'Magnificent Seven' and 'Storks' Look to Turn Around Box Office Fortunes
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: With an estimated $12.7 million on Friday, Sony and MGM's The Magnificent Seven is leading the weekend charge, on its way to an opening weekend at or around $35 million. While it won't be living up to Mojo's expectations, opening day audiences did give it an "A-" CinemaScore, which does bode well for its future prospects.

Warner's animated Storks is falling well short of expectations, bringing in an estimated $5.73 million on Friday, heading toward an opening around $21 million. The film also received an "A-" CinemaScore from opening day audiences, which could help it over the coming weeks and perhaps give its opening a little bump over Saturday and Sunday.

For a complete look at the Friday estimated click here and we'll be back with a complete weekend wrap-up tomorrow morning.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Sony and MGM's The Magnificent Seven got off to a strong start last night, bringing in $1.75 million from Thursday night screenings, which began at 7PM in 3,096 theaters. Just two weeks ago Warner Bros.' Sully delivered $1.35 million on Thursday before opening with $35 million and two years ago Magnificent Seven director Antoine Fuqua and star Denzel Washington teamed on The Equalizer, which brought in $1.5 million on Thursday night before opening with $34 million. In fact, this is the largest Thursday preview in September that BoxOfficeMojo has on record, topping Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, which brought in $1.7 million last year, though that only translated into a $30 million opening.

While most animated films don't hold Thursday previews, Warner Bros. began Thursday previews for Storks around 6PM where it brought in $435,000. Comparatively, this is a solid start when you consider both Wreck-It Ralph and The LEGO Movie brought in $400,000 before opening with $49 million and $69 million respectively. Of course, Kubo and the Two Strings brought in $515,000 from Thursday screenings just last month and opened with $12.6 million. So, until animated films begin holding more Thursday previews these numbers will continue to be points of reference rather than any kind of firm performance indicators. At the very least it provides an opportunity for some word-of-mouth just before release.

This weekend's preview is directly below and we will be back tomorrow with Friday estimates.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: On the heels of the worst weekend of the year so far (based on cumulative gross for all titles) this weekend should perk things up a bit as MGM and Sony's The Magnificent Seven remake and WB's animated feature Storks are looking at strong openings. Projecting just how well this weekend's newcomers will perform, however, is something that's raising a few eyebrows in the wake of recent weeks and last week's box office bloodbath where not one, but two of the week's three new wide releases came in well below expectations, and all three failed to open over $10 million.

Industry expectations for Magnificent Seven and Storks have both films opening around $30+ million. For Storks this number appears to be about right on target, but for Magnificent Seven it seems grossly conservative. Sony is projecting a $30-32 million weekend, but if it doesn't top $40 million it would be a bit of a surprise.

The Magnificent Seven, which carries a reported $90 million price tag, is directed by Antoine Fuqua and features an ensemble cast that includes Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio and Byung-Hun Lee. The pic is set to open in 3,665 theaters and when it comes to comparisons most all work in its favor. Online ticket retailer Fandango.com reports it is outselling all of the films in both Fuqua and Washington's careers including the last time they teamed up for The Equalizer, which opened with $34.1 million, and Fuqua's Olympus Has Fallen, which opened with $30.3 million. Given both of those titles were rated R and Magnificent Seven carries a PG-13 rating, that right there is enough to expand its prospects.

One obvious question is the fact this is a Western, and while Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight didn't light the box office on fire films such as Django Unchained and The Lone Ranger both managed to open at or over $30 million in their opening weekends despite the fact neither were Friday releases. Django opened on a Tuesday and had already amassed $33.3 million before its first weekend and Lone Ranger opened on a Wednesday and had grossed $19.5 million in its first two days. Granted, Django was a Christmas Day release and Lone Ranger debuted on July 3, but from a big budget perspective, there's evidence that shows Westerns of a certain pedigree can deliver at the box office.

Additional support for a larger opening weekend is to look at IMDb data, which shows the film a bit below both The Martian and Gravity, both of which premiered on the fall film festival circuit, including prominent showings at the Toronto Film Festival, where Magnificent Seven served as the festival opener two weeks ago. At the same time, it's performing well ahead of where The Equalizer stood at the same point in the release cycle two years ago. Overall, Magnificent Seven looks to be heading toward a $40+ million opening. Should it deliver much larger results it wouldn't be at all surprising, but right now it looks like Hotel Transylvania 2's $48.4 million September opening weekend record may be safe.

For Warner Bros., Storks is the second film for the newly formed Warner Animation Group, which so far has only The LEGO Movie to its credit. Storks, of course, doesn't have the name recognition of LEGO so don't expect a $69 million opening, instead we're looking at titles such as Mr. Peabody & Sherman ($32.2m opening), Hotel Transylvania ($42.5m opening) and Rio ($39m opening) for comparison and, with Storks opening in 3,922 theaters, a $30 million weekend or just a bit more seems inevitable, the question is can it go any higher?

If anything will hold it back it could be the 51% rating the film currently holds at RottenTomatoes. Of course, a 45% rating for Hotel Transylvania didn't prevent it from opening over $42 million and Hotel Transylvania 2 carried its 54% rating to a September record. All things considered, Mojo's projected $31.7 million opening seems relatively safe, but to go much higher would go against the majority of the data available.

Looking at the holdovers, WB's Sully, which has topped the weekend box office the last two weeks in a row, is adding 430 theaters this weekend and looking at a third place finish somewhere around $13-15 million as it will soon top $90 million.

As for last weekend's new releases, look for Bridget Jones's Baby and Snowden to compete for fourth place, both likely finishing around $5.7 million. Blair Witch is a bit of a different story as it eyes a sixth place finish.

Blair Witch received a "D+" CinemaScore from opening day audiences last weekend and only 100 films have ever scored a "D+" or worse. Of those 100, forty-five received a "D+" and the average second weekend drop for all "D+" films is 55.94%*. Looking closer at films within the same genre a couple examples include Devil's Due, which dropped 66.5% in its second weekend, and The Ruins, which dipped 57.7%. That being said, we're anticipating a 56% drop and a second weekend right around $4.2 million for Blair Witch.

In limited release, Broadgreen is releasing Kate Winslet's The Dressmaker into 36 theaters; CJ Entertainment will release the South Korean hit The Age of Shadows into 33 theaters; and Disney is releasing Mira Nair's Queen of Katwe into 52 theaters.

Overall we're looking at a weekend that could see the top twelve haul in anywhere from $120-130 million, mostly depending on how the weekend's two new wide releases perform. The same weekend last year saw the top twelve generate $127.7 million led by Hotel Transylvania's record-breaking opening.

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.

  • The Magnificent Seven (3,665 theaters) - $44.5 M
  • Storks (3,922 theaters) - $31.7 M
  • Sully (3,955 theaters) - $15.0 M
  • Snowden (2,443 theaters) - $5.7 M
  • Bridget Jones's Baby (2,927 theaters) - $5.7 M
  • Blair Witch (3,121 theaters) - $4.2 M
  • Suicide Squad (2,172 theaters) - $3.2 M
  • Don't Breathe (2,438 theaters) - $3.1 M
  • When the Bough Breaks (1,444 theaters) - $2.6 M
  • Pete's Dragon (1,663 theaters) - $1.5 M

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.

* This average excludes King Kong Lives, The New World and Punch-Drunk Love all three of which had second weekends outside the norm.