Weekend Box Office Results… 8/27 – 8/29
At CinemaCon, Embattled Film Industry Leaders Rally the Troops with Hopes of a Comeback
Hollywood Movies Flood Piracy Sites Hours After Release
Why Hollywood Movies are Being Squeezed Out in China, and What Happens Next
Yes, the Owner of a Movie Theater Chain Feels Bad for Me
Studio Releases… 9/3 - 9/9
Studio Releases… 9/10 - 9/16
Box Office Results
Weekend Box Office Results… 8/27 – 8/29
Horror master Jordan Peele does it again by steering “Candyman” to an easy first place win. The film outperformed its mid to upper teens expectations by grossing $22.4M in one of the last weeks of summer business. Once again, exhibition delivered an outsized gross for a title that was not streamed. “Free Guy”, the other shining star, benefitted from its theatrical exclusive by dropping only 27% in its third week. By grossing $13.6M for the three days this weekend, it has now garnered a very respectable $79M in its first 17 days of release.
With “Candyman” being the seventh horror film released since July 2nd, some thought it would not be able to find an audience. The title benefited by being the only new picture in wide release and Jordan Peele made the most of it by delivering 85% Fresh critics and 74% Fresh audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Overall, this weekend performed at 67% of the same weekend in 2019. This is notable because this weekend in 2019 was Labor Day, historically one of the weakest box office weekends of the year. In fact, studios thought so little of the opportunity in 2019 that not a single picture was put into release over the holiday.
Of course, Labor Day this year will arrive next weekend, marking the unofficial end of summer. There will be a heavy weight face-off between 2019’s “It Chapter Two” and this year’s “Shang- Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, the newest offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Disney decided that it would use this four-day weekend to try an exclusive release to theatres, with a delay before streaming the picture. Is it a fair test when the whole industry knows that Labor Day is a terrible weekend to launch a picture? In both 2017 and 2019, WB took the weekend AFTER Labor Day to launch both “It” and “It Chapter Two”. Even the NFL is taking Labor Day weekend off!
|Rank||Title (Distributor)||Week||# Theatres||Weekend $||Per Theatre Average $||Total $|
|1||Candyman (Universal Pictures)||1||3,569||$22,001,750||$6,165||$22,001,750|
|2||Free Guy (20th Century Studios)||3||3,940||$13,162,906||$3,341||$60,032,344|
|3||Paw Patrol: The Movie (Paramount Pictures)||2||3,189||$6,656,341||$2,087||$19,804,681|
|4||Jungle Cruise (Walt Disney Studios)||5||3,370||$5,002,136||$1,484||$71,309,499|
|5||Don’t Breathe 2 (Screen Gems)||3||2,703||$2,861,598||$1,059||$18,535,678|
At CinemaCon, Embattled Film Industry Leaders Rally the Troops with Hopes of a Comeback (IndieWire)
Last week, exhibitors re-emerged from the shadows of the past 18 months at the industry’s CinemaCon conference. The industry’s largest convention reconvened at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, with approximately 50% of the turnout from past conventions during “normal times”. It’s an accomplishment that the event was held this year at all, after having been cancelled in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic and pushed back in 2021 from its traditional dates in late March/early April to the last week in August. Though somewhat diminished – international exhibitors were virtually non-existent – the vibe was a mixture of camaraderie, relief from having survived the pandemic, and optimism that the future holds a slow, but steady recovery for the sector.
Studios renewed their vows to support theatres with exclusive theatrical window in 2022 and beyond, which has taken center stage as the most important, long-term concern for exhibitors. MGM confirmed that they were remaining locked in to their fall release date for the James Bond spy thriller “No Time to Die”, having been delayed four times but now at last only six weeks from its 10/8 premiere in theatres. Other studios rolled out a slate of new trailers as well as partial and full screenings for upcoming major titles including “Spiderman: No Way Home”, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”, “The Matrix 4”, “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Mission: Impossible 7”.
NATO’s John Fithian and MPA’s Charles Rivkin delivered high-profile keynotes. In their remarks, they highlighted the contribution theatres make to the U.S. economy. Rivkin spelled out, “We employ more than 741,000 people across the entire country [and generate] $16 billion in export revenue, and a positive balance of trade with nearly every country on the planet.” Fithian added, “Simultaneous release [to theatres and online] DOES. NOT. WORK. For anyone. A steady flow of strong movies released with exclusive windows is essential to exhibition’s recovery, and to the profitability of the entire movie ecosystem.” He also pointed to studies that indicate that exclusive theatrical releases protect studios from immediate and rampant piracy during a film’s initial release window.
See also: How Movie Theater Owners Are ‘Learning to Live With COVID’: A Report From CinemaCon (The Wrap)
Hollywood Movies Flood Piracy Sites Hours After Release (Wall Street Journal)
One of the biggest justifications for studios to continue exclusive theatrical windows is that by holding off on a streaming release they are also delaying the availability online of high-quality pirated versions of their movies. Real data backs this up, with rates of online piracy having skyrocketed during the pandemic era when studios redirected many of their major film releases to streaming exclusively, or day & date to theaters and online. Big-budget titles such as Warner Bros.’ “Godzilla Vs. Kong” and Disney’s “Black Widow” suffered from a torrent of illegal downloading, starting within hours of the movie becoming available on branded streaming services. The monster thriller “Godzilla Vs. Kong” was illegally streamed over 34 million times, taking a bite out of both theatre ticket sales as well as HBO Max subscriptions. Disney released Pixar’s animated film “Luca” in the U.S. on Disney+ on June 18th and in China to theatres on August 20th, since Disney+ is not yet available in China. However, the big-budget ”Luca” tanked at the box office, grossing a mere $5 million. Many analysts suspect that the delayed release in China allowed for widespread piracy, which was responsible for its underperformance at the box office.
Why Hollywood Movies are Being Squeezed Out in China, and What Happens Next (Variety)
Over the past 18 months, Hollywood has struggled to maintain its traditional strength in the Chinese theatrical market. This is a point of particular frustration for Hollywood studios since during that time, China has become the leading market for moviegoing, while the U.S. and other global markets have suffered under the impact of COVID-19.
This year’s top performers are led by two local productions, “Hi, Mom” which took in $822 million followed by “Detective Chinatown 3” with $686 million. The Chinese government continues to support the construction of new cinemas, which already add up to more than 70,000 screens. Indications are that China will increasingly be looking inward for growth in its movies, with Hollywood driven to the margins by strict government control of the release calendar and a growing divide between the countries. This year, a series of major U.S. productions have become mired in controversy within China. The local press and discussion on social media has panned Disney’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” as being racist in its character depictions. Prospects for “Space Jam: A New Legacy” were dimmed after the NBA’s Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey posted tweets that disparaged the Chinese government for its handling of the tense political situation in Hong Kong. A potential blackout is looming for the upcoming release of Disney/Marvel’s “The Eternals” over searing comments in the past from director Chloe Zhao, who described China as a place that is “full of lies.”
Yes, the Owner of a Movie Theater Chain Feels Bad for Me (New York Times)
New York Times opinion columnist Kara Swisher went public last month with her doomsday predictions for exhibition, describing cinemas as a “dying industry” in her an audio story entitled “Sorry, We Aren’t Going Back to the Movies”, claiming that the youth are much more interested in watching films on streaming platforms than in theaters, and that the exhibition model is too expensive and not-well suited for these times. While many see Swisher’s analysis as being incomplete and incorrect, to her credit she did agree to have here her points challenged by one of the leaders in exhibition. She invited Tim League, the CEO of Alamo Drafthouse, to debate her on her podcast Sway. League was direct, saying he “felt bad for her” if she has concluded that the streaming experience has more value than a visit to the cinema. The discussion is fascinating, listening to League reminding us of the pleasure of a cinematic experience and Swisher describing the future of media consumption.
Studio Release Calendar
Studio Releases… 9/3 - 9/9
Studio Release Calendar