How would you consider that ‘original’.

    Ohhhhh…. you’re a studio executive, aren’t you…

    Re: ‘Is 90 mins enough time to generate enough gravitas for Gravity to sink in?’

    Yes. The problem is too many people equate length of movie as a direct correlation to whether a movie is ‘epic’ or has ‘gravitas’. I call it ‘Peter Jackson syndrome’

    The Hobbit was nearly three hours. An hour longer than it needed to be. Because somewhere filmmakers started to believe that for a movie to be epic, it needed to be ridiculously long. 90 minutes is the perfect length for Gravity. It didn’t need to be any longer. More filmmakers could benefit from trimming the fat off their bloated productions.

    When did people get sour on the idea of a 90 minute movie? So many movies could benefit from losing 15-20 minutes. I can think of so many Summer blockbusters that clocked in just over 2 hours that would have been so much better at a buck forty five.

    You think we should punish Cuaron for telling a compact story? Christ, we should carry him on our shoulders for being capable of restraint in a day, age, and industry that has all but forgotten it.

  34. scooterzz says:

    “If it wins Best Picture….. it will be the shortest Best Picture in Academy history.”


  35. hcat says:

    So thinking that this will play through fall, have great word of mouth that will push 3D sales, visual effects for the youngsters, movie stars for us fogies, does this look like it could hit $300 million? more? The whole reason they expanded the number of slots was to let films like Gravity in.

    As for it beating 12 Years, isn’t 12 years pretty gruesome? There have been a number of incredible films whose accurate depiction of violence proved to be a little too much for the academy, this could be Piano/Chicago replaying. 12 Years gets adapted screenplay, actor, and perhaps a supporting or two, even director, but the wealth is still spread around to let something else win best picture.

    Of course it is still october and many suprises await, but I would like to point out that the last three oscars won by a major studio all went to Warners (with the fourth going to New Line). So they do know how to run a campaign.

  36. Ryan says:

    I’ll go against the grain here and predict that Gravity doesn’t have huge legs. I saw it yesterday (granted, I saw it in 2D), and probably with a mostly over 30 crowd, but the reaction afterwards was muted. The whole thing boils down to 90 minutes of Bullock being bored and stuck in space, which is exactly what you get from the trailer. Why is everyone saying this is one of the best films of the year? Clooney is only in a third of the movie, and mostly just for comic relief. If I had seen this on a screener as an Academy voter, I’d definitely be wondering what all the fuss was about. Give me Cuaron’s Potter film any day of the week over this.

  37. Chris says:

    Re: Gravity: “which loses I’d say 75% of it’s appeal when not seen in 3D”

    Couldn’t disagree more. Saw the 3D, which was technically very well done, but the 3D adds nothing to the story, just like how 3D adds nothing to any movie other than the gimmick itself.

    “oooo, things are popping out of the screen at me. NOW this movie is rocking! thank GOD for all the floaties in front of my eyes.”

    Gravity was great, 3D or no 3D.

  38. Bulldog68 says:

    Marty clocks in at 94 on some sites. I see on IMDB it’s listed as 90. So it’ll be a tie.

  39. Chris says:

    Yes, hcat — “12 Years” is ribbons-of-flesh-ripped-off-backs graphic.

  40. nathan says:

    yes, I saw Gravity in IMAX 3D yesterday and can already tell it will lose nothing for me when I see it flat. Dunno what it is but 3D still completely bewilders me.

    Of course, even Cuaron says the 2D version is only half the film, so obviously YMMV.

    Anyway, having been a Cuaron booster since roundabout ‘Great Expectations’ I’m just psyched he’s the talk of the town right now.

  41. hcat says:

    And what is the most graphic film to win best picture? And what are the chances that the content of 12 will be at least double that?

    And just so I am not misunderstood, I haven’t seen 12 but love the filmmakers behind it and wish it all the success in the world, but strickly within the confines of oscar chances and box office prospects it will likely have a tougher time than people think.

  42. Bulldog68 says:

    I can’t speak for films before the 70’s, but Godfather 1 & 2 has gotta be up there in terms of graphic violence. The Departed. Platoon. Braveheart. Schindler’s List. Silence of the Lambs.

  43. cadavra says:

    I show both MARTY and GRAVITY as 91, but because GRAVITY is only 84 minutes minus credits, it’s technically shorter than MARTY, which is 90 minus credits.

  44. The Big Perm says:

    Hey Ryan, geeks LOVE boring movies. I can’t say Gravity is boring, haven’t seen it. But any movie that allows them to sit in the theatre and think and ponder and get into their own brains, letting their ego influence how they see the movie, is like catnip.

    Also, graphic movies are always okay if historical…so 12 is in. War dramas and such fall into the same category.

  45. Hcat says:

    Wasn’t speaking about the nomination which seems to be a lock but the win. Do you think it will have a different impact since the violence is directed toward the protagonist? Schindler was never facing the gas, Clarice was never nibbled, the extent of Pacinos pain was a punch in the face. Sure Gibson’s Wallace was disembowled but he gave better than he got the whole film. With twelve years the audience is being asked to identify with the person taking the brunt of the physical and emotional torture, just curious if people think that might have a positive or negative effect on people’s appreciation of the film.

  46. christian says:

    Ah more pearls of alt-reality wisdom from TBP: “I ain’t see this here GRAVITATIONAL flick and caint prove what I’m sayin’, but I know geeks just love boring films fer thinkin’ folk! Like that ego snoozefest 2001…Now where’s my VHS of DEUCE BIGELOW?”

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