Finance sources tell us today that Warner Bros.’ weekend Stephen King upset Doctor Sleep is poised to lose around $20M after all ancillaries, should it earn $100M at the global box office.
If ticket sales are lower, in the $80M range, then the loss swells to around $30M+. This comes after the grand under-performance of the mid-$50M Warner Bros. horror production, a studio which often hits home runs in the horror field off its New Line label, not to mention it’s the third dud from the Burbank lot in a row this fall after wide releases The Goldfinch (a reported $50M loss) and Motherless Brooklyn (studio’s exposure is less than 25% on the $26M production, which has only rang up $7.5M WW to date).
By comparison, the reboot of King’s Pet Sematary from Paramount made over $112M WW back in the spring off a $21M production cost. I hear Warner suits are baffled and saddened by how a well-reviewed (74% fresh) and good audience polled movie like Doctor Sleep, with a B+ CinemaScore and 4 Stars/82% fresh on PostTrak, just crapped the bed. This one will have them Monday morning quarterbacking tomorrow.
What a horror show the November box office is turning out to be: Last weekend, Paramount/Skydance Media/Fox’s Terminator: Dark Fate tanked, indicating an ultimate $130M loss. This weekend, it’s Doctor Sleep. Some even have their doubts about the overall global on Midway (though Lionsgate should be fine stateside), plus look out next weekend, but Sony’s Charlie’s Angels is already having its box office obituary written with a mid-teen domestic start (unless they can get young females out at the last minute and push the pic to a $20M+ opening. Good luck).
Oh, Anna and Elsa, save us from this autumn B.O. damnation! By the way, had Warners kept Wonder Woman 1984 on the calendar and MGM kept Bond 25, we wouldn’t be in this toilet.
Estimates figure that Doctor Sleep will clear $149M in revenues from global theatrical rentals, global free and pay TV, plus global home entertainment, including streaming next to combined production, global P&A, participations, residuals, and global home entertainment costs of $171M, (and, no, Joker did not cost $100M in global P&A!!)
We already laid out to you why Doctor Sleep was in a deep coma: A late-breaking, uneventful campaign (no tee off to the horror fans at San Diego Comic-Con), its 2 1/2 hour running time, which doesn’t work for horror fans or exhibitors, the latter who are cuffed at programming the pic (one auditorium can get as little as 4 showtimes in a given day for Doctor Sleep).
Also, this 2013 novel by King doesn’t have the brand equity that It did. Not to mention, Doctor Sleep didn’t wake up the young female and Hispanic horror-going demos with its billing as a sequel to the 1980 movie The Shining. When it came to those who cited the franchise as their reason to attend, females under 25 were last in that category, 18% behind all other demos. Ditto for the 13-17 year olds (17%, yes, it’s an R-rated movie, but they’ll still go).
Not to mention Hispanics, another prime horror movie-going demo, trailed Caucasians, 18% to 32%, for that same reasoning. Many are also citing that Ewan McGregor’s cold turn as the young psychic Danny also softened grosses, with PostTrak showing that he was not the top reason why people went to see the movie; top influences being genre (40%), subject matter (39%) and the King canon (26%). McGregor was a distant reason at 16%.
All of this said, film industry social media analytics corp RelishMix cited a huge reason why Doctor Sleep didn’t work: “For those who have seen the movie, and who share frustrations with Kubrick’s Shining, Sleep similarly departs from the novel in ways they would not have preferred.” Boom, mic drop.
Here’s the silver lining in all of this for Warner Bros.: similar to Disney when they stumble, Warners can afford this latest string of fall losses, for Joker and It Chapter Two are poised to deliver well north of $600M in profits after all ancillaries.