For a slow time at the box office — before the marketplace gets rich with Marvel Studios/Disney’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania next weekend ($120M 4-day) — it sure is intriguing, particularly with smaller movies.
Last weekend, we had Paramount’s 80 for Brady and the whole discount ticketing stunt, as well as Universal’s Knock at the Cabin lukewarm opening, with the director M. Night Shyamalan leaving his agency the day after.
This weekend, it’s the reverse engineering of Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike’s Last Dance from HBO Max to an exclusive theatrical release. What could be wrong with that?
For the most part, really nothing. The movie, which was intentionally booked by Warner Bros. in specific theaters at 1,500, made $4.1M on Friday (with previews) and eased to $3.1M yesterday for an opening to $8.2M, per WB numbers this morning. The studio is estimating a 70% drop today from Saturday due to Super Bowl for a $940K take. Worldwide launch for the threequel was $18.6M in 42 markets. In fact, the movies in the top 10 today are looking at a 63% drop between today’s grosses and Saturday due to moviegoers peeling off for the big game. All pics looked to have grossed around $53.6M, even with the same Super Bowl weekend a year ago; that’s when 20th/Disney’s Death on the Nile opened to $12.8M. Warners is hoping to get a spike on Valentine’s Day Tuesday with Magic Mike’s Last Dance.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance reps Tatum’s third No. 1 opening in the Super Bowl and pre-Valentine’s Day space, after 2010’s Dear John ($30.4M) and 2012’s The Vow ($41.2M).
At a low level, Magic Mike’s Last Dance is a notch above Uni’s theatrical-day-and-date of Jennifer Lopez-Owen Wilson’s Marry Me opening a year ago ($7.9M), and it’s ahead of the opening for Soderbergh’s other theatrical distribution ‘experiment’, Logan Lucky ($7.6M, true different demos and specialty distributor, but read more about that here).
Look, in the wake of all the melodrama with Project Popcorn during the Jason Kilar era of WarnerMedia, with not just exhibition, but talent reps, too, the studio saw the opportunity to course-correct and capitalize by making certain movies exclusive to theatrical. Remember, Warner Discovery CEO David Zaslav believes in theatrical, believes in its patina and its downstream revenue opportunities.
However, in the wake of Paramount turning originally intended streaming movies Smile and 80 for Brady into theatrical marquee titles, the question remained why Warner Bros wasn’t doing the same with the movies that they’re reverse-engineering from HBO Max to theatrical. House Party ($3.9M opening, $8.8M domestic) didn’t seem to make any waves. Granted, the pic was always a cult title, but broke $19M-$20M in its previous ’90s installments. The Sam Raimi-executive produced Evil Dead Rises, another HBO Max-to big screen release, is expected to get more oomph in its release. Horror is working at the box office, and the pic is getting a big shiny world premiere at SXSW. That pic’s trailer played like a rock concert at CineEurope last summer.
“It’s a tax write-off!” cried one rival studio executive to me about Magic Mike’s Last Dance going theatrical. Um, well….There’s a real business decision by Warner Bros here to monetize off an ancillary rate card by going theatrical. And the M.O. is to hit breakeven. But with Magic Mike’s Last Dance costing in the high $40M range before a P&A spend of $20M+ (largely digital and less than the $30M+ promo spend for Channing Tatum’s Dog last year, which opened to $14.8M, legged out to $61M), how does this movie even approach breakeven? Best to go theatrical and capture as many ancillary revenues as possible than collapse windows and make the IP worthless.
Warners would promote these limited titles on female-targeted networks on Warner Discovery (Zas is a big proponent of corporate internal synergies working toward the greater good). iSpot told us earlier this week that they monitored just under $9M in TV spot buys for Magic Mike’s Last Dance, a campaign that yielded 1.37 billion impressions, with runs on TLC, Investigation Discovery, Food Network, TBS, and the Discovery Channel, and on shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, Dr. Phil, Sheldon, and 90 Day Fiance- The Other Way.
In sum, different studios are approaching their reverse engineering of streaming titles in different ways. Paramount turned Smile and looked to turn 80 for Brady into events. Warners is looking to reap money in the home market. Going theatrical triggers greater downstreams. What makes a title attractive on an HBO Max menu? Going theatrical.
So, Warners decided to put Magic Mike’s Last Dance into theaters after test screenings in Orange County. Exhibitors received favorable rentals terms. The only gripe some exhibitors have this weekend is that they wanted to play the movie, and weren’t able to book it. Considering that, an argument can be made, Warner Bros, whether money was left on the table here.
Top ten theaters for Magic Mike 3 were 1. Santikos Palladium San Antonio, 2. Santikos Casa Blanca
San Antonio, 3. AMC Century City Los Angeles, 4. Star Cinema Grill Baybrook Houston, 5. AMC
Burbank Los Angeles, 6. Alamo Brooklyn New York, 7. Harkins Estrella Falls Phoenix, 8. AMC
Porter Ranch Los Angeles, 9. AMC Lincoln Square New York, and 10. Cinemark Century 16
Corpus Christi Texas. Top markets were 1. Los Angeles, 2. New York, 3. Dallas, 4. Chicago, 5. San
Francisco, 6. Houston, 7. Washington DC, 8. Toronto, 9. Philadelphia, and 10. Phoenix.
Now –and I’m just the messenger here– there’s been chatter out there that Soderbergh and Tatum weren’t in favor of a theatrical release. Their thoughts reportedly was that the threequel was made as a platform play, not to the production zenith of a big screen release. Why go theatrical? It is the worst-reviewed Magic Mike of all-time at 46%. But audiences on Rotten Tomatoes like it the most out of the the three at 74% (there’s no CinemaScore or Posttrak exits, given the pic’s theater count threshold).
I’ve been told by parties close to both that that’s not true, and frankly, actions speak more than words: Soderbergh has talked up the movie in the press, and Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault have been promoting the pic big time with a Miami press day, premiere, the actress doing Jimmy Kimmel, and both stars on Good Morning America.
Now, there’s another thing going on in distribution-land, and it’s a Cold War between distributors not sharing their box office numbers with each other in Comscore. This all started during the pandemic when Warner Bros. decided not to share numbers on Tenet; the studio was looking to block rival distributors from sharing numbers to the press and creating a narrative that wasn’t fueled by the studio.
Warners isn’t sharing numbers in Comscore on Magic Mike’s Last Dance. Paramount didn’t share numbers with rivals last Friday on 80 for Brady. However, it promptly lifted the embargo on Saturday AM. Part of the excuse on behalf of some distributors is — well, streamers like Amazon and Netflix don’t share numbers on their limited releases, why should we? Look, knowledge is power: If distributors aren’t sharing drilled-down box office details between each other, it just prevents other great (or not-so-great) maneuvers from happening in the marketplace.
The fear is that the box office media would compare Magic Mike’s Last Dance to its $39.1M 3-day opening of the 2012 film and the $12.8M 3-day of the 2015 film. Look, the threequel isn’t a Marvel movie. It’s a female- skewing threequel in an adult franchise. Even if the pic was originally conceived for theatrical, and had a wide release, the laws of gravity at the box office would prevail for Magic Mike’s Last Dance. Box office numbers speak for themselves:
As dignified and brave as Warners was by attempting a theatrical release with NYC and LA closed, Tenet‘s opening over Labor Day 2020 of $9.3M was so bad without those box office capitals, it forced distributors to pull movies and Regal to re-close until early March 2021. And that was with not-sharing numbers. So, let’s have cooler heads prevail and share intelligence, guys. No?
Paramount’s 25th anniversary rerelease of James Cameron’s Titanic is in third place with $6.4M, after a $2.7M Friday and near $2.7M Saturday. 3D locations only at 2,464 theaters. The movie’s current lifetime running total is $665.7M which includes a 2012 and 2017 rerelease, No. 8 on the list of all-time highest grossing movies in U.S./Canada while Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water through this weekend stands at $646.9M in 10th place.
Avatar: The Way of Water notched ahead of Titanic in the No. 2 spot in its 9th weekend with $6.9M. The global weekend win belongs to Avatar 2 in its fight against Titanic, $25.8M to $22.3M.
Great exits, duh, with Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak at 96% and a 77% recommend, female-skewing crowd at 63% and 57% between 18-34. “Clearly a good date movie playing to all ages,” says one rival. Diversity demos are 52% Caucasian, 29% Latino and Hispanic, 5% Black and 14% Asian/other. Pic is overindexing on the coasts, but playing evenly across the country with AMC Empire and AMC Burbank the best of the bunch.
The Melrose Lot’s 80 for Brady is 3rd with $6M second weekend, -53% and a running total of $24.9M.
Top 10 chart as of Sunday AM:
1.) Magic Mike’s Last Dance (WB) 1500 theaters, Fri $4.1M, Sat $3.1M Sun $940K 3-day $8.2M/Wk 1
2.) Avatar: The Way of Water (Dis) 3,065 theaters (-945), Fri $1.69M (-29%), Sat $3.8M Sun $1.3M 3-day $6.9M (-39%), Total $646.9M /Wk 9
3.) Titanic (Par) 2,464 theaters, Fri $2.7M, Sat $2.6M Sun $995K 3-day $6.4M/Wk 1
4.) 80 for Brady (Par) 3,939 (+27) theaters, Fri $1.85M (-60%), Sat $2.8M Sun $1.3M 3-day $6M (-53%)/Total $24.9M/Wk 2
5.) Puss in Boots: Last Wish (Uni) 3,227 theaters (-63), Fri $1.3M (-24%),Sat $2.95M Sun $1.24M 3-day $5.5M (-30%) , Total $158.4M/Wk 8
The Dreamworks Animated movie passed the original 2011 Puss in Boots domestic haul of $149M last weekend, and at the same point in time as Sing 2‘s domestic run, is 10% ahead of that movie which finaled at $162.7M.
6.) Knock at the Cabin (Uni) 3,657 (+14) theaters, Fri $1.69M (-69%), Sat $2.8M Sun $1M 3-day $5.5M (-61%), Total $23.4M /Wk 2
7.) A Man Called Otto (Sony) 2,824 (-583) theaters, Fri $800K Sat $1.34M Sun $480K 3-day $2.63M (-37%) Total $57.4M/Wk 7
8.) Missing (Sony) 2,315 (-250) theaters, Fri $710K, Sat $1.3M Sun $515K 3-day $2.6M (-30%) Total $26.6M/Wk 4
9.) M3GAN (Uni) 2,508 (-327), Fri $640K (-33%), Sat $1.27M Sun $450K 3-day $2.37M (-38%), Total $90.9M/Wk 6
10.) Plane (LG) 1,679 (-524) theaters, Fri $360K, Sat $657K Sun $168K 3-day $1.185M (-46%), Total $30.7M/Wk 5