More theaters closed heading into this weekend, including the Boston market and parts of Portland, OR, so there wasn’t much money to make at the box office even with a shiny, new major studio movie, Sony/Screen Gems’ Monster Hunter which is fully respecting the theatrical window. Per industry sources, only 2,300 movie theaters are open in U.S./Canada. Talk about hitting the skids. Couple that with the fact that consumer habits pre-Christmas haven’t changed much during the pandemic –meaning they’re occupied doing other holiday activities, i.e. shopping, etc. instead of going to the movies–and we’re left with very lackluster results here with the Paul W.S. Anderson directed Milla Jovovich feature adaptation of the Capcom vidoegame doing $2.2M, which is much lower than everyone was expecting (meaning $4M+). That said, Sony is looking at the long game of the holiday stretch from this Monday until Jan. 3 when it comes to Monster Hunter.
That said, keep in mind that Monster Hunter is only booked at 1,736 theaters, while the last Anderson-Jovovich previous combo, 2016’s Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, was at 3,104 theaters minting an opening weekend of $13.6M during the final weekend of January (in hindsight a stellar result that Sony and exhibition would die for right now; however a muted result by normal marketplace standards).
Why did Sony go with the movie now? Because they were looking to bank on Asian markets where Anderson and Jovovich’s Resident Evil series has overperformed (unfortunately the pic’s release last weekend was thwarted by China authorities over a scene they believed to be as racist). According to TV ad dollar tracker iSpot, Sony didn’t spend much to open the film stateside. It’s likely Sony is holding back some of the minimal marketing dollars to spend this coming week in those few DMAs, such as the South, which are open.
Critics on Rotten Tomatoes weren’t fans of Monster Hunter at 48% but they warmed to it significantly more than any of the Resident Evil movies which have charted poor scores between 20%-38%. The Capcom video game adaptation notched a low 63% in the top two boxes on Screen Engine/Comscore’s PostTrak with a low 41% recommend. Sixty-four percent of the audience were over 25 with 57% between 18-34. Diversity demos were 39% White, 27% Hispanic, 20% African American and 14% Asian/Other. The pic posted $820K on Friday, $795K on Saturday and is projecting $583K today.
Guess what opened last year at this time? Disney’s finale Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker which raked in $177.3M domestic before finaling $515.2M; a reminder for any tech streaming heads at the major studios who require a refresher on the mass amount of money that can be amassed at U.S. and Canadian movie theaters.
Obviously, the question begged is what now for Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman 1984 after these results for Monster Hunter? The Gal Gadot DC sequel may actually show some signs of life over its holiday run stateside. First, it’s opening on Christmas Day when the moviegoing public finally shows up and second Warners has actually spent more U.S. TV ad dollars to date on Wonder Woman 1984 than Sony did this past weekend for Monster Hunter, $17M to $1.3M. Also, as of Monday, 70% K-12 schools are off. Abroad, WW1984 hasn’t done so hot with $38.5M on 30,211 screens, 49% of that from China with a ho-hum $18.8M; the Patty Jenkins movie losing No. 1 to local title The Rescue which made $36.1M. The first Wonder Woman in June 2017 opened to $37.6 and ended its run in the PRC with $90.5M.
But nonetheless, it remains a poor situation at the box office when marketing and B.O. capitals New York and Los Angeles have theaters closed. It’s just not worth any studio’s money to spend right now. As far as HBO Max eating into theatrical ticket sales on WW1984 — how will we be able to tell what that impact is when fewer theaters are open currently versus when Tenet tried to revive the industry at the end of August?
Monster Hunter‘s most potent grosses came out of Texas (21% marketshare), Florida (10%), Arizona (6%) and Georgia (close to 5%). Sony’s TV marketing campaign drew over 42M impression per iSpot (versus WW1984‘s current 797M) with ads that ran on ESPN, USA, Fox, Comedy Central and ABC. Shows that aired Monster Hunter ads included NFL Football, College Football, The Masked Singer, NCIS and The Simpsons.
Hollywood social media monitor RelishMix noticed that Monster Hunter had a social media universe near 149M before opening weekend with 30M video views across YouTube with 20.3M owned/earned views, plus Facebook (8.4M). “Awareness of the Capcom game network on social media with cross-promotional materials extends to another 2M+ fans with game special trailers and for characters. There’s an integration of the game audience to Twitch, Sony PS4 and Xbox One and on PCs,” says RelishMix. Another boost here is Jovovich promoting to her near 11M social media followers, but again, this is marketing to the faithful, not the non-moviegoers. TV spending will always trump any kind of digital and social media pushes (which only complement campaigns), and as we said earlier, there wasn’t much of a TV push here for Monster Hunter. Overall, social media chatter was mixed. Earlier this month videogame maker Capcom offered two new limited Event Quests on the game Monster Hunter World: Iceborne tied into the movie.
Meanwhile, in its fourth weekend, Universal’s DreamWorks Animation sequel Croods: A New Age put up a good fight –by pandemic standards– against Monster Hunter with $2M at 1,906 theaters in the No. 2 spot; keep in mind the movie is already on PVOD! (Check your Amazon Prime menus). The Joel Crawzford-directed sequel now counts $27M domestic, $84.5M WW with close to 60% of that figure coming out of China alone with $50M.
Opening in No. 3 is Lionsgate’s Deon Taylor-directed thriller Fatale which also produced muted results due to the pandemic with $925K at 1,107 movie theaters/1,534 screens. Taylor’s last movie The Intruder opened to $10.8M and that was during the second weekend of Avengers: Endgame (which made $147.3M over the May 3-5, 2019 frame).
Fatale follows successful sports agent Derrick (Michael Ealy) who after a wild one-night stand, watches his perfect life slowly disappear when he discovers that the sexy and mysterious woman he risked everything for, is a determined police detective (Hilary Swank) who entangled him in her latest investigation. As he tries desperately to put the pieces together, he falls deeper into her trap, risking his family, his career, and even his life.
Fatale played strongest in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and Miami and earned a B+ CinemaScore (a bit better than Intruder‘s B-) and from an audience that was gender split with 51% female and skewing older at 83% over 25. The Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes is 86%. The pic will hit PVOD in the early New Year, not unlike Universal’s recent releases. Diversity demos were 50% African American, 33% Caucasian, 11% Hispanic, & 7% Asian-Other.
Lionsgate didn’t spend much at all to open this movie, in the very low single digits overall in regards to P&A. The TV component earned 52.8M impressions per iSpot with ads on CNN, ESPN, MSNBC, MTV and Bravo as well as TV shows CNN Tonight With Don Lemon, First Take, Anderson Cooper, Get Up and Below Deck.
Per RelishMix, Fatale on social, has clocked a moderate reach and engagement with a very low 15M across social platforms, with YouTube at 1.1M views for four videos and reposts and over 1.1M views on Facebook with 15 videos across Lionsgate pages and other earned channels before opening weekend. “Owned pages for the film were started, stopped and restarted given moving dates as materials are being posting in advance of the theatrical date this weekend,” reports RelishMix. Ealy and Swank have been actively pushing the thriller to their combined 3.7M followers.
Top 10 for Dec. 18-20:
- Monster Hunter (Sony) 1,736 theaters, 3-day: $2.2M Wk 1
- Croods: A New Age (Uni) 1,906 (-209) theaters, 3-day: $2M, -35%, Total: $27M/Wk 4
- Fatale (LG) 1,107 theaters, 3-day: $925K/Wk 1
- Elf( NL) 680 theaters (-303), 3-day: $371K (-5%), Total: $174.3M/Wk 6 of re-release
- Half Brothers (Focus) 1,143 theaters (-243), 3-day: $260K (-48%)/Total: $1.8M/Wk 3
- Polar Express (WB) 580 theaters (+80) 3-day: $225K (-5%)/Total $187.8M/Wk 3 of re-release
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (WB) 570 (-50) theaters, 3-day: $211K (-11%)/Total: $73.7M/Wk 4 of re-release
- War With Grandpa(101) 803 (-277) theaters, 3-day: $170K (-34%)/Total: $18.1M/Wk 11
- Freaky(Uni)785 (-450) theaters, 3-day: $165K (-47%)/Total: $8.5M/Wk 6
- Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Uni) 300 theaters (-20), 3-day $130K (-12%), Total: $260.1M/Wk 1,049