The lagging 2017 box office got a big boost as “Logan” (20th Century Fox), starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine — the first of three anticipated March juggernauts — opened like a summer franchise blockbuster. The offshoot from the “Wolverine” subset of X-Men movies marks the first R-rating for the storied franchise.
Even better, it wasn’t the only upbeat news this post-Oscars weekend. Hitchcockian thriller “Get Out” (Universal), the Blumhouse sleeper from Jordan Peele, dropped only 22 per cent on its second weekend, which is stunning.
And Lionsgate, fresh off eight wins from “La La Land” and “Hacksaw Ridge” on Oscar night, returned with the surprisingly strong faith-based “The Shack,” starring “Hidden Figures” Oscar-nominee and Saturday Night Live host Octavia Spencer.
The post-Oscar results were mixed to positive, as two of the top category winners are already available for home viewing. “Moonlight” (streaming and available on DVD/Blu-Ray) had both the widest break and best single weekend gross after almost five months in release.
(Check out my Oscar box office wrap here.)
The Top Ten
1. Logan (20th Century Fox) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 77; Est. budget: $97 million
$85,300,000 in 4,071 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $20,953; Cumulative: $85,300,000
2. Get Out (Universal) Week 2 – Last weekend #1
$26,111,000 (-22%) in 2,938 theaters (+157); PTA: $8,884; Cumulative: $75,954,000
3. The Shack (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 31; Est. budget: $5 million
$16,100,000 in 2,888 theaters; PTA: $2,888; Cumulative: $16,100,000
4. The LEGO Batman Movie (Warner Bros.) Week 4 – Last weekend #2
$11,650,000 (-39%) in 3,656 theaters (-401); PTA: $3,187; Cumulative: $148,632,000
5. Before I Fall (Open Road) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 58; Est. budget: $5 million
$4,949,000 in theaters; PTA: $2,109,000; Cumulative: $4,949,000
6. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Lionsgate) Week 4 – Last weekend #3
$4,725,000 (-50%) in 2,475 theaters (-479); PTA: $1,909; Cumulative: $82,866,000
7. Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox) Week 11- Last weekend #6
$3,825,000 (-34%) in 1,582 theaters (-440); PTA: $2,418; Cumulative: $158,765,000
8. The Great Wall (Universal) Week 3 – Last weekend #4
$3,507,000 (-62%) in 2,314 theaters (-1,014); PTA: $1,512; Cumulative: $41,268,000
9. Fifth Shades Darker (Universal) Week 4 – Last weekend #5
$3,485,000 (-55%) in 2,205 theaters (-1,011); PTA: $1,587; Cumulative: $109,912,000
10. La La Land (Lionsgate) Week 13 – Last weekend #8
$2,975,000 (-37%) in 1,411 theaters (-322); PTA: $1,411; Cumulative: $145,684,000
This Could Be the Start of Something Big
The initial weekend Top Ten estimate comes to $163 million. That’s up 13 per cent from the first March weekend last year ($21 million). But even better, last year’s saw the release of “Zootopia,” one of the spring’s top hits.
Unlike other recent weeks with top hits, for once the aggregate also improved. That came with the help of a spectacular hold for “Get Out,” a decent opening for “The Shack” and continued interest in “The LEGO Batman Movie” (Warner Bros.). Their overlapping audiences do have differing appeal, and the weekend’s totals came from multiple cylinders connecting at the same time.
Each of the four releases can be typed — comic book, horror, faith-based, animated — but they all expand from their initial core appeal. “Logan” has film noir and western genre elements. “Get Out” has clearly tapped comedy and social issues. “The Shack” has its roots in tragedy and crime and boasts a multiracial cast including Spencer and Sam Worthington. “LEGO Batman” is animated and leans on a brand-name superhero.
And all four share something that has elevated many hits — familiar turf, original treatment. It’s a great start for a month that will include “Kong: Skull Island” and the live action “Beauty and the Beast” in the next two weeks, both potentially derivative projects that could break through with fresh takes.
So far so good.
Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein
“Logan” Pays Off
The tenth film in Marvel’s X-Men series and the third in Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine standalones is the first with an R-rating. Though Fox last year hit pay dirt with “Deadpool,” its tone was much different with Ryan Reynolds as its potty-mouth star and a sexy rom-com tone different from most Marvel entries.
The R rating, and the edgier freedom that came with it have revitalized the series a bit. Unadjusted numbers overstate the performance, impressive as it is. Putting all ten films in the series in 2017 dollars, it actually only comes in at seventh best. It did better than the second “Wolverine” film, which in 2013 opened to the equivalent of $58 million. That’s a big increase. It also is significantly better than last year’s main series entry “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which also had the advantage of a Memorial Day weekend opening.
With so many sequels, reboots and similar needing to connect in the months and years ahead, this turnaround is a crucial aspect of this unexpectedly high opening.
“Get Out” Soars
When “Get Out” last weekend grew from its initial $30 million estimate to an actual $33.5 million total, something special was happening. Its weekday numbers added another 50 per cent to the initial take, quite good for a non-summer period.
Even so, the normal drop would be about 40 per cent, better than most front-loaded genre films. So a 22 per cent drop is phenomenal. And that’s before factoring in competition and overlap from “Logan,” as well as shared appeal to African-American audiences who are part of the faith-based crowd that flocked to “The Shack.”
At $76 million so far, and with an expanded audience, this could end up reaching a $140 million or higher total before its through, on a $5 million initial budget. That’s about where the Blumhouse “Split” will end up domestically. That’s a staggering two-film result. Add the acclaim for both films and the message is clear: good reviews don’t only help Oscar-bait movies, but mass audiences ones like “Get Out” and “Logan.”
Lionsgate Crashes the Faith-Based Genre
In recent years, Sony with such faith entries as “Heaven Is For Real,” “Miracles From Heaven” and “War Room” has cornered the market on contemporary Christian stories about middle American characters in crisis and finding answers to their prayers in faith.
Lionsgate has over the years shown the ability to create trends (they were dominant in the Young Adult field) and create unlikely original franchises (“John Wick,” “Now You See Me”). So it isn’t surprising they leaped onto Sony’s turf and scored a success.
Among similar films, “The Shack” stands as second only to “Heaven” which opened to around $23 million in 2017 figures three years ago. Like that film, this is based on a bestseller, boasts an eclectic cast. Their marketing emphasized elements that in other contexts might feel like fantasy genre.
The secret sauce — and it shows how top creative people see the virtues in these films — includes a producer, Gil Netter, who is a two-time Oscar Best Picture nominee for his work on “The Life of Pi” and “The Blind Side.” He oversaw a film with a $5 million budget, and different scale particularly from “Pi.”
The mediocre reviews didn’t appear before opening day, but the audience reaction is quite good, judging from an A Cinemascore and a healthy 11 per cent second full day uptick. Expect this to reach a four-time multiple and a total ultimate gross of $60 million or more.
Two Positive Notes for “Before I Fall”
Ry Russo-Young’s well-received Sundance Young Adult adaptation, a teenage girl variation on “Groundhog Day,” came in a bit under $5 million, not enough likely to project it into a success. Teens are a notoriously tough group to reach with marketing.
Fact is, the genre’s appeal to young women seems to be diminishing. “Before I Fall” (Open Road) managed to eke out a fifth place showing. It did however best the first weekend for better-reviewed “Edge of Seventeen” last fall. That STX film opened to $4.7 million vs. $4.9 million for “Fall.”
“Fall” also had the best Saturday pickup among the three openers, and at 16 per cent about double the second day for “Edge,” which suggests strong word of mouth.