SUNDAY AM Refresh for more analysis and B.O. chart…The domestic box office remains in purgatory again at the weekend box office, this despite the fact that New York State reopened some cinemas in certain counties. We still need the full engine of Los Angeles, which is still closed, and New York City. I hear that there are continued talks between New York State Health officials and Theatre Owners about reopening New York City by those neighborhoods where COVID-19 cases are down.
The fact that Los Angeles isn’t opened yet is striking worry, though the county isn’t that far from getting its daily news cases at under 7 per 100K. Nonetheless, there are some fears that the December holiday release schedule which the majors have planned, centering around Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 could get pushed. Marketing campaigns will need to be fired off soon for these movies, and some insiders say that, yes, the U.S. Presidential Election and its outcome will play a hand in whether there’s a holiday movie season or not — even though Joe Biden, if he wins, wouldn’t get sworn in until January. A win for President Donald J. Trump means we stay the course during the pandemic according to those I’ve spoken with in distribution, while Biden is a ray of hope in regard to how the pandemic could be handled better. How’s that? It’s about consumer confidence, and it’s also about the major studio’s confidence which needs to be in lockstep with that. I continually hear things every week like “overall consumer sentiment for moviegoing continues to improve” but the box office isn’t showing it a marketplace that’s roughly 85% open (this despite the fact that most of No 2 chain Regal Cinemas continues to be closed, sans seven sites in California and another 11 in New York state).
For example, in regard to studio confidence, look at Disney with 20th Century Studios’ genre film The Empty Man this weekend, which was a new entry. What is the movie? Has anyone ever heard about this movie before? Because it was clearly dumped. While studio’s can make the sunshiny argument, “Hey, movie theaters, look at us as we provide content to you!,” if you’re not backing that up with a fire-breathing coast-to-coast marketing campaign, you’re not doing movie theaters any favors whatsoever. This while Disney robs exhibition (even in the future) of all potential money-making opportunities in order to feed the Disney+ beast, i.e. Mulan, Soul, and Hamilton.
By comparison, seriously, let’s not hang Universal for busting the theatrical window with PVOD rev share model with AMC.
Entertainment social media analytics corporation RelishMix says that “The campaign on social for 20th’s The Empty Man dropped just one week ago on Oct. 16. Any normal campaign for an indy, one-off high concept or awards contender will obviously drop at least two months out — at the latest.” I understand that a major studio wants to save on P&A with the lights turned off in LA and NYC, however, let’s at least provide some umpf if we’re putting a big screen release out there. Empty Man debuted in 4th this past weekend to $1.265M behind Open Road’s second weekend of reigning Liam Neeson action thriller Honest Thief which grossed $2.35M, 101 Studio’s The War With Grandpa which made $1.88M in its third weekend in No. 2 and Warner Bros.’ ninth weekend of Tenet which made $1.3M at 1,801 locations.