A Monster Calls

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  • Directed By: J.A. Bayona
  • Written By: Patrick Ness, Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd
  • Release Date: December 23, 2016
  • Domestic Distributor: Focus
  • Cast: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson

Box Office Info:
Budget: $43 millionFinanced by: Participant Media; River Road Entertainment
Domestic Gross: $3,740,823Overseas Gross: $43,568,490


The budget for A Monster Calls was $43 million and it was co-financed by Participant Media and River Road Entertainment.  Lionsgate handled pre-sales and took the project to Cannes in 2014 and landed distribution in almost every territory.  Focus boarded the pic as US distributor and committed a $20 million minimum for P&A.  Focus first dated A Monster Calls for October 14 and then pushed it back a week to the 21st.  After very positive audience reactions, the pic was re-dated for a limited awards qualifying run on December 23 and a wide expansion set for January 6, 2017.  Things were off to a good start with A Monster Calls, when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and was praised by critics and audiences.

One month later A Monster Calls opened in Spain on October 7 and became director J.A. Bayona’s third box office smash in his home country after The Orphanage (2007) and The Impossible (2012).  A Monster Calls took in $28.1 million and was the highest grossing 2016 movie in Spain and that’s where the good news for the picture ends.

Most overseas markets saw a staggered rollout throughout 2016 and 2017 and like the expensive Spain productions Alatriste and Agora, which did solid business at home, A Monster Calls saw little interest from auds in almost every country.  Outside of Spain, numerous distributors saw just $15.4 million in receipts.  The offshore cume stalled at $43,568,490.

For the US release, Focus booked A Monster Calls at 4 locations and into a very competitive end of the year market with other award hopefuls.  To spread word of mouth, Focus launched screenings of the movie in over 30 markets and landed media partners including AARP and Refinery29.  Even with positive reviews and marketing material targeting both kids and adults, all age groups stayed away from A Monster Calls.  It was completely lost in limited release and pulled in $30,909 with a troubling $7,727 per screen average.

Focus expanded the picture into 1,523 theaters going into its third weekend and it bowed against the wide expansion of Hidden Figures and Underworld: Blood Wars.  A Monster Calls was dead on arrival with $2,080,051 — placing outside the top 10 at #12 for the frame led by Hidden Figures and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (also top-lining Felicity Jones).  Despite audiences awarding the picture with a fantastic A cinemascore, A Monster Calls posted one of the largest second frame declines on record — plunging 74.2% to $537,262 and then it promptly lost most of its theater count.  The domestic run closed with a terrible $3,740,823.  Focus would see back about $2 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which barely dents the P&A spend.

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