Focus Features’ New Horror Comedy ‘Lisa Frankenstein’ Takes on Super Bowl Weekend at Box Office

With Super Bowl LVIII and Taylor Swift dominating much of the upcoming weekend attention, Focus Features’ new horror comedy romance Lisa Frankenstein is looking to scare up non-football moviegoers at the box office through Feb. 11.

Set in 1989, the movie’s plot revolves around a teen girl (Kathryn Newton), who longs to be with the occupant of a Victorian-era grave in her community. When her wish is unexpectantly granted, she and the creature (Cole Sprouse) embark on a journey of self-discovery and romance.

Lisa Frankenstein is projected to generate a modest $6 million in ticket sales, enough to top last week’s No. 1 film Argylle (Universal) and Warner Bros. Pictures’ enduring musical prequel Wonka, according to new data from Box Office Pro.

Other box office returnees include MGM Studios’ The Beekeeper (projected $3 million), Universal’s animated Migration (projected $3 million), and Columbia Pictures’ long-running adult comedy Anyone But You (projected $2.4 million).

While the Super Bowl is expected to dampen the overall box office, the data suggests this year’s Big Game weekend could see a 50% drop in ticket sales compared with previous last year’s Super Bowl weekend.

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Peacock to Stream Focus Features’ ‘Spoiler Alert’ on Feb. 3

NBCUniversal streaming platform Peacock is set to begin streaming Focus Features’ gay-themed love story Spoiler Alert beginning Feb. 3. Starring Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) as a entertainment journalist who is leery of social dating apps who ends up having a 14-year relationship with photographer partner, Kit (Ben Aldridge).

The movie, which is currently available on PVOD for $19.99 rental and $24.99 purchase, generated almost $1.4 million at the box office since its Dec. 2, 2022, limited release in six theaters.

The movie is Peacock’s latest theatrical release to transition to SVOD, along with the latest addition to Peacock’s growing library of iconic films, including Oscar-nominated Tár Violent Night, She Said, Ticket to Paradise, Bros, Nope, Mid-Century, The Silent Twins and Halloween Ends, among others.

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‘Doctor Strange 2’ Again Dominates North American Box Office

Disney/Marvel Studios’ theatrical hit, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, remained unchallenged for a third weekend, generating an estimated $31.6 million in North American ticket sales through May 22. The sequel starring Bennedict Cumberbatch in the title role saw its domestic tally top $342 million and $803 million globally.

The global tally now exceeds the theatrical results for MGM Studios’ James Bond actioner No Time to Die ($774 million) and Warner Bros. Pictures’ DC superhero The Batman ($768 million).

The ongoing strong box office results were enough to thwart Focus Features’ family period sequel Downton Abbey: A New Era, which generated a reported $16 million across more than 3,800 North American screens. The domestic opening was only about 50% of the 2019 Downton Abbey movie, but still topped $51 million worldwide.

In a media interview, Lisa Bunnell, president of domestic distribution at Focus Features, said the sequel could help bring back the older female moviegoer.

“The only way you are going to get older audience[s] to theaters is to offer them films they want to see,” Bunnell told Variety.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ box office reign is expected to end over the coming Memorial Day weekend when oft-delayed Tom Cruise action sequel Top Gun: Maverick hits big screens worldwide.

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Vudu Mounts Sale on More Than 100 Focus Features Films

As Focus Features’ The Northman arrives on Vudu May 12 and Downton Abbey: A New Era arrives in theaters May 20, Fandango’s transactional VOD service Vudu is hosting a sale on more than 100 other titles from the Focus Features library, celebrating 20 years of indie filmmaking.

The sale ends May 23.

This year’s Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay, Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, is available for sale at $12.99, while features such as Downton Abbey, The Card Counter, The Sparks Brothers, Wolf, Blue Bayou, Stillwater and Last Night in Soho are available at $9.99 each. Other titles, such as Promising Young Woman, Let Him Go, Harriet, On the Basis of Sex, Emma, Kajillionaire, Never Rarely Sometimes Always and The High Note, are on sale at $6.99 each.

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Vudu is also hosting a “Mix & Match” bundle sale, where customers can choose two qualifying Focus Features titles for the total price of $9.99. Qualifying titles include:

  • Atomic Blonde
  • Atonement
  • BlackKKlansman
  • Boy Erased
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Burn After Reading
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • The Danish Girl
  • Darkest Hour
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Harriet
  • In Bruges
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • Milk
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Phantom Thread
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Shaun of the Dead
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Tully
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Universal, Focus Features Dominate Another Pandemic Weekend Box Office

Universal Pictures and subsidiary Focus Features again led a slow pandemic-addled domestic weekend box office (Dec. 11-13) devoid of new releases and safety-conscious moviegoers. The top 10 releases generated $5.63 million in ticket sales, which was 24% from $7.4 million in revenue during the previous-week period, according to industry data.

Universal’s DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age continued to lead ticket sales with $3 million in revenue across more than 2,000 screens; $24.1 million since its debut three weeks ago. The sequel to the 2013’s The Croods generated $8.4 million overseas to bring its global haul to above $76 million.

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Focus Features’ Half Brothers sold $490,000 in tickets across 1,386 screens. The movie had made $1.3 million in two weeks. Vince Vaughn horror flick Freaky sold $315,000 in tickets, topping $8.2 million domestically ($13 million worldwide) since its debut.

Other box office tallies: 2003 re-release of Elf, starring Will Ferrell, sold $400,000 in tickets to finish third on the weekend. Finally, Robert De Niro’s pandemic mainstay, The War With Grandpa, sold another $260,000 in tickets to near $18 million ($27 million worldwide) since its bow Aug. 28.

Universal Pictures (Again) Leads Pandemic Weekend Box Office

Universal Pictures continues to drive the domestic weekend box office with a larger slate of new releases than any other studio — including seven of the top eight revenue-generating titles from Dec. 4 to 6.

That’s more than a little ironic, considering that Universal was the first studio to significantly cut the theatrical window on new movie releases in exchange for expedited premium VOD access into consumer homes.

The move, followed by threats of a boycott and then a landmark revenue-sharing deal with theater chains, was the pandemic-related entertainment story of 2020 until Warner Bros. decided to shelve the theatrical window altogether, beginning with Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day and continuing throughout 2021

The DreamWorks Animation sequel The Croods: A New Age, distributed by Universal, again led ticket sales the first weekend of the month, generating an estimated $4.4 million across more than 2,000 screens, according to industry data. The title has generated $20.4 million in revenue domestically ($41 million worldwide) since debuting Nov. 25.

Other titles, included Focus Features’ Half Brothers with $670,000 across 1,369 screens; and Vince Vaughn-starrer Freaky with $450,000 across 1,502 screens, bringing the film to $7.7 million in tickets sold in the U.S., and $12.6 million globally.

Additional Universal/Focus titles included All My Life ($350,000); Come Play ($231,000), the latter generating $11 million globally since launching Oct. 30; Let Him Go ($210,000; $9.6 million worldwide since Nov. 6 debut); and 2018 re-release The Grinch ($59,000; $512 million globally since original debut), starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, rounded out Universal’s top performers.

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101 Studios’ The War With Grandpa was No. 5 with $335,000 in revenue from 1,285 screens. The Robert De Niro comedy has sold $26.1 million in tickets globally since debuting Oct. 9.

The weekend box office totaled $7.2 million, down about 45% from $13.2 million during the previous-week period, Nov. 27-29.

‘The Croods 2’ Leads Slow Thanksgiving Weekend Box Office

Despite opening in more than 2,200 screens, Universal Pictures’ The Croods: A New Age led another lackluster weekend box office undermined by the ongoing pandemic. Making matters worse was the fact the weekend in question was Thanksgiving, which saw projected theatrical revenue of less than $17 million over the five-day period (Nov. 25-29). That pales in comparison to the $262.2 million generated between Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, 2019, when Disney’s Frozen II and no pandemic fears lured moviegoers.

The Croods: A New Age performed as expected, generating $14.3 million in ticket sales. The sequel to 2013’s The Croods joined Universal’s horror comedy Freaky ($1 million) to lead the weekend.

Universal unit Focus Features’ family drama Let Him Go, with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, generated $660,000 to top $6.7 million since its Nov. 7 release, and finishe fourth. All three movies are headed to premium VOD release in accordance with shortened theatrical window agreements between Universal, AMC Theatres and Cinemark Cinemas. The chains will split PVOD revenue with Universal.

101 Studios’ The War With Grandpa generated $900,000 to finish the weekend in third place, as the Robert De Niro family comedy topped $17.2 million since its Oct. 9 release.

Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, says consumers won’t return to theaters in pre-virus numbers until there’s a vaccine on the market some time next year.

“People aren’t dying to go to the movies,” he said.

Universal Inks Theatrical/PVOD Deal With Canada’s Cineplex Cinemas

Following landmark shortened theatrical window/PVOD distribution deals with AMC Theatres and Cinemark, Universal Pictures has ironed out a similar agreement with Canada’s largest exhibitor: Cineplex Cinemas.

Under the deal, Universal and subsidiary Focus Features have the right to offer consumers PVOD access to new release movies with less than $50 million in domestic opening weekend ticket sales after their box office debut. Movies with a higher box office can be released on PVOD 31 days after their theatrical bow. The studio and Cineplex will split PVOD revenue.

“The pandemic has given the industry and movie-lovers around the globe a new appreciation for the magic of the big screen experience,” Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob said in a statement. “We are pleased to work alongside like-minded partners such as Universal, a studio that respects the theatrical window and is committed to the sustainable long-term health of the theatrical ecosystem.”

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Unlike other studios, Universal has a strong slate of titles through the end of the year, including The Croods: A New Age on Nov. 25; Half Brothers and All My Life on Dec. 4; and News of the World and Promising Young Woman on Dec. 25.

“With audience fragmentation accelerating due to the rise in digital, streaming and cord-cutting, as well as the unprecedented issues our industry is facing right now, our relationship with exhibition had to evolve and adapt to the changing distribution landscape,” said Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. “Giving consumers the flexibility to view content on their terms is more important than ever to help expand moviegoing, and Ellis and our partners at Cineplex allow us to increase these opportunities for our Canadian audience.”

Universal/Focus Features Top Plodding Weekend Box Office as Trade Group Warns of Exhibitor Bankruptcy Without Congress Help

Universal Pictures’ specialty films unit Focus Features saw two of its releases — Let Him Go and Come Play — top another sluggish domestic weekend (through Nov. 8) undermined by wary moviegoers and scant major new studio titles due to the ongoing pandemic.

The yearly domestic box office topped $1.978 billion through the weekend — largely based on theatrical releases prior to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down all screens in mid-March. That’s down more than 75% from last year.

New release Let Him Go, which stars Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as a Montana couple who seek to rescue their grandson from a dangerous living situation, topped the weekend with $4.1 million in ticket sales. It was followed by $1.7 million in box office receipts for horror film Come Play, which has generated $5.6 million after two weeks of release.

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Both titles are earmarked for early PVOD release as part of Universal’s landmark agreement with AMC Theatres enabling the studio to offer theatrical releases to consumers in the home three weekends after their big screen launch. AMC gets a share of the direct-to-consumer revenue.

Rounding out the podium was The War With Grandpa, the 101 Studios’ family comedy starring Robert De Niro that took in $1.5 million to reach $13.4 million after three weeks. Liam Neeson drama Honest Thief grabbed $1.1 million to help the Open Road Films title reach $11.2 million after four weeks of release.

Disney/Pixar Animation’s catalog title Toy Story finished fifth with $500,000 in ticket sales — nearly 25 years after the animated classic was first released.

In a media interview, John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, warned that without an immediate fiscal lifeline from Congress, the exhibitor industry could face a wave of bankruptcies. The industry is pushing “Save Our Stages,” a bipartisan addendum to a larger stimulus bill languishing on Capitol Hill.

“Even though we’re allowed to open in 48 states, without a substantial slate of big movies, and with people still worried about the virus, our revenues have been decimated,” Fithian told Variety. “We’re losing money while operating. And we were shut down entirely for many, many months. It’s life or death for many, many, many theater companies.”



Street Date 8/25/20;
Kino Lorber;
$24.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language, some violence and sexual content.
Stars Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney, Kathleen Robertson, Lois Smith, Caroline Dhavernas, Molly Parker, Zach Mills, Jeffrey DeMunn, Joe Spano.

Given how much the current entertainment landscape is dominated by superhero movies and TV shows, it’s easy to forget the genre only came into prominence in the last 20 years or so. Even when Hollywoodland first hit theaters in 2006, the era of the superhero movie was just in its infancy, and still two years away from the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So, looking at Hollywoodland now, it’s hard not to see the film as a fascinating time capsule of a time when comic book fare was considered kids’ stuff, and actors decried being too closely associated with a single character.

Hollywoodland delves into the story of George Reeves, the actor best known for playing Superman on TV in the 1950s who died under mysterious circumstances from a gunshot wound to the head in 1959. Officials ruled it a suicide, but there were enough shenanigans surrounding his life that the specifics of his death have sparked numerous conspiracy theories that linger on to this day.

Rather than adopt a strict biopic or docudrama approach, Hollywoodland frames Reeves’ story as a case taken on by a hotheaded (and completely fictional) private investigator named Louis Simo, played with smarmy aplomb by Adrien Brody. Simo is hired on by Reeves’ mother (Lois Smith), who doesn’t buy the official reports. So Simo dips his toes into the waters of 1950s Hollywood to uncover the seedier aspects of show business, with Reeves’ story told in flashback.

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Reeves (Ben Affleck) dreaded the prospect of playing Superman on a show for kids, but he needed the money. Like most actors, he dreamed of a career in pursuit of serious art, but after a bit role in Gone With the Wind he mostly struggled to get noticed on the big screen. Superman made him a star, and he seemed to hate every minute of it, particularly during a disastrous screening of From Here to Eternity in which the audience can’t help but yell Superman catch-phrases at the screen every time Reeves appears.

To top it off, Reeves finds himself wilting as the kept boy-toy of Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), wife of notorious MGM honcho Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins). He doesn’t seem to mind her tryst, however, seeing as how he accompanies them on a double-date with his own mistress. But Toni also doesn’t use her connections to help Reeves advance his career, furthering some resentment.

So the questions arise over how Reeves was shot. Did Eddie order it, to protect his wife? Was in an accident during an argument between Reeves and his fiancée (Robin Tunney)? Or did Reeves, in pain from years of nagging injuries and emotionally drained from the stress of his career, simply put a gun to his head?

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The screenplay bounced around in the early 2000s until landing at Focus Features (indie arm of Universal). During production, it was known as Truth, Justice, and the American Way, a phrase so connected to Superman that it’s hardly surprising Warner Bros., which controls the film rights to the DC characters, would make Focus change it to something more generic, which likely dampened the film’s box office fortunes. Further, with Warner releasing Superman Returns in 2006, Hollywoodland was forbidden from even using the Superman logo in marketing the film — leading to the shot in the trailer (also included on the Blu-ray) of Affleck looking at himself in costume in the mirror with a chest noticeably missing the iconic ‘S.’ Superman imagery was allowed in the final film however, though the filmmakers had to re-create the famous opening sequence to the TV show as Warner wouldn’t license it to them.

Another scene depicts the likely apocryphal story of a child approaching an in-costume Reeves at a promotional event and asking if he can shoot him with a gun to watch the bullets bounce off. Played as a tense moment in the film, the screenplay ingeniously manages to connect it to the larger plot. But the scene is also memorable for its sense of whimsy in how it adopts the anything-goes imagination mashup that was classic Hollywood — Reeves is performing for kids as Superman at a Wild West stunt show, stopping a pair of bank robbers of the type he would never find himself fighting in the comics.

The use of the film noir structure, another homage to classic Hollywood, sets Simo up as a mirror to Reeves, reflecting on his own career as he untangles the fate of his case subject. As noted in a newly recorded commentary track by entertainment journalist Bryan Reesman, What emerges is the parallel story of two men striving to become more than what anyone around them is willing for them to be, and struggling to take stock of the things in their lives actually worth living for.

Reesman also finds a lot of interesting contrasts between Reeves and Affleck, who unlike the man he’s playing had no problem stepping into the realm of comic book heroics. Affleck had played the title character in Daredevil in 2003, but the film was too poorly received to blossom into the franchise that perhaps the actor expected it too when he signed on.

But Hollywoodland also came at the tail end of the first phase of Affleck’s career, with audiences tuning out as he appeared in a string of brainless actioners and tepid comedies (including the infamous Gigli). Hollywoodland represented something of the first step of a reinvention, as he wanted to demonstrate he could handle more serious fare, and, indeed, he earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor, in addition to wins at the Saturn Awards and Venice Film Festival, among a slew of accolades.

The next year, Affleck would make his feature directorial debut with 2007’s acclaimed Gone Baby Gone, following up with 2010’s The Town and 2012’s Best Picture Oscar winner Argo (for which Affleck was snubbed for an Academy directing nomination after winning the DGA trophy). The career boost would culminate in his casting as Batman for 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and a couple subsequent DC films. Given his scenes as Reeves making and promoting the “Adventures of Superman” TV series, Affleck would probably be the only person to wear both the Superman and Batman costumes on the big screen. He’d also reunite with Diane Lane in BvS, where she would play, of all people, Superman’s mother.

While Hollywoodland wasn’t much of a financial performer upon its release, it’s still fondly remembered for its cast and subject matter, particularly among fans of superhero movies.

In addition to the interesting Reesman voiceover, the Blu-ray also carries over all the extras from Universal’s old DVD release of the film, including an informative commentary by director Allen Coulter, three featurettes and a handful of mostly unremarkable deleted scenes.