SATURDAY AM: Refresh for more analysis and chart Sony’s Bullet Train saw a $12.6M Friday which the studio believes will get the David Leitch-directed title to $30M. Some see it lower between $27M-$29M, however, the thing with Sony is that they typically don’t get over their skis in their projections.
The CinemaScore is a B+, which interestingly enough is the same as Kingsman: Secret Service, one of the comps that was being floated around before the pic’s opening. That 2014 movie opened to $36.2M. PostTraks aren’t shabby at 82% positive, and a 63% recommend. The pic was always going to hit with the over 35 demo, and it’s clear here with close to 40% showing up. The 18-34 are at 58%, who I hear would always be slow to come out to this movie, and the hope was that there could be more of them; this despite the fact that they’re the dominant demo.
Why is Bullet Train not a supertrain? The pic is bit of a feathered fish when it comes to action movies: Brad Pitt in what looks to be a stylized live-action take of an anime cartoon. While the action is relentless, bloody and fun, one of the hang-ups moviegoers have to get past is that the movie never shuts up. It’s too talky, and not good Quentin Tarantino talky, and doesn’t take its time to tonally breath like a Nic Winding Refn movie. All that snark said, it’s well worth the price of Imax and PDF admission and a lot of fun (both formats delivering close to 40% of the B.O. though yesterday). For joe shmoe moviegoer, it isn’t exactly Mr. & Mrs. Smith which also starred Angelina Jolie ($50.3M). You can’t fault Sony for having the guts to be original here, and as the new slogan goes in a vaccinated pandemic: better for a film to be theatrical with a window and have ancillary legs than to get buried day-and-date on a streaming menu. That’s the only way to have peace of mind here in spending $90M before P&A.
Bullet Train was fast in the West and Southwest but its top ten theaters were on the coasts. Diversity demos were 46% Caucasian, 24% Latino and Hispanic, 14% Black, 16% Asian/other.
RelishMix noticed that there was a mixed positive reaction to Bullet Train materials online before opening:
“Fans are loving The Bee Gees’ Staying Alive as the trailer soundtrack and the fun thriller tone of the film that they say was shot in a tube on a LED virtual stage at Sony during the pandemic. Others credit that the story comes from novel Maria Beetle by Kōtarō Isaka and call-outs to director Leitch’s credits; John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, Hobbs & Shaw. Mentions for ‘waiting for streaming’ are few — as the draw of a popcorn thrill ride is clear. Some snarks are on the fence that it looks like Fight Club but wondering if John Wick will show up.”
RelishMix says that the pic’s social awareness runs 17% above action genre norms with a core social media universe of 224.6M across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. Activity spiked on the movie’s Instagram following Monday’s red carpet premiere in Hollywood adding 1.1K fans per day plus a hefty stack of 21 videos on YouTube including NBA spots, Father’s day spots and vertical social mobile spots, which would normally only be seen on Facebook and Instagram.
Universal’s Jo Koy comedy Easter Sunday is arriving at where the studio was expecting it — $5M. Audiences aren’t exactly falling out of their seats with laughter giving the DreamWorks movie a B+. PostTraks were lower at 71% positive, and a 49% recommend. Who came out? Women at 54% with 51% between 25-44 and 31% over 45. Diversity demos were a great 39% Asian, 27% Caucasian, 16% Latino and Hispanic and 12% Black and 6% other.
FRIDAY AM: Sony’s Bullet Train, starring Brad Pitt, saw $4.6M in Thursday previews which began at 3pm at 3,596 locations. The pic is estimated to bring in around $30M this weekend as summer’s last big tentpole before a two-and-month drought sans four quad movies.
Interesting to note, though not necessarily a comp since it was branded IP, is that Bullet Train from director David Leitch had previews that were not that far from what his Fast & Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw posted back in early August 2019, that being $5.8M.
Next to late summer Thursday previews, Bullet Train is ahead of The Meg‘s Thursday ($4M, $45.4M opening) and also last year’s The Suicide Squad at $4.1M (even though that latter title was day and date on HBO Max and saw a start of $26.2M).
Critics are sour on Bullet Train at 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences love it more at 83% on RT.
Universal/Dreamworks’ Easter Sunday starring Jo Koy saw $500K at 2,400 theaters which began at 5pm yesterday. Thursday preview comps for Easter Sunday are around that of Marry Me (even though that was day and date on Peacock) which was $525K, and ahead of August 2019’s The Art of Racing in the Rain which was $450K. The family comedy is expected to open in the mid single digits this weekend. Critics aren’t fans of Easter Sunday at 32% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes.
Universal fired up the marketing campaign for Easter Sunday back in March which saw trailer placements in front of Jo Koy’s sold out “Funny is Funny” comedy tour to entice his fan base to see the movies in theaters. An interactive QR code was displayed on screens at his stand-up shows, sending them to the film’s Fandango page. Jo Koy also showed up at CinemaCon in late April leaving exhibitors in stitches and sharing how Steven Spielberg saw a universal comedy in the stand-up’s story.
The film campaign also included a 30-second spot in game six of the NBA Finals, placement in seven TV premieres including The Bachelorette, Better Call Saul, So You Think You Can Dance, The $100,000 Pyramid and What We Do in the Shadows. Additionally, Easter Sunday sponsored an episode of Family Feud which featured Jo Koy and his real-life family vs. Lydia Gaston and her real-life family. High-impact digital placements ran on Meta (Facebook/Instagram), TikTok Top Feed along with a digital presence on YouTube, Female Lifestyle and Cinephile sites.
There was a partnership across the AAPI community included a #GoldOpen VIP event which included a screening and Q&A which was part of Gold House’s Meta Gold Talk series. There was also a comedy showcase hosted by Jo Koy spotlighting up and coming AAPI comics and a Rise for Comedy VIP Comedy Night in partnership with Rideback Ranch which included more than 300 press, influencer and talent attendees (including Simu Liu, Awkwafina and Lisa Ling). That event featured a panel on Representation in Entertainment moderated by Kathy Lim (Director of Media & Journalism for the McCarthy Foundation), a comedy set including Ronnie Chang, Jimmy O. Yang.
Among movies in regular release, Warner Bros.’ DC League of Super Pets led Thursday and the week with $2.2M and $33.8M respectively. Universal’s Nope was second with a second Thursday take of $1.56M, -26% from Wednesday, and second week of $27.4M and total of $87.3M. Uni was third with Minions: The Rise of Gru with a fifth Thursday of $1.46M, -8% from Wednesday, fifth week of $17.9M and a running total of $325.8M. Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Love & Thunder was 4th yesterday with a fourth Thursday of $1.3M, -12% from Wednesday, and fourth week of $19.9M for a running total of $306.8M. Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick in its tenth Thursday saw $1.17M, -3%, for a week’s total of $13.5M, and running total of $654.1M.