Summer of 2016 is officially here as far as Hollywood is concerned and we’re now 50 days out from the July 1 bloodbath weekend that will see three major releases — Legend of Tarzan, The BFG, and Purge: Election Day — battling it out with the second weekend of Independence Day Resurgence and the third weekend of Finding Dory.
As someone with a dog in the fight, I’m obviously anxious about Legend of Tarzan. As noted in my last post — WB has been pretty frugal so far. They remind of one of those scenes in war movie when the enemy is charging and the good guys are standing and waiting and the hero is going …”Hold your fire …. hold your fire….” waiting until the enemy gets in range. I just hope WB has plenty of bullets or arrows or whatever when the time comes — and that time is coming pretty soon.
Now for starters, let’s be real and acknowledge there wasn’t a huge audience out there waiting for Tarzan the way there was theoretically at least such an audience for Independence Day or Star Trek Beyond, just to name two. It was an uphill battle just because, although Tarzan is a familiar character, I think it would be fair to say that he wasn’t considered particularly relevant or in-demand prior to the start of the campaign. This is of course not true for those of us who’ve had lifetime love affair with the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs — but I’m not talking about 10,000 or 20,000 of us — I’m talking about the 20 to 50 million of them — the frequent moviegoers who have to get motivated to see the film in theaters.
One of our readers (Emcube, thank you) pointed out that LOT has 98% “Want to See” and over 25,000 ratings on Rotten Tomatoes . So let’s line up a few of the relevant titles and see how that stacks up. The percentage is the percent who say they want to se it, and the number is the number who have clicked in and registered their view in anticipation of the film. The percentage is always close to 100% because people don’t bother coming to the page unless they’re excited about the movie. (The ones in bold are WB pix.)
May 20: Nice Guys: 97% and 18,271
May 27: X-Men, Apocalypse: 99% and 86,550
May 27: Alice Through the Looking Glass: 97% and 17,470
May 31: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows: 95% and 35,549
June 10: The Conjuring 2: 96% and 26,389
June 17: Finding Dory: 99% and 120, 465
June 17: Central Intelligence: C98% and 20, 456
June 24: Independence Day Resurgence: 45,714 and 99%
July 1: Legend of Tarzan: 98% and 25,550
July 1: The BFG: 97% and 10,976
July 1: The Purge: Election Year: 95% and 18,855
July 8: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates: 94% and 7.019
July 8: Secret Life of Pets: 99% and 25,080
July 15: Ghostbusters: 95% and 56,063
July 22: Star Trek Beyond: 7,284 and 99%
July 22: Ice Age: Collision Course: 95% and 18,304
What are the takeaways from that?
- The “big boys” are Dory at a whopping 120,465 and X-Men Apocalypse at 86,550. They are head and shoulders above everyone else, including LOT.
- LOT is pulling a respectable number and is reasonably “in the mix” — not a disaster by any means, but not up there with the “big boys.”
- LOT trails Independence Day Resurgence here by just about the same factor it trails IDR on Twitter — about 1.8 to 1. IDR looks strong but not monster strong.
- LOT has the most crowded weekend with three major releases. Fortunately LOT is ahead of the two competitors — but LOT’s big problem is that:
- Finding Dory comes out 2 weeks ahead and could still be doing $30-40m on July 1.
- IDR comes out one week ahead and could easily be doing$50m on July 1 weekend.
- The BFG and The Purge Election Day are no sloucnes and will probably consume $60M between them on LOT’s opening weekend.
- The foregoing means that on the July 1 weekend, the competition is likely to take a $140M bite out of the box office and guess what? The average total box office for the July 4 weekend the last two years has been $130M. Houston, we have a problem.
- Fortunately way back in 2012 this weekend did do $230m overall, so there is room for performance by LOT — but it’s a crowded field.
- Ghostbusters, even though it’s the object of a lot of hate, still looks strong and is waiting one week after LOT is out, and will make it difficult for LOT to not have a big dropoff the second week.
Now — LOT has gotten to where it is largely on the strength of a stealth marketing campaign that has spent almost no money so far. It’s just internet trailers, trailers beginning to show up in theaters, poster, stills, and some articles — plus social media sites. In the larger scheme of movie marketing, all of that is the cheap stuff that doesn’t cost much.
Bottom line: There’s nothing here to change the sense that LOT is currently tracking in the direction of an opening weekend in the 30’s, maybe 40M — but definitely nowhere near the $50M opening it needs to be considered a success and to have a shot at generating sequels.
Stay tune . . .