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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates: Still Insidious

Friday Estimates 2018-01-06 at 11.42.15 AM

The most interesting thing about Insidious 4 is that a major (Universal) took over the franchise after it launched at a now-defunct indie, then went to Universal indie division Focus, and now lands at the big house. Part of this intrigue is a bigger story about Universal splitting product between itself and the Dependent. Earlier this year, U took over marketing on Atomic Blonde while the banner on the film stayed Focus.

Blum exploded at Paramount, with a marketing team that is no longer there. But this relationship with Universal has taken his company’s output to its great success. Last year, Blumhouse had its first $100 million domestic gross since 2011… two of them. So this kick-off to Blum 2018 is not as strong as Split. But for the fourth of a series to have a significant uptick is no small feat. Blum-U has two more releases scheduled for this year, one original and one sequel. Last year’s magic was for two originals. How this plays out this year, we shall see. But a solid start. (The story of Blumhouse’s Amityville release through Dimension got lost in October… 10 screens… oy.)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle appears headed to $300 million domestic, which is undeniably a hit. And Tom Rothman fights on. I find it unfortunate that the entire media focus of the media, regarding Sony, seems to be on Rothman. Like him or hate him, he is a known commodity and does what he has been doing for a very long time. He keeps things tight financially, so there is limited studio exposure and, indeed, often less upside than one would like with successes. He also interferes in the process. And of the film tops at the majors now, he is the only big screamer left.

When Rothman was handed TriStar, he became a loose spender. And it was a disaster for him and Lynton/Pascal, who allowed it. But he managed what he had – what he greenlit – this year very smartly. Ate it often. But only Disney and Warner Bros had any $300 million domestic grossers in 2017… except for Sony… which had two, not just the one with the assist from Warner Bros. The Sony hits are less impressive in the context of the other studios when you look at worldwide, but still puts Sony ahead of Fox and Paramount.

This is not an apologia for Rothman’s record. This studio won’t continue as is with them failing to make more from films like Roman J. Israel, Esq, The Dark Tower, Flatliners, Only The Brave, T2: Trainspotting, etc. There is a variety of quality level in this group, but the feeling is that the studio is giving up on these titles when they expect that they aren’t going to be big hits, instead of digging in and getting every dime they can. $40 million for Roman J, well below the Denzel norm, wouldn’t be a thrill… but would make a real difference to the bottom line of the company. This is how Rothman succeeded so long at Fox. Occasional huge hits, but not a lot of money losers in the line up amongst the middling hits.

And yes, Tom has a lot of enemies. Boring.

Also boring… people suggesting that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a commercial problem. Some outlets made a big deal out of TLJ getting beaten on opening weekend in China. The Force Awakens did $124 million in China, which is the equivalent, financially, of $65m in any other market… or about 5% of the foreign gross. Not nothing. But not a key. The sixth biggest international market for the film.

Make no mistake. The Last Jedi is not doing the business that The Force Awakens did. The Empire Strikes Back was 27% off of Star Wars. Attack of the Clones was 35% off of The Phantom Menace. And TLJ will be somewhere around 35% off of Force Awakens.

The Greatest Showman is holding well. It will get closer to $100m domestic than I expected. The Annie reboot is in its sights.

Molly’s Game expands from 271 screens to 1608, pushing into the $6 million weekend business, heading to around $30 million domestic unless it has a surprisingly strong Oscar footprint.

Darkest Hour also expanded, from 943 screens to 1733. The expansion isn’t as showy at the box office as Molly’s Game, but the film has been in the market longer. No doubt, Focus is relying on a great big speech by Gary Oldman, assuming he wins at the Globes tomorrow… and then Oscar nods. If they miss Best Picture, which seems to be a possibility, the roll-out could stall completely.

Coco should get past $200 million domestic, but it hasn’t had the second wind that Moana did. It would help if Remember Me got some traction as a commercial hit, but it’s a straight ballad, not the power ballad of “Let It Go” or the pop fun of the Moana songs and that’s not helping. A duet by Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez on the Golden Globes would help.

More tomorrow…

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30 Responses to “Friday Estimates: Still Insidious”

  1. Geoff says:

    There GOES Star Wars again….winning hearts and minds. 😉

  2. Stella's Boy says:

    Yeah $556 million is embarrassing. Clearly no one likes it and it’s a bomb.

    I saw Molly’s Game with my mom. It’s not very good. The voiceover is annoying and Dargis is right for some reason despite Chastain the character is boring and thin. She also has to be redeemed by men and likeable. I wasn’t bored and always love seeing Elba but it’s mediocre at best.

  3. Night Owl says:

    As long as people are all over the map on what is to be “expected” of Last Jedi everyone can find a story to fit their favourite narrative. After it opened the Hollywood Reporter (actual trade, not published a story that got picked up widely stating it is expected to finish it’s run with $750-800 million domestic and $1.6 billion worldwide. I side-eyed it at the time and sure enough it will be at least $100 million short of the low end of the first estimate and probably $200 million or so short of the second. Was their estimate reasonable? Was it Disney’s? We don’t know. So lucky us, this story gets to keep going.

    The China numbers though?! Daaaaaamn. It’s going to be lucky to make half of what Rogue One did. Best case scenario is a nearly 70% drop from Force Awakens. Don’t expect to see much promotion invested in Solo there. It’s a testament to Star Wars’ strength in many other territories that it doesn’t “need” China (second largest movie market) to be huge. But you know they’d rather crack it! How? You got me!

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    Is The Hollywood Reporter gospel? Since their speculation was wrong it means TLJ is disappointing? Or does it just allow people to say it’s disappointing since one person’s guess turned out to be high?

  5. poet67 says:

    TLJ would have done better if Disney had just given Star Wars a year off.

  6. movieman says:

    “Greatest Showman” is sure having the last laugh, isn’t it?
    Never thought it would build on its soft opening to become one of the season’s few bona fide sleepers.
    Not a fan, but all power to it.

    Was pleasantly surprised by “Jumanji.”
    I actually think it’s a better movie than the “meh” ’95 original.
    Like “It,” another recent tweener crossover phenom, it took a well-known, pre-existing property and struck b.o. gold by bothering to go that extra mile.
    A nice comeback for Jake Kasdan, too, after the loathsome “Sex Tape.”
    Good thing for Sony since “All the Money in the World” has proven to be a flat-out catastrophe.
    I actually thought “Money” might bank some decent (adult moviegoer) bucks as an alternative to all the seasonal kiddie fare.
    Guess that grown-up appetite was satisfied by expansions of “Darkest Hour,” “Shape of Water,” etc.

  7. Stella's Boy says:

    My mom took my 10 year old to see jumanji and she described it as surprisingly good. He loved it.

  8. EtGuild2 says:

    JUMANJI is now a lock to become Sony’s #5 domestic grosser of all-time, with a shot at #3 if it continues to pace like NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. So weird. On PredictIt’s betting market, The Rock has now cracked The Top 10 in likely 2020 Democratic nominees for President 🙂 A very likeable genius.

  9. Night Owl says:

    “Or does it just allow people to say it’s disappointing since one person’s guess turned out to be high?”

    That’s what I mean Stella’s Boy, although Hollywood Reporter is a better than average source for showbiz nonsense which is why I use it as an example. I mean, some of the lower end websites were talking about whether it would MATCH Force Awakens, which was a ludicrous idea.

    Kind of sad to see All the Money not getting much traction. The Plummer save was great publicity but that didn’t translate to tickets.

  10. Monco says:

    This is not about saying it is a bomb, it’s about the gross relative to expectations. I don’t care what anyone says it is underperforming based on expectations especially when it received unamious critical praise, and opened to 220 million, and had breathless hype about how good it was before fans saw it. The argument from the defenders of the movie is that the fans who don’t like it are a small insignificant minority. This is not true. Attack of the Clones was not beloved when it was released, it cetainly didn’t receive the critical praise and hysterical hype that Last Jedi did. It also was considered to have underperformed when it was released. Spider-man was the story of that summer not AOTC. AOTC’s gross also reflected that TPM was not well received by fans.

    This is what the argument is about. I love the prequels but I am not blind enough to argue that they are beloved or weren’t divisive when they were released. TLJ is like that. This movie is not liked by a significant percentage of fans. That is a fact and is reflected in its gross. Pointing to The Lost World or Age of Ultron or AOTC only proves the point. These movies also were not considered good and it was relected in their grosses being off based on how the first movie was received. If TLJ is some Star Wars masterpiece that it was hyped as it would be grossing more.

  11. GdB says:

    Rob Cain at Forbes is the one guy who seems to be level headed about TLJ’s gross.

  12. Stella's Boy says:

    Democratic? I thought Rock was a Republican?

    I don’t have any skin in the game. It just strikes me as totally nuts to claim that TLJ is disappointing. What’s a significant percentage and how is that a fact? You did a poll?

  13. EtGuild2 says:

    The Rock hasn’t confirmed his party affiliation. He’s, like, very smart.

  14. Pete B says:

    ^Gee, if Dwayne Johnson declares he’s a Libertarian, maybe the Party will finally crack the magic 5% threshold.

  15. Stella's Boy says:

    He spoke at a Republican national convention so he was definitely Republican at one point in time. But that was a while ago.

  16. Hcat says:

    IIRC when Johnson spoke at the convention he was still under the WWE payroll so it’s possible he was just dancing to the tune McMahon called.

    Besides he no longer fits the profile. With all the midterm retirements by 2018 the Republican Party will be made up entirely of villains from old Burt Reynolds movies.

  17. Stella's Boy says:

    Oh no doubt hcat. I just thought I remembered him being Republican at one point in time. It’s very hard to imagine him being one now.

  18. poet67 says:

    Trump was a Democrat at one point in time. Bloomberg was a Dem, but the Republican ticket was the quickest path to NYC Mayor. The Rock has to consider where the advantage lies over his own personal politics. Republican voters who want Trump out are not going to be attracted to another celebrity tourist candidate. The Democrats on the other hand are more likely to want to fight fire with a more charismatic fire.

  19. Geoff says:

    @Monco, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  20. spassky says:

    holy shit, is this a serious fucking conversation? what the fuck.

    EDIT: Re: The Rock/Hart 2020

  21. palmtree says:

    Come to think of it, The Rock might have even more credibility as a former Republican who can connect to that base in a way that is genuine.

    “If TLJ is some Star Wars masterpiece that it was hyped as it would be grossing more.”

    That premise is not necessarily true. The one Harry Potter movie I’d call a masterpiece also happens to be to lowest grossing one.

  22. leahnz says:

    is ‘the strange ones’ on the box office chart the eerie little road trip one with alex pettyfer and the boy from ‘cop car’? (spaced on his name)

    if so i’m a bit shocked that such a slow, disturbing oddity would even get a theatrical release in this current climate (not that don’t think it should; it stayed with me after i saw it and i have questions, such as the meaning/purpose of the cat and how others interpret the ending) but i guess i just don’t get the seemingly arbitrary standard by which some movies are deemed ‘cinema worthy’ with X amount of theatres (11 in this case) and others aren’t by the powers that be.

    ETA “The one Harry Potter movie I’d call a masterpiece also happens to be to lowest grossing one.”

    Azkaban. just a guess

  23. palmtree says:

    ^Yup. 🙂

    And it’s not just me. Other than the last film in the series, Azkaban had the highest RT scores (both critics and fans) of the franchise. Yet it’s the lowest grossing.

  24. leahnz says:

    this is so weird, why is this
    (azkaban is an utter delight – my fave potter movie by far and probably one of my fave family flicks full stop, i hope cuaron is proud AF of it)

  25. rabartlett says:

    Probably a couple of factors–no book that year, the first move to the summer, Columbus’s movies not really leaving people wanting for more while at the same time the movie kind of pissed off the hardcores at first, the story being kind of quiet, (It’s the only chapter without Voldemort in some way, right?) and probably just in an awkward “Is this for kids or young adults” stop.

    “Greatest Showman” will probably only be barely profitable, but it’s still going to have one of the most impressive runs in its weight class. This is why studios release movies around Christmas, even with the threat of a logjam.

    Karen Gillan has two easy 300 million grossers in one year, and if Marvel doesn’t drop the ball (Which they could) she could steal scenes in “Infinity War”. Yeah, people crediting Johnson, Hart, and Black, but Jumanji should still count as a win for her–she’s about as deep in the call sheet as Daisy Ridely for “Last Jedi”.

  26. Eric says:

    I remember the book diehards really hating the Azkaban movie because of how it streamlined the book’s story.

  27. brack says:

    “I don’t care what anyone says it is underperforming based on expectations especially when it received unamious critical praise, and opened to 220 million, and had breathless hype about how good it was before fans saw it. The argument from the defenders of the movie is that the fans who don’t like it are a small insignificant minority. This is not true. Attack of the Clones was not beloved when it was released, it cetainly didn’t receive the critical praise and hysterical hype that Last Jedi did. It also was considered to have underperformed when it was released.”

    You forget that all of the first of these three different trilogies dropped in box office grosses regardless of the quality. The Force Awakens over performances, as did The Phantom Menace, because of the high anticipation for new Star Wars. The newness is gone. People didn’t exactly love ESB way back when compared to SW, but that doesn’t mean they were disappointments. Scott Mendelson covered a lot of this the other day very extensively:

  28. palmtree says:

    Streamlining the book was perhaps one reason Akzaban made for a better movie. It attempted to tell the story through images and not just regurgitate the events of the book as Chris Columbus had more or less been doing.

  29. leahnz says:

    i’d forgotten about the potterhead backlash to ‘prisoner of azkaban’ because of how it was adapted, kloves most elegant effort as per palmtree’s comment above
    (i think he adapted all but one of the books — looked it up, all but ‘order of the phoenix’. i read all of them except the deathly hallows out loud to my boy – he was old enough by then to read it himself – and man i wanted to throttle Rowling after reading the massive ‘order of the phoenix’ out loud, that was bloody hard yakka, editors exist for a reason)

  30. iothereturned says:

    Azkaban took all of the whimsy out of the series, but replaced it with the force of Emma Watson. She carries that movie, and is the living acting excellence “band-aid,” over that entire film.

    Shout out to Geoff and Monco, for keeping it real. The gas face to Scott Mendelson, who learned all that he knows from this blog, but has never been a tenth of the writer or numbers person, as Ethan G.

    Ethan, much love, but if you ever have your own site. I am there in a heartbeat.

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