There’s a lot to like about the upcoming action comedy ARGYLLE, opening on February 2nd. It’s directed by Matthew Vaughn, who reinvigorated the genre a decade ago with KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE. Judging by the trailer, ARGYLLE looks like an irresistible mashup of THE LOST CITY, ROMANCING THE STONE, BULLET TRAIN, and THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.. There’s also Dua Lipa, who looks a winning addition in her second big-screen appearance less than a year after BARBIE.
That’s why it’s so surprising to see the tepid tracking for what could be should be a solid box office performer. First, let’s take a look at the film’s Box Office Universe (BOU). In this case, we’re including PG-13, non-superhero, and non-sequels opening in at least 3,000 theaters in February.
It’s a bit of a hodgepodge with big-budget misfires like JUPITER ASCENDING and MOONFALL sitting next to smaller comedies like 80 FOR BRADY and MARRY ME. What’s important is that the average and median openings of the BOU are $19M and $18M, respectively.
It’s also worth noting that only one title opened above $30M (UNCHARTED). ARGYLLE may not need to match UNCHARTED’s $44M opening to be a success, but at the very least we would expect an opening above $20M. At the moment, that looks like a long shot. Currently, The Quorum is projecting an opening between $13M and $16M.
How did we arrive at that range? ARGYLLE belongs to the “Medium” group, meaning we believe it has a production budget of over $50M. The average opening weekend for films in this group is $22M, which is slightly above the average of $19M for the BOU.
The table below shows how ARGYLLE is tracking compared to the group average at the same distance from release. The film is tracking in line with the group average in the Location and Fee metrics. And at 43%, Interest in ARGYLLE is not far behind the group average of 46%. These three metrics alone suggest an opening in that $19M to $22M range.
The problem is awareness. Only 19% of tracking respondents know about ARGYLLE. That’s well below the group average of 32%.
The good news is that awareness is frequently the easiest to improve. It may seem overly simplistic, but awareness often increases by simply throwing money at the film. Or freeing up some of the marketing budget earlier rather than when it’s usually spent in the 14 days before release.
There’s even more good news: Universal will have plenty of opportunities to spend and build awareness with the NFL playoffs beginning on January 13th. And what about the cat?
Well, it turns out that the feline is perhaps more popular than the enormous nine person ensemble. The poster featuring the cat in its carrier scored higher among survey respondents than the one-sheet featuring the entire cast.
The studio might want to consider leaning into the cat as it enters the home stretch.