It’s not as if Universal and Blumhouse anticipated the opening of its gaslight thriller The Invisible Man to coincide with the guilty verdict handed down this week to movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in his sexual misconduct trial. But the Blumhouse-produced movie written and directed by Leigh Whannell arrives in cinemas at a moment when the #MeToo movement again occupies center stage.
Tracking has been seeing this R-rated thriller starring Elisabeth Moss in the mid-$20 million range for quite some time, but coming away from the ravenous response of Monday’s Hollywood premiere, it’s clear that Universal and Blumhouse have another socially conscious genre film on their hands that could hit a nerve and send this film into Get Out box office territory. That Jordan Peele Oscar-winning blockbuster opened to $33.37M. Interestingly enough, Invisible Man is opening in the same final February weekend spot as Get Out did three years ago.
Moss plays a woman in an abusive relationship with a wealthy optics engineer who is the best in his field. She flees from him in the middle of the night. Weeks later she learns that he took his own life. But is he really dead? Quite simply, his presence haunts her like a ghost, tormenting her and those around her — but no one believes her. Off 32 reviews to date, Invisible Man has already clocked 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, which is plenty to encourage average moviegoers outside the genre faithful to head to the cinema. Get Out finaled its RT score at 98% certified fresh.
Previews for Invisible Man start Thursday at 7 PM. We’ll be watching with bated breath to see whether the film, which cost a net $7M off Australian tax credits, overperforms as it’s truly one of those old fashioned word of mouth movies. Don’t be shocked if Moss is in the Best Actress conversation during awards season later this year: Deadline Pete Hammond writes in his review that Invisible Man is “more than most films in the horror genre. This one feels comfortably in line with something Hitchcock would have loved, a film that also has something in common with terrifying thrillers like Julia Roberts’ Sleeping With the Enemy, a movie I thought about while watching it. But The Invisible Man marches to its own beat in the end, and a lot of the success belongs with Moss, who nails this role of a woman under siege, both mentally and physically, with such skill I do not think it is too early to say this is first Oscar-worthy performance of 2020.”
Universal shot Get Out out of cannon as the secret movie at Sundance back in 2017, creating immediate buzz that carried it for more than a year into the Oscars with four noms, including Best Picture and a win for Peele in Original Screenplay. The marketing campaign here for Invisible Man has been mostly standard for a genre film, though with a longer lead promo time going back to December with TV spots hitting broad audiences during NBA Christmas games, not to mention the pregame slot of the Super Bowl as well as The Masked Singer that followed the game. Spots for Invisible Man also aired during the Grammys, and hit TV series like The Walking Dead, This Is Us and Modern Family as well as the finale of the highest-rated telenovela on Spanish-language television, El Señor De Los Cielos. Currently, the movie is tracking well with males over 25 and females under 25 as well as African American and Hispanic audiences.
While genre movies are traditionally frontloaded with their highest grosses on a Friday during their opening weekends (that’s including previews), you know if one is hitting the zeitgeist when Saturday’s numbers exceed Friday. That will be a big sign if Invisible Man is being discovered by the masses; i.e., Get Out saw a 17% spike on its first Saturday from Friday, while Universal/Blumhouse’s Split rose 13% over the same period on its way to a fantastic $40M stateside start.
While Invisible Man stands alone as the only major studio wide release this weekend, opening today in 1,200 locations is Funimation’s anime My Hero Academia: Hero Uprising. The movie already made $15M in Japan back in December and will follow a varying daily theater count pattern much like Funimation’s niche hit last year Dragon Ball Super: Broly which opened to an eye-raising first day of $7M at 1,250 locations, on its way to a $20.2M five-day total and overall domestic of $30.7M. My Hero Academia: Two Heroes debuted at 513 theaters in 2018, and ultimately made $5.75M.
After making a shocking amount of dough with close to $2.9M through yesterday, WarnerMedia’s truTV’s Impractical Jokers: The Movie will expand from 357 to 1,800 locations. The question on many rival distribution executives’ minds is how much more meat is left for this comedy, or did all the fans already come out last weekend?
Deadline’s Dino Ramos will have more on this weekend’s specialty releases which include Searchlight’s alternative Peter Pan take Wendy from two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker Benh Zeitlin, Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Winterbottom-directed comedy Greed in NY and LA, John Turturro’s Big Lebowski spinoff The Jesus Rolls from Screen Media, and Roadside Attractions’ BMX champ movie The Ride.