As the major studios become overly cautious, throw up their hands, and move their titles to either PVOD (Lionsgate’s Antebellum) or their own streaming platforms (Disney’s Mulan), they should take a breath and look at Spain as a sign of what’s possible in the revival of the box office during the pandemic.
We’re specifically talking about the recent success of Sony Pictures International Productions and Bowfinger’s Padre No Hay Más Que Uno 2 (aka Father There is Only One 2), a family comedy sequel from Santiago Segura that’s pacing to overtake its original 2019 installment which ended its run at $15.9M.
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Studio executives continue to worry whether moviegoers will return to cinemas immediately (and you can see their emotions played out in their release date changes); this despite the fact that sharp analytical studies state otherwise. Disney is clearly betting with Mulan that stateside families are preferring to stay home in the short-term and watch Disney+, rather than head out to the multiplex.
But the success of Padre No Hay…2 proves that fear is false: Moviegoers and families have shown an urge to go to the movies in Spain after the country had one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe. And that bold move to release Padre No Hay…2 sooner than later can be credited to the film’s producer María Luisa Gutiérrez and the box office forecasting and film dating gurus at Comscore and Gower Street Analytics.
Let’s reflect on some of the success of Padre No Hay…2. The pic, about a father rearing his five kids amid a new addition to his family and a visit from his mother-in-law, opened on July 29, grossing $2.6M over five days, repping the biggest debut of the year in Spain. Through Sunday, the film’s running cume of $5.5M is outpacing the original last summer at this time by 8% — and that was with big pics on the marquee, Disney’s The Lion King and Universal’s Hobbs & Shaw. Before Friday, Padre No Hay…2 was doing 21% more box office on an average daily basis than its previous chapter, and that’s with 30% less cinemas open in Spain versus a year ago. This past weekend, the sequel made $1.2M, scoring the No. 1 spot again, dipping 27%. There are 376 active cinemas right now in Spain versus 539 a year ago with capacity restrictions varying by region with Zaragoza at 30% and cities like Madrid and Barcelona at 80% capacity levels.
“This is the best news in a marketplace that’s looking to come alive after being shutdown during COVID-19,” beams Comscore EVP & Global Managing Director, Movies Arturo Guillén.
“This proves that audiences are happy to go back to cinemas if the content is right. People will take their kids to cinemas. This movie is doing more than the previous installment, which was the biggest movie in Spain last year. There were huge doubts before the release of this movie, if anyone was going to turn up at the cinemas. But the data is real, thanks to Gower Street CEO Dimitrios Mitsinikos’ study in collaboration with Comscore’s data,” says Guillén.
The initiative to move forward with the release of Padre No Hay…2 was spurred by Bowfinger’s Gutiérrez, Sony and Atresmedia. Originally the movie was set for release on Aug. 7. Many studios were already moving their movies to 2021 in response to an unpredictable marketplace. Gutiérrez didn’t want to do that with Padre No Hay…2, so she went to Comscore, and their London, UK based partner Gower Street to evaluate the commercial potential of release dates between late July and December. “The risk of releasing the film in the summer was obvious, but we also had the strong conviction that, more than ever, theatres needed all the help they could get,” Gutiérrez tells Deadline.
Gower Street’s simulation showed that Padre No Hay…2 would reap a great degree of box office sooner than later in the calendar, greatly due to the lack of competition and the great access to theaters which are currently available in the country. So, the decision was made to open Padre No Hay…2 even earlier on Wednesday, July 29. That scenario provided the sequel with a clear four-week runway that its predecessor didn’t have a year ago. Even though the mathematical model didn’t take into account the possibility of another lockdown or closure of cinemas for health reasons as Spain sees COVID-19 spikes in the Basque, Aragón and Catalonia regions, “this uncertainty would be identical in six months. Comscore and Gower Street were able to make box-office predictions in the midst of great uncertainty. Now that the decision has passed and the film has 11 days of box office, I can say that they nailed the prediction,” says Gutiérrez.
The weekend box office in Spain, thanks to Padre No Hay…2, has grown from $900K over the weekend of July 24-26 to $2.5M during July 31-Aug. 2, and over $2M this past weekend.
“If the right content there, it activates the theatrical machine in the marketplace,” says Guillén, “Everyone will be able to take advantage of this. Smaller titles will piggyback the big ones.”
Adds Mitsinikos about the decision to release the sequel earlier than later in the pandemic marketplace, “It’s like a car that has gone into a skid. We’re driving into the skid. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s the only way to save the car. Based on what we’re seeing now in Spain, this is a fantastic sign of what’s to come in the theatrical marketplace especially with Warner Bros.’ Tenet on the horizon. People are ready.”
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