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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Rudyard Klady

Friday Estimates 2016-04-16 at 8.46.26 AM

There is nothing bad about the opening day/likely weekend of The Jungle Book. I suspect that the $80m estimates floating around might be significantly low. But… there has been a $95m+ opening in each of the last two Aprils. So if it’s not that, do we see this as a massive success for a $175m+ film? This film is going to be profitable. Over $450m worldwide. Perhaps up in the $600ms because of international. But like the cheaper Cinderella, which did $543m worldwide, the standard for a win at Disney is different right now. They didn’t get into The Jungle Book to gross $600m worldwide. Yes, yes, merchandising, branding, etc… ya.

I like the movie. I think it’s a bit long and a bit lacking in emotion (because the story is so severe that they clearly avoided emotional impact greater than run and jump and basic action stuff so children could see it). I think the same people mocking Jim Cameron for expanding Avatar this week are somehow in awe of the next extension of what Cameron did 6 years ago. I think that the eyes of the animals never actually feel real enough to elicit human empathy. And I think that if they were going to do the songs, they should have really done them. The “reality” of the piece already is beyond actual credulity. But… I was fine with the movie. I will take the 6-year-old and he will love it.

No one wants to say anything bad about Disney, lest they lose their seat at the party, but the studio really doesn’t do very well with anything that isn’t sequeled, franchised, or branded. That’s not a failure of the films, necessarily, but a problem at a studio that has stopped functioning at more than one speed. Monkey Kingdom, Tomorrowland, Bridge of Spies, The Good Dinosaur, The Finest Hours… all soft or money losers. Ant-Man… mediocre return on spend, though the hope is that it will built an audience for the next film(s). Then 4 mega-movies that cover up the “limitations.” April 2014 – April 2015 was even worse: 7 misses, 4 mediocre performers, 3 mega-movies.

So this brings us to chicken and egg. Or as R&H’s Cinderella would have it, am I beautiful because you love me or do you love me because I’m beautiful? Is Disney making fewer films and focusing even more on franchise because everything else is unpopular or because the studio has so obsessed on mega-movies that it can’t really remember how to do anything else when they have to sell something smaller and that requires more than yet another EW cover?

Don’t get me wrong. There are people at Disney who have successfully sold “middle movies” in the past. They aren’t hacks. Likewise, marketing trouble at most studios. Trends shift and wear out. Very, very few professionals can exert most of their focus in one direction then brilliantly focus on something 180 degrees in the other direction. This is why Spielberg’s Jurassic Park/Schindler’s List year remains one of the epic moments in film history. Soderbegh’s 1-2 of Erin Brockovich and Traffic is similarly massively impressive, but the movies are a lot closer than Spielberg’s duo, making the magic trick just a little less impressive.

Anyway… The Jungle Book is as good a piece of big movie directing as Jon Favreau has done. (Elf still stands on top of his resume for invoking intimacy on a level not unlike his script for Swingers.) It will make money. The thrill ride will do it for kids (and apparently critics who have had their expectations systematically lowered). But what I tend to see after an opening like this is… hmmm… how will Disney respond to this as an organization?

(One last note: I think Disney saw this number coming and thought it soft, which is why they shifted the ad campaign late in the game. Studios know… and when they tell journalists about how shocked they were by a result, they are almost always lying.)

Barbershop: The Next Cut hasn’t suffered from 12 years away… nor grown as a result. This opening is right there between the first film and the sequel. Expect $70 million – right between the other two – as the reasonable, if not a little disappointing, result.

Batman v Superman keeps dropping steeply. It’s $60m behind Zootopia worldwide and I don’t expect it to catch up. You can’t lose money on an $800m worldwide grosser. That hasn’t changed. But as a launchpad, this is a massive disappointment for WB, no matter what they claim. If Suicide Squad opens to less than $85 million, people will be fired.

Big drop for The Boss, though it will be more like the low 50s by the end of the weekend. Still, the word-of-mouth doesn’t seem to be this one’s friend, even though Melissa McCarthy is undeniably box office.

Criminal. Lionsgate had 10 openings under $8 million last year… and 4 over. So far this year, it’s 4 under and 1 over… now 5 under.

There will be two English-language indies in limited doing over $10k per screen. The biggest will be Green Room, with about $30k per on 3. Sing Street will do about $17k per on 5.

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18 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Rudyard Klady”

  1. Hmmm says:

    I hated ANT MAN but there’s no way anyone involved wasn’t super pleased with the box office.

  2. Heather says:

    If you are going to include the Good Dinosaur as an original they couldn’t sell, then you need to give them credit for Inside Out.

  3. Stella's Boy says:

    Did everyone get a ton of money for Criminal? Why else do Costner, Oldman, Reynolds, and TLJ get involved with a project like that? It seems like something that goes VOD with Willis in the lead and a supporting cast that includes Kellan Lutz, Thomas Jane, and Josh Lucas. Does the (actual) cast mean strong international box office?

    I can’t wait to see Green Room. Looks fantastic. Hope it makes it to Milwaukee. I think it goes wide on the 29th? Or semi-wide?

  4. Roark says:

    Sad to see The Measure of a Man become the latest outstanding foreign film to be more or less DOA here.

  5. Geoff says:

    Hmm, Ant-Man underperformed compared to EVERY other MCU film besides The Incredible Hulk…..and Disney spent as much promoting it as they did Guardians of the Galaxy – if you compare the nunbers, it made as much “profit” as Terminator Genysis, which means both films were rescued by grosses in China. That said, I quite LIKED Ant-Man.

  6. EtGuild2 says:

    The extra $90 million in domestic grosses likely pushed ANT into the black while TERMINATOR was in the red.

    Given how poorly people have been misfiring total projections after opening weekend for big movies this year (undershooting on ZOOTOPIA and overshooting on BvS) it might be good to wait before pegging that worldwide JUNGLE BOOK total. I suspect you might be very low.

    In discussion of mega-movies, I still find it incredible that there has been only a single $100-$300 million domestic grosser this year, KUNG FU PANDA 3, which also, incidentally, is the only Hollywood film to gross between $200-$750 million worldwide in 2016. Not a good thing by any means.

  7. Movieman says:

    Finally caught up w/ “London Has Fallen” at a bargain theater.
    Thought it was even worse than “Olympus HF” (which made my 2013 10-worst list so I pretty much knew what I was getting into).
    The damn thing felt like a TED conference for ISIS members (“See, this is how you take down decadent western nations!”). And the second half is so dimly lit it’s hard to make out what’s going on most of the time.
    I’m assuming the entire budget went to the cast since, like “Olympus,” it looks like squirrel dung.

    Still no “Eye in the Sky” (DVD release is late June; hooray!), “Midnight Special” or “Demolition” here. Pretty sure Linklater won’t be coming anywhere near me next weekend either since I’m guessing Paramount has (unofficially? officially?) scuttled their original “wide release” plans.

    Even though it’s overlong and too preachy, I didn’t have a bad time at “The Next Cut.” Its heart is definitely in the right place, and I’ll take one “Barbershop” over a hundred “Ride Along”s any day.
    Flipped big time for “Jungle Book.” Too bad they weren’t able to thaw Old Man Walt out just to get his reaction. (“How’d they f***ing do that!!??” I can hear him saying while twirling his mustache.)

  8. JS Partisan says:

    No. We are mocking Cameron, because we moved on. China might still love his spectacle but Avatar doesn’t matter, and that he wants to do four more movies no one wants. Well, excuse me for pointing at Star Wars. It’s like that Pratt and Lawrence movie opening at Xmas. Star Wars owns Xmas, but let’s see James compete in the Summer. I’m sure that will work out well for him.

    Oh yeah, Jungle Book isn’t about just Jungle Book. It’s about the next two Jungke

  9. JS Partisan says:

    Where has my edit button gone? Nevertheless, Disney makes tentpoles. Everyone else? They just get lucky.

  10. Hcat says:

    Disney makes toy commercials, they get lucky when a few of them turn out to be real movies.

    I don’t see what the backlash about five avatars is, fox will likely be at five new apes movies and nine ice ages, batfleck will have made five or more appearances and who knows how many marvel installments will hit in the next decade. Yes time will have passed and they will have to sell it all over again, but just remember all the grumbling and cynicism before the first ones release.

  11. EtGuild2 says:

    “Disney makes tentpoles”

    Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel make tentpoles. Disney reheats old food in Mickey Mouse’s microwave. Since FROZEN they’ve had four $100 million grossers not involving those companies, or one every 7 months. Acquisition has paid off more handsomely for Disney than any company in cinema history. Not making stuff is their whole strategy.

  12. john says:

    “Disney reheats old food”

    The thing is, they almost HAVE to. Most of the classic Disney animated films are based on public domain stories. If they don’t make a live action version of them, clearly some other studio will. Just look at WB trying their hands at a Peter Pan and a Jungle Book in a two year span.

  13. EtGuild2 says:

    Ironically though, Disney Animation is the only branch of the studio that seems to be looking at new/original source material. While FROZEN has some literary basis in the SNOW QUEEN, it’s largely original, as are ZOOTOPIA, WRECK IT RALPH, and MOANA, while BIG HERO 6 is cribbed from an original Marvel strip.

    Disney has largely forgotten how to do large action pictures without the help of Dreamworks. The fact the Dreamworks partnership wasn’t lucrative only helped reinforce their current Marvel/Pixar/Lucas/rehash strategy. We don’t HAVE to have an ALICE sequel, another BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, PIRATES 5, etc.

    There is currently ONE MOVIE on Disney’s entire schedule after Thanksgiving of this year that isn’t Marvel/Star Wars/Pixar or a direct sequel/remake. ONE

  14. Jerryishere says:

    How is this number soft for jungle? 100m+

  15. David Poland says:

    ET – The DreamWorks deal was part of the previous Disney philosophy, which was to have partners that paid for their own movies and which Disney would only distribute. Even Marvel was initially seen this way.

    It was Iger’s third angle on the company to buy Lucasfilm and go all mega-movie all the time. But when Alan Horn was brought in, he was promised the room to make non-megas, which has been unsuccessful because they can’t sell them.

    And I HATE the use of “tentpole,” since it is an archaic idea of an expensive movie.

  16. David Poland says:

    Jerry – As I noted, “soft” was based on the early guesses at the weekend number… but even so, of the $100m openers for Disney, this is the lowest. Not terrible or anything. But as $200 million movies go, it doesn’t blow the roof off the business.

  17. Bulldog68 says:

    “(One last note: I think Disney saw this number coming and thought it soft, which is why they shifted the ad campaign late in the game. Studios know… and when they tell journalists about how shocked they were by a result, they are almost always lying.)”

    Weird statement. If Disney saw even the first estimated $95m weekend I would think they would be ecstatic. Dave, you have stated many times that studios don’t necessarily buy into the hype machine that the media creates, and this opening is well beyond those hyped projections that had this pegged between $70-$90m.

    Chances are we have our 4th $300m grosser and it’s not even May yet. We had 3 in all of 2014. 6 in 2015. It is amazing that Panda is the only other $100m+ grosser. Anyone have ideas how Huntsman will do? I have a feeling Cpt America will blow pass $300m as well, and weirdly may benefit from the public disappointment of BvS.

  18. EtGuild2 says:

    HUNTSMAN is tracking at like $35 million. $100 million seems out of reach.

    One last thought on Disney….it IS interesting to me that they haven’t committed to release dates for any of their announced toon sequels (Frozen, Ralph and Big Hero 6) as of yet. With Zootopia’s results, my guess is that the latter two never happen for a studio focused on all home runs, all the time.

    CAP 3 has a good chance at matching or surpassing ULTRON, imo.

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