Lionsgate is releasing the home video version of the Taylor Lautner movie Abduction today simultaneously via rentals on Facebook, DVD, Blu-ray and digital download. Lionsgate anticipates the strategy will provide extra mileage in the rental market as well as gaining social media benefits such as customer emails and increased interaction, according to the Financial Times. This will provide Lionsgate with a direct link to customers. EVP Anne Parducci says the company knows who its Facebook page fans are “but we don’t have a direct to consumer relationship with them.” Abduction, which took in $28.1 million domestically, will cost $3.99 for a 48-hour Facebook rental via credit card or PayPal. Lionsgate opted not to use Facebook Credits, which charges distributors 30% for each transaction. Since Warner Bros offered The Dark Knight for rental via Facebook last March, more than a dozen studios have offered previously released rentals. Lionsgate is including special features such as an interview with Lautner and key scenes with quote pop-ups for users to comment on and share. Information studios glean from Facebook allows them to tailor ad campaigns accordingly.
The film and TV company had a net loss of $24.6M, an improvement from its $29.7M loss in the quarter last year, on revenues of $358.1M, down 21.5%. That revenue figure was far below the $421.5M that analysts expected. And the net loss, at 18 cents a share, was below the 13 cent loss the Street had forecast. The bottom line could have looked even worse: Lionsgate included the $11.0M it collected from its sale of Maple Pictures. The company also was able to add $6.1M from its 31.2% stake in EPIX vs a $19.8M loss from last year’s quarter. Lionsgate says that it suffered from “underperformance of theatrical films in the quarter” — where releases included the Conan The Barbarian remake, Warrior, and Abduction – as well as “timing of DVD releases which offset gains in the Company’s television and digital businesses.” The movie operation generated $218.9M in revenues, down 36%.
‘Dolphin Tale’ Leaps ‘Moneyball’ To #1 But New Pics Weak: ’50/50′ #4, ‘Courageous’ #5, ‘Dream House’ #6, ‘What’s Your Number?’ #8
SUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE: Still on vacation in a different time zone. That’s why I’m overdue on some autopsy reports I promised and haven’t yet delivered. I’ll release them Sunday. My sincerest apologies. (Unfortunately, I can’t get used to a definition of ‘time off’ that still makes me toil almost 24/7.) That said, the newest numbers have changed the Top 10 order yet again. (It was another confused weekend like the last one!) This crop of four freshmen failed to make much of an impression with moviegoers because holdovers still ruled the North American box office. But overall the weekend is up +10% from last year:
1. Dolphin Tale (Alcon, Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,515 Theaters]
Friday $3.4M, Saturday $6.5M, Weekend $14.2M (-26%), Estimated Cume $37.5M
Terrific hold as Alcon uncorks another feel good favorite. Dolphin Tale was up 88% from Friday night thanks to the saturday matinee bump. Now it’s placing above both films it trailed last week. But the cume is still lagging. And DreamWorks Animation/Paramount just pushed up the release of Puss ‘N’ Boots to October 28th — which will deprive Dolphin Tale of an extra week of alone time with families.
2. Moneyball (Sony) Week 2 [2,993 Theaters]
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $5.5M, Weekend $12.5M (-36%), Estimated Cume $38.4M
Excellent hold especially for a 2-quadrant pic. But Moneyball‘s cume needs more beer and peanuts to fatten.
3. Lion King 3D (Disney) Week 3 [2,340 Theaters]
Friday $3.3M, Saturday $4.4M, Weekend $11M, Estimated Cume $79.6M
Very impressive, still, for this juiced up toon as all releases pass Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo to become the 4th highest-grossing animated film of all time worldwide. Snarked a rival studio exec, “I could have told them about that 2-weeks-only crap…” By the way, remind me to tell you about the months of meetings which Disney’s Frankeneisner led over the story problems posed by ‘lion cub incest’ for the sequel was released. Only on Dopey Drive…
4. 50/50 (Summit/Mandate) NEW [2,458 Theaters]
Friday $2.9M, Saturday $3.6M, Weekend $8.8M
The first thing to ponder about this male Terms Of Endearment is that James McAvoy was supposed to play the guy with cancer. Instead, Joseph Gordon-Levitt came in at the last minute. Now it’s hard to imagine this truthful dramedy starring anyone else. Levitt is really becoming one of the most interesting young actors around even if he’s not box office — yet. Summit Entertainment and Mandate Pictures gave 50/50 a surprisingly wide release this weekend: in the old days this pic would have been platformed so audiences could “find” it. But these days, with the skyrocketing costs of marketing, there’s simply no time or purpose to doing that anymore. (“It was always envisioned as a wide release picture as opposed to platform because of its playability,” an insider tells me.) Problem is, Summit thought the film would open around the low double-digits. Nope, despite an ‘A-’ CinemaScore from audiences. Summit says audience ratings & definite recommends were about 20 points above the norm, one of the
highest ever in the studio’s exit polling. More females (54%) came than males (46%). In terms of age demos: 83% were between the target audience of 18-49, 35% under 25, 57% under 30, 43% over 30. Studio sources claim the film’s negative cost is only $8 million. The question now is whether strong word of mouth will allow this pic to play for several weeks and end up with a decent cume.
As you must know by now, the screenwriter Will Reiser based the story in part on his own life, and filmmaker Jonathan Levine promoted not only the film and but also cancer awareness. Pre-release, 50/50 was tracking well with both male and females and with older and younger audiences showing interest. But the really downer disease just kept audiences away despite partnerships with national support groups like Stand Up To Cancer and Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong as well as regional orgs. Marketing-wise, the film at first was positioned as a broad Seth Rogen comedy (not another one!). But then the studio imbued it with the feel of a specialty film. TV buys focused on younger movie-goers first and then expanded to older males and females based on the evolved positioning. Summit began an extensive word-of-mouth screening program in early August and premiered it at the Toronto Film Festival to a standing ovation. Hey, don’t complain about Hollywood’s crappy movies if you won’t support the quality ones. I’m truly disappointed that this pic didn’t do better. It deserves to be seen.
5. Courageous (Sony) NEW [1,161 Theaters]
Friday $3.1M, Saturday $3.2M, Weekend $8.8M
This movie was Fireproof 2 — only substitute fatherhood problems for marriage woes, and law enforcement officers for firefighters. Like most of these faith-based films, Sherwood Pictures’ Courageous was front-loaded because of pre-sales and church groups bussed to theaters. But Sony initially expected a better opening weekend even though it was playing in only half as many locations as the other major studio releases. Still, it made the best per-screen average and rated a rare ‘A+’ CinemaScore across the board with men and women of all ages. Opening weekend exits show the audience was fairly balanced in gender (53% was female) and the reach had a slightly older skew (77% were aged 25+). These pics cost next-to-nuthin’ — Courageous made back its $2 million production budget in its first day of release. Sherwood Pictures is based in Albany, Georgia, where moviemaking ministry Sherwood Baptist Church churns out these inspirational films aimed at Christians. Sony Pictures’s secular TV media was concentrated in outlets like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Hallmark Channel, TLC, Lifetime, and TV Land as well as more conservative-leaning outlets ranging from Fox News, CMT to Christian Broadcasting Network and Gospel Music Channel. The marketing budget was “modest and grassroots’. Like Fireproof (2008), Facing The Giants (2006), Flywheel (2003), the co-writers were Stephen Kendrick, who also produced, and Alex Kendrick, who also directed. They, along with producers Michael Catt and Jim McBride together make every movie decision at Sherwood where the four-man team also serve as pastors of the church. Fireproof opened as the No. 4 film in the nation this same time of year, eventually grossing $33 million theatrically. But it also starred former TV teen hearthrob Kirk Cameron, and Courageous was cast with unknowns.
6. Dream House (Morgan Creek/Universal) NEW [2,661 Theaters]
Friday $2.9M, Saturday $3.5M, Weekend $8.2M
Jim Robinson’s Morgan Creek shows yet again that it can’t make or market a movie to save its life. It can’t even handle publicity: MC’s morons apparently can’t find my email address because I’ve received nada from them about this opener. Then again the pic wasn’t screened in advance for critics — always an indicator of a stinker. Don’t blame Universal: it was just distributing Dream House. Morgan Creek paid for and did everything else. Badly. Directed by 6-time Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, and Rachel Weisz, they all must have needed the payday because they’re way too major to do this critically-panned drivel from a script credited to David Loucka. Sheridan lived to regret it because he and the producers fought over final cut. No wonder none of the major stars publicized the pic. (FYI, Craig and Weisz met on location and later married…) Seriously, this derivative haunted house tale gives new meaning to the definition of derivative. Worst were those TV ads that stole scenes from The Shining. I think it’s high time that the distrusted and disliked Robinson switches professions and starts selling used cars instead of used movies.
7. Abduction (Lionsgate) Week 2 [3,118 Theaters]
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.5M, Weekend $5.6M (-48%), Estimated Cume $19.1M
You’ll be reading my mea culpa Sunday when I release my long autopsy report on this domestic bomb. (Though it’s foreign rollout is better so far.)
8. What’s Your Number? (Fox) NEW [3,002 Theaters]
Friday $2M, Saturday $2.1M, Weekend $5.6M
Anna Faris is the modern-day Goldie Hawn: it’s impossible not to like her. Unless you put her in a really lousy R-rated New Regency fully-financed movie like this that Fox surrounded with a muddled marketing campaign vascillating between a female-empowerment pic and a run-of-the-mill rom-com. Problem is, daters haven’t talked about their “number” since the mid-1980s when sexually-transmitted diseases were scaring the bejesus out of singles. Audiences gave What’s Your Number? a ‘B’ CinemaScore. Pic cost only $20M. Its cost to Anna’s career may be more. (I’d like to see Faris in that remake of Hawn’s Private Benjamin she was supposed to do for New Line. It earned Goldie a Best Actress Oscar nom.) Directed by Mark Mylod and produced by Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson with screenplay credit given to Gabrielle Allan & Jennifer Crittenden, based on the book 20 Times A Lady by Karyn Bosnak.
9. Contagion (Warner Bros) Week 4 [2,744 Theaters]
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $2.3M, Weekend $5M, Estimated Cume $64.6M
Let’s just say I spent my first day of vacation getting three kinds of flu shots after seeing this movie.
10. Killer Elite (Open Road) Week 2 [2,986 Theaters]
Friday $1.5M (-57%), Saturday $2.1M, Weekend $4.8M, Estimated Cume $17.4M
I’m not letting Open Road off the hook on this dead fish, either. Autopsy report coming Sunday, too.
I’m writing it now. So put on your big-boy pants and stop whining for it.
Comments will be turned on once it’s posted.
Weekend B.O. Brawl! ‘Lion King 3D’ Still #1, ‘Moneyball’ Edges ‘Dolphin Tale’ For #2, Twilighter Taylor Lautner’s ‘Abduction’ #4, De Niro/Statham/Owen’s ‘Killer Elite’ #5
SUNDAY AM, 7TH UPDATE: I’m told this is the first time there are three $20 million pics on a September weekend. No wonder it’s been shifting like quicksand at the North American box office, with the Top 3 order changing and then changing again. Everyone agrees that Lion King 3D is now No. 1, but Moneyball and Dolphin Tale were neck-and-neck for No. 2 going into this morning. At first, Warner Bros had its Alcon Entertainment fish story ahead of Sony Pictures baseball tale — but only by $110,000. Nevertheless Sony and other studios and eventually Alcon have Moneyball ahead by as much as $500K. So I’m calling it for Moneyball. Friday night also had no clarity because of Rentrak hiccups during the day. Can’t we all just get along, especially when I’m on vacation?
1. Even Disney is surprised that its Lion King 3D is king of the jungle again in 2,330 theaters after its huge 1st-place finish last weekend. Rival studios tell me it got a boost Friday from the rain back East for a $6M Friday for an excellent hold. And another giant kiddie matinee bump on Saturday for $9.2M and on Sunday a projected $6.8M. That’s a $22.1M weekend and only a modest -30% decline from a week ago. This re-release can hit a cume of $61.6M by Monday. This is the first reissue to open #1 in 14 years. An interesting story is how Disney’s original release plan called for one weekend on 500 3D screens. Then, the studio saw the tracking for Dolphin Tale and decided to expand to two weekends on 1,500 3D screens, thus hogging most of the high-priced 3D venues. It was a shrewd targeted hit on Warner Bros, and probably cost Dolphin Tale at least $5M-$10M in box office. So here’s my question: Why is it that in all the promotional hype I’ve been sent by the studio, no one at Disney is thanking Jeffrey Katzenberg for micro-managing the original Lion King? C’mon, Mouse House, give credit where credit is due. Even if Jeffrey is a big pain in everyone’s ass.
2. Sony’s much-hyped newcomer Moneyball is now officially the best baseball-themed opening ever. (Not accounting for inflation or higher ticket prices, it beat Benchwarmers‘ $19.6M, The Rookie’s $16M, and A League Of Their Own‘s $13.7M.) It opened No. 1 Friday with $6.7M and then soared +24% to $8.3M Saturday from 2,993 theaters. (As a Sony exec told me, “$6 million would be great. $7 million amazing. $8 million would be a triumph.”) With that healthy adult bump, it scored a $20.7M weekend which is on target with the studio’s expectations. That solid number helps keep Brad Pitt’s star wattage shining and his awards chances climbing because of this well-reviewed male-centric sports movie that scored 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. (As Deadline Hollywood’s Awards columnist Pete Hammond opined out of the Toronto Film Festival: “This is a classic movie star role in the tradition of something that Robert Redford or Paul Newman would have done in their prime. He has never been better, and the movie is the best sports film since Bull Durham, a real triumph considering the long and winding road it took to get to the screen.”) Audiences really liked this pic: it received all A’s — male, female, young, old — from CinemaScore. By age, 36% were under 35 and 64% were over 35. But a rival studio exec points out that almost 60% of the audience was over age 50. Sony believes Moneyball could play strongly through the Fall generating a multiple that could very well exceed 4X and 5X its opening.
Marketing targeted adult moviegoers and was designed to appeal to both men and women. Call me sexist, but I thought targeting women was hopeless for a pic based on the true story of Billy Beane who rebuilt the Oakland A’s in 2002 through computer-driven statistical analysis long ignored by the baseball establishment. (This stuff makes my eyes glaze over…) But exit surveys showed the film was almost evenly split with 51% male and 49% female moviegoers. To build awareness among men, Sony had a strong presence in sports programming, especially baseball where the campaign kicked off during the MLB All-Star Game in July. Trailers aired on the MLB Network, while spots also ran in high-profile NFL games including the season opener. In recent weeks, Moneyball‘s presence was in MLB games across FOX, ESPN, and TBS and select NCAA football games. The TV campaign took advantage of primetime premieres and high-impact specials, including the Emmys and MTV’s VMAs. On cable, Moneyball had sneak peeks on Sons of Anarchy, Tosh.0, Conan and ESPN’s SportsCenter. To reach women, Sony bought spots on Dancing With the Stars and Glee while Pitt appeared on Ellen this week and was pretty much omnipresent as both producer and star.
Like most movies these days, Moneyball had a twisted and tortured history to the big screen. Michael Lewis wrote a great book, and producer Rachael Horovitz recognized the bones of a great movie. Initially, baseball freak Steven Soderbergh was involved but passed because of other commitments. Eventually Sony brought in producer Michael De Luca to join Horovitz and, 5 years later in 2009, Soderbergh was back to direct. But in a well-chrincled case of creative differences, the Oscar-winning director was jettisoned from the film just 72 hours before production was to begin when the studio changed its mind about his changes to Steven Zaillian’s adaptation. (Soderbergh’s primary addition included Reds-like testimonials from real-life players which mae it more like a documentary.) Studio chief Amy Pascal felt Soderbergh’s version wasn’t commercial enough and pulled the plug. Conventional wisdom had it that the pic was a goner. But Pitt stayed on board throughout and Pascal stuck with this project instead of taking a writedown. Funny how women are often seen as not knowing anything about sports, yet in this case it took two Hollywood females to push this one through. The project got back on track with executive producer Scott Rudin along with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who did a polish on Zaillian’s script (both get credit now). Pitt himself praises director Bennett Miller (an Oscar nod for Capote first-time out), who replaced Soderbergh and then had the vision to “crack” the film’s outsider/insider themes by making an unconventional film about them.
3. Incredibly close behind is Alcon Entertainment’s Dolphin Tale 3D distributed into 3,507 theaters by Warner Bros. It opened with $5.1M Friday and zoomed to $8.6M Saturday for a $20.2M weekend. Alcon expected the heartstrings-pulling pic to jump 60% on Saturday because of the family film bump. It did a staggering +70% more. Remember, it’s also playing in the most theaters. According to CinemaScores, parents and kids audiences are giving it an A+. The film now becomes the highest opening weekend for a live action film with an animal, passing Disney’s Eight Below. With its inspirational story, Warner Bros expected to own the family marketplace this weekend and give Moneyball a run for No. 1 this weekend. But no one anticipated the continued strength of Lion King 3D. The strategy for Dolphin Tale was to reach primarily parents and kids with this real-life story and fine ensemble cast. The studio devised a very long trailer campaign in order to get maximum exposure beginning in April and playing through the summer on everything from Rio to Cars 2. The TV strategy was robust, covering everything from kids cable in late summer before school started, through key season premieres such as Dancing With The Stars and Biggest Loser, to a wide array of sponsorships with Discovery, Teen Nick, Lifetime, Nation Geographic, Disney XD, MTV, and more. Warner Bros crafted an aggressive word-of-mouth screening program that involved 3 full rounds in the top 60 markets. Military and home schoolers were targeted as well as youth groups and other family-oriented orgs. The director and cast completed a 7-market PA tour that included a junket to accommodate Winter, the real-life star of the film who had her own live Winter-cam. Online, there was a first-time integration with the Spongebob Squarepants Facebook page given the sea theme.
4. Lionsgate’s Abduction in 3,118 theaters ended up with $3.8M Friday but went up +21% Saturday for $4.6m and an $11.2M opening for the weekend. But I’ve just learned it’s #1 this weeknd in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia as it begins its day ad date foreign rollout. Through Sunday, Hollywood eyes have been focused on its star Taylor Lautner in his first leading man role in an action thriller because he’s been very much in demand — presumably because of his enormous Twi-hard fan base and aggressive promotion of his films – but not because of any solo box office which the 19-year-old has done yet. Yes, Tay-Tay received $5M for this pic which his production company also produced. Then again, I’ve learned that Lautner’s $36M-budget action thriller was outspent 4-to-1 in marketing dollars by both Sony and Warner Bros leading up to this weekend. (Shame on Lionsgate’s Jon Feltheimer for tying everyone’s hands even after powerless Alli Shearmur pleaded.) So the jury is still out on whether this Twilight kid can open an envelope, especially in as rotten a reviewed movie as this one was based on Shawn Christensen’s $1M spec script and directed by John Singleton. (“Silly” and “convoluted” were the words used most often to describe it.) Audiences didn’t think it was quite as bad as critics, giving it a B- CinemaScore. Lionsgate can’t seem to make a decent movie (Conan The Barbarian) or market one anymore (Warrior).
Deadline Comic-Con Movie Contributor Luke Y Thompson reports:
It’s the story every media outlet is dying to tell every year: “Comic-Con just ain’t what it used to be.” This year, however, the event — set for July 21-24 at the San Diego Convention Center — comes with some alarmist (and circumstantial) evidence: Warner Bros won’t be doing a movie presentation. Marvel Studios won’t be either, even though the tiniest teaser for The Avengers last year made for the most memorable panel. Disney initially appeared absent too. So what’s going on? Did the failure of Scott Pilgrim to triumph at the box office following a massive Con promotion last year leave studios leery?
Well, you’d think if that were the case, Universal would feel the most burned — yet they’re doubling down by holding the premiere of Cowboys and Aliens there, inviting many of the fans to attend; one would imagine the big names like Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig will at least attend.
Disney, which now owns the Muppets and Marvel Studios, is likely saving those properties for its own D23 Expo in Anaheim toward the end of August. They are, however, bringing the DreamWorks pickup Fright Night to Comic-Con (in presentation and screening form) — notably, this is a movie that will open Aug. 19, the same day the D23 Expo begins, so it makes sense to hype it sooner. Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are the big names attending; curiously, the publicity has consistently downplayed the presence of former Doctor Who star David Tenant, and he has not been mentioned as attending, though he’d be given a hero’s welcome if he did.
Warner Bros’ lack of a movie panel may largely be due to the fact that the next Superman and Batman movies aren’t ready to show much yet — Man of Steel star Henry Cavill will be there, but on behalf of Relativity’s Immortals (also Luke Evans, Kellan Lutz and Mickey Rourke; director Tarsem Singh is not currently expected). Certainly WB is showing a ton of TV previews, but I’ll leave that to my colleague Gary Hodges to discuss. The biggest question mark in my mind is what Time Warner-owned Entertainment Weekly will put on the cover of their Comic-Con issue now: traditionally, it’s been a big reveal from a Warners movie.
The biggest name being batted about right now as a possibility is Steven Spielberg, to present footage from his The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Certainly, a Tintin presentation would be wise, as the teaser has left many (myself included) highly skeptical. The fanbase needs persuading, and since it’s Spielberg, there’s probably at least one kickass scene that can get people hyped. But Paramount’s still playing things close to the vest — when I asked a publicist there about Comic-Con plans, I was told “It’s uncertain what or if we’re bringing anything.” That’s not a denial. And there has been talk of a Captain America screening — whether that translates into an actual panel is uncertain, as the regular press junkets and such will already be in full swing for the movie, opening that week.
Lionsgate’s thriller Abduction, starring Twilight Saga mainstay Taylor Lautner in his first solo lead role and Snow White-to-be Lily Collins, hits theaters Sept. 23. John Singleton directs.