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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Klady Beyond

Friday Estimates 2016-07-23 at 8.35.37 AM

If you go by the numbers on the first film of the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot, this third film, Beyond, will open to about $61 million, which is in a galaxy far far away from what the TV-based films opened to back in 2002 and onwards. (Yes, it’s been that long.) But it will be written about only as another disappointment in the summer of falling skies. The real issue for Paramount on this film is whether it can continue to improve as a series overseas, which at these production costs could drown it in red ink.

The first two JJ Abrams Treks made big strides for the franchise in international as it also transported the baseline for domestic gross for the series. But this domestic gross will be less than the last, as was true from the first reboot to the second. I have always understood – though Paramount vigorously disagreed – that the first of these films was only borderline profitable, if not a slight loser. The sequel, if it really cost $200m or less, would have been modestly profitable. And now this film is in danger of being the first the studio would name publicly as a money loser. The key will be international, which was up to $238 million the last time. If that number can be maintained or improved upon, the film will make a little money. If it starts sliding like domestic has (this is likely to be the first JJ Trek under $200m domestic), the studio and their partners will take a loss.

Ice Age: Collision Course is a whole different animal. Domestic is a disaster. The franchise has been losing ground bit by bit, the last film (4 of 5) grossing less domestically than the original. But this one, #5, is looking like it will less than half of #4, putting the film under $160m domestic for the first time in the franchise history… but even worse, under $100m domestic.

However… the international is going the opposite direction. Film #4 hit an international record $716 million. That international number alone would make Continental Drift the #17 animated worldwide grosser of all-time, just behind Up and Monsters University. It was the #3 best animated gross internationally (higher than any Pixar) and the film, including domestic, was #10 all-time.

So America is the write-off on this one… the afterthought. And that probably is why the film is opening so poorly here. Somehow, people know. But it is still likely that the bottom for this film is $600m worldwide, whihc would make it a legitimate hit… so don’t cry for Fox or Blue Sky… not unless international drops by more than 40%.

The Secret Life of Pets, by the way, is way out ahead of Zootopia three weekends in on the domestic front and has barely begun international. Holds are not as strong, but if international is anything like Zootopia, we could be seeing yet another billion-dollar animated film on the charts this year. Domestic will pass Despicable Me today.

Lights Out is cash money for WB. It will likely fall to the #4 slot from #2 by the end of the weekend, but still, a $23 million-plus start for a cheapie horror film is excellent. Does WB know how to do this trick better than other tricks? Maybe. But this has not been a big part of their portfolio. That may change.

Ghostbusters is drowning. I don’t feel like doing an autopsy today. But as I continue to glimpse marketing materials as I drive around Los Angeles, I am struck by how confused Sony was by this film. They sold it like a sequel with a bunch of big, familiar stars. It isn’t that. The film really needed to be worked like an underdog. It wasn’t. It flipped between being scared of being rejected and boldly hoping the audience would feel differently than the internet mean-memes. The result was a pretty standard release.

I have mentioned this standard before and been slapped for it, but please understand that it is not about me or how important I think I am… but… a real underdog movie would have hungrily wanted me to do DP/30 interviews with Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. It’s not the biggest track to lay down, my show, but it would be a chance for people – especially media – to meet these little-known actors outside of the boundaries of marketing or slick magazine pieces. But it was a regular junket and I completely get that their schedules didn’t allow a long interview with the likes of me.

My point is not that DP/30s would have changed the fate of Ghostbusters. It wouldn’t. But if they had made that effort – along with others in this range – it would have represented a different kind of thinking in how to push out this movie. And that different thinking could well have changed the fate of Ghostbusters. It still wouldn’t have been a Marvel movie. But it wouldn’t have been, I don’t think, Paul Feig’s lowest-grossing domestic movie of the last decade. It could have certainly been his #1 worldwide grosser, which it may well not be at this point. He delivered a Paul Feig movie writ large. It works as that. It should have at least done that much business.

To be fair to Sony, as much as they sweated this film and worked their asses off for it, my sense is that the only options that were on the table were “huge hit” or “massive flop.” The middle did not seem to be a target. But the movie – and its casting and character choices – called on a focus on the middle. That was where this movie, once made, was always headed. It’s damned hard to give up the intensity of hope and/or fear of failure for “let’s do okay.” But sometimes, that is the only sane answer.

And that isn’t even cracking the chest on this autopsy.

The Legend of Tarzan passed $200 million worldwide yesterday. Still a red inker, but not as much blood spilt as Pan.

Finding Dory just keeps swimming. It will likely pass Avengers 2 and Star Wars (inc all the re-releases) this weekend. And international has barely launched. It is almost certain to be the second billion-dollar animated film of this year and could well be the #1 Pixar film worldwide (already owns domestic.. but $50m/>10% by the end of this weekend).

Absolutely Fabulous went out on 313 screens domestically and is doing quite well. My guess is that this Searchlight release has no uptick coming. They will add some screens, but this is likely its best audience hit, targeted precisely by Steve Gilula.

Also opening strong on just 1 screen is the Mike Birbiglia film, Don’t Think Twice, a tale of improv, faux-SNL, and the funny people who inhabit that universe.

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16 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady Beyond”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    I’m sad that “Ice Age 6: Scrat Goes to Hell,” is now in jeopardy of not happening 🙁

    2016 will go down as the year of the anti-superhero and jumbo-sized cartoons/family films, but it seems like we’re seeing a comeback for horror/horror-thrillers. At least the Trump-fueled fear and paranoia seizing the country is a boon for dark art!

  2. Pete B. says:

    Sideshow Bill brought this up on the previous thread, but it deserves posting here as well:

    Anyone else watch the BvS Ultimate Edition and find it to be a much better movie?

  3. EtGuild2 says:

    I liked it somewhat better, but it’s still a borderline-bad movie to me, because it suffers from top-down miscasting and Spider-Man Threequelitis.


    The biggest plot problems I have are Amy Adams’ action-motivations are still bizarre, Eisenberg, Martha!, and the rampant need to tease future heroes and villians, which is only worsened in the extended version by referencing Daddy Darkseid. (Poor Ezra Miller–the backlash has only begun).

    Still, it was nice to see some more fleshed out characterization. Cavill and Affleck are good playing Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne. I’d watch a social manners/ladder climbing domestic drama with them in these roles anyday. They can do Squire of Gotham and Mad Men of Metropolis and then do a mashup.

  4. Dr Wally Rises says:

    I didn’t find BvS to be greatly improved by the Ultimate Edition at all, not like the 4 hour cut of Watchmen which is a night-and-day improvement over the theatrical cut.

    Beyond is actually the best of the new-era Treks. It captures the spirit, humor (just hearing Spock utter ‘horseshit’ is somehow hilarious), and interpersonal dynamics between the crew better than anything in the franchise since the Shatner era. (Spoiler). Seeing the picture of the original crew, and the on screen acknowledgement of the passing of Nimoy and Yelchin, is unavoidably moving. It’s worth remembering that the supposedly poorly received Into Darkness had pretty good legs with strong competition from Fast and Furious 6 and Man of Steel in subsequent weeks, so even with Bourne and Suicide Squad coming up Beyond could still get to the late 100s domestic. As with World War Z, which also had late reshoots, a poorly received trailer and negative early buzz, Paramount have turned a troubled ship around.

    The parallel of Tarzan with Pan is odd. Pan deservedly sank like a stone. Tarzan is holding pretty well. Put it this way – if you’d said to the studio at the start of the Summer that Tarzan would beat Alice 2, Independence Day, Ghostbusters, and maybe yet X-Men Apocalypse, then they’d have snapped your arm off to take that deal.

  5. Stella's Boy says:

    How much is James Wan’s name helping horror movies at the box office these days? He’s featured prominently in marketing campaigns of what he directs or produces, but would they have opened that well anyway? Too hard to say definitively? How often has there been a name that could significantly help open a horror movie?

    Lights Out is a mixed bag. Sandberg has chops and I like the minimalist approach with Diana. Keeping her almost entirely unseen for 98% of the movie is very effective. With her skinny figure, lightly glowing eyes, and long, thin nails, she’s a freaky presence. Great sound design with the scratching. Some really effective scares as she lurks in the shadows. Love stuff like bullets briefly making her disappear.

    But the writing is terrible. People constantly do dumb shit and it’s got a pretty icky message about mental health and people struggling with mental illness. The resolution is abrupt and highly unsatisfying, as well as misguided. Still, this is a director who shows a lot of promise.

  6. Sideshow Bill says:

    Thanks for bringing up the BVS question, Pete B. I liked it more. It’s still an odd duck, sloppy and Amy Adams is wasted (I’m a big fan of hers like David is.) It’s probably going to be looked back on as an oddity more than anything else. But I’m glad it exists.

    Me and my girls loved Lights Out. I thought it ate Conjuring 2’s lunch. Short, to the point, none of the ususal “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you. Wait, I believe you now.” Got it’s story and background out quickly and efficiently. And I thought it was scary and fun.

    The point Stella’s Boy made about it’s message about mental Illness I’ve seen elsewhere. And the more I think about it the more I sort of agree. As a functioning bipolar schizophrenic myself, I related to Bello’s character. I thought there was a good analogy being made, how a family member’s mental illness effects the whole family. But the solution, the resolution to the monster is troubling. I didn’t find it bothersome at first. Now I kinda do though it doesn’t ruin the carnival ride that came before it.

  7. Stella's Boy says:

    I also think Lights Out is better than The Conjuring 2, which I sort of hated, for many of the reasons you mention Bill. I just wish it had a different ending. I can mostly handle people doing dumb shit in a horror movie, but the solution to the monster is very troubling indeed.

  8. Amblinman says:

    On the heels of a B v S discussion, new JL trailer is out. WW too. JL looks dreadful except for Barry Allen. WW looks pretty good. Snyder is killing this enterprise. They really should have booted him.

  9. Jeff says:

    Where do you get 2002 from? 2009 was the rebooted Kelvin universe

  10. Sideshow Bill says:

    I remember you talking about Conjuring 2, Stella’s Boy. I enjoyed while I was watching but probably never will again. I think Wan is a servicable stylist, but his glorification of the Warren’s is infuriating. I HATED the last shot in C2. I hated all the “I love you, Ed” crap. I understand he probably rationalizes it as fictionalizing them (unless he’s really wacked). I like Insidious better. Saw, I think, is an awful movie.

    Lights Out: I think maybe they were going for tragedy with the ending. But the problem there is that the movie doesn’t earn it. I praised it for being short but if they wanted us to feel a tragedy took place we needed more time with certain characters. More of the illness and it’s effect. It makes me think of Cronenberg’s The Fly. That’s a 96 minute movie that wraps up sort of abruptly but it builds and earns that sense of tragedy that I always feel when the film fades to black. Then again, it’s Cronenberg.

  11. EtGuild2 says:

    @Wally, TARZAN’s performance is commendable given the bad buzz, but it’s not getting close to X-MEN, and that movie is only marginally profitable pre-toys as it is.

  12. Nick Rogers says:

    Jeff: I think David is referring to NEMESIS, and how the opening weekend of BEYOND — though far preferable to where the franchise was 14 years ago— will still be seen as disappointing.

  13. Stella's Boy says:

    Yes it really is infuriating Bill, and I know I’ve said it before but The Conjuring 2 has to be the most saccharine R-rated horror movie ever made. But man the horror community just loves Wan. Everywhere I go to read horror news, and all of my fellow horror-loving friends, everyone thinks he walks on water and can do no wrong. I don’t get it.

    Ethan’s right that horror is doing pretty well this year. The Hollywood Reporter talked about that recently while discussing New Line and how much success they’ve had with The Conjuring family of films. I am feeling some serious supernatural fatigue. It feels like almost every studio horror movie released this year and last year is about white people and the supernatural. Of course with all the money Conjuring 2 and Lights Out are making, we’ll probably get even more movies about white people and the supernatural. I know supernatural is a broad term, but all these movies feel like they deal with the exact same type of supernatural.

  14. Pete B. says:

    Saw the Justice League trailer and didn’t think it was too bad, other than trying to make Aquaman too manly. (Or should that be Aquamanly?)

    The Wonder Woman trailer looks great and that movie can’t arrive soon enough. I was ecstatic that they kept the Wonder Woman theme from BvS.

    As far as the Ultimate Edition goes, alot of the griping regarding Superman’s actions got cleared up. Why didn’t he stop the bomb, why didn’t he help the survivors, blah blah blah.

    One thing that surprised me was that I was certain they had missed out on a great geek-out moment in the theater version, but would have in the UE. Nope! We never see when Diana initially brandishes the golden lasso. It would have taken seconds to show her stand there heroically, reach for the lasso, then hurl it at Doomsday. Nerdgasms galore!

  15. EtGuild2 says:

    Haha, white people and the supernatural. I like this. I’d like a Wayans knock-off where a black realtor purposely sells decrepit real estate to paranoid white people.

    This is the first time Comic-Con just wasn’t fun to see for me. Burned out, which is sad given that my “coming out” date was Patty Jenkins’ last movie, “Monster” (romantic, no?). The trailer looks decent, but given the glorious MoS trailer, I’d like to wait till DC makes a good non-Nolan movie (haven’t seen SS, but the Ayer odd/even rule is in effect).

    This 4 Marvel/2 DC movies a year thing is just exhausting, with the trailers a blur of competition for who can devise the most colorful and shapey energy beams. But given 9 of the top 10 grossers this year are superheroes or Disney/cartoons I guess it’ll roll along for a good awhile.

  16. Stella's Boy says:

    That’s a great concept Ethan. I’d love to see that movie.

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