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'Men in Black' and 'Shaft' to Continue a Summer of Slumping Sequels

by Brad Brevet
 

 
June 13, 2019

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Sony's Men in Black: International brought in an estimated $10.4 million on Friday and the studio is now projecting a soft, $26+ million opening for the $110 million production. The film received a "B" CinemaScore.

Even worse news comes in for WB's Shaft, which brought in an estimated $2.7 million on Friday and is looking to settle outside the top five with a three-day gross around $7-8 million. The film received an "A" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Amazon's Late Night expanded this weekend into 2,220 locations and brought in an estimated $1.66 million and is looking at a three-day performance around $4-5+ million. The film received a "B+" CinemaScore from Friday's crowd.

Lastly, Focus's The Dead Don't Die brought in an estimated $920k on Friday and is looking at a three-day performance around $2.5 million.

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: Sony's Men in Black: International took in $3.1 million for Thursday night previews starting at 4 PM in 3,472 locations. Comparatively, Warcraft also brought in $3.1 million in previews ahead of a $24 million opening while San Andreas also did 3.1M and opened with $54.5 million. One last comparison that may be worth noting is Bumblebee, which brought in $2.85 million in previews ahead of a $21.6 million start. Sony is continuing to expect a $30 million debut for the sci-fi comedy sequel, which begins playing in 4,224 locations today.

Warner Bros. reports Shaft delivered $600,000 from previews in ~2,800 locations yesterday beginning at 6PM.

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: While the last two weeks have featured several struggling new releases, and this weekend looks to be no different, the summer movie season is actually up +12.6% compared to last year and currently ranks as the second largest summer movie season of all-time through June 12. However, a lot of that is due to Disney and Marvel's Avengers: Endgame and it's looking like Disney and Pixar's Toy Story 4 will need to serve as the film that shifts the current struggles the season's new releases have endured. As for this weekend's new releases, neither Sony's Men in Black International nor WB's Shaft are looking to deliver big dollars, and depending on how bad it gets, there might be a race for the #1 spot on the weekend chart.

Things get interesting at the top of the box office as Universal and Illumination's The Secret Life of Pets 2 would love to repeat at #1 despite a disappointing, $46.6 million debut last weekend, but Sony's Men in Black International is an early favorite to take the spot, though that could be up for debate.

Working in its favor, Men in Black is debuting in 4,224 locations, which is over 400 more than previously estimated. The studio is anticipating a debut around $30 million, which is not exactly aggressive or impressive given MIB 3 opened with $54.5 million back in May 2012. However, as the last few weeks have shown us, the market has been saturated with franchise films as of late and many have been under-performing. Like last weekend's new releases, reviews for Men in Black are well below that of its predecessors — including the poorly received Men in Black II — and a look at IMDb page view data continues the trend with the film pacing behind last weekend's disappointment Dark Phoenix.

All told, we're struggling to find much reason to anticipate an opening over $30 million outside of the fact the film is opening in over 4,200 locations. For now we're forecasting an opening around $28 million, which itself seems high as we wouldn't be surprised to see this one end up closer to $25-26 million come end of day Sunday.

Internationally, which is where this one is going to have to hope it performs well, Men in Black will debut in 92% of the international marketplace including openings in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, China, Japan, Korea, Australia, Brazil and Mexico. Key markets not opening this weekend are the Middle East, Indonesia, Belgium, Netherlands and Italy.

Looking to upset Men in Black's bid for a #1 opening is Universal and Illumination's Secret Life of Pets 2, which struggled last weekend, opening with less than half of the $104 million debut for the 2016 original, which dipped -51% in its second weekend. Whether Pets 2 can improve on the original's fall will decide whether it can challenge MIB for that #1 spot.

The question is, just what kind of word of mouth is the film receiving? It has topped the daily box office all week and received an "A-" CinemaScore from opening day audiences, the same as the first film. And while critics were down on the film, the audience score for the sequel stands at 91% on RottenTomates compared to a 62% score for the original and the sequel's IMDb score is just a fraction below where the original was at the same point in the release cycle. So can the sequel improve on the original's second weekend dip? We're currently expecting a -47% drop and a second weekend right around $25 million, but a drop closer to -40% would put the weekend performance around $28 million, which just might be enough for a repeat at #1 as the film inches toward $95 million domestically.

In third, look for Disney's Aladdin to continue its decent run as it recently topped Maleficent's domestic run and should finish near $262 million by the end of this weekend. We're currently forecasting a -37% drop as the film enters its fourth weekend in release and a three-day performance around $15-16 million.

WB's release of Shaft is eying a fourth place finish in its debut and its reviews aren't much to write home about either. The film will debut in nearly 3,000 theaters with the studio anticipating an opening around $15 million. A look at IMDb page view data, however, is not the least bit promising. The film is pacing well behind star Samuel L. Jackson's 2017 hit The Hitman's Bodyguard ($21.3m opening) and is even well behind the likes of The Nice Guys ($11.2m opening) and even Keanu ($9.4m opening). That said, we are expecting the brand awareness to carry the film to some degree, pushing it to somewhere around $14 million for the weekend, but going any higher is a difficult task. Netflix is handling the film's distribution internationally.

Look for Fox's Dark Phoenix to round out the top five following a disappointing debut last weekend. As a basis for comparison, X-Men: Apocalypse cratered by more than 65% in its second weekend back in 2016. Of course, Apocalypse debuted over an extended holiday weekend, which pushed its opening higher and therefore justifies a larger drop. As for Dark Phoenix, while it didn't open over a holiday weekend, it suffered not only the worst reviews of the franchise, but also the worst opening by more than $20 million. So to expect a large drop would hardly be groundbreaking. Right now we're forecasting a -60% dip and a three-day performance around $13 million, which would put the film's domestic gross right around $58 million by the end of the weekend.

Outside the top five we find Amazon Studios's release of Late Night. The film starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling was acquired by Amazon out of Sundance for a record $13 million and debuted in four locations last weekend with a solid, $61,576 per theater average. This weekend it expands into 2,218 locations with industry expectations anywhere from $5-9 million. The lower end of that range seems a reasonable expectation for this film, which has received strong reviews from critics and should, at the very least, deliver a nationwide expansion around $5-6 million.

In limited release, Focus will release Jim Jarmusch's star-studded zombie comedy The Dead Don't Die in 613 locations. Should the film over-perform it could possibly work its way into the top ten, but for now we're anticipating a debut around $2 million or so, finishing on the outside looking in.

Lastly, Roadside will release American Woman starring Sienna Miller, Christina Hendricks and Aaron Paul into 117 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.

  • Men in Black International (4,224 theaters) - $28.0 M
  • The Secret Life of Pets 2 (4,564 theaters) - $25.0 M
  • Aladdin (3,556 theaters) - $15.6 M
  • Shaft (2,952 theaters) - $14.0 M
  • Dark Phoenix (3,721 theaters) - $13.1 M
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (3,207 theaters) - $7.4 M
  • Rocketman (3,052 theaters) - $7.3 M
  • Late Night (2,218 theaters) - $5.5 M
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2,033 theaters) - $4.5 M
  • Ma (1,782 theaters) - $3.2 M

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