The Quorum

BORDERLANDS Wrapped This Week In 2021. Can It Find An Audience Three Years Later?

Saturday is a noteworthy day for the upcoming film BORDERLANDS. June 22nd will be the third anniversary of the end of productions. Yes, BRODERLANDS wrapped way back in 2021.

This is also an important time for the film for another reason. Tracking has been flat since February, when the trailer was released. Awareness jumped from 23% to 30% in the days following the trailer, but it hasn’t moved since then. Today, awareness sits at 28%. Interest was at 45% before the trailer and today it’s two points lower at 43%.

Perhaps this isn’t too surprising. Despite having a fantastic cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Jamie Lee Curtis, Haley Bennett, and Gina Gershon (who is always a welcome screen presence), reports of this film collecting dust have been widespread. It would be completely understandable if Lionsgate chose to limit its exposure through a smaller marketing budget.

Still, aside from the cast, there’s much to like about the film. It looks like a hell of a lot of fun. In many ways, it’s cut from the same cloth as DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES. Both are based on games, both are star-driven ensembles and both don’t take themselves too seriously.

When DUNGEONS opened to $37M in March of 2023, it was softer than Paramount would have liked. The film made $208M worldwide on a production budget of $150M. That kind of performance doesn’t scream sequel. While the budget for BORDERLANDS hasn’t been reported, it would be a fantastic win if it debuted to $37M.

Here’s how the two films stack up. Awareness for BORDERLANDS (dark yellow) has been higher than DUNGEONS (light yellow) at the same distance from release. But it was about this time that DUNGEONS started to make its move. Paramount released a trailer 80 days out, and awareness began to rise. BORDERLANDS could benefit from another trailer, especially if it hopes to keep pace with DUNGEONS.

Looking at interest, BORDERLANDS (dark blue) has been outpacing DUNGEONS (light blue). However, like awareness, the trailer for DUNGEONS lifted interest to 46%. Interest for BORDERLANDS has been trending down.

As these charts show, this could be an inflection point for BORDERLANDS. The film is less than two months away, meaning the big marketing push should begin soon.

But here’s an important point to remember. Even if tracking for BORDERLANDS matched DUNGEONS when it’s all said and done, it’s unlikely to match the $37M for DUNGEON. That’s because the March box office is so much more robust than August. Consider this fact. Since 2013, 16 films released in March opened above $50M. That number drops to five for August.

If so, what kind of opening should we expect for BORDERLANDS? We look at the Box Office Universe (BOU) to help answer that question. The chart below includes non-sequel, non-superhero, PG-13 August releases with a budget over $50M. The 2014 version of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES opened to $66M, and THE MEG made $45M, but no other films in the BORDERLANDS BOU opened above $30M. In fact, only one other, FREE GUY, opened above $20M. The median debut is $15M.

That means BORDERLANDS would have to be an outsized performer to match the $37M for DUNGEONS. Yes, release dates matter.

At the moment, it’s not entirely clear that BORDERLANDS could clear the median of $15M. Much will hinge on the next few weeks. If new material is released, and if that material clicks, the film could find itself at the high end of the BOU. Let’s see what Lionsgate does from here.

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