Blu-Ray Releases for March 8, 2016
Universal backed the expensive $37 million budget and gave Howard The Duck a strong marketing campaign costing an additional $8 million. The marketing material was well received, which showed only partial glimpses of Howard, but Universal certainly hurt the pic by canceling national sneak previews of the film and delayed press screenings to the day before its release. But then again, its hard to sell what is considered one of the worst movies of all of time. Howard The Duck opened in 1,554 theaters to a very disappointing $5,070,136 — placing #3 for the weekend led by Aliens in its third frame and new opener Friday The 13th Part VI. The film quickly become a punchline for failure and misguided green-lit productions and declined 46.4% to $2,719,620 the following weekend and bombed out of theaters with $16,295,774. A few weeks later, Frank Price resigned as Chairman of Universal after the atrocious box office run for Howard The Duck and the disappointing returns on the even more expensive Legal Eagles.
Warner Bros and Village Roadshow co-financed In The Heart Of The Sea with a budget reported to be between $110 – $115 million, though Warner Bros claims the costs were closer to $100 million. The Ron Howard directed pic was originally scheduled for a US release in March 2015, but Warner Bros pushed the March release date back nine months to December with an awards qualifying run. In The Heart Of The Sea received mixed to poor reviews, which killed off any possible awards hype and while it was the only wide release opening on Dec 11, the glut of awards fare targeting older audiences and the marketplace slowing down as the holidays approach — plus the arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens the following weekend, made the expensive film’s break even point a very difficult reach. Warner Bros gave In The Heart Of The Sea a pricey marketing blitz, with over $30 million just in domestic TV ads, plus millions more in print, online, radio, virtual print fees, where the P&A costs were north of $40 million. Warner Bros opened the film in 3,103 theaters and it pulled in a soft $11,053,366 for the weekend and sank a huge 68.7% in its second frame to $3,465,000 when Star Wars sucked the air out of the marketplace. In The Heart Of The Sea was yanked out of 2,418 theaters going into its third weekend (which at the time of release was the third biggest theater drop on record) and grossed a mere $965,800 in 685 theaters. The pic closed its domestic run with $25,020,758. WB would see back about $13.7 million after theaters take their cut of the ticket price.
International numbers were on the soft side of respectable with $18.5 million in 38 markets for its first weekend, though stiff competition awaited the title in the upcoming weeks. In its second overseas frame, In The Heart Of The Sea expanded to 52 markets and pulled in $12.6 million. Co-financier Roadshow distributed the pic in their home country Australia to a disappointing $643,535 opening and its reported total stands at $1,789,985. In The Heart Of The Sea’s overseas cume stands at $68.8 million and the worldwide total at $93.8 million, leaving this as one of WB’s biggest flops of 2015 after Pan and Jupiter Ascending.
MGM was on financial life support when the studio had its majority shareholder Kirk Kerkorian give a $500 million cash infusion to continue film operations and then saw $53.6 million in write-downs on Species II, Dirty Work, and Disturbing Behavior. The budget is estimated at $35 million for this much maligned sequel to the surprise 1995 hit, which managed $113.3 million worldwide. Reviews for Species II were as bad as they get and even actor Michael Madsen, whose résumé is an archive of mostly Z-grade films, said “Species II was a crock of shit.” The pic opened in 2,510 theaters to a soft $7,274,008 — placing #4 for the weekend led by City Of Angels, Lost In Space and Titanic. Audiences seemed to agree with Michael Madsen and gave Species II a miserable C cinemascore and it quickly flopped out of theaters with $19,221,939. Overseas receipts were a terrible $7.6 million. DVD/VHS sales apparently sold well and spawned two cheap direct to video sequels.
FOX financed Victor Frankenstein for $40 million with some capital from TSG — a $400 million fund set up by Chip Seelig in 2013 to cover part of Fox’s slate of films for 5 years. Originally set for a January 2015 release, Fox pushed the pic back to October and then swapped the release dates for Victor Frankenstein and The Martian. After a solid P&A spend, Fox opened Victor Frankenstein during a crowded Thanksgiving frame and the poorly reviewed film opened with a dreadful $617,378 on Wed and pulled in a dead on arrival $3,572,607 over the five day frame — placing outside the top 10 at #12. The weekend gross was $2,469,341 with an $883 per screen average, dethroning Won’t Back Down as the worst opening ever in over 2,500 theaters. Audiences gave Victor Frankenstein a miserable C cinemascore, which led to a quick demise at the box office. The pic dropped a steep 69.8% in its second frame to $746,834 with a $267 per screen average for the weekend and lost most of its theater count going into its third weekend in release. Playing in 578 theaters, Victor Frankenstein took in a mere $200,407 for its third frame and closed with just $5,775,076. Overseas numbers are soft, but there were signs of life in some markets, with $28.3 million to date and a few territories are scheduled for release through April. UK numbers were surprisingly poor with $651,620 coming in #8 for its first weekend and it flopped out of release with $1.3 million.
Xanadu is notable for being Gene Kelly’s final role and also helping inspire the start of the worst of the year awards, the Razzies. Olivia Newton-John turned down another musical Can’t Stop The Music to star in Xanadu, which considering that disaster turned out even worse than Xanadu, she wisely chose the slightly less awful movie. Conceived as a cheap roller disco musical, the budget swelled to an estimated $13 million, as the script was written on the fly during filming. Xanadu was heavily marketed and pushed by Universal and critics savaged the picture. It opened with $1,471,595 placing #3 for the weekend led by The Empire Strikes Back in its 12th weekend and The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu. Xanadu closed its run with $22,762,571 and while hardly the financial disaster its made out to be, its lived on as a ‘so bad its good’ cult item.