The Hot Blog Archive for September, 2016

Categorizing The 2016 Box Office (To-Date)

The annual whining about the end of theatrical is in full force… and as wrong as ever. Ironically, the biggest threat to theatrical box office is currently the Murdoch brothers, who have expressed an interest in pushing the day-n-date issue yet again. (So far, every experiment has failed miserably.) The big studio fantasy about collapsing the windows and coming out ahead is, in my opinion, simply wrong because it is not a math equation… it is the nature of how content is consumed. Theatrical is the only significant differentiator even now… and it’s only going to become more so.

But that is not the point of this piece.

In looking at the numbers for the Top 50 films of the year worldwide to date, I noticed that they fall pretty nearly into seven categories.

1. Animated Movies – $4.31b
2. Comic Book Movies – $4.08b
3. Sequels – $3.25b
4. Reboots – $2.17b
5. Originals (even if sourced) – $1.88b
6. Foreign-driven – $1.42b
7. Horror/Extreme Thriller – $381.6m

I am making category judgements here. Zootopia, for instance, is an original AND animated. Same with Deadpool. The Jungle Book is kinda animated, kinda rebooted, etc. But I don’t think there will be a lot of serious arguments with my classifications.

The biggest challenge to classify is Warcraft, which is not a comic book, is not animated, is a domestic movie though it did just under 90% of its business overseas. I put it in with the originals… Because, really, it is. It is the biggest budget in the group and the highest grosser as well, even though it couldn’t get to $50m domestic. Still, an oddball.

Comic Book Movies are the top per-title draw, with just over $800m per on only five titles. But, as you know, they are also (with rare exceptions) the most expensive movies being made.

There wer eight animated releases going into this weekend. The top 5 average $750 million per film, which is competitive with and more profitable than the Comic Book category.

These two businesses are separate from the rest of the industry. They, with just 13 titles, represent almost half the revenue of the industry.

But that leaves about $9 billion on the ticket sales table for every other niche. This is not table scraps. This is not a starvation diet. Would most intelligent adults be happier if the revenue ratio leaned more towards originals and indie and quality in general? Sure. But let’s not go insane with the pitchforks and torches.

Of course, a look at the 11 originals that made the Top 50 (to date) is not going to encourage critical minds. Only Sully, The BFG, Central Intelligence, and (just barely) Bad Moms are “fresh” at Rotten Tomatoes.

Four of six of the reboot group were rated “fresh.” Only three of the 12 sequels were “fresh,” (Neighbors 2 only by the skin of its teeth). Comic book movies? Two of five were “fresh.”

Underrepresented in my list of the Top 50 worldwide is the Horror/Extreme Thriller group. Those films don’t generate the $90 million that would get it to the bottom of this group. But they are profitable a great deal of the time.

I was particularly impressed about how much money there is in films that don’t hit in the U. S. 99.4% of the grosses for those five films were  from outside the U.S. And the 5 films averaged $283 million in gross. That outdoes sequels, originals, and horror on average. It is worth noting that two of those five are sequels and one is from the Asian Spielberg (or Disney if you prefer), Stephen Chow.

For the “Woe is We”ers, if you look at the 11 originals, you’ll find that three come from independents and three more from lower-budget WB arm New Line. So the argument that studios are out of the original non-comic/non-animation business is buoyed. On the other hand, if you look back at 2000, when X-Men was the only big comic book movie, there were still only 14 originals (as I have classified them today) and four of those were from non-majors.

Here’s the list. You can chew on it yourself for a while…

TOP 50 AS OF SEPT 2016


Weekend Estimates by September Over Yet? Klady

Weekeend Estimates 2016-09-25 at 11.06.40 AM

Nothing has changed. Storks claiming $21.4 million for the 3 day may be high… could be true… still not a hit in this genre. Sully holding well, but not exceptionally so. Bridget Jones’ Baby is ugly domestically… hoping it looks better by international norms. Snowden in hiding (which I find unfortunate). Blair Witch doing the same business the original should have (aka, almost none). Suicide Squad passes $320m domestic next weekend… $730m worldwide… Guardians of the Galaxy did $773m worldwide and was seen as the most explosive hit of the season… this is when media feelings really show up, when the history is written, not at the box office.

Disney fails to open Queen of Katwe. The film deserved better. It was never going to rock the box office, but it would have been better served by selling the movie that is there, not the movie Disney dreamed it could be (and clearly is not). This is the kind of movie that other distributors with the ability to go wide handle with white gloves. Disney’s white gloves only have four fingers.

And now that Katwe is release, there is exactly one non-big-Disney-brand movie on the company’s schedule between now and the end of 2018. (Someone noted this somewhere this week… in a comment, I think. Sorry to be cribbing.) And that sole film is a Disney Nature doc.

If Disney had laid off Queen of Katwe, The Light Between Oceans, Pete’s Dragon, McFarland USA, Million Dollar Arm, The Hundred Foot Journey, and more, they would have all done a lot better. Disney’s marketing department just isn’t exercising the muscle of releasing quality movies that are not franchise movies anymore.

When Alan Horn came to the studio, he assured producers that the studio was not getting out of the business of making “middle” movies. He may or may not have been lying. My guess is that he was given a few shots to make is work… and it never has paid off, so they have abandoned the category completely… which no other studio has done, no matter how the media obsesses on the idea that everyone has.

More of this to come in a separate piece.

Anyway… another meh Sunday.


Friday Estimates by The Magnificent Klady

Friday Estimates 2016-09-24 at 9.07.27 AM

Is this the moment where Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington officially become movie star equals? Or has it already happened? Or is Denzel ahead? Or do we credit Chris Pratt?

All moot, really. Denzel has a great September history. We are reminded that he can still open movies. We are reminded that $35m in September is not a surprise.

But mostly, we look at domestic on both of these movies and wonder whether either will play overseas. Genres and all.

Storks barely achieved lift-off. Not a complete car wreck, but under $20m for a major studio animated opening is not good. Is this a loss-leader for international like Ice Age ’16 (now over $400m ww)? Is this the canary in the coal mine for comic book extravaganzas? International often reflects the domestic trend, just a few years later (just as international often doesn’t come on-trend for a year or two).

Weak arthouse weekend. With a couple of niche exceptions, under $5k per screen.


Weekend Estimates by Tre’ja Vu Klady

SWeekend Estimates 2016-09-18 at 9.53.01 AM

So September…

Not a pretty weekend. Always an odd month.

On “this weekend” of September, having three openings is not rare. But in the last five years, it has been rare to see three new films loaded into one weekend that have so little traditional firepower . It’s been 16 years since a Blair Witch sighting… 12 years between Bridget Jones quirkiness… and selling a political movie without a big, fat hook has always been a brutal task.

Compared to The Fifth Estate, Snowden had a massive opening ($1.7m vs $7.9m). Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an excellent, well-liked actor, as is Shailene Woodley. But neither is a full-stop box office opener. This is Oliver Stone’s worst opening in almost 20 years, though he’s made star-studded spectacles for the most part. The W opening is closest ($10.5m)… and that was a hyperreal comedy in the heat of an election year. Let’s not forget that one of Mike Nichols’ best films, Primary Colors, barely opened ($12m) despite a then-super-hot John Travolta and top-of-her-commercial-game Emma Thompson.

The Bridget Jones’ Baby opening is almost exactly the same as the Bridget Jones’ Sequel, which was only a couple million less than the original Bridget Jones’ Diary opening. So really, Universal has nothing to complain about here. I don’t expect that this film will achieve the 4.5x opening that sequel Edge of Reason did… but (shrug). Edge did 5.5x domestic at the international box office and that is the reason why this three-quel exists, not because of expectations of domestic success. Universal could have, in theory, pushed the film to Focus to save a little on marketing, but not really. The film comes with the long relationship with Working Title. All is well.

Blair Witch? Well… uh… straight IP greed play. Wingard & Barrett are legitimate horror guys. The movie was flint cheap. Crap horror opening under $10 million, but no one is going to lose money on this one. The wet dream on these kinds of investments is that there will be a magical surge of interest in a great old film (at least to Don’t Breathe numbers). But no.

So… weak-end. But nothing really sad here. Just meh.

Sully remains on top, doing solid September business. Clint Eastwood made a movie people like. He is a great filmmaker who can hit a clunker, but didn’t here. Nor did he change the world. Tom Hanks…kinda the same. The film will do slightly better domestic box office than other September hits The Equalizer and Eagle Eye. It will probably do less internationally than either of those films. But more than breakeven. I don’t mean to poo-poo a hit, but at this budget range, a drama with some action that plays domestic only is unlikely to be a cash cow. Just the math, folks.

Suicide Squad stands quietly as the reason why studios continue to chase comic book movies. $314m domestic. $719 million worldwide. New franchise. Slaughtered by critics and much of the word-of-mouth. Warners’ #3 DC movie all-time. Close to passing the well-loved Gravity to become the studio’s #14 film of all-time. And those 13 ahead of it, 8 are Potter films and 3 are Batman films, Inception and The Matrix Reloaded. They may be celebrating like Republicans in Hollywood, but no matter how much in may enrage you or the media, they are celebrating.

Look at the worldwide Top 10 to date in 2016, it’s four talking animal movies, five comic book movies, and The Mermaid, which is a bit of both. Take out The Mermaid, which had no impact in the U.S., and it’s dead-even between talking animals and comic book heroes. There are no comic book movies past #10/#11 worldwide… every single one of them did more than $543 million worldwide.

Can people who write about this stuff comprehend these numbers? Complain all you like, but there have only been five of these comic book things released this year… only one of them (Deadpool) was good. But none of them will lose money. Maybe this year is a canary in the coal mine? Maybe Dr. Strange will underperform the $543 million low bar. But if you are screaming “no!!!” and demanding an end to the madness, you are fighting math.

I agree and have written that I think there will be a point where the genre flattens and two or three comic book movies lose real money in the same year, then the machine will change direction. But this is as close to the dumb DVD money that is still so missed. You make it. You put out a trailer. You hope for a billion and are relieved when it hits $500 million. And it always seems to hit $500 million. For now.

By the way, Jason Bourne is the #2 grosser in the franchise, near $400 million. Not explosive, but successful.

The arthouse business doesn’t look a lot different at this point of the year than it did last year. Of course, a lot of the money is in undisclosed VOD, so no read on that. But theatrically, very similar. Amongst films never on as many as 1,000 screens at any given time, there are just over 60 million-dollar grossers both years as of this date.

Roadside Attractions is a heavyweight at the top of this category again, probably on the lookout of a film named “Love & (anything)” for next year after cracking $12.5 million with both Love & Mercy last year and Love & Friendship this year.

The Woody Allen film soft-ed its way into this category, never getting to 1,000 screens while A24 made lemonade out of The Lobster after it landed on its table late in the release game.

Hello, My Name is Doris is the queen of this category and Sally Field with it. Will be interesting to see of there is a legit award push… especially after they failed to get Mr. Holmes to the prom last year.

In fact, the under-1,000 category was fool’s gold last year. Ian McKellen, Paul Dano, Lily Tomlin, Blythe Danner, Jason Segel, Kristen Stewart, Sarah Silverman… all spent time as hopefuls last season… some deserved it for sure… none got in.

Anyway… boring September will bring an animated hit next weekend, as most Septembers now do. Onward…


Friday Estimates by MId-September Klady

Friday Estimates 2016-09-17 at 9.15.08 AM

Sully is doing well. Not “parade” well, but very nicely. It started slightly better than 2014’s The Equalizer and is holding a little better than the same. So look for the hundred & teens. International will be interesting, given the material vs The Hanks.

The trio of newcomers (Blair Witch, Bridget Jones’ Baby, Snowden) could land in any order, with Witch hampered by horror. Bridget is the likely top earner with some date value on Saturday. But Snowden could surprise.

No $10,000-per-screen arthouse stuff this weekend.

Box office should spoke sharply with the number of big titles in the coming two Fridays.


Weekend Estimates



Friday Box Office Estimates



Labor Day Weekend Estimates

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Don’t Breathe Sony 15.8 (5,170) -40% 3051 51.2
Suicide Squad WB 10.1 (3,070) -18% 3292 297.5
Pete’s Dragon BV 6.4 (1,950) -14% 3272 64.1
Kubo and the Two Strings Focus 6.4 (2,150) -18% 2985 34.3
Sausage Party Sony 5.3 (1,910) -30% 2766 88.4
The Light Between Oceans BV 4.8 (3,210) NEW 1500 4.8
Bad Moms STX/eOne 4.8 (2,070) -14% 2306 102.6
War Dogs WB 4.7 (1,660) -33% 2848 35.2
Hell or High Water CBS/VVS 4.5 (3,450) 26% 1303 14.6
Mechanic: Resurrection Lionsgate/VVS 4.2 (1,860) -44% 2258 14.3
Jason Bourne Uni 4.0 (2,120) -22% 1876 155.2
No Manches Frida Lionsgate 3.6 (10,030) NEW 362 3.6
The Secret Life of Pets Uni 3.5 (1,700) -9% 2069 358.5
Star Trek Beyond Par 2.5 (2,050) 9% 1202 154.3
Ben-Hur Par 2.2 (1,010) -52% 2167 23.7
Florence Foster Jenkins Par/eOne 2.2 (1,630) -26% 1341 23.6
Finding Dory BV 1.9 (930) 205% 2075 481.8
Morgan Fox 1.9 (950) NEW 2020 1.9
Southside With You Roadside Attractions 1.4 (1,760) -50% 813 5.1
Hands of Stone Weinstein Co. 1.3 (1,570) -28% 810 3.7
Ghostbusters Sony 1.1 (990) 95% 1091 126.3
Janatha Garage Ficus .77 (4,710) 164 1.5
Ice Age: Collision Course Fox .73 (1,050) 43% 692 62.6
Nerve Lionsgate .66 (870) 29% 761 37.6
Lights Out WB .54 (1,210) -19% 446 66.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $95.30
% Change (Last Year) 12%
% Change (Last Week) -15%
Also debuting/expanding
Don’t Think Twice Film Arcade .46 (2,790) 5% 165 3
Café Society Lionsgate/Mongrel .28 (1,460) -18% 190 10.4
Equity Sony Classics .20 (920) -38% 221 1.3
Nitro Rush Seville .15 (2,150) 71 0.21
Captain Fantastic Bleecker Street/eOne .14 (1,280) -31% 112 5.3
Indignation Roadside Attractions .13 (1,150) -47% 116 3.1
Naam Hai Akira Fox Intl .13 (1,870) 71 0.13
Hunt for the Wilderpeople Orchard .12 (1,430) -1% 85 4.6
A Tale of Love and Darkness Focus .12 (4,580) 3% 66 0.33
The Hollars Sony Classics .10 (4,270) 157% 23 0.15
The 9th Life of Louis Drax Lionsgate 73,300 (430) 171 0.07
White Girl FilmRise 29,900 (9,970) 3 0.03
Yoga Hosers Invincible 28,800 (360) 81 0.03
Pretham Central 18,200 (1,120) 16 0.02
Kickboxer: Vengeance RLJ Entertainment 13,800 (150) 91 0.01
Dekalog (reissue) Janus 12,500 (3,120) 4 0.01
Darra Guraya 11,300 (940) 12 0.01
Pepo Pal Senado K Torce 10,400 (1,490) 7 0.01
The Girl King Wolfe 8,200 (1,370) 6 0.01
Skiptrace Saban 7,600 (690) 11 0.01
Seasons in Quincy Icarus 5,100 (5,100) 1 0.01
Summer of 8 FilmBuff 3,800 (630) 6 0.01
Max Rose Paladin 3,300 (3,300) 1 0.01
Tunnel Well Go .17 (4,640) 36 0.17

Friday Estimates

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 12.40.03 PM


The Hot Blog

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon