To their credit, Death on the Nile, Marry Me, and Blacklight all generally performed to expectations, but that’s really not saying much.
SPECIAL Valentine’s Day BOX OFFICE REPORT:
Weekend Box Office Top 10 (Feb 11-13) / Valentine’s Day Gross / Percent Change from Sunday / Total Domestic Gross to Date / Distributor), Monday Actuals:
- Marry Me / $3 million / +109% / $10.9 million / Universal (w/ Peacock)
- Death on the Nile / $2.6 million / +28% / $12.9 million / Disney (20th Century Studios)
- Jackass Forever / $1.77 million / +44% / $39.2 million / Paramount
- Spider-Man: No Way Home/ $1.6 million / -4% / $760.9 million / Sony (Columbia)
- Scream (aka Scream 5) / $965K /+70% / $74.2 million / Paramount
- Blacklight / $802K / +30% / $4.3 million / Briarcliff Entertainment
- Moonfall / $700K / +19% / $15.9 million / Lionsgate
- Sing 2 / $472K / -35% / $143.9 million / Universal
- Licorice Pizza / $258K / +33% / $14.3 million / United Artists (MGM)
- The King’s Man / $104K / +29% / $36.8 million / Disney
Now that the Valentine’s Day grosses have rolled in, we get to see, in many ways, the full scope of the weekend, as it appears that most people who held off of heading to the movies on Sunday went in to see movies on Monday, either as a couple for Valentine’s Day, or by themselves for Singles Awareness Day (I kid, I kid, I’m sure many people went in groups as well). Not only do we get to see how well this slate of films took advantage of the big day, but we also get a fun glimpse into what audiences felt were the most “romantic” movies to see for Valentine’s Day. Neat!
Now, it comes as absolutely no surprise that Marry Me ended up topping the Monday chart with $3 million. It’s a Jennifer Lopez old-school rom-com that appeals squarely to her dedicated fanbase. So, after her legions got to watch her dancing with Ben Affleck at the Super Bowl, all while being politely reminded to check the film out via Super Bowl ads on NBC (owned by Universal) which said the film was available in theaters (distributed by Universal) as well as on Peacock (also owned by Universal), Marry Me saw a sweet +109% boost from its Sunday gross. It reportedly performed very well on the Peacock streaming service, per NBCUniversal’s press release, so that’s win for synergy!
What I found interesting, however, is that Monday’s Valentine’s day gross actually did more to lend credibility to industry estimates than anything else. In the weeks leading up to Marry Me‘s release, the film was projected to have an $8-11 million dollar debut. In terms of solely the 3-Day weekend grosses, Marry Me generally debuted on par with those estimates, albeit on the lower end with $7.9 million. Fascinatingly, Valentine’s Day did indeed notably boost the movie’s opening gross, but not out of the realm of projection. With an extra $3 million, Marry Me officially took in $10.9 million through Monday, this time on the higher end of the original $8-11 million projected range. I don’t necessarily think that this is a boon for the movie or anything (it’s a solid start, nothing more), but it kind of cinches the idea that anyone who would’ve seen the movie on Sunday, sans Super Bowl, ended up seeing it on Monday anyway. In other words, for all intents and purposes, Marry Me‘s true 3-Day opening weekend gross was, indeed, $10.9 million. I’ve generally never subscribed to the idea that an extended holiday weekend tends to produce the same (or an otherwise similar) gross to whatever that film would have made in a regular 3-Day frame, but these numbers for Marry Me make me genuinely consider that possibility. We certainly have some other examples coming up…
Now, to be fair, this weekend’s mix of Super Bowl Sunday being smushed up against a Valentine’s Day Monday is not a typical occurrence, and would not provide conclusive evidence that films will generally make the same in a 4-Day holiday frame that would’ve in a 3-Day, but the unique circumstances do indeed set the stage for that scenario by having Valentine’s Day essentially cancel Super Bowl Sunday out, thereby making Monday acting as a de facto Sunday. Further proving this point is Death on the Nile, which I had personally pegged with a $15 million dollar opening weekend given its more female-skewing appeal and the surprising popularity of Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express five years later thanks to reruns on TV. Sure enough, while the film certainly underperformed in the 3-Day frame with a middling $12.9 million (literally, as it was projected to earn between $11-15 million), adding in its Valentine’s Monday gross of $2.6 million takes it to a domestic total fo $15.5 million (as of now) which, had it been in the 3-Day frame, would’ve been on the higher end of projections and right in line with my prediction (don’t I feel smart!). Sure enough, the same can be said of Liam Neeson’s Blacklight, which, as opposed to the other two new releases, didn’t see much of a boost from Valentine’s Day, taking in only $802K, which took its total domestic haul to $4.3 million, barely higher than the $3 million I projected and right in line with the $3-5 million projected by Hollywood at large. Once again, Blacklight made just about as much in the 4-Day Super Bowl/Valentine’s Day corridor as it would’ve in a regular 3-Day frame. Absolutely fascinating to a nerdy box office analyst like me!
Now, I won’t be cross-referencing every single movie’s 3-Day versus 4-Day performance this weekend as I think I’ve made my point. However, I will be taking a look at the percent change from Sunday to Monday in other to rank *Drumroll* “The Most Romantic Movies of Valentine’s Day!!!!” Yes, I do think it is quite fun to see what movies got the biggest boost this weekend as it gives us some interesting, scientific insight into what movies couples wanted to see for Valentine’s Day. Sure, the results are skewed because, as I said before, singles go to the movies on Valentine’s Day too, but Valentine’s Day is a big moviegoing day for a reason so why not play a fun little game of Box Office “Hot or Not?”
Of course, as I stated above, the aforementioned Marry Me proved to be a big-time romantic destination at multiplex for obvious reasons, sporting a fantastic +109% jump from the previous day. However, a bigger surprise here was that the second and third most “romantic” movies in the top ten ended up being a bit more out-of-left-field. Sporting jumps of +70% and +44% respectively were Scream and Jackass Forever! Now, more than likely, these were the single’s picks for a Monday movie night, which would make sense as both have performed relatively well, had solid, if not genuinely strong reviews, and are new entries in recognizable fan-favorite franchise; who wouldn’t want to check them out on a casual movie night with nothing else to do? Still, the hopeless romantic in me can’t help but muse about the fun couples who ended up choosing these two titles to see on Valentine’s Day. It’s no secret that horror movies can make for great date movies by allowing for ample opportunities to sneakily put your arm around your gal to “protect her from monsters” or to cuddle up real close to your beau because “you’re scared,” and Scream certainly sets the mood in that regard. Perhaps the kookier (and all the more sweet for it) image is that of the fun-loving, adventurous, thrill-seeking couple that settled in for a screening of Jackass Forever to revel in the glorious absurdity of the MTV crew’s adrenaline-junkie hijinks. In either case, you know that there were definitely those kinds of couples in both screenings. Giving credit where credit is due, Licorice Pizza also got a solid +35% boost as couples ventured in to enjoy a fun throwback-70s hangout movie with a quirky indie film couple at its center (a relationship that might not be all that age-appropriate according to some critics, but I’m not going down that rabbit hole). Even Moonfall got its own, small (+19%) boost from all those couples who just like to sit back and watch the world burn (you know the ones).
Of course, where there are winners, there must also be Valentine’s Day Box Office losers, and sure enough, we had two in the top ten; one surprising, and one not. The not-so-surprising one was Sing 2. Yes, it appears that it was very much one of those “leave the kids at home”-kind of nights as the powerhouse kid-flick dropped a pretty heavy (all things considered) -35% on Monday as it simply did not appeal to that night’s demographic (fun fact, Encanto, in 19th place on Monday, saw an even steeper drop of -59%). The surprising one, however, was actually Spider-Man: No Way Home! You’d think that the broad appeal of a said Marvel film would see it being able to benefit from the Valentine’s Day rush and get a nice positive boost. Instead, it dropped -4%. That’s not bad, obviously, but it is notable as one of the only drops in the top ten. My only explanation would be that the film’s appeal must skew younger than other Marvel films, likely due to the franchise’s high school setting and the fact that real-life couple Tom Holland and Zendaya (both 25 years old) each look like 15 year-olds. Maybe it’s also to do with the larger-than-life spectacle and scale of the story trumping more intimate moments between characters or the focus on building out the Multiverse for future MCU installments, but No Way Home just didn’t scream “romance.” How sad for Spider-Man. Good thing he has over a billion dollars with which to dry his tears.
Anywho, that’s all for now folks! Thanks for reading, hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day, and we’ll talk next weekend!
—————————————–SPEACIAL REPORT ABOVE——————————————–
Weekend Box Office Top 10 (Feb 11-13) / 3-Day Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Weekend Actuals:
- Death on the Nile / $12.9 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Disney (20th Century Studios)
- Jackass Forever / $8.08 million / -65% / Weekend 2 / Paramount
- Marry Me / $7.9 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Universal (w/ Peacock)
- Spider-Man: No Way Home/ $7.5 million / -21% / Weekend 9 / Sony (Columbia)
- Blacklight / $3.5 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Briarcliff Entertainment
- Sing 2 / $3 million / -27% / Weekend 8 / Universal
- Scream (aka Scream 5) / $2.95 million / -38% / Weekend 5 / Paramount
- Moonfall / $2.94 million / -70% / Weekend 2 / Lionsgate
- Licorice Pizza / $959K / +49% / Weekend 12 / United Artists (MGM)
- The Beatles Get Back: The Rooftop Concert / $488K / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Disney
11. The King’s Man / $426K / -65% / Weekend 8 / Disney (20th Century Studios)
13. Belfast / $304K / +52% / Weekend 14 / Focus Features
14. The Worst Person in the World / $248K / +80% / Weekend 2 / Neon ($5,077K per-theater-average, 49 theaters)
15. West Side Story / $246K / -41% / Weekend 10 / Disney (20th Century Studios)
17. Drive My Car / $189K / +88% / Weekend 12 / Janus Films
19. Parallel Mothers / $153K / -19% / Weekend 7 / Sony (Sony Pictures Classics)
22. Nightmare Alley / $85K / -60% / Weekend 8 / Disney (Searchlight)
23. House of Gucci / $75K / -75% / Weekend 12 / United Artists (MGM)
Something was pointed out to me this weekend that I found utterly fascinating, that being that two of the biggest events of the moviegoing year collided this weekend. One, the Super Bowl, aka one of the absolute worst times to release a film as it will have no Sunday audience as they prep for the game (and, depending on the household, that prep may take the whole weekend), and the other, Valentine’s Day, one of the biggest days of the year for moviegoing since, whether you forgot the date or not, going to the movies is a very popular couples activity (heck, it’s also a popular singles activity on Valentine’s Day as well). With the Super Bowl leading directly into Valentine’s Day on Monday, we were privy to an under-the-radar meeting of sorts between two extremities and got to see just how they played out, and by the looks of it, the Super Bowl seems to have won. We’ll have to wait until later today to get the Monday actuals and see how the Valentine’s Day grosses turned out, but even with a weekend that had a genuine diversity of programming and new material for audiences to consume, most said no thank you, kicked back, and tuned in to an exciting stream of commercials….um….I mean….a rousing game between the Bengals and the Rams.
Now, I just know there are some people out there that will say that the movies were just bad and that is why no one showed up, but frankly, we’ve seen plenty of bad films over the years to great business. The fact is that there is always an audience niche for most films, distributors just need to position the film well enough to take advantage of it. Of course, that does beg the question as to why anyone would program this weekend with any new releases given the gravitational pull of the Super Bowl but, as I mentioned in my last post, there was some thought that did go into the releases. Both Death on the Nile and Marry Me were ostensibly aimed at female audiences (with Death on the Nile also likely skewing older due to its source material) who would be more likely to show up in spite of the Super Bowl, while Blacklight appealed directly to fans of Liam Neeson’s action work, an audience that has been relatively consistent over the years. Because of these factors, I personally expected the movies to generally overperform against their expected single-digit to low-teens grosses. However, to my surprise, they all actually ended up coming in right in line with most studio projections, which is to say that they underperformed in my eyes.
Coming first place was Death on the Nile, which, to be fair, I did predict to take the top spot. However, based on the production values and the appeal of Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 Murder on the Orient Express adaptation, I felt that this lavish, star-studded murder mystery (which had also been receiving slightly better reviews than The Orient Express) might surprise with $15 million. Instead, it came in right as Disney had predicted with $12.89 million, smack in the center of its $11-15 million projection. Many have been quick to point out the controversies surrounding several of the stars in the film as potential reasons for its failure. However, frankly, most general audiences either don’t know or don’t care about Gal Gadot’s religious/political/cultural beliefs about Israel and Palestine (or her “Imagine” video), Letitia Wright’s stance on vaccinations, or Armie Hammer’s potential cannibalistic fetishes. So what did sink this ship?
Well, I was surprised to discover something interesting in the demographic breakdown for Death on the Nile‘s audience. Instead of skewing female as I’d originally expected, given the fact that Agatha Christie mysteries are quite popular with women and that Gal Gadot had been made so front and center by the marketing (a by-product of the sexual assault claims labeled against Armie Hammer), Death on the Nile‘s audience was actually a lot more balanced than expected, even skewing slightly more male at 51% versus female at 49%. Sure, that’s not a huge lead on the male side, but that audience breakdown suggests that there were a lot more men in the audience to be lost to the Super Bowl. I know that sounds stereotypical since women like the Super Bowl too, but 1) stereotypes exist for a reason, so the movie did have more men to lose, and 2) a broader audience for the picture makes it bad as counterprogramming. The fact is that when a large event, be it the Super Bowl or a broadly appealing tentpole film, is in the marketplace, the best way to counterprogram it is to go relatively niche. Picking an audience that is relatively underserved during that time and targeting them directly will allow for the counterprogramming film to thrive in an otherwise crowded market; take Sing 2 for example which still has the market cornered on “kid-friendly” fare and is still dominating. Disney may have (understandably) thought that an Agatha Christie murder mystery skewed more heavily female, but Knives Out‘s hugely successful run back in 2019 says otherwise.
Also notable is the fact that Death on the Nile‘s audiences did skew older, with a huge 77% of the audiences being over 25, nearly half of the audience, at 47%, being over 35, and 28% being over 45. That makes sense given that the film is based on a famed classic novel, however, that caused the film to run into the same hurdle every other adult drama since the beginning of the pandemic has had to deal with; older audiences have been the slowest to return to theaters with the risk of COVID exposure still very much present. So, with the film’s core audience having been deterred from entry by external factors, Death on the Nile was left high and dry. To Disney’s credit, despite the film’s status as a 20th Century Fox holdover, the studio did make the effort to advertise the film, likely seeing its potential given the original’s notable success, as well as Free Guy‘s incredible performance. However, the timing was just off. Despite outspending most new releases in the past few weeks in terms of marketing material, much of the promotion was drowned out by Super Bowl fare (I have a family member who didn’t even know the movie existed until this past weekend). On top of that, after a several-year delay in its release, the carrying costs accrued by Death on the Nile likely prevent Disney from holding out for a better release window. Murder on the Orient Express succeeded in no small part due to a savvy November release which took advantage of not only Thanksgiving weekend legs, but also matched the film’s wintery aesthetic. I bet Death on the Nilemight have fared better in a summer corridor, perhaps late July or early August, to match its Egyptian heat and where it could play as the upper-scale, more “adult” option amidst more youth-oriented fare (as it stands now, early August would’ve provided the perfect amount of box office runway), but Disney likely could not wait that long. As for how the film will fare going forward, it is starting from a place of weakness, and even a fantastic x3.59 multiplier like the last film would only take it to $46 million domestic. Maintaining its current domestic international split, that best-case scenario would see the film finaling at around $120 million on a $90 million budget. In other words, theatrically, Death on the Nile is dead on arrival.
In third place, we find the movie that I was personally really rooting for this weekend, Marry Me. The JLo and Owen Wilson-starring old-school rom-com, I felt, had the most potential to break out given JLo’s recent mini-theatrical comeback at the box office. With the likes of Second Act having nicely legged out over Christmas 2018 for a small but healthy worldwide gross and Hustlers landing with a bang with 2019 and becoming one of the best performing movies of JLo’s career, Marry Me, a return to classic, fondly remembered rom-coms of JLo’s past like Maid in Manhattan, The Wedding Planner, and Shall We Dance?, seemed like a no-brainer for success. Now, to be fair, the film didn’t necessarily underperform as it was pegged to come in around $8 million on opening weekend, but $7.9 million is still quite the comedown for JLo’s follow up to Hustlers (which opened to $33 million) and a JLo movie that everyone claimed they really wanted to see. Instead, interestingly enough, Marry Me seems to signal that JLo’s rom-com turns are not as bankable as they once were, especially given that Marry Me‘s $7.9 million opening is not all that far off from Second Act‘s $6.48 million opening. At that time, such a low opening for the Maid in Manhattan-adjacent film could be chalked up to a competitive Christmas corridor (and was more than made up for by fabulous Christmas legs reflected in a x5.34 multiplier). Unfortunately, Marry Me‘s similarly low opening suggests that $6-8 million is now the relative size of JLo’s rom-com audience.
An interesting notion was posited over the weekend that part of the reason that Marry Me didn’t hit a higher gross was because the film felt like the “same old same old” for audiences and that Hustlers‘ success could be owed strongly to the film’s genre (crime drama) being a departure for Lopez. Now, I am personally uninclined to believe that as, when looking at her box office track record, most of her other genre departures have not reached the heights that Hustlers did (Out of Sight was a box office flop and The Boy Next Door, while profitable, only got to $36 million domestic). A more likely reason would be, aside from the pandemic, JLo being more over-exposed than anything else. With literally 15 different projections cooking at any given moment, be it in film, television, music, or even cosmetics, Lopez’s image is nearly omnipresent, thus, outside of her core fanbase, Marry Me may seem like white noise to most audiences.
That said, there’s an even bigger elephant in the room here that I haven’t even mentioned. No, it’s not the film’s Peacock availability as that service’s subscriber base is way too small to make much of a dent in Marry Me‘s box office. I mean that Valentine’s Day was on Monday, and I am betting a relatively large amount of people were holding off on the film to save it for a Valentine’s Day movie date. I could be wrong, and Monday’s grosses could still be quite small, but Marry Me‘s status as an old-school rom-com makes it a premiere romantic ticket, so I would not be surprised to see a jump in its day-to-day grosses come later today. Marry Me can definitely afford to have this kind of delayed gratification at the box office as it’s reportedly budgeted at $23 million. A barely $8 million opening weekend is still not ideal for a movie of this budget, but it isn’t an absolute death sentence, and with Valentine’s Day grosses rolling in, plus an extended President’s Day weekend on the horizon, there is still some runway for Marry Me to make some cash. Hopefully, Universal will take full advantage.
You may have noticed that I skipped second place, and that is admittedly because I just wanted to get to Marry Me. However, it should not go unnoticed that second place, as I had originally predicted, ended up being a photo finish between Marry Me and holdover/former weekend savior Jackass Forever. The big difference between my prediction and reality, however, is that I thought that photo finish would take place in the $12 millions. Instead, Marry Me just missed the $8 million market while Jackass Forever just barely hit that threshold with $8.08 million. Turns out I was much too bold with my prediction that a hold of -45% was a possibility. Instead, Jackass Forever saw the biggest second weekend drop in the franchise with -65%. Now, no need to shed tears as Jackass Forever only cost $10 million to make, and has already turned a profit with about $44 million worldwide, but it is clear that the brand’s surprisingly strong gross was not the signal of a dramatic return, but rather a flash in the pan. Cest la vie!
In fourth place, Spider-Man: No Way Home managed another strong hold of -21% for a gross of $7.5 million, suggesting that if anyone was going to the movies this past weekend, Spider-Man was still the premier destination. It now stands less than $1 million away from taking the spot as third highest grossing domestic release of all time, besting Avatar in the process with $760 million. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Liam Neeson’s Blacklight debuted low and very much on par for films of his ilk. This was perhaps the only prediction I got almost exactly right, as Blacklight opened to almost the exact same opening gross as both Neeson’s last two features, Honest Thief and The Marksman, at $3.5 million in fifth place. Like Marry Me, I’m sure the movie will be fine as it is massively cheap to make, though I am curious about just what kind of legs it will have. With a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, even Neeson’s staunchest defending are in agreement with critics who are saying that Blacklight is a thoroughly subpar piece of material and that Neeson is inching very close to Bruce Willis territory. I’ll be very curious to see just how well Blacklight is able to hold next weekend.
As for the rest of the top ten, it was mostly the usual suspects. As mentioned above, Sing 2 was the true counterprogramming success as it continues to aim straight for the “kiddie” market and continues to reap the rewards, dropping only -27% for a gross of $3 million in sixth place and taking its domestic total to $143.5 million. The film now stands at a worldwide gross of $310.9 million is nearing a box office gross 4x its budget. Of course, this is all happening as the film is currently available to rent at home so Sing 2 continues to heavily impress.
Seventh place was home to Scream, which continues to hold stronger than I could have anticipated. In spite of the presence of the Super Bowl and the foot traffic for the film ostensibly slowing down, Scream still posted a strong -38% hold in its fifth weekend for a gross of $2.95 million. I am curious as to why it is holding this well (outside of the movie just being really good), but all I can postulate is that like No Way Home, Scream is just a prime moviegoing destination right now. If that is the case, the fact that I am putting it in a league with No Way Home is quite the compliment. This weekend takes its domestic gross to about $73.3 million and its worldwide total to $117.4 million, just about 5x its $24 million budget. No wonder that sequel is shooting this summer, and with legs like this, I am very optimistic about its prospects.
As for Moonfall, the same cannot be said, as that film is dropping like the heaviest rock there is. Coming in seventh place with a gross of $2.94 million, Moonfall posted a gargantuan drop of -70% from its opening weekend. I spent a large part of my post about last weekend defending Lionsgate for taking this film on as part of their slate, and I still do think their hearts were in the right place, but Moonfall is undeniably a swing and a miss for all parties involved as the film has only taken in $15 million domestic against the $30 million break-even point for Lionsgate and it’s not going to go much further than that (that’s not to mention the film’s horrifying $22 million worldwide gross against a budget of $140 million). I’m sure it will be a breakout smash when Netflix eventually snaps of the streaming rights, but until then, Emmerich might want to hold off on trying to fund new projects over $100 million.
Ninth place was home to an interesting entry, Licorice Pizza, which managed to distinguish itself this weekend by being the only movie to get all that much of an Oscar boost from its nominations last Tuesday. Now, I say that very lightly as, 1) its +49% boost only brought it to a gross of about $959K this past weekend, not even allowing it to return to the $1 million mark, and 2) that gross can be more largely attributed to the film’s expansion back into wide release with the addition of 1,191 theaters bringing its total theater count to 1,977. With a per-theater-average of $485 per theater, don’t expect this expansion to last all that long. I’ve been saying for quite a while that MGM bungled this film’s release by not going wide earlier and I feel like this gross really makes my case as awareness for this film is so low that not even major Oscar nominations (including Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay) are generating much interest from general audiences. It certainly speaks to the resonance of Paul Thomas Anderson with general audiences as Licorice Pizza is shaping up to be his lowest grosser since Inherent Vice.
Rounding out the top 10 was a surprise entry, The Beatles Get Back – The Rooftop Concert. Talk about resonance, this IMAX release featured merely a portion of the heralded Disney+ Beatles documentary from Peter Jackson, specifically the part where they play a rooftop concert, and managed to take in about $2,699 per theater (in 181 theaters for a total weekend gross of $488K), which is on par with, and frankly even better than, most of the top three movies in the top ten this weekend. The Beatles absolutely have that kind of power over audiences, and the prospect of seeing them in IMAX (with incredible restored footage made to look as though they were filmed just yesterday) was too enticing to pass up.
As for the specialty market, we bid a fond farewell to The King’s Man as it drops out of the top ten, losing over a thousand theaters for a gross of $426K, and preps for its HBO/Hulu streaming release this weekend. The film finished its run with about $36.7 million domestic and $121.5 million worldwide, putting up one heck of a fight.
With regard to other Oscar contenders, as I alluded to above, not many saw a significant boost in their box office grosses. Belfast came closest to the top ten in 13th place with $304K, a growth of +52% from last weekend thanks to an expansion into 928 theaters, while Drive My Car managed to grow an impressive +88% just by adding 12 theaters and expanding its theater count to 127 total. It took in $189K this weekend, and honestly, for a slow, meditative Japanese film about death, legacy, and storytelling, that kind of growth actually signals genuine interest in the film as an awards contender. It’s no wonder that Warner Bros. reported yesterday that they had just picked up the film’s streaming rights for HBO Max. Given that service’s association with curated film content a la TCM, it’s a wise move.
Speaking of Warner Bros., the studio also took advantage of having two Best Picture nominees this year and quickly re-released King Richard and Dune in 463 and 678 theaters respectively. Neither did anything special, but it should be noted that my prediction came true! Dune‘s re-release was used by Warner Bros. to capitalize on the film’s 10 Oscar nominations and pull it past the $400 million mark worldwide! Sure, it was just via this film’s measly weekend gross of $145K, but a win is a win!
Honestly, outside of Drive My Car, the only other movie to really get anything out of its expansion was that of The Worst Person in the World. The Norwegian dramedy pulled in a surprising two Oscar nominations last Tuesday and used the momentum to expand from 4 to 49 theaters this past weekend. This resulted in a +80% boost from last weekend but, perhaps more impressively, a $5,077 per-theater-average, the highest of the weekend! That totaled to about $248K for the weekend and suggest the makings of a specialty hit. I’m excited to see it as it officially sees a release in Miami this coming weekend.
Outside of those titles, the rest of the Oscar hopefuls really got nothing out of their circumstances. Surprise nominee Parallel Mothers actually lost theaters (though it’s per-theater-average jumped up, suggesting the interest is still there), as did surprise Best Picture nominee Nightmare Alley and historic triple nominee Flee (sporting nominations in Best Animated Feature, Best International Film, and Best Documentary, the first film in history to do so). West Side Story also dropped 350 theaters for a theater count of just 450 though, reportedly, it is set for an expansion the weekend of February 25th. Of course, that will not matter all that much for the box office given that it missed its window this past this weekend and that it was just announced to be debuting on Disney+ and HBO on March 3rd, the very next weekend. Disney seems to know that this film is a box office dud with just $37 million domestic and $63 million worldwide on a $100 million budget, and looks to just be trying to win it some Oscars. Final voting for the Oscars closes on March 22nd, so the increased exposure by being in both theaters and available on Disney+ (and HBO Max for that matter) will likely make it much more highly visible to voters; just look at how visible Encanto became when it hit the service. Disney is no stranger to tricks like this (in 2018, they pulled box office flop A Wrinkle in Time across the $100 million mark domestically by having it piggy-back off of the much more successful Incredibles 2 a double feature) so don’t be surprised if West Side Story becomes a major topic of conversation in the next few weeks. Finally, before we leave this weekend behind us, we must salute House of Gucci, which missed a coveted Oscar nomination for Lady Gaga (in favor of Kristen Stewart taking the nomination for her role in Spencer, now available to stream on Hulu!) and sank at the box office in response. It’s sad to see a film that fought so hard go down like that with a -75% drop and a loss of 270, but MGM is officially putting all its marketing power behind Licorice Pizza. Farewell, House of Gucci, thanks for playing. Bye until next weekend!