Can 'Black Panther' Fend Off 'Tomb Raider' for Fifth Straight Weekend at #1?
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: WB's Tomb Raider led the way on Friday bringing in an estimated $9 million, heading toward an opening weekend around $22-24 million. The film earned a "B" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Expected to top the weekend, however, is Disney and Marvel's Black Panther, which brought in an estimated $7.5 million on Friday and is expected to earn as much as $27-28 million for the weekend, topping $605 million domestically.

No matter how you look at it, though, the biggest surprise of the weekend is Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions's release of I Can Only Imagine which brought inn a massive $6,2 million from 1,629 theaters, topping Mojo's weekend forecast in just its first day of release. Added to that, the film earned an "A+" CinemaScore from opening day audiences. The film is now expected to top $15 million for the three-day if not higher.

Fox's Love, Simon debuted with an estimated $4.6 million on Friday, looking at a $12 million opening weekend debut. 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: WB's Tomb Raider delivered $2.1 million from Thursday evening previews. Looking at the comparisons made below in our weekend preview, this is a bit behind the $2.66 million brought in The Mummy, behind the $2.55 million in previews for The Legend of Tarzan and well behind Power Rangers's $3.6 million in previews. That, however, isn't entirely surprising and on the bright side it is in line with the $2.1 million for Hercules, which debuted with $29.8 million and just behind the $2.2 million for John Wick: Chapter Two, which opened with $30 million.

The big story, however, is the $1.3 million in previews taken in by Roadside's I Can Only Imagine, which goes wide into a modest 1,628 locations starting today. Given the number of theaters the film is opening in it's hard to make a direct comparison, but within the realm of faith-based features this is better than the $1.2 million Son of God brought in from previews before opening with $25.6 million, albeit from 3,260 locations so it will be interesting to see where I Can Only Imagine goes from here as a double digit three-day seems rather likely at this point.

Finally, Fox reports Love, Simon grossed $850,000 from 2,125 locations last night, well ahead of the $525k for Everything, Everything and actually $110k ahead of Wonder, the two films used as comparisons in our preview below.

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: This weekend, Disney and Marvel's Black Panther will become only the seventh film to have ever topped $600 million at the domestic box office. Like last weekend, however, the one question that lingers is whether or not it will be able to retain the #1 spot yet again, becoming the first film since Avatar to top the weekend box office five straight weekends in a row. Standing in its way is Warner Bros.'s release of Tomb Raider, and the race looks like it will be a close one. Meanwhile, fellow new wide releases include Fox's Love, Simon and Roadside's I Can Only Imagine while Focus will debut 7 Days in Entebbe in a moderate number of theaters.

Last weekend we bet against Black Panther remaining the #1 film in North America, expecting more from Disney's A Wrinkle in Time than it could ultimately deliver while Panther exceeded our expectations. This weekend it would be easy to make a similar bet as WB's Tomb Raider is looking decent against comparable titles, but Black Panther's impact on moviegoers everywhere is too significant to bet against a second time, not to mention the film is only losing 108 theaters in this, its fifth weekend. That said, after dropping just 38% last weekend, we're anticipating a ~35% drop this weekend and a three-day around $26.5 million, pushing the film's domestic cume over $600 million.

Looking at second place, WB's Tomb Raider should put up a decent fight, threatening to dethrone Black Panther as the studio is anticipating an opening around $23-25 million. Based on our analysis, that range looks about right, though it could also be on the low end as we're seeing increasing evidence it could possibly threaten $30 million.

IMDb page view data shows Tomb Raider pacing just behind last year's The Mummy ($31.7m opening) and Power Rangers ($40.3m opening), while outpacing The Legend of Tarzan ($38.5m opening) and is well ahead of Assassin's Creed ($10.2m opening) heading into release. While these comparisons look promising, the fact Black Panther remains the film most people are talking about certainly takes some of the wind out of Tomb Raider's sails and while we wouldn't be surprised to see the video game adaptation pop a bit higher, we're currently anticipating a debut just shy of $25 million.

Internationally, Tomb Raider debuted in nine Asian markets last weekend where it brought in a little over $14 million. This weekend it expands into 45 additional markets including China, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, China, Brazil, Mexico and Australia.

In third we're expecting last weekend's soft opening for A Wrinkle in Time to dip ~49% for a sophomore weekend around $17 million pushing the film's domestic cume north of $60 million after ten days in release. The film will look to the coming weeks to recover from last weekend's debut as more and more schools go on spring break.

Look for Fox's Love, Simon to deliver a fourth place finish, though this is a film that could outperform expectations. The studio anticipates the $17 million production will deliver an opening north of $10 million and we're seeing evidence a $12 million debut may be the floor. IMDb page view comparisons for the film in the two weeks leading up to release are extremely positive when compared to last year's breakout Wonder ($27.5m opening) and Everything, Everything ($11.7m opening), both suggesting a $15+ million debut isn't at all far-fetched. The fact Fox is only opening the film in 2,402 locations does temper our expectations, but a $14 million opening doesn't seem at all unreasonable.

And the film rounding out the top five might be a bit of a surprise for some as Roadside Attractions's faith-based feature I Can Only Imagine is looking to make a bit of an impact. Roadside is debuting the film to 1,628 theaters and tracking as of last weekend suggested a $2-4 million debut, but our analysis not only supports the higher end of expectations, but also suggests the film could top $6 million in its first three days of release.

IMDb page view data shows I Can Only Imagine pacing ahead of films such as Black Nativity ($3.67m opening), Every Day ($3m opening) and Woodlawn ($4m opening). Added to that, online ticket retailer also shows the film performing well against expectations, pushing our anticipated weekend range to $5-7 million for the weekend.

Outside the top ten, Focus will debut 7 Days in Entebbe into 834 locations. As always, comparisons for releases of this size are never easy and looking at comparisons such as Focus's own Closed Circuit from 2013, an opening from $2-2.5 million seems just about right, placing just outside the top ten.

Also of note, look for Sony's Peter Rabbit to top $100 million this weekend and if it can deliver a little over $1.5 million, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle should top $400 million domestically this weekend.

In limited release IFC will release Furlough into two theaters while also expanding the release of The Death of Stalin into 32 locations (+28) after its weekend best per theater average of $46,201 last weekend.

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.

  • Black Panther (3,834 theaters) - $26.5 M
  • Tomb Raider (3,854 theaters) - $24.8 M
  • A Wrinkle in Time (3,980 theaters) - $16.9 M
  • Love, Simon (2,402 theaters) - $14.0 M
  • I Can Only Imagine (1,628 theaters) - $6.0 M
  • Game Night (2,735 theaters) - $5.3 M
  • Strangers: Prey at Night (2,464 theaters) - $5.2 M
  • Peter Rabbit (2,725 theaters) - $4.4 M
  • Red Sparrow (2,583 theaters) - $4.3 M
  • Death Wish (2,676 theaters) - $3.6 M

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