UPDATE, SATURDAY 3AM: With Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’sAmerican Sniper shooting down more box office records this weekend with an updated industry projection of $61.2M, another star-studded bomb went off at the B.O. following last weekend’s Blackhat debacle: Johnny Depp’s $60M R-rated comedyMortdecaiflatlined with an estimated $1.6M on Friday at 2,648 theaters, on track for a horrendous $4.6M weekend in eighth place – far below the $10-$12M that distributor Lionsgate was expecting for the OddLot co-production. Among Depp’s wide releases, that bow is lower than his 2011 Hunter S. Thompson adaptation The Rum Diary, which posted $5.1M and was also overpriced ($45M) in relation to its final domestic cume ($13M). It’s Depp’s fourth flop domestically after Alcon/WB’sTranscendence ($100M budget, $23M domestic B.O.), The Lone Ranger($215M budget, $89M domestic) and Rum Diary (This is outside his ensemble work in Disney’s Into the Woods which is looking to take tenth this weekend with a projected cume through Sunday of $121.29M).
Has Depp’s predilection for playing goofy, absurdist personalities alienated his fans? The answer is a resounding “Yes” as Mortdecai, in which Depp plays a posh, curly mustachioed Euro art dealer, got a C+ CinemaScore, not too far above Rum Diary’s C, and on par withTranscendence’s C+ (granted, Depp was playing more dramatic in that film, but his cyber-afterlife self was too mindboggling for the masses).
Three weeks before its opening,Mortdecai was showing tracking figures on par with Blackhat’s bottom dwelling figures. Both first choice and unaided awareness (when any person polled can cite any film title opening without being prodded by the pollster) were in the low single digits of 1-2%. Translation: It was on no-one’s radar, despite a heavy media campaign that launched six weeks out. Some highlights: Marketing integrations and sponsorships across 14 networks with nearly 100 million impressions, and custom vignettes of the cast on Comedy Central, E!, Bravo and TBS (specifically during Conan). AMortdecai Twitter handle @PartTimeRogue was created six months out in the voice of the character collecting 21K followers (as a measure, Disney’sLone Ranger handle had 16K while a Johnny Depp News site has 74K). Relish Mix, which measures celebrity social media marketing, showed Gwyneth Paltrow as the lead social driver for the film (1.1M FB, 2M TW) as well as actress Olivia Munn (600k TW). Munn’sConan interview, in which she comically describes Depp grabbing her breast during production drew 4M Facebook video views. There was also a promo celebrating Mortdecai’s mustache on shopping website The Art of Shaving.
By January 16, none of this seemed to be persuading anybody with first choice and unaided awareness still at 2-4%. Definite Awareness remained in the low 30 percentile just like Blackhat. Critics didn’t help, givingMortdecai a 13% Rotten Tomatoes score and a critical consensus summation of “aggressively strange and willfully unfunny.” Lionsgate tried to control critical word of mouth by nixing media screenings and shuttling select critics and media to the LA premiere on January 21, which one insider remarked “was an attempt to put them among a crowd that would deliver a positive response, hoping to sway their opinions.”
In happier news, American Sniper took in $18M on Friday; and if its projected $61.2M second wide weekend holds, that will be the third highest haul for a film playing in January behind Sniper’s opening weekend of $89.3M and Avatar’s third FSS of $68.5M. It’s also the second best weekend for any film that went wide (or opened) in January.
Universal’s Jennifer Lopez thriller The Boy Next Door was the only new wide release to crack the top 10 and took second on Friday with an estimated $5.56M at 2,602 venues. The film is now looking to make $15.3M which will be a FSS take that is close to four times its $4M budget. The film has a B- CinemaScore.
Families on Friday night showed more interest in seeing TWC-Dimension’s Paddington, shelling out $2.57M in 3,355 theaters, than Disney-Lucasfilm’s Strange Magic, which only hooked $1.2M at 3,020. Not even matinees are expected to push the goblin-fairy redux of A Midsummer Night’s Dream up the charts. Unlike The Boy Next Door, which is beating its B- CinemaScore in its opening,Strange Magic is being hindered by it. Over three days, Paddington is going to hold its spot in third with $11.8M, off 37% and a total cume by Sunday of $39.5M.
In its second Friday, the Kevin Hart and Josh Gad R-rated comedy The Wedding Ringer made $2M, down 51% from a week ago. It looks to slot fourth through Sunday with $10.95M, down 47% with a cume of $38.9M, which is legging pretty close to the comp that the industry pegged the Jeremy Garelick-helmed title to: About Last Night.
Cinelou’s Cakereleased via Freestyle is estimated to make $300K from 482 venues with a $924K weekend. Cake’s weekend is more robust than the bows of Jennifer Aniston’s critically acclaimed titles 2006 Friends With Money ($589K on 28) and 2002’s TheGood Girl ($152K from four), though those were on significantly fewer screens during the first weekend. Aniston is nominated for a best lead film actress SAG award this Sunday.
PREVIOUS, 12:57 PM: Noon industry estimates are flying in, and Warner Bros’ American Sniper is looking at another enormous record-setting weekend with a projected $59.3M. If that number holds through Sunday, it would be the second-highest weekend ever for a film in January, after Sniper‘s gigantic FSS of $89.3M.Friday alone looks to be $17.45M, which is just under what the Clint Eastwood film posted on MLK Monday ($17.9M). By the end of the weekend, American Sniper will be short of $200M by $5M in its domestic cume — again, just jaw-dropping numbers for this war-hero film. One exhibitor chief told Deadline, “American Sniperis playing everywhere, not just the flyover states. There’s a been a little controversy about the film from blue and red audiences, but that’s what makes it great: It’s a film that has moviegoers talking.”
Universal’s Blumhouse thriller The Boy Next Door starring Jennifer Lopezis looking quite sexy at No. 2. The $4M film is on a track to make $16.5M and a potential $6M Friday. Following Boy Next Door are last weekend’s holdovers Paddington and The Wedding Ringereyeing spots three and four with respective estimated weekend takes of $12.5M and $11M. Both films are looking at cumes around $40M by Sunday. Taken 3 in its third weekend is looking at $7.05M with a $2M Friday, raising its cume on Sunday to about $75.5M. It’s not quite certain exactly where newcomers Disney’s Strange Magic and Lionsgate’s Mortdecai will rank. Strange Magic is being estimated at $1.5M for Friday and a $6M weekend, while the R-rated Johnny Depp absurdist comedy is looking at $2M today with $5.8M for the weekend. Again, these are early third-party estimates. As we get closer to midnight tonight and multiplexes close out their cash drawers, the numbers become more certain, but this is how the weekend is looking at this point.
UPDATED, FRIDAY, 8:33 AM: Thursday night preview figures are being posted, with Universal’s Blumhouse thriller The Boy Next Door racking up $500K in 1,869 theaters. Meanwhile, Warner Bros’ American Sniper had a solid week grossing $132.3M overall, with Thursday generating $7.65M. The film came close to making $10M on Tuesday, the day after the MLK holiday. Current domestic cume for the Clint Eastwood film stands at $135.8M prior to its fifth frame. More to come.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY PM:Prior to Super Bowl next weekend, three wide releases are looking to get a leg up before the big game this Friday — Lionsgate’s Johnny Depp -Gwyneth Paltrow period comedy Mortdecai, Universal’s The Boy Next Door as well as Disney’s Lucasfilm toon Strange Magic.However, it’s Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s American Sniper that is expected to secure first place again with $40-45M, an anticipated average drop of 50-55% in its second wide frame after last weekend’s $89.3M. Fandango is reporting that its advance ticket sales for American Sniper are so strong, the film could wind up posting the second best frame ever for January.
It’s hard for distributors to put a comp on the Clint Eastwood title as there has never been an MLK release quite like it. Unlike the female demos which flocked to Kevin Hart comedies such as The Wedding Ringer and Ride Along, and the young demo which shelled out for Cloverfield, American Sniper drew a massive older male crowd. You can’t even compare American Sniper to the January carryover titan Avatar as that film was propped by 3D ticket pricing. Even comparing American Sniper to Michael Bay’s World War II film Pearl Harbor ($75.2M four-day bow, $198.5M total cume). is a stretch given that film’s Memorial Day rollout, and it’s romantic epic nature (vs. Sniper‘s as dramatic biopic of an actual Navy SEAL). Through Tuesday, American Sniper‘s cume stands at $120.56M. Warner Bros. will 150 engagements Friday, raising its theater count to 3,705.
Universal and Blumhouse’s Jennifer Lopez suspense film The Boy Next Door is looking to profit like its previous microbudget thrillers and horror films. The $4M film is looking to mint a figure somewhere in the low teens at 2,599 venues. Sneaks for the film will kick off after 8PM tomorrow night. The thriller is directed by Rob Cohen (who helmed the first Fast and Furious) and it is making a play for Latinos and females. The Boy Next Door is Lopez’s third suspense thriller since 2002’s Enough ($40M)and 2001’s Angel Eyes ($24.2M), the upside this time around is that the Blumhouse title is more economically priced than those two titles which respectively cost $38M and $53M. Part of Lopez’s promotion for The Boy Next Door entailed the star’s largest Hispanic press tour ever in Miami. She visited such shows as Univision’s Despierta America for the first time as well as the network’s beauty pageant reality show Nuestra Belleza Latina. Lopez’s appearance on the season premiere of that primetime show registered a 22% uptick in ratings from its season premiere a year ago.
Lionsgate-Odd Lot Entertainment’s co-production Mortedecai stars Johnny Depp as a flamboyant art dealer-adventurer who is dodging British Spies, Russian and terrorists as he aims to lay his hands on a painting that will lead him to Nazi gold. The film rolls out in sneaks tomorrow at 7pm. At a cost, per industry execs, of $60M, Mortdecai which has been described as a Peter Sellers absurdist type film, and continues to provide a platform for Depp’s offbeat onscreen personalities (such as Barnabas Collins in 2012’sDark Shadows) is eyeing $10-$12M over FSS. Lionsgate employed a heavy social media and TV marketing campaign. Six weeks out, Lionsgate targeted a broad audience with marketing integration and sponsorships across 14 networks earning nearly 100M impressions, and custom vignettes featuring the cast on Comedy Central, E!, Bravo and TBS (specifically during Conan).
Girls 7-11 are the target demo for Disney’s release of Lucasfilm’s goblin-fairy animated pic Strange Magic, given its themes of female empowerment and princess characters. Strange Magic was directed by Gary Rydstrom with a story penned by George Lucas, who also produces. The animated feature was made at Lucasfilm’s Singapore studio and was in production prior to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. With a family release in each of the last three months — Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good ,Very Bad Day in October,Big Hero 6 in November and Into the Woods last month, Strange Magic is Disney’s January entry.And the thinking is that it will co-habit multiplexes just fine with TWC/Dimension’s Paddington in the market. Strange Magic is looking to make $10M in 3,020 theaters. However, TWC/Dimension’s bear-in-the-hat Paddington should beat out goblins and fairies with a projected $12-$13M.
Brian Brooks will weigh in further on the arthouse scene tomorrow, however, Cinelou is releasing its Jennifer Aniston drama Cake via Freestyle Releasing Friday in 465 runs in the top 75 markets. Since the film launched at the Toronto Film Festival, Aniston has received high praise for her 180 degree method turn as a curmudgeon woman, battling chronic pain and personal tragedy. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for best actress drama and is up for a SAG female leading actress nom this Sunday. Expectations are that Cake makes $1.5-$2M, and will expand accordingly.
In addition, Focus Features is releasing its submarine Jude Law thrillerBlack Sea bows in two theaters in New York and three in Los Angeles. The R-rated film will expand nationwide on January 30.