December 31, 2015

EARLY WEDNESDAY BOX OFFICE: “The Hateful Eight” Goes Wide


In the bygone movie palace days Quentin Tarantino worships, exclusive “roadshow” engagements of major Hollywood releases sometimes ran for months before the films spread nationwide.  The super-hyped 70mm release of his THE HATEFUL EIGHT (Weinstein) was originally scheduled for a 2-week run, but that was swiftly cut down by half, and then to 6 days, and finally to just 5, with the opus arriving in 1958 mostly digital theatres on Tuesday night.  The studio’s scamper for earlier wide release may have been a belated realization that it was letting precious holiday potential slip through its fingers, but it may also have been a response to indications that Eight has more appeal to QT fanatics than to general audiences, and that it may not enjoy the extended runs of his biggest hits.  That view was supported by Wednesday’s underwhelming $3.5M Wednesday, according to preliminary numbers at Deadline.  That number put it in 4th place for the day, behind not just The Force Awakens, but also Daddy’s Home and Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip, and it’s a number Django Unchained (which opened on Christmas Day 2012) exceeded every day of its first 2 weeks of release.  Since Eight is far from a date movie, business is due to dip on New Year’s Eve, before rising on Friday and Saturday and then sinking on Sunday’s travel day (some of that will be cushioned because Eight will raise its theatre count by 10% on both Thursday and Friday), and it suggests a wide release total (not counting the $6.7M from its 1st 5 days at 100 theatres) of $17M by Sunday.  It appears to be on track more for a Kill Bill-sized $70M-ish US total, rather than the $120.5M of Inglourious Basterds or the $162.8M of Django.  With a moderate $60M production cost, Eight should still be profitable, but hardly the cash cow the troubled Weinstein Company desperately needed it to be–and although Tarantino is a worldwide brand name (Django and Inglourious made 62-63% of their total box office overseas), it’s not clear how much those audiences will take to a 3-hour epic set mostly in a single room either.

Elsewhere, of course, the story was still STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (Lucasfilm/Disney).  With a mild 5% drop on Wednesday to around $27.5M (that compares to a 1% increase for Avatar on the parallel day, but that film only earned $18.5M that day), Force is at about $628M.  It’s on track to be at $725M+ by Sunday, and to become the highest grossing release in the history of the US box office (not accounting for inflation) a week later, passing Avatar‘s $749.8M initial release.

The other holdovers were mostly strong as well.  DADDY’S HOME (Red Granite/Paramount) declined 5% to $6.5M, with $59M to date and around $90M by Sunday.  ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP (20th) fell 9% to $4.3M, with a $54M total and $80M by Sunday.  SISTERS (Universal) barely moved, down 2% to $3M and a $47M total, in line for $65M by Sunday.  JOY (Annapurna/20th) slid by 9% to $2.6M with a more problematic $25M earned so far, with perhaps $40M by Sunday.  THE BIG SHORT (Regency/Paramount) had the best hold of all, down just 1% to $1.9M (and still in the fewest theatres of any of the wide releases), for $22M and $32M by Sunday.  CONCUSSION (LStar/Columbia/Sony) is fading, down nearly 10% to $1.7M, for $16M to date and $25M by Sunday.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."