Warner Bros’ Clint Eastwood Western Cry Macho wasn’t tough at the box office this past weekend, opening to $4.4 million at 3,967 theaters in third place. The pic lacked grit in homes on HBO Max as well, pulling in only 693,0000 households stateside over the weekend according to Samba TV.
In a year of day-and-date theatrical-streaming experimentation by Warner Bros, it’s a continuing trend that when a movie is great, it translates (to a certain extent) at the box office and in the home viewership on HBO Max. And when the film doesn’t resonate in theaters, it’s also not going to in the homes; we saw this last weekend with James Wan’s Malignant, which paled on the service and in cinemas.
The latest film by Eastwood received blasé results from critics with 52% on Rotten Tomatoes and moviegoers with a B CinemaScore. Nothing to rush out to, and nothing to change the channel to.
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While Warner Bros will do an about-face with its theatrical release schedule next year, returning titles to an exclusive window at cinemas, all of this day-and-date continues to spur questions.
Most immediately, those involve Legendary and Warner Bros’ all-star sci-fi epic Dune hitting HBO Max and domestic movie theaters October 22. The Denis Villeneuve-directed movie has been blowing away audiences on the festival circuit and early screenings with a current 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and a great start overseas (where it isn’t on HBO Max) with $37M+. Those who’ve enjoyed Dune want to see Villeneuve’s sequel, like, stat. Will HBO Max siphon grosses to a great degree? Or can the film perform spectacularly in U.S. theaters and on the service at the same time? Is there a ceiling to how high these theatrical-HBO Max titles can open since they’re free to HBO subscribers?
Legendary/Warner Bros’ Godzilla vs. Kong is the only day-and-date HBO Max title to gross over $100M, and post a great opening weekend ($48.1M over five days) at the domestic B.O. and pull in a solid HBO Max (3.6M per Samba TV over same time frame; 5.1M U.S. households through three weekends) draw. What will it take in regards to sheer domestic box office and HBO Max viewership to warrant Dune 2?
In addition, Warner Bros has savored a streaming service in recent years as a launchpad for its risky adult box office bets. The fall of 2019 saw many prestige films from the Burbank, CA lot die, i.e., The Goldfinch ($5.3M domestic final), Motherless Brooklyn ($9.3M), Blinded by the Light ($11.9M) and The Good Liar ($17.1M). Now that Warner Bros has HBO Max, and there’s evidence that these movies aren’t really striking lightening on the service, is it better to give these types of films an exclusive theatrical window? Even if the movies tank at the box office, a pure theatrical release raises the profile of the movie, and creates some sort of premium value around it which will carry it through to subsequent windows. A film that was a theatrical release stands out more prominently on a crowded streaming menu, no? Good or bad box office aside. Again, blame the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for letting the streaming fox into the hen house, and shaking up (or reducing) any kind of theatrical release for Oscar bait films.
Samba TV only measures U.S. Smart TV terrestrial viewership in 3M households, not mobile. Viewership is comprised of unique views over a five-minute period; duplicate viewing isn’t counted in its polling.
The Denzel Washington thriller The Little Things opened at the end of January when New York City and Los Angeles box office markets were dark due to the pandemic. The pic did a little bit better than Cry Macho in its first weekend with $4.7M, and it did substantially better on HBO Max drawing 1.4M U.S. households, per Samba TV, over its first three days on the service. Cry Macho‘s weekend is 51% behind that number, and ironically the same viewership as what Samba polled for In the Heights (693K) which also fell apart at the domestic B.O. with an $11.5M opening and final domestic near $30M.
Samba TV says that viewership for Cry Macho peaked on Saturday. The audience skewed older (65+) and Hispanic (+35%). Of the top 25 largest DMAs, Portland, OR over-indexed the most (+80%), followed by Phoenix (+60%) and Sacramento (+47%).
In the wake of HBO’s Mare of Easttown winning four Emmys, it’s a reminder that it’s the series — you know, those things with cliffhangers — not the movies that make viewing go ’round on the streamers. Mare of Easttown‘s final episode over the four-day Memorial Day weekend was the most watched episode ever across HBO and HBO Max with 4M viewers per Nielsen. The finale also set a record as the most watched episode of an original series on HBO Max during its first 24 hours of availability, outstripping the finales of The Undoing and The Flight Attendant over the same period of time.