Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II in its third weekend has beaten Warner Bros. highly-publicized Jon M. Chu-directed, Lin-Manuel Miranda musical In the Heights for the top spot at the weekend box office, $11.7M to $11.4M. It is a defeat no one really saw coming. A Quiet Place Part II‘s domestic running B.O. stands at $109M.
As one rival marketing exec told me this weekend, “Warner Bros. was everywhere with In the Heights. Everywhere I turned, on every network, there was an ad.” And that’s not a ding to the Burbank, CA lot; it’s what a filmmaker wants, especially on a diversity project such as In the Heights, with a fresh- faced cast: They want to know that the studio truly has their best intentions and their backs. Warner Bros. supported In the Heights this weekend. Unfortunately, it was the audience who did not.
As we mentioned yesterday, In the Heights’ underperformance, after lofty $20M+ opening weekend projections, boils down to its IP: It’s not Miranda’s Hamilton, which redefined the Broadway musical and became a sensation by taking an American founding fathers story, setting it to rap, with diverse casting. Rather, it’s a smaller musical, beloved by the composer/lyricist/multihyphenate’s core fan base.
In an ideal box office marketplace, it would have been best for Warner Bros. to platform the movie off of the fall film festival troika word-of-mouth, much like Lionsgate’s did with La La Land. However, even in pre-pandemic times, what’s been hanging around the release calendar, which Warners had to always stay clear of, is another Hispanic-themed musical, and that’s Amblin/20th Century Studios/Disney’s reboot of West Side Story from Steven Spielberg, which is scheduled for theatrical release on Dec. 10.
Again, a fresh-faced cast isn’t the reason why In the Heights didn’t pull in crowds here. Rather, the IP doesn’t boast the renowned, hummable songs that Hamilton does. Any comps to The Greatest Showman don’t work here: That movie had stars, and was immediately found by mass moviegoers over the 2017 year-end holiday period, yielding a platinum-selling soundtrack.
Also, let’s not forget that the core audience for musicals is an older demographic. That group is more cautious than younger people, and less likely to go to cinemas during a pandemic. Fifty-one percent of In the Heights‘ audience on PostTrak fell between 18-34. On CinemaScore, 67% were over 25, 49% over 35.
Females at 63% gave the movie an A+. PostTrak audiences gave it 4 1/2 stars. There’s a lot of audience and critical good will, though it’s clear the fans and a 40% Hispanic fanbase came out for In the Heights. How that translates into legs seems cloudy, given how the movie is also on HBO Max. Maybe a 5-day launch in August like Crazy Rich Asians would have done the trick for In the Heights? Crazy Rich Asians in its first 3 days of Wed-Friday made $16M, with $5M Wednesday, $3.7M Thursday and $7.2M Friday. That movie didn’t hold previews. Warners listed In the Heights on Fandango as having an opening day of Thursday, with showtimes at 2PM, and rolled all that money in the Friday first day.
In the Heights did very well in the northeast theaters; NYC DMA being king. I hear the Hispanic theaters, such as those in Texas and Southern California, where Conjuring 3 over-indexed last weekend, didn’t overperform with In the Heights this weekend. Imax auditoriums alone drove $1M of the weekend ticket sales for In the Heights. PLF and Imax combined repped 28% of the Chu-directed film’s business over Friday and Saturday.
Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, which is also available on a theatrical window, also didn’t massively beat its Sony projection, posting a $10.4M opening. The studio held onto the sequel, rather than selling it to a streamer, because the first film was a $351M-grossing success. The muted performance of both In the Heights and Peter Rabbit 2 also underscores how product-driven the theatrical business remains. This after a pandemic which has sidelined many people at home, who are now fully returning to their leisure routines as the U.S. opens back up. The sequel, as we told you, got an A- CinemaScore, same as its first title, with a PostTrak exit of 74% positive and a 45% recommend. Imax and PLF on the movie only repped 2% of the title, with its most prominent business in the Mid-West & South.
A Quiet Place Part II‘s repeat at No. 1 reps a win for a movie released on a pure theatrical window (even if it’s 45 days). Sure, there are questions about how much the HBO Max release might have stolen here from In the Heights’ box office. However, Warners was on a streak showing that they can open these simultaneous theatrical-day-and-date movies to No. 1 and beat projections, i.e. Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat and Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. On the other hand, there’s an argument to be made that HBO Max subscribers weren’t diverting too many B.O. dollars from the Chu-Miranda musical at all: The service doesn’t boast the number of subscribers that Netflix and Disney+ does.
WarnerMedia doesn’t report figures on HBO Max viewership, and it would be disingenuous if they claim some sort of win this weekend for In the Heights anecdotally. The weekend premiere viewership for these HBO Max/Warner Bros. slate movies, per Samba TV, are as follows for those who tuned in for at least five minutes (the third party stat org measures 3M households which have terrestrial smart TVs): Mortal Kombat (3.8M 3-day), GvK (3.6M 5-day), Wonder Woman 1984 (2.2M U.S. households 3-day), Justice League: The Snyder Cut (1.8M 4-day) and Conjuring 3 (1.6M 3-day).
Juxtapose these numbers, though not fully complete, to the ones that Netflix is putting out for its 4-week global draw of its movies; recently Snyder’s Army of the Dead is set to hit 72M households.
While Warner Bros has said it’s committed to a theatrical window for its movies in 2022, the fear with something like the box office underperformance of In the Heights —a potential awards darling if you will, geared at adults– is whether the studio takes all movies like this in the future and relegates them to the streaming service. As long as the Academy Awards provides loopholes allowing streaming titles to compete (they did so, even pre-pandemic), it won’t be shocking if more studios with OTT services opt to skip a theatrical release with an awards contenders so they can avoid the tarnish of box office headlines.
That would be truly unfortunate. Even with the lackluster weekend performance of In the Heights, I have to think that Miranda is over the moon that In the Heights, a musical which he hatched in college in 1999, is playing on the big screen this summer, and had the big Tribeca Film Festival premiere that it did. Theater owners as well, who I hear are still starving despite any glowing headlines the box office had provided in recent weeks, would rather have In the Heights in theaters, making whatever money they can. After a 31-day run on HBO Max, In the Heights will be exclusively in theaters.
On social, RelishMix saw a social media universe for In the Heights of 115.6M across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. By comparison, La La Land, which platformed-out for nominations, was only at 48.9M at opening. In The Heights had seven owned video materials, which were cross-promoted across Warners YouTube channels around the globe, including the UAE, Europe, Latin America, and soundtrack videos on the Atlantic Records channel, too. Activity popped from the Tribeca world premiere in Washington Heights and as the cast made the talk show rounds, noting a big “Broadway’s Back” performance on Jimmy Fallon with Lin-Manuel cross promoting In The Heights.
RelishMix noticed a huge push, of course, from the In the Heights’ cast, who were “well-activated and the driving force across social media tracking back over a year from before the pause.” Stephanie Beatriz led the charge with 3.1M fans/followers across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, along with Leslie Grace 2.5M, Anthony Ramos 1.8M, Miranda 1.8M, Ariana Greenblatt 1.9M, Dascha Polanco 930K, Melissa Barrera 817K — as well as super-activated helmer Chu with 813K fans.
Total weekend B.O. per Comscore was $55.8M, -16% from last weekend. Total running domestic B.O. for Jan. 1-June 13 is $852.7M, -54% of 2020. Jill Goldsmith will take you deeper into the indie box office later today.
1.) A Quiet Place Part II (Par) 3,515 theaters (-229) Fri $3.8M/Sat $4.6M/Sun $3.25M, 3-day $11.65M (-40%)/Total: $108.9M/Wk 3
2.) In the Heights (WB) 3,456 theaters Fri $5M/Sat $3.66M/Sun $2.745M/3-day $11.4M/Wk 1
3.) Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (Sony) 3,346 theaters Fri $4M/Sat $3.65M/Sun $2.75M/3-day $10.4M/Wk 1
4.) Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (New Line) 3,237 (+135) theaters, Fri $3.65M/Sat $3.87M/Sun $2.5M/3-day: $10.02M (-58%)/Total: $43.8M/Wk 2
5.) Cruella (Dis) 3,307 theaters (-615) Fri $2.1M/Sat $2.6M/Sun $2M/3-day $6.7M (-39%)/Total: $56M/Wk 3
6.) Spirit Untamed (Uni/DWA) 3,394 theaters (+183), Fri $840K/Sat $970K/Sun $690K/3-day: $2.5M (-59%)/Total: $10.9M/Wk 2
7.) House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2 (Hidden Empire Film Group) 420 theaters, 3-day $1M/Wk 1
8.) Wrath of Man (UAR) 1,207 theaters (-800) /Fri $178K/Sat $264K/Sun $172K/3-day $615K (-51%)/Total: $26M Wk 6
9.) Queen Bees (Grav) 500 theaters, Fri $115,8K/Sat $132,8K/Sun $79,7K/ 3-day: $328,3K/Wk 1 [This title was a day-and-date theatrical/PVOD release]
10.) Spiral (LG) 1,572 theaters (-411) Fri $99K/Sat $125K/Sun $81K/3-day $305K (-66%)/Total: $22.6M/ Wk 5