'Night School' and 'Smallfoot' Poised to Top the Weekend Box Office
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: With an estimated $9.5 million, Universal's comedy Night School is on its way to a #1 finish at this weekend's box office with current expectations for $26+ million weekend. The film received an "A-" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

In second is WB's animated title Smallfoot with an estimated $6.5 million on Friday and it's looking to deliver a $23+ million debut. It too received an "A-" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Lionsgate's release of CBS's Hell Fest brought in an estimated $2 million on Friday and is looking at a $4.5+ million three-day debut. The film received a "C" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Finally, Pinnacle Peak's release of Little Women brought in an estimated $350k from 643 locations and is looking at a sub-$1 million debut.

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: Universal Pictures' Night School grossed $1.35 million in previews from 2,500 theaters last night, beginning at 7PM. This is shy of the $1.8 million in previews brought in by Central Intelligence, while ahead of the $1.26 million in previews for Ride Along 2.

Warner Bros.'s animated title Smallfoot is off to a strong start when looking at comps after bringing in $850,000 from Thursday previews, which began at 4PM. Comparatively, Storks delivered $435k in previews and Captain Underpants brought in $650k in previews. In fact, the gross lines up best with The Emoji Movie, which brought in $900k from previews ahead of a $24.5 million debut.

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: Last weekend ended up being the worst overall weekend of the year so far with all films on Mojo's weekend chart totaling a mere $91.8 million with the top twelve grossing just over $81 million. This weekend, however, should find the top twelve alone combining to bring in over $100 million as the month is shaping up to be the second highest grossing September ever, just behind last year's record performance for the month.

A pair of newcomers are expected to finish #1 and #2 for the weekend, beginning with Universal's comedy Night School followed by the Warner Bros. animated title Smallfoot. Additional new releases include Lionsgate's release of the CBS horror-thriller Hell Fest and Pinnacle Peak's Little Women opening in a moderate number of locations.

Set to top the weekend box office is Universal's comedy Night School starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish. The film is set to debut in just over 3,000 locations and the studio is anticipating a debut in the mid-$20 million range, but we're expected a performance much higher, right now forecasting $32 million for the three-day.

A look at IMDb page view data shows the film pacing ahead of Central Intelligence, Girls Trip, Barbershop: The Next Cut and Think Like a Man Too over the two weeks leading up to release while pacing a bit behind Ride Along. Additionally, online ticket retailer Fandango.com is reporting Night School is pacing ahead of both Central Intelligence ($35.5m opening) and Ride Along 2 ($35.2m debut) at the same point in the company's sales cycle. All said, a strong debut for the $29 million production seems a no-brainer and another box office success for producer Will Packer.

Looking at a second place finish is WB's Smallfoot, which is debuting in over 4,100 locations with the studio anticipating a debut anywhere from $20-25 million. An obvious comp is to WB's 2016 animated title Storks, which also opened in late September, debuting with $21.3 million from 3,922 theaters. Like Smallfoot, Storks was an original IP and the two films seem to have had a similar impact on critics with Smallfoot currently holding a score of 57 on Metacritic vs. the 56 for Storks. Looking at IMDb page view data Smallfoot is outperforming Storks over the two weeks leading up to release, though over the three months leading up to release Storks holds the edge.

Smallfoot is also pacing just behind 2017's The Emoji Movie, which opened with $24.5 million in 4,075 theaters, as well as just behind 2013's Planes, which opened with $22.2 million in early August. All of this leads us to an expected opening around $23 million with wiggle room on either side. The good news is there isn't another animated title until Universal's The Grinch on November 9 so should audiences take to it, Smallfoot could enjoy a solid run at the box office.

Looking at a third place finish is last weekend's champ, Universal and Amblin's The House with a Clock in Its Walls. After debuting with $26.6 million last weekend we're anticipating a dip around ~47% this weekend and a three-day around $14 million, pushing the film's domestic gross over $46 million by the end of the weekend. One factor that could find House suffering a bigger drop than our current forecast is incoming competition from Smallfoot, not to mention the "B+" CinemaScore, which is a little soft for a family film.

Lionsgate's A Simple Favor held strong in its sophomore session last weekend and we're anticipating a similar performance this week and a drop around 33% for a $6.8 million three-day. Should it hold to this forecast it will be looking to top $43 million by the end of the weekend.

Rounding out the top five is The Nun, which enters the weekend with over $103 million domestically and should add another $5 million or so this weekend.

Outside the top five we find Lionsgate's release of CBS Films's Hell Fest from director Gregory Plotkin (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Happy Death Day). Opening in 2,293 locations, tracking has the film opening somewhere between the $3.7 million opening for Unfriended: Dark Web and the $7 million debut for You're Next in 2013 with the studio hoping for an opening around $5-6 million. Our analysis suggests a debut anywhere from $3.2-5.2 million, especially when looking at You're Next and Unfriended: Dark Web and our forecast falls right in the middle of our anticipated range, expecting a $4.25 million debut.

Further down the chart we have Pinnacle Peak's moderate release of Little Women debuting in 643 locations. A release like this is tough to nail down, but an opening anywhere from $1-1.5 million seems a safe expectation.

In limited release, Neon will debut Monsters and Men in 18 locations; Fox Searchlight will open The Old Man & the Gun in five theaters; and IFC will debut Black 47 in one theater.

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.

  • Night School (3,010 theaters) - $32.0 M
  • Smallfoot (4,131 theaters) - $23.0 M
  • The House With A Clock In Its Walls (3,592 theaters) - $14.1 M
  • A Simple Favor (3,073 theaters) - $6.8 M
  • The Nun (3,331 theaters) - $5.0 M
  • Crazy Rich Asians (2,347 theaters) - $4.4 M
  • Hell Fest (2,293 theaters) - $4.3 M
  • The Predator (2,926 theaters) - $4.0 M
  • White Boy Rick (2,017 theaters) - $2.6 M
  • Peppermint (2,002 theaters) - $1.7 M

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