'Dog's Purpose' and 'Resident Evil' Open as Oscar Nominees Expand
SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Looking to hold on to the number one spot with ease, Universal's Split brought in an estimated $7.9 million on Friday and is looking at an impressive $25+ million second weekend.

Landing in second on Friday is Universal's A Dog's Purpose with an estimated $5.3 million as it looks as if it will finish around $18.5 million for the three-day weekend.

Screen Gems's release of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is projected to take in $13.7 - $14 million for the weekend after taking in an estimated $5.1 million on Friday.

Finishing in fifth on Friday was La La Land as it expanded into 3,136 theaters (+1,271) and brought in an estimated $3.45 million as it looks to gross ~$12 million for the weekend, pushing it over $100 million domestically.

Finishing in ninth is the Weinstein Co's Gold with an estimated $1.15 million, heading toward a weekend that may struggle to hit $4 million.

You can check out all of the Friday estimates right here and we'll be back on Sunday morning with a complete wrap-up.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter took in $1 million from Thursday night showings starting at 7 PM in 2,464 locations. In 2015 Jupiter Ascending also brought in $1 million in Thursday preshows before opening with $18.3 million and in 2012 Resident Evil: Retribution brought in $665,000 from midnight showings before opening with $21 million.

Universal's release of Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media's A Dogs Purpose grossed $455,000 in late night shows starting at 6 PM in 2,255 theaters. There aren't many direct comparisons to be made in this range though Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 brought in $450k from Thursday previews before opening with $23.7 million.

The Weinstein's Gold also held Thursday previews in roughly 1,500 theaters and brought in an estimated $125,000.

You can check out our weekend preview below and we'll be back tomorrow morning with a look at Friday estimates.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: Along with three new wide releases this weekend, it's the first weekend following the nominations for the 89th Academy Awards and several nominated features are improving their nationwide reach, some for a second time. Among the new releases Universal will premiere Amblin's A Dog's Purpose amid some controversy, Screen Gems has Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and Weinstein will debut Gold. Beyond that, a lot of attention will be on last weekend's #1 film, Split, and La La Land as it adds 1,271 theaters following its 14 Oscar nominations on Tuesday.

At the top of the weekend chart we could see a bit of a tug-of-war as two Universal titles will compete for #1. First we have last weekend's champion, Split, which debuted with over $40 million and has shown good traction on IMDb in terms of page views compared to similar releases and in terms of user rating, which has hovered right around 7.6 ever since release. In a selection of four films we chose to pit against Split based on its opening weekend three of the four dropped over 63% in their second weekend while 2004's The Grudge dropped only 44% for a second weekend over $21 million. We hesitate to expect a sophomore session quite that high, but a drop around 53% or so for a second weekend around $18.8 million doesn't seem at all impossible at this juncture.

Also looking to deliver this weekend is Universal's release of Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media's A Dog's Purpose, which is releasing in 3,058 theaters. While delving into its opening weekend prospects we'd be remiss to overlook the controversy currently surrounding the film as footage from 2015 was released online showing a German Shepherd used in the film unwilling to perform for a water rescue scene.

Since the footage appeared online the film's premiere and press junket were cancelled, PETA has called for a boycott and has since promised to protest the film's Friday opening. At the same time, the filmmakers have stated the edited footage first released by TMZ mischaracterizes what took place (read more here). How much of an effect this will have on the film's opening weekend remains to be seen, but it isn't at all unreasonable to assume it will have some kind of effect.

Online ticket retailer Fandango.com shows A Dog's Purpose currently leads weekend sales, just slightly ahead of fellow newcomer Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and Split. Industry expectations are within a range of $18-22 million which is a little more aggressive than our $16.5-19 million expectation and an overall weekend forecast at the low end of industry expectations.

Screen Gems's release of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is looking at a third place finish in the low teens from 3,104 theaters. The film is the sixth in the Resident Evil franchise, the last of which was Resident Evil: Retribution debuting with $21 million in 2012 and ending its domestic run with $42.3 million. This franchise, however, has seen the last two releases earn 80% of their worldwide box office from overseas markets where The Final Chapter has already brought in over $35 million from just two territories, $33.8 million of which from Japan alone.

Examining domestic alone, aided by IMDb page view comparisons, our analysis suggests an opening a bit below the $13.6 million Underworld: Blood Wars opened with a couple weeks ago and ahead of The Last Witch Hunter's $10.8 million debut. All things considered, expect a domestic opening this weekend around $12.2 million while it continues its staggered international release, opening in a few Latin American and Asian territories this weekend, with the rest of the world, including China, rolling out in the coming weeks.

Next we come to the absolute frontrunner for Oscar's Best Picture, La La Land, which received a record-tying 14 nominations. The film played in 1,865 theaters last week and will add over 1,200 more this weekend for a total of 3,136 theaters nationwide. Looking back, some of the closest comparisons we could find from the field of previous Oscar contenders included Slumdog Millionaire, which saw an 83% jump the weekend following nominations, The King's Speech saw a 41% jump and The Descendants added over 1,400 theaters and jumped +170% following its nomination.

Trouble is, while these films offer what could be considered some of the "best" comparisons from recent years, none provide much of an apples-to-apples comparison. Lionsgate did a great job targeting the right audiences over the film's limited and expanding release as it has brought in over $93 million since releasing on December 9 and the influence of its 14 nominations has already been felt at the box office with a whopping 98% increase on Oscar nomination Tuesday. The question now remains as to how it will do now that it is expanding outside its initially targeted audience and expands its reach.

Overall, an increase over last weekend's $8.4 million seems certain, but how much of an increase is a bit more hazy. A jump around 18-22% seems a good range for expectation providing a weekend around $10 million as it will soon become the 27th 2016 release to top $100 million.

The third new wide release of the weekend is The Weinstein Co.'s release of Stephen Gaghan's Gold starring Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez and Bryce Dallas Howard. The film, which was an acquisition by Weinstein, will open in 2,166 theaters this weekend where it's looking to make a somewhat disappointing $4-5 million. Using 2013's release of Runner Runner as a comparison, IMDb page view data supports that expectation, especially considering Gold is opening in 860 fewer theaters. The film will be holding Thursday even previews in ~1,500 theaters.

Elsewhere, keep an eye on several of this year's Oscar nominees looking for a box office bump as several are adding theaters. Here's the list:

  • Arrival
[/link] - 1,221 theaters (+1,041)
  • Manchester by the Sea
[/link] - 1,163 theaters (+620)
  • Moonlight
[/link] - 1,104 theaters (+615)
  • Moana
[/link] - 1,894 theaters (+598)
  • Hacksaw Ridge
[/link] - 496 theaters (+371)
  • Jackie
[/link] - 514 theaters (+275)
  • Fences
[/link] - 880 theaters (+187)

Sony Classics will also expand the continued limited release of two of its Oscar nominees as Toni Erdmann will play in 20 theaters (+14) and The Red Turtle will play in 15 theaters (+12).

In limited release Lionsgate will release Un Padre No Tan Padre into 312 theaters; China Lion will release Buddies in India into 55 theaters; Cohen Media's The Salesman arrive in three theaters; and Well Go will release Kung Fu Yoga.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Split (3,199 theaters) - $18.8 M
  • A Dog's Purpose (3,058 theaters) - $18.0 M
  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (3,104 theaters) - $12.2 M
  • Hidden Figures (3,351 theaters) - $11.6 M
  • xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (3,651 theaters) - $11.0 M
  • La La Land (3,136 theaters) - $10.0 M
  • Sing (2,690 theaters) - $5.4 M
  • Gold (2,166 theaters) - $4.1 M
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2,049 theaters) - $4.0 M
  • Monster Trucks (2,496 theaters) - $3.5 M

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