'Blade Runner 2049' Aims for $50M+ Opening, Hoping for Long Legs Throughout October
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: With an estimated $12.7 million on Friday (including $4 million from Thursday night previews), Blade Runner 2049 is looking to come in well below expectations, targeting an opening anywhere from $31-36 million.

Lionsgate and Hasbro's My Little Pony is coming in a bit ahead of Mojo's forecast with an estimated $2.97 million on Friday, looking at an opening slightly over $10 million.

Fox's The Mountain Between Us is also looking to finish a shade over Mojo's pre-weekend forecast after an estimated $3.5 million on Friday, looking at an opening also around $10 million.

All three of the weekend's new wide releases scored an "A-" CinemaScore.

You can check out all of the Friday estimates right here and we'll be back tomorrow morning with a complete look at the weekend.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Blade Runner 2049 got things started last night with $4 million from Thursday night previews, $800k of which came from IMAX screenings. For comparison, The Martian delivered $2.5 million from preview screenings and Gravity brought in $1.4 million before both films went on to open with over $54 million each. Another comp that carries weight is Mad Max: Fury Road, which brought in $3.7 million from Thursday night previews before its $45.4 million opening, Prometheus brought in $3.6 million (including $1 million from IMAX screenings) before its $51 million debut and Interstellar delivered $3.5 million before its $47.5 million opening.

Fox's The Mountain Between Us brought in $400,000 from Thursday previews from 2,535 locations, with screenings beginning at 7PM. This is behind In the Heart of the Sea, which brought in $575k from preview showings before its $11 million opening, though it is ahead of the $375k The Finest Hours brought in before its $10 million debut.

Lionsgate and Hasbro's My Little Pony grossed an estimated $290,000 in advanced previews, which started at 7pm in over 1,800 locations. Comparisons to animated films are difficult, especially in this range, but we will say this is below the $330k The Nut Job 2 started with from preview screenings in August before opening with $8.3 million.

We'll take a closer look at things tomorrow morning once Friday estimates come in. For now you can check out our weekend preview below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: Debuting 35 years after the original, Blade Runner 2049 hopes to get October off to a good start on the heels of record numbers this past September. And while the sci-fi drama is looking for big numbers, Fox is delivering some counter-programming in the survival story The Mountain Between Us, Lionsgate is releasing the animated feature My Little Pony and Focus expands the release of Victoria and Abdul nationwide.

Blade Runner 2049 and its reported, $150 million price tag, will debut in 4,058 North American theaters (third widest all-time) this weekend while Sony and partner Alcon Entertainment will deliver the film worldwide. Industry expectations are for a $100 million debut globally, with approximately 50% of that coming from the domestic opening as industry forecasts range from $45-55 million.

From a comparison standpoint, focusing on films such as Mad Max: Fury Road and Prometheus make good sense given the 30 years between films in the Mad Max franchise and the 15 years between Alien Resurrection and Prometheus. Though, it should be noted, the Alien franchise never quite went away as two Alien vs. Predator films were released in the mid-aughts and both Fury Road and Prometheus were part of a much larger universe as their respective franchises included three or more films. Meanwhile, Blade Runner has only seen re-releases and edited versions of the original since its 1982 debut, though its influence on many sci-fi films that have been made over the last 35 years has certainly been felt.

Fury Road opened with $45.4 million in May 2015 while Prometheus opened with $51 million in June 2012. Both were summer releases and while Prometheus had the larger opening, Fury Road had the longer legs finishing its run with over $150 million domestically and over $375 million worldwide. Adding a little more to the comparison, IMDb page views show Blade Runner pacing ahead of Prometheus while pacing behind Fury Road at the same point in the release cycle. Obviously, Warner Bros. would settle for the lower opening if it meant the film would have the kind of legs Fury Road delivered. That said, thanks to very strong reviews (82 on Metacritic) and a visible increase in interest since reviews began publishing online, a strong run throughout October just might be what we're looking at here.

Further comparisons support the $45-55 million range as Blade Runner is currently neck-and-neck with The Martian ($54.3m opening) leading up to release and has overcome Gravity ($55.7m opening) in the last few days. At the same time it's pacing behind Christopher Nolan's Interstellar ($47.5m opening).

Meanwhile, online ticket retailer Fandango.com is using similar comps, reporting Blade Runner 2049 is outpacing Interstellar, Prometheus, Gravity, The Martian and Mad Max: Fury Road at the same point in the Fandango ticket sales cycle, which doesn't necessarily change our forecast, but does help suggest we're in the right vicinity. Such comparisons narrow our forecast window ever so slightly, pushing a little closer to a $47-55 million opening, which is the reason for our $51 million forecast.

Internationally, the film will debut in approximately 61% of the overseas marketplace with Sony expecting around $50 million, using Mad Max: Fury Road as a comp in same markets at current exchange rates. Major markets where the film will not be opening this week include South Korea (10/12), Japan (10/27) and China (11/10) with the film already having opened in Belgium, Switzerland and France yesterday.

Beyond number one, it's a bit tough to figure where the week's new releases will settle among the holdovers. Lionsgate will release My Little Pony into 2,528 theaters while Fox is releasing The Mountain Between Us starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet into over 3,000 locations. Neither film is pacing well against similar titles when comparing to IMDb page views leading up to release and, in fact, both are looking quite weak.

In the past two years, Lionsgate hasn't seen a lot of success with its animated titles. Recent openings include Rock Dog with $3.7 million, Norm of the North with $6.8 million and The Wild Life with $3.3 million. To give you a sense of what we're seeing, of those three films, My Little Pony is only outpacing The Wild Life when looking at IMDb page views leading up to release. Certainly there are fans of the Hasbro toy line, which was introduced in the early '80s, that will show up to see the film, but to expect an opening over $9 million seems like a long shot at this point.

Similarly, The Mountain Between Us, based on the Charles Martin novel, has not gained much traction since its Toronto Film Festival premiere. In fact, the film saw a small bump in interest following said premiere, but the lackluster reviews (48 on Metacritic) saw interest dwindle to the point it is pacing far behind films such as In the Heart of the Sea ($11m opening), The Finest Hours ($10.2m opening) and The Judge ($13m opening) leading up to release. One would expect a film opening on this scale to debut around $15+ million or so, but as of right now it doesn't look like it will crack $10 million.

The question is whether one or both, My Little Pony and Mountain Between Us, will bring in enough to finish within the top five. Mojo estimates American Made, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and It will all be within $850,000 of one another and in the mix to top the two newcomers.

Last weekend the three films finished with just $159,175 separating first and third place with Kingsman taking the top spot over It by just $33,123 for one of the closest finishes of all-time, and this weekend looks it will be another close one as the trio of films scramble for second place. That being said, keep an eye on It, which will be crossing $300 million this weekend, becoming the fifth film of 2017 to cross that mark.

Outside the top five, and looking for a spot within the top ten, Focus will bring Victoria and Abdul to 732 theaters (+655) in its third week in release and Fox Searchlight will continue to expand the release of Battle of the Sexes into 1,822 theaters (+609). It's tough to say just how well the films will do but we're anticipating performances around $2.25 - 2.5 million.

Elsewhere, Quality Flix will release The Stray into 639 theaters; A24 is releasing The Florida Project in four theaters; and Well Go has a pair of releases this weekend with City of Rock opening in 44 theaters and Better Watch Out releasing in 25 locations.

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.

  • Blade Runner 2049 (4,058 theaters) - $51.0 M
  • American Made (3,031 theaters) - $9.2 M
  • The Mountain Between Us (3,088 theaters) - $8.8 M
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle (3,488 theaters) - $8.7 M
  • It (3,605 theaters) - $8.4 M
  • My Little Pony (2,528 theaters) - $8.3 M
  • The LEGO Ninjago Movie (3,611 theaters) - $7.3 M
  • Flatliners (2,552 theaters) - $3.2 M
  • Battle of the Sexes (1,822 theaters) - $2.5 M
  • Victoria and Abdul (732 theaters) - $2.3 M

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