'Ready Player One' Hopes to End March 2018 with a Bang, Not a Whimper
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Ready Player One brought in an estimated $15.2 million on Friday, pushing the film's two-day total to $27.2 million. Current expectations are for a four-day total around $52-53 million and $40+ million for the three-day weekend. The film received an "A-" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Lionsgate's release of Tyler Perry's Acrimony delivered big numbers on Friday, coming in with an estimated $7.26 million along with an "A-" CinemaScore. The film is currently expected to finish around $17 million for the three-day.

Pure Flix's release of God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness is struggling out of the gates, delivering an estimated $1.1 million on Friday, looking at a $3 million weekend. The film also received 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: Ready Player One brought in an estimated $12 million on Thursday from 4,234 locations. This gross includes Wednesday night's $3.75 million from preview showings and is just a bit behind the $13.3 million first day for Terminator Salvation, which also opened on a Thursday. We've also been looking at other Thursday night opening comps including Star Trek Into Darkness, which kicked things off with a $13.5 million Thursday (including previews) and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which brought in $10.5 million on Thursday including previews. The four and three-day grosses for those three films were as follows:

  • Terminator Salvation - $55.9m 4-Day / $42.5m 3-Day
  • Star Trek Into Darkness - $83.7m 4-Day / $70.1m 3-Day
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation - $51m 4-Day / $40.5m 3-Day

Last night also saw Tyler Perry's Acrimony kick things off with $1 million from Thursday night previews in ~1,700 locations. This is an improvement over the $855K Boo! A Madea Halloween brought in before opening with over $28 million and the $760k for Perry's Boo! 2 before opening with $21.2 million. This also doubles the $500k brought in by Kidnap before it opened with $10 million. All told, don't be surprised if we are looking at an opening in the high teens, if not higher.

Pure Flix's God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness held Thursday previews beginning at 7PM but are not reporting grosses.

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.

THURSDAY AM UPDATE: Ready Player One is off and running, bringing in $3.75 million from Wednesday night previews in ~3,500 location. While there aren't a lot of comparisons to make when it comes to Thursday night previews, the two primary comparisons we used in our preview below were Star Trek Into Darkness and G.I. Joe: Retaliation which brought in $2 million and $2.5 million respectively. In fact, Ready Player One's Thursday preview gross is also larger than the $3 million brought in by Terminator Salvation, which finished with $55 million for the four-day and $42.5 million for its opening three-day.

We'll have more tomorrow, including Ready Player One's Thursday gross along with preview grosses for Tyler Perry's Acrimony and God's Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness. For now you can check out our weekend preview below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: On the heels of a record February, March 2018 is currently down ~30% compared to last year's record-breaking performance and yet, thanks to the strong carryover performance from Black Panther, the first quarter of 2018 is still attempting to keep pace with last year's grosses if not just a touch behind. Hoping to offer an assist as March comes to a close this Saturday is Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's release of Ready Player One, which is getting a jump start on the weekend with a Thursday release. Also opening this weekend is Lionsgate's release of Tyler Perry's Acrimony and God's Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness, the latter making it three straight weeks where a new faith-based film finds itself in wide release.

At the top, adapted from Ernest Cline's best-selling novel, Ready Player One delivers a nostalgic journey into a virtual world at the hands of director Steven Spielberg. While early online sentiments appeared to fear the film may depend a little too much on nostalgia, early reactions out of SXSW, along with reviews, seem to have squelched many of those concerns with the film currently holding steady with a score of 65 on Metacritic and a Certified Fresh rating of 82% on RottenTomatoes. That being said, those early concerns seemed to impact early tracking, which suggested a $35 million debut, which would be a bit soft for a film carrying a budget reported to be anywhere from $155-175 million before P&A.

Heading into the weekend, tracking hasn't changed too much, but our analysis shows evidence it will easily bring in $35 million for the four-day, likely pushing to around $45-50 million, if not a bit higher. A look at IMDb page view data shows it pacing behind Star Trek Into Darkness and The Martian over the two weeks leading up to release, though to an extent that a $45-50 million opening seems reasonable. At the same time it's pacing ahead of Power Rangers, Star Trek Beyond and all three films in the Maze Runner franchise.

All told, using fellow Thursday openers Star Trek Into Darkness and G.I. Joe: Retaliation as guides, we're anticipating a four-day performance around $51 million and a three-day around $42 million. One factor that could push the results higher is the fact ~37% of children will be out of school on Thursday and ~80% will be out by Friday. The film will get its start this evening around 7PM with preview showings in 3,500+ theaters before expanding to 4,234 locations on Thursday with showings in 3-D, IMAX, PLF, Dolby Cinema, motion seats, luxury seats and drive-ins.

Internationally, the film debuts in 62 markets this weekend, accounting for roughly 85% of the international market, beginning with 12 markets today, including France, Italy and Korea. The film will expand to markets such as Spain, UK, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and Australia on Thursday, China on Friday and the Philippines on Saturday.

In second place we're looking for Tyler Perry's latest, Acrimony, to deliver an opening around $15.5 million despite the fact industry estimates have the debut at $10 million. Starring Taraji P. Henson, who will be returning to the small screen this evening with the season four premier of "Empire", comparing the film's IMDb page view performance leading up to release with films such as When the Bough Breaks and No Good Deed shows favorable results, supporting a $15+ million opening.

Third place should belong to Pacific Rim Uprising, which debuted with a satisfactory $28 million last weekend, but after falling behind Black Panther on Wednesday it's beginning to look like a 60%+ drop for the second weekend may be in the offing, suggesting a sophomore session just above $11 million.

Adding 393 theaters this weekend, Roadside's I Can Only Imagine looks to continue its impressive run this Easter weekend after two consecutive stellar weekends. While it could be a tight race for fourth position, we're currently giving the edge to Imagine, anticipating a meager 18% drop from last weekend and a three-day just over $11 million. The film has certainly captured the attention of its target audience and the holiday weekend should prove fruitful.

Rounding out the top five, look for Black Panther to continue its record-breaking run with $11 million. Should that forecast hold, Panther will be looking to top $650 million by the end of the weekend, leaving it just a couple million shy of topping Jurassic World as the fourth largest domestic release of all-time and less than ten million shy of Titanic.

Elsewhere in the top ten we have our third and final new wide release of the weekend in Pure Flix's release of God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness debuting in 1,688 locations. The best comparison would seem to be to God's Not Dead 2, which opened with $7.6 million in April 2016 and IMDb page view performance shows it pacing well behind its predecessor leading up to release. It is, however, pacing slightly ahead of The Case for Christ, which opened with $3.96 million from just 1,174 theaters last April. The studio is anticipating a debut right around $4 million and we're finding it hard to disagree, though we're giving it a slight bump due to the holiday weekend, forecasting a $4.5 million opening and a tenth place finish.

In limited release, Fox International will bring Baaghi 2 into 123 theaters; Neon will release Gemini; Roadside will debut Finding Your Feet in 14 locations; and The Orchard will debut Outside In.

Also be on the lookout for Fox Searchlight's Isle of Dogs, which got off to a solid start last weekend with $1.6 million from just 27 locations and a weekend high $59,825 per theater average. This weekend the film is expanding into 165 theaters starting today, with hopes for a performance around $2.05 million for the upcoming three-day before expanding further next weekend and going nationwide on April 13, where the total screen count is expected to be anywhere from 1,400-1,600 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.

  • Ready Player One (4,234 theaters) - $42.0 M
  • Tyler Perry's Acrimony (2,006 theaters) - $15.5 M
  • Pacific Rim Uprising (3,708 theaters) - $11.2 M
  • I Can Only Imagine (2,646 theaters) - $11.2 M
  • Black Panther (2,988 theaters) - $11.0 M
  • Sherlock Gnomes (3,662 theaters) - $6.0 M
  • Love, Simon (2,024 theaters) - $5.0 M
  • God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness (1,688 theaters) - $4.5 M
  • A Wrinkle in Time (2,367 theaters) - $4.4 M
  • Tomb Raider (2,788 theaters) - $4.2 M

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