Saturday AM: Even though this weekend’s new entries – Warner Bros/DC’s Blue Beetle and Universal’s Strays – aren’t coming in at the top of their projections, with respective lower weekends of $25M and $8.5M, the overall health of the theatrical business is still in good shape. It’s being further bolstered by the fifth weekends of Barbie ($20.5M) and Oppenheimer ($11M), which are fueling an estimated $100.7M weekend that’s +28% over the same August frame a year ago. That was a dry spell, led by CrunchyRoll’s Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero ($21.1M). It remains to be seen what the toll will be on Sunday’s box office in Los Angeles from the onset of Hurricane Hilary.
After making $10M yesterday, Blue Beetle still has Saturday left, which could deliver more business. Yesterday, according to ComScore, more kids returned to school, with those K-12 educational institutions on break dropping from 70% last Friday to 46% yesterday. Why the under-delivery here on Blue Beetle? Even at $30M, that isn’t a big enough start for this $104M production. The movie gets a B+ CinemaScore overall. However, on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak, the movie gets a 90% with Latino and Hispanic moviegoers, who led the charge at 38% to Caucasians’ 27% turnout and 75% grade.
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Why wasn’t this movie even strutted at San Diego Comic-Con? In a perfect world, without a SAG-AFTRA strike, it would have been with Cobra Kai star Xolo Maridueña and Blue Beetle‘s cast spreading the gospel on the film, much like Gal Gadot on the first Wonder Woman. There was buzz that Warners had Hall H cobooked with Legendary for a Blue Beetle-Dune: Part Two combo. But still, even sans stars, how much does it cost for a studio to rent two movie auditoriums, popcorn and soda, and two-night hotel accommodations for a director so that the movie can be shown off to fans and screamed across social media? Warners opted to focus more of their marketing on the Latino and Hispanic marketplace (during early August, iSpot saw that Univision was pulling in a bulk of the ad impressions on Blue Beetle at 11%, with studio spending on such shows as Eternamente amándonos (2.6%).
Social media stat firm RelishMix says that Blue Beetle‘s social media reach of 462.5M across Facebook, Twitter/X, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are 14% under superhero genre norms. Heck, the social media reach of The Flash was higher at 670.5M. Still, RelishMix says that “the cast has handed over buzz-making duties to fans, who have posted and re-posted materials at a rate of 81:1 on YouTube and 137K fans on official pages.”
In addition, much like what we saw with Shazam: Fury of the Gods, which crashed with a $30M start, the loudspeaker of the new DC Universe under James Gunn and Peter Safran has stolen thunder from the current slate of previously Walter Hamada-hatched DC projects. Hence, the larger set of DC fans aren’t rushing to these movies as must-sees. Still, Gunn has been supportive of Blue Beetle on social, retweeting ads and saying that the protag will be an essential part of the new DC going forward.
Still, you can always tell how much a studio supports a movie when it comes to the number of one-sheets they print up, and Blue Beetle touted 11 next to a paltry four from Universal’s Strays.
Other diagnostics on Blue Beetle: Pic gets an overall 82% positive in the top two boxes, with a 65% recommend for the general audience. Kids under 12 love it at 99% positive and a 61% must-see-right-away. Dude-skewing at 66%, with 58% between 18-34. The biggest demos are currently tied between 18-24 and 25-34 at 29% apiece. Blue Beetle is playing the best in the South, South Central, and West, which is to be expected. All those PLF and Imax screens are working in Warner’s favor and responsible for 42% of the current weekend gross. Adam Aron’s AMC Burbank is the top-grossing theater in the nation for the DC pic with $54K currently.
While tracking had Blue Beetle comped to a slew of superhero movies, including Shang-Chi, interesting to note that next to the starts of other popular Hispanic and Latino-fueled action pics, Blue Beetle isn’t that far from the start of such movies as Alita: Battle Angel ($28.5M), Spy Kids ($26.5M), and the R-rated Once Upon a Time in Mexico ($23.4M) — all unadjusted for inflation.
Still, it doesn’t help that the SAG-AFTRA strike started one month before this pic’s promotion, and the wattage of cast could have made all the difference for this deep-universe superhero movie.
The availability of actors and late night talk shows could have certainly raised the profile of Strays. However, the marketing campaign and the positioning of the movie was off. Still, that could have been partially corrected by simply putting Will Ferrell out there on late-night talk shows in a tour with dogs. His bit at CinemaCon with the pup Sophie, one of the canine stars of the film, was one of the few hysterical highlights from the exhibition confab. That alone would have helped sell the message that this talking animal movie is for adults, not kids. While Ferrell was available back in June before the SAG-AFTRA strike, on the old release date for this R-rated comedy on June 9, late night talk shows were not because of the WGA strike.
Part of the problem here is that Universal has released a few family dog movies, read: A Dog’s Journey and A Dog’s Purpose, and the posters here for Strays looked quite similar. Even the trailer appeared kid-friendly.
Compounding problems for Strays is that it didn’t have any on-screen stars, unlike Universal’s other foul-mouthed talking teddy bear movie, Ted, which starred Mark Wahlberg. Stars would have helped break up the whole look of this film, which screams family. Can’t wait to hear stories from this weekend of the parent who bought a ticket to Strays and took their kids, then yelled at theater management, unbeknownst that the movie was really for adults.
Universal was able to pull off a R-rated hit in the foul-mouthed, kid-starring Good Boys, which opened exactly four years ago this weekend to $21.4M. But not this time. However, more to the point: It’s harder to execute comedies than ever since they’ve been cannibalized on streaming menus, and Strays screams streaming in its execution. What works, comedy-wise, on the big-screen? More edgier, far more clever, and more hybrid. Deadpool 3, please don’t move off your first weekend of May summer 2024 start date.
There’s another wide release in Luminosity Entertainment/GVN/5120’s R-rated comedy, Back on the Strip, directed by Chris Spencer and starring Tiffany Haddish, JB Smoove, Bill Bellamy, Gary Owen, Kevin Hart and Faizon Love. It did $170K last night for an estimated $418K opening at 1,317 theaters. At the last minute, the indie pic got a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement to have its cast promote. However, the pic’s marketing had to get more creative because of the strike, with stunts like the Laugh Factory’s “Stand Up for Strikers” fundraiser, Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, and the EssenceFest Trailer Launch After Hours party. Pic wasn’t received well by critics at 27% Rotten, nor moviegoers on RT at 40%.
Back on the Strip did get 78% in PostTrak exits, pulling in 57% women, 43% between 18-34, with 40% over 35. The diversity mix was 38% Caucasian, 30% Black, 15% Hispanic and Latino, and 17% Asian/other. Best results were in the South and Midwest. The iPic in Atlanta was the highest grossing theater so far in the U.S. with close to $2K.
Other highlights on the specialty side this weekend:
NEON’s 20th anniversary release of Oldboy in 245 locations in 70 markets is putting up good figures in NY, LA, San Fran, Atlanta, Chicago and Denver. $167K Friday, 3-day is $534K ($2,1K), 5-day is $919K.
Trafalgar Releasing has Metallica M72 world Tour Live at 673 locations and 158 markets, and strong ticket sales in Quebec, Fresno, Denver, Nashville, and Miami. $480K on Friday.
1.) Blue Beetle 3,871 theaters, Fri $10M, 3-day $25M/Wk 1
2.) Barbie (WB) 4003 (-175) theaters, Fri $6.2M (-38%) 3-day $20.5M (-39%)/Total $566.3M/Wk 5
3.) Oppenheimer (Uni) 3,321 (-440) theaters Fri $3M (-40%), 3-day $11M (-42%)/Total $285.6M/Wk 5
4.) Teenage Mutanta Ninja Turtles…(Par) 3,477 (-473) theaters Fri $2.3M (-44%) 3-day $8.75M (-43%), Total $88.4M/Wk 3
5.) Strays (Uni) 3,223 theaters, Fri $3.4M, 3-day $8.5M/Wk 1
6.) The Meg 2: The Trench (WB) 3,402 (-202) theaters Fri $1.8M (-49%), 3-day $6.4M (-50%)/Total $66.3M/Wk 3
7.) Talk to Me (A24) 1789 (-590) theates, Fri $946K (-37%) 3-day $3.1M (-36%) Total $37.3M/Wk 4
8.) Haunted Mansion (Dis) 2180 (-680) theaters Fri $795K (-49%) 3-day $2.94M (-49%)/Total $58.7M/Wk 4
9.) Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (Par) 1,608 (-527) Fri $770K (-38%) 3-day $2.87M (-38%), Total $164.7M/Wk 6
10.) Sound of Freedom (Angel) 2100 (-703) theaters Fri $720K (-47%), 3-day $2.6M (-47%), Total $177.3M/Wk 8
11.) Last Voyage of the Demeter (Uni/Amb) 2175 theaters, Fri $720K (-72%), 3-day $2.5M (-62%), Total $11.3M/Wk 2
Friday Midday: Early numbers show Warner Bros/DC’s Blue Beetle with $9.8M today and a $25M opening at 3,871. This is higher than what others are showing given the expectation that Latino and Hispanic audiences will show up tonight and during matinees. Remember that Blue Beetle has all the PLFs, Imax and premium upcharges working in its favor.
Warners can boast second place in the fifth weekend of Barbie at 4,003 theaters with a $6M Friday, -40% from a week ago, and a $20M-$21M 3-day, -39%. On the high end, Barbie gets to $566.7M by EOD Sunday.
Third and fourth respectively go to Universal with Oppenheimer and Strays. Oppenheimer at 3,321 theaters will see $3M in its fifth Friday, -40%, for $10.9M 3-day, -42% and running total of $285.5M — the Christopher Nolan film will soon overtake Inception‘s domestic of $293M. Bad news, the $46M production, R-rated Strays, is coming in at $8.5M at 3,223 after a $3.5M Friday.
Blue Beetle has an audience score on RT of 93%, while Strays isn’t currently registering one.
RelishMix says about the online chatter that it’s “mainly positive as fans welcome a fresh superhero face — with Xolo Maridueña, a beloved figure from Cobra Kai bringing heat. While many are comping iconic characters like Spider-Man and Iron Man, they’re also praising the film’s cultural depth with some drawing young parallels to Spy Kids and Power Rangers.”
On Strays, RelishMix notes “Audiences are barking about Strays as the convo tracks raucous and mixed — comping to Sausage Party with nods for the film’s originality featuring foul-mouthed live-action dogs. Enthusiasts argue that it’s about time the genre takes bold strides, pushing boundaries and redefining comedic tastes. Snarks question the nuances, debating whether it’s genuine innovation or just a fleeting experiment. Regardless of its ultimate place amidst comedies, Strays has sparked a passionate debate.”
Paramount’s third weekend of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is at $2.2M for Friday, -45% from a week ago, a $8.4M 3-day, -45%, for a running total of $88.1M by EOD Sunday.
Friday AM: Even though kids are heading back to school, the summer box office isn’t giving up yet, and there’s a chance we could near $4 billion thanks to the final act power of Barbie and Oppenheimer. Warner Bros is hoping the first Latino superhero movie, Blue Beetle, will stoke its core moviegoers; that DC title seeing $3.3M last night in previews that began at 2PM from 3,400 locations, while Universal is looking to give guys something to laugh at after Oppenheimer with the R-rated bawdy doggy comedy, Strays, grossing $1.1M from showtimes that began at 5PM at 2,700 theaters.
Blue Beetle is expected to take the weekend with $28M-$32M, the hope being that Latino and Hispanic moviegoers fuel it with walk-up business. The Angel Manuel Soto directed movie is expected to take No. 1 away from Warner Bros.’ Barbie in her fifth weekend, that Mattel doll expected to stay beautiful with $22M-$24M.
Blue Beetle‘s previews aren’t that far from Shazam: Fury of the Gods which did $3.4M before making $11.7M on its first Friday, $30.1M over three-days. That DC sequel, which cost $125M, was a major disappointment, its wattage deafened by the news of the new DC universe that James Gunn and Peter Safran are building. While a $30M start for Blue Beetle would be notable for a Latino-Hispanic movie –a great comp here is Alita: Battle Angel which opened to $28.5M ($37.2M over 4)–that opening for this DC superhero likely won’t trigger a sequel. Blue Beetle cost a reported net of $104M, and was originally conceived for HBO Max, but then the studio pivoted to theatrical after a solid test screening. Reviews haven’t been shabby for Blue Beetle at 79% certified fresh, higher than Shazam 2‘s 49% Rotten, but lower than Shazam‘s 90%. Shazam received an A CinemaScore, the sequel a B+. Shazam Fury of the Gods died at the domestic box office back in the spring with a $57.6M final.
Strays is expected to do in the teens; critics hate the comedy already at 56% Rotten (vs. Uni’s pre-pandemic August 2019 Good Boys which had 80% fresh). Strays‘ preview figure is under that of Good Boy’ $2.1M which turned into an $8.3M Friday, and $21.4M 3-day.
Among titles in regular release, Barbie made $3.8M yesterday at 4,178 theaters, -15% from Wednesday, for a running total through four weeks of $545.7M.
Uni’s Oppenheimer was second with $2M on Thursday at 3,761, -20%, for a four-week running total of $$274.6M. The Christopher Nolan-directed 3-hour drama looks to do another $12M.
Paramount/Nickelodeon/Point Grey’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem grossed $1.3M at 3950, -17% for a running two-week and two day total of $79.7M.
Fourth is Warner’s The Meg 2: The Trench did $1M yesterday, -18% from Wednesday, for a running two week cume of $59.8M.
A24’s Talk to Me was fifth with an estimated $600K at 2,379 theaters, -16%, for a $33.8M three-week running total.
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