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Why Universal Monster Remake ‘The Invisible Man’ Hit Big for Blumhouse

Strangely, FUNimation's "My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising" opened at number four.

"The Invisible Man"

“The Invisible Man”

Universal Pictures

The weekend box office brought both good and bad news. Universal’s “The Invisible Man” exceeded expectations with a $29 million opening, but the overall box-office total fell under $100 million, a rarity between Super Bowl Sunday and Labor Day.

And strangely this weekend, both “My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising” (Funimation) and “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” (truTV) showed up in the Top Ten.

Meanwhile exhibitors are facing rising concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and its possible impact on public activities like moviegoing ahead. The case for some impact comes from recent declines after a strong start to 2020 that left the totals up 6% after two months. That’s down sharply from initial weeks, and comes with the bonus of the leap year Saturday that accounts for 40% of the higher number. So the bloom is off the rose.

However, results for the first two months are usually not a good guide for a full year’s prospects.

"The Invisible Man"

“The Invisible Man”

Universal Pictures

Continuing a glut of horror films this year, the latest Universal classic monster remake  “The Invisible Man” is the sixth to get elevated play after most of the others have fallen flat. Thus prospects for the latest Blumhouse production to score over $20 million seemed positive, especially after the mixed results for the expensive “The Mummy.” But $29 million marks a fantastic showing.

Because this H.G. Wells character doesn’t rank with Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man, and other icons in this universe, Australian writer-director Leigh Whannel (who contributed to the “Saw” and “Insidious” series) had more freedom to reshape the movie into a thriller centered on a woman (Elisabeth Moss) who is stalked by her late husband. Respected character actress Moss, while not an established marquee draw, marks the latest smart Blumhouse move, notching a performance on the level of the equally acclaimed Lupita Nyong’o in “Us” a year ago.

“Invisible” lacked the Jordan Peele branding that elevated Blumhouse’s “Us” (which opened to $71 million). But it also came cheaper, with a minimal $7 million budget. And the film scored an unusual Saturday uptick after Friday results (including previews). That’s rare for a film like this, and suggests momentum that could carry the film to significantly higher results. It also justifies adding original ideas and new stories lines to future films in the series.

MY HERO ACADEMIA: HEROES RISING

“My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising”

Funimation

A film that didn’t even make our Top Ten preview ended up #4. “My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising” is actually a sequel to an earlier, low-impact adaptation of a popular Japanese action Manga comic. It comes from Funimation, a subsidiary of Sony, and is distributed separately from the studio.

Opening last Wednesday to give it a head start and build word of mouth off its core fan base, it has totaled almost $8.5 million, though playing in only 1,260 theaters with a far lower than normal marketing campaign (mostly social media). That’s a game-changer; this kind of film usually shows up as a weekday event (like GKids’ recent strong anime “Weathering With You”).

And it comes on the heels of “Impractical Jokers,” which in its second weekend jumped to #7 and a $6.6 million result for this theatrical version of the “Jackass” inspired cable comedy team. Without these two films, the results this weekend would have been noticeably lower.

Disney/Fox

Holdovers

Between “Invisible” and “Academia” in #2 and 3 were last weekend’s top two films. “Sonic the Hedgehog” (Paramount) continued its strong run with a good hold (down 39%) and in its third week is up to $128 million. The videogame adaptation will far outpace last fall’s “Pokeman Inspector Pikachu” (which got to $144 million domestic) and though expected to get interest is doing and holding far better than expected.

“Call of the Wild” (Disney) actually won the full week after initially opening behind “Sonic.” That gave some hope it might have caught on and could hold better this weekend. The 47% drop is no disgrace (closer to normal) but suggests the weekday response was more limited to an older audience rather than word of mouth among families that might carry over to the weekend.

That’s disappointing since this ridiculously expensive ($130 million+) 20th Century  production seemed to have a shot at losing less than initially was projected. It now projects to something in the $80-90 domestic range at best, far less than needed.

“Bad Boys for Life”

The rich get richer, as “Bad Boys for Life” (Sony) the year’s biggest success so far fell only 26% as it nears $200 million domestic and passes double that worldwide. It is the single biggest reason for the plus side of business so far. At $125 million it would have been considered a decent performer. The amount over that by itself has raised the numbers so far.

Last week’s other opener “Brahms: The Boy II” (STX) dropped 55%, not unusual for a horror film. But it opened weak, and this sequel will do less than half of “The Boy” three years ago.

Next week sees Disney release Pixar’s “Onward.” It played a single matinee Saturday at 470 theaters, grossing $650,000 to start its run. Though not expected to be a high-end Pixar grosser, it is a welcome addition to the release calendar in a more off-season spot.

The Top Ten

1. The Invisible Man (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 71; Est. budget: $7 million

$29,000,000 in 3,610 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $8,033; Cumulative: $29,000,000

2. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount) Week 3; Last Weekend #1

$16,000,000 (-39%) in 4,177 theaters (-21); PTA: $3,830; Cumulative: $128,294,000

3. Call of the Wild (Disney) Week; Last Weekend #2

$13,205,000 (-47%) in 3,865 theaters (+113); PTA: $3,416; Cumulative: $45,861,000

4. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (FUNimation) NEW – Cinemascore: 71; Metacritic:; Est. budget: $

$5,109,247 in 1,260 theaters; PTA: $4,054; Cumulative: $8,482,000

5. Bad Boys for Life (Sony) Week 7; Last Weekend #4

$4,300,000 (-26%) in 2,708 theaters (-264); PTA: $1,587; Cumulative: $197,368,000

6. Birds of Prey (Warner Bros. Week 4; Last Weekend #3

$4,100,000 (-40%) in 3,124 theaters (-441); PTA: $1,312; Cumulative: $78,282,000

7. Impractical Jokers: The Movie (truTV) Week 2; Last Weekend #11

$3,545,000 (+36%) in 1,705 theaters (+1,348); PTA: $1,865; Cumulative: $6,622,000

8. 1917 (Universal) Week 10; Last Weekend #7

$2,622,000 (-55%) in 2,232 theaters (-493); PTA: $1,196; Cumulative: $155,867,000

9. Brahms: The Boy II (STX) Week 2; Last Weekend #5

$2,670,000 (-55%) in 2,151 theaters (no need); PTA: $1,219; Cumulative: $9,770,000

10. Fantasy Island (Sony) Week 3; Last Weekend #6

$2,330,000 (-45%) in 2,724 theaters (-60); PTA: $855; Cumulative: $24,060,000

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