5th Update Monday AM: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood wound up coming in at $41.08M which is where we saw it on Saturday AM before Sony and rivals pegged it at $40M yesterday morning. Sony was expecting $10.1M yesterday and Hollywood did $11.06M. I’m told by rival distribution sources that this Tarantino film has enough juice –most of the cash from big cities– to leg it out, potentially to a $120M-$125M domestic final.
‘B’ CinemaScore movies carry a 2.9 multiple (which is what Hollywood notched), so by that rule of thumb, that gets the Leonardo DiCaprio-Brad Pitt-Margot Robbie feature well over $100M. Django Unchained had an A- CinemaScore, which yields a 3.5x off opening, however, that film played strong with African American audiences, and was further propped by the Christmas/year-end holiday stretch well before a Star Wars was sucking up a ton of business. Django opened on Christmas Day, which fell on a Tuesday back in 2012, and made $30.1M over its FSS, $63.4M over six days. Inglourious Basterds, which played the late part of the August calendar, was Tarantino’s previous big opener at $38M over three days and ended its first week with $53.7M.
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Hollywood‘s foreign rollout begins on Aug. 8 in Russia, followed by Belgium, France, and UK (Aug. 14), Australia, Brazil, Netherlands, Spain (Aug. 15), Mexico (Aug. 23), Japan (Aug. 30), Italy (Sept. 19) and South Korea (Sept. 26). Just like Tarantino is a brand here, so is he in Australia, UK, Spain, Germany, France and Italy where he does double-digit million box office figures, at least that was the case for Basterds and Django. Even with Universal’s Hobbs & Shaw entering the marketplace, many believe that Hollywood is unique enough to keep an adult audience coming, and certainly there’s nothing louder or more prolific than this film in the adult counter-programming space in the next month.
4th Update, Sunday AM Updated with chart and more analysis: Finally! Original counter-programming works at the summer box office, with Sony propelling Quentin Tarantino to his best domestic opening ever, as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood clocked $40.3M, per the Culver City studio’s numbers this morning.
Yesterday rang up $13.36M, -20% from Friday’s $16.85M, which included Thursday previews of $5.8M. ComScore reports that the summer box office, for the period beginning during the last weekend of April through today, is at $3.885 billion, +2% over the same season to date a year ago.
Some die-hard Tarantino fans have seen this 2 hour and 41 minute film as many as 3x since Thursday. The pic played best on both coasts, over-indexing in the West, with solid turnouts in the Mountain region and Canada (which repped 8.6% of Hollywood‘s business). Los Angeles, we hear, crushed it, with the pic’s top 6 runs in town. The ArcLight Hollywood chalked up an awesome $394K from Friday and Saturday’s business. Top cities for Hollywood were Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Phoenix, Toronto, San Diego, Seattle, Denver, Austin, Portland, Ore. and Las Vegas. Sony reports that 50 35MM prints grossed $800K, and five 70MM prints grossed $400K – well above the national screen average.
The Alamo Drafthouse chain reported that their 19 locations of Hollywood in 35MM and 70MM marked the chain’s highest opening weekend attendance for the film format in the digital era. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is on track to surpass Dunkirk as the theater chain’s highest-grossing title on 35MM and 70MM. The latest Alamo Drafthouse location opened in downtown Los Angeles simultaneously with Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to Hollywood, and saw sold out theaters for all showtimes.”
This weekend stands as proof: If you’re not a superhero movie, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to live a life on streaming. As Sony demonstrated back in June/July 2017 with the 7-day $39M opening for Baby Driver, moviegoers crave and will remove themselves from their TVs, mobile phones, and streaming to watch a fresh, high-concept genre movie on the big screen. Stateside, that movie made $107.8M on that Media Rights Capital movie, $227M worldwide.
But unlike Baby Driver, which cost $34M for Sony and co-fi partners, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was an expensive play for an original movie, between $90M-$96M net (25% of that was co-financed by Bona Film Group). Just like Tarantino’s Hollywood is a throwback pic, so is its financial structure, we hear from sources, with 30% of the first dollar gross going to the filmmaker, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Brad Pitt in a first dollar pool. We hear that first dollar gross is typical on a Tarantino pic, and that between Inglourious Basterds and The Hateful Eight, he made around $75M between fees and profits. Typically, on a big star-driven tentpole like a Dwayne Johnson movie, profit is dispensed at a percent of cash break-even. We understand that in order for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to break-even, it has to make just north of $400M at the worldwide B.O., just under the $425.3M that Django Unchained grossed (38% of that came from U.S./Canada, where the feature made $162.8M, still his highest- grossing movie).
To open Hollywood to $40M+, various elements need to be in planet alignment: First, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood continues to show how an auteurish director as brand alone can queue up moviegoers, especially when he’s in business with the biggest marquee stars today, read Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie. What does Tarantino sell? He sells fun, originality, riveting violent action and razor sharp performances in clear-cut genre set-ups (the old West, WWII, and here, 1969 Hollywood). Mainstream audiences know they’re going to see something that they haven’t seen anywhere else (Tarantino may have seen it before in a foreign film or old ’60s or ’70s pic, but not John Q moviegoer).
ComScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak reported on Friday night that close to half of the audience (47%) say that their primary reason for seeing Hollywood is because of the director. PostTrak’s norm for this metric is typically 7%. The exit pollster also states that 37% of all moviegoers said the cast was the main reason why they went to see Hollywood, outstripping the average metric of 18%.
Next, in order for a studio to get their piece of counter-programming to work, they need to scream their film to the world. In this case, Sony sold Hollywood as “The 9th Film From Quentin Tarantino,” making it a must-see pic (he’s long said that he may retire soon). That meant taking Hollywood to Cannes on the 25th anniversary of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, the pic which catapulted him to superstar status. The global press was immediately smitten with Hollywood, promptly talking Oscars for the film, and sending the pic’s Rotten Tomatoes score into the 90 percentile-plus range months before its opening. Heightening the film’s profile even more at Cannes was the fact that even those attendees with tickets couldn’t get into the Palais; it filled up that quickly (and the fest handed out too many tickets).
You also have to pay to win at the box office, and we hear the estimated global spend here for Hollywood is around $110M. There have been some unique films this summer that didn’t catch great waves (i.e. Paramount’s Crawl and A24’s Midsommar) and break out to greater heights at the box office. Some of this boils down to how much a studio/distributor is willing to spend, and whether they assess that the possible B.O. reward will outweigh the risk. Paramount went for a thrifty digital genre spend on Crawl. Concerned that critics would de-fang it, since alligator movies have traditionally screamed ‘Z-movie’, not marquee ‘shark’, they held off from screening it for them. Too bad, because they have a film that’s really fresh and high-concept here. The film notched a last-minute surprise 83% fresh on RT before its opening, and that type of blessing could have worked wonders for the pic’s long lead buzz, possibly crossing it over from its targeted genre fan demo. It’s a wild, original predator ride during a hurricane, in a flooded house, and in no way should Crawl be a film that’s relegated to viewing on mobile phones. Crawl demands to be seen on a big screen. Now, Paramount is trying to catch up with social media ads selling the RT score (Anecdotally, I was in a 100 seat theater in Chatsworth, CA on Thursday night for Crawl, and it was largely filled, so something on some micro level is clicking.
Good holds here for Crawl, especially with -49% decline last weekend and -34% this weekend. But this movie could have started much higher than its $12M opening.
The point here, especially in regards to the Hollywood conversation, is that smaller, counter-programming wide releases need to be sold even louder than before going forward, especially in a Disney-dominated world. You’re a studio, and you’re sitting on something original, don’t hide it. Make it crossover.
It’s funny, three summers ago, there was an action comedy movie in the marketplace that looked quite similar to Tarantino’s Hollywood: It was called The Nice Guys. It was set in the 1970s, about two guys who get themselves into trouble (and even sold on that)–starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe–and from Iron Man 3 director Shane Black. The film even made its world premiere at Cannes, was hailed by critics (93% certified fresh), and had a CinemaScore that wasn’t too far from Hollywood‘s, with a ‘B-‘ to the latest Tarantino’s ‘B.’ By the end of this weekend, Hollywood will have made more in its opening than Nice Guys did in its entire-domestic run ($36.2M).
Why the big difference in business? First, Tarantino is a tentpole event in and of himself. Next, it’s about how much P&A a studio is willing spend and where they put the film. With Hollywood‘s production cost, Sony was certainly going to spend for the best opening possible, and did that on a weekend where there wasn’t any older male competition stepping on its toes. Nice Guys only cost $50M, so Warner Bros. didn’t have to spend $110M global to open it, plus the film was planted on a weekend against another R-rated older guy skewing pic: Neighbors Sorority Rising. Neighbors 2 opened to $21.7M at No. 3, Nice Guys was No. 4 with $11.2M. In the end, Sony created a sense of urgency for Hollywood, psycho-graphically transmitting to moviegoers that Hollywood was a film for everyone, whereas Nice Guys was merely sold as older male niche.
Social Media entertainment analytics corp RelishMix says that demand for Hollywood has been fueled “by a variety of reasons, from the cast to the action to the rumors emanating from Cannes, where the film got a six-minute standing ovation. While Cannes has a very particular crowd, others chiming in claiming to have seen this drama say it truly is remarkable, if not typical overboard on the violence in the third act. Regardless, both Tarantino loyal fans – not to mention DiCaprio, Pitt, Robbie and other co-stars like the Bruce Lee portrayal – are certainly forcing overall discussion on social toward the positive.”
There was also something calculated in the marketing push for Hollywood: “A less is more approach,” describes RelishMix in their latest report, and one that broke late. The first teaser which dropped on March 20–and could even be described as a ‘less is more trailer’– sold all the pic’s cool aura more than its story, with all that’s great and zany about the swinging late ’60s from a dancing DiCaprio and Robbie as Sharon Tate to Pitt hysterically punching out a martial arts star. That teaser clocked 18.8M views on Sony’s YouTube portal alone. This was followed by the official trailer two months ago which yielded 15M views on Sony’s YT page.
“Looking specifically at the Facebook video menu on the film’s official page, there were only three clips posted by the one month prior to opening mark, which is very light. So, it’s clear the campaign agreed upon a ‘less is more’ approach and let Tarantino fans do the heavy lifting – which is indicated by the movie’s high EOR score of 33:1, (well above this type of film’s average of 13:1 on opening weekend),” says RelishMix. Ultimately, Facebook was a big platform for Hollywood in recent weeks with various spots and memes.
TV spots for Hollywood ran during the NBA Finals, the Democratic Debates, MLB Home Run Derby, All-Star Game, hits in summer’s top Prime and Streaming programming, including Big Brother, Bachelorette, America’s Got Talent, Bring the Funny, and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Cut-through executions included primetime roadblocks on Samsung televisions, an immersive channel experience on #1 iOS app Apple News, Tarantino takeover on Spotify and a robust IMDb partnership spanning from Cannes premiere to the pic’s release. An iHeart Radio partnership dominated airwaves during opening week, including a 1-hour takeover, featuring the sounds of 1969, a director Q&A and timed giveaways. In collaboration with CNN, a custom piece also gave viewers an inside look at the pic.
Sony also did a massive Sunset Blvd. takeover starting on July 1, reflective of the billboard style of 1969 which included extensions, buildouts and cutouts. The studio zeroed in on three areas of Sunset: Near Whisky-A-Go-Go, the Andaz Hotel (formerly the Continental Hyatt House, nicknamed the Riot House, the preferred accommodation for rock groups such as, Led Zeppelin, The Who and Rolling Stones) and in front of the Aquarius Theater. Since this location was recreated for the film, Sony found a way to keep it up throughout opening. They highlighted the theater by adding and rotating film and film character art on the barricade in front.
Also we can’t forget to give credit to Sony distribution for finding a magical place on the summer calendar where Hollywood could open unopposed. That said, talk about risky: It’s a weekend wedged between two tentpoles: Disney’s July record opener The Lion King ($191.77M) and Universal’s Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw which could easily blast past its $60M projection four weekends ago. However, Hollywood serves up a different retro action experience than CGI lion remakes and beefcakes with guns and cars. Also because Hollywood is geared toward older adults who based their moviegoing decisions off Rotten Tomatoes, they’ll trickle out slowly (we hear through the grapevine that one top Sony exec at the Hollywood premiere was screaming to judge Hollywood’s domestic box office merits by Labor Day weekend. No worries, the movie is already solid out of the gate). Lastly, in regards to Hollywood‘s success, it helps when a studio has a movie that critics and audiences see eye-to-eye
Updated exits as of Saturday night: a 58% definite recommend, still 58% guy heavy, with 57% of the crowd being 18-34. The biggest demo was 25-34 at 33%. Diversity range was Caucasians at 64%, 15% Asian/Other, 14% Hispanic, and 7% African American.
Lion King is looking at $76.5M in early estimates Sunday AM. Disney is reporting $75.5M, -60%. That’s pretty steep for a kids film, and may speak to how this film is far too close to its original for Lion King fans. Saturday was $29.69M, +33%. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin respectively eased -48% and -53% in their second weekends. Still, Lion King is less than $50M away from crossing $400M and like Avengers: Endgame, is coming down from quite a high perch. Endgame was down 59% from its record opening weekend. Imax drove $3.8M in weekend 2 for Lion King raising the format’s domestic gross for the pic to $20.6M.
Meanwhile, A24’s Chinese drama The Farewell with $1.55M per the distrib in weekend 3 at 135 theaters busted into the top 10. It’s the platform release of the summer. We hear core runs for Farewell are still solid, but the added commercial runs less so. Still very good with New York, LA, and San Francisco being the strongest cities. Grosses in Houston, Sacramento and Philadelphia were also strong, but they were exclusive in the art houses. There was only one show last night for A24’s Midsommar at the Alamo Drafthouse in LA –the 9PM– and it was sold out. That pic made $720K,, -54%, at 626 runs in weekend 4 for a running total of $24.2M.
Updated through Sunday AM: Bharat Kamma’s film Dear Comrade from Sarigama Cinemas about a hot-blooded student union leader with anger issues who falls for a state-level cricketer wound up outside the top 10 with $731K at 190 locations. Great numbers in New York, Dallas, San Francisco, DC, Detroit, Seattle, and Kansas City.
Studio-reported estimates as of Sunday AM:
WEEKEND B.O. FOR JULY 26-28
Industry estimates as of Friday night:
BOX OFFICE FOR JULY 26-28
UPDATE, Friday midday: Disney The Lion King is taking a bigger hit than was originally expected at this point in time with a $77 million-$78.5 million three-day estimate for its second frame at the domestic box office. That’s off 60% from last week after a second Friday of $23M, which is down 70% from a week ago.
Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is currently besting its low $30M tracking with $40M and a $16.5M Friday that includes last night’s $5.8M in previews. If that three-day total maintains it will be a record opening for Tarantino, beating Inglourious Basterds‘ $38M.
Running total for The Lion King on the high end through 10 days looks like $353.8M.
Sony gets bragging rights for third place as well with Spider-Man: Far From Home in Weekend 4 with an estimated $11M-$12M, and a running total by Sunday of $344M, which will rank as Sony’s fourth highest-grossing movie ever at the domestic B.O. after Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ($404.5M), the original 2002 Spider-Man at $403.7M and 2004’s Spider-Man 2 at $373.5M. As Deadline’s Nancy Tartaglione already reported, Far From Home has flung past the $1 billion mark.
Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4 is taking fourth place today with around $9M, -43% in Weekend 6, for a total by Sunday near $395M.
Fifth place belongs to Paramount’s alligator horror pic Crawl with $3.3M in Weekend 3, off 46%, for a running total of $30.7M.
PREVIOUSLY, Friday, 7:17 AM: Sony’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood had a fantastic night at the box office with $5.8 million from showtimes Thursday that began at 4 PM, and ComScore/Screen Engine PostTrak exits are great out of the gate with a solid 4 stars and 55% definite recommend.
Hollywood was in play at 3,318 locations. The pic expands to 3,659 today.
While tracking for the Quentin Tarantino ode to the summer of ’69 is in the low $30Ms, the Oscar-winning filmmaker could well be looking at the best opening of his career, besting Inglourious Basterds‘ $38M debut. Adult counterprogramming this summer has gone to the dogs, but Sony could reverse that with its first full-on global collaboration with Tarantino (in the past, the studio handled foreign on the director’s Django Unchained). Putting more gas in Hollywood‘s tank as far as priming ticket sales this weekend is that certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score of 88%.
Prior to Hollywood, the biggest preview night for Tarantino was Inglourious Basterds’ midnight shows with $1.3M in August 2009. Last night’s haul beats Dunkirk‘s $5.5M, another July pic from a moviegoer fave auteur (Christopher Nolan), which wound up squashing its $35M-$40M tracking at the time with a $50.5M opening. Last night, shows for Hollywood such as the 7:45 PM at the Pacific Theater in Chatsworth, CA were completely filled. We were hearing that days before the pic’s opening, the 70MM shows at the Cinerama dome were sold out. Fandango reported earlier this week that Hollywood is the best advance ticket preseller ever for Tarantino.
Last night’s Hollywood crowd was largely an adult one, with 79% over 25. Men over 25 made up 47% of the audience (by the way, that was a similar turnout for Dunkirk), followed by females over 25 at 32%, males under 25 at 16% and females under 25 at 5%. Guys over 25 gave the Leonardo DiCaprio-Brad Pitt-Margot Robbie retro action comedy its best grades at 80% positive. Early diversity turnout was 67% Caucasians, 10% Hispanic, 10% African American and 8% Asian. All these exits and scores can fluctuate as the weekend goes on.
Hollywood we hear cost $96M before P&A, though Sony says $90M. A good start in U.S/Canada could go a long way so that foreign doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting for this 2 hour, 41 minute feature. No foreign territories are going this weekend for Hollywood.
Among pics in regular release this frame, Disney’s The Lion King led all movies yesterday with an estimated $15M, off 12% from Wednesday, ending its first week with $275.2M. Simba will roar again with around $95M in Weekend 2. Sony’s Spider-Man: Far From Home was second with $2.4M, a third week of $33.5M and a running total of $332.2M. Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4 was third with $1.9M, a $24.8M fifth week and a running total of $385.7M. Paramount’s Crawl was fourth with $710K, a $9.6M second week and 14-day total of $27.5M. Disney’s Aladdin was fifth with $580K yesterday, a $6.9M ninth week and running total of $343.1M.