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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by KLa La Lady

Frioday Estimates 2016-12-10 at 8.23.31 AM

The scary example when you talk about huge per-screen openings is The Master. $147k per on five, the film then settled into terrible numbers and grossed only $16 million total domestically. The thrill is when you look at American Sniper doing $159k per on four and then going on to do $350m domestic. Aside from those two, the $140k per-screen category is all animation, a live show at Radio City where Red State also happened to be playing, and The Grand Budapest Hotel from Wes Anderson, who has had massive per-screen launches for all of his films since Rushmore established him as one of the few must-see filmmakers who also customarily opened in limited. (His only film to ever open on more than five screens was the first, Bottle Rocket, which opened on 28).

Birdman and The Revenant both opened on only four screens to between $100k and $120k per. Moonlight was the high-flier in the category this year until yesterday, with $100k on four.

La La Land is looking at a legit possibility of $180,000 per screen this weekend on five. It is not outside of the realm of the possible that it could catch Grand Budapest at $203k per. Of course, La La is not really on only five screens. It’s in 5 theaters. So, for instance, it is taking up three actual screens at the Landmark here in Los Angeles, on four at the AMC Century City and a whopping five at Arclight Hollywood. I don’t have access to real screen counts for the Grand Budapest opening, although a similar thing must have occurred.

And now… the pushback begins.

“It was okay… but not as great as people were saying.” “They really don’t sing and dance that well.” “The songs aren’t memorable enough.” “You could never really dance in the Hollywood Hills without getting hit by a car.” Etc.

Happens with every movie in this position, every year. I know that it is unfair to expect new viewers to go in without a chip on their shoulders, but do try, dear reader. Every movie deserves fresh eyes. And the charms of La La Land will melt much of this away by next week. And by the time “the kids” are putting the grandparent Academy members’ discs in their Blu-ray players over Christmas, the momentum will be strong with the redhead and the blonde.

It is easy to make too much of a per-screen launch. Dreamgirls, The Master, and Moonlight Kingdom didn’t get Best Picture nominations off of a huge launch (though Dreamgirls did $103m domestic and Moonrise did a strong-for-Wes $46m). Brother Bear was a disappointment for Disney Animation. On the other hand, two of the last six Best Picture winners (Birdman and The King’s Speech) opened exclusively to over $85k each on four. These big openings are a brick on a road, not the road. But a nice brick.

Meanwhile, Paramount finally has a December comedy open well. Office Christmas Party is right down the middle. You see what you get and you get what you see. Box office too. Opening could range from $18 million to $21 million. Do women want to see it? We’ll have a better sense of that tomorrow. The Bateman/Aniston pairing will open better than Horrible Bosses 2 and not as well as Bosses. Better for them and Speck/Gordon than The Switch… but not as wel as Blades of Glory. And, I suspect, the domestic total on the film will be right in the middle somewhere too… between $30 million and $120 million… perhaps dead in the middle, say, $75m. Or maybe it will accelerate. But it’s certainly better than the great Top Five doing $25m. That one broke my heart a little. And the Sony release of the Rogen/Goldberg holiday party film The Night Before opened to half of this. So….

Arrival continues to get attention from both moviegoers and the industry as its holds are excellent. The film is a solid Oscar player, looking at six or more nominations and will eventually be discussed as a spoiler for La La Land for some slow January news days. I’m not arguing against Barry Jenkins as a possible Chazelle spoiler as Director, but if there is to be an upset, I would look harder at Villeneuve, who has more titles that have built a fan base in the industry and made a big hit movie here that also manages to feel very personal.

Solid expansion for Manchester by the Sea, doubling screen count and per-screen dropping about 42%. This one is ready for an awards season boost, but it may have to slog along until January to score some meaningful wins. (This is one of the films really hoping BFCA can be unusually influential in December, contingent on Casey winning.) Miss Sloane does okay in expansion, but the $1,200 per-screen is not going to set off fireworks for Europa. And Nocturnal Animals multiplies their screen-count by 10x, but the per-screen drops by less than half, which is all you can really ask for in that situation. It doesn’t bode well for big grosses, but steady numbers for a very, very challenging film to market.

Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water are still on the tip of tongues in the awards race, both living right on the cusp of possibilities. Hacksaw has not blown up, but it will pass $60m this weekend and has a clear constituency.

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15 Responses to “Friday Estimates by KLa La Lady”

  1. Sideshow Bill says:

    Elle was amazing. Everything I wanted. Bleak yet hilariously twisted. Love the sociopath as hero thing. Michele is one of my favorite screen characters since Daniel Plainview. Verhoeven had a lot of balls in the air and balanced them like a master. Top 10 material.

    S]Finally seeing Arrival later today. Good movie weekend before the snow hits tonight.

  2. Christian says:

    Yeah, “Elle” was good and Huppert was good in it, but “Things to Come” is extraordinary, as is Huppert in it, while “Things” is so much more humanistic and rewarding than the Verhoeven. I don’t mind that “Elle” has all the awards heat. I just hope people won’t overlook “Things to Come.” It’s special.

  3. Sideshow Bill says:

    I look forward to seeing that as well, Christian.

    Arrival lived up to my expectations. Found it quite moving and beautiful to watch. I like movies that teach me things and while it wasn’t a master’s course I learned a few things about language and it’s theories and what nots. Loved the design on the aliens. I was a bit confused by the resolution but have since worked it out.

    One more before I shut up for a bit. Finally watched High-Rise the other night. Don’t know why it took me this long because I’m a Wheatley fan. Anyway it was rather remarkable and deranged. I haven’t read much Ballard so I don’t know if it was faithful but the movie was gonzo. Luke Evans was really good. Watching a society tear itself apart from inside out was rather prescient.

    Had a side thought while watching it. The original Peter Brook version remains fine (the American remake not so much) but I would pay double to see Ben Wheatley’s Lord of the Flies. It doesn’t NEED to be made but he feels like the kind of artist who could pull it off with the visuals, violence and insanity it needs. And he’d keep it British. With Amy Jump as well, of course. Props to her.

  4. Movieman says:

    Jumping ahead a bit, but “Patriots Day” marks a personal best for (director) Peter Berg.
    Better than “Lone Survivor;” even better than “Friday Night Lights.”
    Works beautifully as a post-election pick me up.
    Hope it finds the large audience it deserves next month.

  5. Stella's Boy says:

    I won’t make it to the movies this weekend, but I did watch Spectral at home, and that’s new. Didn’t Universal and Legendary spend like $80 million on it (before it got dumped to Netflix)? The high concept pitch “Ghostbusters meets Black Hawk Dawn” turns out to be pretty accurate. I can’t believe it got made. It’s really strange. The cast is good (though it’s a shame Bruce Greenwood has so little screen time) and the effects are solid, but it doesn’t work at all, so it’s not surprising that Universal took a pass on releasing it, but it’s hard to believe it was ever given the go ahead in the first place.

    Elle is supposed to open in Milwaukee on the 23rd (not sure if Things to Come is going to play here). Can’t wait. Nocturnal Animals and Manchester by the Sea are here now too. So much to see. Great time of year.

  6. Roark says:

    I saw Hacksaw Ridge yesterday, and I found it tremendously moving. A beyond harrowing combat film and a story of faith that felt very lived in and real. I’m not religious at all and I was still quite moved by it. Not a perfect film – some pacing issues some story issues, and Mel’s (SPOILER) focus on the seppuku of the Japanese commander at the end was pretty weird. Won’t hit my top ten, but I wouldn’t mind it being a player at the Oscars at all.

  7. Geoff says:

    All you are killing me with rising expectations of La La Land….it can’t be THAT good can it?? I loved Whiplash though I watched it again recently and man, that film is pretty DARK for the genre – really made the movie work for me regardless as I found it kind of a Bizarro Karate Kid where Danny Laruso excels at karate in spite of the extreme dickish-ness of Mr. Miyagi. Tonally that sounds about as different from La La Land as what I’m hearing, so considering me a little skeptical. I’m really hoping Chazelle is the real deal and his screenplay for 10 Cloverfield Lane was a pleasant surprise earlier this year so who knows? Just all of the gushing over this movie is KIND of reminding me of what we were hearing about The Artist half a decade ago….wow has it really been FIVE years??

    Speaking of The Artist, I cannot remember another Best Picture winner where BOTH the star and director fell off of the Hollywood radar so quickly…

    2008, Slumdog Millionaire – Danny Boyle still getting prime directing gigs and Dev Patel is getting about as much steady work from Hollywood as you can expect for an Indian British actor.

    2009, The Hurt Locker – Bigelow followed up with Zero Dark Thirty a couple of years later which I think was arguably the superior movie while both Renner and Mackie have been working non-stop.

    2010, The King’s Speech – Hooper is still getting his share of overpraised Oscar bait films and had an even bigger hit with Les Mis while Colin Firth is STILL Colin Firth but got to have his ONE Cage-like post Oscar win blockbuster action role with Kingsman.

    2012, Argo – Affleck became Batman and is arguably more of a commercial draw at this point as both a director and actor.

    2013, 12 Years A Slave – Surprised we haven’t seen a big follow-up from Steve McQueen as of yet though Chiwetel Ejiofor has been working non-stop and even got his own Marvel cash-in role.

    2014, Birdman – Innaritu achieved the rare repeat as Best Director the following year with a bigger commercial film and Keaton got his second Best Picture winner in a row the following year plus HIS Marvel cash-in role.

    Too soon to tell if McCarthy will blow up after Spotlight last year but all of the stars are continuing to get steady work….and Rachel McAdams got HER Marvel cash-in role.

    Jean Dujardin has had ONE Hollywood role since The Artist though it was a nice notable little one in Wolf of Wall Street and Hazanivicius has a film in post-production right now….looks like they’re both keeping it in France mainly for the time being.

    Even going back to 2007 and 2006, you had big-name folks directing the Best Picture winners: The Coen Brothers and Scorcese are both obviously getting steady work.

  8. poet67 says:

    Dujardin was also in Clooney’s “Monuments Men”; but mostly he’s a French actor who makes French films…so its not really comparable.

    I’d say the Oscar winning Best Director with the most disappointing follow-up career recently is P. Jackson.

  9. EtGuild2 says:

    It’s Tom Hooper for me. But I thought KINGS SPEECH was the 2nd worst Best Picture Choice since 2000, so I can’t say I’m surprised.

    What on earth is Chennai 600028? A sequel to “Chennai Express??”

  10. Gustavo says:

    But Hooper followed TKS with Les Miserables, which was a worldwide box-office hit and another Oscar success!

  11. EtGuild2 says:

    And a terrible movie (I think you were being tongue in cheek), aside from Hathaway’s performance. There’s more snot and grime on screen than “The Greasy Strangler,” and Crowe deserved some kind of award for upending Pierce Brosnan in “Mamma Mia” for the worst major on-screen singing performance of all-time.

    For me, it remains one of three terrible Academy voter picks since the “Crash” debacle, the others being “The Hurt Locker” and “Argo” (the latter due to the unforgivable historical revisions–the thing does damage in schools today with lazy teachers utilizing it, and Jimmy Carter had to come out to comment on the lack of realism). Choosing KS over “The Social Network” looks crazier with each passing year.

  12. Sideshow Bill says:

    I nominate James Cameron as most disappointing director since winning an Oscar. Yes, Avatar was a huge success, and he has a lot of irons in the fire. But 12 some years between Titanic and Avatar. The another 7 years working on 3 or 4 (I can’t keep track) Avatar sequels when it’s not exactly beloved. I expected more. I wanted to see Battle Angel. I wanted to see some more original films. Prime creative years are gone. I wouldn’t feel so bitter if he weren’t spending sooooooo much time on those sequels. But I consider the guy a genuine genius. He certainly doesn’t owe me squat but I expected more.

  13. Geoff says:

    As far as falling off the Hollywood radar, then no Tom Hooper does not qualify – Les Mis and The Danish Girl were both considered “successes” from an Oscar and box office standpoint as mediocre as both of them were.

    But yes I would agree that The King’s Speech was undeserving – The Social Network was a far superior movie and a very deserving choice that year, while Inception, Black Swan, and 127 Hours weren’t that far behind.

  14. Geoff says:

    I always go back and forth about Argo – it’s such a beautifully crafted movie that does a nice job shifting tones between the Hollywood stuff and the Iran stuff. I don’t believe it was the best film of 2012 but I don’t find it to be an “embarrassment” on the level of Crash either.

    Zero Dark Thirty WAS the film of that year and I still find it ridiculous how progressives in Hollywood allowed themselves to get riled up by the phony political outrage stirred up by that movie – it was NOT pro-torture, it was pro INTELLIGENCE!

  15. Sideshow Bill says:

    I liked ARGO but have never watched it again. I was more happy for Affleck. I’ve always liked him and thought it was a nice comeback story.

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