4th Update, Saturday AM Writethru after Friday 11:19 PM: Even though it’s a quiet weekend at the box office after the mad holiday rush between Christmas and New Year’s Day, studios savor the first frame of the year given its great holdover business. Kids are still off from school and heading to the movies, and another big plus: There isn’t a major snow storm freezing out the Northeast.
Currently total ticket sales for the weekend are around $140M, -26% from the final weekend of 2018. That weekend-to-weekend percent slide is on par with the first frame of 2017 vs. the last weekend of 2016, but a tad steeper than the onset of 2018 vs. the finale of 2017 at -15%. Last year at this time Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Star Wars The Last Jedi drove weekend’s ticket sales to $165.5M. Jumanji 2 minted a third weekend of $37.2M, followed by Universal/Blumhouse’s Insidious: The Last Key with $29.5M (which was also made by Escape Room filmmaker Adam Robitel) and then Last Jedi‘s fourth weekend of $23.7M.
This year, Warner Bros.’ third weekend of Aquaman is the only title grossing north of $20M with an estimated $31.5M, -40% for a running total by Sunday of $260.5M. Next weekend’s trio of wide entries –STX’s The Upside ($8M-$10M estimated opening), Sony’s A Dog’s Way Home ($7M-$12M) and Entertainment Studios’ Replicas ($4M-$7M estimated opening)– aren’t expected to inflict any damage, so it’s safe to say that Aquaman will reign for a fourth weekend. The last time Warners held a film for four weeks straight was 2008’s The Dark Knight. Aquaman‘s will easily grasp $900M by Sunday and if he doesn’t lose too many screens abroad, a $1 billion WW final isn’t out of the question.
Currently, Columbia Picture’s Escape Room has bragging rights for 2nd place with $16.9M, however if Saturday truly drops more than 15% from Friday’s (+previews) $7.7M, then Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, currently with a third weekend of $16.6M, will hold 2nd for her third weekend in a row. The Rob Marshall-directed musical is nominated for four Golden Globes on Sunday including best musical/comedy.
Rivals agree: Escape Room is a great result for a PG-13 horror pic that reportedly carries a $9M production cost. Horror easily plays to the under 25 set during the first weekend of the year. A great example of how powerful genre can be at this time of year was Paramount’s The Devil Inside back in 2012: The pic opened to No. 1 with $33.7M off a rare F CinemaScore. Those who entered Escape Room were 54/46 Male and 80% under 35 with the single largest quad being 18-24 years old at 33%. The mix was 42% Caucasian, 22% Hispanic, 20% African American & 16% Asian/Other. Escape Room played best in the on the East Coast along with the Mid & South-West.
Social Media metrics group RelishMix wasn’t impressed with the online reach for Escape Room: Few in the pic’s cast have social media pull, the pic has a moderate social media universe near 58M from Facebook, YouTube views, Instagram and Twitter, the video viral rate is low at 9:1 (short of the 13:1 average for a horror film).
Still something is working here, and RelishMix pegs it to the marketing materials: “A lot of horror fans are looking at the trailers and social materials for the film and sharing their own experiences with escape rooms. Some of these fans are really excited to see the movie based on their love of the experience and how the movie resonates with them. And, more casual horror fans like the cast and Saw-like elements they’re seeing.” CinemaScore is a B for Escape Room which is better than Screen Gems’ R-rated The Possession of Hannah Grace which opened during the sluggish first weekend of December. ‘A’ CinemaScores are rare for horror pics, so a B is wonderful.
With Golden Globes on Sunday, here’s how some of the contenders are looking: There is strong buzz that Universal/Participant/DreamWorks’ Green Book could win best comedy. We hear that there’s a good chance that the pic will increase its number of screens leading into Oscars. Right now, on 566 in weekend 8, it’s making $1.8M, -3% for a total of $35.2M.
Annapurna’s Vice, which leads at the Golden Globes with six noms, is holding up quite well for a Vice Presidential biopic that has divided some audiences and critics, -28% in weekend 2 with $5.6M for a 13-day total of $29.6M. Yes, we know, the movie cost a steep $60M before P&A. But awards season isn’t over yet.
We’ve also heard buzz that 20th Century Fox/New Regency/GK Films’ Bohemian Rhapsody could upset with a Best Drama win (yes, the HFPA loves the pic that much). Fox jumped the number of screens by 199 to 1,080 in weekend 10, and right now the movie is hanging out in 11th place with $2.3M, -2% and a running total of $193.5M. The movie doesn’t hit DVD until Feb. 12.
Annapurna’s If Beale Street Could Talk with three Golden Globe noms for Best Drama, supporting actress Regina King, and director Barry Jenkins, moved from 65 theaters to 335 in weekend 4 seeing a 137% surge with $1.8M and a running total by Sunday of $4.3M. The Megan Ellison studio is also seeing its Nicole Kidman L.A. cop movie Destroyer, which is nominated for Best Actress Drama at the Globes, grossing $108K from six theaters (+3) for a 13-day of $258K.
2nd Update, Friday Midday: With schools still off for the holiday break, the studios can rely on continued traffic and this weekend at this point in time we’re seeing Warner Bros.’ Aquaman at $26.2M, -50% after a third Friday of $8M, with a running total of $255.2M. The DC superhero has already beat the lifetime U.S./Canada $229M take and global haul of Justice League and will see a $300M stateside tally sometime after MLK. But given Aquaman‘s momentum here, and seeing how Warners pushed Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad past the three-century mark, you better believe they’re going to get this Jason Momoa film past that threshold. Soon enough, he’ll cross $900M WW by end of this weekend.
Coming off of a great Thursday night, Sony’s horror thriller Escape Room in industry estimate is looking at a $15.8M opening after a $6.8M Friday that includes yesterday’s $2.3M. That said, many are projecting that the Adam Robitel movie files third behind Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns which is eyeing a third session of $18.4M, -35% for a running total of $141.3M, which would be 84% ahead of the running total of The Greatest Showman at the same point in time. Escape Room is at 50% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes.
Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is looking at an industry estimated $12.2M fourth frame, -35% for a running total by Sunday of $133M. Paramount’s third weekend of Bumblebee is just below with $12M, -43% for a running total by Sunday of $96.3M. Warner Bros.’ The Mule is seeing $7.5M in weekend 4, with a running total of $79.5M. It would be great if WB makes this Clint Eastwood’s fifth title as an actor, sixth title as a director to cross $100M. That’s quite conceivable. Annapurna’s six-time Golden Globe nominee Vice is looking at a second weekend of $5.2M, -32%, for a running tally by Sunday of $29.2M.
1st Update, Friday 8:15AM: Columbia Pictures’ PG-13 thriller Escape Room, the only wide entry this weekend and for the new year, fired up $2.3 million at 2,386 locations Thursday from showtimes starting at 4 PM. While moviegoers will continue to flock to holiday holdovers like Warner Bros/DC’s Aquaman, which is poised to post between $25M-$32M in its third weekend, horror scares up young females under 25.
Escape Room‘s money last night is higher than the $1.98M that Universal/Blumhouse’s fourthquel Insidious: The Last Key made a year ago in Thursday night previews. Last Key went on to make a massive $29.5M opening, and finaled at $67.5M off a $10M budget before P&A. Adam Robitel directed both Escape Room and Last Key.
Tracking had Escape Room between $10M-$14M, and last night’s figure indicates a FSS toward the higher end of that range. The movie reportedly cost Sony around $9M, and when it comes to young genre movies, the Culver City studio has been aces in the digital marketing realm.
Aquaman drew $6.2M yesterday, off 16% from Wednesday, and in two weeks has come very close to beating the lifetime domestic cume of Justice League ($229.02M) with $229.017M, a marvelous result.
Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns is eyeing a third weekend of $21M after a $3.95M Thursday, down 11%, for a running total of $122.95M.
Paramount’s Bumblebee, Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Escape Room will be battling for third with mid-teen takes.
Spider-Verse grossed $3.1M on Thursday, off 5%. Anecdotally, to give you an idea of how much this animated film speaks to crowds, the Wednesday night 7:20 PM 400-seat show at the Regal Valencia outside Los Angeles was filled to the brim, with audiences applauding after the film finished; a majority of the auditorium stayed and sat through the credits. Through three weeks, Spider-Verse counts $120.9M. Bumblebee took in an estimated $2.6M yesterday for a two-week total of $84.35M.
Warner Bros’ The Mule ended its third weeks with $72M and is looking at a fourth weekend of $9M, -26%. The Clint Eastwood movie could very well walk its way to $100M.
Annapurna’s Vice is looking at a second weekend of $6M, -22%. Through 10 days the Adam McKay-directed movie counts $24M after a $981,000 Thursday, -5%. The Dick Cheney movie later today will eclipse the $25.5M lifetime domestic total of Oliver Stone’s 2008 title W., about President George W. Bush.