By Daniel Garris
It turned out to be a very close race for first place this weekend between Sony's The Perfect Guy and Universal's The Visit. Heading into the weekend it had been widely expected that it would be a close race between the two PG-13 rated newcomers, but both films ultimately exceeded pre-release expectations by roughly $10 million each. With the studio estimates for the two films only separated by $1.01 million, the weekend race between the two obviously won't be decided until weekend actuals are reported on Monday.
The Perfect Guy currently has the edge for first place with an estimated $26.70 million debut this weekend. The low-budget thriller starring Sanaa Lathan, Michael Ealy and Morris Chestnut significantly exceeded expectations as mentioned and performed very well with its low cost in mind. With The Perfect Guy, Sony closely followed the template of last year's No Good Deed and the opening weekend results were even stronger for The Perfect Guy as it opened 10 percent ahead of the $24.25 million debut of No Good Deed. After having a tough go of it throughout much of 2015, Sony has rebounded nicely over the past few weeks thanks to War Room and now The Perfect Guy. Films with predominantly African American casts have been especially strong performers over the past month, as Straight Outta Compton, War Room and The Perfect Guy have all exceeded expectations.
The Perfect Guy took in $9.95 million on Friday (unlike The Visit and most recent wide releases in general, the film didn't have pre-midnight shows on Thursday), increased a slim 5 percent on Saturday to gross $10.45 million and is expected to decline 40 percent on Sunday to gross $6.3 million. That gives the film an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.68 to 1. It should be noted that Sunday's percentage declines in general are expected to start being sharper now as a result of the start of the NFL season (as well as the end of the summer season). The audience breakdown for The Perfect Guy skewed heavily towards female moviegoers (69 percent) and towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (58 percent). The Perfect Guy received a strong A- rating on CinemaScore, though the film could still very well be quite front-loaded towards opening weekend given how front-loaded No Good Deed was last fall.
The Visit opened in a close second with an estimated $25.69 million. When taking into account its relatively modest pre-release expectations and its small price tag, the M. Night Shyamalan directed horror thriller from Blumhouse Productions arguably represents Shyamalan's strongest debut since the $50.75 million start of 2004's The Village. The Visit opened 42 percent stronger than the $18.04 million start of 2006's Lady in the Water and 16 percent below the $30.52 million debut of 2008's The Happening (both of which carried significantly larger price tags). The Visit represents another strong performer for Universal in what has already been a record-breaking year for the studio.
The Visit started out with $9.22 million on Friday (which included an estimated $1.02 million from Thursday night shows), increased a promising 15 percent on Saturday to gross $10.62 million and is estimated to decrease 45 percent on Sunday to gross $5.85 million. That gives the film an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.79 to 1. That is a strong ratio for a horror film and is a good early sign for the film going forward. The film's B- rating on CinemaScore isn't quite as glowing in comparison, but it also suggests that the film is going over better with moviegoers than many of Shyamalan's more recent efforts have. The audience breakdown for The Visit skewed towards female moviegoers (60 percent) and slightly towards moviegoers 21 years and older (52 percent).
Sony's War Room continued to hold up very nicely with an estimated third place take of $7.4 million. The break-out Kendrick Brothers produced faith based film from TriStar and AFFIRM Films was down a slim 22 percent from last weekend's three-day take. This weekend's percentage hold is made even more impressive given that Labor Day weekend helped inflate last weekend's performance. War Room continues to exceed expectations greatly with a 17-day take of $39.19 million. The film is currently running 84 percent ahead of the $21.28 million 17-day gross of 2011's Courageous and 20 percent ahead of the $32.56 million 17-day total of last year's God's Not Dead.
A Walk in the Woods followed in fourth with an estimated $4.62 million. The Robert Redford led comedy from Broad Green Pictures was down a respectable 44 percent from last weekend's three-day debut. A Walk in the Woods has grossed a stronger than expected $19.88 million through twelve days of release. That places the film 11 percent ahead of the $17.98 million twelve-day take of last year's The November Man and 9 percent behind the $21.87 million twelve-day gross of 2011's The Debt.
Late summer blockbusters Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Straight Outta Compton claimed fifth and sixth place this weekend with respective estimated takes of $4.15 million and $4.09 million. Paramount's Rogue Nation was down 43 percent from last weekend, while Universal's Straight Outta Compton fell 53 percent. Respective total grosses stand at $188.17 million for Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation through 45 days and at $155.71 million for Straight Outta Compton through 31 days.
Meanwhile, 90 Minutes in Heaven debuted in ninth place this weekend with an estimated $2.16 million. The faith based drama from Samuel Goldwyn earned a modest per-location average of $2,461 from 878 locations. Potential for 90 Minutes in Heaven appears to have been limited a bit from the break-out performance of fellow faith based film War Room.
By Shawn Robbins
Sony reports that The Perfect Guy bowed to an excellent $9.95 million on Friday, blowing past pre-weekend expectations. The PG-13 thriller was 13 percent stronger than a similarly themed flick that opened this same weekend last year: No Good Deed ($8.8 million opening day) -- which was also a PG-13 thriller from Sony. Early word of mouth is solid for its genre with a 71 percent Flixster score as of this morning, which is (again) close to Deed's 74 percent Saturday score one year ago. The studio also reports a positive "A-" CinemaScore. For the weekend, Sony is projecting as high as $26.5 million for a likely first place finish, more than doubling the pic's $12 million production budget.
Also making a noteworthy debut yesterday was M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit, posting $9.22 million. The micro-budget collaboration between Shyamalan and producer Jason Blum, mixed with an effective marketing campaign and a teen-friendly PG-13 rating, proved to be a successful formula as yesterday's gross nearly doubled the $4.8 million opening day of Devil in September 2010 -- a film which was written, produced, and heavily marketed under Shyamalan's name (even though he didn't direct that one). Even more encouraging is that early word of mouth appears brighter than most horror/thriller titles released so far this year with 67 percent on Flixster. Critically, with a 62 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, this is by far Shyamalan's best reviewed film since 2002's Signs. For the weekend, Universal is projecting a $21.7 million haul, but BoxOffice is a bit more optimistic and expects a frame closer to $22.5 million if it holds up similar to Devil over Saturday and Sunday.
Holding strong in third place yesterday was another recent Sony success, War Room, as it fell just 7 percent from last Friday to $2.16 million yesterday. That gives the faith-based drama a domestic tally of $33.95 million through 16 days of play, 79 percent ahead of where 2011's Courageous stood at the same point. BoxOffice is projecting a fantastic $7.7 million third frame.
A Walk in the Woods eased 34 percent from last Friday to $1.46 million yesterday. That gives the sleeper hit drama from Broad Green Pictures a ten-day total of $16.7 million. BoxOffice projects a $5.1 million sophomore weekend.
Meanwhile, Straight Outta Compton rounded out the top five with an estimated $1.2 million yesterday -- off 46 percent from last Friday. The biopic has now amassed $152.8 million stateside as it heads for a $3.9 million weekend.
Outside the top five, the latest faith-based flick from distributor Samuel Goldwyn bowed fairly in its own right yesterday as 90 Minutes In Heaven earned an estimated $760,000 from 878 locations (previously reported this morning as $730,000 from 838 theaters). While that falls about 37 percent short of Do You Believe?'s $1.2 million first day back in March, 90 Minutes has had decidedly less awareness and more competition with War Room already doing well among the same target audience. BoxOffice is projecting a $2.1 million opening weekend.
Watch BoxOffice on Sunday for official weekend estimates from the studios.
Friday Report #2: Sources report that the weekend is set to shape up as follows:
The Perfect Guy: $25 million
The Visit: $21 million
Check back tomorrow for updated projections and official studio numbers.
Friday Report #1: Sources report that The Visit scored a solid estimate of $1.02 million from Thursday night screenings beginning at 7pm in 2,206 locations. That's a very encouraging start to M. Night Shyamalan's first suspenseful thriller in seven years, while also besting the $660,000 Thursday night start of Unfriended earlier this year. For other recent comparisons, The Visit came out ahead of Sinister 2 ($850,000), The Gift ($590,000), The Gallows ($900,000), and last year's Ouija ($910,000). All but the latter of those titles released during summer when schools weren't in session, making The Visit's early showing even more solid heading into the weekend. With a PG-13 rating and the marquee team-up of Shyamalan with producer Jason Blum, plus a (currently) fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the pic is aiming to draw both teens and adults this weekend.
Early reports indicate The Perfect Guy did not receive early screenings last night. Also opening in moderate release this weekend is 90 Minutes In Heaven.
More updates as they come.
By Daniel Garris
Sony's War Room continued to claim first place at the box office on Thursday with a daily take of $0.985 million. The break-out Kendrick Brothers produced faith based film from TriStar and AFFIRM Films was up 3 percent from Wednesday and up a very strong 7 percent over last Thursday. War Room was the week's top film with a weekly take of $16.47 million. That represented an 8 percent increase over the film's opening week performance and brings the film's two week total to $31.79 million. War Room is running an impressive 77 percent ahead of the $17.98 million two-week gross of 2011's Courageous.
Based on studio reported weekly grosses, BoxOffice estimates that Broad Green Pictures' A Walk in the Woods placed in second on Thursday with $0.75 million. The Robert Redford led comedy was unchanged from Wednesday and was down a slim 7 percent from last Thursday. A Walk in the Woods placed in second for the week with $13.36 million and has grossed a stronger than expected $15.26 million in nine days. The film is currently running 13 percent behind the $17.52 million nine-day take of 2012's Lawless.
Straight Outta Compton held steady in third place with $0.526 million. The successful F. Gary Gray directed N.W.A biopic from Universal fell 8 percent from Wednesday and 48 percent from last Thursday. Straight Outta Compton took third place this week with $12.69 million. The film was down 30 percent from the previous frame and has grossed $151.62 million in four weeks. That places Straight Outta Compton 41 percent ahead of the $107.37 million four-week take of last year's Ride Along.
EuropaCorp Films' The Transporter Refueled took in $0.431 million to remain in fourth. The fourth installment of the action thriller franchise was down a sharp 11 percent from Wednesday. That isn't a good sign for the film as it heads into its second week. The Transporter Refueled placed in fifth this week with a seven-day start of $10.64 million. The film is running towards the lower end of its modest expectations and 7 percent behind the recent $11.42 million first week take of Hitman: Agent 47.
Paramount's Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation rounded out the day's top five with $0.410 million. The fifth installment of the Tom Cruise led blockbuster franchise was down 3 percent from Wednesday and down a solid 40 percent from last Thursday. Rogue Nation took fourth place this week with $10.79 million. The film was down just 3 percent from the previous week and has grossed a very healthy $184.02 million in five weeks of release.
by Daniel Loria
Bachelorette's legacy in the film industry is tied more to its much-touted success as a VOD release than to its own merits as an ensemble comedy written and directed by a first-time filmmaker. While it's not unheard of for a film to find its audience away from theaters --Fight Club and The Big Lebowski come to mind during the DVD era-the VOD angle in the conversation around Bachelorette overshadows an edgy film that signaled the arrival of an exciting new voice in comedy, Leslye Headland. After tackling the screenwriting duties for the 2014 remake of About Last Night, Headland returns to the director's chair with her latest comedy, Sleeping with Other People. The film pairs Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis as recovering sex addicts whose platonic friendship acts as a de facto support group as they try to establish a semblance of order and stability that's been missing from their lives. BoxOffice spoke with writer-director Leslye Headland about her process, her own love-hate relationship with New York City, and the opportunities (or lack thereof) available to women in independent film.
This is the first of your films that isn't based on one of your own plays. Did it change your process significantly to tackle a project as a pure screenplay?
Writing it was easier, actually; adapting Bachelorette and About Last Night was a whole other process of asking yourself what type of movie your characters want to be in and updating the material so it feels natural and exciting as a screenplay. It was easier to come from a place of nothingness; even though it was a little more daunting in the beginning, there was a little more freedom to create a brand-new story with new characters. The characters in Bachelorette, for example, already come fully formed and are just looking to talk and scream at each other. It was also a bit easier in terms of directing; it was nice not to have anything hanging over your head, thinking you have to fulfill the promise of something else, that it can just be its own thing.
Working in theater, you have the benefit of testing out jokes in rehearsals and with live audiences. How was the workshop experience different with this script?
It definitely starts with the characters, but the whole workshopping aspect still exists in film when rehearsing with the actors. I like to do a reading of the entire script with them and look at every joke in every scene to see how they work with the characters. Then I go back and do another pass. Working with my producers Gary Sanchez, Jessica Elbaum, Adam McKay, and Will Ferrell and talking about how to properly direct improv and how to get the most out of every joke in every scene, we end up looking at scenes in screening rooms with anywhere between 15 to 35 people, where we get to see which jokes are landing and what is getting the biggest laughs. So it's not too different, actually; it's just a different order of events from what you go through in workshopping a play.
One of the aspects I liked most about your new film is the way you use New York City. There's always something vaguely foreign to me about Woody Allen's or Martin Scorsese's New York; Taxi Driver and Annie Hall were only released a year apart, and their stories are set 20 blocks apart, but it's like I'm looking at two different universes in those films. That New York, or more precisely, those New Yorks, were long gone by the time I moved to the city. The New York in Sleeping with Other People is very much of the moment, the suburban-chic Upper West Side and the trendy up-market Lower East Side singles scene; it hops around the city in a very familiar way-something that today's TV shows aren't really able to pull off. How did you go about setting the scenes throughout the city?
I initially wrote the film to be set in San Francisco because I thought it would be fun if it was set in a different city. Little did I know that San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to shoot a film. The financiers of the film pretty much all agreed across the board that we shoot the film in New York. I've always been a bit of a reluctant New Yorker, if that makes sense. It was a very aspirational city for me, coming from Maryland. But then after going to NYU and living here on and off for the last 10 to 15 years, I've grown to have a complicated relationship with it. I love it whenever I look out to the city from my window and think to myself, this is what I've always wanted. But then, and this happened just the other day, I'll be walking in the city, step into a hole, trip and smash my face. So once we decided to shoot in New York, I worked with my team to have a nice mix of "Movie New York" and "Real New York." And that's really my experience living here, because there is this idyllic quality to the city, but there's also the realistic aspect of living here ("gritty" is the wrong word to describe it), and I think that captures the reality of the characters in their age group. In Broad City, it makes sense that they live in Queens; in Girls it makes sense that they live in Bushwick. In this film, the characters are a bit older, in their mid-to-late 30s, so it makes sense that they move between boroughs. They might work in Chelsea but then they might party on the Lower East Side. There was a lot of thought going into it, not only in what the locations say about the characters, but in how New York can influence and affect any given scene.
I continue to find myself drawn to the characters in your films, especially from a sort of comedic antihero perspective-I love that they are all, in one way or another, so marginally likable. Sleeping with Other People is no exception; there's a raw, nearly transgressive honesty to your leads in the film that was also very present with the ensemble in Bachelorette.
When I started writing, I thought of my characters as cartoons that could feel my feelings and have conversations with each other that I was having with myself. Each character would embody some sort of world view that I had at one point held, thought about, or entertained. So it was very surprising for me when I made Bachelorette, first as a play and then as a film a couple of years later, when people would go up to me and say, "They're so unlikable!" I couldn't help but take it personally. I didn't really feel that way, I just felt that I was challenging myself and asking these sort of tough questions-Why do you hate your body? Why do you feel that you can't have love in your life?-through characters who were extremely flawed but were asking themselves very serious questions.
If anybody is really honest with themselves, then no one is really that likable. We all have those threads of narcissism, self-preservation, and self-interest. It's interesting for me to start with characters from that place and see where they go. Once you start to delve deeply into the psychology of any character, you're going to find a lot of things you don't like. What really surprised me is that both the play and the film turned out to be comedies. It really wasn't my intention to be funny when I started writing, and I was mortified when people started laughing at Bachelorette on stage. I didn't realize that the pain I was writing about is so easily interchangeable with humor. I think most of the time the reason people laugh at my characters is because they recognize something in themselves, either something they personally identify with or know someone like that. The closest thing I can compare my characters to is Peanuts cartoons; they're cartoons but they're going through so many existential feelings that it's funny because they really shouldn't be concerned about those things-you're a kid, go play with a ball. My characters are a lot like that. Regan, Kirsten Dunst's character in Bachelorette, shouldn't be so worried about getting married-she's beautiful, she's got a great job, a great life; anybody would kill for that. It doesn't really make sense for her to go through this existential crisis because of somebody else's happiness.
In recent years we've seen a couple of male filmmakers follow up an indie comedy with a high-profile studio gig, but we rarely see women making that leap. Manohla Dargis had a very interesting three-part series on the subject in The New York Times this past December, and I'm also thinking of Kyle Buchanan's story, "How Sundance Exposes Hollywood's White-Guy Problem," for Vulture. Why do you think it's so rare to see women working in independent film get the chance to take on higher-profile films?
That's a good question; I'm having trouble thinking of a woman who has actually been able to make that leap-especially with a studio comedy. Karyn Kusama did Girlfight in 2000 and went on to do Aeon Flux and Jennifer's Body years later. Kimberly Pierce made Boys Don't Cry and then directed the Carrie remake nearly 15 years later. You're looking at a good decade before these women are offered studio gigs, and the movies I just mentioned aren't even comedies. I really can't think of any women who fit the model of going from an indie comedy to a studio comedy; I'm not sure it even exists. The answer you might be looking for is that women have to go above and beyond to prove themselves and get these kind of opportunities, but the sad truth is that we don't even get the chance to go above and beyond to prove ourselves. You don't really even get a shot at that stuff a lot of the times. I've chosen to make my films independently because I want to make the films the way I want to, and the independent route makes the most sense for that. Is your question geared more towards the trend of seeing some people going from directing 500 Days of Summer to The Amazing Spider-Man and from Safety Not Guaranteed to Jurassic World?
It's an observation a number of people covering the film industry are making-a lot of the promising women filmmakers whose work we get to see at film festivals don't end up helming a studio movie for a number of years, if at all.
Definitely not in two to five years, no. Somebody once said to me that men get hired on their potential and women get hired on their experience, and I think that quote really nails it: it really does come down to plain old black-and-white sexism. 500 Days of Summer is a wonderful movie made on a budget, and Marc Webb did a great job directing it. I can see how a studio executive looked at that movie and gave him the Spider-Man gig; those movies are basically about the same sort of character-it's a connection they can make rather easily. I'm not sure too many studio executives can make that connection when they see Bachelorette, however, not if I went in and pitched a thriller. They'd probably just go, "But you just directed a wedding movie." Yes, but there's a lot of Steadicam shots in there, a lot of tension that I'm building up for the last 40 minutes, following multiple characters, and so on. Now, I haven't had the direct experience of going through that, but I'm assuming not many studio executives would be able to make that leap. It's just pure sexism, and it becomes a problem because we can't get the experience without being hired on our potential. We're in a no-win situation; many women would love to tackle these kinds of movies, but the reason we don't get to see it is because other people can't make that leap with us. I haven't had that much experience with these issues, though, because I write my own stuff and go out and get the money for the projects and that's really hard in itself. Even after the movie is made, it's really hard to just land a fair distribution deal; you're just fighting against the tide.
Sony reports that War Room led the field again on Wednesday with $0.96 million, up 12 percent from the same day last week. The faith-based drama's 13-day total stands at $30.8 million, 76 percent more than Courageous earned through the same point.
Broad Green Pictures' A Walk In the Woods took second place yesterday. Although official figures haven't been reported by the studio, BoxOffice estimates the film grossed around $0.76 million. That gives it an estimated $14.5 million eight-day haul, 12 percent behind where The Debt stood through as much time.
Straight Outta Compton claimed third place with $0.57 million yesterday, off 47 percent from last Wednesday. The biopic's domestic haul now stands at an impressive $151.1 million.
The Transporter Refueled pulled $0.485 million on Wednesday. With $10.2 million earned through six days of play, the fourth film in the action franchise is pacing 6 percent behind Hitman: Agent 47.
Filling out the top five, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation tacked on another $0.423 million yesterday -- down just 39 percent over last Wednesday. The hit franchise sequel's domestic take is now $183.6 million.
By Daniel Garris
Sony's War Room claimed first place on Tuesday with $1.14 million. The low-budget Kendrick Brothers produced faith based film from TriStar and AFFIRM Films was down 71 percent from Monday's Labor Day performance and down a slim 6.5 percent from last Tuesday. War Room continues to exceed expectations with a strong twelve-day take of $29.85 million and is set to surpass the $30 million mark today. The film is running an impressive 74 percent ahead of the $17.18 million twelve-day gross of 2011's Courageous.
Broad Green Pictures has yet to report an official Tuesday gross for its A Walk in the Woods. Based on yesterday's daily percentage holds in general, BoxOffice estimates that the film placed in second for the day with $0.95 million. That places the seven-day total for the Robert Redford led comedy at approximately $13.76 million. A Walk in the Woods is running 12 percent behind the $15.69 million seven-day take of 2011's The Debt.
Straight Outta Compton took third place with $0.743 million. The successful F. Gary Gray directed N.W.A biopic from Universal fell 66 percent from Monday and 50 percent from last Tuesday. Straight Outta Compton surpassed the $150 million domestic mark yesterday and has grossed $150.52 million in 26 days. That places the film 41 percent ahead of the $106.45 million 26-day take of last year's Ride Along.
EuropaCorp Films' The Transporter Refueled followed in fourth with $0.722 million. The fourth installment of the action thriller franchise declined 56 percent from Monday, which represented one of the day's stronger daily percentage holds among wide releases. The Transporter Refueled has grossed $9.73 million in five days. That is towards the lower end of the film's modest expectations and places the film 4 percent behind the recent $10.17 million five-day start of Hitman: Agent 47.
No Escape rounded out Tuesday's top five with $0.530 million. The action thriller starring Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan and Lake Bell was down 65.5 percent from Monday and down 46 percent from last Tuesday. No Escape has grossed $20.54 million in two weeks, which places it 8 percent ahead of the $18.94 million two-week take of last year's The November Man.
Paramount's Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation claimed sixth with $0.527 million. The fifth installment of the Tom Cruise led blockbuster franchise fell a sharp 76 percent from Labor Day and 41 percent from last Tuesday. Thanks in part to strong holding power, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation has grossed an impressive $183.19 million through 40 days of release.