Blumhouse’s “Death Day” a Happy $26 Million Surprise, Leaving “Blade Runner 2049” in the Dust. This Weekend at the Box Office.

By Jim Amos | October 15, 2017 3:31 pm PDT
Box Office - Boo 2, Only The Brave, Geostorm

OK gang, show of hands. As late as a month ago who among us thought that the latest Blumhouse horror title, “Happy Death Day”, would easily topple the second weekend of “Blade Runner 2049?” (Blumhouse and Universal employees, you don’t count so put your hands down.)

“Happy Death Day” turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise, scaring up USD $26 million at the box office, higher than anyone in the industry had projected and nearly twice as much as “Blade Runner 2049” could add in its second stanza. “Happy Death Day” turned out to be one of the highest Blumhouse openings on record and enjoyed a rather impressive B Cinemascore and a perfectly acceptable 68 on the Rotten Tomatoes scale. Horror films trend on the low end of the Cinemascore scale so a B grade is actually impressive. The film had massive social media exposure leading up to the opening and young females turned out in droves, as is the case with most Blumhouse titles.

Elsewhere, Jackie Chan’s return to the big screen resulted in a nearly USD $13 million opening weekend, close to our projections. Chan may be showing his age but this vehicle seemed to suit him perfectly. An A- Cinemascore will hopefully help limit the second weekend damage though a 56 from RT wasn’t anything to send a telegram to Shanghai about. Luckily for CJ readers it did provide us with the much coveted Celluloid Junkie Review Quote of the Week. It comes from Steve Persall of the Tampa Bay Times who wrote, “For once, Chan isn’t the most indecipherable thing in one of his movies.”

As for the more limited avails, Open Road’s “Marshall” debuted on only 821 screens so its USD $3 million judgment isn’t too bad. The only question now is where this film goes from here. An 86 RT score is far from shabby but unfortunately Oscar talk for Chadwick Boseman’s performance seems to have dwindled, so long range prospects for the film, especially with November’s full cupboard of strong titles on the horizon, doesn’t look rosy.

The news wasn’t good at all for “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women”. Annapurna took more runs than “Marshall” yet couldn’t break the USD $1 million barrier as the film came in at roughly USD $740,000 this weekend, which if you’re scoring at home is USD $370,000 per Marston wife.

Neither of the other two limited avails, “Goodbye, Christopher Robin” and “Breathe” were able to gain much traction as their per location averages were significantly below the USD $10,000 mark.

In other items of note…

  • Last week I introduced you to an article written by a journalist with obviously very little knowledge of the movie industry from City A.M. in London. Here is the response to that article from Phil Clapp, Chief Executive at UK Cinema Association. Frankly, I couldn’t have said it better myself;
  • Mexican movie theatre chain Cinemex announced it was buying Cobb Theatres, who have been in the cinema business since 1921. Cobb currently operates 25 theatres, mostly in the southeast US;
  • Last week Red Bull posted their list of coolest cinemas. Check out the winners and tell me these aren’t on your bucket list if you’re a movie theatre fan, especially The Barn in Devon, UK;
  • Can’t wait to see the list of Fathom/Turner Classic Movies showings for next year as 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of such masterworks of filmmaking as “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “The Odd Couple”, “Funny Girl”, “Bullitt”, “Oliver!”, “Planet of the Apes”, “Night of the Living Dead”, “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “They Saved Hitler’s Brain” (OK I added the last one to see if you’re still paying attention);
  • On Friday, Fandango announced it will buy competitor A purchase price was not disclosed. will keep its branding.
  • And finally, just when you think that American movie audiences cornered the market on poor theatre behavior, strap yourself in for this one. A UK moviegoer who was looking after three children downed a bottle of vodka (stay with me, it gets better) at a screening at the Showcase Cinema in Birstall. He then left the screening and staggered back into the wrong film, attempting to sit on a seat already occupied by a child (no seriously, it gets even better). The man then proceeded to vomit on yet another child in the theatre. He was immediately escorted out of the cinema but then remembered that he was supposed to be looking after the three original children. Winning the You Make The Call Challenge this week, theatre employees decided it would be a good idea to ask the police to swing by.
Box Office Chart - October 15, 2017
Source: comScore

Well we certainly are specializing in quantity this coming weekend with five new openings. Now how about the quality? Let’s take a look.

“Boo 2: A Madea Halloween” (LG)—Madea, in the form of director/star Tyler Perry, returns with this sequel to “Boo: A Madea Halloween”, which by the way, only came out last Halloween. That might hold the record for Quickest Sequel (Comedy/Horror). That film opened to $28 million, ending up at a lofty $73 mil, which by the way was Perry’s highest grosser since “Madea Goes to Jail” in 2009. In fact, it was the second highest grossing Perry film ever, hence the sequel.

The Verdict: I’d have to be convinced why this won’t open in the 20’s. It has the original’s (and Perry’s) built-in audience and exhibitor reactions all confirm that if you like Perry’s Madea films then you’ll probably laugh hysterically at her (his?) antics this time out as well. USD $23 million.

“Only the Brave” (Sony)—Unfortunately this movie is especially timely in light of the horrible situation with the wildfires raging through Northern California. In the film, Josh Brolin and Miles Teller are part of the Granite Mountain Hotspots firefighting team and the story revolves around their attempt to fight the horrific 2013 Prescott, AZ fire. The cast is stellar as Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Connelly and Andie McDowell co-star.

The Verdict: Sony blew the cobwebs off their 1996 Distribution Playbook and set up sneaks this past weekend on the film. I can’t recall the last wide release to do that. Their marketing campaign is in overdrive with a blanketing of cable TV ads. It will be interesting to see if Sony can lure moviegoers in to see what ultimately was a fatal ending for the brave firemen and it’s uncertain whether current events will help shine a light onto these men and their families and drive people to the multiplex or dissuade moviegoers who may see this as hitting too close to today’s evening news. It will also be interesting to determine if Saturday night sneaks will lower the gross at all. USD $13 million.

“Geostorm” (WB)—OK, I’m going to try to get through this synopsis without howling with laughter. Here goes. Set in the future, Gerard Butler (I repeat, Gerard Butler) plays a scientist (hee) who must solve a program malfunction (hee hee) with the group of satellites (guffaw, chortle, chortle) that now control our planet (hee hee hee hee). There. Made it.

The Verdict: If you think you’ve heard Dean Devlin’s name before you have. He was the producing partner of Roland Emmerich and now steps into the director’s chair for the first time. To put it mildly, subtelty was never the pair’s strong suit and doesn’t figure to be in fashion here either. Butler’s last two successes were “Olympus Has Fallen” and “London Has Fallen”. Perhaps this should have been titled “Earth Has Fallen”. USD $13 million.

“The Snowman” (Universal)—Atmospheric thriller from Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, “Snowman” stars Michael Fassbender trying to solve a bizarre murder case. As a side note, did the producers even contemplate changing Fassbender’s character’s name in the movie. Detective Harry Hole?

The Verdict: This feels like the type of film that sometime in January we’ll check out on Netflix and be enthralled by and wonder why it didn’t gross more than it did. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot to entice moviegoers to actually put down their Jeno’s Pizza Rolls, get off their couches and plunk down USD $12. Fassbender, though certainly an outstanding actor, isn’t a big box office draw, and the supporting cast, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Rebecca Ferguson, are capable but hardly noteworthy. USD $9 million.

“Same Kind of Different as Me” (Pureflix)—Not a true wide release but included here because it is definitely the biggest cast for a Pureflix movie in its brief history. Reading like a list of Oscar nominees from 1996, the film stars Renee Zellweger, Greg Kinnear, Djimon Hounsou, and Jon Voight. What, Roberto Begnini wasn’t available? In the film, a wealthy art dealer strikes up an inspirational friendship with a homeless man. Between Kinnear and Hounsou I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

The Verdict: All the pieces are there for this to be a nice little surprise. Having the writer of “Heaven is for Real” along doesn’t hurt either. Moviegoers, especially in red states, may be looking for this type of uplifting entertainment. USD $5 million

“Jane” (Abramorama)—If I could stand out on Ventura Boulevard with a sandwich board extolling the virtues of Jane Goodall and this brilliant documentary I would. (Don’t get any ideas, Rich or Evan). The film brings intimate new footage of Jane Goodall’s first few years in Africa and her groundbreaking study of chimpanzees. Watching Jane appear at the Hollywood Bowl showing of the film last week and hearing her speak about the importance of saving the planet and all of its inhabitants, especially in today’s tumultuous times, would tug at the heartstrings of even the most hardened climate denier or big game hunter who thinks that savagely killing these beautiful creatures is “sport”.

“Wonderstruck” (RSA)—Julianne Moore reteams with director Todd Haynes (they made “Far from Heaven” and “I’m Not There” together) for this story of the connection between a young boy in the Midwest and a young girl in New York.

“Killing of a Sacred Deer”(A24)—Please listeners no more calls, we have our winner for kookiest movie title of October. Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell star in this family mystery directed by Yorgos Lanthimos who helmed 2015’s well reviewed “The Lobster”.

On the EVENT CINEMA front this week, Monday brings us the Samurai Jack movie event in the States and Tuesday is the debut of Kirk Cameron: Revive Us 2. Friday, not normally a day associated with Event Cinema, actually has two limited offerings: nobody will put baby in the corner during the 30th anniversary showing of “Dirty Dancing” in the UK and cinemagoers will be turning Japanese with “We Are X,” featuring the Asian superband X Japan. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never heard of them but the website says they’re a superband so it must be true. And here I thought the only Asian superband was, well, Asia. Saturday begins the three night run for the Disney Jr. Halloveen Party and we finish the week on a slighty more dignified note with Sunday’s Bolshoi Ballet presentation of Le Corsaire.  In addition, there are select showings of “Tokyo Ghoul”, complete with downloadable ghoul mask, all this week.

I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. I think that the problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf – “This Is Spinal Tap”

Jim Amos
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