‘The Accountant’ Calculates $24.7M Opening; ‘Max Steel’ Rusts – Sunday B.O. Postmortem

Anthony D'Alessandro
Deadline

5TH Write-thru, Sunday AM: Warner Bros. is calling the weekend for Ben Affleck drama thriller  The Accountant at $24.7M. Despite seeing a 5% hike yesterday over Friday’s business with $9.5M, today the majority of this film’s core guy audience is going to be in front of a TV watching one of four NFL games, and, if not, at the very least they’ll be taking in the second game of the NLCS Cubs vs. Dodgers game. MLB playoffs in Cleveland and Chicago last night also pushed numbers down in those markets. Gone Girl is still Affleck’s top drama thriller (outside all other titles) opening with $37.5M, but if Accountant‘s numbers stay on target, it will rank right behind that 2014 title, and also file above the debuts of The Town ($23.8M) and Argo ($19.5M). Most notably, Accountant marks the biggest opening for director Gavin O’Connor, his previous high being Disney 2004’s Miracle ($19.4M). Similar to what we saw last weekend with DreamWorks’ The Girl on the Train, Accountant has a decent opening in conjunction with a responsible mid-$40M production cost (however, many says Warner Bros. shelled out $40M in P&A). Pic’s A CinemaScore beats Affleck’s recent fall releases Gone Girl (B) and The Town (B+) and is just under Argo (A+). In ComScore’s PostTrak which polls moviegoers throughout the weekend, 84% assessed Accountant with a total positive score, which is great, while a solid 64% said that they’ll encourage their friends to see the movie.

As we forecasted with the abundance of adult targeted titles in the fall marketplace, weekend ticket sales are down again with ComScore reporting $97M, -7% from last weekend, and -21% from a year ago. 2016 domestic B.O. will soon hit $9B, and it’s pacing 3.5% ahead of the same Jan. 1 – Oct. 16 period a year ago.

kevin-hart-what-now
kevin-hart-what-now

Uni has an embarrassment of riches with films in second and third: Kevin Hart: What Now? out-pegged Girl on the Train by dimes and nickels for second, taking in $11.984M while Girl slowed -51% for $11.975M and a 10-day total of $46.6M. Even though Accountant has a great A CinemaScore to Girl‘s B-, analysts believe the latter will leg out more since older female-skewing titles tend to best older male-ones. Next weekend there’s five wide releases led by Paramount’s Tom Cruise vehicle Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, and Accountant has the benefit being first on the marquee before that onslaught.

Open Road/Dolphin Entertainment’s Max Steel died at 2,034 theaters with a 3-day of $2.1M. That’s close to one of the worst openings of all-time at 2,000-plus venues in line with Labor Day opener Morgan ($2M) and last year’s We Are Your Friends ($1.76M), Rock the Kasbah (another Open Road movie at $1.47M) and Uni’s Jem and the Holograms ($1.37M).

Warner Bros. also held a Harry Potter Imax marathon this weekend which at 330 hubs drew $1.1M according to rival estimates. They’ll be reporting figures tomorrow. On Thursday, a month before its Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the studio held a global kickoff in a handful of cities with talent from the film making appearances in Hollywood and London. Each theater programmed the marathon differently: Some sold one ticket for all eight films, some just showed two per day, others curated their favorite chapters.

Christine Rebecca Hall
Christine Rebecca Hall

IFC’s Certain Women which recently played both the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival, grossed a great per theater of $13K at five locations for $65K opening. The Orchard’s Christine, which follows the tragic story of 1970s TV anchor Christine Chubbuck, played exclusively at the Film Forum in NYC this weekend making $14K. Actress Rebecca Hall is earning high praise for her turn as Chubbuck with critics giving it a 83% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Rivals love to snipe that Warner Bros. always spends big for the No. 1 win, and the buzz on Accountant was that the studio spent more than 20th Century Fox did to open Miss Peregrine (many peg Accountant‘s P&A at $40M). However, Affleck, like Clint Eastwood, is a prized commodity on the Burbank lot and very much worth Warner Bros’ investment given his best picture Oscar win with Argo, and his efforts in shepherding the Batman franchise to the next generation.

Though one tracker earlier this week criticized the trailer for Accountant asconfusing,” Warner Bros.’ ad spending is being realized here with a 3-day that’s north of its $15M-$20M projection. The fruits of ad spending also had a positive impact on tracking: Unaided awareness scores (a potent portion of those polled who can name an upcoming release without being prompted by a pollster) for Accountant quadrupled overall (from 4% to 16%) and jumped five times (4% to 20%) among those over 25 between Sept. 25 and Oct. 13. So, it’s no surprise that Accountant pulled in 86% over 25, with guys dominant at 58%. Early this year, there was some buzz that The Accountant was the awards contender for Affleck (as an actor) this season. But Accountant is intended more for the mainstream. It’s Affleck’s upcoming fourth directorial, the big screen adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night, that the studio is getting behind for kudos. Forty-three percent of those who bought tickets cited Affleck as the reason why they went to The Accountant whereas 52% said they like movies about bean counters who moonlight as assassins (well, they said subject matter).

max-steel
max-steel

If The Accountant shares anything in common with Max Steel, it’s that they were both projects that fought several years through studio development hell and finally made it to marquees, though with two very different end results.  Accountant, written by Bill Dubuque, first surfaced on the 2011 Black List. Accountant was first set-up at Warner Bros. with Mel Gibson and the Coen Brothers circling to direct. The option expired and Accountant walked over to Sony with Media Rights Capital where Will Smith eyed to star in the project.  A few weeks prior to Gone Girl‘s opening two years ago, Accountant was put into turnaround and made its way back to Warners, and that’s when Affleck and director Gavin O’Connor boarded.

Typically toy lines should be bestsellers or have a legacy status among its generations of collectors (i.e. Transformers, G.I. Joe) before they’re turned into movies, but Mattel wanted to do it backwards with Max Steel, and as we can see from this weekend’s ticket sales, that didn’t work. Action figure Max Steel was first introduced in the U.S. in 1999, with a spinoff animated series that ran from 2000-2002. He was a hit in Latin America with annual sales of $100M, but largely scrap metal here in the States. In the summer of 2009, Mattel announced that Max Steel was being made into a movie as a means to relaunch the franchise here in the States with EP Joe Roth producing. By December of that year, Paramount announced that Twilight hottie Taylor Lautner was their Max. By February 2010, Lautner dropped Max Steel for Hasbro’s Stretch Armstrong, and that Universal project wound up dying. The rights for Max Steel reverted back to Mattel and by August 2013 the toy manufacturer decided to take the project into their hands with Miami-based Dolphin Entertainment funding development, and TV animation scribe Christopher Yost writing and Stewart Hendler (Sorority Row) directing. B CinemaScores don’t do any good for family movies, everyone can smell this is a Z grade version and not the XXX-like movie that Roth originally envisioned. Kids loved the movie, with the under 18 (40%) giving it an A, however, for adults the only upside to watching Max Steel was getting to eat candy in the dark. They hated the movie with 52% over 25 giving it a C+, and over 50 giving it a C (12%). In PostTrak polls, 38% of all moviegoers are recommending Max Steel to their friends (very bad) while kids at 73% are insisting that their friends see Max Steel immediately. Still, it’s mom who’ll decide if the family drives to this heaping pile of junk metal.

what-now
what-now

The takeaway with Kevin Hart: What Now? in a weekend where Netflix shelled out $40M for two Chris Rock comedy specials is that it just continues to underscore the power of the concert movie on the big screen. In an era where one would think streaming and HBO would capsize the theatrical concert pic business, What Now?  makes more than the $10M FSS earned by Hart’s previous 2013 concert movie Let Me Explain. “Horror movies are scarier when you watch them with a big audience, and comedies are funnier when you watch them with a big audience,” says Uni’s distribution chief Nicholas Carpou on the moviegoing experience. What Now? was the final stop on Hart’s comedy tour where he filled a Philly stadium with 50K, and it’s apparent moviegoers want to experience that grandeur on the big screen. With a production cost under $10M, What Now? is also a mini cash cow for Uni. Even though Accountant has stars Affleck and Anna Kendrick working social to their combined 21.2M followers, Hart blows them away with 97.4M — and to say he’s a relentless promoter is an understatement. Across the board, social media monitor RelishMix says that Hart has the best social push among this weekend’s films with a combined social media universe of 148.1M. RelishMix observed from the online chatter, “Fans are asking how they’ll be able to make it through the movie because what they’re seeing is so funny.”

Giving his social marketing just a little extra push, Hart appeared on YouTube Channel’s The Fine Brothers, which has over 14M subscribers. There the comedian watched his fans reacting to his appearances on late night TV in a segment called “Kevin Hart Reacts to Kevin Hart.”  “So, it’s a reaction video to reaction videos…and it’s pretty funny” says RelishMix about the video that has pulled in 5.66M views.

What Now? received an A- CinemaScore and a 79% fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating. Friday’s till was $4.76M and some B.O. analysts believe its Saturday business won’t decline like other concert movies, staying even. Older females were in seats for What Now? at 53% women, 64% over 25. Seventy-nine percent said they went to see What Now? because of Hart.

Birth Of A Nation, The
Birth Of A Nation, The

Fox Searchlight’s controversial The Birth of a Nation from filmmaker Nate Parker fell 61% in its second weekend despite earning an A CinemaScore with its core African American audience. Last week we noticed that the film drew a slightly more predominant female audience at 61% on CinemaScore and 55% on PostTrak. This after we heard that this movie would be a turnoff to women given Parker’s struggles in the press with a years old rape allegation. In hindsight I’m told a few things about Birth‘s female turnout which stayed consistent at 55% into this weekend: First, it wasn’t as top heavy female in the way that a Girl on the Train is. With the demo splits shown by CinemaScore and PostTrak, Birth’s draw is largely considered to be evenly split between men and women. Second, it’s typical for African American dramas to pull in slightly more women than men, i.e. The Butler and The Help. It’s the comedies like Ride Along which attract more men. Nonetheless, given Birth of a Nation‘s second weekend drop, it remains a casualty of its filmmakers’ controversies.

Revised weekend estimates show STX Entertainment’s 2015 Toronto International Film Festival acquisition Desierto in a better position with a per screen at 73 hubs north of $6K.

Weekend B.O. for Oct. 14-16 per Sunday AM studio-reported estimates

1). The Accountant  (WB), 3,332 theaters / $9.1M Fri. (includes $1.35M previews)/$9.5M Sat/$6.1M Sun/3-day cume: $24.7M / Wk 1

2). Kevin Hart: What Now?  (UNI), 2,568 theaters / $4.7M Fri. (includes $739K)/$4.5M Sat/$2.78M Sun/3-day cume: $11.984M / Wk 1

2). The Girl on the Train  (UNI/DW), 3,241 theaters  (+97) / $3.9M Fri. /$5.1M Sat/$3M Sun/ 3-day cume: $11.975M (-51%)/Total: $46.6M/ Wk 2

4). Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children  (FOX), 3,835 theaters (+130) / $2.3M Fri. /$4M Sat/$2.6M Sun/ 3-day cume: $8.9M (-41%)/Total: $65.8M/Wk 3

5). Deepwater Horizon  (LG), 3,403 theaters (+144) / $1.87M Fri. /$2.88M Sat/$1.6M Sun / 3-day cume: $6.35M (-45%)/Total: $49.3M/ Wk 3

6). Storks  (WB), 3,066 theaters (-542) / $1.4M Fri.  /$2.5M Sat/$1.6M Sun/3-day cume: $5.6M(-32%) /Total: $59.1M/ Wk 4

7.) Magnificent Seven  (SONY), 3,210 theaters (-486) / $1.5M Fri  /$2.4M Sat/$1.3M Sun/ 3-day cume: $5.2M (-42%)/Total cume: $84.8M/ Wk 4

8). Middle School  (CBS/LG), 2,822 theaters (0)/ $1.1M Fri./$ 1.95 Sat/$1.1M Sun/ 3-day cume: $4.25M (-39%)/Total: $13.7M/ Wk 2

9). Sully  (WB), 2,211 theaters (-847)/ $880K Fri. /$1.3M Sat/$780K Sun/ 3-day cume: $2.96M(-41%)/Total: $118.4M / Wk 6

10). Birth of a Nation  (FSL), 2,105 theaters / $805K /$1.2M Sat/$685K Sun/ 3-day cume: $2.7M (-61%)/ Total: $12.2M/Wk 2

11). Max Steel  (OR), 2,034 theaters / $638k Fri./$925K Sat/$601K Sun/ 3-day cume: $2.1M / Wk 1

NOTABLES:

Harry Potter IMAX Marathon  (WB), 330 theaters / $320k Fri./$449K Sat/$337K Sun/ 3-day cume: $1.1M / Wk 1

 Desierto  (STX), 73 theaters / $147k Fri./$177K Sat/$123K Sun/PTA: $6,1k/ 3-day cume: $447K / Wk 1

Certain Women  (IFC), 5 theaters /PTA: $13k/ 3-day cume: $65K / Wk 1

Christine  (ORC), 1 theaters / 3-day cume: $14K / Wk 1

2ND UPDATE, Friday 12:53 PM: Matinees now show a low $20M opening for Warner Bros’ Ben Affleck drama thriller The Accountant at 3,332 theaters. Friday ticket sales for the Gavin O’Connor-directed movie — including last night’s $1.35M — are at an estimated $7.5M, which is $1.76M shy of the $9.26M that Universal’s The Girl On The Train chugged on its opening day. That Emily Blunt thriller is looking at a mid-teens second weekend as of right now for a No. 2 slot in the frame. Affleck’s top openers during the fall season, which have all been adult-skewing dramas of some sort, are Gone Girl ($37.5M), The Town ($23.8M), and Argo ($19.5M).

Film Title: The Girl on the Train
Film Title: The Girl on the Train

Universal’s Kevin Hart: What Now? stand-up feature is looking at $5.5M for today. Concert movies typically dip on Saturday, which will put this cash cow between $12M-$14.5M for the weekend at 2,568 theaters.

Open Road’s Max Steel is anything but solid. Industry estimates see $500K today, with a $1.75M-$3M opening at 2,034. We’ll examine this Mattel toy line feature adaptation later tonight.

Last weekend, ticket sales tallied $103.7M, and if business continues at this pace, we’re bound to see another depressed weekend for autumn 2016.

PREVIOUS, FRIDAY, 7:10 AM: Warner Bros is reporting that its latest Ben Affleck drama thriller The Accountant made $1.35 million last night. That figure inches out the $1.25M made by Affleck’s fall thriller two years ago, Gone Girl. However, The Accountant isn’t expected to close its weekend ledgers with the same three-day posted by Gone Girl ($37.5M). Projections have Accountant between $15M-$20M (many at $20M), which is the mean range for most Affleck openers.

Like The Girl On The Train last weekend, Accountant arrives to the B.O. with middling reviews at 49% Rotten. For an adult-skewing fall release such as this, that’s not apt to spur a ton of business. Accountant, directed by Warrior‘s Gavin O’Connor, carries a production cost before P&A in the low-to-mid $40Ms. Earlier this week, Fandango showed that Accountant was outpacing Affleck’s Oscar Best Picture winner Argo in advance ticket sales. Argo opened to $19.5M and was fueled by an awards-season run that pushed its domestic to $136M, and $232.3M worldwide.

The Accountant follows the story of an autistic bean counter who works for criminal lords and also moonlights as an assassin. He’s hired by a client who he learns is embezzling from his own company.

kevin-hart-what-now
kevin-hart-what-now

Universal has the stand-up feature Kevin Hart: What Now? which the comedian has been promoting during his comedy tour. It’s expected to make $10M-$14M. Last night the pic grossed $739K from 2,054 theaters starting at 7 PM. Production cost for What Now? is under $10M. Tracking earlier in the week had What Now? ahead of Hart’s previous big-screen stand-up feature Let Me Explain, which debuted to $10M and finaled at $32.2M stateside. Let Me Explain bowed on a Wednesday on July 3, 2013, and made $1.1M in Tuesday late-night shows. The higher preview figure then stems from the fact that more audiences were available during the summer. Let Me Explain cost $2.5M. What Now? was shot at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field and marked the first time that Hart performed to an at-capacity football stadium of 50K.

Uni’s release of DreamWorks’ Girl On The Train is expected to slow 45%-50% for a second $12M-$13M weekend and a 10-day that’s close to $47.6M. In its first week the Emily Blunt thriller based on Paula Hawkins’ bestseller grossed an estimated $34.6M. Girl was the top film yesterday with $1.85M.

Open Road is releasing Dolphin Films’ Max Steel in a service deal this weekend. Pic is based on the line of Mattel boy toys. It’s projected to bring in $4M from 2,034 venues.

In their first week, Fox Searchlight’s The Birth Of A Nation and CBS/Lionsgate’s Middle School each accumulated $9.5M.

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