Box Office Report: 'Blade Runner 2049' Disappoints Those Who Thought It Would Do Better

Box Office Report: 'Blade Runner 2049' Disappoints Those Who Thought It Would Do Better

Oct 09, 2017

Blade Runner 2049Here's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Blade Runner 2049 - $31.5 million ($31.5 million total)

2. The Mountain Between Us - $10.1 million ($10.1 million total)

3. It - $9.6 million ($304.9 million total)

4. My Little Pony - $8.8 million ($8.8 million total)

5. Kingsman: The Golden Circle - $8.1 million ($79.9 million total)

6. American Made - $8.0 million ($30.4 million total)

7. The Lego Ninjago Movie - $6.7 million ($43.8 million total)

8. Victoria & Abdul - $4.1 million ($5.9 million total)

9. Flatliners - $3.8 million ($12.3 million total)

10. Battle of the Sexes - $2.4 million ($7.6 million total)


The Big Stories

Warner Bros. has been on quite the run lately. Since putting the disaster of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword in their rearview mirror, it’s been (mostly) a string of giant hits. Starting with Wonder Woman (and then immediately forgetting about The House), the studio rolled with Dunkirk, Annabelle: Creation and It. The Lego Ninjago Movie is currently their second biggest loser of the year, but they now have to keep a watchful eye on one of the most acclaimed films of the year.


35 Years in the Making But Only 30 Years Later

Blade Runner 2049 has registered a 89% with critics who write at Rotten Tomatoes. It’s the fifth film released by WB this year to hit 85% or higher and all of those films grossed $175 million or more domestically. Denis Villeneuve’s continuation of the Blade Runner mythos cost somewhere between $150-185 million based on multiple reports and that does not count additional P&A. So by the most conservative of estimates, the film’s target number for breaking even is $450 million; a number reached by 15 films so far in 2017. Except only 12 of those have reached the $350 million mark it may need overseas to get out of the red.

Tracking had Battle Royale 2049 in the mid-40s, as did the first Friday estimates, which put the film in the range of the Mad Max: Fury Road opening. That total dropped sharply by Saturday morning and then dropped even further to end up with an estimated $31.5 million, dropping it from what appeared to be the 14th best opening of October down to the 21st. Reporting that this is not a great opening for a film of its budget is accurate. But even at a mid-40s opening, where its ceiling was probably still $110-120 million, it would still be considered a disappointment. The only thing that really changed is that the tracking companies and early estimators failed once again and have deflected their own accountability by just using the word “BOMB” as loudly as they can write it.

Only 12 of the 20 films with higher openings even hit $100 million. It’s a number WB would certainly have liked. Lose a little bit of money but with the larger battle of financing a film people will talk about for longer than your average big budget blockbuster. Maybe even wrangle a couple nominations and a win finally for Roger Deakins. The highest-grossing films ever in October were sci-fi films: Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity and Ridley Scott’s The Martian. They are also the only films in the Top 25 of this month’s openings with higher Rotten Tomatoes scores with 97 & 93%. This may help Blade Runner 2049’s chances during awards season but the numbers are against it at the box office.

Only seven of the films that have opened to $30 million or higher in October (Gravity, The Martian, Shark Tale, Gone Girl, Couples Retreat, Puss in Boots, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa) managed to hit a 3x multiple at the box office. Battle Royale 2049 would need an estimated 3.17 multiple to reach $100 million. Not very promising. On the other hand, if we wanted to be optimistic, we could look at live-action films in October since 1998 that have opened to at least $15 million and had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 86% or higher. That would produce this choice list:

Gravity, The Social Network, Argo, The Martian, Captain Phillips, Three Kings, Bridge of Spies, School of Rock, The Departed, Zombieland, Gone Girl.

Not only have all of those films hit a 3x multiple, but only two of them (Zombieland and Three Kings) were less than 4x. We would like to remain optimistic for Blade Runner 2049 but it's going to depend on just how big that drop is next week. Anything less than $20 million and $100 million domestic will be in serious jeopardy. Even more so than right now.


Tales of the Top Ten

Two other films opened this weekend and managed to go 2-3 to Blade Runner 2049’s one. Lionsgate was hoping to get themselves another franchise going in My Little Pony. Power Rangers already crashed and burned earlier this year and not even the Bronies could make their new animated effort a success. My Little Pony opened to less than Frankenweenie ($11.4 million), the 3-D re-release double feature of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 ($12.4 million) and the 2003 MGM release of Good Boy! ($13.1 million). With inflation, even the 1986 My Little Pony film that opened in just 1,003 theaters grossed the equivalent of $13.3 million in its run today. There is just no positive way to spin the start of the 57%-rated cartoon.

Thankfully for Fox, War for the Planet of the Apes managed to get into profit thanks to an additional $334 million international. The Mountain Between Us looks to join the pile of red that has built up for the studio since the spring success of Logan and The Boss Baby. The $35 million production of Idris Elba and Kate Winslet surviving and finding love on a cold mountain did not impress critics; only 46% of those at RT approved. It won’t be a huge loser but its going to need about another $78 million overseas to break even. Fox’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle is trying to limp its way to $100 million and is doing about double the business overseas. But it is still about $90 million short before it can be labeled a hit.

It, on the other hand, is every definition of a hit. Over $300 million in the U.S. and $600 million worldwide. The Stephen King adaptation has now passed The Fate of the Furious as the third most profitable film of the year -- that’s PROFIT! -- just behind Beauty and the Beast and Despicable Me 3. Universal is not having quite the same success with American Made but it should not be counted out as a failure yet. Maybe for Tom Cruise, though, as this is going to be his lowest-grossing domestic vehicle in over three decades, but the international crowd still loves him. The grosses have more than doubled overseas and with another $51 million combined they can put another win on the board with another likely one next week in Happy Death Day. The Great Wall and The Mummy remain the only finalized failures for the studio in 2017.

Finally, Focus’ Victoria & Abdul expanded this weekend into 732 theaters and had a better start ($4.1 million) than last week’s more star-studded and anticipated Battle of the Sexes from Fox Searchlight. The Emma Stone/Steve Carell film did only drop 30% this weekend but it will be well out of the Top Ten next weekend and with the bombardment of ads likely to stop soon, people will forget about it, as could possibly voters. If it fails to even outgross the critical disaster that is the Flatliners remake (which managed to find two positive reviews for a 4% rating) that would be a little embarrassing, even for a limited release. Try striking while the iron is hot next time and forget the platform release.

Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

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