MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by Detergent Klady

Weekend Estimates 2015-03-22 at 9.08.30 AM

Feels sleepy at the box office, even with back-to-back $50m+ opening weekends.

Woe to the white male. Cinderella, Insurgent, and even Fifty Shades of Grey… where is the product for us?

Oh yeah, we got The Gunman and Run All Night. Thanks a lot, Hollywood! If we white men weren’t directing all but one of these films and dominating the executive offices, we would be deeply, deeply offended.

Yeah, we got Kingsman: The Secret Service, which continues to do strong numbers. And American Sniper, of course. But those Hollywood people only teased us with those Oscar nominations that went no where. SNUB!

At least The Weinsteins decided to expand the pure, old-fashioned gore of It Follows into more theaters… wait… it’s brilliant, non-traditional horror? And there are some hot girls, but they aren’t exploited the way they usually are in horror? And it’s about something bigger? Damn it! At least they screwed it up by not deciding on a more aggressive theatrical position until after it was slotted for VOD, spent almost nothing in marketing, and can now claim that it didn’t really work, just doubling the gross by expanding to 8x the screens this weekend. See… can’t blame VOD.

Okay… coming out of character… can’t stand it anymore.

It Follows is a movie that could have easily done $20 million domestic if released with that intent. Screen Gems would have opened it to 20 back in the day. Teenage girls would love it, if someone sold it to them. Radius knew something was up when it became the must-see for serious genre fans… but the film is more than that. There should be op-ed pieces being done on it and fights on various Gawker-based sites. Every time I describe it someone, they want to see it.

But someone has to tell them it’s in theaters. I have zero question that there is a day-n-date VOD glass ceiling that makes the releasing method great for many indies and a complete soul killer for some of the films that would have been break-outs back in the days before VOD came into vogue at IFC and Magnolia. And I have enormous respect for so many of the choices that IFC and Magnolia and Radius make every day of the year. These companies are, with Sony Classics and a parade of smaller distributors, the soul of cinema in this era. BUT… they need to stop pretending that day-n-date is always the best choice for a “smaller” film. It Follows has been blowing people away for almost a year already. Snowpiercer came from a filmmaker with a history of making beloved films… and this time, it was in English! And to be fair, plenty of people are still talking about Harvey Weinstein blowing his opportunity on Paddington, which people of all ages seem to love.

Weinstein/Radius needs The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” playing in the office 24/7, because they are at the crux of the dilemma for indie film these days. If I go there will be trouble. But if I stay there will be double. It’s bloody hard to play the middle.

And it’s not just Weinstein. Fox Searchlight, which has had massive success, including winning Best Picture two years in a row with New Regency, has often run into this problem. Calvary, Belle, Dom Hemingway, I Origins, and The Drop did $26 million domestic between them last year, $20m+ of it from 2 of the films. But strong, interesting choices. Good movies. A couple of great movies. And… meh. Profit against cost, etc, etc, they may have done okay. But that group of films should have done better. Searchlight isn’t dumb in the spring and smart in the fall. They are always smart and always well intended. Just didn’t get there.

There is nothing easy in the distribution game, except Batman. And while opportunity has expanded, the business is harder than ever. Searchlight doesn’t have the day-n-date VOD option. Weinstein/Radius does. But knowing when to use that tool and when to spend on the marketing required for real theatrical success, etc, etc, etc… all challenging. For companies whose average films are going to gross $2-5 million, a theatrical marketing budget is not a light decision.

Sony Classics, perhaps, lives in the middle of this more than any other distributor. Because of being a part of Sony, they don’t have the day-n-date option either. But they have a lot of “smaller” films with smaller expectations, some of which break out. $17 million with maybe a couple more million coming for Still Alice is a happy surprise. In the nearly 4 years since Midnight in Paris, the company has had only had 6 films go double-digits in millions. Three were Woody Allen. Two were Best Picture nominees this year. And most recently, Still Alice. But SPC has had many successful releases in that period. Of 61 releases since Paris, only 11 have grossed less than $500k in the US. Those are very strong numbers in today’s indie market. In IFC’s last 61 releases (including Boyhood), they’ve only had 11 of those films gross over $350k domestic theatrical. (Different model, but that’s my point.)

Even A24, which has been killing it, with 13 of their 15 releases in their first 2 years grossing at least $1 million, has had only one film gross over $7 million (Spring Breakers) and their other bigger grossers (A Most Violent Year, The Spectacular Now, The Bling Ring) feel like they left a lot of money on the theatrical table.

Anyway… I don’t come to piss on Radius or even VOD. But it’s time for some big rethinking… again. And theatrical should be a part of that re-think.

Be Sociable, Share!

10 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Detergent Klady”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    Didn’t Weinstein just scrap the VOD release and opt for a wide release?

    But regarding VOD releases…how did three horror movies (Spring, Backcountry, and Zombievers, the first two of which are pretty damn good) end up all coming out this weekend?

  2. Greg says:

    I was surprised to see It Follows on rogersondemand last Friday as it is on Cineplex’s ‘coming soon’ for March 27th. I was not surprised to see it gone from ROD by Saturday. I saw Wild Tales this afternoon and the trailer for It Follows was before it.

  3. Chucky says:

    Greg described the VOD/theatrical situation in Canada. Here in the States it’s a bit more complex: Regal, Cinemark, Angelika/Reading and AMC play VOD titles but only where arthouse fare does well. Carmike does not play any VOD titles, period.

  4. Kevin says:

    Who’s distributing IT FOLLOWS in Canada?

    I haven’t heard anything about it coming out in Montreal…

  5. HWK says:

    Backcountry was really dull. Both characters were varying degrees of unlikeable, her with her know-it-all because she’s a lawyer attitude and him for pretty much everything. I was cheering for the bear the entire time it was there (which takes more than half the movie, by the way).

    As for It Follows, that looks meh. And contrary to what was mentioned above, the girls in it aren’t even that hot. They’re indie movie hot, not Hollywood hot. Maika Monroe, along with having a terribly stupid name, is irritating on-screen and was the worst part about The Guest.

  6. Penns says:

    Hopefully Jean-Patrick Manchette gets some better loving next time around than what “The Gunman” offered. He’s probably one of the noir genre’s most underrated authors, and his work tends to read much more like “No Country For Old Men” than it does a “Taken” knock-off.

  7. Greg says:

    Mongrel is releasing It Follows in Canada…the reason the trailer was before Wild Tales.

    I saw It Follows at TIFF and it was terrifying. Looking forward to introducing my buddies to it.

  8. movieman says:

    I hope the success of “It Follows” encourages some people to seek out Mitchell’s “Myth of the American Sleepover,” one of the decade’s most overlooked (and under-seen) films. It’s a small masterpiece.

  9. Ray Pride says:

    The introductions to the three most recent translations of Manchette’s slim novels provide context to his politics and bad attitude, and the books themselves are super.

  10. Penns says:

    *four most recent translations (“The Mad and the Bad” finally came out last summer).

    “The Nada Gang” also captured his style quite well and is probably one of the most underrated crime flicks of the 1970s.

The Hot Blog

Leonard Klady's Friday Estimates
Friday Screens % Chg Cume
Title Gross Thtr % Chgn Cume
Venom 33 4250 NEW 33
A Star is Born 15.7 3686 NEW 15.7
Smallfoot 3.5 4131 -46% 31.3
Night School 3.5 3019 -63% 37.9
The House Wirh a Clock in its Walls 1.8 3463 -43% 49.5
A Simple Favor 1 2408 -50% 46.6
The Nun 0.75 2264 -52% 111.5
Hell Fest 0.6 2297 -70% 7.4
Crazy Rich Asians 0.6 1466 -51% 167.6
The Predator 0.25 1643 -77% 49.3
Also Debuting
The Hate U Give 0.17 36
Shine 85,600 609
Exes Baggage 75,900 62
NOTA 71,300 138
96 61,600 62
Andhadhun 55,000 54
Afsar 45,400 33
Project Gutenberg 36,000 17
Love Yatri 22,300 41
Hello, Mrs. Money 22,200 37
Studio 54 5,300 1
Loving Pablo 4,200 15
3-Day Estimates Weekend % Chg Cume
No Good Dead 24.4 (11,230) NEW 24.4
Dolphin Tale 2 16.6 (4,540) NEW 16.6
Guardians of the Galaxy 7.9 (2,550) -23% 305.8
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4.8 (1,630) -26% 181.1
The Drop 4.4 (5,480) NEW 4.4
Let's Be Cops 4.3 (1,570) -22% 73
If I Stay 4.0 (1,320) -28% 44.9
The November Man 2.8 (1,030) -36% 22.5
The Giver 2.5 (1,120) -26% 41.2
The Hundred-Foot Journey 2.5 (1,270) -21% 49.4