Not that we listen to SKYNET - Awards Week 5

As promised, here is your Friday post screen lock weekly update. What promise, you ask?

Obligatory Weekly Video:

This post become MOOt about 90 minutes ago, so I'm admittedly mailing it in this week.

In a "normal weekend", this is roughly the order you would expect films to hold, from the top to the bottom:

Independent/Awards films
Family Films
Adult Dramas
Action Films
Young Adult films

However, as we are coming off a holiday weekend, specifically with New Year's Eve on Saturday, many films received a boost or had their totals adversely impacted on the prior weekend. The end result is a market correction, whereby films will hold in nearly the opposite order as listed above! Young Adult films (Why Him), Action films (Assassins Creed, Star Wars to some extent), and Passengers (as a younger date movie) will likely post the best holds, while family films and non-award nominated dramas will be drop a little bit more.

You can see that was indeed the case in this same weekend in 2011, most notably that the lone horror film Darkest Hour and YA Novel Breaking Dawn part 1 post drops under 30%, while War Horse and We Bought a Zoo fell in the upper 30s, topped only by family films Muppets and Avlin & the Chipmunks.

The lone exception to that trend are Award nominated films, which somewhat curiously receive the biggest bump on NY weekend, and then post the best holds the following week. The primary reason for that exception may very well be the Golden Globes, which have taken place on the second Sunday in January since 2013. In fact, when you look at the weekdays numbers, there seems to be a wave of momentum leading up to the weekend:

Focus on the film in limited release and their Thursday total, and you'll see that in nearly all cases, it is higher that Monday, and sometimes even higher than Tuesday, which is typically the largest total on the weekdays:

My working theory is that in the lead up to the Golden Globes, many publications put our their preview, and the expected winners. Those articles give a boost of publicity to films nominated, and more likely, that are expected to win, as the desire to see them before the awards are handed out increases: Momentum.

I'll save myself some trouble - this thread pretty much nails the week:

I really, REALLY wanted to roll out a Why Him heavy lineup this week, as I have it approaching or topping $80K/Bux in value, with the added benefit of it being the Least used film according to the research vault.

But the data for Hidden Figures became too much to ignore, especially the Thursday number, making this an "easy week." And while I've been renting a time share on Phil's island while reading one of BSWhite's "Shark Secret Recipe" conspiracy theories during the week, and still believes that HF opens a bit softer than many are expecting, it would be foolish at this point to project a weekend that doesn't begin with a 2, and so the presumptive BP.

I hate being bullied into the common lineup :-/

69 Replies

    (Seems unlikely, but want to make the case nonetheless. We need something to talk about this morning...)

    Most people can agree that HF has a lot of appeal, as an award nominated, feel good family friendly movie for a market that is often underserved. Look no further that The Help or The Butler to see the potential. But both of those were August releases, which meant that they were the top choice in all of the demographic categories noted above. But in the second week of January - not so much...

    1) African American audience - Fences is still going strong, and has some guy named Denzel in the lead
    2) Awards Films - While receiving some Golden Globe noms, HF isn't racking up many wins. With the Golden Globes on Sunday, there may be a last minute push to see the presumed winners first.
    3) Families - Still have Sing and Mona in the market, both of which have received excelled WOM and can appeal even to kids even up to the teens.
    4) Women - HF should pull in an audience that is more than 50% (if not 60%) female. However, if you are looking for a feel good movie appealing to women, La La Land just expanded to another 750 locations, and has significantly more buzz than even HF.

    So while HF should do well, it may not be the clear first choice in the same way The Help or The Butler were when the opened.

    Last year, we had winter storm Jonas that shut down much of the East Coast on a January weekend. While the weather front passing through the Appalachians isn't nearly as strong or covering the same large area, it will be impacting the South over the weekend. Why does that matter? Again, demographics:

    If the aftermath of Jonas, Ride Along 2 showed itself to be the most adversely impacted, as evidenced in the week 2 and week 2 drops:

    So we can expect HF to at least lose some potential business to the weather impacts in the South.

    That Thursday total was very good, and above my "have to play" mark of $1 million. But two caveats:
    Due to the proximity to the holiday, more people are off of work or school than would find on a normal Thursday preview, so we have to assume that figure is at least inflated. It also played shows starting at 5pm, which increased its potential draw for the Thursday total.
    In addition, Deadline reported that schools have taken interest in the film, and are booking group sales.
    Not sure if any of those took place last night, but it could be a similar situation to Bad Moms, whereby some additional groups inflated the Thursday total and let to a lower weekend multiplier that had been expected.

    Now, the data available points to a solid, BP-winning weekend for HF, but I would at least advise to temper expectations to some degree. - Edited

  • I'm going to have my cake and eat it too with this statement: I played HF x3 and I do it with zero confidence and actually sort of expect the WH x6 lineup to be the BP.

    This week has driven me crazy. Something just doesn't smell right here. I've had this feeling two other times over the last few months regarding movies that I just don't see as "special" enough to defy expectations. The first was Sully (dead wrong), the second was La La Land (dead right). HF will be the rubber match for me.

    I couldn't really explain it very well until I saw this thread and comment #9 from Face/Toff...

    A "mom movie." THAT'S IT!

    This feels like Bad Moms all over again. We all held hands and jumped off that cliff when Bad Moms had a $2M Thursday night, all the comps pointed to $30M off that that, then...


    What a joke. What'd we miss? I think we figured out. BM had two audiences: a "rush out and see it ASAP" audience (hence, all the hype throwing tracking off), and a "looks good, I'll see it when I see it" audience. It was missing that usual "let's see it opening weekend" audience, or it was a smaller percentage than we anticipated.

    I think we're gonna see that with HF. There's a lot of factors playing against it. First is that this just isn't a weekend where this audience opens a movie above $20M. Really, we only ever see horror do that this weekend. And it makes sense. We just had two 4-day weekends and we have another one next week... There's just more free time to see a movie practically any other weekend.

    The other is that damn snowstorm. It's going to cripple parts of GA, NC, and SC, states which have a much larger African-American population. We saw with Jonas last year, which hit the same region hard, wipe out Ride Along 2's 2nd weekend. Some sources estimated that RA2 lost as much as 15% of its audience. I don't think HF has that to worry about, but a 3-5% dip b/c the snow will really hurt Saturday matinees looks at least plausible.

    However, there's that $1.2M preview. Like M37 said, numbers don't lie. But they don't tell the whole story sometimes either. Something that has stuck in my craw since reading it was the large amount of group sales to schools making up the presales. But what does that mean? When are they going? I think I saw some that said the Thursday preview night! (Would love a source here.) We really don't have a good comp for a Th multiplier here if that's the case. If a large portion of that $1.2M is group sales that normally never happen, then maybe we're talking about a general audience preview of.... $900k? At that number, things get very dicey. The closest comp we have recently, and it isn't even a good one, is Snowden, which had the Wednesday "Snowden Live" preview. A shade under 5% of its take was Thursday night. Another movie I recall having a significant group preview number was actually.... Bad Moms.

    Which brings me full circle. Like I said, this doesn't smell right. I don't think this movie is that "special." I'm sure it's very good, but this isn't a mold-breaker if you ask me. We'll see how the weekend plays out, I'll begrudgingly root for it, but... You all have to admit this doesn't "feel" normal, right?!

  • Phil posts similar thoughts as I was editing my placeholder.

    I think I'm going to book at least one more day in that timeshare on your non-HF island Phil, but I may be gone come morning!

  • I went with data, but I wouldn't be surprised if this hits sub-20m, handing the BP over to WH or Passengers.

  • And the odd thing here - we didn't really discuss any of these thoughts quite that clearly. Sort of interesting that we both came to very similar conclusions without having to convince the other.

  • I appreciated you being a voice of dissent on HF this week, Phil. I completely agree that something doesn't feel right, and that none of the comps really match this scenario. HF does feel like "The Help," but they were released at completely different times in the year. Jan 6 is not really a "breakout hit" kind of weekend.

    But then PBO ups its HF forecast. And all the other forecasts follow suit. And then those sky-high preview numbers. Suddenly $20M looks like a floor rather than a ceiling. It's just too risky to pass up 3 screens, too easy to fall into a deep hole.

    Like I already said, I completely agree that there is a future where WH is still BP this week. In that future, I'm extremely frustrated that I moved off of a WH-heavy lineup in favor of the safe play.

  • Backseat - I had my 2xHF/4xWH/AC/MbtS hedge lineup locked in for a little while this morning after the Thursday number came in. But ultimately the expected volume of the most popular lineup to be too great.

    Rather miss with everybody than be on an island and fall short

  • Yeah, that hedge was very tempting, since even in HF BP world it doesn't fall too short. If it weren't for the $5M PC bonus (and, IMO, the fact that the PC is obvious in HF world), that probably would have been my direction as well. I just hate going with a pure hedge... (sorry Henry!)

  • @BD - My working hypothesis for what happened with the projections goes hand-in-hand with the large group sales.

    As we know, the pros have access to some data we don't have. One of those data points, I believe, is presales. Now, if I throw on my forecasting hat for a second, my guess is that the pros would need to find a handful of comps, see how their presale figures in this point of the cycle look compared to HF, and apply it as a sort of "completion factor." But, as we discussed, we haven't really seen a movie like this in the "early preview" era, so any traditional models could be thrown out the window to a degree.

    I could see this having happened with Bad Moms, which saw a similar large bump from its final LRF to Projection and was noted to have significant group sales. BM saw a $6M bump, going from $21M to $27M. I need to update my data badly here, but 11 movies in my data saw a 25%+ increase from their final LRF to weekend projection. Eight beat that weekend projection, three did not. Bad Moms is one of the three.

  • I think this is the first time we nailed everything with you guys, we well mostly everything

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