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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by Len Shade-y

weekend estimates 2015-02-15 at 9.27.07 AM

The Fifty Shades of Grey opening is a “wow,” but it is also being hyped out of proportion to its reality. I guess I understand the urge, though it is not a wow, I don’t think, for any serious reason. It’s just trying to make a story seem bigger to get more attention. And, amazingly enough, we are also in such a strong first quarter – the first since 2010 that isn’t driven to significance by one massive title – that great success seems less important in perspective… so perspective is minimized on Sundays like this.

Fifty Shades is #2. And by that I mean that it is the #2 February opening ever… the #2 opening of the year (if you take American Sniper‘s expansion from 4 screens to extremely wide release as an opening)… the #2 February 4-day gross (also behind The Passion of The Christ)… etc.

It’s not The Hunger Games, though it opened better than Twilight after having a smaller opening day. But the youth market is a big business and mothers were not taking their young and pre-teens to this movie, opening day or ever. Nine years after The Da Vinci Code opened to $77 million domestic against terrible reviews, that seems to be the next best comparison. Big book. Hard core following. Really for adults. No 3D. No Tom Hanks here… but that probably accounts for why the two openings are so close, nine years later. The 2006 Da Vinci opening would probably translate to about $91m now.

Anyway… a big, fat hit. Also, relatively cheap to make. Where it goes… who knows? I suspect that the sequel drops a bit from this film’s eventual totals, but as long as the sequels don’t go wildly out of control, budgetwise, there is a cash cow to be milked for a few years here. (I just wonder what DeLuca’s deal is, moving forward. He can’t produce the films, but I am assuming he will get paid a significant percentage on both sequels. Spielbergian.)

Kingsman: The Secret Service, with the #16 all-time February opening, could be overlooked. But it shouldn’t be. Colin Firth is great… but not a big opener. Sam Jackson is great, but is not a guarantee of a huge opening. UK accents. A graphic novel little-known outside of the hardcore of readers. An R so hard you could cut diamonds with it. And it could just be getting started. If ever there was a word-of-mouth action film with a big enough sampling to seed weeks of strong legs, this film is it. If I was advising the film’s team, I would be pushing out a couple red-band clips this week to prime the pump. The controversy over the scene with slaughter inside a Southern church can only help.

Another really critical box office point that few wrote about last year—and should have—is that these movies are not as expensive as the market has offered in the recent past. Cinderella probably cost more than Kingsman‘s reported $81 million budget or Spongebob‘s $75 million. But American Sniper and 50 Shades were both under $50 million. And whether the gross numbers are up—which they will probably be this quarter—or down, as they were last year… the gross revenue doesn’t much matter. It’s about profitability.

Even without much from international, Eastwood’s American Sniper is already his biggest movie ever by almost 50%. Over $300 million domestic now. And $350 million is looking likely, even more if it wins (gulp!) Best Picture.

Oscar box office 2015-02-15 at 10.50.32 AM

For what it’s worth, Foxcatcher, which never heated up commercially, is now over $11.9 million.

The Oscar Shorts, released theatrically by ShortsHD, are headed to over $2 million. That’s not nothing.

Nice 5-screen opening for self-distributed What We Do In The Shadows and strong on 2 with Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amselem.

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13 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Len Shade-y”

  1. movieman says:

    Mojo has higher per-screen averages for “What We Do” and “5 Years” ($32,900 and $15,033 respectively).
    But they also list fewer theaters for each film (2 for “What” and 3 for “Years”).
    Not sure which figure is correct.

  2. EtGuild2 says:

    Story of the weekend has to be “Fifty Shades'” massive $158 million overseas haul. Mr. Grey is headed to $400 million worldwide at least, a figure that I have a tough time wrapping my head around.

  3. greg says:

    What We Do is playing in 3 theatres in Canada…Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

  4. PcChongor says:

    How does “Fifty Shades” even “work” in the age of one-click internet porn?

    I just can’t wrap my head around the seemingly massive audience that’s ready to lay down a pocketful of duckets to see something that’s even tamer than a cursory Google image search.

  5. movieman says:

    The only way Christian Grey could have been more boring (onscreen) is if Eddie Redmayne had played him.
    Ironic how Dakota Johnson’s dad did more (i.e., copious) frontal nudity 45 years ago in “The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart” (an R-rated major studio release) than her male costar does in “Fifty” (uh, none at all).
    “9 1/2 Weeks” did the whole “S&M as a Vogue Fashion Spread” sort of thing a lot better…30 years ago.
    P.S.= Anyone interested in checking out a real dominant needs to check out Jamie Bell in “Nymphomaniac, Volume 2.”

  6. EtGuild2 says:

    DP, not to nitpick, but the number on SNIPER claimed by the studio is $58 million, and I’ve seen $61 cited elsewhere. Certainly not under $50.

  7. Joshua says:

    I’m glad to see the Oscar Shorts doing well, and obviously their costs are pretty minimal, but they are really four different programs for which separate tickets are sold (Animation, Live Action, and two separate Documentary programs). They wouldn’t be listed as a single title if it were up to me.

  8. YancySkancy says:

    PcChongor: I know book sales don’t always translate into big movie ticket sales, but hasn’t Fifty Shades sold something like 100 million copies worldwide? Which doesn’t count people who checked it out of the library or borrowed it from a friend. Then there are all the non-readers who are curious because of the immense popularity.

  9. MAGGA says:

    Saw Theory of Everything in Oslo last night, and the people lining up to watch Fifty Shades were mostly groups of 15 year old girls. The European number will probably be quite big since younger people are allowed to go. Combined with it being seen as “house wife” porn, as well as the attention generated by some protests and so on, there’s no wonder it’s doing well. It may not be good, but like American Sniper it’s always good to see even half-assed movies not based on superheroes or toys (though technically I guess Shades is based on the latter) doing well. Also, both movies prove that a political backlash is a great way to sell tickets again.

  10. movieman says:

    Et- I know that it’s probably heretical, but I actually preferred “Da Sweet Blood…” to “Ganja and Hess.”
    I’ve always thought “G&J” was more interesting in concept than execution.
    But “DSB…” is a “Spike Lee Joint” from start to finish. And a darn good one.
    I enjoyed it immensely.

  11. EtGuild2 says:

    I felt the same way. Glad you liked it!

  12. cadavra says:

    As I’ve made known, I normally don’t see movies the first week, but a lady friend really wanted to see WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, and even though I’ve had it up to here with both vampires AND mockumentaries, I agreed to give it a go and we traipsed down to the ArcLight.

    Wow. What a terrific picture. For what is in essence a one-joke premise, they did a sensational job of finding the humor that everyone else misses, and kept it nice and short (86″, inc. credits) before it could start to run out of gas. Big kudos to these guys, and glad it’s doing well.

    ETA: Oops. Didn’t realize it had already been discussed on another thread.

  13. Mike says:

    The Oscar shorts are four programs? Out here in Virginia, we only get the live-action shorts and the animated shorts (though this year, I just got both at iTunes, as I didn’t have the time to get to the theater). I don’t think it’s unreasonable to mark them as one, as anyone who is seeking them out is probably going to see both.

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