Disney's 'A Wrinkle in Time' and 'Black Panther' Compete for the Weekend's Top Spot
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: With an estimated $10.2 million, Disney's A Wrinkle in Time narrowly took the top spot at the Friday box office over fellow Disney release, Black Panther. At this point estimates have Black Panther taking the weekend crown for a fourth weekend and a $40+ million three-day while Wrinkle is expected to finish around $32-35 million, short of BoxOfficeMojo's pre-weekend forecast below. Wrinkle received a "B" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Before we move on, Disney also reports Black Panther will top $1 billion worldwide today, joining fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe releases The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 3 and Captain America: Civil War. We'll have more specifics in terms of overall performance tomorrow.

Looking at a third place finish is Aviron's The Strangers: Prey at Night, which brought in an estimated $4 million on Friday and is looking at a weekend finish right around $10 million. The film received a "C" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Further down the line we find STX's release of Amazon Studios's Gringo and Entertainment Studios's The Hurricane Heist, neither of which topped $1 million on Friday and both are looking to finish below $3 million for the weekend. At this point, one of these films just might miss out on the top ten. Hurricane Heist received a "C+" CinemaScore while Gringo received a "C" from opening day 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's A Wrinkle in Time delivered $1.3 million from Thursday night previews. This is well ahead of the $725k brought in by Tomorrowland ahead of its $33 million three-day and just behind Alice Through the Looking Glass, which brought in $1.5 million from Thursday previews ahead of a $34 million debut.

Aviron's The Strangers: Prey at Night brought in $610,000 from Thursday evening previews, which is better than both Kidnap and You're Next, which we used as comparisons in our preview below, and just behind the $735k brought in by 47 Meters Down prior to its $11.2 million debut last June.

STX's release of Amazon Studios's Gringo brought in $190,000 from Thursday night screenings.

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: After a record-breaking February saw calendar grosses top $1 billion for the first time ever, March is hoping to maintain that momentum. Although, last weekend's new releases didn't exactly blow the doors off, but Disney and Marvel's Black Panther kept things moving along and with the film entering its fourth weekend in release it faces its first true test for the #1 spot at the weekend box office. Interestingly enough, it's another Disney title serving as the challenger as A Wrinkle in Time looks to top the weekend's list of newcomers, which also include The Hurricane Heist, Gringo and The Strangers: Prey at Night.

At the top of the box office it's a two horse race. On the one hand, Disney and Marvel's Black Panther is looking to become the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to top the weekend box office in its first four weekends. On the other hand, Disney is anticipating their release of A Wrinkle in Time will debut with $35 million from nearly 4,000 theaters, which would be well below the average of $61.6 million for Disney films opening in anywhere from 3,800-4,000 theaters, but we'll get more into A Wrinkle in Time shortly, let's first take a look at Black Panther.

Black Panther has held on better than previous top Marvel openers in its second and third weekends and we're expecting similar success this weekend. Of the top MCU openers, the 34% fourth weekend drop for The Avengers is the best, which took place over Memorial Day weekend 2012. For Black Panther's senior effort we're anticipating a performance slightly ahead of Age of Ultron's Memorial Day weekend 44% drop, anticipating a 42-43% dip and a weekend around $38 million, pushing the film's domestic gross just shy of $560 million. Additionally, eyes will be firmly glued to the film's performance internationally as Black Panther's worldwide gross currently totals over $930 million and, with its release in China on Friday, will become the fifth film in the MCU to top $1 billion globally by the end of the weekend.

All that being said, will Black Panther's domestic gross be enough to top the weekend?

As noted, Disney is expecting a $35 million opening for A Wrinkle in Time from 3,980 locations. It's an expectation that looks low compared to other titles that debuted in that many theaters, though if you take the mixed reviews into consideration (it currently holds a rating of 54 on Metacritic) and the $33 million three-day opening for Tomorrowland — to which Wrinkle is being closely compared — $35 million begins to look a little more reasonable.

What's reasonable, however, is up for interpretation. Removing animated titles and Marvel films from the equation, here's a look at the films Disney has released in 3,800-4,000 theaters and their opening weekends:
  • Oz The Great and Powerful - $79.11M opening from 3,912 theaters
  • Maleficent - $69.43M opening from 3,948 theaters
  • Cinderella - $67.88M opening from 3,845 theaters
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - $55.03M opening from 3,929 theaters
  • National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $44.78M opening from 3,832 theaters
  • Tomorrowland - $33.03M opening from 3,972 theaters
  • The Lone Ranger - $29.21M* opening from 3,904 theaters * The Lone Ranger opened on a Wednesday and brought in $48.7 million in its first five days

Should we limit our comparison to Tomorrowland, Disney's $35 million expectations might look on point if not optimistic. However, that film could also be considered the outlier. To look at IMDb page views leading up to release we see Wrinkle dramatically outperforming a film such as Pete's Dragon and in recent days it has shown significant gains, catching up with films such as Cinderella and Maleficent. And while it isn't outperforming either of those latter titles over the two weeks leading up to release, or expected to deliver an opening similar to either film, the performance comparison helps maintain some perspective whereas we might have otherwise grown a little too confident in forecasting an opening in the low 30s.

All that being said, while Wrinkle certainly could settle right around Disney's anticipated $35 million debut, we're seeing evidence supporting a debut closer to $40-45 million. Helping support this fact is online ticket retailer Fandango.com tells BoxOfficeMojo that Wrinkle is the site's top seller over all titles, including Black Panther, heading into the weekend. Add to that, Wrinkle should also tap into a whole new family demographic that even Peter Rabbit didn't target. While the tepid reviews suggest the film might not find increasing momentum throughout the weekend, dialing back chances for a $45M+ opening, we expect the audience members already anticipating the film heading into the weekend will be enough to top $40 million, if not push a bit higher.

Internationally, Wrinkle is opening in limited markets this weekend, among them Spain, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia, and will have an extended rollout throughout the spring and early summer.

In third we expect to find the second of the weekend's new wide releases, Aviron's resurrection of the Strangers franchise, ten years after the first film delivered $52.5 million. The first film's performance prompted talk of a sequel in 2009, talk that seemed to disappear once Relativity purchased Rogue Pictures shortly thereafter, eventually finding new life in 2017 under the direction of 47 Meters Down helmer Johannes Roberts. The road to release ends with The Strangers: Prey at Night debuting this weekend in 2,464 locations with the studio anticipating an opening in the high single digits.

Our analysis has us looking at films such as 47 Meters Down ($11.2m opening) as well as Aviron's Kidnap ($10m opening) and Lionsgate's You're Next ($7m opening) for comparisons and all analysis suggests an opening anywhere from $7-10 million and we're leaning toward the higher end of that range, anticipating a $9+ million opening.

Look for Fox's Red Sparrow to land in fourth in its second weekend, which we anticipate will drop around 50% for a sophomore weekend around $8.3 million, giving the film a domestic cume around $31 million come Sunday.

Rounding out the top five is MGM's Death Wish, which is looking to drop around 47% or so for a $6.9 million second weekend and a domestic cume around $24 million after ten days in release.

Outside the top five we still have two more new releases to discuss, beginning with Entertainment Studios's The Hurricane Heist. Opening in 2,402 locations, this $40 million feature adds a little criminality to your average disaster pic and tracking as of last week had a rather wide range of expectation from $3-8 million. Based on our analysis we're shrinking that range to $3-5 million. Looking at films such as Brick Mansions ($9.5m opening), Homefront ($6.9m opening) and Triple 9 ($6.1m opening) and Bullet to the Head ($4.5m opening) we have been hard-pressed to find any suggestion this film will live up to the openings for those films. Interest simply just doesn't seem to be there, forcing us to forecast an opening that could come up shy of $4 million.

The weekend's final new wide release is STX's release of Amazon Studios's Gringo, an R-rated dark comedy from director Nash Edgerton debuting in 2,404 locations. Similar to The Hurricane Heist, there's a rather large range when it comes to industry expectations, suggesting an opening anywhere from $3-7 million, and once again we're skewing toward the lower end of expectations. A title such as this needs some kind of advanced buzz to push it along and that just doesn't appear to be there and reviews aren't going to help as its current Metacritic score of 45 isn't going to attract many moviegoers debating what to see. A $2-5 million debut is the range we're currently expecting, somewhat optimistically forecasting an opening around $3 million for the three day.

In moderate release, Focus Features will open their Sundance 2017 acquisition Thoroughbreds in 549 locations, while limited releases include Sony Classics's The Leisure Seeker in 28 theaters and IFC will release Armando Iannucci's The Death of Stalin into 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.

  • A Wrinkle in Time (3,980 theaters) - $42.0 M
  • Black Panther (3,942 theaters) - $38.0 M
  • Strangers: Prey at Night (2,464 theaters) - $9.5 M
  • Red Sparrow (3,064 theaters) - $8.3 M
  • Death Wish (2,882 theaters) - $6.9 M
  • Peter Rabbit (3,112 theaters) - $6.2 M
  • Game Night (3,061 theaters) - $5.8 M
  • The Hurricane Heist (2,402 theaters) - $3.8 M
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2,157 theaters) - $3.4 M
  • Gringo (2,404 theaters) - $3.0 M

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