Also opening quite well on its first day in release is Robert Eggers' period horror feature The Witch, bringing in an estimated $3.2 million with industry expectations forecasting an $8 million opening. One negative working against the film, however, is a not-so-promising "C-" CinemaScore, which may not affect the film's opening three-day, but will almost certainly hurt its chances of enjoying a very long run.
Focus' Race is performing largely, if not a tad bit below, expectations, bringing in an estimated $2.3 million on Friday, targeting a $7 million three-day opening. The film did receive, however, the best CinemaScore of the bunch, scoring an "A" from opening day audiences.
At the top of the charts for a second week in a row is Deadpool with an estimated $16.2 million, looking as if it will end with a three-day weekend anywhere from $56-58 million. You can click here for a complete look at Friday's estimates and we'll be back tomorrow with a full breakdown of the weekend.
UPDATE #2: Thursday preview numbers have arrived and Sony's Risen took in $425,000 from showings that began at 7pm in 2,329 locations. Focus Features' Race brought in $205,000 from 1,800 theaters, which is similar to the $260,000 McFarland, USA brought in over the same weekend before opening with $11 million.
Finally, The Witch brought in an impressive $630,000 from 1,600 domestic screens. The best comparison might be to Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, which brought in $600,000 before pulling in $8 million from only 1,656 theaters during its opening weekend. Another comparison could be to Krampus, which brought in $637,000 from Thursday previews before opening with $16.2 million. Big difference between Krampus and The Witch, however, is Krampus was playing in almost 900 more theaters. With so many updates for The Witch this morning it's now starting to look like a weekend anywhere from $6-9 million is in the cards. We'll hopefully know much more tomorrow morning providing A24 sends Friday estimates as they have been prone to only delivering overall weekend estimates without sending dailies.
UPDATE #1: Final theater counts for The Witch arrived Friday morning and it already looks like this is going to be bigger than estimated on Thursday afternoon. Early estimates had the film playing in approximately 1,800 theaters and A24 was keeping their cards very close to the chest. This morning we learn it's actually rolling out in 2,046 theaters even got a nice endorsement in the middle of the week with a tweet from Stephen King, "The Witch scared the hell out of me. And it's a real movie, tense and thought-provoking as well as visceral." How much that helps isn't clear, but a weekend somewhere north of $6 million now seems increasingly likely.
Deadpool's monster, $132.4 million three-day opening last weekend was the earliest a movie has ever opened with over $100 million by almost a month. Previously, Alice in Wonderland's $116.1 million opening in the first weekend of March 2010 held that distinction. Prior to that, film's didn't cross the century mark in their opening weekend until the beginning of summer. It certainly is a new era as studios are redefining release patterns every month.
This weekend Deadpool doesn't face much competition in the way of new releases and will retain the number one spot handily. The weekend's three new wide releases vying for a spot below Deadpool include Sony's faith-based feature Risen, Focus' Jesse Owens biopic Race and A24's period horror The Witch.
Beginning with number one, history shows that when a film opens with over $100 million it tends to drop, on average, around 54.3% in its second weekend. Films that score an "A" CinemaScore or higher, as Deadpool did, perform a little better, dropping around 52.5% on average. Of course, there is one last factor to consider, Deadpool is the first R-rated film to gross over $100 million in its opening weekend. So, once again we are in uncharted territory.
The Matrix Reloaded, which previously held the R-rated opening weekend record, dropped 59.8% in its second weekend. During the same frame last year, Fifty Shades of Grey dropped a massive 73.9% after its record-breaking opener. Deadpool is unlikely to follow in Mr. Grey's footsteps, but the Matrix Reloaded drop is a number to consider as are a few other top R-rated openers. 300 dropped 53.6% in its second weekend, while the comedy hit Ted only dropped 40.8%, though Ted's opening weekend was less than half of what Deadpool brought in making for a difficult comparison.
Other numbers to consider include the 55.3% second weekend drop for Guardians of the Galaxy and 56.6% drop for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This gives us a range of 52-60% for a likely second weekend somewhere between $53-64 million.
Moving to the competition for the rest of this weekend's top five we begin with Kung Fu Panda 3, which dropped only 8.4% last weekend and will most likely retain second place for a second straight weekend. Looking for genre comparisons based on that small drop, Big Hero 6 had a couple weekends where it dropped single digits, followed by drops of 57.3% and 51.4%. Wreck-It Ralph dropped 10.8% in its fourth weekend and dropped 58.1% the following weekend. History shows, including films such as Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and The Incredibles, weekends after such a small drop early in a film's run tend to drop anywhere from 51-64%. This means Kung Fu Panda 3 is looking at a fourth weekend somewhere from $7-10 million, though don't be surprised if it goes a bit higher as it hopes to fend off the week's newcomers.
First among the incoming class is Risen, telling the story of the Resurrection through the eyes of a non-believer played by Joseph Fiennes. Sony is going conservative, estimating a $5-7 million opening from 2,912 theaters while expecting long legs at the box office as it's likely to play well all through March and into early April. When forecasting the weekend, let's start with the fact that until Pride and Prejudice and Zombies performed so poorly a couple weekends ago, no film opening in more than 2,900 theaters had opened to less than $7.2 million in February. That's a good place to start as it is just under the $7.8 million opening for The Nativity Story, a comparable title that opened back in 2006 in 3,083 theaters. Risen should, at the very least, hit that number if not possibly climb much higher. Most likely we're looking at an opening somewhere around $8-12 million.
Next is Race from Focus Features, telling the story of Jesse Owens as played by Stephan James (Selma, When the Game Stands Tall). At first glance a good comparison would seem to be 2013's 42, but that film's $27 million opening is well out of reach as Race is tracking for an opening around $8-12 million. This suggests a more apt comparison would be McFarland, USA, which opened with $11 million during the same weekend last year.
Another comparison that might add insight, though in a direction the studio wouldn't hope comes into play, is 2008's The Express, which Universal opened in 2,810 theaters and only managed a $4.5 million opening. The question lies in the drawing power of Jesse Owens and his story. Part of the struggle for The Express may have been the fact Ernie Davis wasn't well known enough, having won the Heisman back in 1961. Jackie Robinson is arguably the most well known between these three and the fact 42 was released three days ahead of Jackie Robinson Day definitely helps. To that point, perhaps Race would have been better served releasing in early August, at the same time the 2016 Olympics take place, or shortly after the closing ceremony. All that said, heading into this weekend, an opening in the area of $7.5-8.5 million seems a good bet.
The final new wide release on the board is A24's The Witch, a film the studio picked up for $1 million with the plan to go straight to a digital, VOD and multiplatform release. Potential, however, was found in a theatrical play thanks to solid reviews and a decision to target an audience using a digital-only marketing scheme, similar to High Top Releasing's approach to Eli Roth's The Green Inferno last September.
Green Inferno ended up making $3.5 million during its opening weekend from 1,540 theaters, a number A24 would be more than happy with given the circumstances, but what kind of range are we really looking at? The Witch is releasing in approximately 1,800 theaters, as such, a possible comp would be 2005's Wolf Creek, which opened in 1,749 theaters and brought in $2.8 million. A year later, An American Haunting brought in $5.7 million from 1,675 theaters and even further up the ladder, Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects opened with $7 million from 1,757 theaters in 2005. These numbers considered, an opening anywhere from $2.5 million to Green Inferno's $3.5 million seems most likely and, unless something extraordinary happens, don't expect much of an expanded release as A24's plan as of now is to make this available for home entertainment 90 days after its theatrical release.
Quickly looking at last weekend's two other new releases, How to be Single is a title that seems as if it could either hold on nicely or find itself in free fall. Typically a drop around 46-52% would seem an easy enough call, but the "B" CinemaScore along with considering the massive 70.6% drop for About Last Night in the same frame back in 2014, despite an "A-" CinemaScore, is enough to wonder if this one could suffer a similar fate. Especially considering About Last Night received far more positive reviews. Otherwise, Zoolander 2 is definitely looking weak as its lackluster opening combined with a "C+" CinemaScore suggests it won't be hanging around the top ten for too long.
Also opening this weekend is Busco Novio Para Mi Mujer from Lionsgate in 357 theaters and FIP's Neerja in 73 theaters. Additionally, Sony Classics is expanding The Lady in the Van into an additional 410 theaters and Sony is adding approximately 275 theaters to Spectre to give it that last little judge to push it over $200 million domestically.
A look at this weekend's forecast is directly below.
- Deadpool (3,722 theaters) - $63.04 M
- Kung Fu Panda 3 (3,448 theaters) - $10.08 M
- Risen (2,912 theaters) - $8.74 M
- Race (2,369 theaters) - $8.53 M
- How to be Single (3,357 theaters) - $7.15 M
- The Witch (2,046 theaters) - $6.55 M
- Zoolander 2 (3,418 theaters) - $4.98 M
- The Revenant (1,939 theaters) - $4.24 M
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (1,618 theaters) - $4.06 M
- Hail, Caesar! (1,723 theaters) - $3.2 M
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