2nd Update Sunday AM, refresh for updates: 101 Studios’ War With Grandpa has ended Tenet‘s domestic marathon run, beating the Christopher Nolan movie in its 7th weekend, $3.6M to $2.1M. Tenet currently stands at $48.3M stateside, $323.3M WW. Tenet stateside is booked at 2,215 theaters.
War With Grandpa grossed $1.1M on Friday, $1.5M on Saturday, a 38% surge, and is expected to bring in $988K today. This is in a U.S. marketplace that’s still 16% closed, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York state, and parts of Canada. And let’s not forget that only seven California theaters in Regal’s national 536 location count are open.
“Really pleased that 101 Studios was able to offer audiences a comedy that is bringing the whole family back to theaters” said Laurent Ouaknine , President, Distribution of 101 Studios.
A big alert to the major motion picture studios out there: It’s important to note here that of those War With Grandpa moviegoers surveyed, 46% of them had not returned to theaters because there hasn’t been enough movies out there that they wanted to see. If you don’t supply the movies to theaters, audiences won’t come.
In addition, 90% of those Grandpa moviegoers surveyed said they felt safe and comfortable with their movie going experience during the pandemic.
Audience split was 50/50 male-female. With kids under 13 repping a third of the audience with those 25-44 at 36%, those over 45 at 17%. Diversity make-up was 40% Caucasian, 30% Hispanic, 8% African American, 7% Asian and 15% other.
While the adult audiences surveyed consisted of 30% attending with a child , there was a large general movie going audience with 40% indicating the draw of the film was the genre being a comedy and De Niro being the lead actor.
The Robert De Niro and Uma Thurman family comedy had a reported P&A spend of around $24M I hear, and the intention was for this movie to always have a big screen release. It was a project that was very close to producer Marvin Peart: the feature started after his son read the book (published in 1984 and sold 1.3M copies), and pitched his father to make the movie.
Key in the Grandpa campaign were testimonial TV spots featuring families who enjoyed the movie and happy to be back in theaters. Spots ran on family viewed programs with high traffic, i.e. the America’s Got Talent finale, The Masked Singer premiere, the Vice Presidential debates, Dancing With The Stars premiere, and American Ninja Warrior. The TV campaign also targeted moms in media on FOOD, HGTV, Hallmark, TLC, Lifetime, Bravo, Freeform, and morning shows. Spots also ran on kids channels’ Cartoon, Boomerang, Disney XD, Universal Kids and Nickelodeon (the latter featured a special sponsored premiere of top rated show Loud House).
101 Studios also teamed with Laura Marano on an original track for the movie with a music video/trailer that debuted across Radio Disney. Marano appeared on MTV’s Fresh Out, various radio shows on iHeart, took over IMDB Instagram, attended the junket with De Niro and Grandpa star Oakes Fegley, and TV satellites.
101 Studios also worked with a broad range of family bloggers’ to share the message of the film with interviews, give-aways, and multi-gen conversations.
The studio also partnered with the DoSomething initiative to support boomer (grandparent) generation voting (largest voting block) + National Grandparents Day initiative on Sept. 13. Marano is also doing an Instagram Live with DoSomething on Oct. 15.
And The War With Grandpa cast was out there promoting: Robert De Niro and Uma Thurman did the Today Show and Live With Kelly. De Niro also appeared on The Breakfast Club, and Entertainment Tonight. Rob Riggle also put in a appearance on Today.
In regards to Tenet, the additional locations Warner Bros. has picked up on the movie since its Labor Day Canada and U.S. wide blast rep 30% of this weekend’s B.O. Despite 15 counties and L.A. being closed in California, eight of Tenet‘s top 10 theaters were in the Golden state. And thank God, Regal didn’t close the Irvine Spectrum because the venue was the No. 3 location for the Nolan pic. The other top locations were the 1. Paramount Drive-In (Greater LA DMA), 2. Capitol 6 Drive-In (Greater San Francisco DMA), 4. AMC Block Orange with IMAX (Greater LA/OC DMA), 5. Solano Twin Drive-In (Greater San Francisco DMA),6. Alamo Loudoun 9 (Washington DC DMA), 7. Celebration Grand Rapids 17 (Grand Rapids, MI DMA) 8. Cinemark Redwood 20 (SF DMA), 9. Cinemark Terra Bella Huntington Beach (Greater LA/OC DMA), and 10. Cinemark Daly City 20 (Greater San Francisco DMA).
The ten DMA markets for Tenet this weekend were: 1. Orange & Riverside Counties/Greater Los Angeles, 2. Detroit, 3. Greater San Francisco, 4. Dallas, 5. Salt Lake City, 6. Phoenix, 7. Houston, 8. Chicago, 9. Atlanta, and 10. Washington DC.
And, of course, upcharge premium tickets are a driver, i.e. IMAX, PLF/Premium Large Formats, and Dolby Cinema. Tenet in Imax clocked $1.2M for the weekend from 446 screens around the world putting its WW take for the large format exhibitor at $37M.
1st Update Saturday AM: There has been some concern by industry insiders that the family film may have gone the way of the dinosaurs during the pandemic, particularly as Disney has taken its marquee theatrical releases Mulan and Soul to Disney+. Some of those maneuvers stem from polling which shows that families aren’t entirely ready to head back to the box office yet.
But extra props should be given here this weekend to 101 Studios, which is providing moms, dads, and kids with the Robert De Niro-Uma Thurman comedy The War With Grandpa, which secured $1M yesterday in a marketplace where only seven of No. 2 chain Regal’s 536 movie theaters are open, and with New York, Los Angeles, and New Mexico cinemas still closed. How do we know if families won’t come back until we test the waters? Don’t be surprised if War With Grandpa notches No. 1 this weekend, with an estimated take around $3M at 2,250 theaters. But we won’t know until tomorrow AM, as Warner Bros. continues to shield its Tenet estimates in Comscore.
And while Disney is over-protecting its fresh theatrical releases, they’re providing their classics in the pandemic marketplace, with the second weekend re-release of 1993’s Hocus Pocus earning $384K yesterday at 2,113 on its way to an estimated $1M, -50% from last weekend for a 10-day of $3.9M. Disney also re-released Pixar’s two-time Oscar winning Coco , which made $210K at 1,899 locations yesterday, on its way to around $600K in what looks to be a 6th place slot on the box office chart. Disney is benefitting from both sides of the coin here with Hocus Pocus. The movie aired on Freeform two days before its re-release last weekend, and the film is notably one of the most-watched features over Halloween week over the last five years on PVOD service Vudu, and even topped FandangoNow’s top movies last year over the holiday frame.
War With Grandpa, directed by Tim Hill and based on the 1984 novel by Robert Kimmel Smith, was originally made by the Weinstein Co. and Dimension. When that studio unwound, War With Grandpa became stuck in bankruptcy proceedings. I hear the pic’s producer Marvin Peart and his genre and family label Brookdale Studios rescued the film and approached David Glasser’s 101 Studios, which provided a service deal to release the film. Peart is also a financier and co-founder of 101 Studios.
TV spots for War With Grandpa and Tenet have been going the extra mile to remind viewers that movie theaters are open. Warner Bros. ran a spot for Tenet during Saturday Night Live last weekend, exclaiming “Big Theaters Are Open.” Unfortunately, the timing was bad, given that news leaked last Saturday about Cineworld and Regal ratcheting down. Nonetheless, it’s the type of messaging that all studios should be employing out there in all their online trailers and TV spots to spread the word that movie theaters are open. Independent distributors will have most of the wide entries until Oct. 23, when 20th Century Studios/Disney’s horror movie The Empty Man opens, followed by Focus Features/Amblin’s Come Play on Oct. 30, Kevin Costner-Diane Lane crime drama Let Him Go on Nov. 6, Universal/Blumhouse’s Freaky on Nov. 13, and on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, Sony’s Happiest Season and Universal/Dreamworks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age.
Entertainment social media monitor RelishMix gives a shoutout to the 30-second spot audience exit interviews which are part of the War With Grandpa‘s campaign, another positive nudge to encourage moviegoers to head back.
Also per RelishMIx: YouTube total views for War With Grandpa are just over 9M, boosted by a set of 18 videos on Facebook. Of the pic’s movie stars who are pushing actively on social are Jane Seymour (280K) with selfies from the shoot, Oakes Fegley (108K followers), and Rob Riggle (1.6M).
Says RelishMix, “Not a producer in town could have ever pitched this — but the potential for Grandpa in drive-ins is an obvious solid-fit as a family-fun outing, which is also mentioned in social conversation.”