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Can the musical bounce back? – The Hollywood journalist




When a musical strikes a chord, a Hollywood studio and filmmakers can mine for gold. When it doesn’t, discord abounds.

Look no further than director Jon M. Chu In the heights, which debuted with a disappointing $ 11.4 million at the box office over the weekend of June 11-13 despite rave reviews and numerous pedigrees.

The Warner Bros. is based on the Tony Award-winning musical of the same name, which put Lin-Manuel Miranda on the map before creating Hamilton.

Worse than the raw theatrical openness – at least in terms of PR and headlines – was the fact that In the heights open in second place behind A quiet place part II, which returned to No.1 in its third weekend with $ 12 million – the first surprise box office shaken up as cinemas undertake the Herculean task of recovering from the COVID-19 crisis.

The hope now is that rave reviews and solid releases lead to increased revenue. “We are incredibly proud of this film and hope audiences find it over time,” said Warners National Distribution President Jeff Goldstein.

“We knew from the moment we were going to release on HBO Max that it was more than a box office piece. In fact, discovery and word of mouth were always to guide our film, so we thought we could benefit from the wide availability over time, ”Chu said. THR. “Of course, we knew the judgment would come from the box office, so it would have been a nice surprise to get that box office opening spark. But we couldn’t have asked for a more well-received film. reviews and exit polls. As Abuela Claudia has taught us, patience and faith is the name of the game.

In the heights at least could have claimed the national box office crown if he hadn’t debuted simultaneously on HBO Max given that only $ 600,000 was between her and A quiet place II, depending on who has access to the data. “In real numbers, the release of HBO Max probably didn’t hurt In the heights as much, but it made a difference in terms of getting to No.1 instead of No.2, which has an impact on the film in the long run, ”an insider said.

That doesn’t mean the movie necessarily impressed HBO Max. While parent company WarnerMedia does not reveal audience figures, film studio executives say Hollywood journalist this In the Heights’ performance was also muted on the streaming service, falling behind the opening weekend audience for crime thriller Denzel Washington. Little things, which bowed on January 29.

Leading search company Screen Engine won’t disclose audience numbers since studios are its clients, but it does provide a public rating of streaming movies. Out of all the movies showing at home on the weekend of June 11 to 13 – whether on premium VOD or for free on a streaming service – In the heights ranked third. The first two were a Warner Bros. release. Mortal combat, which hit video on demand regularly over the weekend, and the new Netflix title Awake.

In stark contrast, Hamilton did business at home when Disney sent a filmed version of the hit Broadway musical straight to Disney + during the worst months of the pandemic in the United States (the film ranked # 3 on the list Overall Screen Engine 2020. Again, no public figures, only a ranking.)

Warner Bros. ‘ The controversial decision to launch its entire 2021 roster simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max for a month is a subject of ongoing debate as to the extent of cannibalization, now that theaters have reopened on a large scale. Analysts agree that making a title available at home immediately decreases the sense of urgency to see a movie, whether it’s opening weekend or over time.

“My takeaway is that the relative lack of an integrated audience and heavy reliance on metro markets, some of which rebound more slowly than suburban and rural areas, made this film a must-see. miss during the opening weekend. “Says Shawn Robbins of BoxOffice Pro.” Perhaps many chose to stream it instead, but frankly, the secrecy surrounding streaming data makes it impossible to determine. Maybe this audience didn’t listen as loudly as they expected either.

Either way, given the gap between strong fan presales and the disappointing turnout from casual moviegoers and walk-in customers this weekend, I’m not sure the film would have made it to screenings. the most optimistic – including ours – even with an exclusive theatrical release. This was a much more specialized trend than had been thought for a year and a half, ”continues Robbins.

As the box office recovers from the pandemic, horror and action are faring best in theaters so far. The sweet spot is moviegoers between the ages of 18 and 34. Consumers over 35 and especially older women – often the demo that turns a musical into a hit – are the most reluctant to return to the multiplex, according to NRG polls.

Even the most successful big-screen musicals haven’t always scored impressive opening numbers at the box office, but can enjoy some incredible takes under the right circumstances. Whether In the heights can find its cadence remains a question.

“Musicals require word of mouth to be heard, especially ones that may not be as well known to most moviegoers, and so it often takes a while for these films to build on what can. at first seem like a seemingly disappointing first act, and then end up being a success, ”says Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore. “Let’s not draw the curtain on In the heights after just a few days.

However, Robbins and other box office experts say the coming weeks will be tough for In the heights given the backlog of traditional summer tent poles that are about to roll out, including that of Universal Fast and furious Payment F9 and Marvel Black Widow.

A few years ago the 20th Century Fox musical The greatest showman made box office history opening at $ 8.8 million just before Christmas, set to become a sensation in January and February. This film grossed $ 174.3 million domestically, one of the best screenings of all time for a non-Disney musical.

Not more than La La Land have a glamorous start, but it also began broadcasting to the big screen during the year-end holidays, giving it a runway to play in the first part of the year when the marquee isn’t as crowded as the summer. (La La Land, published by Lionsgate, ended up making $ 151 million at the North American box office.)

The list of upcoming musical tents gearing up for their chance to sing in theaters is topped by Steven Spielberg West Side Story, which – unsurprisingly – is slated for a Christmas 2021 release.

A year-end outing, however, couldn’t save Tom Hooper’s adaptation of the iconic Broadway play. Cats, which opened at just $ 6.6 million nationwide before peaking at $ 27.2 million after being ravaged by critics (unlike In the heights).

Cats may have been a major loss for Universal, but the studio – home of the hugely successful Mom Mia! and Perfect franchises – don’t give up on the genre and hired Chu to direct the long-awaited Broadway film adaptation Mean. (Additionally, Universal is currently preparing for the release of Dear Evan Hansen end of October.)

Ten years ago, however, a project that Universal decided not to pursue was In the heights due to concerns about a proposed budget at the time of $ 37 million. While In the heights was a critically acclaimed, Tony award-winning musical, the studio had purchased the rights to the film before Hamilton came and made Miranda a household name in Hollywood.

In the heights then landed at Harvey Weinstein’s former business before finding a permanent home at Warner Bros., which resulted in Chu leading and accepting a production budget of $ 50-55 million plus generous marketing expenses. Unless he straightens out, the film should be losing money.

Chu, the force behind Warners has struck Crazy Rich Asians, is a strong advocate of making Hollywood event films for an ethnically diverse audience.

Anthony Ramos, who plays a bodega owner who dreams of returning to the Dominican Republic, leads the overall distribution of In the heights, a tale of life on a Washington Heights block in Upper Manhattan where members of a predominantly Latino community pursue their dreams. Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Melisa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV and Jimmy Smits also star in the critically acclaimed film, which received an A CinemaScore from audiences.

While Latinos made up 40% of all ticket buyers over the opening weekend, In the heights did not boast of strong participation in the heavily Hispanic markets of Texas, Miami and Southern California, which could otherwise have boosted revenue. Rather, interest was felt in the New York City area, where five of the film’s top 10 theaters were located. Instead, horror titles The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and A Quiet Place, Part II has continued to attract a large number of ethnically diverse audiences, and in particular Latinos, who are passionate about demo cinematography.

The fate of the film was further complicated on Monday when Miranda issued a lengthy apology in response to a vigorous discussion online about the film’s failure to accurately represent the Afro-Latino population of its namesake neighborhood despite its efforts to correct the under-representation of Latinos in Hollywood.

“I hear that without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino portrayal, the work seems to extract the community we so wanted to represent with pride and joy,” Miranda wrote in a message posted on Twitter. “I’m learning from the comments, thank you for bringing it up and I’m listening. “

Additional reports by Rebecca Sun.

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