MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Ho’ed Ho’ed Ho’ed Klady

Friday Est (corr2)2013-12-28 at 10.47.52 AM
(ED NOTE: Apologies for the 2 errors on this chart when first posted. Now corrected.)

Christmas Week is a box office analysis rabbit hole. There is so much volume – in ticket sales, in a short time – and the “rules” about what day of the week means something specific, that every notion that you chase on any given box office day, you end up popping up out of the dirt somewhere unexpected.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has been out ahead of Frozen all week, but as much as $3 million on Christmas Day. But on Friday, Frozen stepped past the fiery dragon and will likely extend that lead today and tomorrow. Or will it? Maybe Friday was The Saturday of this week. But wait… kids have another full 9 days off of school. Will parents start taking younger kids to Smaug? Will they start taking older kids to Frozen? Will there be repeat viewings? After all, this remains The December That Forgot Families.

Of course, this time of year, it’s best to hang on to the long view. Both films will add at least $70 million and as much as $100 million to their domestic totals by the end of the holiday. Smaug can be expected to add another $30m – $40 million after that. Frozen, which is pretty certain to become the #1 non-summer animated grosser of all-time, would be expected to slow and add less than $10 million after the holiday… but with this film, who knows?

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which, quite oddly, only faces niche competition from Martin Scorsese, is strong. It’s should be past $125 million before the holiday ends. December released comedies are a weird niche. And Ferrell & Co make it even odder. So… I hate most of the comparisons. Either they are too old or not really the same audience (see: anything by Nancy Meyers) or sequels that were in a bigger groove to start with (Fockers) or something that just doesn’t match. All that said, strong run for a sequel that Paramount did not want to make and held off for years. (Don’t tell Brooks Barnes… he believes that this was genius strategy by Paramount, not a dumb mistake.)

This brings me to another big picture notion.

There has only been one December with as many as 4 $120m+ domestic releases. After many years of 2 $120m+ releases being the norm, we have had 3 in each of the last 4 Decembers. Right now, it looks like we will have 3 such films… though The Wolf of Wall Street could get there if it trends up in award season. Yet, it doesn’t feel like a great December. Why? Well, this kind of happened last December too, when 2 of the 3 $120m+ December releases were award chasers. December (and in many ways, January) hasn’t relied on those awards movies to power December box office int he past.

While there was talk about product overload this month, it was not well considered. If you look at the actual films in release, there is a ton of room for box office elasticity of which advantage is not being taken.

As I have noted repeatedly, there is no clear “all family” film in the market aside from Frozen. One could argue that Saving Mr. Banks and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty qualify, but aside from the Disney emphasis on Banks that has confused many people I have spoken to about the film’s target market – they think it’s for kids… it’s not offensive for kids, but it ain’t a film for kids – both films are really for audiences over 15. Two of the top five films on Friday are R-rated. In fact, there are 7 R-rated films that opened wide or will expand wide this month out of 16 total wide/will-be-wide releases this month. Every single 1 of those 7 is an awards hopeful… which means odd release strategies and a glass ceiling.

Anchorman 2 and 47 Ronin, may be PG-13, but clearly scan high school and older.

So what does that leave?

The Blockbuster: Smaug

The Kids Films: Dinosaurs, Beliebe

The Middle-Aged Nostalgia Awards-Hopeful Films: Grudge, Mitty, Banks

The “Urban” Film: Medea

As you might quickly note, none of the films that kind of hook into nostalgia are doing terribly well. The kids films… the same. Even the “urban” film is a bit of a disappointment for Mr. Perry.

This is not just a function of quality. And though it leans more in that direction, it’s not just marketing mistakes either.

There is only 1 wannabe blockbuster. There are no kids films that reach up into being movies that the whole family wants to see, 8-80.

So we have nostalgia, which is not really taking. We have a surefire flop in 47 Ronin (no idea whether it deserves that status or not… haven’t seen it… ). We have the blockbuster that is doing the expected blockbuster business. What have just 1 straight-out comedy (Anc2). And we have… 7 Oscar movies. And of those 7 Oscar movies, 4 are staying in limited or exclusive through the 1st of the year… 2 are doing strong business… and 1 already burned out.

In my opinion, this period would have been wide open for another blockbuster, another PG-13 (or maybe an R) comedy, and certainly another 8 – 80 style family film.

Back to this Friday…

Three years ago, Justin Bieber had the third highest-grossing doc of all-time with a concert doc. This week, he’s opening to $2k per screen on 1037. Meh.

August: Osage County is the strongest opener of the new exclusives with a about $30k per on 5 screens for the weekend. Not a car wreck, but The Iron Lady did better… without Julia Roberts as Denis Thatcher.

Lone Survivor will do $40k+ per screen on just 2 screens. Survivor has done a great job with publicizing/marketing to blue collar and military viewers, but won’t take advantage of that until its national expansion on January 10. This opening lets the air out of the balloon a little, but when Universal takes this film to the people, coastal media won’t mean much of anything. This should be more like a Christian-themed film or serious military movies, like Act of Valor, which had no stars and grossed $70 million for Relativity in early 2012 (1 of only 4 films the young distributors has crossed the $70m border with). I could actually see this film doing $100 million domestic, mostly outside of the big cities.

Be Sociable, Share!

34 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Ho’ed Ho’ed Ho’ed Klady”

  1. movielocke says:

    So can catching fire get the 25 mil it needs to catch number one of the year?

  2. Matt P. says:

    The gross for Hunger Games is about $100 million off, right?

  3. Aaron says:

    Yeah…that is about 100 million off. Hunger is closing in on 400

  4. pj says:

    So strange for films to be dropping on friday. especially when they were so successful on christmas day.

  5. movieman says:

    “Banks” should be counting its lucky stars that it’s doing even half as well as it is considering the beyond-slender (Baby Boomer “Mary Poppins” nostalgists) demographic.
    “Mitty” should never have opened this month.
    A February, March or even April release would have made more b.o. sense, especially since it was never a serious awards contender…which Fox must have realized, hence their reluctance to send out screeners.

  6. Geoff says:

    Sorry but no way that Wolf of Wall Street is getting to even $100 million domestic….the writing is on the wall and there are a lot of folks who just do not like this movie. I have not seen it yet and am expecting greatness of course.

    But considering it’s dropping on its Friday does not bode well and I think part of if is that you really have DIRECT competition for the same exact audience from the same exact genre (and I mean exact – high energy period piece crime drama) from American Hustle. Truly bizarre….big budget films like these MAYBE come out once a year and now, we see two within a week of each other???

    And it probably was not in the cards, but if Warners could have gotten The Lego Movie ready a couple of months early, they would have CLEANED UP this month…..we’re talking $200 million domestic.

    It’s really hard to tell if Anchorman has really underperformed or not to be honest….the opening weekend was not nearly as strong as I thought it would be considering the marketing campaign that preceded it. But it will probably end up making 50% more domestic and double what the first one made worldwide….and it did not go over-budget at all. Hard to not call that a success and it’s really in Paramount’s wheelhouse….back in the ’90’s, they made hits like these on a regular basis, a la Waynes World, Addams Family, Brady Bunch, etc….

  7. movieman says:

    Would it have been imprudent for Paramount to platform “WOWS”?
    Say, exclusive December engagements at NY’s Sony Lincoln Square and LA’s Arclight, and not going wide until after the Oscar nominations were announced?
    I’ve said the same thing Geoff did about the sheer perversity of “American Hustle” and “WOWS” competing for the same demographic over the holidays.
    Gotta believe that both films would have done better in the long run with a little breathing room between them…although, miracle of miracle, they’re both doing quite well.
    (And I do wonder if it will take “WOWS” thirty years before it receives its due. It’s as purposefully/artfully alienating as Scorsese’s “King of Comedy,” another film that took decades to officially be acknowledged as a masterpiece.)

  8. Joe Leydon says:

    Movieman: Just who are these folks who have “officially” acknowledged King of Comedy as a masterpiece? Are they the “some people” — as in, “Some people say…” — that Fox News hosts are always referencing?

  9. movieman says:

    I think the tide turned sometime last decade, Joe.
    Now whenever anybody references “KOC,” it’s (deservedly) spoken of in the same exalted tone as a “Taxi Driver,” “Good Fellas,” “Raging Bull” or “Mean Streets.”

  10. Joe Leydon says:

    I can say without equivocation that I have never heard anyone refer to it thusly. (Well, except here.) And I seriously doubt most people would rank it in Scorsese’s all-time top five.

  11. Jerryishere says:

    I don’t watch Fox News.
    But I’m a “some people” re: King of Comedy.
    And WOWS is up there too.
    Mr. Scorsese just seems to have a knack for making films that take the public time. And the Acdemy? Geez.
    Raging Bull.
    And probably WOWS.

    As Pacino said in that Sandler movie “you’d think I have more” (I paraphrase I think, but you get the idea)

  12. movieman says:

    If I’m not mistaken, it was J. Hoberman who first led the “KOC” charge.
    And because Hoberman is arguably the unofficial president of America’s “Smart Critic Mafia,” his “masterpiece” assessment eventually became the public record. To which I concur.
    That’s all I have to say about that, lol.

  13. movieman says:

    Jerry brought up an interesting point.
    The shortest period of time before a major Scorsese work was (favorably) reassessed was “New York, New York.”
    The 1981 release of the restored version–one that included the infamously dumped climactic “Happy Endings” production number–turned the critical tide in Scorsese’s favor just four years after its original release.
    I’m still waiting for history to catch up w/ “The Age of Innocence,” my personal favorite of all Scorsese films.
    I can’t believe that no one (besides me) has ever commented on how the ending of “Innocence” quotes the ending of “NY, NY.”

  14. leahnz says:

    i was going to say, i watched Charlie rose last night with leo and Mr Scorsese, and Sese himself say WOWS is NOT SATIRE (when leo suggests it is…), couldn’t be clearer about it — hahaha, i have to admit if feels pretty good to be vindicated in one’s assessment and watching the many ‘it’s not glorification or offensive because it’s SATIRE’ apologists in the lolly scramble after that bombshell of truth should be highly amusing. (or more likely they’ll just ignore it and go on calling it satire to suit their agenda)

  15. Pat says:

    A good satire should never admit to being satire. Otherwise it just won’t work.

  16. leahnz says:

    what? i’m just curious why are people so invested in WOWS being satire? it’s a movie based on the memoire of a real guy who does not view himself as ‘bad’, fairly faithfully (from what i understand) adapting and depicting real-life events as they happened to Jordan Belfort FROM HIS POINT OF VIEW, Scorsese made this pretty clear – it’s a black comedic rendering of one particular asshole’s journey of excess and debasement and debauchery to imprisonment for his actions, it’s all pretty much spelled out for you. not satire.

  17. movieman says:

    Not sure whether this means anything or not, but I ran into one of my former students (a real movie buff) today who told me that he’s already seen “WOWS” twice.
    The second time he went w/ a group of friends who, according to him, loved it as much as he did and are already planning a return visit. (The same group of 18-21-year-old friends thought “American Hustle” was boring and didn’t understand his enthusiasm for it.)
    Maybe it will turn out to be the (DePalma/Pacino) “Scarface” for today’s generation after all.

  18. Joe Leydon says:

    Really, there’s just so much critical revisionism I can take before laughing out loud. I have seen just about every cheesy slasher movie of the 70s and 80s referred to as a “classic” when its remake was released. I have read pieces by people who think Freddy Got Fingered was some kind of misunderstood masterpiece. Hell, I have even spotted the faint stirrings of a movement to rebrand Movie 43 as a subversive work of genius. OK. To each his own. I saw King of Comedy when it first came out, and reviewed it. I have never had any desire to see it again. I have no desire to see it now. Life is short, and one must make priorities.

  19. Bulldog68 says:

    So Joe, lets flip the script. What movie do you have to defend that is loathed by your critic buddies but you consider a work of genius?

  20. Bulldog68 says:

    Well not necessarily a work of genius, but I stand by my love for Armageddon.

  21. leahnz says:

    the ‘scarface’ comparison with ‘WOWS’ is disturbing (not just here, i’ve seen it a few times in other venues), because stone and de palma’s outrageous crime saga is a satirical paean to greed and violence at it’s most deliberately preposterous and blackhearted, whereas Belfort’s self-aggrandizing fratboy idiocy is rooted very much in true events. that the two are seen as somehow comparable is kind of scary somehow. i’d have to think more carefully about why that freaks me out so.

  22. christian says:

    KING OF COMEDY is indeed a masterpiece and there have been plenty of critical re-evaluations. Just this year in fact:

    “Written by Paul D. Zimmerman and featuring supporting performances from Diahnne Abbott and Sandra Bernhard (as well as appearances by members of the Clash and the director’s mother, father and daughter Cathy), “The King of Comedy” was more of a critical than a commercial hit at the time of its release, but has gradually earned a place in Mr. Scorsese’s pantheon. This digital restoration, which will be presented on April 27, is being produced from the film’s original camera negatives and will also have a restored soundtrack.”

  23. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, if there’s any Scorsese movie in need of re-evaluation, I think it’s this one. (Though I admit: I may be partial to the film because it reminded me a bit of my experiences as a welfare worker.)

  24. leahnz says:

    ha i love ‘bringing out the dead’ (and bonus points for cliff curtis as Cy, everything’s better with cliff)

  25. Joe Leydon says:

    Don’t make me take my sunglasses off!

  26. Glamourboy says:

    This is to whoever was wondering about the audience for Saving Mr. Banks….I was at a screening today and the theater was PACKED with tween girls….who seemed to know and love the movie, Mary Poppins…but also seemed to be in tears during much of the father/daughter plot.

  27. EtGuild2 says:

    Bieber is proof positive your previous fanbase won’t go with you when you transform from wholesome-whitebread-crooner to scuzzy-urban-wannabe rapper, no matter how big you once were. Un-beliebable that more people didn’t step in to remind him he’s supposed to be David Cassidy, not Chris Brown.

  28. movieman says:

    I’m still trying to figure out why Open Road opted to go the theatrical route with the Bieber.
    A straight-to-video release would have probably been (a tad) less embarrassing for all concerned.

  29. Mike says:

    Joe, that’s my favorite of his, and I’m always baffled why movie buffs don’t speak better of it.

  30. Joe Leydon says:

    For years, I have heard/read people claim that we shouldn’t take the endings of Taxi Driver and King of Comedy literally, that they’re actually fantasies of triumph spun by the protagonists. Wonder what those theorists will make of the ending of Wolf of Wall Street?

  31. leahnz says:

    joe, what’s your take? (presuming you mean the —-SPOILER in case i offend someone —- pen thing) i thought about it but found the rest of the film such a blunt instrument lacking in any subtext or layers open to interpretation that it seemed incongruous and unlikely that that last scene should suddenly buck the trend and get existential or delve into the layers of the mind, but i can see how the question would be asked. meaningless note: i’m pretty sure the host at the seminar is the real Belfort. what a guy!

  32. YancySkancy says:

    A glance at MRQE’s metric (84%) and the Tomatometer (93%) suggests — though not definitively, of course — that KING OF COMEDY currently enjoys a rather high critical standing (most of the reviews seem to be for the 2003 DVD release).

  33. Joe Leydon says:

    Leah: I have never bought into the “fantasy of triumph” theory for either Taxi Driver or King of Comedy. And, funnily enough, I think Wolf of Wall Street actually reinforces my belief that, no, Scorsese isn’t going to make it that easy for you.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon