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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Len No Good Withheld Screening Goes Punished Klady

Friday Estimates 2014-09-13 at 8.25.46 AM

Before I start pulling apart the meager entries of this weekend, let me note once again… the box office story of this last summer looks quite different when viewed in micro perspective instead of macro perspective. The sky is forever falling for media writers. That is the preferred story. And there are serious issues about what is coming to be deconstructed (especially the rest of the world tending to follow U.S. behaviors a few years later… which will become a major problem if it holds true). But this summer was not a box office disaster simply because overall domestic grosses were “off” $850 million or so from last year’s total summer domestic gross. There was less profit on the high side, but there was also a lot fewer losses on the low side. Ask a studio about the summer and they will concur that it was down, but then ask about the details of their studio and they will tell you that they were not strong as they would like or that they were pretty happy with the results.

Here is a simple example, which I do not think explains away everything. But it is specific and it is legit. Animation only. No Pixar movie this summer. Last year released-by-this-date, the 4 animated movies in the Top 20 grossed $2.6 billion worldwide. This year, the 4 animated movies in the Top 20 have grossed $1.5 billion worldwide. The total drop from last year – to date – is about $1.7 billion. Take out animation and it’s about $600 million… or about a 4% drop… a little above average, but not terribly dramatic. And while you can’t just blink your eyes and change the numbers, a single Pixar movie could have easily been expected to deliver $700 million of the animation sector’s $1.1 billion “deficit” for 2014 or about 40% of the overall “deficit.” One movie.

I will do a full piece about summer box office soon, but I keep reading the doom and gloom headlines, as well as those who would love to claim that it’s all about quality and the end of the great movies and yadda yadda yadda…

There is certainly a discussion to be had and weaknesses to be poked at, but any disaster that can be fixed by a couple hit movies is not the end of the line for the movies or for theatrical. It just isn’t.

As for this weekend, Sony hid No Good Deed from critics and Sony won that bet. The truth is, critics were not likely to damage this film. But why take the chance of a wave of negativity just before opening. Sony found their market – a combination of thriller lovers and people of color – and surely knew they were in good shape going into the weekend and chose not to rock their own boat with no upside. This doesn’t bother me. Never has. Frankly, it’s amazing that studios screen as high a percentage of their films ahead of time as they do. None of these films are culture changers. They are pieces of business. And as such, they are treated as nothing but product, dedicated to their best possible product launch.

Dolphin Talk 2 is the sequel to the surprise 2011 Alcon hit that WB didn’t want to fund and though this is not a terribly impressive Friday number, it’s off only 18% from the first film and projects to a $15.5 million 3-day weekend and a possible $60m domestic gross. Like other films, Alcon is surely hoping that the sequel will perform better overseas, where it only did $23 million the first time out.

Guardians of the Galaxy finally hit $300 million domestic, the only film of 2014 to do so. It is still #8 worldwide for the year… but will surely get up to #6 or #5 before international plays out. (It is possible that it will get a much bigger Chinese boost… that is the wildcard here).

The Drop opens to $1.4 million, which is not good… even for Tom Hardy’s limited history. It opens behind the great Warrior (a box office disappointment) and Lawless.

Meanwhile, Let’s Be Cops, yet another summer movie that was written off by most writers on opening weekend, will pass $70 million domestic today. And let’s not forget Tammy, which was overhyped as a feminist issue, but grossed $84 million domestic and was not a summer miss, but rather, a success. These films are victims of hit-and-run journalism, which can’t pay attention to anything for longer than the length of a Twitter trend.

On the indie side, Roadside release The Skeleton Twins should get to $20k per-screen on 15… which is okay. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, which gets the record for most worked-over project of the year (leading pretty much nowhere), should do about $15k per on 4 screens and never expand to more than a couple hundred screens (maybe) and half a mil (at most). Even people who hate Harvey Weinstein will have to admit that he game this film a LOT of room to be what indie audiences wanted. But as great as the cast is, this one just loves itself a bit too much to allow others to love it. And My Old Lady, which was at Toronto last week, but didn’t seem to work very hard for attention, will be just under $10k per (as will Born to Fly and The Quitter).

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25 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Len No Good Withheld Screening Goes Punished Klady”

  1. ThriceDamned says:

    Guardians have to be seen as a big disappointment, barely getting to $300m domestic and probably not more than $700m worldwide.

    Also, China, “funny money”, big marketing spend, downplayed budget and other excuses as I think of them.

    Maybe with a smaller budget next time out they’ll be able to turn a profit before ancillaries.

  2. Spacesheik says:

    I have no interest in seeing a generic family/couple-threatened-by-psycho-drama. Been done to death: Desperate Hours, Pacific Heights, Unlawful Entry, Lakeview Terrace etc —

    ‘No good deed’ looked awful just from the trailer alone.

    Grow some creative balls, Hollywood.

  3. movieman says:

    Glad to see “The Drop” opened decently in its (too limited) release.
    I bow to Tom Hardy’s genius: the man can do no wrong in my book.
    I thought it had the same becoming modesty, no-frills terseness and coiled intensity of a classic late /40s/early ’50s Hollywood noir.
    It deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as previous Lehane adaptations like “Gone Baby Gone,” “Mystic River” and “Shuttger Island.”
    And Gandolfini, of course, is beyond reproach.

  4. movieman says:

    Uh, “Shutter Island.”

  5. EtGuild2 says:

    “No Good Deed” is awful…at least “Obsessed” had a certain appeal with its deranged sensibilities.

    But Sony has to be thanking its lucky stars for Will Packer. “No Good Deed,” “Think Like a Man Too,” “About Last Night” have all been solid niche earners that (along with “Heaven is for Real”) have boosted the bottom line in what’s overall been another year of lackluster results and bad press for the studio (SPIDEY 2 endangering the franchise’s future, continued production problems for BOND 24).

  6. Spacesheik says:

    To me Sony will forever be associated with single handedly destroying *two* different incarnations of ‘Spider-Man’.

    That property should belong to Marvel who know how to maximize their IP’s.

  7. movieman says:

    Curious to see how Kevin Smith’s “Tusk” performs next weekend.
    And just how wide A24 is planning to go with it.
    I would have never guessed after the dismal one-two punch of “Zack and Miri” and “Cop Out” that Smith would be someday be reborn as a horror director.
    But “Red State” and “Tusk” are both very, very good.
    Tarantino should be green w/ envy that he didn’t get to Michael Parks first.
    Parks’ was fine in “RS,” but he knocks it out of the park in “Tusk.”
    (Add’l props to Fleetwood Mac for letting Smith use their awesome 1979 song.)

  8. movieman says:

    P.S.= No pun (deliberately) intended in that lameass baseball analogy, lol.

  9. Kevin says:

    Re: TUSK, I’m personally wondering whether it will open in Canada/Quebec next week. I’ve been asking around and have not gotten a clear answer yet.

    Since the film actually takes place in Canada, it would suck if it didn’t open here too…

  10. EtGuild2 says:

    Fox Searchlight had never hit $4 million in an under 1,000 theater release, so can’t fathom how this is “not good.” Though I disagree with movieman on the film’s merits–I found it forgettably inoffensive plot wise, but enjoyable from an acting and dialogue standpoint–to compare it to “Lawless,” which benefited from a much more muscular marketing campaign and opened in over three times as many theatres is bizarre. Also: I’ll be stunned if it doesn’t top “Warrior.”

    Great thoughts on the summer season, though, DP.

  11. Greg says:

    Kevin: Cineplex took Tusk off its release date schedule. It still says opening Sept 19th but if you scroll through the date by date listing its not there. Looks iffy. All other A24 releases have been released in Canada, so Im sure it’ll appear in the next few weeks.

  12. Tom Q says:

    I had to read your Eleanor Rigby sentence twice to be sure you were serious. Weinstein took on an admittedly difficult project, but, rather than try something modestly risky (like run the two versions back-to-back in a 3-hour showing), did a slapdash/conventional cut to two hours that everyone (most especially critics) views as inferior to the full work, and put that out in the market — at the same time telling anyone who’d like see the filmmakers’ intended version that they’ll 1) have to wait a month or so and 2) live in NY or LA. That’s what you call giving a lot of room? Maybe you think he did his best by Snowpiercer, as well.

    I think the lesson of this year is, if Harvey Weinstein has any misgivings about your film as is, you should run in the opposite direction if he tries to acquire it. Because he will do his best to kill it, and, evidently, persuade some that the failure proved the film just didn’t have what it takes.

  13. John says:

    Um, movieman, Michael Parks played two parts in KILL BILL and was also in DEATH PROOF.

  14. Gustavo says:

    “Guardians have to be seen as a big disappointment, barely getting to $300m domestic and probably not more than $700m worldwide.

    Also, China, “funny money”, big marketing spend, downplayed budget and other excuses as I think of them.

    Maybe with a smaller budget next time out they’ll be able to turn a profit before ancillaries.”

    Is this sarcasm?

  15. spassky says:

    “Tarantino should be green w/ envy that he didn’t get to Michael Parks first.”

    I don’t understand.

  16. movieman says:

    I completely forgot that Parks had worked w/ Tarantino, John.
    Those roles couldn’t have been terribly sizable, though, since I have zero recollection of them.
    Unlike–I’m guessing?–you, I only saw “DP” and the “Bill”s once at the time of their original theatrical release(s).

    Clearly Tarantino didn’t get nearly as much out of Parks as Smith managed to do in their two films together.
    He really is freakishly brilliant in “Tusk.”

  17. movieman says:

    Wow; Ira Sachs’ pitch-perfect “Love is Strange” seems to have pulled a disappearing act without ever reaching 50 screens.
    Pretty cruel fate for one of the best reviewed films of the year.
    Finally had the chance to see it yesterday (it hits Cleveland next Friday), and was suitably impressed.
    I thought “LIS” had the texture and elegance of a great New Yorker short story.
    But I do wonder if it’s maybe too subtle (and, yeah, “small”) to make any significant headway in the year-end awards race.
    Which is unfortunate on multiple levels.

  18. LexG says:

    Surely you remember Parks being center stage for 10 minutes doing a monologue at the opening scene of “From Dusk til Dawn,” no? He wasn’t just in the Kill Bill movies, he played two separate roles in t hem. I’d have thought he was pretty hard to miss in those. (Just bustin’ your stones, mm)

    Does this mean the SEE IT AGAAAAIN! cuts of Rigby are unlikely to happen?

  19. berg says:

    God Save the Girl was great … didn’t expect a film nowadays to channel the Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Absolute Beginners

  20. pat says:

    I believe Parks played the same character in From Dusk til Dawn, Kill Bill and Death Proof.

  21. Kevin says:

    Greg: Previous A24 movies were distributed in Quebec by Seville or Metropole, but neither bought the rights to TUSK (I asked).

  22. leahnz says:

    yeah parks plays the same texas ranger role in all those (and ‘planet terror’)…’earl mcgraw’ (looked up the name)

  23. YancySkancy says:

    The second part Parks played in KILL BILL VOL. 2 was “Esteban Vihaio.” He also had a small part in DJANGO UNCHAINED, in the scene in which Tarantino played the Australian slave trader.

  24. PcChongor says:

    *the scene in which Tarantino played Tarantino playing an Australian slave trader.

  25. Breedlove says:

    Harvey Weinstein seems like an asshole. Why does he acquire these movies and then butcher them? I still want to see the proper version of The Grandmaster…that must be out on blu?

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