Midnight Special

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  • Directed By: Jeff Nichols
  • Written By: Jeff Nichols
  • Release Date: March 18, 2016
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst

Box Office Info:
Budget: $23 million Financed by: Warner Bros; RatPac Dune
Domestic Gross: $3,712,282 Overseas Gross: $3,128,860

“So the summer I wrote Midnight Special I was writing with a chip on my shoulder. And that turned out to be my least successful film and also probably my least well-executed.”
Director Jeff Nichols

midnight special 2016
Jeff Nichols took the Midnight Special screenplay to Warner Bros in May 2013 and landed a greenlight and final cut privilege for the project after executives saw his feature Mud — which had successfully opened in limited release two weeks earlier.   The budget for Midnight Special was $23 million and it was majority financed by Warner Bros with additional coin by RatPac Dune.  The picture was completed back in 2014 and was set for a wide release over the crowded 2015 Thanksgiving frame, but Warner Bros pushed the November 25 date back to March 18, 2016.

Midnight Special premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February and landed solid reviews.  WB decided to platform Midnight Special over a few weeks to rely on word of mouth to carry the picture as they added more markets.  The movie opened at 5 locations in New York, L.A. and Austin, where it pulled in $190,012 with a solid $38,002 per screen average.  To aid the expansion, WB gave the picture a modest marketing spend (considering what WB usually spends), with $6.68 million on national TV ads (as per iSpotTV), plus millions more on print, radio, online, etc. for a domestic P&A campaign worth about $20M.

In its third frame Midnight Special expanded to 58 theaters and took in $550,384 with a $9,489 per screen average.  In its fourth weekend WB expanded it to 493 theaters and the movie grossed $1,130,207 and then expanded to 521 theaters with diminishing returns, sinking 61.8% to $431,251 — killing off a further expansion.  It promptly lost most of its theater count and closed its run with only $3,712,282.  Warner Bros would see back about $2 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross.

Midnight Special saw a small overseas rollout to just $3.1 million.  The UK and France comprised the majority of its offshore numbers.  Entertainment distributed the pic in the UK and it cumed only $1.3 million.  WB released it in France to $1.4 million.


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