About 62 percent of U.S. locations were open this weekend, with what looks like a total gross of around $15 million-$16 million. Figure if all theaters were open, $25 million or above would have been the total. The same weekend last year (which included the three days before Labor Day) totaled $92 million.
Obviously, the lack of ongoing films is a key factor, but in 2019 there were no new films that weekend. Aided by more theaters being open and a handful of new releases, this weekend’s numbers are about double last weekend. However, they suggest that a substantial part of the moviegoing public is, so far, not going.
Long-delayed “X-Men” offshoot “The New Mutants” is #1 with $7 million estimated. The 20th Century Fox film saw its release delayed until long after the Disney merger; this is actually its fifth scheduled release date, and only one of those change stemmed from COVID-19. In a world without COVID, perhaps $20 million would have been possible — but as a $70 million production, it would still be a dud. It played 2,412 theaters, with a per-theater average of $2,902.
United Artists has not yet reported on “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” but sources suggest it will total around $1.2 million in 1,007 theaters. However, it’s shining in its simultaneous debut on Premium VOD ($19.99), where initial reports show it leading in transactions at multiple sites. With that alternative, the three major circuits (which comprise about two-thirds of the gross) did not play the film.
What if it had gone theater only? There’s little doubt it would have easily been the top grosser, but at how much? Under current conditions, figure over $10 million, with an ultimate potential of perhaps $30 million-$40 million for a film with a pre-marketing budget of $25 million. Initial figures show that where theaters played both “Bill & Ted” and “Mutants,” “Bill & Ted” grossed more at 25 percent of the outlets — even with the home alternative.
The #2 film is “Unhinged” (Solstice) in its second weekend, with $2.6 million in 2,331 theaters (up 508). That’s down 35 percent. Holdover theaters declined somewhat over 40 percent. That’s not a bad performance when, unlike last week, it had actual competition.
Searchlight’s attempt to recover what once was a specialized platform release with “The Personal History of David Copperfield” did not work out. In 1,360 theaters, it managed only $520,000, with a PTA of under $400. It was a nice gesture to theaters, but feels unkind to the film. It won’t be available on VOD until November, assuming normal windows; give the Disney-owned Searchlight credit for backing theaters.
The Canada-only “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” (Paramount) took in $400,000 in its third weekend. That’s a good hold, down only 27 percent, with now a nearly $3 million total. This debut on home platforms in the U.S. next year.
Roadside Attractions’ “Words on Bathroom Walls” took in $453,000 in 1,356 theaters. That gross is slightly up over last weekend, with the help of 432 new theaters. It’s still is a weak result.
“Fatima” (Picturehouse), which also is on VOD, has grossed around $100,000 in 218 theaters. That would be a PTA of about $460. How it fares at home will be the true gauge of its success.