Two releases respecting the theatrical window –Universal’s Old and Paramount’s Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins– are opening at the box office to blah results, respectively with $16.5M and $13.35M. But don’t blame the distribution strategy.
However, it’s questionable whether we can blame the delta variant. These two movies, which received lackluster CinemaScores of C+ and B-, are opening roughly right in line with their estimates. If both of these movies were A CinemaScore titles and completely missed their projections, then it would be quite feasible to squarely blame the delta variant.
However, it’s just another lull at the summer pandemic box office, and we’ve seen that before this summer during May and June. Even with LA County seeing an 80% spike in Covid-19 cases this week (vs. last), the market was No. 1 for Universal’s Old with $1.22M, and it was No. 1 for Snake Eyes.
Overall, the mixture of two mediocre studio wide entries, delta concerns, and theatrical window experimentation is pushing the overall weekend box office down -25%, with an estimated $69M, a drop from last weekend’s $91.4M. There is something to be said, though, in the current pandemic marketplace that the avid moviegoer is fearless about returning to the cinema, but the casual moviegoer is still reluctant. A 76% comfort level about moviegoing during the pandemic remains, according a recent NRG poll, and despite jitters last week about the delta variant, the Dow jumped 200 points to close above 35,000 for the first time.
Don’t forget, when it comes to box office, it’s all about product, and last weekend it was clear that there was a segment of the audience who was eager to see the long-awaited sequel to 1996’s Space Jam, spending $31.05M. Space Jam: A New Legacy opened in the face of the delta variant and over-indexed its $20M projection to become the biggest domestic debut for a family movie during the pandemic. This weekend, the sequel is down -69% for around $9.56M, putting it in 4th place. But the fact that the film is available for free in HBO Max households has plenty to do with that.
Disney’s Black Widow, also available in homes on Disney+ Premier, is looking at a third weekend of $11.6M in third place, -55%. Black Widow made $3.5M on Friday, -56% from a week ago.
More proof that audiences didn’t want to go out of their way to see Old and Snake Eyes can be seen in their Comscore/Screen Engine audience exits: the M. Night Shyamalan movie posted an awful 61% positive, 37% recommend, while Snake Eyes drew 69% positive and 46% recommend. Both titles’ respective Rotten Tomatoes scores of 52% Rotten and 42% aren’t exactly advertising ‘must-see’ either. For the record books, Old ranks as Shyamalan’s sixth No. 1 opening as a director.
Some rival marketing suits tell me that the problem with Old was that the ads didn’t have the extra grab factor in regards to why people should go out and see this tropical horror movie about upper middle class vacationers who age hysterically during a day’s journey at the beach.
When you have a director known for his twists, it’s impossible to include that in the trailers. Some blame the sluggishness of Snake Eyes on the fact that Henry Golding isn’t a marquee draw. But we can’t use the same excuse for Old. Shyamalan as filmmaker is the drawing power for his films, and his other titles with fresh face casts, i.e. The Visit ($25.4M) and Split ($40M), opened significantly better.
Also, in regards to Snake Eyes, Paramount and Hasbro haven’t exploited the G.I. Joe properties aggressively like Transformers in the last 12 years. Why, then, should anyone suddenly care about Snake Eyes? If you’re going to reboot the franchise with a $110M spin-off, best to make a movie which wins on all fronts like a Marvel movie, and rises above its fanboy kitschy IP. Make it smarter than it’s supposed to be.
G.I. Joe in the 1980s wasn’t all toy and TV show: the IP had a great long-running storyline in the Marvel comics, with some fantastic cliffhangers, a great read in a Reagan Economics America.
All of that said above, the G.I. Joe demos are rather splintered: Guys who grew up with the toys in their late 40s know who Snake Eyes is, but do kids 18 and below know, and even care? Snakes Eyes is clearly no Sonic, who has lived a multitude of generations in videos games throughout the years.
Heading into the weekend, RelishMix noticed a “mixed positive” response to the film on social media (“a sarcastic cynicism runs thick about connecting the dots from Snake Eyes comic books” says the analytics corp). I’m sure Paramount could have easily sent Snake Eyes to Paramount+. However, it’s part of a cinema franchise, and best not to tarnish that, even if there’s another, more improved G.I. Joe movie down the road.
Old pulled in slightly more females than guys at 52% with 62% over 25, with 56% falling between 18-34 years old. Diversity breakdown was 43% Caucasian, 26% Latino, 18% Black, & 9% Asian. Updated territory grosses show Old over-performing in the West (14 out of the pic’s top 20 were in the West; 13 in LA on Friday) and South Central region. Top markets were LA, NYC, Dallas, Phoenix, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Philly, Atlanta and San Francisco. Close to 20% of Old‘s business came from premium large format screens.
iSpot shows that Old TV ads ran on ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN and Telemundo on such shows as NBA basketball, Super Bowl LV, The Bachelorette, Law & Order SVU and Exatlón Estados Unidos.
Ahead of the weekend, RelishMix saw that the social media buzz on Old was “mixed-positive,” with comparisons to “the new Quiet Place, the new Conjuring, next to Shyamalan’s Glass and Split, as well as the upcoming Edgar Wright movie Last Night In Soho — plus numerous references to ABC’s Lost TV series. Conversational tones swings from excitement, fear, curiosity, caution, warnings to the characters in the film — to questions about the pregnant girl and numerous guesses about how the films ends and plot twists.”
Pic’s social media universe moved above the genre norm to 113.2M with 41.2M YouTube views from three videos; a trailer, featurette and the Super Bowl spot at 6.8M YouTube views. Also there was 30.3M Facebook views from 19 videos. However, the viral rate “falls short of the norm along with daily click-rates.” Universal reports that the Super Bowl spot for Old ultimately clocked 100M views. There was an Old Snapchat aging lens which racked up more than 23M global views in its first 24 hours with Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley taking part in it.
Guys at 60% showed up for Snake Eyes, with an even split between those under/over 25, 51% fell between 18-34 years old. Diversity demos were 40% Caucasian, 18% Black, 12% Asian/other, and 25% Latino. The West and the Southwest were the best-grossing areas for the Robert Schwentke-directed film, with PLF and Imax repping around a third of the spin-off’s grosses. Motion seats repped 3% of business. Close to 80% were general audience, with the remainder being kids under 12.
Social media universe for Snake Eyes was OK with close to 126M including 57.3M views on YouTube off 17 videos and Facebook’s 9.2M views from 48 videos. The studio held free preview screenings on Wednesday night around the country in celebration of San Diego Comic-Con@Home. Snake Eyes is arguably the only movie from a theatrical studio which held a panel during Comic-Con, but few tuned in 10,7K views.
RelishMix did notice some life for Snake Eyes on TikTok with 122.7M ‘TikTok looping views’, “which is unlike views on other platforms that count views ‘per session’ and put TikTok large stats into perspective” reports the org.
Top-grossing theaters for Snake Eyes came from LA, NY, Fresno, Albuquerque, Honolulu, Phoenix, San Antonio, Orlando, San Diego, Wash DC, and Pharr TX. Canada came in with a 5.53% market share on 7.7% of locations. Canada’s overall marketshare this weekend is at 8.93%.
Roadside Attractions’ pick-up of Solstice Studios’ Joe Bell saw $243,6K on Friday, for an estimated $707K 3-day at 1,094 theaters in 171 markets. Mark Wahlberg plays a small town, working class father who embarks on a solo walk across the US to crusade against bullying after his son is tormented in high school for being gay.
Pic is based on a true story and has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 38% Rotten. Audience exits countered that with 79% positive on PostTrak and a 57% recommend. Nearly even spit here between males and females, with 76% over 25 with 56% over 35 years old. Diversity demos were 60% Caucasian, 24% Latino, 8% Black and 8% Asian/other. West and Mid-West were the best territories for Joe Bell. However, overall, there were mediocre results.
Let’s just hope the studios don’t assess this mediocre weekend to be something more severe and start pushing event films out of the theatrical schedule, or even worse, sending them to their streaming services.
Weekend estimates for July 23-25:
- Old (Uni) 3,355 theaters, Fri $6.9M/Sat $5.59M/Sun $4M/3-day $16.5M/Wk 1
- Snake Eyes (Par) 3,521 theaters Fri $5.5M/Sat $4.48M/Sun $3.37M/3-day: $13.35M/Wk 1
- Black Widow (Dis) 4,250 theaters (-25)/Fri $3.5M/Sat $4.7M/Sun $3.4M/3-day $11.6M (-55%)/Total $154.8M/Wk 3
- Space Jam: A New Legacy (WB) 4,002 theaters (+37) Fri $3.05M (-77%)/Sat $3.7M/Sun $2.8M/3-day: $9.56M (-69%)/Total $51.3M/Wk 2
- F9 (Uni) 2,850 theaters (-518), Fri $1.36M/Sat $1.9M/Sun $1.43M/3-day $4.7M (-39%)/Total: $163.3M/ Wk 5
- Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Sony) 2,815 theaters Fri $1.07M/Sat $1.33M/Sun $990K/3-day $3.4M (-61%)/Total: $16M/Wk 2
- Boss Baby: Family Business (Uni) 2,773 theaters (-676), Fri $820K/Sat $1.1M/Sun $770k/3-day $2.7M (-43%)/total $50.1M/Wk 4
- Forever Purge (Uni) 2,113 (-622) theaters Fri $740K/Sat $890K/Sun $670k/3-day $2.3M (-44%)/Total $40.3M/Wk 4
- A Quiet Place 2 (Par) 1,367 (-628) theaters Fri $380K/Sat $500K/Sun $370K/3-day $1.25M (-44%)/Total $157.5M/Wk 9
- Roadrunner (Foc) 954 (+27) theaters, Fri $250K/Sat $320K/Sun $260K/ 3-day $830K (-58%)/Total $3.7M/Wk 2