‘The 355’ Femme Action Ensemble Collects $350K In Thursday Night Previews – Deadline
SATURDAY AM: Despite Omicron sending many back to the comfort of their households for January, people are still going to the movies, specifically Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Homewhich is snatching a fourth weekend of $30M at 4,012 locations, which is higher than the fourth session takes of previous big Christmas Star Wars titles Last Jedi ($23.7M), Rogue One ($22M) and Rise of Skywalker ($15.1M), and behind Force Awakens’ $42.3M.
Spider-Man took in $8.3M yesterday, and by end of Sunday will raise his cume to $666.5M, which will make it the 6th highest grossing movie at the domestic box office, ahead of James Cameron’s Titanic ($659.3M). Box Office firm Entelligence says that 54.4M tickets have been sold for the Jon Watts-directed MCU sequel to date in U.S. and Canada.
An insider keeps mentioning to me that Spider-Man isn’t the norm, it’s an anomaly at the pandemic box office. I highly disagree with that: It’s an event that plays to all quads and sub-quads and underscores how you can still draw audiences away from their sofas with the right mass-appealing product, even if we’re freaked out over the variant. For those movie theaters rolling in dough over popcorn money, Spider-Man is not an anomaly, but a reminder of Christmas pasts. Deep down, no matter if you’re blue or red state, everyone wants to get out and live their lives and manage safety in a Covid environment. It just boils down to the type of movie you’re going to make extra time for outside your house, and if it looks similar to anything in a Netflix queue, you’re not going to sacrifice time.
The Simon Kinberg-directed-produced and co-written all femme action movie The 355seemed like a perfect title for Universa,l to acquire domestic on at $20M, the movie fitting in its theatrical slate which is about diversity and representation. However critics and moviegoers have detected a by-the-numbers action film, and that bad word of mouth is deep-sixing The 355 with a $4.3M result in 3rd place. Critics at 26% Rotten are saying to avoid, while CinemaScore is better at B+, but Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak worse at 76%. According to EntTelligence The 355‘s weekend B.O. translates to 360K admissions.
RelishMix says about the social media chatter, “Convo for The 355 swings mixed-negative as fans feel like they’re being served a bit of a cliché cookie cutter action package in the spirit of Charlie’s Angels or ‘James Bond’s daughters’ with a diverse mix of kick-ass super charged women. Fans of Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o and Penelopé Cruz are super supportively cheering for success, but amidst the Covid-resurge, moviegoers are tapping their finger for Peacock or another streaming service drop date.”
The title was the code name of the first female spy in the American Revolution and became jargon for a female intelligence agent. As Kinberg told us on Crew Call recently, star Chastain, who worked with him on his X-Men: Dark Phoenix and The Martian production, approached the scribe/filmmaker with the idea of an all-female spy ensemble. They reached out Cruz, Nyong’o, Diane Kruger and Bingbing Fan with the pitch to make the movie outside the Hollywood system so that they could retain fiscal ownership and authorship of the $75M production and share in the pic’s upside in various percentages. FilmNation sold foreign at Cannes, with CAA Media Finance selling domestic and China as Deadline first reported in the news about the massive stateside sale. Universal held this title throughout the pandemic. I’m under the impression that tight deals didn’t allow this movie to be sold to a streamer, however, we’ve seen other foreign sales titles become unwound and head to streamers or PVOD on account of the pandemic.
Of course, older adults aren’t storming movie theaters. The results here aren’t that far off from 2020 pre-pandemic spy bomb The Rhythm Section which opened to $2.7M. Traditionally we’d rake The 355 over the coals on how it’s poised to be unprofitable. However, with studios practicing streaming, they’re trying to adapt the streamers’ volume sense of accounting to their ledgers in that they spend so many multi-million dollars on content and hope to offset that cost with subscriptions and other ancillary revenues and global film rentals.
What happens now with The 355? Well, it’s on a 17-day theatrical window and heads to PVOD very soon. In its 45th day of release, The 355, like the rest of Uni’s theatrical slate moving forward will appear on the pay-tier of Peacock. The 355 will live on Peacock for four months, then head to Amazon Prime, available free to members, for another ten months before moving back to the NBCUni streamer service. Some how, some way, Universal will squeeze blood from this rock.
The 355 leaned 52% female, 80% over 25 and 42% between 25-44, but also 38% over 45 (still not a lot of money here). Diversity demos came in at 51% Caucasian, 20% Latino and Hispanic, 16% Black, & 13% Asian/other. Most of The 355‘s dough came from the West and the South.
RelishMix says that due to 355‘s re-date after a year-long pause there’s “scattered activity for digital materials” but a “strong reach by the all star cast”. The social media universe across YouTube views, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter was close to 120M before opening, with the cast’s social media handles repping 38% of that push with Nyong’o at 14.5M fans, Chastain at 6.5M, Sebastian Stan with a strong Instagram at 8.4M, Edgar Ramirez at 5.3M, Bingbing Fan at 4.1M.
Speaking of Universal’s short windows and titles appearing on PVOD after 17 days, Illumination’s Sing 2 became available in homes to be rented yesterday. That’s not stopping the Garth Jennings-written and directed animation title from scoring a $10.3M third weekend, -49% and hitting $107.3M. That officially makes Sing 2 the highest grossing animation movie of the pandemic at the domestic B.O. (since mid-March 2020) and demonstrates that families will go out to animated movies now. (Do you hear that, Disney?).
Yesterday Disney announced they were pulling their Pixar movie Turning Red from theaters and sending it to Disney+ on March 11. Actions speak more than words, and that maneuver screams the following: Disney+ is in desperate need of new content to keep their subs growing; the ambitious slate of MCU, Lucasfilm, etc series they announced back at Disney Investor Day in 2020 seems quite slow to populate the service. In addition, original animated titles are a challenge to launch at the box office, and it’s conceivable that the studio wanted a healthier marketplace to capitalize on that. In addition, the Pixar movie wasn’t booked in the summer, rather the off-season (like Pixar’s Onward before the pandemic) and odds are the audience diagnostics on the movie weren’t good. Otherwise, why send Turning Red into homes? Again, at this moment, with experts predicting Omicron to peak this week, no one is expecting the pandemic to get worse by the spring; Warner Bros. currently sticking to its March 4 release date of The Batman. Says one mid-sized exhibitor to Deadline this morning, “Turning Red would easily do $100 million at the box office. It is not like it’s going to push the needle on subscribers. Send it to Disney +, but give it to me too.”
Other big deals this weekend: UAR/MGM’s The House of Guccicrosses $50M, still the highest grossing older-skewing drama out there in the pandemic.
Sarigama Cinemas’ RRR directed by S.S. Rajamouli is poised to gross $83K at 23 theaters, after close to $30K Friday from 23 theaters. A majority of Friday night’s gross came from the Galaxy Grandscape in Dallas. The movie follows two legendary revolutionaries and their journey away from home before they started fighting for their country in 1920s.
Sony Classics’ awards contender Parallel Mothers added Chicago, San Francisco, DC, Phoenix and Miami to their mix taking their theater count in weekend 3 from 5 to 18 runs. We hear the existing runs held at low levels, however, The Landmark on Pico Blvd in LA did $5K, up substantially from a week ago. Friday looks like $21K, the 3-day around $70K, putting the pic’s running total at an estimated $210K.
10.) House of Gucci (UAR) 607 (-100) theaters, Fri $176K (-9%)/3-day $684K (-14%)/Total $50.1M/Wk 8
FRIDAY AM: Universal and FilmNation’s greatly panned (24% on Rotten Tomatoes), but star-studded female spy movie The 355 is not off to the best of starts with $350K from Thursday night previews which started at 7PM yesterday at 2,300 theaters.
This will result in likely a single digit opening for the weekend for the Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o, Bingbing Fan, and Diane Kruger title. The 355‘s Thursday night is slightly ahead of Paramount/Eon’s January 2020 disaster The Rhythm Section ($235K Thursday night, $2.7M opening; and below 20th Century Studios first month of 2020 failure, Underwater, which saw a $500K Thursday night, $7M 3-day.
Meanwhile, Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home fell to its lowest daily gross with an estimated $3.9M yesterday, -11% from Wednesday. Daily grosses have slowly fallen Monday through Thursday for the movie. The pic’s running total stands at $635.7M, the 8th biggest movie ever at the domestic box office, behind Jurassic World‘s $652.3M, and ahead of The Avengers ($623.3M) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($620.1M)
Now, before you streaming heads begin to yell “Look what Omicron is doing to the box office!” realize that Spider-Man‘s daily dip here is par for the course for a big Christmas event title in the New Year. Recent Star Wars movies saw their weekday grosses fall to single digits immediately after New Year’s weekend with the Thursday before their fourth weekend hitting a low point, i.e. Force Awakens ($5.9M on Jan. 7, 2016), The Last Jedi ($4.3M on Jan. 4, 2018), Rogue One ($3.8M on Jan. 5, 2017), and Rise of Skywalker ($2.1M on Jan. 9, 2020). Comscore reports that most K-12 schools were already in session yesterday with only 8% off and 84% colleges still on holiday break.
The fourth weekend of No Way Home, after a $56M third weekend, is expected to be down around 46% to hopefully $30M. Previous fourth weekends for the Star Wars movies include Force Awakens ($42.3M), Last Jedi ($23.7M), Rogue One ($22M) and Rise of Skywalker ($15.1M). In other words, don’t assume the floor is falling out of the box office if Spider-Man swings to a $20M-$30M weekend.
Distribution sources are giving me mixed messages: Yes, Omicron is to blame for the slowdown at the box office; no it’s not to blame; that Covid isn’t the reason why some studios pushed titles. Like all things stalling the business, yes, Covid, is the reason why Morbius moved despite Spider-Man‘s success and Sony keeping its Imax and PLF screens. Why is that? The next Sony/Marvel movie was poised to open at the end of the month, and the studio didn’t want an unpredictable business situation after the success of Spider-Man. Best to have the Jered Leto title launch during a warmer and hopefully healthier time on the calendar.
All eyes are on Warner Bros.’ The Batman on March 4. If that movie pushes further in the calendar, then we know we’re in a Covid deja vu like 2020 where a release calendar shuffle occurs, but I’m hearing that is not expected to happen. So rest easy, and remember, in case I haven’t said it enough, box office is product-driven and January is notoriously a horrible time for theatrical releases.
The rest of Thursday’s top 5 according to industry estimates: Uni’s Sing 2 ($1M, -11%, $97M total), Disney/20th’s The King’s Man ($455K,-5%, $21.8M total), Warner/Village Roadshow’s Matrix Resurrections ($299K, -6%, $32.5M), and Lionsgate’s American Underdog ($290K, -5%, $16.3M).