In this week’s episode of the Boxoffice Podcast, co-hosts Daniel Loria, Rebecca Pahle, and Shawn Robbins share their impressions of this year’s Academy Awards: a great shout-out in the pre-show but were movie theaters snubbed during the main broadcast? The panel also also looks at a record weekend at the pandemic box office with the debuts of Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer. Mortal Kombat delivered the highest opening weekend for an R-rated movie during the pandemic and Demon Slayer emerged as a surprise crossover hit at the box office. What does Demon Slayer’s success tell us about the future potential of anime titles at the box office?
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS WEEK’S EPISODE
SHAWN ROBBINS on the Academy Awards Pre-Show
It was very interesting that the musical segments were kept out of the main part of the show. I think that would have been very beneficial to keeping attention spans on track, especially this year. But really, I think the big standout were the ads from Fast Nine and The Big Screen is Back. That was something all three of us and countless others in this industry have talked about wanting to see more of in this lead up to more big movies coming out: actually advertising to the masses, not just movie fans and people who work in the movie industry. From a glass-half-full standpoint, I thought that was a very positive thing. But it is still a very sensitive subject for the Academy to hit on because this is a global broadcast, and as [things have improved] in the United States, there are still plenty of other markets very far from this kind of progress. It is a tightrope that they have to walk and will have to walk for some time.
REBECCA PAHLE on the Academy Awards Main Broadcast
Throughout the entire three-and-a-half hour Oscar ceremony there was one mention of movie theaters. It wasn’t from a presenter, it wasn’t anything scripted, it was an impromptu nod from Frances McDormand: one of the people accepting the Best Picture award for Nomadland saying, “Go see this movie on the biggest screen possible, see all these movies on the big screen.” I was a little bit peeved that movie theaters didn’t get mentioned other than that…it felt like there was an entire half to this industry that got ignored and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I wasn’t happy about it. None of the people who were nominated, none of the winners or any of the other people in that room would have been there if not for movie theaters.
SHAWN ROBBINS on the Highest Earning Weekend at the Domestic Box Office During the Pandemic
I think we can safely say this was another weekend that beat even the most optimistic expectations. We had two R-rated movies open at the same time and before this weekend, the highest R-rated opening during the pandemic was Nobody with $6 million. [Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer] each did more than that in their opening day.
SHAWN ROBBINS on What’s Next for Demon Slayer After a Great Opening Weekend at the Box Office
Historically, anime releases have usually been very niche and very front loaded in North America. Probably the best example most recently was Dragon Ball Super Broly that dropped 70% in its second weekend, after opening to about $20 million in its first five days. Instinctively that’s kind of the obvious comparison to make and expectation to have for Demon Slayer. But that was two years ago, when there were a lot more movies in the market than there are now. Maybe that helps expand the audience for these kinds of imported films. In the middle of a pandemic, when there isn’t a lot of new content, people are going to hear about Demon Slayer’s opening and maybe go give it a chance