Box Office Guy: Just Getting Started

Patrick Reardon

We're going to keep things on the short side this week because:
1. There is only one new wide release (which isn't all that interesting) and one medium sized expansion (which I have high hopes for in the long run).
2. A big chunk of my city is currently on fire. Breathing isn't the most pleasant experience at the moment and our sky resembles some sort of post apocalyptic landscape.

The only new wide release this weekend is the geezer comedy "Just Getting Started" starring Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones. I define "geezer comedy" as a movie that exists primarily to make repetitive jokes about growing old. These jokes often involve dentures, nursing homes, adult diapers, excessive pill popping, golf, retirement homes, shuffleboard, being out of touch with younger generations, bad fashion, and a lot of "back in my day…" rants. This sub-genre has had its share of hits ("Grumpy Old Men") and misses ("Stand Up Guys"). And many of them feature Morgan Freeman ("The Bucket List," "Last Vegas," "Going in Style").

Before you throw the ageist accusations against me, I'm a big fan of both Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones. A wise man (I'm pretty sure it was the late great film critic Gene Siskel) once asked, "is the film more interesting than a documentary of the same actors having lunch?" Based on the marketing for "Just Getting Started" I would much rather watch Freeman and Jones eat lunch for 91 minutes. These men are legends. They deserve much better than a half-baked crime comedy stuffed with hacky retirement community jokes.

The most relevant recent comp is "Going in Style" which enjoyed a modest $11.9m opening weekend this past April. If I was confident that "Just Getting Started" could match this it would be a great play since it's priced at FB$152. But I think this movie ends up somewhere closer to the $5m-$7m range. Even though there isn't a lot of new competition this weekend the floor for "Just Getting Started" in too shaky for me to trust.

While it's not quite going wide this weekend "The Disaster Artist" (last weeks FML bonus winner) is adding an additional 781 theaters to bring its total to 800. The film did exceptional business in 19 theaters last weekend grossing $1.2m (for a $64k per theater average). Based on the reviews, social media buzz and James Franco's promotional blitz I think the film is going to continue to perform well. But with a cost of FB$150 it's difficult to go all in on it (especially with a theater count of 800). If I screen "The Disaster Artist" I'm going to hedge with a safe anchor like a screen of "Coco."

I will see you next week when a certain space movie is going to make our awards season a lot more interesting/challenging. I'm off to breathe some wildly unhealthy air.

Weekend Picks

My picks for this weekend's top 5 in total box office (this week's cost in FML Bux in parentheses):
1. Coco (FB$390)
2. Justice League (FB$177)
3. Wonder (FB$169)
4. The Disaster Artist (FB$150)
5. Thor: Ragnarok (FB$126)

Bonus Pick of the Week: "The Shape of Water" This is totally dependent on the theater count (unavailable at press time). Guillermo del Toro's dark fantasy film grossed $167k in just two theaters last weekend (for a giant $83k per screen average). The film is already starting to pick up award nominations and word of mouth has been overwhelmingly positive thus far. If it receives a notable theater expansion it should be in the bonus hunt at FB$35.

Coming Attractions

I know everyone is dying to see the animated bull comedy "Ferdinand." But if word of mouth is good for this little film by the name of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" I think it will be really competitive.

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