The Quorum

The August 9th Quandary

Update (5.25.24): Both THE FIRE INSIDE (now 12/25/24) and CUCKOO (now 8/2/24) have moved off this date.

August 9th is shaping up to be one of the more interesting summer weekends. We’ve noted that there are no major studio releases scheduled for May 31st, and the only film opening on June 21st is THE BIKERIDERS from Focus. And yet, a few weeks later, five films are scheduled to open on August 9th.

As any distribution exec will tell you, a release date can make or break a film. That’s why it’s odd to find a cluster of five titles in a season with so many underutilized weekends. This doesn’t bode well for any of the five titles. And with August 9th only 93 days away, it’s become less and less likely that something will move off that date. 

While five films may seem like a wealth of riches, especially for theaters desperately craving content, too many films on a single weekend can lead to less than the sum of its parts. Consider the weekend of April 14, 2023. That was the last time a weekend had five wide releases. None of the five made over $10M, with THE POPE’S EXORCIST being the top debut with $9M. An argument could be made that these films would all be better served on a less crowded weekend. 

There’s another reason August 9th is noteworthy. Three of the five – BORDERLANDS, CUCKOO, TRAP – have trailers and posters in the marketplace. The other two, THE FIRE INSIDE and IT ENDS WITH US, do not. These two are the films closest to release without a trailer. And while it’s by no means a kiss of death to have a late campaign, it is of concern when a film is less than 100 days away without a trailer. 

Why does it matter? It matters because awareness (and interest) builds as people walk past posters in their local theater’s halls and see the trailer before the film starts. The lack of marketing material often runs in parallel with low awareness. Only 11% of people know about FIRE, while only 16% are aware of ENDS despite the film being based on a best-selling book. 

At three months out, none of the films look especially strong. BORDERLANDS is leading the pack with 31% awareness largely because the trailer was released in February, meaning audiences have seen it playing in theaters for over two months. 

Awareness for TRAP sits at 17%, though it’s on the rise. Warner Bros released a very effective trailer three weeks ago, and the numbers for the film have already started to climb. Awareness was at 12% a month ago and don’t be surprised to see it go higher in the coming weeks. 

CUCKOO is one of two Neon horror films this summer. We are madly in love with the campaign for LONGLEGS, opening July 12th. The trailer for CUCKOO is also very compelling. Despite intriguing campaigns, they have yet to see much of a lift in awareness. That will likely happen closer to release. 

And finally, there are the two films that have yet to release trailers. It’s hard to say what’s happening at MGM with FIRE. As for ENDS, sadly, a pattern seems to be emerging at Sony. As we’ve noted before, Sony was late with BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE. On top of that, Sony doesn’t always release artwork in conjunction with trailers. The first poster for BOYS arrived two weeks after the trailer. 

Sony released a super fun trailer for FLY ME TO THE MOON, but we only have a teaser poster that doesn’t feature the likeness of stars Scarlett Johansson or Channing Tatum. The chemistry between the two looks off the charts, yet the studio isn’t leaning into it with the key art. 

The bottom line is that August 9th could be one of those weekends that has us all scratching our heads. It could be a weekend with no winners and lots of coulda, woulda Monday morning quarterbacking. 

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