For the second time this year, a Blumhouse Production tops the Top Ten, as “Get Out” (Universal) scored $30 million this weekend, which is six times its production cost. The tremendous success of “Get Out” on Oscar weekend is significant for two reasons.
Oscar weekend box office often provides an ironic counterpoint to mainstream box office. This year, though, is a little different. For one thing, three of the Best Picture nominees (“ ,” “La La Land” and “Lion”) are in the Top Ten, while three other Best Picture nominees are in the Top 20, despite being at the end of long runs.
“Get Out” comes on a weekend when the Oscars are expected to make amends for the presumed wrongs over the last two years of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Its story includes an attack on the attitudes of white liberals, supposedly sympathetic to African-Americans (similar to many Academy members) concerns, put in the context of a horror thriller about an interracial couple introduced to the bride’s parents for the first time.
Among the casualties of the weekend were the other two new releases, “Rock Dog” (Lionsgate) and “Collide” (Open Road), that failed to place in the Top Ten. That is unusual for films with a wide release of over 2,000 theaters, but a sign of the increased reluctance of audiences to show up for the newest release simply out of habit.
The Top Ten
1. Get Out (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 83; Est. budget: $5 million
$30,524,000 in 2,781 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $10,976; Cumulative: $30,524,000
2. The LEGO Batman Movie (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #1
$19,000,000 (-42%) in 4,057 theaters (-31); PTA: $4,683; Cumulative: $133,007,000
3. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend #4
$9,000,000 (-33%) in 2,954 theaters (-159); PTA: $3,047; Cumulative: $74,413,000
4. The Great Wall (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #3
$8,700,000 (-53%) in 3,328 theaters (+3); PTA: $2,614; Cumulative: $34,425,000
5. Fifty Shades Darker (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #2
$7,700,000 (-62%) in 3,296 theaters (-498); PTA: $2,394; Cumulative: $103,636,000
6. Fist Fight (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #5
$6,380,000 (-48%) in 3,185 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,003; Cumulative: $23,225,000
7. Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox) Week 10; Last weekend #6
$5,875,000 (-19%) in 2,022 theaters (-195); PTA: $2,906; Cumulative: $152,816,000
8. La La Land (Lionsgate) Week 12; Last weekend #9
$4,600,000 (no change) in 1,773 theaters (+146); PTA: $2,654; Cumulative: $140,860,000
9. Split (Universal) Week 6; Last weekend #7
$4,118,000 (-42%) in 1,901 theaters (-544); PTA: $2,166; Cumulative: $130,843,000
10. Lion (Weinstein) Week 14; Last weekend #
$3,807,000 (-9%) in 1,802 theaters (+260); PTA: $2,113; Cumulative: $42,815,000
2017 Off to an Uneven Start
The uneven first two months of the year will end up around four percent shy of 2016. So far, 2017 hasn’t had a new release massively break out quite like “Deadpool” did in 2016, yet “Hidden Figures” broke out when it went wide, while “Split,” “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “Fifty Shades Darker” have passed $100 million, with there being a chance that “John Wick: Chapter 2” and “Get Out” could hit that benchmark as well in the coming weeks. 2017 may ease ahead of 2016 in March with “Logan” and “Beauty and the Beast” on the horizon.
The alchemy of what makes a hit has never been so unclear. Originality helps and staleness repels, but sequels with mild variations and reassuring familiar elements seem to be the safest. That is what makes the initial success of “Get Out” stand out as it is so different from most hits and makes it possibly even a more important story than what happens with the Oscars.
“Get Out” Raises the Bar
The success of “Get Out” offers an interesting counterpoint, as it is a film by a black director dealing with core racial issues coming out at the same time as “Moonlight,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and “Loving” prepare for the final leg of their lengthy Oscar journeys. All four of those films were made as prestige films (not in itself a bad thing), hoping to gain attention from reviews, relevance and awards.
“Get Out” is the opposite of Oscar bait: an early year release, in the horror/thriller genre that is aiming for a wide audience, rather than targeting upscale white professionals. In its first weekend, “Get Out” has already grossed a third more than “Moonlight,” four times “Loving,” and will almost certain surpass “Fences” in the weeks ahead.
What it seems to have going for it is a combination of provocativeness and unpredictability that is the opposite of the run of the mill Oscar nominee. That makes it no less relevant or important, just different. And perhaps more compelling because it reaches people who might not even tune into the Academy Awards. In fact, don’t be surprised if the Sunday gross for “Get Out,” calculated at 45 percent from Saturday, exceeds that estimate.
“Get Out,” which exceeded its advance estimates by about 50 percent, is having the type of impact we’re seeing with buzzy cable and streaming shows, but that has alluded movies of late. It likely will generate water cooler chatter, social media and otherwise, which could result in possible recommendations that could lead to it having legs that stretch well beyond opening weekend. First weekends of films in the broader horror genre, particularly those whose initial audience (per Universal’s surveys) are 60 percent or more minority, don’t normally go up 17 percent their second day. They never get A- Cinemascores. They don’t get Metacritic scores of 83, which is better than half of the Best Picture nominees. And they don’t usually get three times or better multiples, which in this case would get it to close to $100 million, which of course remains to be seen.
That it comes from a first time director (Jordan Peele), defies the current blue state/red state social divide to challenge the notion that white liberals are allies of blacks, and that it does this in a genre context is remarkable. It’s surprising, at a time when surprise is not a common movie experience value.
The film also got about half of its audience from 25 and under moviegoers, an increasingly tough audience for a non-family film (“Get Out” is rated R). If it is indeed striking a cord in the younger demo, we can expect a strong hold as infrequent younger ticket buyers find it worth their interest. And with older audiences about done with Oscar contenders and not a lot of new product out there for them, the buzz could attract them as well.
There is real potential for this film to be a long-run success.
Stewart Cook -Variety/REX/Shutterstock
All for an initial $5 million production cost (before marketing). This film’s success is something Hollywood will be paying attention to.
Beyond the Kodak Theater: Lionsgate and Open Road Struggle
The two distributors responsible for last year’s Best Picture (Open Road with “Spotlight”) and this year’s expected winner (Lionsgate with “La La Land”) normally put most of their efforts into non-awards films. They both had releases this week, the two major releases that failed to make it the Top Ten: “Collide” and “Rock Dog.”
Neither is a crushing loss for them. Both were independent productions with the financial brunt mostly borne by others. Still the Chinese-backed “Rock Dog” and its $3.7 million for an animated release with over 2,000 dates is rock bottom. It suggests the market is getting saturated, as it can normally can handle more than one animation title.
“Collide” is a European film trying to follow the path of “Taken” and replicate American action style films. It hasn’t shown much luck abroad in multiple months of release — its dates here delayed by original distributor Relativity’s bankruptcy issues. Still, $1.5 million? That’s awful.
Lionsgate is on a rebound, both with three Best Picture nominees and the current “John Wick: Chapter 2.” Open Road on the other hand has struggled since “Spotlight.” Both of their year-end contenders, “Snowden” and “Bleed for This,” disappeared quickly, while their bread and butter indie general audience acquisitions increasingly fail to be the somewhat outside the box product audiences are responding to.
Why None of This Is As Important As It Seems
If you are with smart movie-obsessed folks at your Oscar party tonight, and want to get them to react in stunned disbelief, here’s a way to do so.
As of now, these are the top six new 2017 films worldwide:
- xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (worldwide $330 million; U.S. $47 million)
- Fifty Shades Darker (worldwide $328 million; U.S. $103 million)
- Your Name (worldwide $327 million; no U.S. release yet)
- Kung Fu Yoga (worldwide $246 million; U.S. $362,000)
- Journey to the West: Demons Strike Back (worldwide $245 million; U.S. $856,000)
- Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (worldwide $239 million; U.S. $27 million)
“Resident Evil” just completed its opening weekend in China — a market that often shuns American horror films — and grossed $94 million, more than triple its domestic total. And another sequel, “xXx” in its third rendition, was only a mild domestic performer, but has thrived in China and many other countries.
And three of the six are Asian made (“Your Name” is Japanese, the other two Chinese) and are unlikely to exceed $2 million in U.S. box office. Two others in the current Top Ten are also Chinese: “Duckweed” and “The Great Wall.”
These will fall lower as the year progresses, but it is hard to avoid the reality that Hollywood, on a night that will celebrate multiple English language-originated films, is no long the sole center of the cinematic universe, if it ever really was.
The usual last minute Oscar shopping made all the Top Ten Best Picture nominees score the best holds this weekend. “Hidden Figures,” both the top grossing contender overall and highest one this weekend, dropped 19 per cent, “La La Land,” close behind went up a few thousand dollars and “Lion” dropped just nine per cent. Results tonight will affect their futures, but all three have been elevated by their nominations significantly more than other recent contenders.
The rest dropped in the range of 42 percent (“The LEGO Batman Movie” and “Split”) and 62 percent (the quick falling here “Fifty Shades Darker”). The second weekend of “The Great Wall” dipped 53 percent, not good for this mammoth production that despite some success elsewhere (particularly China) needed significantly better results in North America. All these numbers come off a holiday weekend, which usually accelerates drop offs.