All in all, that went pretty much according to plan. “50 Shades Freed,” the third and final installment in the Mr. Grey series of books, handily won the weekend with USD $38.8 million, within a mil or two of where we projected it would debut, which actually was the case for all three wide openings this weekend. With Valentines Day coming up on Wednesday and a long President’s Day weekend on the horizon, the film should reach the USD $100 million plateau. Moviegoers gave it a B+, the same grade they gave the last “50” entry and the Rotten Tomatoes score was a not-unexpected 11.
Sony again has a nice little hit on their hands with “Peter Rabbit,” which hopped into USD $25 million and second place. Though hardly in the league of “Coco” and “Loving Vincent,” a 57 Rotten Tomatoes score isn’t half bad for an animated title and the little ‘uns gave it two (little) thumbs up it with an A- Cinemascore. USD $100 million seems a bit of a stretch to expect for a final number, but USD $75 million certainly seems in reach, especially with the upcoming holiday weekend and little competition expected from “Early Man” (see below).
Lastly, Clint Eastwood’s noble experiement was a bit of a dud as “The 15:17 to Paris” went a bit off the rails. Neither critics (20 Rotten Tomatoes score), nor moviegoers (B- Cinemascore) were too kind to the 87-year-old director’s latest effort. Eh, one of these days he’ll get it right. He still has a long career ahead of him.
AT THE ART HOUSES
Pantelion’s “La Boda de Valentina” opened to a respectable USD $1.1 million in 331 theatres and Sony’s Akshay Kumar starrer, “Pad Man,” debuted to USD $760K in 152 locations.
OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE
- One of the more surprising moments of last week’s Super Bowl was not the 41 points the Eagles put on the New England Patriots defense but rather the “Cloverfield Paradox” TV spot that announced the film was sold by Paramount to Netflix. After the film’s debut, the rash of scathing reviews started cascading in. The film currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 18. Paramount sold the film for USD $50 million which should answer any remaining questions as to the quality of the production. When a company struggling for market share, like Paramount has been, readily gives up a film to a streaming service, that’s never a good sign.
- The ECA Conference was held this past week in London. 2018 appears to be a particularly strong year for event cinema. Some attendees did, however, express some concern that event cinema grosses, especially in Europe, have leveled off a bit from prior years. The common belief was that the reason for the stagnant box office was due to the lack of one big event cinema hit as in years past.
- Vue Cinemas in the United Kingdom announced that they are reducing their ticket prices to 4.99 euros in 22 of their cinemas.
- John Gale wins this week’s coveted CJ Person of the Week award. Mr. Gale has been going to the Swiss Cottage Odeon in London once a week and sitting in the same seat since, get this, 1945. Mr. Gale’s comments about which films he loves watching and why the cinema experience is the only one for him is absolutely perfect.
THIS COMING WEEKEND-WIDE RELEASES
“Black Panter” (BV) — Here to save the day and to hopefully set February box office records comes Marvel’s “Black Panther.” Talk about a film that has everything going for it: a director who has helmed both crowd pleasers (“Creed”) and acclaimed dramas (“Fruitvale Station”), a cast that includes Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett and Martin Freeman and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 98. Yes, 98. As a matter of fact, the first three films that Ryan Coogler has directed have all scored north of 94. According to Fandango, the film’s presales are outpacing other superhero films and have even surpassed the previous champion, “Batman V Superman.” Editor’s note – “Batman V Superman” did open to USD $166 million but was ultimately labeled a disappointment.
The Verdict: First things first, let’s take a peek at the record book. The highest February debut was “Deadpool” which opened to a four day number of USD $152 million. The highest winter opening is the live action “Beauty and the Beast” at USD $174 million. While there is no Fan Night Fathom event, exhibitors are doing their own Thursday night events so that evening’s number should be enormous. Buena Vista is also reporting a tremendous amount of group ticket sales, especially in inner cities. What does all this add up to? With the four day President’s Day weekend to take advantage of, it could mean an opening somewhere between “Deadpool” and “Beast.” Let’s take a crack at USD $161 million for four days and see what happens.
“Early Man” (LG) — There are two different kinds of people in this world. No, not Democrats/Republicans, not vegans/meat eaters and no, not those who are on the opposite sides of the Is-Kylie-Jenner’s-Baby’s-Name-Adorable-Or-Ridiculous debate. Nope, it all boils down to this. Do you believe that the Aardman series of animated titles are just cartoons or are they brilliant on every level. Sadly for the box office prospects of the company’s films that line seems to be drawn somewhere over Bermuda as the UK and Europe find them utterly hilarious and priceless while most Americans think of them as modern day Gumby & Pokey cartoons (please don’t include me in that group). The gang at Aardman and director Nick Park (“Chicken Run,” “Shaun the Sheep,” “Wallace and Gromit”) now have for us a cheeky look at prehistoric man featuring the voices of Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne, Rob Brydon and Timothy Spall. The story revolves around the first humans and their quest to save their village by a soccer, sorry, football match. Lord, could this film be any more British? It makes “Paddington 2” look like “Ernest Goes to Camp.”
The Verdict: Read the above and if you’re still unsure about the film’s grossing potential read it again. Although I’d love to see this work in the States and would run down the street in a Union Jack cape singing “Rue Britannia” while eating a plate of Eton Mess if it did, I’m afraid that it has as much chance of pulling an upset as the Tories have of carrying Midlothian. USD $5 million.
“Samson” (Pure Flix) — The Biblical superhero gets the faith based treatment with this Pure Flix offering which stars Taylor James, Billy Jane and Jackson Rathbone. Here’s your Fun-Fact-To-Know-And-Tell for the day, Jackson Rathbone is a distant relative of both Civil War General Stonewall Jackson and Sherlock Holmes actor Basil Rathbone. In answer to your next question, I have no idea why anyone would find this interesting but I just didn’t really have too much to say about this movie and needed to fill the space.
The Verdict: Grossing potential depends on whether Pure Flix can lure Fox News contributors into hawking the movie to its cult members, I mean viewers. USD $3 million.
THIS COMING WEEKEND-LIMITED AVAIL TITLES
“The Party” (RSA) — Sadly this is not a remake of the underappreciated 1968 Peter Sellers comedy but rather a Kristin Scott Thomas comedy, which also stars Patricia Clarkson and Timothy Spall (yes again).
The pickings are a wee bit slim this week with only the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “12th Night” on Wednesday in the UK and Ireland and the return to the big screen of “The Philadelphia Story,” courtesy of the good people at Turner Classic Movies, starting next Sunday.
CJ QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I can take care of myself. I’m a big girl.” “Yes, and in all the right places”
–North By Northwest (1959)
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