This Week on the Boxoffice Podcast: What Went Wrong with In the Heights?

Copyright: © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.© 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Macall Polay

This week on the Boxoffice Podcast, a full house of hosts—Daniel Loria, Shawn Robbins, Rebecca Pahle, Russ Fischer—break down the disappointing debut of In the Heights: Is it a strike against Warner Bros.’ day-and-date release strategy, or was sub-par marketing at play? Further, as we approach the halfway point of 2021, the co-hosts share their lessons from the first half of the year and the upcoming 2021 releases they’re most looking forward to. Boxoffice Pro Chief Analyst Shawn Robbins also shares his thoughts on whether a $5 billion domestic box office in 2021—called out by AMC CEO Adam Aron as a key benchmark by which to establish theatrical recovery—is likely or even realistic.

Listen to The Full Episode:

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In the Heights‘ Marketing Not Penetrating Spanish-Language Media

In a title where we have a very diverse cast, we didn’t see too many stars or the director show up and put in the time to do Spanish language U.S. media on [Univision and Telemundo]…. And I’m specifically talking about folks like director Jon Chu, like star Anthony Ramos, that went on every English language outlet I can imagine and said how this is a great opportunity for Latin American representation, but somehow couldn’t find the time to show up to these two Spanish-language networks to promote the title. Lin Manuel Miranda carried all media appearances in Spanish on his back. We just didn’t see the same commitment from other folks when it came to marketing it in the community.

Whether a $5B Domestic Gross Is Achievable in 2021

We’re currently around $800 million. By the end of this month, that should be peeking over $900 million, give or take a little bit. … This could be a protracted process. It’s really tough to say. I think $5 billion is achievable. I wouldn’t say that we should really commit to that being an expectation yet with our own internal forecast… Maybe it’s being too conservative, but I think something like $4 billion is is more realistic, even once we get into that busier timeframe, because there’s just no telling how some of these movies might perform.

Lessons Learned in the First Half of 2021

The recovery of the cinema is directly tied to the progress of the vaccination effort, not only here in the United States, but around the world. These big studio tentpoles rely incredibly on the performance of overseas markets. And if Europe is lagging behind, well, those movies aren’t going to be as willing to jump the gun and fight to get in a little bit earlier, even if the U.S. is progressing on a positive level. Same thing with Latin America; Disney performs very, very well in Latin America. It’s a region where vaccine progress is really lagging behind. So for me, the conversation about box office really has a big asterisk until the conversation around the vaccine can get a little bit better defined. And unfortunately, even though things in the U.S. are improving, we’re still far behind around the world.

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