SATURDAY AM: For a slow time at the box office — before the marketplace gets rich with Marvel Studios/Disney’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania next weekend ($120M 4-day) — it sure is intriguing, particularly with smaller movies.
Last weekend, we had Paramount’s 80 for Brady and the whole discount ticketing stunt, as well as Universal’s Knock at the Cabin lukewarm opening, with the director M. Night Shyamalan leaving his agency the day after.
This weekend, it’s the reverse engineering of Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike’s Last Dance from HBO Max to an exclusive theatrical release. Now, what could be wrong with that?
For the most part — really nothing. The movie, which was intentionally booked by Warner Bros. in specific theaters at 1,500, made $4.1M yesterday (with previews) and looks to gross around $8.2M+. At a low level, Magic Mike’s Last Dance is a notch above Uni’s theatrical-day-and-date of Jennifer Lopez-Owen Wilson’s Marry Me opening a year ago ($7.9M), and it’s ahead of the opening for Soderbergh’s other theatrical distribution ‘experiment’ Logan Lucky ($7.6M, true different demos and specialty distributor, but read more about that here).
Look, in the wake of all the melodrama with Project Popcorn during the Jason Kilar era of WarnerMedia, with not just exhibition, but talent reps, too, the studio saw the opportunity to course-correct and capitalize by making certain movies exclusive to theatrical. Remember, Warner Discovery CEO David Zaslav believes in theatrical, believes in its patina and its downstream revenue opportunities.
However, in the wake of Paramount turning originally intended streaming movies Smile and 80 for Brady into theatrical marquee titles, the question remained why Warner Bros wasn’t doing the same with the movies that they’re reverse-engineering from HBO Max to theatrical. House Party ($3.9M opening, $8.8M domestic) didn’t seem to make any waves. Granted, the pic was always a cult title, but broke $19M-$20M in its previous ’90s installments. The Sam Raimi-executive produced Evil Dead Rises, another HBO Max-to big screen release, is expected to get more oomph in its release. Horror is working at the box office, and the pic is getting a big shiny world premiere at SXSW. That pic’s trailer played like a rock concert at CineEurope last summer.
“It’s a tax write-off!” cried one rival studio executive to me about Magic Mike’s Last Dance going theatrical. Not so. There’s a real business decision by Warner Bros here to monetize off an ancillary rate card by going theatrical. And they just need to hit breakeven (that’s a whole other discussion with Magic Mike’s Last Dance costing in the high $40M range before P&A, with a marketing spend well north of $20M (including digital), but less than the $30M+ promo spend for Channing Tatum’s Dog last year which opened to $14.8M, legged out to $61M).
Warners would promote these limited titles on female-targeted networks on Warner Discovery (Zas is a big proponent of corporate internal synergies working toward the greater good). iSpot told us earlier this week that they monitored just under $9M in TV spot buys for Magic Mike’s Last Dance, a campaign that yielded 1.37 billion impressions, with runs on TLC, Investigation Discovery, Food Network, TBS, and the Discovery Channel, and on shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, Dr. Phil, Sheldon, and 90 Day Fiance- The Other Way.
In sum, different studios are approaching their reverse engineering of streaming titles in different ways. Paramount turned Smile and looked to turn 80 for Brady into events. Warners is looking to reap money in the home market. Going theatrical triggers greater downstreams. What makes a title attractive on an HBO Max menu? Going theatrical.
So, Warners decided to put Magic Mike’s Last Dance into theaters after test screenings in Orange County. Exhibitors received favorable rentals terms. The only gripe some exhibitors have this weekend is that they wanted to play the movie, and weren’t able to book it.
Now –and I’m just the messenger here– there’s been chatter out there that Soderbergh and Tatum weren’t in favor of a theatrical release. Their thoughts reportedly was that the threequel was made as a platform play, not to the production zenith of a big screen release. Why go theatrical? It is the worst-reviewed Magic Mike of all-time at 46%. But audiences on Rotten Tomatoes like it the most out of the the three at 74% (there’s no CinemaScore or Posttrak exits, given the pic’s theater count threshold).
Now, I’ve been told by parties close to both that that’s not true, and frankly, actions speak more than words: Soderbergh has talked up the movie in the press, and Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault have been promoting the pic big time with a Miami press day, premiere, the actress doing Jimmy Kimmel, and both stars on Good Morning America.
Now, there’s another thing going on in distribution-land, and it’s a Cold War between distributors not sharing their box office numbers with each other in Comscore. This all started during the pandemic when Warner Bros. decided not to share numbers on Tenet; the studio was looking to block rival distributors from sharing numbers to the press and creating a narrative that wasn’t fueled by the studio.
Warners isn’t sharing numbers in Comscore on Magic Mike’s Last Dance. Paramount didn’t share numbers with rivals last Friday on 80 for Brady, however, promptly lifted the embargo on Saturday AM. Part of the excuse on behalf of some distributors is — well, streamers like Amazon and Netflix don’t share numbers on their limited releases, why should we? Look, knowledge is power: If distributors aren’t sharing drilled-down box office details between each other, it just prevents other great (or not-so-great) maneuvers from happening in the marketplace.
The fear is that the box office media would compare Magic Mike’s Last Dance to its $39.1M 3-day opening of the 2012 film and the $12.8M 3-day of the 2015 film. Look, the threequel isn’t a Marvel movie. It’s a female skewing threequel in an adult franchise. Even if the pic was originally conceived for theatrical, and had a wide release, the laws of gravity at the box office would prevail for Magic Mike’s Last Dance. Box office numbers speak for themselves:
As dignified and brave as Warners was by attempting a theatrical release with NYC and LA closed, Tenet‘s opening over Labor Day 2020 of $9.3M was so bad without those box office capitals, it forced distributors to pull movies and Regal to re-close until early March 2021. And that was with not-sharing numbers. So, let’s have cooler heads prevail and share intelligence, guys. No?
Paramount’s 25th anniversary rerelease of Titanic is in fourth place with $6.1M, after a $2.7M Friday. 3D locations only at 2,464 theaters. Great exits, duh, with Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak at 96% and a 77% recommend, female-skewing crowd at 63% and 57% between 18-34. “Clearly a good date movie playing to all ages,” says one rival. Diversity demos are 52% Caucasian, 29% Latino and Hispanic, 5% Black and 14% Asian/other. Pic is overindexing on the coasts, but playing evenly across the country with AMC Empire and AMC Burbank the best of the bunch. Right now, James Cameron’s other movie in theaters, Avatar: The Way of Water, is expected to beat Titanic with a $7M ninth weekend, -38%.
The Melrose Lot’s 80 for Brady is 3rd with $6.3M second weekend, -50% and a running total of $25.2M.
1.) Magic Mike’s Last Dance (WB) 1500 theaters, Fri $4.1M, 3-day $8.2M/Wk 1
2.) Avatar: The Way of Water (Dis) 3,065 theaters (-945), Fri $1.69M (-29%), 3-day $7M (-38%), Total $647M /Wk 9
3.) 80 for Brady (Par) 3,939 (+27) theaters, Fri $1.85M (-60%), 3-day $6.3M (-50%)/Total $25.2M/Wk 2
4.) Titanic (Par) 2,464 theaters, Fri $2.7M, 3-day $6.1M/Wk 1
5.) Puss in Boots: Last Wish (Uni) 3,227 theaters (-63), Fri $1.3M (-24%), 3-day $5.4M (-31%) , Total $158.4M/Wk 8
6.) Knock at the Cabin (Uni) 3,657 (+14) theaters, Fri $1.69M (-69%), 3-day $5.2M (-63%), Total $23.1M /Wk 2
- A Man Called Otto (Sony) 2,824 (-583) theaters, Fri $800K 3-day $2.25M Total $57.3M/Wk 7
8.) Missing (Sony) 2,315 (-250) theaters, Fri $705K 3-day $2.45M Total $26.4M/Wk 4
9.) M3GAN (Uni) 2,508 (-327), Fri $640K (-33%), 3-day $2.28M (-41%), Total $90.8M/Wk 6
10.) Plane (LG) 1,679 (-524) theaters, Fri $350K (-36%), 3-day $1.22M (-45%), Total $30.8M/Wk 5
FRIDAY AM: Channing Tatum is looking at another opening at No. 1 in his canon of February theatrical releases with Warner Bros’ Steven Soderbergh-directed threequel Magic Mike’s Last Dance, which industry estimates peg at between $9M-$11M at 1,500 theaters. Warner Bros is not reporting numbers. Friday is around $4.3M ,which includes an estimated $1M previews that started at 5 p.m. The pic is aimed squarely at women over Super Bowl weekend, when the box office typically takes a hit.
While this is the second title Warner Bros is pivoting from HBO Max to an exclusive theatrical release — after New Line’s House Party — there’s a lot of intrigue in regard to how far this branded movie can go in its limited release of 1,500 locations. On the low-end, the pic’s weekend opening would be higher than Marry Me ($7.9M), the Jennifer Lopez-Owen Wilson theatrical-day-and-date Universal romantic comedy from a year ago. At the high end, the threequel isn’t that far from the 3-day (of a 5-day debut) of the previous installment, Magic Mike XXL.
RELATED: ‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance’ Review: Channing Tatum & Salma Hayek Gyrate Their Way To A Serviceable Third Installment In The Franchise
As we previously reported, rental terms were generous for exhibitors in their favor. Warners specifically curated theaters that it booked, avoiding playing two in the same zone, thus creating demand. While there’s an assumption that the movie, which cost in the high $40Ms, had a low P&A designed for a HBO Max movie, that’s not true with Warners giving the movie a solid theatrical push significantly north of $20M. Critics gave the threequel the worst reviews of the three pics at 47% on Rotten Tomatoes vs. part 2’s 65% and part one’s 78%. The current audience score on Rotten Tomatoes for Magic Mike’s Last Dance is 77%.
RelishMix reports that Magic Mike’s Last Dance has a social media universe across TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter of 100.5M followers. “The Magic Mike franchise feeds are cross-promoted on Magic Mike Live, and are approaching sub-genre norms for this musical, comedy, drama genre…Added incremental notable views on TikTok are approaching 1B, adding ~8M views per day,” says the social media stat org. Tatum is promoting the movie to his 45.5M followers and Salma Hayek Pinault to her 26.5M followers. RelishMix observed that Tatum’s YouTube channel was used for the first time in ten years to post the trailer of the threequel.
RELATED: ‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance’ Trailer: Channing Tatum Heads To London In Steven Soderbergh’s Franchise Ender For Warner Bros
“While the convo on Magic Mike runs positive for long time fans of the cultural life-style brand of the movies, the Vegas show and the reality series, chatter is mixed in with modern day threads about health, wellness, body fat percentage mentions and Channing Tatum’s future in the brand. As well, movie goers wonder if this is actually a last dance or a tease to the next gen-of Magic Mike,” adds RelishMix.
As the movie plays out over the weekend, we’ll provide a balanced assessment.
Paramount’s 25th anniversary re-release of James Cameron’s Titanic in 3D is looking at $2.85M today (including Friday previews) at 2,464 theaters, and a 3-day of $6.4M in third place. The Oscar-winning 1997 movie is expected at this time to rank under 20th Century Studios/Disney’s Avatar: The Way of Water at 3,065 theatres, which is seeing a ninth weekend of $6.5M (-42%) after a $1.6M Friday (-30%).
Fourth place goes to Paramount’s 80 for Brady which continues to sell discounted tickets. The pic ended its first week with $18.9M and is looking at a second Friday of $1.7M (-63%) at 3,939 theaters and second weekend of $5.6M (-56%) and running total by EOD Sunday of $24.5M.
Universal’s M. Night Shyamalan thriller Knock at the Cabin is seeing a second Friday of $1.5M (-72%) and second weekend of $4.6M (-67%) for a running total of $22.5M. At this time, that’s a steeper drop than the second weekend of Shyamalan’s Old (-59%, $6.8M second weekend). Knock at the Cabin ended its first week with $17.8M stateside.