‘Venom’ Rules the Box Office, but ‘A Star Is Born’ Does Bot Disappoint

“Venom” creates a new box-office record for October on a very strong weekend.

Venom” and “A Star Is Born” both opened over $40 million, and that’s a first for any October weekend. Only 20 films have opened to that much in October, nine of which were horror films.

Now “Venom” has the top October opening ever at $80 million. (Prior record holder was “Scary Movie 3” in 2003 at $73 million adjusted.) That means February, April, and October 2018 each set new records with Marvel movies. The total weekend gross will come in a little under $175 million, the strongest in at least a decade.

"Venom"

“Venom”

Sony/YouTube

Sony has been the home of “Spider-Man” among Marvel releases, along with “Ghost Rider.” A reasonable comparison is Disney’s “Doctor Strange” in early November 2016 (a normally better date), which opened around $90 million. Of course, $80 million is great any time, particularly outside of summer.

What makes “Venom” more impressive is, unlike many Marvel films, it was poorly reviewed with a truly bad Metacritic score of 35. That’s lower than “Night School,” “The Predator,” or “The Spy Who Dumped” me to cite other recent unimpressive releases. The result — combined with the presence of Tom Hardy, who seems to have added appeal and legitimacy — shows once again why Marvel rules.

Males made up about two thirds of its audience, with an age split was above and under 25. This is the rare film that brought in a younger male audience in large numbers, with a tougher and more villain-oriented (if still PG-13) feel than many Marvel films.

Going back to the “Doctor Strange” comparison, Saturday was down 19 percent from the first results, while the earlier film fell three percent. Does this portend for word of mouth? Too early to tell. In the meantime, this looks like an easy $200 million domestic result, with an added $115 million international with three key territories yet to open suggesting a $400 million-500 million total. That’s strong for this somewhat over $100 million budget title, lower end for Marvel.

“A Star Is Born”

So much media attention went to “A Star Is Born” that many people might be surprised that it only did a little over half as much. This is a case where the better judgment of its results comes from not another film the same weekend, but similar films appealing to the same older, more female audience.

October releases with female-centered stories aren’t rare; recent years have seen “Gravity” and “Gone Girl” open at or above this level. But those both were not overwhelmingly aimed at women or older audiences as “Star.” Its audience is more likely to be slow developing, and possibly also aided by repeat viewers.

In any event, it is a triumph for director and co-star Bradley Cooper, who has not really been in a breakout film since “American Sniper.” But of course, Lady Gaga’s lead debut is the biggest story. She likely drove the interest for what otherwise might have been seen as more of a tired retread.

It also marks the start of a high-end group of studio awards contenders, with “The First Man” on its heels next weekend. Going early might be risky with so many other films vying for attention still to come. But this allows “Star” to have several weeks to be front and center and get to as much as a five-times multiple (which would get it to $200 million). Next weekend will give more evidence on its future. But its opening is all that Warners could have reasonably hoped for.

Smallfoot channing tatum

Smallfoot

Warner Bros.

The arrival of two juggernauts had the normal effect of crowding out most holdovers. Overcoming that was the second weekend for Warners’ animated “Smallfoot,” which dropped 35 percent. It will be boosted by Monday’s school holiday and the absence of much else for ththe family audience.

Last weekend’s #1 “Night School” fared less well, down 55 percent. “Hellfest” (Lionsgate), which had a minor opening, fell more, around 60 percent. “Crazy Rich Asians” showed signs of wrapping up its run, falling 50 percent.

The Top Ten

1. Venom (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 35; Est. budget: $115 million

$80,030,000 in 4,250 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $18,831; Cumulative: $80,030,000

2. A Star Is Born (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 88; Est. budget: $36 million

$41,250,000 in 3,686 theaters; PTA: $11,191; Cumulative: $42,600,000

3. Smallfoot (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$14,900,000 (-35%) in 3,592 theaters (no change); PTA: $3,607; Cumulative: $42,761,000

4. Night School (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$12,275,000 (-55%) in 3,019 theaters (+9); PTA: $4,066; Cumulative: $46,750,000

5. The House With a Clock in Its Walls (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$7,295,000 (-42%) in 3,463 theaters (-129); PTA: $2,107; Cumulative: $55,051,000

6. A Simple Favor (Lionsgate) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$3,435,000 (-47%) in 2,408 theaters (-665); PTA: $1,426; Cumulative: $49,014,000

7. The Nun (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #5

$2,610,000 (-52%) in 2,264  theaters (-1,067); PTA: $1,153; Cumulative: $113,367,000

8. Hell Fest (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #6

$2,075,000 (-60%) in 2,297 theaters (no change); PTA: $903; Cumulative: $8.864,000

9. Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros.) Week 8; Last weekend #7

$2,060,000 (-50%) in 1,466 theaters (-881); PTA: $1,405; Cumulative: $169,135,000

10. The Predator (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend #8

$900,000 (-70%) in 1,643 theaters (-1,283); PTA: $548; Cumulative: $49,986,000

 

 

 

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‘Night School’ and ‘Smallfoot’ Box Office: Original Comedies Score Big

With mighty combo Haddish and Hart, “Night School” is the top comedy opener of 2018 (beating Wednesday opener “Crazy Rich Asians”) and has a shot at $100 million.

For the second time this year, two original, non-franchise movies, “Night School” (Universal) and “Smallfoot” (Warner Bros.), opened to over $20 million. The last time two originals topped the box office was last spring, with “A Quiet Place” and “Blocker.”

This yielded the first weekend since Labor Day to improve over the same dates last year ($102 million total gross compared to $90 million in 2017). Grosses for the year continue their strong increase — just under nine percent (six percent up in ticket sales) — as weekends like this help to guarantee an uptick for the whole year.

Openers

The two new films both gained from having core appeal and adding to wider audiences — exactly what is needed to boost films that don’t derive their appeal from pre-sold elements. They differ in that modest-budget “Night School” boasts more domestic appeal, while the more expensive animated film “Smallfoot” plays better internationally. But their presence with some initial success will encourage more like them.

“Night School”

Screencap

“Night School,” about a group of adults trying to get their GED degrees after work, performed at the higher end of expectations, because this movie with working-class appeal starring African-American box-office lures Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish crossed over to a wider audience. Hart is well established, but some of his earlier successes including recent reboot “Jumanji” were shared with co-stars (Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson), while Haddish has built on her “Girls Trip” success last year on multiple platforms. Combined they add up to a powerful force indeed.

Due to a less lucrative fall release date, the $28-million gross falls below both Hart’s top films and “Girls Trip.” The A- Cinemascore and a healthy second-day increase of 18 percent portends a healthy run ahead.

Check out the movie’s broad appeal: the 50-50 male/female “Night School” audience pulled 37 percent white audiences, 30 percent African-American, and 24 percent Latino.

In a slim year for comedies, Friday opener “Night School” beat out Wednesday opener “Crazy Rich Asians” for the top comedy opening of the year. It’s early yet but “Night School” could have a strong multiple and a shot at $100 million.

Smallfoot channing tatum

“Smallfoot”

Warner Bros.

Warners Animation is best known for its LEGO-related titles; “Smallfoot” marks only its sixth release, and the third non-LEGO entry, as well as is Warner Animation’s third straight late September release.

This $23 million opening, while not on the high end for animation, is still the best of the three fall films (ahead of “Storks” and last year’s “The LEGO Ninjago Movie”), but handily beat by the two earliest “LEGO” releases.

Aiding its cause was the absence of any new animated film since late July, or a major one since “Hotel Transylvania: Summer Vacation.” Comedy and animation remain a refuge for original material, in this case, role reversals among Yetis and humans. Based on this decent opening, this should thrive ahead. International tends to disproportionately boost animated titles (most territories have yet to open). While it’s not a low-budget film, $80 million is relatively modest for a studio cartoon title. It’s a promising start.

Hell Fest

“Hell Fest”

Two other wide releases had lower results. “Hell Fest” (Lionsgate partner CBS Films) grossed less than its $5.5 million budget. Getting in early on the non-stop pre-Halloween month ahead, it’s a slasher film set in a haunted house. For the genre, a four percent second-day drop is a mildly positive note.

“Little Women” (Pinnacle) is the latest of many adaptations of the classic novel (ahead of Greta Gerwig’s anticipated version) with little advance notice, poor reviews, and only $747,000 in 643 theaters.

"The House with a Clock in Its Walls"

“The House with a Clock in Its Walls”

Holdovers

Among second week titles, last week’s surprisingly strong “The House With a Clock in Its Walls” (Universal) dropped 53 percent, not a stellar hold. It is just below $45 million so far, with a total of around $75 million now in view at best.

Whatever hopes remained for Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9” (Briarcliff) other than sustaining some big city and college area runs beyond this week were dashed by its 63 percent drop this weekend. The issue for the film isn’t so much a too-wide release as a decline in interest in the director’s films. A platform release would likely have reflected a similar fall, with the major difference a much less expensive release overall in marketing terms. Still it will end up around $6 million, more than $2 million more than his last film “Where to Invade Next.”

The best holds in the Top Ten were “A Simple Favor” (Lionsgate) down 36 percent in week three and at $43 million. The female-focused thriller joins another women’s picture, “Crazy Rich Asians” (Warner Bros.), which in its seventh weekend fell just under 35 per cent to reach $165 million.

The Top Ten

1. Night School (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 43; Est. budget: $29 million

$28,000,000 in 3,010 theaters; PTA (per theater allowance): $9,302; Cumulative: $28,000,000

2. Smallfoot (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 15; Est. budget: $80 million

$23,020,000 in 4,131 theaters; PTA: $5,573; Cumulative: $23,020,000

3. The House With a Clock in Its Walls (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$12,510,000 (-53%) in 3,592 theaters (no change); PTA: $3,483; Cumulative: $44,765,000

4. A Simple Favor (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$6,600,000 (-36%) in 3,073 theaters (-29); PTA: $2,148; Cumulative: $43,067,000

5. The Nun (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$5,435,000 (-45%) in 3,331 theaters (-376); PTA: $1,632; Cumulative: $109,018,000

6. Hell Fest (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: C; Metacritic: 23; est. budget: $5 million

$5,075,000 in 2,297 theaters; PTA: $2,029; Cumulative: $5,075,000

7. Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros.) Week 7; Last weekend #4

$4,150,000 (-35%) in 2,347 theaters (-455); PTA: $1,768; Cumulative: $165,682,000

8. The Predator (20th Century Fox) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$3,700,000 (-60%) in 2,926 theaters (-1,114); PTA: $1,265; Cumulative: $47,634,000

9. White Boy Rick (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #6

$2,385,000 (-51%) in 2,017 theaters (-487); PTA: $1,182; Cumulative: $21,715,000

10. Peppermint (STX) Week 4; Last weekend #7

$1,770,000 (-52%) in 2,002 theaters (-678); PTA: $884; Cumulative: $33,537,000

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‘The Nun’ Now The Most Almighty ‘Conjuring’ Title Ever With $330M Worldwide – Box Office

New Line’s The Nun officially became the highest-grossing title in The Conjuring universe this weekend with a running global total of $330M, besting the $320M worldwide haul of The Conjuring 2 which previously owned that record.
With a net produc…

New Line’s The Nun officially became the highest-grossing title in The Conjuring universe this weekend with a running global total of $330M, besting the $320M worldwide haul of The Conjuring 2 which previously owned that record. With a net production cost of $22M, The Nun is bound for at least a $100M-plus profit after all ancillaries when you consider that The Conjuring 2 minted close to that figure off a production cost that was close to double that plus $100M P&A…

Box Office: Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart’s ‘Night School’ Squashed ‘Smallfoot’ With $28 Million

Even an adorable Yeti was no match for the comedic team of Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart. Universal’s comedy “Night School” topped the domestic box office with $28 million from 3,010 locations. Fellow newcomer “Smallfoot,&#8221…

Even an adorable Yeti was no match for the comedic team of Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart. Universal’s comedy “Night School” topped the domestic box office with $28 million from 3,010 locations. Fellow newcomer “Smallfoot,” Warner Bros.’ animated family film, came in close behind with $23 million when it launched in 4,100 venues. “Night School” […]

‘Night School’ to Top Box Office Over ‘Smallfoot’

“Night School” is kicking off its box office run with top marks. The Universal film starring Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart is on its way to an estimated $26 million from 3,010 North American sites to land at No. 1, though the debut of Warn…

“Night School” is kicking off its box office run with top marks. The Universal film starring Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart is on its way to an estimated $26 million from 3,010 North American sites to land at No. 1, though the debut of Warner Bros.’ animated “Smallfoot” is close behind with $23 million from […]

‘Night School’ Takes Early Lead Over ‘Smallfoot’ at Box Office

Universal’s “Night School” and Warner Bros.’ “Smallfoot” are slightly closer on the box office charts than analysts expected.

The Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish comedy is in first place after grossing $9.5 million from 3,010 screens on Friday, and is currently projected for a $26.4 million opening that would be slightly lower than analyst projections but higher that the $25 million projection made by Universal. By comparison, “Girls Trip,” the previous film from Haddish and the director/producer duo of Malcolm D. Lee and Will Packer opened to $31 million in July 2017.

Also Read: ‘Night School’ Takes Early Lead Over ‘Smallfoot’ at Box Office

“Smallfoot,” meanwhile, grossed $6.3 million on Friday but is expected to pick up business on Saturday by nature of being a family animated film. Starring Channing Tatum and James Corden, the film is currently estimated to meet analyst pre-weekend projections with a $23.5 million start from 4,131 screens.

Both “Smallfoot” and “Night School” performed well with opening night audiences, earning an A- on CinemaScore. However, critics gave “Smallfoot” a 70 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and “Night School” 29 percent.

Universal’s “The House With A Clock in its Walls” is in third with an estimated $12 million second weekend, which would be roughly a 55 percent drop from its $26.4 million opening and would give the Eli Roth film a 10-day total of $44.2 million. Lionsgate’s “A Simple Favor” is in fourth with an estimated third weekend of $6.7 million.

Also Read: ‘Night School’ Director Malcolm D. Lee to Direct Hip-Hop Film ‘Real Talk’

Two horror films are competing for the final spot on in the top five, and right now it looks like Lionsgate/CBS Films’ “Hell Fest” will fall short to WB/New Line’s “The Nun,” which is in its fourth weekend. “The Nun,” which crossed $100 million domestic last weekend, is projected to add $5.4 million this weekend, while “Hell Fest” is struggling to meet opening weekend projections after making $2 million on Friday from just under 2,300 locations.

The retro slasher film was projected for a $5-7 million start but is now estimated for a $4.8 million start. Reviews have been anemic with a C on CinemaScore and a 35 percent RT score. The good news is that the film cost little to make: $5.5 million budget co-financed with Tucker Tooley Entertainment.

Finally, indie distributor Pinnacle Peak released the seventh film adaptation of “Little Women” in theaters this weekend, and is projected to not even reach $1 million this weekend. Released on 643 screens, it’s looking at an opening of around $865,000 and a per screen average of less than $2,000. Critics gave the film negative reviews with a 38 percent RT score.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Night School’ Chalks Up $1.35 Million at Thursday Previews

‘Night School’ Director Malcolm D. Lee to Direct Hip-Hop Film ‘Real Talk’

‘Night School’ Film Review: Kevin Hart-Tiffany Haddish Comedy Earns a Passing Grade

Universal’s “Night School” and Warner Bros.’ “Smallfoot” are slightly closer on the box office charts than analysts expected.

The Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish comedy is in first place after grossing $9.5 million from 3,010 screens on Friday, and is currently projected for a $26.4 million opening that would be slightly lower than analyst projections but higher that the $25 million projection made by Universal. By comparison, “Girls Trip,” the previous film from Haddish and the director/producer duo of Malcolm D. Lee and Will Packer opened to $31 million in July 2017.

“Smallfoot,” meanwhile, grossed $6.3 million on Friday but is expected to pick up business on Saturday by nature of being a family animated film. Starring Channing Tatum and James Corden, the film is currently estimated to meet analyst pre-weekend projections with a $23.5 million start from 4,131 screens.

Both “Smallfoot” and “Night School” performed well with opening night audiences, earning an A- on CinemaScore. However, critics gave “Smallfoot” a 70 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and “Night School” 29 percent.

Universal’s “The House With A Clock in its Walls” is in third with an estimated $12 million second weekend, which would be roughly a 55 percent drop from its $26.4 million opening and would give the Eli Roth film a 10-day total of $44.2 million. Lionsgate’s “A Simple Favor” is in fourth with an estimated third weekend of $6.7 million.

Two horror films are competing for the final spot on in the top five, and right now it looks like Lionsgate/CBS Films’ “Hell Fest” will fall short to WB/New Line’s “The Nun,” which is in its fourth weekend. “The Nun,” which crossed $100 million domestic last weekend, is projected to add $5.4 million this weekend, while “Hell Fest” is struggling to meet opening weekend projections after making $2 million on Friday from just under 2,300 locations.

The retro slasher film was projected for a $5-7 million start but is now estimated for a $4.8 million start. Reviews have been anemic with a C on CinemaScore and a 35 percent RT score. The good news is that the film cost little to make: $5.5 million budget co-financed with Tucker Tooley Entertainment.

Finally, indie distributor Pinnacle Peak released the seventh film adaptation of “Little Women” in theaters this weekend, and is projected to not even reach $1 million this weekend. Released on 643 screens, it’s looking at an opening of around $865,000 and a per screen average of less than $2,000. Critics gave the film negative reviews with a 38 percent RT score.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Night School' Chalks Up $1.35 Million at Thursday Previews

'Night School' Director Malcolm D. Lee to Direct Hip-Hop Film 'Real Talk'

'Night School' Film Review: Kevin Hart-Tiffany Haddish Comedy Earns a Passing Grade

Box Office: ‘Night School’ Opens to $1.35 Million in Thursday Previews

Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish are proving to be an irresistible combination at the box office. The comic stars joined forces for “Night School,” a Universal Pictures comedy that picked up $1.35 million in previews on Thursday night. &#8220…

Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish are proving to be an irresistible combination at the box office. The comic stars joined forces for “Night School,” a Universal Pictures comedy that picked up $1.35 million in previews on Thursday night. “Night School” is expected to top the box office charts this weekend and is eyeing a debut […]

‘Night School’ Collects $1.35M In Thursday Night Tuition

Universal’s Night School threw its doors open for session last night, ringing up $1.35 million at 2,500 theaters with showtimes that began at 7 PM.
With a projected opening weekend of $30M at 3,010 theaters, the Tiffany Haddish-Kevin Hart PG-13 m…

Universal’s Night School threw its doors open for session last night, ringing up $1.35 million at 2,500 theaters with showtimes that began at 7 PM. With a projected opening weekend of $30M at 3,010 theaters, the Tiffany Haddish-Kevin Hart PG-13 movie is poised to be a box office anomaly for comedies, which have suffered greatly in recent months: The last big openings for a comedy were last year’s R-rated Girls Trip with Haddish ($31.2M, also a career record box office…

‘Night School’ To Turn The Lights On For Comedy With $30M+ As September B.O. Heads For Second-Best Ever Record Of $621M

While yucks haven’t translated into bucks at the box office for quite some time, the comedy genre is expected to come alive this weekend with Universal’s PG-13 rated Malcolm D. Lee-directed feature Night School which is set to ace a $30M-pl…

While yucks haven’t translated into bucks at the box office for quite some time, the comedy genre is expected to come alive this weekend with Universal’s PG-13 rated Malcolm D. Lee-directed feature Night School which is set to ace a $30M-plus opening; the highest debut for a comedy, well, since last July’s Girls Trip ($31.2M) which was also directed by Lee and repped a record debut for the director at the B.O. When it comes to comedy stars, moviegoers like a discovery…

Can the Team Behind ‘Girls Trip’ Land Another Box Office Hit With ‘Night School’?

A year after finding big box office success with “Girls Trip,” Tiffany Haddish, director Malcolm D. Lee, and producer Will Packer are teaming up with Kevin Hart for “Night School,” another comedy that Universal hopes will see long-lasting success thanks to the star power of its two leads.

Last year, “Girls Trip” launched Haddish into mainstream stardom and earned $140 million worldwide against a $19 million budget, becoming yet another flagbearer for Hollywood’s ongoing diversity push. “Night School,” which is slightly more expensive with a $29 million budget after tax incentives, is projected by Universal for an opening around $25 million from 2,900 screens, while independent trackers expect the film to match the $31 million start earned by “Girls Trip.”

Also Read: How ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Stacks Up on Michael Moore’s Box Office Record

The big challenge for “Night School” will be to stay on the radar of general audiences as the box office heads into what will be a very crowded October. The film’s status as a PG-13 comedy with two bankable, African-American stars will help it find an opening audience with core demographics, but next weekend will see the arrival of a big comic book movie in “Venom” and a big awards contender in “A Star Is Born.”

“Girls Trip,” similar to “Crazy Rich Asians” last month, was able to ride the acclaim from critics and early moviegoers to widespread interest in the end stages of last year’s summer season, and “Night School” will need strong word of mouth to do the same against such high-profile competition.

“Night School” stars Hart as a hotshot BBQ grill salesman whose store is destroyed in a freak accident. With no one hiring him due to being a high school dropout, he’s forced to head to night school to get his GED, encountering a very unorthodox teacher played by Haddish. Rob Riggle, Taran Killam, and Mary Lynn Rajskub also star.

Also Read: ‘Venom’ Poised to Set October Opening Weekend Record With $63 Million

Also releasing this weekend is the Warner Bros. animated film “Smallfoot,” which features an all-star voice cast led by Channing Tatum as a yeti who proves the existence of humans to his disbelieving village, with James Corden playing the homo sapiens that serves as living proof. Trackers are projecting an opening in the high $20 million range from 4,000 screens, with WB projecting an opening in the low $20 million range. Budget information wasn’t available at time of writing, though past feature films from Warner Animation Group like “Storks” and “The Lego Movie” have had a production budget of $70-80 million.

Finally, Lionsgate and CBS Films is releasing the horror film “Hell Fest,” which is projected for a $5-7 million opening from 2,200 screens. CBS Films is taking the Blumhouse microbudget approach to this movie, with a $5.5 million budget co-financed by Tucker Tooley Entertainment. An opening on the upper range of projections would match the $7 million start of “You’re Next,” the cult hit horror film that was released by Lionsgate in 2011 and grossed $18 million.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Colette’ and ‘The Sisters Brothers’ Reignite Indie Box Office

How ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Stacks Up on Michael Moore’s Box Office Record

‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls’ Levitates to No. 1 at Friday Box Office

A year after finding big box office success with “Girls Trip,” Tiffany Haddish, director Malcolm D. Lee, and producer Will Packer are teaming up with Kevin Hart for “Night School,” another comedy that Universal hopes will see long-lasting success thanks to the star power of its two leads.

Last year, “Girls Trip” launched Haddish into mainstream stardom and earned $140 million worldwide against a $19 million budget, becoming yet another flagbearer for Hollywood’s ongoing diversity push. “Night School,” which is slightly more expensive with a $29 million budget after tax incentives, is projected by Universal for an opening around $25 million from 2,900 screens, while independent trackers expect the film to match the $31 million start earned by “Girls Trip.”

The big challenge for “Night School” will be to stay on the radar of general audiences as the box office heads into what will be a very crowded October. The film’s status as a PG-13 comedy with two bankable, African-American stars will help it find an opening audience with core demographics, but next weekend will see the arrival of a big comic book movie in “Venom” and a big awards contender in “A Star Is Born.”

“Girls Trip,” similar to “Crazy Rich Asians” last month, was able to ride the acclaim from critics and early moviegoers to widespread interest in the end stages of last year’s summer season, and “Night School” will need strong word of mouth to do the same against such high-profile competition.

“Night School” stars Hart as a hotshot BBQ grill salesman whose store is destroyed in a freak accident. With no one hiring him due to being a high school dropout, he’s forced to head to night school to get his GED, encountering a very unorthodox teacher played by Haddish. Rob Riggle, Taran Killam, and Mary Lynn Rajskub also star.

Also releasing this weekend is the Warner Bros. animated film “Smallfoot,” which features an all-star voice cast led by Channing Tatum as a yeti who proves the existence of humans to his disbelieving village, with James Corden playing the homo sapiens that serves as living proof. Trackers are projecting an opening in the high $20 million range from 4,000 screens, with WB projecting an opening in the low $20 million range. Budget information wasn’t available at time of writing, though past feature films from Warner Animation Group like “Storks” and “The Lego Movie” have had a production budget of $70-80 million.

Finally, Lionsgate and CBS Films is releasing the horror film “Hell Fest,” which is projected for a $5-7 million opening from 2,200 screens. CBS Films is taking the Blumhouse microbudget approach to this movie, with a $5.5 million budget co-financed by Tucker Tooley Entertainment. An opening on the upper range of projections would match the $7 million start of “You’re Next,” the cult hit horror film that was released by Lionsgate in 2011 and grossed $18 million.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Colette' and 'The Sisters Brothers' Reignite Indie Box Office

How 'Fahrenheit 11/9' Stacks Up on Michael Moore's Box Office Record

'The House With a Clock in Its Walls' Levitates to No. 1 at Friday Box Office

Channing Tatum Says He’s Ready To Get Back to Work After Quiet Year

2018 has been a relatively low-key year for Channing Tatum, but he says he’s ready to get back to work. At the Saturday premiere of animated feature “Smallfoot,” his only film of the year, Tatum said he took the opportunity to slow do…

2018 has been a relatively low-key year for Channing Tatum, but he says he’s ready to get back to work. At the Saturday premiere of animated feature “Smallfoot,” his only film of the year, Tatum said he took the opportunity to slow down a bit this year. “I have a kid, man,” Tatum explained. “That […]

Zendaya Wants To Do A ‘Little Mermaid’ Live Action: ‘Why Wouldn’t I?’

Even if it’s only a rumor for now, Zendaya says she’d be open to starring in a “Little Mermaid” live action film. At the premiere of “Smallfoot” Saturday, the “Spider-Man: Homecoming” actress confirmed to…

Even if it’s only a rumor for now, Zendaya says she’d be open to starring in a “Little Mermaid” live action film. At the premiere of “Smallfoot” Saturday, the “Spider-Man: Homecoming” actress confirmed to Variety‘s Marc Malkin that her involvement in a live action version of the hit 1989 Disney film is so far just a […]

‘Smallfoot’ Review: Channing Tatum Is a Yeti Good Time, But This Animated Musical Tries Too Hard

The original songs are a nice touch, but executive producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller can’t rescue the weak humor this time.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller may be executive producers on “Smallfoot,” but the movie feels like a pale imitation of their unique comedic energy. The double entendre-laden humor and catchy tunes that made “The LEGO Movie” a hit are woefully missing from “Smallfoot,” a musical that tries too hard to educate kids and not hard enough to entertain them.

The premise of “Smallfoot” is inventive enough — what if Bigfoot not only existed, but lived among a whole clan of other bigfeet in a highly advanced society on a mountaintop above the clouds? Such is the adorable village where we meet Migo (Channing Tatum), a simple gong-ringer’s son who wants nothing more than to grow up and continue his father’s (Danny DeVito) legacy. What, you may ask, is a gong-ringer? It’s not good to ask too many questions in this village, but…the gong-ringer rings the gong every day to make the giant snail rise in the sky. Migo’s community keeps busy with a string of such seemingly meaningless chores, as dictated by a robe of ancient stones that must never be questioned.

That is, until Migo stumbles into a fearsome creature only mentioned in tall tales — a “smallfoot.” The “smallfoot” in question is, in fact, a fame-chasing British television host named Percy (James Corden), whose enormous ego (and small feet) confirm that he is very much human. When Migo shares his discovery with the village, he is banished by the Stonekeeper (Common) for questioning the stones. With the help of the village misfits, led by the Stonekeeper’s daughter Meechee (Zendaya), Migo heads below the clouds to find Percy and bring him back in order to prove his legitimacy.

“Smallfoot” excels most with its physical comedy, including a prolonged Looney Tunes-esque sequence that Migo falling from the sky. When Migo and Percy finally meet, Percy’s frenzied ravings hit Migo’s ears like adorable high-pitched squeaks to amusing effect. The interspecies comedy reaches its peak with a gag about a fearsome bear’s roars, which translates to Migo as a Mama Bear’s (Patricia Heaton!) impassioned fretting that she just got the kids to sleep and only has six months to rest.

“Smallfoot” boasts some epic voice talent, but LeBron James, Gina Rodriguez and Yara Shahidi are wasted in under-written roles with few distinguishing characteristics (other than the tickling image of LeBron as a ridiculous puffy purple yeti.) Most memorable out of the band of misfits is Fleem (Ely Henry), simply because he has a personality, even if it’s just excessively irritating. The original songs are a nice touch, but never particularly memorable.

“Smallfoot” really flounders with its obligatory message-mongering: a hodgepodge of didacticism about the importance of celebrating differences, asking questions, never fearing the unknown, or judging someone because they look different. Plenty of sound lessons in there, to be sure, but without a singular focus, they all blend into one.

To the imaginary yetis of “Smallfoot,” humans are just as scary — if not scarier — than a hulking, hairy, roaring beast. In that way, writers Karey Kirkpatrick and Clare Sera put a mirror up to the baser instincts of humanity, and the reflection isn’t a pretty one. Unfortunately, the optimistic finale is too hurried to be fully convincing, and we’re left wondering whether Migo (and the audience) would have been better off staying up on his mountain.

Grade: C

Warner Bros. releases “Smallfoot” in theaters nationwide on September 28.

‘Smallfoot’ Film Review: Fun Ideas Get Buried Under Avalanche of Mediocrity

Producers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra have generally kept a wide berth between their kid-friendly projects (“Storks,” “Cats & Dogs”) and their more adult material (“Bad Santa,” “I Love You Phillip Morris”). The best parts of “Smallfoot” see them finding a middle ground, espousing plot points and messaging that you don’t usually find in family fare.

Lurking within this animated tale of yetis and humans are such forward-thinking notions as, “Question everything, including religion,” “Governments use public safety as an excuse for misleading the populace when they really just want to control people,” and “Tribalism benefits people in power more than the communities they claim to want to protect.”

Heady stuff for a mainstream cartoon, but unfortunately “Smallfoot” can’t bear the weight of its big ideas, saddled as it is with fairly mediocre animation, mostly forgettable songs and a resolutely by-the-numbers screenplay by director Karey Kirkpatrick (“Over the Hedge”) and Clare Sera, adapting Sergio Pablos’ book “Yeti Tracks.”

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The story begins high, high up the Himalayas, where a village of yeti peacefully coexist, each member of the community doing his or her job to wake up the giant bright snail that travels across the sky (other civilizations know this as the sun) or to make ice orbs to cool down the mammoths that hold up the earth. Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum), like most of the rest of his yeti comrades, never asks too many questions, choosing instead to tamp them down deep inside, just like the elder Stonekeeper (Common) instructs.

Migo hopes to inherit the family business of waking up the snail by flying headfirst into a gong every morning, and he’s apprenticing to his once-tall father Dorgle (Danny DeVito). But when Migo misses the gong and catapults over the village wall, he encounters a flying metal object that comes crashing down. And inside that object: a mythical Smallfoot. (Other civilizations know them as human beings.)

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The village isn’t receptive to this news, since it contradicts the Stonekeeper’s version of events, and if one stone isn’t true, maybe none of them are. Migo is banished from the village, but he encounters other yeti who suspect that the Stonekeeper isn’t telling them everything, and maybe even that Smallfoots are real. Among this group is the Stonekeeper’s daughter Meechee (Zendaya), on whom Migo has always had a crush.

At the foot of the Himalayas, desperate animal-show host Percy (James Corden) is trying to get his producer to put on a yeti costume so they can create a viral video and boost his ratings. So when Percy encounters Migo — who has been lowered from the mountain by his pals in the Smallfoot Evidentiary Society — he doesn’t run screaming. By the time Migo drags Percy up to the village, it’s time for yetis and humans to acknowledge each other’s existence, but the Stonekeeper has some hard truths for Migo, ones that force him to have to decide whether maintaining his society’s myths and legends is more important than speaking the truth.

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Kudos to any movie where the female lead is a scientist and seeker of the truth — Zendaya gets the film’s one good song, “Wonderful Life,” that’s all about asking questions and not settling for conventional wisdom — but “Smallfoot” undoes its best features by being so aggressively bland. For the most part, the characters are neither visually nor narratively compelling, and the voice work by Tatum and Corden isn’t nearly dynamic enough, considering how much of the film is devoted to them.

To the movie’s credit, there’s a funny running gag involving how yetis hear humans (speaking in a high-pitched series of squeaks) and vice versa (fearsome monster yowling), and there’s a scene involving Migo and a suspension bridge that’s one of the best bits of sustained physical comedy since the china-shop sequence in “Ferdinand.”

Still, for all its deviation from kid-movie norms in terms of its moral lessons — “Smallfoot” is closer to Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” than the usual you-can-do-it pep talk — there’s a lot of familiarity here, from the inevitable climactic chase scene to Migo’s opening number, which has more than a whiff of the “Everything Is Awesome” world-building of “The Lego Movie.” (Speaking of that opening number, can we please retire songs that involve ukuleles and whistling, since those accompaniments can now be heard in pretty much every TV commercial for healthy breakfast products?)

“Smallfoot” provides more complex food for thought than most mainstream animation, but the overall results are still disappointingly bland.



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Producers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra have generally kept a wide berth between their kid-friendly projects (“Storks,” “Cats & Dogs”) and their more adult material (“Bad Santa,” “I Love You Phillip Morris”). The best parts of “Smallfoot” see them finding a middle ground, espousing plot points and messaging that you don’t usually find in family fare.

Lurking within this animated tale of yetis and humans are such forward-thinking notions as, “Question everything, including religion,” “Governments use public safety as an excuse for misleading the populace when they really just want to control people,” and “Tribalism benefits people in power more than the communities they claim to want to protect.”

Heady stuff for a mainstream cartoon, but unfortunately “Smallfoot” can’t bear the weight of its big ideas, saddled as it is with fairly mediocre animation, mostly forgettable songs and a resolutely by-the-numbers screenplay by director Karey Kirkpatrick (“Over the Hedge”) and Clare Sera, adapting Sergio Pablos’ book “Yeti Tracks.”

The story begins high, high up the Himalayas, where a village of yeti peacefully coexist, each member of the community doing his or her job to wake up the giant bright snail that travels across the sky (other civilizations know this as the sun) or to make ice orbs to cool down the mammoths that hold up the earth. Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum), like most of the rest of his yeti comrades, never asks too many questions, choosing instead to tamp them down deep inside, just like the elder Stonekeeper (Common) instructs.

Migo hopes to inherit the family business of waking up the snail by flying headfirst into a gong every morning, and he’s apprenticing to his once-tall father Dorgle (Danny DeVito). But when Migo misses the gong and catapults over the village wall, he encounters a flying metal object that comes crashing down. And inside that object: a mythical Smallfoot. (Other civilizations know them as human beings.)

The village isn’t receptive to this news, since it contradicts the Stonekeeper’s version of events, and if one stone isn’t true, maybe none of them are. Migo is banished from the village, but he encounters other yeti who suspect that the Stonekeeper isn’t telling them everything, and maybe even that Smallfoots are real. Among this group is the Stonekeeper’s daughter Meechee (Zendaya), on whom Migo has always had a crush.

At the foot of the Himalayas, desperate animal-show host Percy (James Corden) is trying to get his producer to put on a yeti costume so they can create a viral video and boost his ratings. So when Percy encounters Migo — who has been lowered from the mountain by his pals in the Smallfoot Evidentiary Society — he doesn’t run screaming. By the time Migo drags Percy up to the village, it’s time for yetis and humans to acknowledge each other’s existence, but the Stonekeeper has some hard truths for Migo, ones that force him to have to decide whether maintaining his society’s myths and legends is more important than speaking the truth.

Kudos to any movie where the female lead is a scientist and seeker of the truth — Zendaya gets the film’s one good song, “Wonderful Life,” that’s all about asking questions and not settling for conventional wisdom — but “Smallfoot” undoes its best features by being so aggressively bland. For the most part, the characters are neither visually nor narratively compelling, and the voice work by Tatum and Corden isn’t nearly dynamic enough, considering how much of the film is devoted to them.

To the movie’s credit, there’s a funny running gag involving how yetis hear humans (speaking in a high-pitched series of squeaks) and vice versa (fearsome monster yowling), and there’s a scene involving Migo and a suspension bridge that’s one of the best bits of sustained physical comedy since the china-shop sequence in “Ferdinand.”

Still, for all its deviation from kid-movie norms in terms of its moral lessons — “Smallfoot” is closer to Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” than the usual you-can-do-it pep talk — there’s a lot of familiarity here, from the inevitable climactic chase scene to Migo’s opening number, which has more than a whiff of the “Everything Is Awesome” world-building of “The Lego Movie.” (Speaking of that opening number, can we please retire songs that involve ukuleles and whistling, since those accompaniments can now be heard in pretty much every TV commercial for healthy breakfast products?)

“Smallfoot” provides more complex food for thought than most mainstream animation, but the overall results are still disappointingly bland.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Care Bears Return to TV With New Animated Series

Marvel Releases First Look at Disney XD's Animated 'Black Panther' TV Series (Video)

Nick Jonas Joins Kelly Clarkson, Pitbull in Animated 'UglyDolls' Movie

Screen Media Unwraps Animated Holiday Pic 'Elliot: The Littlest Reindeer' for November Release

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James Corden…

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