With sequelitis in full swing at the domestic box office before Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4 changes that course, Sony is plotting for its responsibly-budgeted reboot of Men in Black: International to carry the load exactly there — overseas. Currently, industry estimates are now at $30M in U.S. Canada at 4,200 theaters and $70M-$85M overseas. Total global launch is between $100M-$115M. China should match the U.S. opening and hopefully U.S. doesn’t fall lower as tracking for fanboy IP has been greatly over-inflated in recent weeks. Previews start at 4PM in the U.S. at 3,500 sites. MIB 4 will also play in Imax.
Sony releases MIB 4 around the world beginning today, notably in France and Korea. Through Friday, the film will be in 56 markets repping 92% of its offshore footprint and excluding Indonesia, Netherlands, Italy and some smaller hubs which will go later. The big question being with the fourthquel: Will the comedy translate abroad?
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Despite the $110M-production cost being floated out there, we hear the net before P&A cost on Men in Black: International is actually under $100M (per those with knowledge of the budget, not studio sources). We hear co-finance partners Hemisphere and Tencent are each in for just under 18% each, helping to reduce Sony’s risk. Already working in the pic’s P&A favor is $75M through a number of largely high-end promotional partners like Lexus cars and Paul Smith suits.
Men in Black: International is a popcorn movie, definitely not one for reviewers who are wishing that their minds were erased after seeing the movie at 32% Rotten. Some of the better reviews have recognized that the film should have been called ‘Woman in Black’ as new lead Tessa Thompson is the most winning factor in the movie per positive reviews. She is joined by her Thor: Ragnarok co-star Chris Hemsworth. The attempt here of course is that Men in Black: International can work off their Ragnarok punch and snap, duh. Despite hunk Hemsworth in the movie, we hear stateside tracking is skewing heavily male. The studio also hopes that a combo of nostalgia and the uninitiated to the franchise could possibly propel ticket sales.
Because Men in Black: International does not star the original franchise stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, grosses will of course be lower with the latest’s 3-day opening well below the previous MIB 3 3-day high of $54.6M (that pic launched over Memorial Day). Men in Black 1 and 2 opened over 5-day Independence Day holidays in 1997 and 2002. Of course, because of Smith, the Men In Black movies have also historically been solid grossers overseas with the first making $338.7M (to domestic’s $250.6M) and the third, MIB 3, doing $445M in 2012 (to U.S./Canda’s $179M). The middle film, 2002’s Men In Black II, was the lowest of the trio abroad $251.4M (but $190.4M domestic) (all figures unadjusted).
The markets have shifted greatly in the intervening years with only MIB 3 releasing in China where it did over $77M just as the box office was beginning its upward trend. Other key hubs on the threequel included Japan, Russia, the UK and Germany. The growing Asian markets should lean in on this one.
Previous MIB pics aren’t the best comparisons given the years in between and the cast change-up. Better are those that resonate tonally, toward the fun. Think recent titles like Shazam! ($89.5M opening in like-for-like markets) and Pokémon Detective Pikachu ($98.6M).
Overseas promotion for the movie included a Sony junket in Bali and an appearance by Hemsworth on the UK’s Graham Norton Show. Also in London with him were Thompson, director Gary Gray, Kumail Nanjiani, Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. The main duo were further in Paris and Russia, and this past Sunday hit Beijing, grabbing lots of local press coverage. Hemsworth is so well-known for playing Thor that in China, fans call him “Chuige” or Hammer Man, per local reports. And he’s not above leaning into that. For one of its TV spots, Sony went meta, including a scene of Hemsworth’s Agent H fighting an alien with a tiny hammer. Thompson also went to Brazil for ComicCon.
New Line’s Shaft is expected to do between $17M-$18M at 2,950 theaters. It could do more should it over-index to African American audiences. Warners sold overseas rights to Netflix on this $35M estimated production which brings together all the Shafts from the 1971 and 2000 versions. The last movie, starring Samuel L. Jackson (who here reprises his role as John Shaft), opened to $21.7M and legged out to $70.3M stateside. Previews start at 6pm at 2,800 locations.
Amazon’s Late Night after notching the best specialty theater average of the year to date last weekend of $61,5K is eyeing $4M-$5M at 2.050 theaters.
Focus Features’ Cannes Film Festival opener, Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Don’t Die, is expected to bring in $2M at 550 locations. Pic currently has a 52% RT Score.