Competition in the expensive action-film market made things tricky for the opening of “Kong: Skull Island” and the second weekend of “Logan.” There’s no doubt as to the victor; “Kong” opened far better than pre-opening estimates (a very good thing for Warner Bros. which spent $185 million to revive the big gorilla). “Logan,” however, dropped much more than expected. Had they not been head to head, assume that a sizable chunk of the audience for each would have seen the other.
Overall, it left theaters with a top 10 total is up 27 percent from the same weekend last year. But before anyone gets too excited, that 2016 weekend didn’t have two films in their first two weeks that cost nearly $300 million combined.
Next week sees “Beauty and the Beast,” another strong potential (and at $160 million, also expensive) release. With less overlap, it’s expected to outgross both “Logan” and “Kong” in its opening and total run.
The Top Ten
1. Kong: Skull Island (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 63; Est. budget: $185 million
$61,015,000 in 3,846 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $15,865; Cumulative: $61,015,000
2. Logan (20th Century Fox) Week; Last weekend #1
$37,850,000 (-57%) in 4,071 theaters (no change); PTA: $9,297; Cumulative: $152,657,000
3. Get Out (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #2
$21,072,000 (-25%) in 3,143 theaters (+205); PTA: $6,705; Cumulative: $111,054,000
4. The Shack (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #3
$10,050,000 (-38%) in 2,888 theaters (no change); PTA: $3,480; Cumulative: $32,269,000
5. The LEGO Batman Movie (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #4
$7,820,000 (-33%) in 3,303 theaters (-353); PTA: $2,368; Cumulative: $159,024,000
6. Before I Fall (Open Road) Week 2; Last weekend #6
$3,108,000 (-34%) in 2,346 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,325; Cumulative: $9,037,000
7. Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox) Week 12; Last weekend #7
$2,765,000 (-28%) in 1,421 theaters (-161); PTA: $1,946; Cumulative: $162,865,000
8. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Lionsgate) Week 5; Last weekend #5
$2,700,000 (-44%) in 2,031 theaters (-444); PTA: $1,329; Cumulative: $87,423,000
9. La La Land (Lionsgate) Week 14; Last weekend #10
$1,770,000 (-41%) in 1,578 theaters (+167); PTA: $1,122; Cumulative: $148,446,000
10. Fifty Shades Darker (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #9
$1,629,000 (-54%) in 1,498 theaters (-707); PTA: $1,088; Cumulative: $112,922,000
We’re On Par With Last Year
The peculiar 2016 domestic results — early months gangbusters, followed by a down summer and average fall, leading to a full-year decline — made it tough for the start of 2017 to match the initial success. However, total grosses have now reached an equal level.
That growth is driven by “Logan” and “Kong,” which typify the bulk of the investment studios make with massive worldwide appeal in mind. But this year has shown that they alone can’t do the job, particularly with some of the biggest international hits (“Fifty Shades Darker” and “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage”) compiling most of their gross overseas.
“Beauty and the Beast” and “Fate of the Furious” should top all other entries over the next few weeks, but they face a comparison to last year’s “Batman v Superman” and “The Jungle Book,” both of which were $300 million+ performers. Still, the outlook looks brighter now than it did a few weeks ago.
Good Start For “Kong,” But Not The Best News
The first results for “Kong: Skull Island” totaled just under $143 million worldwide. The overused adjective “solid” as in “good enough” applies. Budget and marketing costs for this Warners/Legendary investment exceeds over $300 million and will require a minimum gross of around $500 million to turn this into a profitable effort.
The domestic $61 million gets a positive spin because it is better than expectations, with an atypical Saturday that climbed 19 percent. Still, the gross is less than what it projected when it was greenlit. Legendary’s “Godzilla” three years ago cost a bit less and opened to over $90 million, then faded quickly. It earned $528 million more worldwide, for a modest profit.
Costing more and opening less is not the best news. What could save this? Two things. Its initial response and weekend trajectory, as well as its successful stand off with “Logan,” give this momentum and a shot of coming close to the returns for “Godzilla.” Even so, that would be a stretch.
That leaves foreign, and that’s where the good news comes in. The $81 million so far, mostly in #1 positions (and most versus “Logan”) doesn’t include two huge and likely major markets for “Kong.” China and Japan have yet to debut, with both previously showing interest in similar monster movies. And in China, “Kong” isn’t burdened by the retread factor.
Grade this an incomplete, but that’s much better than in looked early last week.
“Logan” Disappoints, But Only Compared to Expectations
Before the weekend, most guesses had “Logan” dropping 50 percent or less from its $88 million opening. Instead, it dropped 57 percent and ended up $23 million behind “Kong.”
Despite a big drop, this third “Wolverine” offshoot is ahead of most second weekend holds in the “X-Men” series. And that’s with the impact of “Kong” clearly hurting it.
The most important number is its worldwide total thus far — $438 million through this weekend, with a final total above $600 million likely. That’s on a production budget of just under $100 million, so it looks like a major profit center for Fox and Marvel.
“Get Out” Just Keeps Getting Stronger
Week three saw Jordan Peele’s Blumhouse low-budget smash hit $111 million, the quickest ever among its producer’s low-budget films. But that’s not its main achievement. Its minor 26 percent drop, coming against two juggernauts, is amazing.
The film and its horror/thriller take of contemporary race relations has clearly struck a nerve. It looks like a safe bet to hit $150 million in domestic grosses, and that’s on an initial budget under $5 million.
With its combination of reviews, business, and relevance, it’s not too early to speculate on its year-end awards chances. In the meantime, it stands apart among current and near-future releases with little to stop it from finding new and repeat viewers.
Nothing came close to the strong showing of “Get Out,” but even with three strong films at the top, other holdovers were better than usual.
The second weekend of Lionsgate’s low-budget, faith-based “The Shack” fell a reasonable 38 percent, enough to suggest it should get a month or so of top 10 play leading into Holy Week. It should easily pass $50 million.
The other second-week entry, YA entry “Before I Fall” held even better, off only 34 percent. The only fly in its ointment is that it fell from a weak start, so even if it is gaining traction, its core audience isn’t large enough to propel it to success.
Longer-running “The LEGO Batman Movie” is off 33 percent; like many kids’-appeal films, it has strong legs. For now, it’s the biggest domestic release this year.
Beyond “Get Out,” best hold goes to the amazing “Hidden Figures.” No Oscar wins, but the attention there seems to give it continued life. It’s still on target for a $170 million final result. And once again, it increases its lead on multiple winner “La La Land,” looking to end up around $155 million domestic and $417 million worldwide.