4th Update Sunday Writethru w/chart: Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Bron Studios’ Joker easily set a second weekend October box office record with a 3-day of $55M, -43%, silencing the previous record set by the studio’s Gravity ($43.1M) back in October 2013.
Most of the town expected Joker to make in the low $40Ms heading into the weekend. Pic stands $7M shy of the $200M mark, which it will reach this week. Worldwide take is at a cool half billion, becoming Joaquin Phoenix’s highest-grossing movie of all-time (beating Gladiator‘s lifetime of $460.5M), and currently the second-highest grossing for director Todd Phillips after The Hangover 2 ($586.7M) and Robert De Niro’s second-highest (soon to be his career record) after Meet the Fockers ($516.6M).
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With that haul in ten days, Joker isn’t sparking outrage, it’s sparking conversation, and driving people to the cinema. Ticket sales for all movies rang up to $141.1M per Comscore, +3.3% from a year ago. Year to date US/Canada B.O. still lagging behind 2018 by -5% with $8.8 billion.
All the factors–comic book movie, great reviews and solid exits–are putting this film higher. We’re hearing that different generations are connecting with this movie for various movies. It was never meant to be a four-quad movie, but it’s pretty much turning into one, with second weekend PostTrak demos seeing men over 25 at 37%, men under 25 at 25%, women over 25 at 25% and females under 25 at 12%. Even with a $138M Ang Lee-directed Will Smith action film in the market, adult moviegoers are opting for Joker, the DC villain origins film they’ve never seen before, and much of that has to do literally with the Rotten Tomatoes score: Joker‘s 68% certified fresh to Paramount/Skydance Media’s Gemini Man‘s 26% Rotten.
The aggregator site is, in effect, telling people to shell out their $15-$20/ticket for one film over the other. Gemini Man is still heading to a $20.5M domestic opening in 3rd place, per Paramount. While a nice round number, and a tad higher than Ad Astra‘s $19M opening, another expensive auterish blow-out this fall, it’s a horrible result for a film this size, which has Imax and 3D on its side. I’m told by finance sources that the movie would need to gross $275M worldwide to reach break-even, which would occur two years after all material ancillary markets play out. That’s not bound to happen, as currently sources see an estimated $60M loss on Gemini Man after its $51.6M global launch, with $31.1M from 58 offshore markets. Financing for Gemini Man is split between Paramount (35%), Skydance (35%), Alibaba (5%) and Fosun (25%). The production will only get 25% out of China despite its partners. Saturday was +3% with $7.7M next to Friday’s $7.5M (but that included $1.6M Thursday previews).
Usually, when a tentpole film goes sideways at box office, we point to production problems on the set, bad testing, or a botched marketing campaign. But Gemini Man didn’t have these. In fact, Life of Pi, with its two-and-half months in a water tank, was a more challenging production than Gemini Man. It was simply a bad pairing between cinema technology and a low-stakes, we’ve-seen-it-all-before concept of twins rivaling each other.
Why was it made? Well, why wouldn’t a studio bet on an auteur like Lee? Filmmakers like him, Christopher Nolan, Baz Luhrmann, Quentin Tarantino, and James Gunn are the saving graces at the box office when it comes to original material that can actually pop.
That said, I hear the whole old vs. young Will Smith is what people responded to when marketing materials were tested. Potential audience interest in the pic nosedived when people started seeing more on social, and when reviews finally hit. Given the Lee and Smith factor, plus the fact that the film was shot in 120 frames per second in 4K, 3D, the plan was to show off the pic to the press early, like any major studio would do with a tentpole. At CinemaCon back in April where the first footage was shown, Gemini Man, was of course a big pic part of Paramount’s presentation.
However, fact is the frame per second rate thing is unsettling to audiences, as well as the shaky technology in regard to making Smith younger. The script for Gemini Man dates back to 1997 after a number of fizzled attempts, with such big names as Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery and Mel Gibson attached. Such lengthy development “indicates problems,” says one rival film finance source.
Says social media monitor Relish Mix, “Folks that saw the film are certainly leaning negative, claiming that the storyline and the special effects were not convincing. They are wondering how long a star like Smith will continue doing action films – and whether or not effects like these will last, as they seem predominantly ‘basic’ to a wide group of naysayers.”
Sitting through the movie this weekend at a quarter-filled 3:45pm Imax show at Regal Valencia, the pic has a slow beat to it. There’s some action, particularly that motorcycle chase scene between Smith and Smith, but the pic lacks the shock-and-awe actions scenes and pacing of any Mission Impossible or Bond movie.
Lastly, some in town will gripe that Smith no longer opens movies. However, really no stars can open a movie nowadays. The box office is all brand-driven (duh), and what we’ve seen this summer is that Smith+brand (like Disney’s Aladdin) works very well (it was the second-highest opening of his career at $91.5M, behind Suicide Squad‘s $133.6M).
If Gemini Man was something marvelous that critics and audiences hadn’t seen before, we’d be seeing different results here. Before the zombie renaissance exploded again with 2010’s The Walking Dead, Smith was there first with I Am Legend in 2007. It was a fresh take on the zombie genre that came before it, set in a post-apocalyptic world, and that movie still holds a live-action debut record for a movie based off unbranded IP with $77.2M. There’s nothing to say that can’t happen again for Smith.
Lee and Smith were very proud of this film, with the latter promoting to his 122.3M social media followers across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Social media universe for the movie was strong, per RelishMix, with over 243M followers across all social media channels. “The usual film in the genre has an SMU of 110.5M by opening week, so Gemini is ‘strong’ because its reach is so far ahead. But, for context, Will Smith alone makes up 50% of the movie’s reach – and Paramount’s reach contributes another 15M,” says the social media analytics corp.
“It’s also worth mentioning that the majority of the film’s top clips are internationally distributed,” wisely notes RelishMix, which makes sense, because with the dim stateside prospects, Paramount and Skydance have to make this pic’s cost up overseas.
Also, following in the wake of Joker really doesn’t help Gemini Man. However, before Warner Bros. even dated the DC film, Paramount called dibs on the first weekend of October with the Smith film. But when Joker moved on, Gemini Man moved off. The film couldn’t go any further in the fall due to the fact that Paramount/Skydance Media’s Terminator Dark Fate is coming out on Nov. 1, so that’s why the pic is here.
57% males turned up at Gemini Man, with 61% under 35 years old. Pic was solid with African American audience at 32%, followed by 32% Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, & 12% Asian/Other. Pic played best in the West and the South, but even there it was disappointing. It’s possible that African American moviegoers may still come and push the opening for this film higher.
CinemaScore audiences were much kinder than PostTrak ones, giving Gemini Man a B+ to 3 1/2 stars.
Addams Family, a MGM Success
MGM/UAR/Bron Creative’s The Addams Family is to be applauded in how an old piece of IP can still generate interest on the big screen, with $30.3M in second place. That’s a bigger opening than the $24.2M opening of the 1991 live-action Paramount movie that starred the late Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston, which catapulted the 1960s TV black and white TV series into the modern era (that CGI Thing hand!) and launched former Coen Brothers’ DP Barry Sonnenfeld as a bankable director (yes, commenters, I know — it was a different exhibition era and the film only opened at 2,411 theaters).
The MGM/UAR pic’s results are also higher than both Goosebumps which opened respectively to $23.6M and $15.8M. MGM Boss Jonthan Glickman gives full praise to all departments working together in making Addams Family a weekend success, from UAR distribution chief Erik Lomis to UAR marketing chief Gerry Rich, who has launched Paramount’s Marvel movies, to MGM chief marketing officer Stephen Bruno. Addams Family jumped 21% yesterday with $11.8M from Friday’s $9.7M. The movie cost a thrifty $40M; it was from filmmakers Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, the same guys who made Sausage Party for a bargain basement price of $19M. The duo have a short-hand with the animation studio Cinesite who was able to mount this film at an efficient price.
How did MGM know this would work, and how did they get hold of the IP in the wake of Paramount?
“It never felt like a stretch. I grew up loving this franchise, and having worked on the Bond, Rocky, and Magnificent Seven movies, you can’t underestimate a fantastic theme song to breakthrough in the marketplace. If there was a marketing hook for the film, it was there,” Glickman tells Deadline this morning.
MGM came to back the movie when producer Gail Berman and her colleague Andrew Mittman, another producer on the film, came to them with the animated package for the project. Essentially the film rights for the franchise reverted back to the Charles Addams estate. Berman and Mittman were tracking the rights. The estate, led by Kevin Miserocchi, always wanted to do an animated film. Berman Bron, Berman had a TV deal at MGM and offered it up to Glickman who immediately became excited about the project. Berman tells us this morning that in making the animated movie, it was always about “taking it back to the original artwork and not coming up with new designs. We were very committed to keeping Charles Addams’ vision in the film.” Originally, Vernon was going to produce, but decided to direct, and then all the talent lined-up given their passion for franchise.
Making Addams Family animate rather than live-action, “Allowed us to create our own lane for what an Addams Family film could be. When you have an IP that has been seen before, you have to have a different iteration from what was done in the past,” says Glickman.
“Seasonality was critical. We knew from the get-go we wanted this to be a Halloween movie, in order to connect the the brand with the season,” says Glickman about the pic’s early October release date.
The movie received an event-sized push by the rejuvenated MGM, with a $150M global licensing and promotional programming, the biggest outside of the studio’s recent 007 films. I hear that promo guru George Leon, who worked on the last two Bond films, was the architect. Some of the partners included Hershey’s chocolate, which for the first time in its 125-year history teamed with a film brand during the Halloween season, the promo including 30M+ units of Addams Family-themed candy packaging in over 50K retailers across North America. IHOP served up an Addams Family menu at 1,700 + locations around the world with 5 custom Addams Family menu items. The campaign also includes custom TV spots, in-restaurant take-over, social media, stunt, AR and PR extensions. Halloween costume manufacturer Rubies sold costumes and party goods related to the movie. Cost Plus World Market stores sold Addams Family decorations at 275 of its stores stateside. Harper Collins published original Addams Family books timed to the film’s release worldwide.
Addams Family gets a B+ CinemaScore and 4 stars from kids under 12, and 3 1/2 stars from parents. Two of the big reasons on PostTrak why people went to see the Addams Family was because it’s an animated feature (34%) while 28% said it’s part of a franchise they like. The marketing materials that persuaded audiences to go to the film: the pic’s in-theater trailer (34%), TV spots (25%), in theater one sheets (24%), and the YouTube trailer (22%).
Says RelishMix, “There is a wide variety of elements for fans to like when it comes to Addams. Some are fascinated by the animation and have definitely called out their favorite moments. Others are happy to see known stars like Charlize Theron and Oscar Isaac lending their voices to the ensemble. Another group is liking Snoop Dogg and Christina Aguilera’s musical efforts on the soundtrack. So, plenty of families are making movie dates with pals to kick off their Halloween season with this title over the weekend.”
The official trailer received 100M views worldwide to date. On TV, a big play for moms here with a Food Network integration with an Addams Family themed Halloween Baking Championship. There was a custom vignette featuring Finn Wolfhard (Pugsley) introducing characters from the film on Nickelodeon. TV spots ran during event programming such as the NFL with a heavy frequency across kids and adult cable networks with a focus on contextual alignments in Halloween themed programming. Social media executions like #SnapLikeAnAddams TikTok challenge complimented the Snapalong collaboration which yielded over 250M video views in one weekend. In reaching Hispanic demos, MGM had an LA Galaxy Partnership, “En Familia”, at the Galaxy featuring four in-game promotions for current season. There was “Wednesday’s Wednesday Screening Program” across the top 30 US markets and top 10 Hispanic markets including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego, San Jose, and San Antonio. There were also talent appearances on national TV shows Despierta América, El Gordo y La Flaca, Un Nuevo Dia and Primer Impacto.
One big clip that RelishMix gives a shout-out to was the a cappella sing-a-long video that was posted on Oct. 1. It’s a social media device that the Pitch Perfect movies have used, and includes the pic’s stars, including Chloe Grace Moretz, Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, social influencer Mike Tompkins, and an entire host of fans snapping along to the TV series’ original score. To the campaign’s credit, this clip was shared on MGM’s official YT Channel as well, and elsewhere on the studio’s official assets for maximum engagement, and it has exploded to near 5M views.
Females repped 59% of the crowd, with 48% under 17 in updated PostTrak exits. Diversity breakdown was 48% Caucasian, 25% Hispanic, 13% Asian/Other, 14% African American. The pic played best in West, Mid-West and South.
CBS Films/Lionsgate’s Jexi is the casualty of a film studio turning its lights off, specifically CBS Films, with a 9th place take of $3.1M. Saturday was about even with Friday at $1.1M. The movie was dated only 11 weeks ago. Soon after the pic was in production, the folding of CBS Films was announced. I heard testing was sour on the Adam Devine comedy (indicated in the 2 1/2 star exit on PostTrak and B- CinemaScore) about a man who falls in love with his phone, hence why there wasn’t more P&A put in the film. Not as big a loss as Gemini Man, with sources telling me that all-together production cost and P&A were under $12M.
There was some hope with trailers on Good Boys and Hustlers that Jexi could catch the former’s wave. That didn’t happen, because no one in the darkened halls of CBS films was really trying. Why didn’t they just salvage this film on streaming? Because of the pic’s eOne foreign sales deals and guarantees, which were locked up in theatrical. The few who showed up to Jexi were 56% Male and 65% under 35. Diversity draw was 60% Caucasian, 19% Hispanic, 11% Asian/Other and 10% African American.
Bong Joon Ho’s Cannes Palme d’Or Winner Parasite at New York’s IFC Center and LA’s Landmark and Arclight Hollywood posted the best screen opening average of the year to date, with $125,4K and the best ever for a foreign language movie off a 3-day of $376,2K. To give you a sense of the cash power of that figure, Ho’s The Host opened at 71 theaters back in March 2007 and made $314,4K. Evening Q&As were sold out. The South Korean movie has amassed $90.4M overseas, 78% of that coming from its homeland turnstiles. Dino will have more in his indie report later this morning.
Studio-reported Sunday estimates:
WEEKEND B.O. FOR oCT. 11-13
Saturday AM industry estimates:
BOX OFFICE FOR OCT. 11-13
2nd Update: Joker in all of its controversy continues to remain strong, expected to be down -52% in weekend 2 with $45.8M after a Friday of $12.9M, -67% at 4,374 venues. Dark? Who says it’s too dark for business? That’s what the complaint was about Warner Bros.’ Batman V. Superman, which dropped -69% in weekend 2 off a B CinemaScore. However, Joker‘s B+ (which some debate is akin to an A-), coupled with solid exits last weekend of 4 stars on PostTrak are the indicator here of the want-to-see for this Todd Phillip-directed movie.
A great opening from MGM/UAR’s The Addams Family with $9M (including $1.25M previews) and a $30M start at 4,007, at the top of industry forecasts. Some even think the animated feature can do more. The pic earned a 69% definite recommend from parents, 58% from kids, with girls outweighing boys last night 57% to 43%, on PostTrak.
It’s looking extremely grim for Paramount/Skydance Media’s $138M (some say the pic was sent around in finance submission packets with a budget of $158M) Will Smith movie Gemini Man here in the U.S. and Canada with a $7.3M Friday, including $1.6M previews, and a $19M-$20M forecast in 3rd place at 3,642. That’s with 3D tickets sales and Imax which Joker largely doesn’t have. Joker and Addams Family I hear are sharing PLFs.
Dreamworks/Pearl Studios/Universal’s Abominable takes 4th with $1.8M in weekend 3 at 3,496 theaters for a $7.7M 3-day, for a total of $49.5M.
Focus Features’ Downton Abbey is seeing $1.3M today and $4.4M in weekend 4, -45% for a total of $82.1M.
CBS Films’ R-rated, man-in-love-with-his-phone comedy Jexi, dying with $3M-$3.3M for the weekend after $1.25M today.
1st Update: Paramount/Skydance Media’s Ang Lee directed Gemini Man starring Will Smith rang up $1.6M in Thursday night previews that started at 7PM from 3,000 showtimes. Also, MGM/UAR’s animated feature The Addams Family had a great start with $1.25M at 3,000 locations that started at 4PM.
That figure is just under what The Magnificent Seven pulled in back in September 2016 in its previews with $1.75M (for a $12.7M opening day, $34.7M opening weekend) and ahead of Millennium/Lionsgate’s Angel Has Fallen ($1.5M previews, $7.95M opening day, $21.3M opening) and Ad Astra ($1.5M previews, $7.1M opening day, $19M opening weekend). Among Will Smith’s fresh IP titles, Gemini Man blows away 2015’s crime noir Focus ($900K) and 2013’s After Earth ($1.1M) though that was at a time when Thursday night previews weren’t as potent as they are now.
Gemini Man (watch the trailer here) is expected to debut to $24M-$27M this weekend as Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/Bron Studios Joker which is projected to do around $42M. Co-financed with China’s Alibaba and Fosun Pictures, the latter which is distributing in China, Gemini Man cost $138M. The pic uses the 120 frames per second technology, and is ideally seen in 3D, which a third of its 3,642 theater count is accommodating. The pic follows Smith as a hitman who hunts down a younger clone of himself.
There were 8% K-12 schools out yesterday, rising to 19% today and 42% on break for Columbus Day Monday. That bodes well for Addams Family (trailer here), which is looking at a $25M-$30M start. General audiences only repped 48% of the crowd while parents and kids combined repped 52% of Thursday night’s attendance per Screen Engine/Comscore’s PostTrak. Previews were higher than the $850K made by Warner Bros. Smallfoot last year ($6.4M opening day, $23M opening weekend) as well as the $840K made by The House With a Clock in Its Walls ($7.7M opening day, $26.6M opening). Critics weren’t kind to the Addams at 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, however, kids animated pics are largely deflective of the aggregator site’s power over moviegoers.
Who’s going to get hurt more potentially in ticket sales is Gemini Man which reviewers have slammed with a 29% RT score. Audiences gave it 3 1/2 stars on PostTrak last night. Men over 25 repped half of the crowd, followed by females over 25 (25%), men under 25 (14%), females under 25 (11%). Big turnout last nights for Gemini Man by Hispanics (30%) followed by African Americans (27%), Caucasians (26%) and Asians (12%).
There’s also CBS Films/Lionsgate/eOne’s comedy Jexi from Bad Moms directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. That’s expected to tank in the low single digits as CBS Films’ final theatrical release. Previews were around $235K at 1,900 locations. Low exits at 3 stars, a 40% definite recommend and Men over 25 mostly there (47%), followed by 31% females over 25, 14% men under 25 and females under 25 at 8%.
Joker ends its opening week with $137.7M after an $8.3M Thursday, -14%. Focus Features’ Downton Abbey was second yesterday by a distance with $905K, -11% for an estimated running total in week 3 of $77.7M. Dreamworks Animations/Pearl Studios/Universal’s Abominable chalked up $640K, -52% for a running two total of $41.8M. STX’s Hustlers with $550K, -13% was in 4th place and an estimated total in week 4 of $94.1M. Roadside Attractions/LD Entertainment’s Judy counted $530K, -17%, for a two week tally of $11.7M.