“Beauty and the Beast” (Disney) held beautifully, down less than half after its phenomenal opening, and easily led the Top Ten for the second weekend.
But the Lionsgate reboot of “Power Rangers” (officially “Saban’s Power Rangers”) exceeded expectations to lead the new wide releases. The two other studio newbies, “Life” (Sony) and “CHIPS” (Warner Bros.) stumbled out of the starting blocks with weak showings as more attention is directed at the four March 2017 releases well past $100 million domestic (“Kong: Skull Island”/Warner Bros. and “Logan”/20th Century Fox) as March looks to be the new April in terms of studio release schedules. The calendar keeps expanding and the returns at the top are strong.
1. Beauty and the Beast (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$88,347,000 (-49%) in 4,210 theaters (no change); PTA (per theater average): $20,985; Cumulative: $316,953,000
2. Power Rangers (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 44; Est. budget: $100 million
$40,500,000 in 3,693 theaters; PTA: $10,967; Cumulative: $40,500,000
3. Kong: Skull Island (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #2
$14,425,000 (-%) in 3,666 theaters (-180); PTA: $3,935; Cumulative: $133,502,000
4. Life (Sony)NEW – Cinemascore: C-; Metacritic: 55; Est. budget: $58 million
$12,600,000 in 3,146 theaters; PTA: $4,005; Cumulative: $12,600,000
5. Logan (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend #3
$10,145,000 (-43%) in 3,163 theaters (-524); PTA: $3,207; Cumulative: $201,456,000
6. Get Out (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #4
$8,681,000 (-35%) in 3,146 theaters (-505); PTA: $3,508; Cumulative: $147,499,000
7. CHIPS (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 28; Est. budget: $20 million
$7,600,000 in 2,464 theaters; PTA: $3,084; Cumulative: $7,600,000
8. The Shack (Lionsgate) Week 4; Last weekend #5
$3,785,000 (-37%) in 2,334 theaters (-495); PTA: $1,624; Cumulative: $49,072,000
9. The LEGO Batman Movie (Warner Bros.) Week 7; Last weekend #7
$1,970,000 (-57%) in 1,368 theaters (-1,097); PTA: $1,203; Cumulative: $170,841,000
10. The Belko Experiment (BH Tilt) Week 2; Last weekend #7
$1,807,000 (-56%) in 1,341 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,348; Cumulative: $7,578,000
1. Grosses to delight theaters and studios
The biggest industry business side convention of the year takes place this week in Las Vegas as distributors and exhibitors gather to see upcoming product and get a sense of the state of affairs on all sides. The early spring event usually takes places in the hiatus between Christmas blockbusters at the end of their runs and months in advance of summer juggernauts.
This year, it comes in the middle of a surge in business with multiple films that would look great in key periods and more impressively all out at the same time and appealing to multiple audiences. Throw in “Get Out” (Universal) and “The LEGO Batman Movie” (Warner Bros.) and five of the top nine movies this weekend have already grossed over $100 million (with “Power Rangers” likely to eke out that number), two over $200 million. That’s extraordinary and unprecedented.
That leaves year to date totals about five per cent ahead of last year at the same date. This weekend was second only to last week’s and last August’s premiere of “Suicide Squad.” Yes, even better than the totals for “Rogue One”‘s opening break or the following three-day holiday periods, or Thanksgiving. That’s astonishing.
The strong showings internationally of most of these movies will buttress their domestic success. Perhaps the most important number is the $72 million opening in China for “Kong: Skull Island.” The Warners/Legendary reboot of the iconic monster is now just shy of $400 million worldwide, with a likely half billion dollar or more total. That should put it in line to get into the black after some reasonable fears its $185 million production budget could lead to a significant loss.
The problem comes in the middle range of routine films that are sputtering. “Life” and “CHIPS” the first wide release studio duds in over a month, since the mid-February debuts of “The Great Wall,” “Fist Fight” and “A Cure for Wellness.” So the profits from the top performers –box office-juggernaut Disney aside — won’t easily cover their losses.
The Top Ten total this weekend is down from last year ($190 million compared to $245 million). But that is not really a negative. The 2016 last March weekend saw both the Good Friday/Easter holiday and the $166 million opening of “Batman v Superman,” until “Beauty and the Beast” the biggest March opening ever. No way this year could compete with that. It did fine otherwise.
The openers: one promising, two duds
“Power Rangers” topped its low-to-mid $30 million predictions, which gives it a positive spin. The $100 million production (Lionsgate covered itself by selling off foreign rights), with initial foreign results inconclusive (Japan, Korea and some key European countries still to come, and China up in the air), it remains promising but uncertain.
Still it was a risk, with the action figure and original TV-centered previous adaptations part of 1990s culture more than contemporary, unlike the more ongoing appeal for the similar “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Its reboot in August 2014 opened to $65 million and nearly $500 million worldwide. That result likely played no small role in raising interest to return to these characters, whose sole theatrical effort in 1995 opened to the equivalent of $26 million.
What fueled the decent initial showing? Retro appeal to audiences now in their twenties and thirties looking to revisit past friends. About half of the ticket buyers were between 18-34. Some doubtless were parents taking young kids, lured by its nostalgic appeal.
The key will be the hold. $100 million-plus isn’t guaranteed, but likely. It is playing in a period with staggered spring vacation weeks, which should boost it, though ‘Beauty” remains major competition.
The Saban game plan calls for multiple sequels. For Lionsgate, built in recent years with masterful handling of multiple episode franchises (“Twilight” and “Hunger Games” leading the way) but recently scoring with standalone projects, this is critical. But that remains an open question.
“Life” suffers from the high standards set from a series of adult-appeal science fiction films from “Gravity” through “The Martian” and “Arrival” (including three Best Picture nominees) as well as the recent decent performance of star-driven “Passengers.” “Life” did not have the reviews, but in Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson an appealing cast should have boosted it more.
Not all hits require good reviews (“Power Rangers” didn’t), but to get adults for a genre that of late has soared makes them more important. And timing hurt as well. Normally this time of year has less competition and studios could throw in a mid-level budget effort like “Life” and expect better results, if for no other reason than standing out more as a fresh film. Not this year.
“CHIPS” only set Warner Bros. back $25 million (before similar level marketing expenses, even if reduced faced with questionable returns). But this R-rated Dax Shepard-directed and starring redo of the 1970s TV series had a tough time finding any audience. Unlike the two “Jump Street” movies, “CHIPS” doesn’t adapt as easily to comedy. And it’s 20 years older and lacks (to be charitable) the appeal that Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum along with Ice Cube gave the “Jump” entries.
Again, this is the kind of routine easy to green light, tough to sell film that no longer has an audience. And a $50 million layout for a film likely to return under $10 million in domestic film rental, and not likely to add much more overseas (where additional marketing costs will add up) is going to hurt.
“Beauty” Piles Up the Numbers
Bill Condon’s musical totals are enormous. It is (in appropriately inflation-adjusted numbers) the seventh best-second weekend ever, and only the second (and by far the best) among the top 30 ones in the first four months of a year.
Here’s an eye-popper — it is ahead of last year’s top domestic grosser “Rogue One” through their first ten days. For the Star Wars prequel, that included Christmas Day (it was a strong juggernaut through the rest of the holidays). But with $317 million, and strong hold and school breaks helping, this has a shot at topping”Rogue”‘s $531 million “Rogue” domestic gross.
It will easily blow past “Rogue”‘s $1,055,000,000. global total And by some distance. It also will reach the higher end of musicals of all time at home, likely topping “My Fair Lady” and “West Side Story” in adjusted numbers.
If so, that would put it behind only “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins” as the biggest musical ever. And that raises the question of what it means for star Emma Watson. (The original animated musical version topped out at an adjusted $392 million, which this will blow past by next weekend).
Unlike Julie Andrews, who was propelled to movie stardom by her two blockbusters, Watson has a great film history. She is only two years younger than Andrews when she played Mary Poppins, but also has potentially a wider range of possibilities ahead of her. She has to be given credit for the success (a role which reports suggest she chose over “La La Land”), in no small part because of her credibility from the “Harry Potter” films in which she was front and center.
It’s tough to go from an established franchise and build on it. Multiple James Bond stars have struggled to advance beyond those films, Daniel Radcliffe, Robert Pattinson and even despite her recent acclaim Kristen Stewart have not reached their initial heights. Jennifer Lawrence is the closest model after her success with “Hunger Games,” with real growth but not surefire hits in all cases.
No doubt the remake elements carried the film. But look how far Amy Adams has come since she elevated her career with “Enchanted” in 2007. And she was 32 when she played that role.
It will take a couple more films to confirm this, but Watson might now become a big global star. Even more than the other Emma who won an Oscar for “La La Land.”
Key to the weekend were decent continued performances from the usual suspects. All five among the top eight dropped under 50 per cent, with the stunning “Get Out” again leading the way (down only 35 per cent, approaching $150 million). On a smaller scale “The Shack” still managed to keep to a 37 per cent, with the low budget faith-based titled heading to over $60 million.
“Kong” managed to keep its drop to 48 per cent for its third weekend, greater than other recent successes, but still decent enough to make a $170 million domestic take likely. “Logan” dropped less at $43 million as it passed $200 million (already $565 million worldwide).
The bounty is large, wide spread and most importantly in a period not known to be this fruitful or occurring when so many titles are competing.