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Disney's 'Dumbo' Looks to Fly to #1 at the Weekend Box Office

by Brad Brevet
 

 
March 28, 2019

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Disney's Dumbo is leading the way, pulling in an estimated $15.3 million on Friday, heading toward a debut on the lower end of our weekend expectations, most likely finishing around $45-50 million. The film received an "A-" CinemaScore.

At the same time, Pure Flix's anti-abortion feature, Unplanned, brought in an estimated $2.96 million and is looking at a weekend that could top $7 million.

Bleecker's Hotel Mumbai expanded into 924 theaters (+920) this weekend and is performing well, bringing in an estimated $1.08 million on Friday en route to a three-day expected to top $3 million.

Neon's The Beach Bum delivered an estimated $647,000 on Friday and is expected to debut with a soft, $1.7 million from 1,015 locations.

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 Dumbo posted an estimated $2.6 million from Thursday previews, which began at 6PM last night. The performance is larger than the $2.3 million Cinderella brought in in advance of its $68 million debut, while just a bit behind the $3 million How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ahead of its $55 million opening last month.

As for some of the comps in our preview below, this is nearly double the $1.5 million in previews both Christopher Robin and Alice Through the Looking Glass brought in and $400k ahead of The Grinch.

Additionally, Pure Flix is reporting $1.5 million in pre-release grosses for Unplanned from $700k in Thursday night previews as well as another ~$800k from unadvertised, private, full auditorium buyouts which began on Monday. At this time the film is looking at a solid opening, perhaps climbing as high as $7-8 million if not higher.

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's release of Disney's live-action re-imagining of Dumbo will serve as the third new #1 in as many weeks at the domestic box office. Right behind it, last weekend's #1 film, Us, and Disney's holdover release of Captain Marvel will continue to perform well, helping deliver a strong March at the domestic box office. Meanwhile, Pure Flix will debut Unplanned and Neon releases Harmony Korine's The Beach Bum, both in over one thousand locations.

Looking at a #1 finish is Disney's latest live-action re-imagining of one of their classic animated features in the Tim Burton-directed Dumbo, which takes the 64-minute animated 1941 feature and delivers a nearly two-hour retelling. Disney will debut the film in over 4,200 theaters and forecasting the film's opening weekend performance is not at all clear cut. The studio is anticipating a $50+ million debut while other sources are suggesting a debut close to $60-65 million. The critical response has been mixed to the tune of a score of 54 at Metacritic and a 55% "rotten" score at RottenTomatoes. Added to that, IMDb page view performance leading up to release paints a very muddy picture.

Looking at the two weeks leading up to release, IMDb page view performance for Dumbo is just ahead of Christopher Robin ($24.6m opening), just behind Alice Through the Looking Glass ($26.9m opening) and well ahead of Pete's Dragon ($21.5m opening). Of course, reasons for this could be many, including the fact Dumbo is a more recognizable title and may not be something audiences need to necessarily seek out prior to release. It also may be more apt to compare it to an animated feature such as The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, which debuted with $55.4 million back in February 2015. As for that comparison, Dumbo is pacing behind that title as well, though it will be opening in ~600 more locations and has the benefit of kids being out on spring break.

For those looking for evidence of a opening performance on the higher end of expectations, and one that carries a bit more weight than IMDb's page views considering it deals with actual tickets sold, comes from online ticket retailer Fandango.com, which tells BoxOfficeMojo that Dumbo is outpacing The Grinch ($67.5m opening), SpongeBob and 2015's Cinderella ($67.9 million opening) at the same point in the sales cycle. All told, while we wouldn't be surprised to see a performance anywhere from $43-65 million, we're going out with a $52 million forecast and we'll see how things shake out.

Internationally, Dumbo debuts day-and-date in all major territories.

In second place, look for a solid holdover performance for Jordan Peele's Us, which has continued to dominate throughout the week and could deliver as much as $40+ million in its second weekend following a blistering debut last week. We're forecasting a performance right on that number, signaling a -44% drop and a domestic gross topping $135 million by the end of the weekend.

Disney's Captain Marvel will take the weekend bronze, likely dipping around -40% or so for a $20+ million three-day and a domestic cume quickly approaching $355 million. Globally, as of today the film has grossed over $938 million worldwide and after this weekend it will be inching ever so close to that billion dollar mark.

Fourth will go to Lionsgate's release of CBS Films's Five Feet Apart, which had a strong hold last weekend and should hold on even better this week. Right now we're anticipating a drop around -26% for a three-day right around $6.5 million and a domestic cume right around $36 million come Sunday evening.

Rounding out the top five will likely be Paramount's Wonder Park right around $4.7 million for a domestic cume approaching $38 million by the end of the weekend.

Outside the top five, for now, we have two more new releases, of which one or both could over-perform and challenge for a spot in the top five.

We'll begin with Neon's release of Harmony Korine's stoner comedy The Beach Bum starring Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher and Martin Lawrence just to name a few. The studio will debut the film in 1,015 locations and even though reviews are relatively weak (51% on RottenTomatoes) this one seems critic-proof enough to the extent we're anticipating a performance anywhere from $2.5-3.5 million.

The next release is Pure Flix's first R-rated feature, the anti-abortion drama Unplanned, which the studio will debut in 1,059 locations. Industry expectations for the picture are right around $3-4 million and for our forecast we're going to stick to the lower end of that range, though it is worth mentioning GVN's release of Gosnell back in October delivered a $1.16 million debut from just 673 theaters and it's possible Pure Flix's marketing reach extends beyond GVN's to the point it could garner more interest.

Additionally, Bleecker Street will be expanding the reach of Hotel Mumbai to 924 locations (+920) this weekend. Right now we're expecting a performance anywhere from $1-2 million, which should be enough to get the film into the top ten or right on the cusp.

In limited release this weekend, IFC will open Diane in three locations while Atlas will debut Trinity Seven: Heavens Library & Crimson Lord and Greenwich releases the documentary Screwball.

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.

  • Dumbo (4,259 theaters) - $52.0 M
  • Us (3,743 theaters) - $40.0 M
  • Captain Marvel (3,985 theaters) - $20.4 M
  • Five Feet Apart (2,845 theaters) - $6.3 M
  • Wonder Park (3,304 theaters) - $4.7 M
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2,783 theaters) - $4.3 M
  • The Beach Bum (1,015 theaters) - $3.2 M
  • Unplanned (1,059 theaters) - $3.0 M
  • Tyler Perry's A Madea Family Funeral (1,923 theaters) - $2.7 M
  • Hotel Mumbai (924 theaters) - $1.2 M

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