Saturday AM Update: By the calendar’s measure of recent box office years, it is the first weekend of summer. But because movie theaters are still closed in most of Europe and Brazil because of the pandemic, Disney decided to move Marvel’s Black Widow to July 9.
The good news is that we will finally have a semblance of a summer box office season, unlike last year, and United Artists Releasing is filling the vacancy left by Disney this weekend with the Miramax production of Guy Ritchie’s R-rated Jason Statham action title Wrath of Man, which had a solid Friday at the B.O. during the pandemic with $3M (including $500K Thursday previews) and an outlook of a $8M 3-day.
That’s a bit more than what Universal’s gritty R-rated Bob Odenkirk shoot-’em up scored over its first weekend, with $2.5M Friday and a 3-day of $6.8M (that movie now in its 7th weekend, bound to see its domestic cume at $24.6M by Sunday off an A- CinemaScore).
Guy Ritchie & Jason Statham Action Pic ‘Wrath Of Man’ Takes Over May Weekend Vacated By ‘Black Widow’
Next to the meat-and-potato action movies aimed at older guys during the pandemic since last August (we’re not counting videogame adaptation Mortal Kombat), Wrath of Man is set to outrank the debuts of Nobody, Unhinged ($4M), Honest Thief ($4.1M) and The Marksman ($3.1M).
Audience reaction for Wrath of Man was great, with Ritchie seeing an A-, which was better than the B+ earned by 2020’s The Gentleman, which repped a return to his kinetic, flashy action British capers. That movie, also a Miramax production, was released to 2,165 theaters by STX before Covid-19 hit in late January, and opened to $10.65M.
Screen Engine/Comscore PostTrak moviegoers also rated Wrath of Man well with a 77% overall positive and a 58% definite recommend. Guys at 60% made up the overall audience, with 71% over 25 and 45% over 35. Diversity demos were 42% Caucasian, 24% Black, 23% Hispanic, and 11% Asian/other. Wrath of Man was strong in the West and Southwest. PLF and Imax repped 34% of Friday’s ticket sales. Critics weren’t as high on Wrath of Man as The Gentlemen, 66% fresh to 75% certified fresh.
While an $8M opening is not what we’re used to in regards to opening summer, keep this in mind: We’re in much better shape and on a better path than we were a year ago. Currently, 63% of 5,8K theaters are operating. While that’s very good, the domestic marketplace isn’t at its full exhibition power. Over 1k theaters haven’t provided targeted reopening dates, No. 2 chain Regal only has 232 theaters of its 533 reopened, and three major provinces of Canada –Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta are still closed.
There’s a chance that Cineplex, which only has 27 of its 162 theaters reopened, might open more in another week or two if local ordinances give the OK. But I’m hearing there’s a chance the two features which are firing up summer, Paramount’s A Quiet Place II and Disney’s Cruella, may not have the full power of Canada when they open over Memorial Day weekend, May 28-31. We will see.
Also, capacity restrictions remain in force across the nation, even in areas where the capacity limits might be at 100%. AMC reportedly is operating its whole chain at 50% levels and enforcing mask wearing, even in those communities where face coverings have been lifted.
For all the good news about the yellow tier moving LA theaters to 75% capacity, again, that’s for those attendees who show proof of vaccinations. Several sources tell me there’s no way exhibition can or will enforce its attendees to show proof of vaccination, and therefore will opt to operate at 50%. That said, I’m told exhibition overall isn’t fretting about this loophole. Talks with CDC and local health authorities in LA and San Francisco remain positive, and all eyes are on June 15, when California Gavin Newsom has announced the state will be fully opened. The hope per exhibition sources is that NYC will be at 50% capacity levels by Memorial Day weekend.
In the No. 2 spot is Funimatin/Aniplex’s Demon Slayer which in its 3rd Friday grossed $851K, -53%, at 2,088 theaters (+183) for a 3rd weekend of $3M. New Line/HBO Max’s Mortal Kombat at 2,973 locations (-141) did $700K yesterday (-62%) in its 3rd Friday in the No. 3 spot with a 3rd weekend of $2.3M (-63%). The pic in its first two weeks has grossed $36.2M. Fourth place is also owned by Warner Bros. with Legendary’s Godzilla v. Kong (which is in a window now of pure theatrical play, not on HBO Max). That pic’s 6th Friday made $505K (-32%) at 2,705 theaters (-48) for a 3-day of $1.9M (-33%) and a $92.9M running total by EOD Sunday. 5th place belongs to Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon which grossed $420K in its 10th Friday at 2,315 theaters (+505) with an expected weekend of $1.7M (+24%) and a running total of $43.6M. The pic is also available on Disney+ Premier for the extra cost of $30. Open Road’s Separation grossed $315K (-54%) in its second Friday on its way to a $1.065M weekend at 1,911 (+160) sites for a 10-day of $3.3M
Sony and Stage 6 Film’s recent acquisition of Tiffany Haddish-Billy Crystal movie Here Today will be gone tomorrow. The studio doesn’t spend much to open these titles, and this is a moderate release booked at 1,200 locations. Friday per industry estimates is expected to be around $255K, with a 3-day opening of $783K in the No. 7 spot. Audience and critical reactions for this Crystal directed feature which he co-wrote with Alan Zweibel were low with a 52% Rotten Tomatoes rating and 65% overall positive from PostTrak and a 46% recommend. 57% females showed up with 57% over 25. Audience make-up was 62% Caucasian, 17% Hispanic, 17% Black, & 4% Asian/other. Sony doesn’t spend on these movies with iSpot showing the pic’s TV spot spend was a paltry $320K with ads that ran on 60 Minutes, Today, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, SEAL Team and Haddish’s Kids Say the Darndest Things.
Here Today follows veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz (Crystal), who is going through a tough time in his life. He meets New York singer Emma Payge (Haddish) and they form an unlikely yet hilarious and touching friendship that kicks the generation gap aside and redefines the meaning of love and trust.