Pan-feature

This Movie Got Panned… But Here’s Why Audiences Will Still Be Hooked

Hasbro announced this week that there would be at least four more “Transformers” movies. In other words: TRANS4MORES.

There is nothing “more than meets the eye” with a press release like that, as the last two installments each eclipsed $1B worldwide for Paramount and the toy manufacturer. This is a cash grab of mega-proportions. Let’s just hope we get to go to Cybertron finally.

Yes, the robotic toy movies are all static shock filmmaking—a blur of bells and whistles, robotic rods and hot bods, fused together by mass destruction—but that’s exactly what the multiplex masses want or they wouldn’t be shelling out $20 for IMAX, 3D and other large format indulgences.

What’s the point here? Well, audiences tend to gravitate towards the same movie over and over and over. Just with a new twist. Why else has the legend of Peter Pan been rebooted so many times?

Walt Disney, Sony, Miramax, Universal and now Warner Bros. have all dabbled in not growing up, so really this isn’t much different than blasting audiences with Roman numerals.

After being pulled from its summer slot, “Pan” now goes into the weekend squaring off against the wide expansion of Robert Zemeckis’ drama “The Walk”—which isn’t getting much traction—and should hold up well as “Goosebumps” next week is really its only competition the rest of the month.

For a family film, that’s the yellow brick road, as having a clear-cut path through the release calendar usually leads to the Promised Land of lavish box office riches.

In 3,500+ theaters “Pan” should easily clock in with $20M+ as prognosticators  have indicated, but it really should do more—upwards of $25M+.

UK Director Joe Wright (“Pride and Prejudice,” “Atonement,” “Hanna”) is used to having critics in his back pocket with his immaculately constructed dramas, but like every filmmaker that has eventually been lulled into the land of blockbuster filmmaking, the smoke-up-the-ass train stops here, as reviews haven’t been anything to whistle about.

That doesn’t mean the $150M film will flop, however, as many family flicks—“Paul Blart,” “Hotel Transylvania 2,” “Minions” and even Spielberg’s “Hook”—have survived middling reviews and still went on to become box office big shots.

Sony has had a great resurgence with its fall slate so far as “War Room” “Hotel Transylvania 2” and “The Perfect Guy” have all over-performed for the studio.

That said, “The Walk” is on shaky ground as it under-performed exclusively in IMAX this past weekend grossing just $1.5M and opening outside the Top 10.

As you recall, just a couple weeks ago, “Everest” did the same thing and walked away with $7.2M and a fifth place finish. Since then, it’s been all downhill domestically, as the film has stalled out with $33M in North America. If the same parameters hold true for “The Walk,” it may tumble quickly.

That’s not good news for Zemeckis’ $35M film, which was always thought to be a tough sell, as a drama about tight roping across the twin towers just isn’t enough for people to plop down $20. Now if you had Optimus Prime and Galvatron going at it down below…they may have the right ingredients for an event film.

Expanding into 2,500+ theaters, it will be quite the achievement if the PG-drama can walk away with $5M this weekend.

In limited release, Lionsgate rolls out their latest Latino comedy, “Ladrones,” in 350+ theaters. They had a huge hit with 2013’s “Instructions Not Included,” and several minor hits recently, including the animated “Un Gallo Con Muchos Huevos.”

Lionsgate has really been the only studio in Hollywood that has consistently attempted to build on the fact that the Latino audience is consistently one of the fastest growing demographics and, as such, have offered a steady stream of Spanish language films.

Opening in exclusive release in New York and Los Angeles is Universal’s R-rated biopic, “Steve Jobs.” I actually thought the Ashton Kutcher film, “Jobs,” from 2013, was pretty decent, however, this one looks exceptional.

Director Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “Trainspotting”) is a favorite of mine and watching Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen decode the real-life characters that have fascinated the public for so long will be the real treat here.

We all know the story, but isn’t that the case with most films these days? It’s about the execution and decisions these storytellers make at the end of the day…the visual poetry, the performances and how entertaining on a whole they are.

Oh, and whether or not they’re sequels; that’s the name of the game in this day and age and that’s even spilling over to the arthouse—how else do you explain “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. And yes, Boyle’s own, “Trainspotting 2.” For reals, folks. To be continued. In the sequel-sense of the term.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. The Martian – $32M
  2. Pan – $26M
  3. Hotel Transylvania 2 – $21M
  4. The Intern – $7.5M
  5. Sicario – $7M

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Universal’s “Jaws 19” (TBA)

On a theater marquee in “Back to the Future: Part II,” Universal promised us “Jaws 19.” Well, the trailer has finally arrived some 25+ years later. Sharknado has nothing on this.

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CLASSIC CUT OF THE WEEK: Orion’s “Remo Williams” (1985)

It was 30 years ago this weekend that Fred Ward’s “Remo Williams” began his adventure. But with a 4th place debut of $3.3M, losing out to Stephen King’s “Silver Bullet” and Schwarzenegger’s “Commando” in its second weekend, the adventure soon ended. But still. Classic. Might be time for a reboot: Son of Remo, anyone?

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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“Pan” Poster Courtesy of Warner Bros.; Poster Design by Art Machine