Hollywood earns lowest Easter weekend box office in almost 15 years: report

As we were the first to say yesterday very early in the morning, it’s the lowest Easter weekend at the box office in well over a decade – actually, since 2003, per ComScore this morning (when it hit $107.1M), with the last three days totaling $110.8M in US/Canada ticket sales. This despite the fact that New Line’s $9M James Wan horror production, "The Curse of La Llorona," over-performed and kicked its $15M-$17M tracking to the tune of $26.5M.

This weekend’s domestic B.O. is also off 12%  from the comparative three-day frame a year ago ($125.55M), which was also the pre-period prior to "Avengers: Infinity War" debuting.

All of this speaks to the power of "Avengers: Endgame," or specifically, a hands-down, must-see Marvel movie on the calendar: no major studio wants to program a tentpole and spend a $100M-plus global P&A to launch a movie in the weekend preceding a Marvel movie, even if it’s during a lucrative holiday period at the box office. At least that’s the attitude this year.

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True, folks may curb their movie ticket spending at the B.O. in the weekend prior to a Marvel or Star Wars movie, but c’mon — it’s Easter weekend, and three-quarters of the nation’s K-12 schools were on break. Previous Easter weekends, when "Furious 7" and "Batman v. Superman" played, have amassed north of $224M. Not to mention, studios have proven before that two tentpoles, launched next to each other in subsequent weekends, can live in the marketplace at the same time.

Surely among some in the industry and exhibition, there’s a “So what?” attitude about this weekend at the B.O.: Next weekend will probably deliver one of the biggest thee-days of all-time at the domestic box office with "Endgame."

"The Curse of La Llorona" over-performed and kicked its $15M-$17M tracking, bringing in $26.5M, according to Deadline.

"The Curse of La Llorona" over-performed and kicked its $15M-$17M tracking, bringing in $26.5M, according to Deadline. (Warner Bros)

Nonetheless, the 2019 domestic box office according to ComScore still lags greatly behind last year at -16% with $2.9 billion through today, a difference of $568M. "Endgame" isn’t going to fix that gaping hole in just one weekend of its opening; it could take well into June before we make up that difference. Much of this has to do with how pics were dated between last year and this year. Then again, there were some movies like Universal/BVI’s "Glass" and Fox’s "Alita" which didn’t work as they were intended to do. Marvel launched "Black Panther" in mid-February last year and amassed $688M by the time when "Avengers: Infinity War" opened. Compare this to "Captain Marvel" which just became the 7th Marvel move to cross $400M in its 45th day of release today. The pic saw a 6% spike in business despite shedding 322 screens as fans prep for "Endgame" next weekend. "Captain America: Civil War" took 44 days to hit $400M, "Iron Man 3" reached that threshold in 47 days.

Warner Bros. hit the demos they were expecting for "La Llorona" with 49% Hispanic audiences and 30% females under 25, along with 26% men under 25. She played best in the West and South-West, with 17 of the pic’s top 20 runs coming from these regions. The pic is safe counter-programming at a minimal estimated domestic P&A spend around $35M-$40M, which can be the second choice next weekend when "Avengers: Endgame" potentially sets another opening weekend record, beating Infinity War‘s $257.6M.

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"Llorona" also didn’t ding New Line’s own "Shazam!" that much. In his third weekend, that film is expected to gross $17.3M, a very sweet -29% hold in second place at 4,183 theaters. CinemaScore audiences gave "Llorona" a B-, which is less than both "Annabelles’" Bs and higher than "The Nun‘s" C. PostTrak gave the pic a low 2 1/2 stars and a 48% definite recommend. Friday made $11.8M (including $2.75M Thursday night previews), and the Michael Chaves-directed movie was frontloaded with a Saturday that was down 26% with $8.7M. The 13-17 set who were able to get into "Llorona" liked the movie the most at 79% positive, but they only repped 12% of the crowd. Caucasians came out at 27%, African Americans at 11%, and Asians at 8%.

Says social media analytics corp RelishMix about "Llorona," “There are a lot of fans sharing stories of this legend and how it was an integral part of their childhood, with some being told by friends, others by their Grandma — the point is it’s seen as a legend that just might be true. That said, James Wan’s contribution and the scary clips from the film have horror fans convinced this effort is worth seeing in theaters. Another element that fans like is that the movie is rated R, which many horror fans see as a good sign. One of the best things "La Llorona" has going for it is the simple suggestion or rumor that it might be related to the "Conjuring" universe.” "Llorona" is not directly connected to "Conjuring," as it doesn’t involve, nor is it connected to, the paranormal investigators, the Warrens.

RelishMix considers "Llorona‘s" social media universe at over 137M very strong for a horror genre. Broken out, that’s 33.8M Facebook Fans, 14M Facebook video views, 9.2M Twitter Followers, 66.1M YouTube views and 14M Instagram followers. Video materials both organic and bought are at 44:1, well above the typical horror film’s 25:1 viral rate. Similarly, the average daily views for Llorona‘s top YouTube clips are coming in at 50.3K, once again exceeding the benchmark of 27.7K for the genre.

Notable "Llorona" materials on social, per RelishMix, include a number of YouTube influencer clips sponsored by Warner Bros. The Buzzfeed Unsolved Network posted a clip that was 24 minutes long and earned 3.3M views, which called out the movie in the description to the Channel’s 2.4M subscribers. Similarly, there are fan-posted clips about the "Llorona" legend, which have clocked well over 1M views. “This campaign has featured a real push and pull from sponsored WB clips and organic videos from fans, which is clearly driving the high YT views heading towards open.”

In addition, there was this clip from Glam & Gore (which counts 3.5M subscribers) that features a makeup tutorial and a look at the film, followed by the host trying not to cry and ruin the makeup.

Disney/Fox’s faith-based "Breakthrough" drew $11.1M over the 3-day and $14.6Msince its Wednesday opening at 2,824. While that’s slightly lower than the $14.8M 3-day and $18.3M made by DeVon Franklin’s "Miracles From Heaven," it’s not a disaster of the pic’s estimated $14M production cost. These faith-based titles have a home entertainment life for their demos. As typical with faith-based films, they earn great exits based on their demos, and PostTrak shows 49% females over 25 being the dominant quad, and 51% over 35, with an overall 4 1/2 stars and a very notable 69% definite recommend. Overall audience diversity breakdown was 48% Caucasian, 28% Hispanic, 15% African American, & 9% Asian/Other. Breakthrough played strong in the Mid-West and South, with the top 10 theaters in that area. Missouri and Tennessee had seven of the top ten runs. Meanwhile, anti-abortion film "Unplanned" from PureFlix in its fourth weekend made $650K off 839 theaters for a running $17.2M cumulative.

RelishMix says that the social media universe for "Breakthrough" “is exceptional” at 161.5M across Facebook, YouTube,  Instagram and Twitter, with positive word of mouth into the weekend from the faith-based crowd. For context, the next largest SMU RelishMix has seen in recent history for a faith-based pic was for 2017’s "The Shack" at 89.4M. Big social media movers here for the film are "This Is Us" star Chrissy Metz with 1.7M, who is pushing a 7:30pm free screening at the Burbank, CA AMC 16 today. “The campaign also benefited from Metz’s duet with Carrie Underwood at the Country Music Awards last Sunday of ‘I’m Standing With You’, which has added 11 clips to its social media push. the “earned” bucket of social media. While it’s common to have a film support a live broadcast to build awareness, it’s such a bonus to have one of the movie’s stars actually perform there – and reap the benefits on social.”

Universal’s "Little" in its second weekend eased -45% with $8.45M and a 10-day take of $29.3M.

Disneynature’s "Penguins" plopped outside the top 10 in the No. 12 spot with around $2.3Mover three days and $3.3M for the five days at 1,815. Even though much isn’t expected from these nature docs at the B.O. "Penguins" is the worst opening for a Disneynature doc ever. 2012 "Chimpanzee‘s" $10.6M posted the biggest three-day in the nature canon, and the previous low before "Penguins" was "Monkey Kingdom" at $4.5M in 2015. The last Disneynature movie to open over 5-days was "Penguins" co-director Alastair Fothergill’s "Earth" in April 2009 which posted a $8.8M FSS at 1,804 theaters and a $14.4M five-day opening.

As we mentioned the pic nabbed an A CinemaScore, however PostTrak exits were moderate at 78% positive and a 52% definite recommend from the general audience while kids under 12 gave it a 77% positive and 60% definite recommend. Friday’s gross was around $900K. Not that much is ever expected from these nature docs at the box office; there’s goodwill vibe to these big-screen presentations.  Those who showed up to "Penguins" were 55% female with 52% under 25 and 35% under 17. Diversity demos were comprised of 63% Caucasian, 23% Hispanic, 11% Asian/Other, and 3% African American.

Bleecker Street’s expansion of "Teen Spirit" from 4 to 696 theaters earned an estimated $250,5K in weekend 2 for a running total of $305,3K.

"It Follows" director David Robert Mitchell has the comedy crime drama "Under the Silver" Lake from A24 at two locations and it minted a theater average of $20K or $40K over three days. Starring Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough and Topher Grace, pic follows a guy (Garfield) who meets a mysterious woman in his apartment’s swimming pool. She disappears and he embarks on a quest to find her across Los Angeles. Rotten Tomatoes is 53% Rotten. NY and LA runs were at the Angelika & ArcLight Hollywood. At the latter, the pic was the top grossing film in the complex while at the Angelika we hear it was soft.