‘New Mutants’ Secures $7M At Weekend Box Office Where Only 62% Of All Cinemas Are Open

Laveta Brigham

Sunday AM Update: The New Mutants technically saw an uptick in business in Saturday with $2.45M, +4%, but that’s when you back the $750K Thursday previews out of the pic’s $3.1M opening day. Still that’s positive sign of Saturday night moviegoing, at least a pulse. In fact, most of the […]

Sunday AM Update: The New Mutants technically saw an uptick in business in Saturday with $2.45M, +4%, but that’s when you back the $750K Thursday previews out of the pic’s $3.1M opening day. Still that’s positive sign of Saturday night moviegoing, at least a pulse. In fact, most of the movies in the top 10 saw a Friday-to-Saturday surges. The opening for the Disney/20th Century Studios’ movie is now looking like $7M in a nation where only 62% of all theaters are open with auditorium capacity restrictions ranging from 25%-50%.

Says one distribution boss assessing the still challenged coronavirus marketplace, “We’re all waiting for perfection until this becomes something in a rearview mirror.”

Overall, more big circuits are expected to come back online next weekend in time for Tenet, so we’re apt to see more of an increase in ticket sales, but we’re still far off from the NYC and LA boost. If we’re lucky, given California Governor Newsom’s new reopening plans on Friday, next weekend might (key word might) see San Francisco and San Diego reopen in time for Tenet. AMC was able to get Phoenix up and running in roughly a week’s time after getting the all-clear from that DMA to reopen. Mega markets the Northeast and the West are off the map in regards to contributing to the overall gross of New Mutants this weekend, making the South and Midwest the most potent for the Marvel feature. The pic’s best plays were in Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Phoenix, Orlando, Denver and Salt Lake City.

New Mutants drew 66% males, 34% females with 61% of the audience being 18-34, exactly who Disney expected would show up as cinemas reopen during the pandemic. The under 18 crowd repped 14%, and those over 25 repped 60%.

RelishMix reports that the New Mutants social campaign hit the gas hard with a stack of 8 new trailers, spots and BTS videos on Youtube in the last 10 days. The pic’s overall campaign kicked off on July 16 at San Diego Comic-Con @Home with a new 51-second trailer. The panel wound up trending No 3 nationally on Twitter. The cast put together a ‘Meet the Mutants’ in a minute YouTube video which the pic’s social media star Maise Williams posted on Instagram to her 11M followers clocking 755k views; she’s also been pushing the movie to her 2.7M Twitter followers. She also made late-night appearance on Jimmy Fallon and James Corden.

Big circuits are more than happy to lend a hand in lifting their end of the marketing campaign, and there were custom cast introductions posted on AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Dolby and Fandango’s social media. A media blitz included a TikTok First Impression Takeover, multiple NBA Playoff Games and Late Night shows. There was ubiquitous coverage in NBA Playoff Games in every round, for every team, with multiple spots a night for the movie. There were also CW and Freeform integrations featuring cast roundtables and special looks. Digital video exposure for New Mutants included NBA, ESPN, Hulu, Amazon, Roku, Samsung, Twitch, YouTube, and Vevo.

Overall, RelishMix says social media reception for New Mutants was mixed between those being excited to return to theaters, to fanboy cynicism around the portrayal of characters and the pic’s three-year delay.

Overseas in ten markets including France and Spain, where New Mutants came up against Tenet, the Marvel movie earned $2.9M putting its global opening near $10M. Next weekend, the Josh Boone-directed feature opens in 20 offshore territories including Italy, UK, Russia, Australia and Mexico.

We’re waiting to see where Warner Bros.’ Canada play of Tenet ranks, and whether it pegs out Solstice Studios’ Unhinged at 2,331 theaters for No. 2. That Russell Crowe movie jumped 35% between Friday and Saturday, moving from $840K to $1.135M, for a third weekend of $2.6M, -35% and a running total of $8.8M. This weekend’s demos showed 47% male and 53% female, with an overal audience that was 82% over 25, and a diversity make-up of Caucasian 59%, African Americans 18% and Hispanic at 16%.

Orion/UAR’s Bill & Ted Face the Music grossed an even amount of money between Friday and Saturday at $400K apiece putting its opening weekend at $1.06M at 1,007 independent circuits. The movie was originally expected to go theatrical only, but the filmmakers opted for a PVOD theatrical release when it was realized the entire domestic marketplace would not be open. No PVOD results yet, but the threequel was No. 1 on iTunes and the franchise bundle was #2. Similar to New Mutants, Bill & Ted 3 put in a virtual appearance at San Diego Comic-Con with Reeves appearing, a plus since he’s not activated on social media. That said, he’s been showing up for Zoom interviews on The Late Show via Berlin where he’s shooting The Matrix 4. RelishMix reports that the second trailer for the threequel clocked 26M views, with the March 2019 announcement of the movie from the Hollywood Bowl earning 2.5M. Alex Winter (roughly 200K followers on social), Samara Weaving (823K followers), Brigette Lundy-Paine (1.3M), and Kristen Schaal (1.1M followers) have been pushing Bill & Ted 3 on social media per RelishMix.

John Hegeman, who oversaw the campaign, began his career at Orion 30 years ago with Bill and Ted and he closes out his time at the studio with the threequel. During his career, the exec has been known for his innovation in digital and social marketing and cost efficient, targeted alternative and wide releases.

Searchlight’s The Personal History of David Copperfield registered $520K, after a $195K Saturday, +14% over Friday, at 1,360 venues. Many of the arthouse hot hubs aren’t open yet, i.e. NYC, LA San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. It’s not standard for Searchlight to go wide on an opening weekend for a period movie like this, and with the marketplace lacking the prime buzz-arthouse tracks like NYC and LA, it’s hard to pull off a slow platform.

Seeing a jump in its second weekend is Roadside Attractions/LD’s teenage drama Words on Bathroom Walls with $453K from 1,356 sites (+432) for a second weekend that’s +5%; much of that having to do with the increase in the pic’s theater count. Saturday was +10% from last week with the day seeing a Friday-to-Saturday uptick of 35%, moving from $139K to $187K.

2nd Update, Saturday AM: Disney/20th Century Studio’s long-delayed New Mutants finally opened, seeing $3.1M on Friday. That’s the most robust opening day we’ve seen to date in a marketplace since mid-March, when the big circuits closed down. Eight states remain closed, including big hubs NYC and LA, thus hurting a great degree of business. The Marvel movie, which was conceived as a Breakfast Club horror YA movie, should come in at the lower end of its expectations at $7M-$8M.

Why is Disney leading with this movie in the marketplace rather than Mulan, and thus sending that $200M title to Disney+?

Essentially, for the studio to make bank on a big title like Mulan, they need all of exhibition up and running. Like, seriously up and running, and next week Tenet will own most of the screens (and for some time during the fall). Also, with major markets like Los Angeles and NY still closed, the best economics for Mulan may just be a combination of foreign theatrical and Disney+ streaming PVOD dollars.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek told investors recently that the Mulan Disney+ move wasn’t a means of creating a new window, but rather taking advantage of what’s lucrative in the Disney portfolio during the pandemic, when parks are shackled, and that’s Disney+. New Mutants, at a production cost of $67M expended by the previous 20th Century Fox regime, seemed like a good way for Disney to dip its toes in theatrical waters again, at a rather low overhead (P&A is much cheaper in this environment for movies) while also priming exhibition, given that the movie is aimed at the 18-34 demo, which has shown interest in returning to cinemas during the pandemic.

20th Century Fox first dropped a trailer for New Mutants at CinemaCon 2017, well before any thoughts of a merger with Disney. The pic was slated for an April 13, 2018 release, got moved to Feb. 22 last year, then Aug. 2. The original intent for 20th in making this movie was capitalizing on their Marvel IP in an out-of-the-box way, much like they did with Deadpool and Logan. Clearing up some rumors about the production: there was buzz that the movie was scrapped and completely reshot. That wasn’t the case, it was just re-edited, the challenge being between the YA and horror tones. It was a feathered fish: not scary enough, not YA enough. Then the movie’s delay was spurred by the Disney-Fox merger, with the pandemic further complicating. At the end of the day, I hear director Josh Boone, hired off 20th hit The Fault in Our Stars, got to make the movie he wanted to make.

Clarifying the Hulu rumors, there was an idea to possibly extend the movie into a series. But with the Disney-Fox merger happening, 20th just stuck to theatrical. Also, New Mutants had a cofinancing partner in TSG, and the terms of that deal meant the Marvel movie would get a theatrical release. Word is that when New Mutants arrived at Disney, Marvel Boss Kevin Feige didn’t put his fingerprints on the movie to fix it.

Again, it’s a bit of a challenge for many in distribution to pinpoint where these movies are going to wind up, business-wise, in advance until we’re fully up and running, and whatever amount of cash exhibition studios can lay their hands on now during this pandemic is good enough.

Currently, AMC has just under half of all their locations open, moving to around two-thirds next week when Warner Bros. opens Tenet in the U.S. (the pic is already playing in Canada at 300+ theaters). Regal, the No. 2 chain, has 55% of their locations open. There’s a possibility with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s reopening plans for theaters yesterday that Tenet might be able to open in time next weekend in San Diego and San Francisco. If not then, maybe the following weekend. I hear the South and Midwest are the best places for box office right now, with many of the handful of theaters that shuttered during Hurricane Laura already reopened. To give you an idea about last weekend, and how the market continues to remain in repair, 76% of all movie theaters grossed under $10K, one exhibition sources informed me.

Currently coming in second for the weekend — unless Warner Bros.’ Tenet in Canada upsets it (we should know something tomorrow) — is Solstice Studios’ Unhinged, which saw a third Friday of $840K at 2,331 sites (+508), for a third weekend of $2.2M (-44%), for an expected running total of $8.5M. We’ll see if Warners reports Tenet tomorrow. Those box office figures will be rolled into the running total next for the Christopher Nolan movie, which begins early previews in the US on Monday.

Drive-ins continue to lead the way for the Russell Crowe road rage movie, last night’s top 9 being the Paramount in L.A., the Starlight in Atlanta, the Van Buren in L.A., the Cine Parc in Montreal, the Mission Tiki in L.A., the Solano Twin in San Francisco/San Jose area, the Stars & Stripes in Austin, the South Bay Triple in San Diego, and the Delsea in Philadelphia. The pic’s tenth-best theater last night was the Flagstaff 16 in Phoenix. Pic’s top DMAs were Phoenix at 5.6%, Dallas-Ft. Worth at 4.8%, L.A. at 3.1%, Chicago at 3%, Atlanta at 2.9%, Houston at 2.7%, Philly at 2.4%, Denver at 2.3%, Austin at 2%, and Salt Lake City at 1.8%.

Third belongs to Orion/United Artists Releasing’s Bill & Ted Face the Music, which took in $400K at 1,007 locations yesterday on its way to a $1.07M weekend. That translates into about $1K a screen. The movie I hear is playing on 1.7 screens per location. The re-team of Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter was fueled by drive-ins, with its best markets being Salt Lake City, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. Critics, who are usually cruel to comedies, especially long-in-the-tooth IPs like this one, love the threequel at 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. The pic also has an 82% RT audience score. Bill & Ted 3 is also on PVOD this weekend.

Searchlight’s Armando Iannucci period comedy The Personal History of David Copperfield filed $171K yesterday at 1,360 cinemas. I hear the Montcalir Tiki Drive-in Southern California posted the pic’s best gross last night. Best markets were Philadelphia, DC (specifically the suburbs), Phoenix, Denver, and Orlando. The movie skewed close to 60% male, with close to 80% over 45, with a diversity breakdown of 89% Caucasian, 9% Hispanic, and 2% Asian. Positive rate on PostTrak was 74%, with a 50% definite recommend from those who watched the movie. RT was always high for this pic, post its TIFF premiere a year ago, with 93% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. While the movie is expected to come in far below $700K for the 3-day in 4th place, it’s all about the long game for Searchlight.

1st Update, Friday AM: Disney/20th Century Studios’ New Mutants got an early jump on the weekend last night, grossing $750K in a pandemic marketplace where only 62% of all movie theaters are open.

Studios have often said that preview figures aren’t perfect indicators of the weekend box office. I beg to differ: It was more predictable during pre-pandemic times. Now, we don’t know what to expect. One of the reasons why Disney is leading with this movie as theaters reopen is because research shows that the 18-34 crowd is more open and eager about returning to cinemas. Atom Tickets’ polling indicates that 40% of moviegoers are comfortable returning to theaters immediately. A reminder why it’s hard to draw conclusions about how the 3-day will ultimately look is because hard-top theaters in California, New York, New Jersey, Arizona (partial), North Carolina, Michigan, Maryland, and New Mexico remain closed along with the metro areas of Seattle, Miami, Portland and Philadelphia. That said, New Mutants is playing at those drive-ins which are open in those areas. Last night, the Josh Boone-directed Marvel pic played the Rose Bowl pop-up drive-in in Pasadena, CA.

Some of the Thursday night comps that Disney is looking at for New Mutants include 20th’s Stuber ($750K, $8.2M opening), Aviron’s Strangers: Prey at Night ($610K, $10.4M), 20th’s Bad Times at the El Royale ($575K, $7.1M), 20th’s The Darkest Minds ($550K, $5.8M), Entertainment Studios’ 47 Meters Down: Uncaged ($500K, $8.4M), and 20th’s Underwater ($500K, $7M). The weekend estimate for New Mutants is $8M-$10M.

It’s the first notable Thursday night previews for a major studio movie that have been reported since the weekend of March 13-15, the last time all the major circuits were open, and the last time that domestic weekend box office was reported in full before the pandemic shutdown. On the evening of March 12, Sony’s Bloodshot posted $1.2M (before grossing a $9.1M opening weekend) off previews that started at 5pm at 2,631 screens; Lionsgate’s I Still Believe had $780K (also a $9.1M opening) at 2,600 sites plus Imax previews; while Universal/Blumhouse’s The Hunt made $435K at 2,200 theaters from showtimes starting at 7pm (translating into a $5.3M opening). And all of that was in a weekend when moviegoer sentiment was ratcheting down over coronavirus jitters.

Disney’s Searchlight also previewed Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield last night, but we’ll see if they report. The PG-rated period comedy is booked at 1,360 theaters and hoping for at least $700K.

Canada has Warner Bros.’ Tenet in 300+ locations. We heard that middays were great yesterday, however, the studio isn’t apt to report until next week when they roll those figures into the U.S. opening. The movie is launching in 40 offshore markets with an eye on a $25M international B.O. start. The Christopher Nolan movie in South Korea made $2M in its first two days+previews release on its way to a $6M-$7M weekend, that is if theaters don’t shutter due to rising COVID-19 cases.

United Artists Releasing has Orion’s Bill & Ted Face the Music in 1,007 theaters, while Picturehouse has booked its Roman Catholic faith-based movie Fatima in 215 sites. Both are on PVOD and playing independent theaters, not the big chains.

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