Blu-Ray Releases For March 28, 2017
A Monster Calls was co-financed by Participant Media and River Road Entertainment for $43 million. Lionsgate handled pre-sales and took the project to Cannes in 2014 and landed distribution in almost every territory. Focus boarded the pic as US distributor and committed a $20 million minimum for P&A. Focus first dated A Monster Calls for October 14 and then pushed it back a week to the 21st. After very positive audience reactions, the pic was re-dated for a limited awards qualifying run on December 23 and a wide expansion set for January 6, 2017. Things were off to a good start with A Monster Calls, when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and was praised by critics and audiences.
One month later A Monster Calls opened in Spain on October 7 and became director J.A. Bayona’s third box office smash in his home country after The Orphanage (2007) and The Impossible (2012). A Monster Calls took in $28.1 million and was the highest grossing 2016 movie in Spain and that’s where the good news for the picture ends.
Most overseas markets saw a staggered rollout before the end of 2016 and like the expensive Spain productions Alatriste and Agora, which did solid business at home, A Monster Calls saw little interest from auds in almost every country. Outside of Spain, numerous distributors have seen just $11 million in receipts. The current offshore cume stands at $39.6 million. The rollout continues into June.
For the US release, Focus booked A Monster Calls at 4 locations and into a very competitive end of the year market with other award hopefuls. To spread word of mouth, Focus launched screenings of the movie in over 30 markets and landed media partners including AARP and Refinery29. Even with positive reviews and marketing material targeting both kids and adults, all age groups stayed away from A Monster Calls. It was completely lost in limited release and pulled in $30,909 with a troubling $7,727 per screen average. Focus expanded the picture into 1,523 theaters going into its third weekend and it bowed against the wide expansion of Hidden Figures and Underworld: Blood Wars. A Monster Calls was dead on arrival with $2,080,051 — placing outside the top 10 at #12 for the frame led by Hidden Figures and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (also top-lining Felicity Jones). Despite audiences awarding the picture with a fantastic A cinemascore, A Monster Calls posted one of the largest second frame declines on record — plunging 74.2% to $537,262 and then it promptly lost most of its theater count. The domestic run closed with a terrible $3,740,823. Focus would see back about $2 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which barely dents the P&A spend.
Patriots Day was co-financed by CBS Films and Lionsgate for $40 million after a 25% tax credit and both companies split domestic distribution duties. There was a competing Boston Marathon bombing project in development at FOX called Boston Strong, but Patriots Day made it into production first and that other pic has not moved forward. And in a real head scratching move, Lionsgate also co-financed another Boston Marathon bombing project called Stronger with Jake Gyllenhaal and both movies were in production at the same time in April 2016. This project began when CBS Films purchased the life rights of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and partnered with their corporate sibling 60 Minutes for research and development on the attack. An awards qualifying run was set for December 21 and a nationwide expansion dated for January 13. Patriots Day would also mark the third collaboration between director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg, who also had the expensive ripped from the headlines movie Deepwater Horizon released not even three months earlier.
One month before its limited run, Patriots Day premiered at the AFI Festival and received decent notices from critics. Going into its end of the year limited release, awards buzz was non-existent, but Patriots Day managed to pull in respectable numbers. It was booked into 7 theaters and grossed $161,306 with a $23,044 per screen average. It remained in 7 locations for three weeks and cumed $924,082 before expanding into 3,120 theaters. Patriots Day went wide over the very crowded Martin Luther King frame and bowed against The Bye Bye Man, Monster Trucks, Sleepless (also co-starring Michelle Monaghan) and the wide expansion of Live By Night and the semi-wide expansion of Silence.
The film was heavily marketed, with $27.71 million in TV ads (as per iSpotTV) and that number was announced 4 days before its opening, plus millions more on other traditional means of marketing and distribution expenses — with a P&A spend about the price of the picture’s budget. Tracking was pointing to a 4-day holiday frame between $18 – $20 million, but it disappointed with $13,753,384 — and $11,613,765 for the 3-day weekend. Topical films like this are a tough sell and many have a built in resistance factor from audiences — who might have not wanted to re-experience real life horror that was still fresh in their minds. Even with an as good as it gets A+ cinemascore from audiences, stellar word of mouth did not help Patriots Day and it declined 50.5% to $5,753,016 the following weekend. In its third session, the pic fell 51.8% to $2,774,772 and the domestic run closed with $31,886,361. Troubling numbers for a picture with a premise that is designed strictly for the US market. Lionsgate would see returned about $17.4 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross.
Patriots Day has so far pulled in $12.3 million in its international run. Remaining markets rollout through August.