Disney and Pixar's 'Onward' Sets Sights on $40 Million Opening
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Disney and Pixar's Onward delivered an estimated $12.1 million on Friday, which includes over $2 million from preview showings. The film is expected to finish right around $40 million for the weekend and received an "A-" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

WB's The Way Back brought in an estimated $2.6 million and is expected to bring in $8+ million for the three-day. The film received a "B+" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Focus's Emma expanded nationwide this weekend, now playing in 1,565 locations from which it brought in an estimated $1.65 million on Friday. The film is expected to top $5 million for the three-day and received a "B" CinemaScore from Friday audiences.

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: Disney and Pixar’s Onward conjured $2 million in Thursday previews domestically. This puts the film's pre-release total up to $2.65 million following Leap Day sneaks last weekend. While animated comps with previews never tend to line up, this puts the film on par with Secret Life of Pets 2, which brought in $2.3 million from previews ahead of a $46.6 million opening, though it is pacing behind How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which brought in $3 million from previews ahead of a $55 million opening.

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: Make way for a weekend in which we see two new wide releases and one expanding release, all of which have received positive critical reactions. Sure to lead the way is Disney and Pixar's Onward, followed by WB's debut of Ben Affleck's The Way Back and Focus will expand the reach of Emma into over 1,500 locations as it breaks nationwide. Beyond the films themselves, one question mark is what kind of impact, if any, will COVID-19 have on the domestic marketplace as businesses and schools continue to close around the United States along with theater closures internationally.

Looking at a #1 finish is Pixar's latest feature, Onward, with the studio anticipating a $40+ million debut from over 4,300 locations. This is the earliest in the year Disney has ever debuted a new Pixar feature, which they typically save for either the summer or late holiday months, and it makes comps to some films such as Coco or The Good Dinosaur a bit difficult given those two, specifically, opened over the Thanksgiving holiday.

One comp, when looking at IMDb page view data over the two weeks leading up to release, that appears to be the best we're going to get, is last February's release of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which debuted with $55 million. Yet, along with all the comps we've thrown at it, it is trailing that one in page views, which is making it hard for us to go any higher than $42 million this weekend, but the already, strong reviews and positive word of mouth could very easily push it over that mark should the slowly growing panic over COVID-19 not keep people home.

As for the possible effects of coronavirus on the box office, parents having to stay home from work with their children might be looking for an outlet, while on the other hand, where would the mind wander should the person next to you in the theater cough? The 2009 H1N1 scare didn't have any notable effect on the domestic box office and neither did the 2002 SARS outbreak, which only saw 27 cases in the United States. So this is an entirely new scenario that's very difficult to model.

Internationally, Onward opens day and date in the majority of the world and if the coronavirus is going to have any major effect, this is where it might happen. Theaters have been closed in China for over a month, approximately 50% of theaters closed in Italy and officials have just ordered all schools closed, and a few cinemas in France are also closing. That said, key markets where the film is not opening this weekend include Italy as well as Australia, Korea, Japan, Turkey, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Taiwan.

Look for Universal's The Invisible Man to appear in second place after a strong start last weekend. Taking a look at the second weekend performance for Insidious: The Last Key, that film, after opening with $29.5 million, dipped -58% in its second frame, though that was over the Martin Luther King weekend, suggesting it might have received a slight bump. Happy Death Day dropped -64% and Paranormal Activity 4 fell a massive -70%. So what does that mean for Invisible Man? Right now we're anticipating a -61% drop and a $11 million second weekend as the $7 million production nears $50 million stateside after just ten days in release.

Next we come to Paramount's Sonic the Hedgehog and 20th Century's The Call of the Wild, both family films that now must deal with the release of Onward as well as the threat of the coronavirus diminishing this weekend's box office returns. Right now we're giving Sonic a slight edge, but there's plenty of potential wiggle room for both films given the circumstances. That said, should our forecast hold Sonic should end the weekend only a few million shy of soon becoming the highest grossing video game adaptation domestically.

Warner Bros.
Rounding out the top five we have WB's The Way Back, which will release in 2,718 locations with tracking currently suggesting a $7-10 million performance and based on what we're seeing we're looking for a debut in the lower end of that range. IMDb page view performance for the film over the two weeks leading up to release shows it pacing behind the likes of Draft Day ($9.8m opening) and Million Dollar Arm ($10.5m opening) and all things considered, we're looking for a performance closer to $6.5 million for the weekend.

Outside the top five, Focus will expand the release of Emma. into over 1,500 theaters. Comps to an expansion such as this are difficult as we look at IMDb page view performance, given the difference in release dates. For example, while Emma. is outpacing films such as Chappaquiddick ($5.7m opening) and Victoria & Abdul ($4.2m opening) it is pacing behind both Love & Friendship ($2.1m opening) and Mary Queen of Scots ($2.28m opening) over the two weeks leading to their wide release. Of course, the release size of those four films was also different with only Chappaquiddick playing in over 1,500 locations over its wide break with the widest release of the other three being Love & Friendship at 819 locations. Right now we're looking for a performance around $4-5 million for the weekend, again, should outside factors not have too much of a negative effect.

Also of note, look for Bad Boys for Life to finally top $200 million at the domestic box office this weekend, becoming the first release of 2020 to hit that mark.

In limited release, A24 will debut First Cow in four theaters and Burnt Orange Heresy from Sony Classics will also debut in four 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.

  • Onward (4,310 theaters) - $42.0 M
  • The Invisible Man (3,610 theaters) - $11.0 M
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (3,717 theaters) - $8.5 M
  • The Call of the Wild (3,914 theaters) - $7.7 M
  • The Way Back (2,718 theaters) - $6.5 M
  • Emma. (1,565 theaters) - $4.5 M
  • Bad Boys for Life (2,159 theaters) - $2.7 M
  • My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (620 theaters) - $2.1 M
  • Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2,173 theaters) - $2.0 M
  • 1917 (1,532 theaters) - $1.8 M

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