Wait, you mean we get two standard Friday/Saturday/Sunday weekends in a row? And we only have to factor in Oscar nominations and the first non-football weekend (the Pro Bowl doesn’t count) for months? Sign me up!
What Did We Learn From Last Week?
That M. Night Shyamalan is back. “Split” surprised with a $40M weekend, which was hinted at with its $2M Thursday previews. If you followed those signs and played two screens of it, you are happy right now. Otherwise, you may have fallen back.
We also learned that, oddly, “Monster Trucks” had some legs to it instead of falling off steeply and that protests had little to nothing in common with “20th Century Women”.
What About New Films?
Controversy around “A Dog’s Purpose” have impacted its prospects severely to the point of ProBoxOffice.com cutting its Long Range Forecast for the film by a hefty 28%. It’s hard to defend it going higher than that, really. As the owner of my legal limit of rescue Chihuahua’s I can tell you the last group of people you want to enrage are dog lovers. Still, it’s the Triple Dog Dare of the week given its price.
In what will likely be the last of the awards films that debuted in limited release just before the December 31 deadline to go wide, “Gold” stars Matthew McConaughey in a movie based on the true story of gold deposits supposedly discovered in Indonesia. The film only got one Golden Globe nomination (for Original Song) and reviews on Rotten Tomatoes have been poor.
Something tells me “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” will, in fact, not be the last we see of this series. No Hollywood executive green lights six films and then stops fearing a seventh will just saturate the market.
While not new, “Moana” and “Manchester by the Sea” are back given Oscar nominations and the biggest question of the week is how big an expansion “La La Land” will get.
What are the Combos to Watch this week?
If you apply the latest Long Range Forecast to the three new films that have them you get an average value of around $69.5K and applying that to all films in play this week without Long Range Forecasts yields the default setting for the Lineup Calculator this week. CCR set his bonus bar at $75K this week and if you set his top two tiers to that level and tinker with them to see how they fit with one another you get quite a few combinations to explore (full table 1, full table 2):
There appear to be three main ways you can go this week. If you aren’t scared off of “A Dog’s Purpose” it can be used as both an anchor four, five, or even six times. It can be used as a top level filler for 6x “La La Land” combinations or as a mid-level filler for “Hidden Figures” anchored lineups. But this film obviously carries risk given the negative publicity it has had.
On the positive publicity side, “Moana” returning with a sing-along version to as many as 2000 theaters will be interesting to watch. Comparisons to “Frozen” here are tough, though, because it was still in 2700+ theaters when its sing-along version came on January 31, 2014. The expansion for “Moana” in combination with this new content is different enough that a direct comparison isn’t as clean as you might think and other comps will be tough to come by so we’re really flying blind on this one. If you like it, though, it combines nicely with “Hidden Figures” with multiple screens of each.
None of that might matter, though, based on the “La La Land” expansion on the heels of its 14 Oscar nominations. Two years ago, on the strength of eight Oscar nominations, “The Imitation Game” went from ~1600 theaters to ~2000 and gained 2% its previous Friday/Saturday/Sunday. But three years ago “12 Years a Slave” got nine nominations and expanded by 470 theaters on its way to a 32% increase. In both cases, though, nominations were announced earlier in the calendar and the weekend prior was MLK Weekend, adding more complexity to the mix.
But according to Variety (props to InkSlinger for posting it first), “La La Land” may be getting an expansion unlike any big Oscar movie we have seen in recently, meaning a whole lot of 7x plays. What to put with it? Nine different films fit in that last slot but the choice isn’t exactly easy. “Sing” will face competition from an expanding “Moana” and “Manchester by the Sea” will get an expansion of its own. Might “Patriots Day” do better than expected on the off week for the New England Patriots Super Bowl run? Even “Rogue One” has its supporters, leading to what might be the most debate about a single screen ever.