Refresh for updates and top 10 chart: On one of the most difficult box office dates on the calendar, Super Bowl weekend, and during a pandemic, Warner Bros.’ second weekend of its Denzel Washington-Rami Malek-Jared Leto thriller The Little Things made $2.1M at 2,206 theaters, -55% from its first weekend; putting it’s running domestic total through ten days at $7.7M As would be typical during a Super Bowl Sunday, don’t count on a lot of business today, especially for a R-rated movie aimed at older men.
Little Things second weekend drop is a bit more steep than the second weekend of Open Road’s Liam Neeson movies The Honest Thief (-43%) and The Marksman (-35%); in regards to the latter, that movie was coming off of MLK weekend. That said, Little Things second weekend is a bit higher than Marksman second weekend ($2M) and a bit below Honest Thief‘s ($2.35M) (arguably in the same range). Sources believe Little Things‘ stateside endgame is around $14M, which is just under Honest Thief‘s $16M. Worldwide Little Things took in $3.5M from 23 territories for an overall global running total of $13M.
Despite the controversy that WarnerMedia has stirred up with its day-and-date theatrical HBO Max release strategy during the pandemic, what’s interesting is that its movies are making some sort of money at the box office, particularly when you compare them to those Netflix movies’ getting a theatrical play. While rival major studios remain ticked off at Warner Bros for hiding their weekend numbers in Comscore, Netflix doesn’t report their B.O. figures at all. More specifically, box office sources told me that Malcolm & Marie made hardly any money last weekend. People simply don’t go out of their way in droves to see Netflix movies in theaters (the streamer has a current pic-by-pic agreement with No. 3 chain Cinemark). So, what’s going on here with Warner/HBO Max movies making some cash? A couple of things: Netflix has substantially more subscribers than HBO Max, which means the general viewing public is already predestined to watch Netflix movies at home. Second, it’s quite possible there’s substantially more moviegoers than HBO Max subs in the current box office markets of the South, Midwest which are open.
Nonetheless, this ‘Let the consumer decide where they want to see the movie’ philosophy is a surefire means to cannibalize business and devalue film product and franchises when the marketplace opens up again. Deciding where the consumer wants to see a movie currently during a pandemic, especially with B.O. capitals NYC and LA closed, and moviegoers still overall weary about Covid, is a whole other thing. Movies aren’t the same as live sporting events or concerts. They’re visual media assets. WarnerMedia would be wise to do what’s best for their asset rather than consumers determine their business parameters. If this theatrical window formula was such a failure, then how the hell did it become the revenue-generating machine for the major studios over the past few decades? HBO Max plans 12 studio-budgeted releases for its service annually, but that was always sorta part of the plan going back to its announcement of the Warner Max label. Distribution sources say this whole day-and-date theatrical streaming release strategy ends when the world opens back up.
While Super Bowl weekend often gets a bad rap for being slow at the box office, looking back at last year, the industry was swimming in cash: The third weekend of Bad Boys for Life led the box office with $17.6M (total cume at that point in time was $148M) with Orion/UAR’s Gretel & Hansel ($6.1M) and Paramount/Eon’s The Rhythm Section ($2.7M) opening for an overall 3-day of $84.1M (+12% over Super Bowl weekend 2019). Again, money both exhibition and distribution would love to have again, even if Rhythm Section didn’t work.
In regards to the state of exhibition, Seattle reopened some theaters this past weekend, however, no hint as to when New York City or major markets in California, like Los Angeles County –which will be shuttered a year as of March– are apt to come back to life in the near future. A positive sign? Sea World in San Diego reopened its animal exhibits (as opposed to its rides) as of Saturday morning due to the state’s restrictions on zoos lifting. The theme park had been closed for the past two months. In regards to New York City, distribution sources tell us that their estimate is that the boroughs will open before Manhattan does, which was always the thinking going back to last year.
Other handicaps at the box office this weekend, despite only 45% of all cinemas being open (repping close to 70% of the box office) including severe Arctic weather in the Midwest and a big snowstorm in the Northeast. Little Things‘ top ten venues were 1. Paramount Drive-In Los Angeles, 2. West Wind Sacramento Drive-In, 3. West Wind Solano Twin Drive-In (Concord, CA), 4. West Wind Capitol Drive-In (San Jose, CA), 5. Harkins Estrella Falls Phoenix, 6. Santikos Palladium San Antonio, 7. Coyote Drive-In Ft. Worth, 8. Ford Drive-In (Dearborn, MI), 9. iPic River Oaks District Houston, 10. Cinemark Town Center (Pharr, TX). And the pic’s top ten markets were 1. Dallas, 2. Phoenix, 3. Houston, 4. Greater New York Metro area (NJ, CT, and Long Island/Upstate NY theaters), 5. Chicago, 6. Detroit, 7. Atlanta, 8. Denver, 9. Salt Lake City, 10. Orlando. Warners reports that PLF and Large format ticket sales remain prime drivers, even for a film like Little Things, during the pandemic.