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Greta Gerwig Breaks Global & US Box Office Records For Female Director With ‘Barbie’; Why ‘Demeter’ Deep-Sixed – Sunday Update


SUNDAY AM WRITETHRU after Saturday AM update: The momentum of Barbenheimer, as well as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem and The Meg 2: The Trench, are propelling a significantly better August than a year ago. The weekend is set to top an estimated $118.5M, +76% from the same frame in 2022 per industry sources.

THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER, Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Unfortunately, the tanking of Amblin/Universal’s $45M-costing The Last Voyage of the Demeter stands out like a wart, since we haven’t had many misfires this summer. Granted, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One‘s profitability might be in question next to their exorbitant Covid costs. But these pics have put up tentpole grosses in the nine digits, and have been mass draws (just not as massive as they were hoped to be). Note the filmmakers aimed to keep this period horror pic as cheap as they could: Exteriors were shot in Malta, while interior were shot in Germany, both those countries respectively having tax credits of 50% and 30%.

What makes the $6.5M opening here for Demeter more pronounced is simply given the fact that it’s the only major studio-wide entry this weekend. Note, we’ve known due to tracking that this vampire ship pic was headed for the cliffs.

Look, Amblin makes these elevated genre mid-budget size movies, not necessarily as thrifty as Blumhouse. There was Captive State, which was made for $25M and was released pre-spring 2019 and fell down with a global gross less than $9M. Amblin had some money in that film, but it was largely financed by Participant.

Then there was the under-$10M horror pic, Come Play, which was released when major movie capitals like NYC and L.A. weren’t opened. That grossed $13.1M WW, and I’m told it broke even thanks to vibrant PVOD during the pandemic, and everyone watching at home. Demeter will have to look to the saving grace of downstream ancillaries. Remember, if there’s anything that theatrical day-and-date taught us, it’s that it’s always better to release theatrically, prop the pic’s profile, bomb, and make money thereafter.

© Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Sitting in a movie theater this summer and watching a rhythmic flow of riveting trailers, including not just Barbie and Oppenheimer, but also Sony’s upcoming (what looks-to-be hysterical) holiday romantic comedy, Anyone But You, starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell — then the trailer for Demeter hits the screen and screeches all fun to a halt. What is this overly dark Master and Commander clipper ship type movie? ‘What’s a Demeter?’ one asks. Then two minutes into the trailer, just before you’re about to doze off, one’s response is ‘Oh, it’s about Dracula.’ That was one of the biggest problems I found in the marketing: The trailer was a huge ‘do-not-see-this-movie,’ especially with the non-starry cast (another hurdle for this horror pic).

However, this movie is from the genius marketing team who turned M3GAN into a phenomenon when the country was in a deep-freeze this past winter, and whenever a trailer can’t deliver, it’s because there aren’t enough materials in the film for a studio’s marketing team to harness. It’s not marketing’s fault, it’s the film’s fault. At the end of the day, period horror is a hurdle, as it’s too elevated to excite core 18-34 horror fans, and too low bar to pull in sophisticated audiences — even if you have stars (case in point Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak –$13.1M opening, $31M domestic on a $55M production cost). Filmmaker André Øvredal was able to delight back in early August 2019 with a PG-13 young adult movie, Scary Stories (which by the way, it’s set in 1968, which isn’t as period for a horror movie and a turnoff as clipper ship times).

There is a feeling by some close to the film that the studio got cold feet in propping Demeter this summer. However, audience diagnostics are diagnostics coming out of testing, and marketing budgets are appropriately allocated to those stats as studios look to keep a low overhead on a feature heading into the streaming window.

There were champions of Demeter who tried to get the good word out, i.e. del Toro and Stephen King, who praised the pic on social media:

In addition to critics who aren’t fans of Demeter, audiences are asleep, too, with a B- CinemaScore and 66% positive on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak. Guys bought tickets at 62%, 52% of the 18-34 demo was present, and 25-34 year olds were the largest quad at 32%. Diversity mix was 44% Caucasian, 25% Latino and Hispanic, 16% Black, and 16% Asian/other. Demeter played strongest in the South, South Central and West. The annual income for a part-time entry level worker at McDonalds is higher than what this movie made at the AMC Burbank since Thursday (Demeter‘s highest grossing venue) which is under $12.5K so far.

There’s no need for the studio to use the excuse that stars weren’t available to promote because of the SAG-AFTRA strike, for it remains to be seen whether or not they would have moved the meter on this title. The pic’s problems are inherent. As Deadline film critic Valerie Complex points out about Demeter, “The visual palette drenched in melancholic grays and blues are effective in creating atmosphere, but the film falls prey to predictability.” She also observes that her journey on the Demeter “feels longer than it actually is.”

Furthermore, Universal did push Demeter as much as they could. The pic trailered on movies like Indiana Jones and Mission: Impossible in-theaters. The trailer trended #10 on YouTube, generated 90+ press breaks, and garnered more than 61M views. Spots ran on such TV shows as American Ninja WarriorAmerica’s Got TalentIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia finale, Mayans finale, The Walking Dead: Dead City finale, Shark Week, Big Brother premiere, and The Challenge premiere. On streaming, spots ran on such shows as The BearWhat We Do in the Shadows and Only Murders in the Building.

In the sports arena, Demeter floated into a UFC 291 PPV sponsorship (including coveted spot right before the match begins, lower thirds, billboards, announcer callouts), NBA Finals Games 2&5, MLB All-Star Game, WWE RAW, League’s Cup, All Elite Wrestling: Rampage, Boxing PPV Spence v. Crawford Sponsorship, UFC Fight Night, NFL Hall of Game. While on streaming, the campaign also had placements in NBC’s NFL streaming coverage and a sponsorship of Peacock’s WWE Summer Slam.

Despite all noble efforts here by Uni — no one’s buying tickets for a trip on the Demeter. Amblin’s linear cable deal is with Showtime, so Demeter won’t end up on Peacock. Onward to PVOD, Ho!

David Harbour stars in Columbia Pictures GRAN TURISMO.

Gordon Timpen/Sony

Some trivia: Sony’s Gran Turismo, which was suppose to come out this weekend but was pushed to Aug. 25 because of the SAG-AFTRA strike, has been playing sneaks, just like the Culver City lot promised. I’m told there were Imax early access screenings on Wednesday, regular sneaks on Thursday. Today, there’s a 2 PM at the Regal North Hollywood, LA Live, and TCL Chinese Theatre. Where will the extra money be counted? I understand it will be in the end-running total. The Playstation Studios movie opened abroad with $10.7M from 4,900+ screens in 30 markets. France led all markets with a strong $2.3 million, followed by the UK with $1.3 million. Australia and Germany both launched with $1.0 million.

The chart is updating with Sunday figures, indicated by Saturday and Sunday figures:

1 Barbie (WB) 4,178 theaters – Fri $10M (-38%) Sat $13.2M Sun $10.5M, 3-day $33.7M (-36%), Total $526.3M/Wk 4

2) Oppenheimer (Uni) 3,761 (+149) theaters, Fri $5.1M (-39%) Sat $7.6M Sun $6.1M 3-day $18.8M (-35%), Total $264.2M/Wk 4
Pic’s Imax weekend is $5.5M raising its total in the large format’s theaters to $75.8M. That’s the highest ever IMAX Domestic result for a Nolan title, as well as the 4th highest IMAX Domestic result of all time.

3) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (Par) 3,950 theaters (+92), Fri $4M (-56%), Sat $6.3M Sun $5.4M 3-day $15.7M (-44%), Total $72.7M/Wk 2

4) The Meg 2 (WB) 3,604 theaters (+101), Fri $3.5M (-71%) Sat $5.4M Sun $3.8M 3-day $12.7M (-58%), Total $54.5M/Wk 2

5) Last Voyage of the Demeter (Amb/Uni) 2,715 theaters, Fri $2.62M Sat 2.26M Sun $1.64M 3-day $6.5M/Wk 1

6) Haunted Mansion (Dis) 2,860 theaters (-880) Fri $1.5M (-44%) Sat $2.4M Sun $1.6M 3-day $5.6M (-39%), Total $52.8M/Wk 3

7) Talk to Me (A24) 2,379 theaters (+9), Fri $1.5M (-21%) Sat $2M Sun $1.6M 3-day $5.1M (-23%) Total $31.3M/Wk 3

8) Sound of Freedom (Angel) 2,803 (-172) theaters, Fri $1.3M Sat $1.9M Sun $1.5M 3-day $4.83M (-36%), Total $172.8M/Wk 7

Hayley Atwell and Tom Cruise in ‘Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One’


9) Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning (Par) 2,135 (-287) theaters Fri $1.24M (-34%) Sat $1.95M Sun $1.47M 3-day $4.66M (-29%) /Total $159.55M /Wk 5
In the run-off between very expensive tentpoles this summer, Mission: Impossible raises its global take to $522.4M to Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny‘s $370.6M.

10) Jailer (Indin) 450 theaters, Fri $774K Sat $995K Sun $731K 3-day $2.5M Total $4.1M/Wk 1
This action comedy in126 markets put up some big numbers in Seattle, Dallas, San Francisco, Austin, NYC, Chicago and LA.

FRIDAY EVENING: We told you earlier the Greta Gerwig directed Barbie is crossing $500M today. As of Tuesday, the film became the highest ever at the domestic box office for a female director, besting Frozen II‘s $477.4M, which was co-directed by Jennifer Lee. Barbie is crossing $1.13 billion worldwide today, also delivering another box office record to Gerwig, as the pic became the highest grossing live-action pic from a female filmmaker on a global basis, besting Captain Marvel‘s $1.13 billion, that title co-directed by Anna Boden.

Barbie crosses the half billion point stateside in 22 days, faster than Top Gun: Maverick (30 days) and Super Mario Bros Movie (31 days). Barbie is only one of 20 titles to ever cross half billion at the domestic box office. She’s set to lead the U.S./Canada box office with $30M this weekend.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter movie

‘The Last Voyage of the Demeter’

Courtesy of Universal

Meanwhile, as expected, Amblin/Universal’s The Last Voyage of the Demeter is deep-sixing with $6.5M. Critics loated it at 45% Rotten. Audiences haven’t even expressed if they liked it or not on Rotten Tomatoes, which is an ugly sign. RelishMix reports that social media metrics for the period horror pic are tracking under under horror genre norms by 15% at 118.5M across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok combined. It also doesn’t help that the cast can’t promote on an original film on social media. This is a problem that Meg 2 and Teenage Mutant Turtles didn’t face as they were known pieces of IP; they can be sold strictly off their trailers.

RelishMix’s report on Demeter‘s online chatter before opening: “It runs mixed-leaning-positive, as horror fans are applauding Dracula’s ‘badass’ makeover and thrilled that vampires are getting their fangs back, shedding their softer, more cuddly recent depictions. The R-rating is also adding to the anticipation, promising a darker, more intense experience. Aisling Franciosi, has won some hearts from her previous work (GOThrones) — where are a few grumbles about the vampire’s big reveal in the trailer and the film’s dark cinematography, but this isn’t dampening the general enthusiasm — with some jabs about the CGI, while most threads steer positive.”

Here’s the chart:

1 Barbie (WB) 4,178 theaters – Fri $10M (-38%), 3-day $30M (-43%), Total $522.6M/Wk 4

2) Oppenheimer (Uni) 3,761 theaters, Fri $5M (-40%), 3-day $16.8M (-42%), Total $262.2M/Wk 4

3) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (Par) 3,950 theaters, Fri $3.9M (-57%), 3-day $14.1M (-50%), Total $71.1M/Wk 2

4) The Meg 2 (WB) 3,604 theaters, Fri $3.5M (-71%), 3-day $12M (-60%), Total $53.5M/Wk 2

5) Last Voyage of the Demeter (Amb/Uni) 2,715 theaters, Fri $2.65M 3-day $6.5M/Wk 1

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: The only new wide release this weekend is Amblin’s period Dracula horror pic The Last Voyage of the Demeter being distributed by Universal. It made $750K last night in previews from showtimes that began at 5PM in 2,350 theaters in what is expected to be an underwhelming 3-day single digit million result for the $45M feature production. The R-rated pic expands to 2,715 theaters today.

That preview result is in the vicinity of last August’s vampire horror movie, The Invitation, which did $775K in previews, a $6.8M opening and $25.1M final domestic.

Why is this period horror film on the calendar? Because it’s from horror filmmaker André Øvredal. He excited the early August box office back in 2019 with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. That movie from the shuttering CBS Studios label did an amazing $2.3M in previews for what turned out to be a $20.9M No. 2 opening in the face of the second weekend of Hobbs & Shaw. The sleeper PG-13 horror pic did close to $69M in U.S./Canada and $104.5M WW on what was a $25M production cost.

'Barbie' film review


Warner Bros. Pictures

You’ll remember, Sony’s Gran Turismo moved off this date and opted for two weeks of sneaks before an Aug. 25 launch in an effort to build word of mouth for the feature take of the Sony Playstation game. No bother, as Warner Bros’ Barbie is expected to reign supreme in weekend 4 with $31.8M as she heads for half-billion stateside today. The Greta Gerwig-directed feature take of the Mattel toy has already cracked the $1 billion worldwide box office mark with just under $32M from China. Barbie did $7.1M yesterday at 4,178 theaters, -3% from Wednesday, for a running total through three weeks of $492.6M.

‘Oppenheimer’, courtesy Universal.


Universal’s Oppenheimer is also expected to ease -40% in its fourth weekend with around $17.5M at 3,612 theaters. The Christopher Nolan directed three-hour drama in Imax and 70M made an estimated $3.6M yesterday, -3% from Wednesday for a three-week total of $245.4M.

With more theatrical release date changes expected for the rest of 2023, one distribution head wisely remarked this week, “Watch Barbie and Oppenheimer play through Thanksgiving.”

Some box office trivia: Oppenheimer became the highest grossing film at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre in the venue’s 97-year history hiting $1.53M on Wednesday. That beats the previous record at the venue set by 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens which earned $1.51M after 15 weeks of release. Oppenheimer has been extended at the TCL Chinese Theatre in IMAX 70mm film through the end of August.

“It’s been a historic run for us at the TCL Chinese with weeks of sold-out shows. We’ve added 6am shows for the last four weekends to satisfy audience demand,” says Brett Fellman, executive with the TCL Chinese Theatres. 

Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem should also be down around 40% for a near $17M second weekend. Through its first nine days, the Nickelodeon/Point Grey animated pic did $57M at 3,858 theaters. Turtles did $2.7M yesterday, even with Wednesday.

Warner Bros’ The Meg 2: The Trench is eyeing a 60% decline in weekend two for $12M. Week one for the surprise No. 2 pic last weekend is $41.4M. Thursday was $2.1M, -3% from Wednesday, in fourth place for the day at 3,503.

Disney’s Haunted Mansion, booked at 3,740 theaters, made an estimated $1M, +2% from Wednesday for a two-week running total of $47.2M.

The Tamil language action comedy Jailer from Nelson Dilipkumar opened in 375 theaters on Wednesday doing an estimated $961K, followed by $627K yesterday for a two-day of $1.58M. Logline: A retired jailer goes on a manhunt to find his son’s killers. But the road leads him to a familiar, albeit a bit darker place. Can he emerge from this complex situation successfully?

Content Source: deadline.com


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