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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Not-So-Big-Willie-Style Klady

Friday Estimates 2015-02-28 at 8.40.39 AM

As is so often the case, the premature reporting of weekend estimates from east coast matinees leads to increased disappointment for the studios that encourage such silliness. Focus is an underdog to get to $20 million this weekend, though this could be one where there is a Sunday estimate that is higher than the actual. It’s also possible that the cold in the east and midwest will help or hurt over today and tomorrow. What we know for sure is that this is not a glorious return of the too-little-seen Mr. Smith. Starring in only his fourth film in the seven years since his last big hit, Hancock, Smith still has “it,” but about half the biggest moviegoing demo in America has no real idea of who he is/was. WB will look to the overseas audience to keep this from being a big money loser, as they came to the rescue of Seven Pounds ($98m international), Men in Black III ($445m int), and After Earth ($183m int).

Focus is clearly a move to a more adult positioning of Smith’s career… from high-energy bad boy to adult intelligence and sensuality. He has the chops. But he probably needed more experienced hands behind the camera. Smith’s stardom has come from very definable characters who lacked real mystery. This dude in Focus is meant to be a cipher from beginning to end. And the marketing has flailed as a result. In trying to find the tone that will connect with Smith’s audience, WB has come up with a lot of approaches… which has muddied the water while still not finding the golden ticket. A lot of smart and very talented people have come up short on this one.

The Lazarus Effect ain’t coming back. But it’s Relativity, so this is about where the company lives. Did you know that Relativity has never had an opening over $33 million? This is their 33rd release as an independent and it will be their 20th not to open to at least $10 million. Sometimes, the company is just designed to be a certain thing and there is just not getting over that mission statement. Relativity is built on international pre-sales, which means that domestic distribution is not life and death. And there you go. Interestingly, the company opened Oculus last April to $12 million with no name talent and will open Lazarus to under $10 million with Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass. But speaking to the mission statement… it’s a Blumhouse movie that cost under $4 million, which makes it cheaper to make than network TV or a Netflix Original. But it will also be Blumhouse’s worst opening in 5 years (16 films) with the exception of Dark Skies, which Dimension opened to $8 million a few years ago.

50 Shades of Grey is the proverbial dropping stone domestically. $170 million domestic looks like a reach about now. But… it will still pass $500 million worldwide this weekend, so get over it.

Kingsman: The Secret Service hasn’t found that second wind I was hoping it would. But it should be near $85 million at the end of this weekend and $100 million domestic is still well within reach. It should also hop over 50 Shades – and maybe even Lazarus – in the all-unimportant Top 10 slotting chart. Internationally, the film is already over $100 million and there is some gas left in that tank.

Another film I was rooting for, McFarland USA, reminds how challenging it can be for a company that is really good at releasing giant films to release something more delicate (and without a bottomless pit of marketing dollars). This is Disney’s sixth attempt at a non-blockbuster in the last year (Muppets Most Wanted, Bears, Million Dollar Arm, The Hundred Foot Journey, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) and the high for the group, domestically, is $67 million. The budgets, except for Muppets, which was coming off a more successful reboot, were under $30 million. And there seems to be a $30 million range for international on these. So it’s not dragging down Blockbusterville. But most of these titles seemed to offer more upside than the current big-eyed Mouse House is finding.

Oscar Bump is soft. Very soft. American Sniper is holding well… but it was holding well before Oscar night. Same with The Imitation Game. Birdman expanded its re-release this weekend from 407 screens to 1215. The Friday gross more than doubled from last weekend. But it’s still just a $500,000 Friday and maybe a $1.5 million weekend. Likewise, Still Alice went from 765 screen s to 1318, but got only a 10% bump out of it, even with Julianne Moore’s Oscar win. It’s looking at a $2 million weekend.

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5 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Not-So-Big-Willie-Style Klady”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    Truly a year of haves and have-nots at the box office so far. 21 wide releases in January/February (not counting awards season expansions). 4 opened to more than $35 million+, while a staggering 16 opened with less than $20 million, assuming “Focus” falls just shy (“The Wedding Ringer” being the only movie opening between 20-35). Even worse, 13 of the 21 releases opened to $15 million or less, with 8 or 9 under $10 million depending on “Lazarus Effect.”

    Seems typical for this time of year…but it isn’t. The last few years had fewer $35 million openers, more $20 million openers at this point, and fewer under $15 million, despite having around the same number of releases overall. Seems like February and January are becoming more like the rest of the year.

    What’s more alarming is only 2 or 3 of the 16 “have nots” are likely to make any money; “Paddington” and possibly “Boy Next Door” and “McFarland.”

    “American Sniper” (January-February only): $325 million

    The Loft+Mortdecai+Blackhat+Hot Tub 2+The DUFF+Strange Magic+Seventh Son+Black or White+Project Almanac+Woman in Black 2+ Boy Next Door+ Jupiter Ascending+ McFarland USA=$243 million

  2. Kevin says:

    Do you think the release of Season 3 of HOUSE OF CARDS might be a factor in the low box-office numbers?

    I know a lot of people, myself included, are much more excited about watching the new episodes on Netflix than about going out to the movies this weekend.

  3. David Poland says:

    Not enough people to really factor in to the box office, Kevin.

    And if you REALLY wanted to see one of the new movies, wouldn’t that draw you out, even with HOC sitting there waiting?

  4. Kevin says:

    True. If FURIOUS 7 or something was coming out this weekend, I’d take the time to go see it. FOCUS, not so much.

  5. movieman says:

    …and the weekend’s best new release (“Maps to the Stars”) is available as a VOD.
    Why bother leaving the house?
    Especially in this shitty (everywhere but Cali) weather.

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