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Top 10 Takeaways: from ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and Disney Global Box Office Domination to Why ‘Keanu’ Failed

Top 10 Takeaways: from 'Captain America: Civil War' and Disney Global Box Office Domination to Why 'Keanu' Failed

Is there anything else to talk about besides Marvel/Disney’s latest combined effort, “Captain America: Civil War”? The only debate is how to measure its mighty $181 million take against sky-high expectations.

As Hollywood’s summer season launches, everyone is wondering if it’s possible to top the already huge results for the first third of the year. So far results show that the surge has not let up, even if smaller films still struggle for purchase.

Yes, “Captain America: Civil War” fell at the lower end of elevated expectations, but the overview from the Top 10 totals is healthy. Because of a fluke in year-to-year calendars, the best proof market strength is the weekend Top 10’s 6% improvement over the week “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opened last year (officially one week later). That’s impressive, despite “Civil War” falling about $10 million shy of the “Ultron” mark. 

This year boasts a second major release still churning out strong numbers, with the fourth weekend of “The Jungle Book” (yes, Disney again) making up the difference and then some. The rest of the numbers other than a strong holiday-related hold for “Mother’s Day” (Open Road) mostly languished, but that is similar to other years when most distributors stay out of Marvel and Disney’s way on the date they have claimed as their property.

The Top Ten

1. Captain America: Civil War (Buena Vista) – Cinemascore: A; Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 75; est. budget $250 million
$181,791,000 in 4,226 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $43,017; Cumulative: $181,791,000
2. The Jungle Book (Buena Vista) Week 4- Last weekend #1
$21,873,000 (-50%) in 4,144 theaters (+103); PTA: $5,278; Cumulative: $284,795,000
3. Mother’s Day (Open Road) Week 2 – Last weekend #4
$9,006,000 (+8%) in 3,141 theaters (+106); PTA: $2,867; Cumulative: $20,726,000
4. The Huntsman: Winter’s Warrior (Universal) Week 3 – Last weekend #2
$3,580,000 (-63%) in 2,901 theaters (-901); PTA: $1,234; Cumulative: $40,363,000
5. Keanu (Warner Bros.) Week 2 – Last weekend #3
$3,080,000 (-67%) in 2,681 theaters (+23); PTA: $1,149; Cumulative: $15,101,000
6. Barbershop: The Next Cut (Warner Bros.) Week 4 – Last weekend #5
$2,700,000 (-56%) in 1,734 theaters (-576); PTA: $1,557; Cumulative: $48,769,000
7. Zootopia (Buena Vista) Week 10- Last weekend #6
$2,677,000 (-50%) in 2,077 theaters (-410); PTA: $1,289; Cumulative: $327,625,000
8. The Boss (Universal) Week 5 – Last weekend #8
$1,750,000 (-59%) in 1,933 theaters (-890); PTA: $905; Cumulative: $59,102,000
9. Ratchet and Clank (Focus) Week 2 – Last weekend #7
$1,462,000 (-70%) in 2,895 theaters (+4); PTA: $505; Cumulative: $7.096,000
TBD 10. Batman v Superman (Warner Bros) Week 7 – Last weekend #9
$1,045,000 (-%) in 1,593 theaters (-737); PTA: $656; Cumulative: $327,250,000
TBD 10. 24 (CineGalaxy) NEW
$(est.) 1,045,000 in 180 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 5,086; Cumulative: $(est.) 1,045,000

The Takeaways

Don’t Question the “Captain America: Civil War” Gross

Anyone wanting to suggest that “Civil War” disappointed by not exceeding $200 million or any previous May weekend openings needs to consider this. “The Jungle Book” is rightly considered a major hit. “Civil War” in its first three days grossed two thirds of what “Jungle” has. How much better should it have done?

This third “Captain America” outing had the prime early May slot for the first time, and yes, a boost from a bigger than usual collection of Marvel characters (even in the “Avengers” series). But it lacked something other films on this date have had. With “Deadpool” (also Marvel) and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (Warner Bros.) already in play in recent months, it didn’t have the pent-up demand for a fresh comic book hero assemblage that has occurred in the past. And it had a slight barrier coming after “BvS,” which similarly pitted superheroes against each other, with an overall disappointed reaction. Yet it still bested the D.C. Comics pairing by $15 million, despite the earlier film having a boost from both Good Friday and Easter. Sunday That gives Marvel and Disney bragging rights as kings of the comic franchise world.

In a year of great openings, it is the best so far. In all-time actual numbers, it ranks fifth best, adjusted eighth. And it’s a “Captain America” film, third time out, with the first weekend $20 million better than the first two combined. 

The huge early year results lead to a “can you top this” expectation that isn’t going to be realized every time out. There is longer-term worry that with the huge amounts of money spent on these films — $250 million production, likely $150 million more on marketing— that at some point they could start cannibalizing each other, particularly when finding fresh elements and combinations each time gets more difficult.

But meantime, the $181 million start is part of a bigger whole. With earlier international openings, the combined total is now $678 million with a long way to go. This is a major achievement.

That “Mother’s Day” Rebound

Garry Marshall’s Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston-led comedy “Mother’s Day” disappointed last weekend, even though it led three niche newcomers. But Open Road’s gamble to open a week before the holiday paid off. With only a small uptick in theaters, if their understandably optimistic estimate for today’s holiday grosses hold true, they will go up nearly 8% from its start. They are guessing a 1% jump from yesterday, unusual, but justifiable. (Two female-oriented releases, “Hot Pursuit” and “The Age of Adeline” barely dropped last Mother’s Day.)

The natural inclination might have been to open on the holiday weekend. Not going against “Civil War” could have been a factor, but Open Road didn’t want the comedy to be mainly aimed at one weekend so they calculated they could come back even if the opening was weak.

They took a big risk. This got the worst reviews of any studio release this year, and received a mediocre B Cinemascore. Yet starting last Monday, it was clearly holding better than other Top Ten films. And the reaction (the falls the first two days of the weekend were below average) seems to suggest its core audience likes the film.

The end result is a bet that could pay off. With any reasonable hold in upcoming weeks, this could have a four times or better multiple from its $8 million-plus start. That’s very good, even if the ultimate gross isn’t spectacular. It reasserts the notion that the Open Road team can make a difference in acquiring, marketing and nurturing an independent pickup in a period where it has gotten more difficult than when they entered the game.

What “Keanu” and “Ratchet and Clank” Tell Us About Young Male Moviegoers

Normally the big drops of these two minor openers in their second weekend (67 and 70% respectively) would be relegated to holdover stats. But particularly in the case of “Keanu,” it is disconcerting.

Yes, comic books heroes seem to have never been more popular, and doubtlessly that made the drops greater this weekend. But the falls came from middling to weak starts without “Civil War” in play. With “Keanu,” a decent audience reaction on top of unusually favorable reviews should have led to more interest. These actors gained a following via Comedy Central and social media and their backers figured the duo riffing on their popular personae would play with younger males, urban and otherwise.

The long-term scary prospect is that movie adaptations of characters and/or video games that have achieved great success on alternative social media or other viewing devices (including video games) with appeal to young males no longer have big cache. It’s another example of how younger audiences have become less vital to day-to-day attendance for movies. And with so many crossover possibilities coming from mainly domestic interest, even though both of these films were less expensive than most, once marketing is added in, such projects could become too much of a risk. And thus what is considered available material for theatrical films gets further reduced.

The Other Holdovers

Showing how much “Civil War” sucked the air from everything around it, the two best holds —both down about 50%— were “The Jungle Book” and “Zootopia,” which in all their weeks never approached this level of drop. What each film is making at this point is not minor, and in the case of the latter, totally unexpected: “Zootopia” is in its tenth week at #7— “Star Wars” in its tenth was #8. The last film to be so high this late in its wide release was “Frozen,” and that had multiple holiday weekends to boost its run. “Jungle” should top $300 million by next weekend, and “Zootopia” will achieve the unexpected and not fall too far short of Pixar summertime smash “Inside Out” ($356 million).  

The rich get richer. Disney did 90% of the Top 10 business this weekend with its three films, and increased its share of 2016 gross to around 27%.

The other two action/fantasy films fared badly. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” (Universal) did a pathetic $3.6 million in its third weekend, down 63%. And the lingering “BvS” is may end up behind “Zootopia” in total gross despite having opened $90 million better. 

“Barbershop: The Next Cut” (Warner Bros.) and “The Boss” (Universal) had more modest drops under 60%, approaching $50 million and $60 million respectively, both looking to end up in the nether world between hit and miss (without a lot of foreign interest), but at least holding on longer than might have initially seemed likely.

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