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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by The Sky Isn’t Falling This Weekend Klady

Weekend Estimates 2015-03-29 at 9.44.44 AM

Not a whole lot to add since yesterday.

Estimates for Home are running stronger than Friday suggested, which may be a sign that the film plays a little young… but it’s Fox’s best DreamWorks Animation opening to date and a happy weekend for Katzenberg, even though this doesn’t appear to be a game-changer after the DWA troubles of the last few years.

Get Hard hammocks right in between The Other Guys and Blades of Glory (less than 5% in either direction) as Will Ferrell’s #4 live-action opening. The ongoing question will be how much of the opening came with Kevin Hart and how well will the combination of his and Ferrell’s audience hold.

Radius and parent  Weinstein Co. pushed It Follows out into 1218 theaters and got a result that is great for a VOD film that didn’t have much marketing and is iffy for a proper theatrical release. There has been some spending on TV ads, but I don’t know the budget. That said, it looks like the film can pass $10 million in domestic theatrical before going to its delayed VOD and will more than double the #2 theatrical gross in Radius’ three-year history.

For those who want to argue that day-n-date VOD is great – and it is, for the right films – the claim is always, “It never would have done big business in a regular theatrical release.” Obviously, all any of us can do is speculate. But of Radius’ 28 releases so far, I have argued only that three titles would have been much more successful in more traditional release: It Follows, Snowpiercer, and Bachelorette. Each of the films has a clear, marketable point of view. Two of them have strong reviews, aka support from the media. And there are plenty of comps suggesting that solid, highly profitable theatrical releases were possible for each of them.

Specifically, as regards It Follows, it seems to me a reach to suggest that in light of female-audience-driven horror having had great success over the years, that the film could not have done in excess of $35 million in theatrical and as much as $70 million. Part of what is a pleasure in the movie is that David Robert Mitchell took familiar genre elements and turned them on their head… but leaving plenty of material that could be utilized for a strong TV push. As for Snowpiercer, do people really think it could not have done John Wick money (or better)? And I would still argue that in light of both Bridesmaids and The Hangover series, Leslye Headland’s film could have easily been an $80m+ theatrical grosser.

Clearly, some feel otherwise. It is all conjecture, on both sides. But one thing is crystal clear. Day-n-Date VOD has a glass ceiling. If $10m or less is a happy goal for a film, all in, it is great. Ad costs are minimal. Returns on gross sales are much better. Less risk. Wide distribution. All good. But if your aspirations are $20m or higher, it is not your delivery method. There is nothing wrong with this… just knowing your tools.

The VOD dream is not new. Pay-per-view has been a dream of movie distributors for decades now. And it’s never fulfilled those dreams. It’s not worthless. There is money there. And yes, if you put Harry Potter 9 on day-n-date VOD, the numbers would be staggering. But there is not a chance in hell that Disney would put Avengers 2 into day-n-date. Windows maximize their revenues. And they know it. But that is the trick. Of course windows work great for Avengers… because the profile is massive. With a popular product, it obviously makes sense to sell it four times instead of only two. It’s the tweeners, even on a studio level, that are difficult… which is why studios don’t want to make tweeners… no one wants to lose their job on a shoulder-shrugger.

There is a way for more experimentation and smart plays with VOD and theatrical. But studios have to be willing to make concessions to theater owners to make it work. Day-n-date is a mirage for the most part, when you take all revenues into account. The studios, four of six of which are owned by non-entertainment corporations, are as interesting in minimizing risk as maximizing profits. So the exhibitors know that if they allow the door to open, the economics of their business change, and if VOD ate, say, 20% of their overall business, many theaters would have to close their doors. And if that is the future, that is the future. But there is a very good chance – I would say a nearly sure bet – that theatrical revenues will not only be important to the future of cinema, but that it will be increasingly important as we continue into the digital future. And if, say, over a six-year period, we lost 40% of our theatrical screens, they become a sinkhole that could not be easily re-filled.

I would love to see a full-scale experiment for a year or two in which the exhibitors participated with the major studios in testing day-n-date for a set number of releases. Maybe the results would suggest that theatrical is destined for a niche position. Maybe the opposite (my belief). But at least there would be a way to measure consumer responsiveness, which could then allow a response to develop. As it is now, it’s Mutual Assured Destruction, which is, indeed, MAD.

While We’re Young was the big exclusive release of the weekend with an estimated $56k per screen on 4 for $220,000. This is just a little less impressive than A24’s highest grosser, Spring Breakers. And given that Noah Baumbach’s best career domestic gross is $7.4 million, there is a good chance this will be his biggest film.

Also looking strong in exclusive release are two documentaries, Vietnam doc Ride The Thunder with $22k per on 1, and Wim Wenders’ photographer bio, The Salt of The Earth, with $11k on 4.

About 10,000 people went to go see Serena, the Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper-starrer that couldn’t get a distributor for over a year.

And it bears mention again… Still Alice is the biggest grosser for Sony Classics, aside from two of the Woody Allen movies, since Capote, a decade ago. Tough subject, female lead, not much for under 30s, Best Actress but not Best Picture… doing bang-up business in theatrical for SPC. It’s not The Imitation Game, but it is a major indie hit.

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10 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by The Sky Isn’t Falling This Weekend Klady”

  1. PTA Fluffer says:

    Ferrara’s gotta be happy with that $540 on Welcome to NY. Half a grand? That’s starting to look like real money.

  2. EtGuild2 says:

    Christ that was a tough sit. Depardieu is more shambling beast than person in it. I’m all for Ferrara unhinged–Ms. 45, for instance, is great–but this was like “Sweet Movie” mashed up with a Law and Order episode.

    “Danny Collins” doesn’t have much room to grow. That script….jesus. Pacino and Plummer actually do pretty good work, but the amount of forced conflict and schmaltz is film school level cringey.

  3. PcChongor says:

    That’s probably because the film’s financier actually did just get out of film school:

  4. movieman says:

    I recall saying something similar about “Bachelorette” at the time (money left on the table, etc.).
    Of course, I’m probably the only person on the planet who actually preferred it to “Bridesmaids,” lol.

  5. Aaron Aradillas says:

    The success of STILL ALICE just strengthens my belief that SPC left money on the table with both FOXCATCHER and especially WHIPLASH. Those movies had $25 million for the taking.

    I never understood why SNOWPIERCER was treated as some kind of art-house release. I remember thinking after seeing it that what critics and the fanboys were going nuts for was what we used to go see during summers in the mid-’80s. SNOWPIERCER was really just an update of a Peter Hyams/John Carpenter summer action movie. It was BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA or OUTLAND on a train. Point is, anyone could see it was a commercial release.

  6. EtGuild2 says:

    Call me crazy, but I think “Predestination” should have been given a more proper non-VOD/RedBox push as well. I feel like if we weren’t living in a Golden Age of Sci-Fi it would have gotten more attention.

  7. Aaron Aradillas says:

    I think PREDESTINATION’s fate was decided by the underwhelming performance of DAYBREAKERS.

  8. Joshua says:

    Which four of the six major studios are owned by non-entertainment corporations? Disney is Disney … Warner Bros. is Warner Bros. … Paramount is Viacom … Universal is Comcast … Fox is 21st Century Fox (which I actually hadn’t heard of until looking it up just now — I had thought it was still part of News Corp.).

    The only “non-entertainment” corporation I can think of that owns a studio could be Sony for Columbia.

  9. JWK says:

    No way would It Follows have done that well with a wide release. I don’t believe it was polled by CinemaScore but if it had it probably would have received either a “D” or an F. It was not a satisfying movie (the ending would have killed its CinemaScore), was very repetitive, the characters are little more than ciphers, and the plot was incredibly thin because the director thought it would be scary to not explain it when actually leaving things so completely unexplained like that is just lazy.

  10. YancySkancy says:

    movieman: Yeah, I recall that BACHELORETTE went to #1 on iTunes, which suggested it could have had a nice theatrical life, especially in light of the success of BRIDESMAIDS. But on the other hand, those who loathed the film REALLY loathed it, so it’s hard to tell what the word-of-mouth might have been. It’s a much tougher, less engaging film than BRIDESMAIDS or THE HANGOVER (which is perhaps the more appropriate touchstone, gender notwithstanding). What’s fascinating–and, to some, distasteful–is that instead of boys-will-be-boys hijinks a la THE HANGOVER, the ladies of BACHELORETTE have some serious issues that can cause the laughter to stick in your craw–namely, self-loathing and self-destruction. While that’s also somewhat true of Kristen Wiig in BRIDESMAIDS, that film is much more audience-friendly, I’d say.

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