STXfilms's The Happytime Murders looks as if it is going to fall short of even the lower end of our forecast after taking in an estimated $3.95 million on Friday. Making matters worse, opening day audiences weren't too impressed, giving the film a "C-" CinemaScore. The opening day performance suggests a $10-11 million debut is in the cards.
Global Road's A.X.L. brought in an estimated $812,109 on Friday and is hoping to scrape out a tenth place finish for the weekend, targeting a $2.5 million debut.
ArtAffects's Beautifully Broken debuted in 651 theaters and brought in an estimated $231,105, looking at a weekend around $540k.
Sony's platform release Searching brought in an estimated $123k from just nine locations and is looking at a debut weekend around $250k. The film will go wide next weekend into 1,100+ theaters.
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: STXfilms's The Happytime Murders brought in $950,000 from preview showing last night beginning at 7 PM in ~2,500 locations. The performance, while ahead of the $700k in previews for Life of the Party, trailers the $1.6 million in previews for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. The film begins playing in 3,256 theaters today.
Sony's release of Searching also held previews last night in the nine theaters the film is opening in this weekend and brought in $36,000 for a $4,000 per theater average. The film will remain in those nine theaters this weekend with the intention to expand into 1,100 locations next weekend.
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: August 2018 has proven to be much better than last year, but is still delivering just the twelfth largest grosses for the month to date since 2000. This, despite the fact every weekend this month has significantly outperformed the same weekend last year thanks to performances that include Warner Bros.'s The Meg and Crazy Rich Asians, along with Paramount's late-July release of Mission: Impossible - Fallout, which remains the month's top performer. This weekend a couple of typical late-August releases in STX's The Happytime Murders and Global Road's A.X.L. hit theaters as the summer movie season begins to wind down, but most attention will remain on the weekend's holdovers.
After a strong start last week and news already this week that Warner Bros. and director Jon Chu are developing a sequel, look for Crazy Rich Asians to once again top the weekend box office. Not only are audiences turning out to see the film, but they have also propelled Kevin Kwan's novel, from which the film was adapted, to the top of Amazon Charts. And as far as that sequel is concerned, the book's follow-up "China Rich Girlfriend" lands at the #2 spot on the chart, up 16 spots from last week, while the third book in the franchise debuts on the list for the first time at #10.
Looking at this weekend, many are drawing comparisons to 2011's August release of The Help, which also kick-started its domestic run with $35 million over its first five days of release after debuting on a Wednesday. That film dipped just 23% in its second weekend, which would put Crazy Rich Asians's sophomore session at over $20 million if it were to follow suit. Given The Help was aided by Oscar talk, we aren't quite expecting a performance of that caliber, but we are quite bullish on the film's second weekend chances, anticipating a 30% drop and a $18.6 million second weekend, which would put the film's domestic gross right around, if not over, $70 million after 12 days in release.
In the runner-up position we find the first of the weekend's two new wide releases in STX's R-rated puppet pic The Happytime Murders starring Melissa McCarthy. After a rather lengthy production that saw several iterations since going into development back in 2008, including both Cameron Diaz and Katherine Heigl attached to star, the film will debut this weekend in 3,256 locations. Featuring puppets courtesy of The Henson Company's Henson Alternative banner, the film has been a tough one to nail down in terms of comps. This won't have the kind of performance we saw from Sausage Party back in August 2016, when it opened with over $34 million, but the studio is comparing the film to recent 2018 releases such as Tag ($14.9m opening), Game Night ($17m opening) and McCarthy's last film Life of the Party, which debuted back in May with $17.8 million, the smallest opening for a film featuring McCarthy in a lead role.
All those films considered, the best comparison we've found is to Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, which debuted in July 2016 with a $16.6 million opening. This comp, along with news from online ticket retailer Fandango.com telling us Happytime is outpacing Life of the Party at the same point in the company's sales cycle has heavily influenced our expectations. Right now we're anticipating an opening for the film anywhere from $12-16 million, with our current forecast dialed into $13.5 million. That being said, we expect word of mouth to have a big impact on this one throughout the weekend. With that in mind, reviews have not been kind, with the film scoring a dismal 28 on Metacritic, which is much worse than the 51 Mike and Dave received as well as the 46 for Life of the Party. If audiences tend to lean more toward the critics' opinion, a $12 million performance or lower is a possibility.
In third look for WB's The Meg to continue to chomp down box office dollars, and after this weekend it will become the 17th film of the year to surpass $100 million at the domestic box office. Right now we're anticipating a dip around 43% as the film enters its third weekend in release and is still playing in over 4,000 locations. Expect a weekend gross around $12 million, which just might be enough to score a second place finish should Happytime falter.
Paramount's Mission: Impossible - Fallout should land in fourth place, bringing in $6.8 million as it enters its fifth week in release. By the end of the weekend the sixth installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise will top $190 million, continuing to close the gap on Mission: Impossible II's franchise-leading $215.4 million domestic gross (not adjusted for inflation).
Rounding out the top five, Mile 22 from STX will be hoping for a $6+ million sophomore session. The $50 million production debuted to a soft $13.7 million last weekend and, should it hold to our forecast, the film should top $25 million domestic by the end of the weekend.
Unfortunately we're expecting to find Global Road's A.X.L. finishing outside the top ten as it debuts in 1,710 theaters. The release arrives at the same time as news that the studio's future is in flux. Variety reports "the company's domestic feature production and distribution division will now be overseen by its financial backers" and the next step may be to declare bankruptcy. The news shouldn't impact the film whatsoever, but it wasn't expected to make much of a splash this weekend anyway, targeting a debut in the single-digit millions. As it stands, we're expecting A.X.L. to finish with anywhere from $1.5-4.5 million for the weekend, leaning more toward the lower end of that range.
Also releasing this weekend is Bleecker's remake Papillon starring Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek. The film will open in 545 locations this weekend after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival almost a year ago and having received mostly mixed reviews. A performance right around $1.3-2 million should be expected.
In limited release, Sony will debut Searching starring John Cho and Debra Messing into just nine theaters before going wide next weekend into ~1,100 locations. The film has received strong reviews, registering a 73 on Metacritic.
Overall, while we're only expecting around $83 million from the top twelve this weekend, which would be the second smallest weekend of the year so far, it will still be a dramatic improvement over the same weekend last year, which saw the top twelve take home only $50.8 million.
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.
- Crazy Rich Asians (3,526 theaters) - $18.6 M
- The Happytime Murders (3,256 theaters) - $13.5 M
- The Meg (4,031 theaters) - $12.0 M
- Mission: Impossible - Fallout (3,052 theaters) - $6.8 M
- Mile 22 (3,520 theaters) - $6.0 M
- Disney's Christopher Robin (3,394 theaters) - $5.8 M
- Alpha (2,719 theaters) - $5.6 M
- BlacKkKlansman (1,914 theaters) - $5.2 M
- Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (1,802 theaters) - $2.6 M
- Slender Man (2,065 theaters) - $2.4 M
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