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THB Headlines, August 30, 2022
So there is finally enough actual news to do a Headlines piece before August ends… which makes one wonder why some of this stuff is being announced in these dog days of summer.
This newsletter today was meant to be longer, but to be honest, I got lost in my own head searching for a clear answer on one important story and my brain overheated. If I can’t explain it simply and then embellish with history, I’m not doing it right. So that should be up tomorrow.
Meanwhile, on we march…
Let’s start with Netflix’s drop of theatrical release dates for 23 titles between now and the end of the year. The number at the end of each is the length of the theatrical.
One Week or Day-n-Date Release
A Jazzman’s Blues (9/23, theaters 9/16) 7
Luckiest Girl Alive (10/7, theaters 9/30) 7
The Good Nurse (10/26, theaters 10/19) 7
Descendant (Netflix and theaters 10/21) 0
Wendell & Wild (10/28, theaters 10/21) 7
Is That Black Enough For You?!? (11/11, theaters Nov.) 7?
In Her Hands (11/16, theaters 11/9) 7
My Father’s Dragon (Netflix and theaters Nov.) 0
The Volcano: Rescue From Whakaari (12/16; theaters 12/9) 7
12 – 16 days Release
Athena (9/23, in theaters 9/9) 14
Blonde (9/28, theaters 9/16) 12
Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (Dec. 2, theaters Nov. 18) 14
Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical (12/25, theaters, 12/9) 16
The Pale Blue Eye (1/6/23, theaters 12/23) 14
And here is where it starts to get interesting…
These 3 films seem to have Theatrical Releases of more than 3 weekends.
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (Dec. 16, theaters Oct. 27 Mexico, U.S. 11/4) US 42
White Noise (12/30; theaters 11/25) 35
All Quiet on the Western Front (10/28, 9/29 theaters in Germany and October select markets) Unclear domestic
And these 5 titles are high priority, but still unscheduled for theatrical.
The Swimmers (11/23, theaters TBA)
The Wonder (Dec., theaters Nov.)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (12/23, theaters TBA)
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio (12/9; theaters TBA)
Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Dec; theaters TBA)
What is unknown about all of these releases is how many screens on which they will be shown, for how long in terms of screen count, and of what “quality” the screens will be. We know (to date) that Netflix will not be acknowledging box office returns.
While it is obviously hard - or impossible - to have a real claim as to potential theatrical commercial value without having seen the films, the films that seem to have the most potential commercially are:
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a sequel to a big hit. $165 million domestic, $146 million international. In a traditional theatrical window, playing with all the major domestic exhibitors, they would likely be looking at a $50 million-plus opening weekend for this film. And perhaps the delaying in dating means that Netflix is negotiating just that kind of release. November 18 is wide open right now. Even working in the second weekend of Wakanda Forever, if Netflix is willing to commit, say, $40 million domestic in advertising in support of the domestic release, this film can open really well. The first film in the (now) series opened the day before Thanksgiving, 6 days after Frozen II.
The 2 Musicals - Scrooge and Matilda. I love the score of both of these films going in. The original Scrooge (live action, 1970) is my personal favorite Christmas movie, with Albert Finney playing Ebeneezer when he was 34, Ronald Neame directing, and a supporting cast including Sir Alec Guinness, Dame Edith Evans, and Kenneth More (C.B.E.), who kills as the Ghost of Christmas Present. I still find myself singing “Thank You Very Much,” and dancing around the house, smiling about both its meanings. (As Jorge R. Gutierrez would tweet, “Hollywood.”) The new version is animated. Sigh. But still, a terrific score.
Matilda is a great piece of family “content.” It is a great stage show and I expect it will be a great movie. But a lot depends on execution, as the literalism of film has forced some changes that may make it less magical… or more. Matthew Warchus is a great stage director and has never quite found a unique voice as a filmmaker. I am hoping for the best. Every kid should love this movie.
Just because Disney doesn’t have enough faith in their Bob Zemeckis Pinocchio for a theatrical release doesn’t mean Netflix can’t make a nice box office haul on theirs, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio. I’ve personally been covering co-director Mark Gustafson since a piece I did for Entertainment Weekly on the Nissan: Toys ad in 1996. Laika’s stop-motion Missing Link flopped a few years ago, but Laika has delivered stop-action movies that have grossed $40 million - $60 million on the regular. This one starts with one of the biggest brands in family entertainment.
The rest of the theatricals may be Oscar nominees, but they aren’t especially commercial (though, you never know). I’m happy for the filmmakers if they think 35 or 42 days in a portion of the theatrical market is a big win. I am sure that many of these titles are going to be quite brilliant. But even if they are, many just aren’t audience bait, beyond the indie level. And is Netflix going to break its back to get a $1 million gross on a brilliant, challenging film? I don’t expect so.
Taking all or any of their titles from 600 screens to 3000 screens is really up to Netflix. Will they spend the marketing dollars? Everything else is easily negotiated.
I hope Netflix will walk and chew gum at the same time. They are going to be doing a lot of that when the advertising tier arrives. Might as well start here. They won’t likely have a clearer path than Glass Onion anytime soon.
We shall see.
Ryan Faughnder had a baby last week, so Meg James is on the “Wide Shot” desk while he is on baby leave. Her first lede story is on such an important and undiscussed subject. After decades of fighting for credits on television shows and movies, anything more than 10 or 20 seconds of credits have now been relegated to “what is that in the corner?” status, not only on streamers, but on lots of broadcast and cable networks as well. It’s important to remember that people are connected to the arts and just because there is a contractual loophole doesn’t mean everyone should leap through it.