3rd Update, Saturday AM: Horror films in the wake of New Line’s It Chapter Two ($91M opening) have been in a frightening free fall at the domestic box office and for various reasons.
They were either too long or based off of a non-mass appealing piece of source material (i.e. Warner Bros.’ truly sublime Doctor Sleep which went into a coma with $31.6M domestic final), so cheap that their distributors believed that there was no reason to spend any more money than what was necessary (hence lower grosses, i.e. Brahms: Boy II, Countdown), or just flat out awful (the F-graded Grudge and The Turning plus the D+ Cinemascore pic Black Christmas). After seeing broad comedies get swallowed up whole by streaming and minimized at the box office, the last thing major studio executives need is for another crowd-appealing genre, in which moviegoers have a great shared experience, gets diminished entirely on mobile phones.
‘The Invisible Man’ Review: Elisabeth Moss Visibly Great In Reboot That Resonates Far Beyond 1933 Horror Classic
And so, this weekend’s opening for Universal-Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man, now between $26M-$27M off its $7M production cost (before P&A), is a wonderful reminder that low budget genre fare continues to work. Grosses for the Leigh Whannell directed and written film have improved from Friday afternoon to a current $9.9M (including Thursday night’s $1.65M). Universal’s hope is that Invisible Man continues to play like a thriller with Saturday being even with Friday’s box office (or even better) and not like a horror movie which is typically front-loaded.
While arthouse-mixed-with-genre can often divide horror fans (i.e. Midsommar, Crimson Peak), socially conscious genre fare clicks, resonates, and wins all around with critics and audiences, and that’s what we’re seeing here again with Invisible Man in the wake of Universal/Blumhouse’s Oscar-winning blockbuster Get Out and Jordan Peele’s second directorial Us. Universal knows that in a cookie cutter brand major motion picture event world, it pays to be truly unique. They learned that the hard way when they executed that old fashioned formula of star (Tom Cruise) + franchise (The Mummy). It didn’t necessarily yield a box office result like it would in the 1980s, 1990s or the early aughts (and there were other things that were wrong with that 2017 movie). When turning a noted property, like Invisible Man, on its head, you have to keep it cheap, and trust in a visionary. Australian Insidious Chapter 3 and Upgrade filmmaker Whannell walked onto the Uni lot and pitched his own twist on H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man (it’s not about the man, rather the woman, specifically the invisible man’s girlfriend), rather than being shackled with some pre-conceived tropes of a dusty property.
Moviegoers want to organically discover their franchises, and not be told they have to commit themselves to a “Dark Universe” which is what Universal did so ambitiously back with its 2017 reboot of The Mummy. Uni will say that with this weekend’s success of Invisible Man, it’s a great step in putting their whole monster-verse back on the rails. And while that is true, what’s amazing here is how they built another crowd-appealing, critically acclaimed (90% certified fresh), socially conscious movie that is so much about now and #MeToo with Invisible Man. It’s not just senseless pulp, blood and guts. In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s guilty verdict this week, which reinvigorated the #MeToo movement, Universal and Blumhouse couldn’t have hoped for a better time to release Invisible Man. Time‘s film critic Stephanie Zacharek hits the nail on the head when describing how Invisible Man speaks to bigger issues: “The movie’s violence opens up a larger question, keyed to the way the world reacts when a woman steps forward to call out abuse. What is it that makes us believe a woman’s story? If a woman is struck by an unseen hand, as Cecilia is, has it really happened? Where’s the proof? In The Invisible Man, it’s her word against his silence—and he doesn’t even have the guts to show his face.”
Even though guys over 25 remained the majority for Invisible Man with 39%, females grew on Friday night over Thursday, with females 25+ repping 29% of the audience (up from 28%) and females under 25 at 17% (up from last night’s 13%). The latter loved Invisible Man the most at 80%, while females overall (46%) enjoyed Invisible Man a bit more than guys, 79% to 76%. PostTrak remained great at 4 Stars, while CinemaScore was a B+, on par with Split, and just under Get Out‘s A-.
Late improv maestro and Second City pioneer Del Close famously said that when it comes to art and the audience, “treat your audiences like poets and geniuses and they’ll have the chance to become them” and it’s clear that Universal continues to have that philosophy in mind in developing their slates (i.e. pics like Yesterday, 1917, etc), shepherding their filmmakers and taking big swings in a franchise-laden event cinema atmosphere. While Disney plows forward with Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel and live-action reboots of their classic toons, Uni is meeting the challenge to think outside the box.
Yes, yes, of course, let’s not forget that this is the same studio that made the disastrous feature adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. The IP was historically always risky (that’s why it wasn’t made decades ago), but given Uni’s flair for blockbuster jukebox musicals like their Mamma Mia movies, they believed Cats to be a worthy gamble given the fact that the stage musical made over $4 billion, the movie was casted up for the young with stars like Taylor Swift and for sophisticated adults with award winning actors like Judi Dench and Ian McKellen, and the pic was in the hands of Uni’s Les Miserables hitmaker director Tom Hooper. However, the stage musical’s unusual premise of singing cats (sans plot) coupled with uncanny valley designed felines did not speak to today’s moviegoers with millennials exclaiming WTF. At the same time over the holiday season, Uni teamed with Amblin to distribute a British WWI movie, 1917. Talk about risky. That’s certainly not a four-quad movie, and the subject matter is largely for old dudes. And who wants to see another British war film so soon after Dunkirk? But there was a huge hook, one that was big enough to get people to leave their couches, spent over $350M WW and see something that they’ve never seen before in a war movie, and that was that the cinematography was the star in its one continuous, jarring, awesome shot.
We’ll have more analysis later in the morning. Here’s Friday night’s industry estimates:
2nd Update, Friday Midday: The Invisible Man is on his way to a $9.1M first day, including last night’s $1.65M, for a 3-day between $23M-$25M at 3,610 theaters. I’ve heard from various exhibitors that advance ticket sales are far ahead of Universal/Blumhouse’s Ma which posted at first day of $7.2M and opening of $18.1M last June. As of this minute, ticket sales are surging so by tonight we may see a higher result. At this range, it’s a very good start for the $7M Univeral-Blumhouse production. Get Out posted a first day of $10.8M, which included $1.8M previews, on its way to a $33.3M start.
Paramount’s 3rd weekend of Sonic the Hedgehog is taking 2nd with an estimated $13.85M at 4,177 off a Friday of $3.2M (-50%), -47%, and running total by Sunday of $126.1M
Disney/20th Century Studios’ The Call of the Wild in its second weekend is seeing $12.875M at 3,865 off a Friday of $3.5M (-56%), overall -48% for the weekend. That puts its 10-day at $45.5M.
In 4th is Sony Pictures TV/Funimation’s My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising which is looking at $5M-$6M at 1,260 after a $2M-$2.2M Friday. 10-day could hit $9.3M on the high end.
Warner Bros.’ Birds of Prey could file 5th with $3.9M at 3,124, -43% for a running total in weekend 4 of $77.7M. Sony’s Bad Boys for Life is now in 6th in weekend 7 with $3.6M at 2,708, -38% for a running total of $196.6M.
STX’s Brahms: The Boy 2 is looking at $2.6M in weekend 2 in 7th place, -55%, for a 10-day of $9.7M.
WarnerMedia’s TruTV’s Impractical Jokers which expanded from 357 theaters to 1,820 is seeing $725K today, -24%, for a 3-day of $2.2M, -16%, and a 10-day of $5.3M.
1st Update, Friday 7:34AM: Universal-Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man made its first appearance Thursday night at 7 PM shows nationwide with $1.65 million at 2,850 theaters, an amount of cash that’s near both studios’ previous collaborations, Get Out ($1.8M Thursday) and Split ($2M). Invisible Man expands to 3,610 today.
Both 2017 titles overperformed their $20M-predicted tracking at the time, with Split posting a $40M start, and Get Out taking $33.3M. Invisible Man, directed and written by Leigh Whannell, is forecasted to be in the mid- to high-$20M range, a solid start for the $7M net production shot with Australian tax credits However, like Split and Get Out, it’s expected to go higher potentially in the $30M+ zone.
Exits and reviews indicate that milepost is possible, with Invisible Man‘s Rotten Tomatoes score at 92% Certified Fresh being just under Get Out‘s 98% certified fresh, but much higher than Split‘s 77% certified fresh and Halloween‘s 79% certified fresh. The RT score is key because that’s the catalyst that will persuade non-genre die-hards to buy tickets.
PostTrak last night for the R-rated Invisible Man showed 4 stars with a 53% definite recommend. Guys over 25 dominated at 47% last night, with 28% females over 25, 13% females under 25 and 12% men under 25. The biggest quad was the 25-34 folks at 39%, with a diversity read of 49% Caucasian, 22% Hispanic, 13% Asian and 12% African American.
Among those films in regular release Thursday, Disney/20th Century Studios’ Call of the Wild led with an estimated $1.45M, off 3% from Wednesday, for a first-week cume of $32.6M. Weekend 2 is estimated to be down 45% for a second-frame take of $13.6M for the Harrison Ford movie.
Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog ends Weekend 2 with a running total of $112.2M after a $1.17M Thursday, +2% from Wednesday, in second place for the day. Sonic should see a third weekend that’s around $17M, -35%.
Third place according to early AM estimates goes to Sony Pictures TV-Funimation’s anime feature My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising. Last night we heard that not all the pic’s theaters were accounted for on Wednesday and instead of a $1.7M opening day it was actually $2.5M at 1,275 locations. Right now Thursday looks like $793K (updated), -68%, per estimates, for a two-day take of $3.3M. 3-day outlook is around $6M.
PostTrak shows that fans are out in bulk with the pic scoring 5 stars and a 73% definite recommend and an 86% general audience, 15% families. Both parents and kids under 12 gave the movie 4 stars. Boys 10-12 made up half the kid crowd, while girls 10-12 showed up at 28%. Overall combined audience stats were 34% guys under 25, 24% men over 25, 23% females under 25 and 19% females over 25.