4th UPDATE/WRITETHRU after midday post: This is what a Star Wars-less Christmas weekend at the box office looks like. As of tonight Warner Bros. Aquaman is coming in lower from its Friday midday projections with a $27.7M first day (vs. $30M) which includes $13.7M previews, and a $68.8M 3-day (compared to $70M-$75M). Thats still in the range of tracking ($65M-$70M) and the question remains how much will Christmas spike the pic. Many were predicting a $120M 5-day, and now it might be lower, possibly $100M+.
Why the slowdown? The peak moviegoing hasnt kicked in yet, and by the way, most of the wide entries are down from their 3-day forecasts. A year ago, Fandango reported that millennials can see as many as four films over the Christmas-New Years Day corridor. Essentially what analysts are seeing is an Aquaman front-loaded by fans with an estimated 20% dip on Saturday from todays first day, while theyre projecting all other pics in the top 10 to spike over Friday, specifically the family suite of Paramounts Bumblebee (+5%), Disneys Mary Poppins Returns (+20%) and Sonys Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (+35%).
Last year Christmas day wound up being Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungles highest day in its first five with $19.1M, +112% over the humdrum business of Christmas Eve. Christmas will likely be a day that leaves lots of cash under the tree for this weekends wide entries.
Working in Aquamans favor are great exits with an A- CinemaScore and 4 stars from general audiences on PostTrak; 4 1/2 stars from families with women 25+ swooning over Jason Momoa with an 84% positive score. Females who were surveyed by CinemaScore repped 45% of the crowd and graded Aquaman an A-. More CinemaScore: Those over 25 repped 58% of the crowd, with those under 18 (21%) gave the fish man a solid A.
Warners smartly rolled this DC movie out to the point where you could argue that domestic is gravy for this $200M production. Overseas hit $332.1M this morning and hopefully Aquaman can beat his chest on Christmas that hes forked a half billion WW. For director James Wan, Aquaman is easily his second biggest opener in U.S./Canada after Furious 7s $147.1M FSS.
Meanwhile, Bumblebee and Poppins are punching each other over second with the two pics $300K apart over their FSS openings.
Paramounts Bumblebee made more than the Emily Blunt British nanny tonight, $8.3M to $6.9M. The yellow VW-robot is eyeing a $22.6M weekend in the range where we saw it, while Poppins is eyeing $22.3M. Frankly its a coin-toss who comes out ahead after five days. Some are betting Poppins beats Bumblebee, $37M+ to $33M+.
Audiences for the most part seem to agree with critics that Bumblebee is a Transformers pic worth seeing with the former giving the Travis Knight-directed pic 4 1/2 stars on PostTrak and an A- CinemaScore, with the movie notching the best Rotten Tomatoes score for the weekend of the four wide releases at 94% fresh certified. Among CinemaScore audiences, they still enjoyed the first 2007 Transformers and the third one Dark Side of the Moon the best with A grades.
RelishMix noticed how bright Bumblebee was on social media earlier this week reporting, “The superfans seem to agree that Bumblebee is the Transformers movie theyve been waiting and yearning for, which means a more authentic look at some of their favorite characters and dosing down of the super-action in previous, Michael Bay directed chapters. Fans are also happy to see both Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena involved, as both lend their own unique personalities to their roles. And, for those who have already seen it, they are singing the projects praises, saying true Transformers fans wont be disappointed.” Paramount has great Bumblebee marketing partners in Cena and Steinfeld who together count 80 social media followers across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Steinfeld performed the pics single “Back to Life” on NBCs The Voice last week. Both stars debuted the trailer for the pic at Comic-Con, which actually got some initial buzz among exhibitors at CinemaCon in March. Updated PostTrak exits are 65% general audience, 35% families. Leading demos are Men under 25 at 29%, men over 25 at 28%, females under 25 at 22% and females over 25 at 21%. Forty-eight percent of all moviegoers were Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, 12% African American, and 11% Asian. A great 65% definite recommend here for the Transformers spinoff with Men 25+ enjoying it the most at 90%. No surprise there: Setting a movie about a 1980s popular, accentuated with nuances of E.T., in its own decade, does resonate some wonderful nostalgia.
Even though Mary Poppins Returns is filing below what we thought was originally a $35M 3-day, remember, shes a musical and shell be singing for weeks to come. Poppins Wednesday through Sunday haul of $31M is poised to be running as much as 131% ahead of Greatest Showmans $13.4M five-day launch a year ago. She has an A- CinemaScore and 4 stars on PostTrak with Females 25+ leading the way at 45% (they love the movie the most at 89% positive) followed by Men 25+ at 28% (85% positive). General audiences are making up 67% of the crowd, families 33%. Diversity demos are 67% Caucasian, 16% Hispanic, 7% Asian and 6% African American.
RelishMix noticed mixed reactions to Poppins in social media chatter, though leaning positive ahead of Wednesdays opening. “Disney fans are claiming that they were either all in from the beginning announcement of the project, or as they saw the campaign unfold. In other words, the addition of Emily Blunt as the title character, Lin-Manuel Miranda as her partner-in-crime and musical performance partner and Meryl Streep as a scene stealing co-star made a great recipe for family fun over Christmas. Its also worth mentioning that the 2D animation is credited with a sizable amount of positive discussion, as in some fans wish Disney would do more in this format particularly original projects.”
Meanwhile the naysayers on social per RelishMix griped, “How many re-makes and sequels is Disney putting out? Dumbo is often mentioned as the next iteration of rehashing an old Disney property, and Poppins is mixed in with the feeling that this contingent prefers new, original movies. Its also worth noting that some moviegoers arent buying Blunt and Miranda in the sequel. Others are curious as to why Dick Van Dyke makes an appearance, but Julie Andrews does not.”
That said RelishMix says “The Poppins character is a pretty huge, iconic performance, which yielded Julie Andrews an Oscar for best actress. So, stepping into these shoes, particularly so many years after the original film was in theaters, is an immense challenge. To that end, the campaign has done a phenomenal job having Blunt share her experience of playing the Poppins role on the talk show circuit (i.e. Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Show).”
RelishMix says that Poppins 229.4M social media universe across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube views is ahead of the average live action family musicals 189M. However, Poppins was behind on key social metrics ahead of its Wednesday debut with a video viral rate of 21:1, down from the live action family movies 38:1 average. Also, average daily new Facebook Fans hover around 1.3K, far short of the typical 7.4K. Finally, the movie is pacing with 8.6K average daily YouTube views for the top clips, shy of the genres usual 27.6K views.
In fourth is Sonys Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with a second Friday of $5.1M, -61% because of last Fridays previews, and a second weekend between $17.9M, -49% for a 10-day take of $66M.
Universal is grateful for Illuminations The Grinch in the wake of Mortal Engines and Welcome to Marwen breaking down. Hes set to make a seventh weekend of $9M, -23% for a running take of $254M, just $6M shy of the domestic B.O. for Ron Howards 2000 live-action version of the green guy.
STXs Second Act is eyeing $2.5M today for a $7.1M weekend. STX spent under $19M in P&A with iSpot estimating that the studios TV spot spend was around $6.5M — the least of any major studio with a wide entry this weekend. Breakeven is around $40M as STX sold off foreign to cover north of 50% of the pics production cost.
The studio is crossing their fingers and hoping that a rare romantic comedy in the marketplace, buoyed by a B+ CinemaScore (better than what critics thought at 41% Rotten) will leg this Jennifer Lopez feature out. Women turned out at 70% with the crowd 72% over 25. Caucasians repped 49% on PostTrak, 26% Hispanic, 10% Asian and 9% African American.
Lopez and Vanessa Hudgens have been working O.T. selling this film, unlike what occurred with STXs Happytime Murders where Melissa McCarthy was busy shooting another pic during that puppet comedys late August release. JLo has a social media draw of 172M per RelishMix and Hudgens around 55M. The pic has a strong social media universe of 300M across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube views, higher than the 62M for the average comedy. Says RelishMix, “Lopezs social media presence makes up 57% of Second Acts total reach. So, its a good thing that her Instagram feed is loaded with interviews for the movie, not to mention pictures of her photos in an immense pink gown for the premiere – which are being parodied and imitated by fans. Lopez also performed the pics song, “Limitless” on Ellen. The STX TV spot, which features the song, has been earning 500K views a day since its post on Dec. 14.” Again, STX kept it low and JLo has been keeping her budgets low for her vehicles lately: her Blumhouse/Universal thriller The Boy Next Door was made for $4M and grossed $35.4M domestic, $52.4M WW.
Universal/DreamWorks Welcome to Marwen at 1,911 theaters is on course to crash with $927K today and $3M over FSS. From a distance, this adaptation directed and co-written by Robert Zemeckis of the 2010 documentary Marwencol looked like Forrest Gump in its fantasy drama, an awards season destination. Both the doc and this film follow the true story of Mark Hogancamp (here played by Steve Carell) who was brutally attacked, and healed his PTSD through art therapy, constructing miniature WWII scenes of mostly female dolls. Hogancamps intent is that these figures would have his back should he ever be attacked again. Hogancamp wound up creating a successful art show out of this project. However, the doc didnt necessarily translate to screen via Zemeckis prism. A cut was shown to the awards media back in November, and they largely rejected it, which unfortunately spells death for a feature such as this. We heard last year that the awards media werent wild about Greatest Showman but that pic rebounded off Hugh Jackmans star power and a hummable, anthem-fueled soundtrack. Joel Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal rants about Marwen: “Mind-numbingly immense, joylessly violent and utterly lifeless… Youve got to see it to believe it, though I wouldnt advise doing so.” CinemaScore audiences gave Marwen a B-, and PostTrak even lower with 2 stars and 57% positive and an awful 37% definite recommend. Females 25+ made up 41% of all moviegoers, followed by M25+ (40%). Marwen cost around $40M and it will no doubt lose money. Whats bad here is that its a back-to-back disaster for Uni after Mortal Engines last weekend. However, if youre going to release a bomb, do it here over Christmas, because its probably the only time of the year when a studio will an 8x multiple or more off a pics opening.
2ND UPDATE, Friday 8:31 AM after previous Friday 7:30 AM and Thursday night exclusive with exits demos: Warner Bros and DCs Aquaman, as we saw it, is coming in with $9 million in previews, and when counting all of its Amazon and Wednesday paid sneaks of $4.7M, thats $13.7M for the DC oceanic superhero to date stateside. Imax hubs brought in $1.7M of the films Thursday night box office haul, or about 19% of its night.
The DC heros Thursday is in line with the $9.4M made by Doctor Strange and the $10M earned by Sonys Venom. Both pics Thursdays accounted for roughly 30% of their Friday, which coincidentally were both $32.5M. Doctor Strange wound up with a 3-day total of $85M, while Venom saw $80.2M, so that gives you an idea of Aquamans scales over three days at 4,125 theaters.
Exits were huge per PostTrak, with Aquaman earning 5 stars from kids and parents, who made up 15% of the audience last night, and 4 stars from overall audiences who repped 85%. Biggest draws were in order: Males 25+ (35%), Males 25- (27%), Females 25+ (21%), Females 25- (17%). Diversity demos were 40% Caucasian, 23% Hispanic, 19% African American and 12% Asian. Females over 25 loved Aquaman the most at 85% positive (mmmm, maybe for Jason Momoa?). Definite recommend here is a solid 69%. Again PostTrak polls throughout the weekend, so these demos will adjust.
Paramount is reporting $2.15M for Bumblebee last night and with its $700K December 8 sneaks is at $2.85M to date; Bumblebee and Aquaman had previews starting at 5 PM. Saturday matinees are key as the studio sees this as a family pic. Who would have thought that a Transformers movie would have the best reviews of the weekend? But thats what Bumblebee can boast at 94% Certified Fresh. The pic will be playing in 2D and 3D this weekend at 3,550 theaters.
PostTrak saw a bigger share of families turning out for Bumblebee than Aquaman at 36%, with general audiences repping 63%. Four and half stars and 86% and an overall 68% definite recommend indicate Bumblebee will have plenty of gas into January. The last Transformers movie last year, The Last Knight, ended its domestic run at $130.1M. Prior to that, 2014s Age of Extinction made $245.4M. Bumblebee on Thursday drew 34% M25+, 30% M25-, 21% F25-, and 15% F25+. Diversity demos were 34% Caucasian, 25% Hispanic, 21% African American and 14% Asian.
Last night, Bumblebee stars Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena teamed the Empire State Building and the Make-A-Wish foundation to light the New York monument in Bumblebee yellow with a blue Make-A-Wish star. Cena has granted 500 wishes to the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Meanwhile, Disneys Mary Poppins Returns amid the competition of a big fish in the marketplace last night and Bumblebee remains quite very solid, with $4M at 4,090 locations, down 17% from Wednesday, for a two-day take of $8.8M. She led all films in regular release last night. Rotten Tomatoes has stamped Poppins with a 77% Certified Fresh score.
Sonys Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse spiked 4% over Wednesday with an estimated $2.9M for a first-week total of $48.1M. Warner Bros The Mule was also steady, off 1% over Wednesday, with $1.76M and a solid first week of $25.7M for this BRON Studios-co-financed $50M production.
STXs Second Act earned $515,000 last night. Earlier-week projections saw the Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy with $10M+ over five days; STX is seeing $8M over FSS. Theyre looking to recoup the $15.7M net production cost and P&A in the long run. Pic, directed by Peter Segal, plays in 2,607 theaters today. Previews last night started at 7 PM.
Universal/DreamWorks also had Robert Zemeckis drama Welcome to Marwen in previews last night, and as expected they werent very good with $190K at 1,600 theaters. The movie will play in 1,911 theaters. Critics loathe the film at 24% Rotten. After the disaster of last weekends Mortal Engines (which made $440K last night, -25%, for a first week of $10.2M), Universal can rely on Illuminations The Grinch when it comes to any form of green. The beast was +19% over Wednesday with $1.5M and a running total through Week 6 of $245M.
Like we mentioned Thursday, this weekend is just a dress rehearsal to tee these pics off for play after Christmas; Aquaman being the exception because hes going to drink up most of the water. That said, the holiday season is a game of chutes and ladders, and well have some losers (sorry Marwen).
EXCLUSIVE, Thursday 7:48PM: At this point in time, were hearing that Warner Bros./DCs Aquaman is hooking a Thursday night between $8M-$10M. Meanwhile, Paramounts Bumblebee is driving to an evening total between $2M-$2.5M. Both pics started showtimes at 5PM looking to capitalize on 15% K-12 schools off today, in addition to 78% colleges on break per ComScore.
Note these are rough estimates that do not come from Warners or Paramount, and these industry projections exclusive to Deadline could fluctuate up or down by sunrise. What happened yesterday with Mary Poppins Returns was that most rivals were projecting a high single digit for the family musical sequel off its mid-afternoon tickets sales which were around $4M. What happened we hear is that by evening showtimes, Poppins didnt puff up much; it was largely a matinee draw we hear with final PostTrak Wednesday exits showing 44% over 35. “Its a very weird time of year,” said one box office source tonight about how holiday activities are the absolute monkey wrench when it comes to forecasting ticket sales.
From what we know, Aquamans figure tonight doesnt include the $2.9M made from last Saturdays record Amazon Prime sneaks, nor Wednesday nights paid sneaks. Based on pure Thursday ticket sales, the range for the James Wan-directed pic is in the vicinity of such superhero titles as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($8.7M Thursday off shows starting at 8PM), Doctor Strange ($9.4M off shows that began at 7PM, repping 29% of its $32.5M opening day, for a FSS of $85M) and Captain America: Winter Soldier ($10.2M, repping 28% of its $36.9M opening day with a FSS of $95M).
The last two live-action DC features Warner Bros. released were last year: Justice League in November and Wonder Woman in June respectively drew $13M and $11M on their Thursday nights. Justice Leagues Thursday repped 34% of its $38.4M opening day (for a $93.8M opening), while Wonder Womans Thursday previews accounted for less at 29% of its $38.2M; a bulk of its $103.2M opening weekend fueled by women.
Two things to remember about this weekend: First, its all about Aquaman winning, and mostly all other films opening such as Bumblebee, Mary Poppins Returns and Vice are another selection for moviegoers post Christmas. Second, this weekend at the B.O. is a dress rehearsal for Christmas, because after that point in time, every day is a Saturday.
The record books for previews at the B.O. are short spanning roughly a decades time. Most Christmas movies will get their starts on a Wednesday closer to the holiday. What we can say now about Bumblebee —and its partly an apples-to-oranges comparison– is that its preview cash projection will likely best that of such previous big pic holiday attempts as Passengers ($1.2M Tuesday preview) and Assassins Creed ($1.35M Tuesday preview). You cant really comp Bumblebees night to other Transformers movies since they launched without any other tentpole threats during their summer weekends.
Universal/DreamWorks Welcome to Marwen and STX Entertainments Second Act also held previews tonight starting at 7PM. From what we know, theyre extremely low next to Aquaman and Bumblebee since theyre geared toward adults, and for now at this point in time, each is making below $500K.