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Uni/Blumhouse’s ‘Split’ Is A Hit With $40M; ‘Xander Cage’ Falls Down – Monday Final

Deadline logo Deadline 1/23/2017 Anita Busch
© Provided by Deadline

Monday, 1:25 PM FINAL: Split, the psychological thriller from horrormeister Blumhouse and put into market by the well-oiled marketing and distribution team at Universal Pictures, was a monster in its debut, grabbing $40M for director M. Night Shyamalan. The director certainly seems to have found the perfect partner for his films with Jason Blum. Paramount/Revolution Studios’ xXx: The Return of Xander Cage came in second with only $20.1M domestically but with an international haul of a better than estimated $51.5M from 53 markets with China yet to bow. TWC’s The Founderserved up a lukewarm $3.4M, despite the strong performance of its lead actor Michael Keaton. The adult audience just hasn’t found this film yet.

Next week we will have three more films entering the race. First up is the family film A Dog’s Purpose which has been swimming through controversy of the call for a boycott so it remains to be seen what kind of impact that will have on the Amblin/Universal movie. Next are two R-rated films appealing to different audiences: the sci-fi actioner Resident Evil: The Final Chapterfrom Screen Gems/Constatin Films which is the last in the franchise and the Matthew McConaughey starring Gold which is opening in about 2,200 theaters but, once again, is not expected to be a goldmine for TWC.

Here’s the final chart:

1.) Split (UNI/Blumhouse) 3,038 theaters / 3-day: $40M / Per screen average: $13,170 / Wk 1

 2.) xXx: The Return Xander Cage (PAR/REV) 3,561 theaters / 3-day: $20.1M / Per screen: $5,514 /Wk 1

3.) Hidden Figures (Fox) 3,416 theaters (+130) / 3-day: $15.7M / Per screen: $4,602 / Total cume: $83.7M / Wk 5

4.)   Sing (ILL/UNI), 3,193 theaters (-500) / 3-day cume: $9M / Per screen: $4,519 / Total: $249.3M / Wk 5

5.) La La Land (Lionsgate) 1,865 (+17) / 3-day: $8.3M / Per screen: $4,519 / Total: $89M to $90M / Wk 7

6.)   Rogue One (DIS), 2,603 theaters (-559) / 3-day cume: $7.2M / Per screen: $2,770 / Total: $512.3M / Wk 6

7.) Monster Trucks (PAR) 3,119 theaters (0) / 3-day: $7M (-35%) / Per screen: $2,268 / Total: $22.68M / Wk 2

8.) Patriot’s Day  (CBS/LG), 3,120 theaters  (0) / 3-day: $5.7M / Per screen: $1,844 / Total: $23.39M / Wk 5

9.) Sleepless (OR) 1,803 theaters (0) / 3-day: $3.4M (-59%) / Per screen: $1,915 / Total: $14.9M / Wk 2

10.) The Bye Bye Man (STX) 2,220 theaters (0) / 3-day: $3.4M (-75%) / Per screen: $1,545 / Total: $19.99M / Wk 2

11.) The Founder  (TWC) 1,115 theaters / 3-day: $3.4M / Per screen: $3,053 / Wk 1

— Anita Busch

Sunday, AM – Update: The psychological thriller Split became director M. Night Shyamalan’s fourth highest opening of his career and James McAvoy’s top grosser outside of his X-Men franchise as the around $10M budgeted picture soared way beyond its expectations to open at $39M to $40M+ but it could easily take in the higher gross, given that its audience is so strongly female in a football playoff weekend. Right now, the third-highest opener of the director’s career is The Last Airbender which grossed $40.3M in 2010.

And Universal is reporting their own estimate of $40.1M. We will find out tomorrow morning when the dust clears. With a B+ CinemaScore, it had a better grade than most in the genre (which usually only garner a C). Gotta give props, yet again, to the marketing and distribution department at Universal Pictures for bringing the Blumhouse PG-13 movie to market with a smart ad campaign.

The film has been building word-of-mouth since September when they debuted it in Austin at the Fantastic Fest. It then screened in November at AFI. With spots featuring McAvoy’s creepy character(s) along with your typical inferred violence, Universal also hosted 24 screenings on the Friday prior to release as to reflect the 24 personalities of the lead character. This is the second major hit for the Shyamalan/Blumhouse combination after The Visit, 2015’s breakout horror film which became the most successful in the genre last year with $98M worldwide ($65M domestic).

“It’s amazing what happens when you pair an auteur filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan with a dynamic producer with Jason Blum who is absolutely on top of that low-budget model,” said Universal’s president of domestic distribution Nick Carpou. “And how great was James McAvoy?”

While Split trounced Vin Diesel’s return to a franchise, U.S. audiences just, well … split … from this Paramount/Revolution Studios actionerxXx: Return of Xander Cage. The film, which didn’t have high expectations to begin with going into the weekend, is more in line with the 2013 opening of Diesel’s Riddick ($19M). The studio is hoping that its international cast will carry the picture overseas as this third in the franchise opened in 53 markets abroad, including Russia and Germany. It also is getting a run in The Middle Kingdom with China opening on Feb. 10th.

With football Sunday determining which two teams will go to the Super Bowl, expect its male-dominated audience to be in front of the small screen. The gross for the first xXx which starred Vin Diesel 15 years ago was pretty evenly split (there’s that word again) between domestic and international, however the last one in 2005 got 62% of its gross from international markets. For how the actioner is doing overseas, read Nancy Tartaglione’s report here. It should end the weekend between $19M to $20M.

The third new opener, the Michael Keaton-starring The Founder from The Weinstein Co. will gross over $3M in its debut. How much over is a matter of debate as its distributor sees it serving up $3.7M but other estimates have it at around $3.4M. Either way, it’s not a great gross and is battling against a number of adult-oriented titles in the marketplace right now. The film had been moved previously on the release schedule a couple of times by its distributor and at one time was set for fall dates (November and then August) but was pulled back because the music needed to be tweaked.

Keaton certainly delivers (as always) in this story about the feisty/obnoxious Ray Kroc who franchised McDonald’s restaurants around the nation and built the brand synonymous with “fast-food.” TWC is hoping that positive word-of-mouth will carry this film and adult-targeted films usually take a while to find its audience. But however well done the spots were for this film (and they are), if the movie doesn’t get nominated for anything on Oscar Tuesday, its going to have a hard time cutting through.

That brings us to the Ted Melfi-directed Hidden Figures which had a very thoughtful rollout strategy into Oscar voting week. The Fox/Chernin Entertainment about the NASA woman (particularly African American women) behind John Glenn’s orbit could end the weekend with $84M+ given that it is expected to have a strong Sunday. The movie over-indexed a bit in Washington D.C., where the women’s march was in full force. “Perhaps it is a convergence of where our culture is right now and art,” said one rival distributor. Expect this one to pass $100M before the end of its run; it notched up another $16.2M estimated three-day this weekend.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate/Black Label Media’s Golden Globe champ La La Land is also on its way to a $100M+ box office run and is only waiting for the pop it will receive at the box office after Oscar nominations are released on Tuesday. The musical romancer is hovering at the $90M total to date after landing another estimated $8.3M this weekend. And the other newcomer, Blumhouse BH Tilt/High Top’s faith-based feature The Resurrection Of Gavin Stonelooks like it grossed $1.35M this weekend.

Here’s the Sunday AM chart:

1.) Split (UNI/Blumhouse) 3,038 theaters / $14.6M Fri (includes $2M previews) / $16.5M Sat. (+13%) / $9M Sun. (-45%) / 3-day: $39M+ to $40.1M / Wk 1

 2.) xXx: The Return Xander Cage (PAR/REV) 3,561 theaters / $7.1M Fri. (includes $1.2M) / $8.2M Sat. (+16%) / $4.9M Sun. (-40%) / 3-day: $19.5M to $20M+ / Wk 1

3.) Hidden Figures (Fox) 3,416 theaters (+130) / $4.4M Fri (-19%) / $7.3M Sat. (+65%) / $4.2M Sun. (-38%) / 3-day: $16.2M (-22%) / Total cume: $84M+ / Wk 5

4.)   Sing (ILL/UNI), 3,193 theaters (-500) / $1.9M Fri. (-33%) / $4.5M Sat. (+137%) / $2.5M Sun. (-45%) / 3-day cume: $8.9M (-40%) / Total: $249.3M / Wk 5

5.) La La Land (Lionsgate) 1,865 (+17) / $2.4M Fri. (-39%) / $3.8M Sat. (+58%) / $2.1M Sun. (-45%) / 3-day: $8.3M / Total: $89M to $90M / Wk 7

6.)   Rogue One (DIS), 2,603 theaters (-559) / $1.74M Fri. (-46%) / $3.5M Sat. (+103%) / $1.75M Sun. (-45%) / 3-day cume: $7M / Total: $512.2M / Wk 6

7.) Monster Trucks (PAR) 3,119 theaters (0) / $1.39M Fri. (-46%) / $3.5M Sat. (+150%) / $1.9M Sun. (-45%) / 3-day: $7M (-38%) / Total: $22.6M / Wk 2

8.) Patriot’s Day  (CBS/LG), 3,120 theaters  (0) / $1.6M Fri (-61%) / $2.9M (+85%) / $1.49M Sun. (50%) / 3-day: $6M  / Total: $23.7M / Wk 5

9/10.) The Bye Bye Man (STX) 2,220 theaters (0) / $1.1M Fri. (-80%) / $1.6M Sat. (+47%) / $820K Sun. (-50%) / 3-day: $3.48M (-74%) / Total: $20M+ / Wk 2

Sleepless   (OR) 1,803 theaters (0) / $984K to $1M Fri. (-67%) / $1.6M Sat. (+68%) / $820K Sun. (-50%) / 3-day: $3.46M (-59%) / Total: $14.9M / Wk 2

11.) The Founder  (TWC) 1,115 theaters / $985K to $1M Fri. (includes $105K previews) / $1.5M Sat. (+57%) / $944K Sun. (-40%) / 3-day: $3.4M / Wk 1

— Anita Busch

Saturday, PM Write-thru of Friday 10:39PM update: Split, the M. Night Shyamalan psychological horror film that stars an unrecognizeable James McAvoy as a kidnapper with multiple personalities, has busted through all early estimates with a mid-to-high $30M gross to surpass the return of Vin Diesel in xXx Return of Xander Cage with a high-teen three-day take. Split also more than doubled xXx’s Friday night take (see below chart).

“That’s something I thought I would never hear: M. Night Shyamalan is beating Vin Diesel at the box office.”

Those are the words from a rival major studio chief today at Deadline’s Sundance lounge on this weekend’s box office battle, which is seeing Universal/Blumhouse’s low budget horror pic Split ($9M) chopping off the head of Paramount/Revolution’s $85M budgeted xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

Split will see a No. 1 debut of anywhere between $35M and $39M+ (depending on its drop today), making it Shyamalan’s 4th best opening of all-time after Signs ($60M), The Village ($50.7M), and The Last Airbender ($40M). Split is also the fifth Blumhouse title to open north of $30M stateside, and it also demonstrates again following Shyamalan’s The Visit ($5M production cost, $98.5M global B.O.) how the production house’s low-budget filmmaking model complements the director’s sensibilities, providing him with a significant amount of creative control to deliver movies that are just as commercially evocative as his older studio fare.

xXx will slot second with around $19.5M to $20M+, 56% less than the $44.5M opening of its 2002 original which last starred Diesel.

The lessons to be learned here going forward: Shyamalan has a devoted following that you can take to the bank, while social media heavyweight Vin Diesel (132M followers) is lightweight at the domestic B.O. whenever his Fast & Furious back-up crew isn’t standing behind him. Also, his movies outside the franchise tend to take a hard drop in its second weekend.

Also, time hasn’t been on the side of the xXx franchise. The forecasted figures speak for themselves: 15 years was definitely too long a wait for Diesel to reprise his role  as Xander Cage. Once upon a time, xXx could have been a stellar extreme sports spy franchise. It’s skewing, as one can predict, older and male.

Given the studio marketing spend on xXx (at least an estimated $40M domestic P&A on a budget upwards of $85M vs. Split‘s mid $20M marketing spend on around a $10M budget), its star power (60% did buy tickets for Diesel), arguable legacy brand and the huge social media push behind it (RelishMix reports that the cast alone counts close to a half billion followers), by textbook Hollywood standards Xander Cage should own this weekend. (Granted for several weeks tracking always showed Split ahead of xXx).

By comparison, Uni’s efficient marketing push on Split included runs at Fantastic Fest, AFI and a 24-city screening program, one for each of James McAvoy’s personalities in the film. Another factor working in Split‘s favor is that it’s riding the recent groundswell of critical love that film reviewers have been bestowing upon horror fare; its Rotten Tomatoes score of 77% is certified fresh.

For all intents and purposes, Split was counter-programming for the weekend in its targeting of young women (per CinemaScore it drew 53% women, 55% over 25 with the under 18 bunch giving it an A-). Trackers say that Bye Bye Man‘s estimated 79% drop ($3.2M to $3.4M second weekend, $19.4M total) is indicative of the fact that Split soaked up that pic’s younger female crowd (which was 61% women, 75% under 25).

But the bigger hook for Split which has Shyamalan fans stoked is –spoiler alert– that the movie is connected to another popular one in the filmmaker’s cinematic canon.

The CinemaScores tonight are in indirect proportion to their forecasted openings showing Split with an overall B+ (besting Visit‘s B-) and xXx with the A-. That’s the same grade of the 2002 original, and it’s a big improvement on Vin Diesel’s last solo outing, 2015’s The Last Witch Hunter (B-, $10.8M opening, $27.4M domestic). That movie wasn’t a hit with a $90M estimated production cost, but Last Witch Hunter made 81% of its global $146.9M abroad thanks to the action star’s fandom. The Melrose Lot is also betting that international will cover their hide as it has employed a strong international cast.

With xXx’s lackluster opening, Monster Trucks’ crash (about $21.7M 10-day cume by Sunday off a $125 production cost before P&A) and Silence‘s failure to resonate on the awards and specialty B.O. circuit (it’s getting whipped this weekend by Ben Affleck’s disaster Live By Night, $1.6M to $950K), Paramount is unfortunately off to a brutal start this year. Summer’s duo of Dwayne Johnson’s Baywatch and Transformers: The Last Knight couldn’t come soon enough. On the slight upside, Paramount only has 50% exposure on xXx with the remainder coming from other entities, including Fortress (former equity owner of Revolution).

Also opening this weekend, is Weinstein Co.’s McDonalds origins story The Founder starring Michael Keaton. Despite a Rotten Tomatoes score of 82% fresh certified, its getting buried in 11th place with an estimated $2.8M to $3M at 1,115 locations which isn’t great. Like a number of movies last weekend –i.e. Live By Night, Silence, Patriots Day — the movie is crimped by the fact that it has very little awards mojo and that it’s in the wake of such must-see adult titles like 20th Century Fox’s Hidden Figures (reaching over $83M by Sunday) and Lionsgate’s La La Land which sources tell us has the potential to ultimately see $120M following its awards season run.

Even though TWC’s Lion is ranked lower on the charts, it’s playing in close to half the number of locations that The Founder is and putting up a better screen average, $2,700 to $2,500. Through nine weekends, the Garth Davis-directed drama will count to about $16M by Sunday after earning four Golden Globe noms, five BAFTA noms, two SAG noms, six Critics Choice noms, two DGA nods, and a PGA feature nom.

BH Tilt made a play at the faith-based market this weekend with the comedy The Resurrection of Gavin Stone about a washed-up former child star, who is forced to do community service at a local mega-church and pretends to be Christian so he can land the part of Jesus in their annual Passion Play. He then discovers that the most important role of his life is far from Hollywood. The single-digit-million digital marketing spend and church outreach was intended to push this pic to $3M, but it’s at an unholy $1.1M at 887 locations.

Here’s the updated chart for Sat AM for the weekend of Jan. 20-22. Only Top Three films are updated Sat. PM:

 1.) Split (UNI/Blumhouse) 3,038 theaters / $14.6M Fri (includes $2M previews) / 3-day: $35M+ to $39M+ / Wk 1

 2.) xXx: The Return Xander Cage (PAR/REV) 3,561 theaters / $7.1M Fri (includes $1.2M) / 3-day: $19M+ / Wk 1

3.) Hidden Figures (Fox) 3,416 theaters (+130) / $4.4M Fri (-19%) / 3-day: $15M to $16.5M (-25%) / Total cume: $82M to $84M+ / Wk 5

4.)   Sing (ILL/UNI), 3,193 theaters (-500) / $1.9M Fri. (-33%) / 3-day cume: $8.4M to $8.6M (-40%) / Total: $248.5M to $248.9M / Wk 5

5.) La La Land (Lionsgate) 1,865 (+17) / $2.4M Fri. (-39%) / 3-day: $8M to $8.3M+ (-41%) / Total: $89M to $89.5M / Wk 7

6.)   Rogue One (DIS), 2,603 theaters (-559) / $1.75M Fri. (-46%) / 3-day cume: $6.75 (-50%) / Total: $511.9M / Wk 6

7.) Monster Trucks (PAR) 3,119 theaters (0) / $1.39M Fri. (-46%) / 3-day: $5.9M to $6.3M (-42%) / Total: $21.5M to $21.8M / Wk 2

8.) Patriot’s Day  (CBS/LG), 3,120 theaters  (0) / $1.6M Fri (-61%) / 3-day: $5.3M (-54%) / Total: $23M / Wk 5

9.) Sleepless (OR) 1,803 theaters (0) / $984K to $1M Fri. (-67%) / 3-day: $3.1M (-63%) / Total: $14.6M / Wk 2

10.) The Bye Bye Man (STX) 2,220 theaters (0) / $1.1M Fri. (-80%) / 3-day: $3.3M (-76%) / Total: $19.7M / Wk 2

11.) The Founder  (TWC) 1,115 theaters  / $985K to $1M Fri. (includes $105K previews) / 3-day: $2.85M / Wk 1

NOTABLES:  

Live by Night (WB), 2,822 theaters (0) / $498K Fri. (-74%) / 3-day: $1.65M (-68%) / Total: $9.3M / Wk 5

Lion  (TWC), 575 theaters (0) / $461K Fri. (-23%) / 3-day: $1.6M (-27%) / Total: $16.15M / Wk 9

20th Century Women  (Annapurna/A24), 650 theaters (+621) / $395K Fri (+350%) / 3-day: $1.2M (+277%) / Total: $2.15M / Wk 4

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone (BH TILT), 887 theaters   / $380K Fri. /3-day: $1.1M /Wk 1

Silence (PAR), 1,580 theaters (+833) / $313K Fri. (-52%) / 3-day: $940K (-58%) / Total: $4.9M / Wk 5 

Red Turtle (SPC), 3 theaters / $5K Fri. / Per screen average: $7,676 / 3-day: $23K / Wk 1 

Anthony D’Alessandro and Anita Busch

Writethru 12:14 PM After Update 11:08 AM Friday: Split is heading high today — very high — in early matinees with industry observers now thinking the psychological thriller from M. Night Shyamalan and Blumhouse/Universal could is looking to push into the mid-$30Ms — as in $37.5M — right now. xXx: Return of Xander Cageis playing a little lighter and so we are re-adusting noon estimates to high teens (as in around $18M)  for Paramount/Revolution Studios.

The other major news is that Hidden Figures, the 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment film is holding phenomenally well. The Ted Melfi-directed film may end up in the $15M to $18M range which means a drop of only about 10% to 13% from weekend to weekend — and most of that will be on Sunday, we’re told. Stay tuned as we head into a how-high-can-it-go weekend for James McAvoy and Split.

Anita Busch

PREVIOUSLY 7:05 AM with Writethrus: M. Night Shyamalan’s Split is off to an incredibly strong start, grabbing $2 million in Thursday night previews in 2,295 theaters. Paramount Pictures/Revolution Studios’ xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage just logged in with $1.2M in 2,536 locales. Finally, the Michael Keaton-starring The Founder from The Weinstein Company served up $105,000 on its way to a single-digit opening; it was in 700 theaters at 7 PM. The film about the quick-tempered, morally challenged Ray Kroc (who franchised McDonalds across the nation) enters a market with so many adult-targeted films it makes one wonder why this wasn’t released last year.

Keaton is excellent in the film, and TWC is clearly hoping it will find its audience. It is expected to gross $3M-$4M; its comps are more in the line with Snowden, Miss Sloane and Florence Foster Jenkins — very good films that, unfortunately, generated small grosses. Silence opened to $110K in early shows and had an opening weekend of roughly $2M in 740 locales, while Nocturnal Animals did $115K in early shows and opened to $3.1M. Those films released in a slightly different pattern.

Meanwhile, it’s been a long time coming for fans of the xXx franchise — the last film in bowed in 2005 and did not star Vin Diesel. This brings the actor back to the franchise after 14 years. One of xXx‘s comps is the 2012 film Looperm which grossed $6.8M on Friday from 2,992 locations and ended its three-day with $20.8M. A similar three-day gross is expected for Xander Cage.

The best comp for Split is the Shyamalan’s last outing: The Visit, also rated PG-13. That one grossed a smidgen over $1M in late nights last year (it also started at 7 PM and in 2,206 locales) and ended up grossing $25.4M for its three-day. The Universal/Blumhouse Split (with a budget of around $10M) is expected to have a mid-$20M three-day as the buzz surrounded the film has been growing among its core audience of young females and unaided awareness is very strong.

xXx: Return Of Xander Cage, with its decided international cast, bows in 53 territories around the world this weekend. The movie marks the return of Diesel who is a social media monster. According to RelishMix, xXx has a social media reach of 688.7M — a huge presence with 271.1M Facebook fans, 71M Twitter followers, 184M YouTube views — and more every day — and 163M Instagram followers. This action-adventure’s SMU is more on par with the average Superhero film, which hovers around 587M SMU rather than the typical action-adventure of last year, which had a typical SMU of 68M. “Paramount has hit the mark and exceed it in all major metrics,” says Marc Karzen of RelishMix, who notes that the film is garnering 25K new Facebook fans … a day. Of course, Diesel has 131M fans/followers on Facebook and Instagram.

The third in the xXx franchise will be taking over Imax screens this weekend but its main demo will be sitting in front of the TV on Sunday watching NFL’s championship Sunday games, waiting to see which teams make it into the Super Bowl (go Packers!). Diesel’s films outside of the Fast And Furious franchise tend to drop more in their second weekends.

Like the box office hit Nerve, Split is skewing heavily female and some think Split — with a great performance from James McAvoy who plays a man with 24 personalities — will have just as strong legs. While this genre is usually front-loaded, this one is getting better word of mouth than The Bye Bye Man, which had a C CinemaScore last weekend. It should also grab away much of the STX horror film’s audience as 61% of Bye Bye Man‘s audience was female with 75% under 25.

In terms of social media, McAvoy is non-social, but the film itself has a good social media universe of 64.8M, according to RelishMix. This latest Shyamalan thriller is made up of 29.4M Facebook fans, 4M Twitter followers, over 30.5M YouTube views and 903K Instagram followers. The film has 7,700 daily Facebook likes, which is indeed strong compared to last year’s average for thrillers of 2,200.

In comparison, at its opening during the middle of the summer last year, Nerve‘s SMU was 52.4M comprised of 5.4M FB fans, 5.8M Twitter followers and 41.1M YouTube views.

The Founder has a good SMU of 14.7M, says RelishMix. The movie’s social media universe is a combination of 700K Facebook fans, 3.2M Twitter followers, over 11M YouTube views and 725K Instagram followers. The Founder more than doubles last year’s average for a typical indie-drama of 7M. Daily video views are around 23K, which is very good for this genre. But, daily Facebook likes — another important indicator — are around 200, which is half of the genre’s average of 400.

Still, gotta give kudos to the film’s cast who are out heavily promoting it. Couldn’t ask for more from the actors. The film has an 80% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes right now.

Two other films are notable — A24 expands the Annette Bening-starring 20th Century Women this weekend as well as (in under 1,000 theaters, maybe 885 or so) will be Blumhouse BH Tilt/High Top’s faith-based feature The Resurrection Of Gavin Stone.

Gavin Stone has the involvement of WWE wrestling star Shawn Michaels who is vocal about his faith and proud of his involvement in the film. The interesting thing is that WWE, while a prominent producer on the film, is pretty light in its promotion of it.

Anita Busch

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