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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Best Sequel Klady

Friday Estimates (corr) 2013-11-16 at 10.35.41 AM

Sadly, “box office analysis” has become a “who’s in first?” game that really tells the public (almost) nothing about the significance of the box office results every week. Yes, it may not mean much, but if everyone is compelled to do it, why do it so unskillfully?

Thor: The Dark World didn’t only open better than Thor, but it is holding better as well. The opening 3-day gave Thor Dark a $20 million edge and as of Friday’s estimates, it is now a $25m edge. And 2nd Friday vs 2nd Friday, Thee2 has a $1.3 million edge. So tell me… does it matter AT ALL that the film may come in second for the weekend versus a new release?

Of course, it is unlikely that Best Man 2 will end up holding the lead by the end of the weekend. Black audiences are notoriously frontloaded. However, that said, I think that The Best Man Holiday will be leggier than most “urban” movies because of the release date. I expect it to be one of the rarest box office events… a Black film that actually gets a legitimate 3rd week Thanksgiving bump.

Searchlight will try to cut into that hold/bump by releasing Black Nativity the day before Thanksgiving and The Weinstein Company will do a limited release of Mandela the day after Thanksgiving. But I would still look to TBMH to be the feel-good movie for Black audiences over that long weekend.

I am not the first to say it, but this Thanksgiving window is one of the weakest line-ups from Hollywood in a long, long time. I know that distributors fear The Hunger Games, but like Twilight before it, it is a quadrant killer, but not a 4 quadrant killer. Oh, the irony that the other big movie being widely released the day before Thanksgiving is Frozen, which is aggressively designed to reflect the rebooted success of Tangled… aka chasing the girl audience… aka the one quadrant sure to be flooded by Hunger Games mania.

And God bless The Hobbit, but December feels a lot like someone left the multiplex and forgot to turn out the lights. I’m thinking that aside from being a suicide mention for a recently reduced staff, in terms of the marketplace, Paramount could easily have opened both Jack Ryan AND the new Scorsese without overwhelming audiences with too many choices. Mitty and Anchorman 2 are all that are left, really, aside from high quality awards rollouts and Walking With Dinosaurs, which, stunningly, could become the new Chipmunks for lack of any competition for kids eyes in December. (This should also benefit the legs on Frozen.) American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street and Madea’s Christmas should all score, but not mega-numbers. The month feels 3 movies short of a full commercial line-up.

Back to this weekend… nothing too exciting. We can forget about Ender’s Game as a franchise unless foreign is many multiples of domestic, where the gross won’t cover the marketing cost. Gravity, though there are a couple of cases with better numbers in the 8th weekend of release, is really the leggiest October movie in history, given that it’s so far out ahead of the others in this range (Meet The Parents and Look Who’s Talking).

Captain Phillips is getting closer to $100 million.

12 Years A Slave expanded by 267 screens, but is down in gross for the first time. This is a landmark we have seen many times for small films… some that have won Best Picture. Nearing $25m in the bank by the end of this weekend, the real challenge for Fox Searchlight is to keep the train rolling steadily for the next month, until awards nominations and critics group awards come to the rescue. But the truth is, there doesn’t tend to be a huge bump from that December awards parade.

There have only been 5 films that opened as early as October and were not immediate wide releases that got Best Picture nominations (An Education, A Serious Man, Babel, Good Night, And Good Luck., and Sideways). 12 Years is already past the box office ceilings of Education and Serious, so no point in looking at those, really. Babel was at about half the gross of 12 Years at this point and nursed its way through to January nominations when it went wider again after Oscar nods, but only added $13 million for a $34m domestic total. 12 Years is pretty much past that point too. Good Night never got on more than 803 screens at a time, slept through until January’s Oscar nods, and then only added $6 million.

That brings us to Searchlight’s Sideways, which was put into a self-induced coma of under 500 screens until it got its Oscar nominations, only generating $32 million before nominations and then about $40 million after. 12 Years A Slave is already doing better than Sideways. But then again, it has also expanded wider that Sideways did at this point.

So… I don’t know. There is no true comp for 12 Years. It has outperformed the films that “look like it” on paper. But it’s also had the chance to do so. My expectation is that Searchlight will hope for a strong Thanksgiving and then mothball the movie for 6 or 7 weeks, unless the critics show unanimity in early December and there is an increased demand out there. But I think it hits about $32m – $33m by the end of Thanksgiving, then a drop in screens under 1000, then down into the 500 screen range for about 6 weeks, with grosses through December that take it to the low 40s, with a wide expansion the weekend after Oscar nominations. At that point, the bump could be anywhere between $20 million – $50 million, depending on Searchlight’s ability to bring a freshness to that push. I tend to think $75m is about where the film lands… which would be pretty remarkable. Half of the last 8 Best Picture winners did $75m or less domestically. And the other half did over $100 million.

Nebraska opened on 4 screens to about $30k per screen… which is fine… but not definitive in any way.

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13 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Best Sequel Klady”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    Nikki Finke Says:

    YOWZA!!! Christmas came very early for Universal Studios, which opened their modestly budgeted “Best Man Holiday” at #1 on Friday. TOLDJA! “Guess Thor’s mighty hammer wasn’t enough to chop down our humble Christmas Tree,” snarked one well-placed source. “It’ll be curtains for the Avenger when Katniss starts taking arrows out of her quiver next week.”

    “Best Man Holiday” had a solid marketing effort. In order to play up the pic’s prostitution angle, Universal set up whorehouses in NY, LA, and in order to detract from “Thor,” in Kevin Feige’s guest-house. Educational pamphlets were handed out on breech pregnancies, and New Edition’s “Hot 2nite” was the free iTunes release this week.

  2. Chris says:

    Exactly what I’ve been thinking about December, re: 3 movies short. There is obviously an audience for “Jack Ryan” and, I agree, one or two other crowd-pleasers, especially one for kids.

  3. Geoff says:

    Dave I get your point about Paramount and Jack Ryan, but they are marketing the HELL out of Ron Burgundy and you know they’re gonna push ‘Wall Street really hard, hoping to get something close to Django or ‘Gatsby numbers. If they kept Jack Ryan on the schedule, that would have been THREE big movies to open within a week of each other, just too much.

    That said, there seems to be a ton of potential audience overlap between Wall Street and American Hustle – loose/ironic historical comedy/dramas about scammers and swindlers, featuring A-list pedigrees. Don’t get me wrong, I can see both films finding an audience…but has there ever been a time when two films like this opened right next to each other and BOTH films hit?

  4. pj says:

    The people have spoken. They wanted to see Best Man, not 12 Years.

  5. Fitzerald says:

    They are throwing Jack Ryan away. There is zero excitement evident for that film.

  6. movieman says:

    There is obviously an audience for…one or two other crowd-pleasers, especially one for kids.
    Which is way it was stupid to dump “Oldboy” the way its distrib is apparently doing. That had all the earmarks of a family-friendly slam dunk.
    (Just kidding, but I’m still pissed I’ll probably have to wait for dvd now since a 500-screen break is way too small for my corner of the sky.)
    you know they’re gonna push ‘Wall Street really hard, hoping to get something close to Django or ‘Gatsby numbers.
    They’ve been pushing “WOWS” super (SUPER) hard for months, Chris. And hell yeah to the “Django” numbers. As I opined previously, ‘plex auditoriums showing this Xmas week could be veritable, “Django”-esque sausage fests with bro-bonding galore. (High-fives all around.)
    Personally, I think–on paper anyway–the holiday season looks pretty solid…and full enough.
    Nobody has mentioned “Grudge Match” or “47 Ronin,” both of which have the potential to break out.
    As groan-inducing as the “GM” trailer is, I can definitely see this doing “Bucket List” sized numbers. Which is probably why WB is releasing it on Xmas Day rather than in April.
    While a martial arts extravaganza hasn’t scored big in awhile (“The Last Samurai” maybe?), this just might be a sleeper.
    Or at least another “Immortals.”
    To me, the most vulnerable of the December wide releases seems like “American Hustle.” I’m not sure whether the trailer(s) are really doing an effective job of telling people exactly what the hell it’s all about….besides another excuse for Christian Bale to chew scenery under a lot of ugly prosthetics. (At least I hope they’re prosthetics.)

  7. EtGuild2 says:

    “47 Ronin” is the “World War Z” of the fall in terms of production. It was filmed almost 3 years ago. They are going to need to do probably $450m worldwide just to break even.

  8. Chris says:

    @EtGuild2 And, to make matter worse, it’s the “Spike Lee’s ‘Oldboy'” of promotion.

  9. Bulldog68 says:

    Gotta say I’m extremely surprised at the legs on Bad Grandpa. It will do more than three times it’s opening weekend gross, which is a first for the series, and most likely get past $100m. I thought it would do okay, but this is beyond what I expected, especially with all the “quality” choices for adults.

  10. Pat says:

    Ice Cube needs to get to work on “Christmas Friday” pronto!

  11. Nick Rogers says:

    Pat: He already made “Christmas Friday,” in a manner of speaking.

  12. Chris says:

    All of those holds are pretty impressive. Certainly suggests there was room for another new title in the marketplace this weekend.

  13. Hallick says:

    “The people have spoken. They wanted to see Best Man, not 12 Years.”

    Thanks for letting us all know what the people speak, pj. My weekend can finally rest easy. I knew I kept that Family Circus clipping of you calling spaghetti “pasghetti” on my fridge for a reason.

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