SATURDAY UPDATE: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s second weekend is coming in lower than its projected $70M+ with $66M, -64%. That’s not necessarily something to get worried about, however, as sources keep telling me this pic’s running time is what’s slowing it down a bit. On the bright side, it’s Thanksgiving week, and if people aren’t seeing it this weekend, then they’re seeing it sometime this week, hands down. Furthermore, there was always bound to be a steep drop in the Friday-to-Friday coming off the Veterans Day holiday and previews a week ago, that number being -79% for $17.9M Friday. Even though the running total for Wakanda Forever at $286.7M on Sunday will be 2% behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness at the same point in time, let’s see where the Ryan Coogler-directed stands by the end of next Sunday.
Greatly missing from this weekend? Another tentpole that typically precedes the Thanksgiving stretch before a Disney Turkey Day family title. This is the weekend where Harry Potter sequels have opened, as well as Justice League. The thing is, no one likes to program a tentpole in the wake of a Marvel movie, and Wakanda Forever didn’t launch during the first weekend of November. In regards to when we’ll be back at a steady supply of tentpoles, it won’t be until March 10, which is when Paramount and Spyglass have the next Scream. Yes, there’s Disney/Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania on Feb. 17, but it’s no-stop films for everybody starting in March all the way through summer up until The Nun 2 in the post-Labor Day space.
Now, as far as the off-programming, specifically Searchlight’s and Universal’s She Said, they’re being outstripped by a Fathom Events faith-based title, The Chosen: Season 3, which is poised to do $9.9M or $10M.
With a production cost of $30M, She Said is doing the worse of the two studio attempts at adults with $2.27M opening at 2,022 theaters. A few things: First, bravo for Universal for having the audacity to get behind an important #MeToo adaptation about The New York Times’ takedown of Harvey Weinstein. It’s not on streaming, it’s on the big screen, and at the end of the day it’s about this pic’s tail in home entertainment, especially as it ratchets up buzz among awards voters. That’s where this film will be watched. Uni launched She Said during Thanksgiving week in an attempt to get as many people as they could. Those who watched gave the film an A CinemaScore and 89% positive on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak.
In the same breath, there never was an audience for this newsroom-meets-Hollywood drama outside those in the industry moviegoers in NYC and LA. Given the wonky turnout of adults during the post-pandemic, if a studio knows it doesn’t have any pulse for a film at 100%, they’re not going to spend, so it stands to reason the promo push for this Carey Mulligan-Zoe Kazan movie is in its awards ledger, not theatrical. At the end of the day, and to all studio and streamers’ benefit as we come out of the pandemic: Poor ticket sales don’t dilute your awards-seasons chances on a film anymore. As far as the future of crossover titles, specifically those that gain momentum off awards-season steam — well, that’s another story.
Demos on She Said were 62% women, 82% over 25, 59% over 35, 46% over 45, and 29% over 55. Diversity demos were 68% Caucasian, 15% Latino and Hispanic, 7% Black and 10% Asian and other.
What of The Menu? At an estimated $30M production cost and $8.87M opening, possibly $9M, it’s not a bomb, bomb, bomb — but nothing spectacular. On the upside, it’s an opening a bit ahead of Searchlight’s summer 2019 genre movie Ready or Not, which had an $8M start and legged out to $28.7M. But that movie only cost $6M before P&A. The Menu gets a B CinemaScore to Ready Or Not‘s B+. PostTrak more severe at 78% and 53% definite recommend. At the end of the day, The Menu will have a better tail than She Said.
Look, Menu is an edgy arthouse film, much like 2019’s Midsommar, which ended at $27.4M. If Menu ends its domestic run in the Midsommar and Ready or Not range, it will have done its job. Searchlight was smart to open the pic during a week when it potentially could capture the most audience versus early December before Christmas. It’s guy-leaning at 54%, 65% between 17-34 (remember, if arthouse thrives going forward, it’s on this demo). Diversity pull was 53% Caucasian, 20% Latino and Hispanic, 12% Black and 15% Asian/other. The West and Southwest were the best markets for Menu, with six of the top 10 theaters from those areas. Brooklyn Alamo was No. 1 on Friday.
Is adult counterprogramming dead? No. These are dark, niche films aimed at upscale audiences. Remember what we wrote about product being the key driver to arthouses? What could still work? Broad-appealing adult movies like Ford v. Ferrari, which launched over the pre-Thanksgiving space back in 2019 and made its way to $117.6M. Warner Bros.’ Elvis proved this summer that there’s still appetite for broad -appealing, upbeat, vibrant original movies for adults. So don’t get cynical.
A faith-based title overperforming in a pre-holiday space is nothing exceptional, but to be expected. The Bible Belt South and Midwest are strong here. Dallas, Salt Lake City, Houston, Phoenix and Tampa are top markets for Chosen.
1) Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Dis), 4,396 theaters, Fri $17.9M (-79%),, 3-day $66M (-64%)/Total: $286.7M/Wk 2
2.) The Chosen: Season 3 (Fath) 2012 theaters, Fri $3.48M, 3-day $9.9M/Wk 1
3.) The Menu (Sea), 3,211 theaters Fri $3.6M, 3-day $8.87M/Wk 1
4.) Black Adam (WB) 3,372 (-231) theaters, Fri $1.15M (-59%), 3-day $4.1M (-49%), Total $156.6M/Wk 5
5.) Ticket to Paradise (Uni) 3,268 (-372) theaters, Fri $960K (-56%), 3 day $3.1M (-47%), Total $61.4M/Wk 5
6.) She Said (Uni), 2,022 theaters, Fri $830K, 3-day $2.27M/Wk 1
7.) Lyle, Lyle Crocodile (Sony) 2,307 (-179) theaters, Fri $410K, 3-day $1.78M (-44%), Total $43M/Wk 7
8.) Smile (Par) 1,569 (-702) theaters, Fri $335K, 3-day $1.14M (-51%)/Total $104.5M/Wk 8
9.) Prey for the Devil (LG) 1,389 (-775) theaters, Fri $263K, 3-day $900K (-53%), Total $18.2M/Wk 4
10.) Drishyam 2 (Yash Raj) Fri $280K, 3-day $690K, Wk 1
Total box office for the weekend: est. $102.1M (-51% from a week ago; +45% from weekend 46 a year ago, -6% from the same frame in 2019.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Disney and Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is eyeing a 65% second weekend decline at this point, which would translate to about $64M after a Friday with $17M-$19M. The pic has a shot at hitting $70M. The 10-day running total for Wakanda Forever at its current rate would land at $284.7M at 4,396 theaters, 3% behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness at the same point.
What Wakanda has that the Doctor did not is 45% K-12 schools out and 17% colleges on Monday heading to everyone off on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Note that Black Friday typically is an enormous box office day. Expect Black Panther 2 to lead over the Wednesday-Sunday holiday spread.
A very strong No. 2 is The Chosen: Season 3, of which Fathom Events is showing off episodes 1 & 2 at 2,012 theaters. It’s looking at $3.7M today and $10M for the weekend. Logline for the third season of Angel Studios’ drama: Jesus completes a sermon that turns the world upside down, all 12 disciples (including newcomer Judas) are ready to follow him to the ends of the earth. But problems remain. Matthew wrestles with estrangement from his family. Andrew visits an imprisoned John the Baptist. Mary and the women must find a source of income. Simon and Eden face the costs of following Jesus. Most importantly, the disciples face their biggest challenge yet when Jesus sends them out, two by two, to preach and perform miracles without him.
Searchlight’s The Menu is looking at $8M, with the possibility of emulating Barbarian and crossing $10M. It’s doing at least $3M today including previews at 3,211 theaters.
Fourth place goes to New Line/DC’s Black Adam at 3,372 theaters, with a $915K fifth Friday, $3.4M weekend, -58% and running total of $155.9M by Sunday.
Fifth goes to Universal’s Ticket to Paradise at 3,268 theaters, which is seeing a fifth Friday of $880K, $2.9M weekend and running total of $61.2M. The George Clooney-Julia Roberts romantic comedy also is available on PVOD.
Universal’s newsroom/Harvey Weinstein drama She Said at 2,022 theaters is spotting $800K and a $2.25M opening in sixth place.
PREVIOUS FRIDAY AM EXCLUSIVE: Searchlight’s absurdist genre horror comedy The Menu got off to a promising start with $1M+ in Thursday night previews, we hear. That number is up there with recent comps such as Barbarian, which did $850K on its Thursday night before a $10.5M opening, and The Northman, another Anya Taylor-Joy movie, which posted $1.35M before a $12.2M start.
The opening weekend estimate for director Mark Mylod’s The Menu, which also stars Ralph Fiennes, Nicholas Hoult, John Leguizamo and others, is around $8M. If this movie gets to $10M, it would be a nice oasis for counterprogramming in the face of Disney and Marvel Studios’ mammoth sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ,which is expected to do a second weekend in the $70M range. That preview number for The Menu includes some cash from Wednesday and previews that began at 5 p.m. Thursday. The pic is 91% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and currently has a good audience score of 83%.
Wakanda Forever posted a $7.5M Thursday, -8% from Wednesday, for a first week of $220.7M. The pic crossed $400M worldwide Wednesday.
She Said, Universal’s movie about the New York Times reporters who exposed movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, isn’t expected to do much this weekend, in the low single digits. Previews from 1,600 theaters that began at 5 p.m. were only $160K. Remember, despite any low grosses from these arthouse-type films in the post-pandemic era, their awards-season chances won’t be slowed. I mean, some of the big awards contenders don’t even report their box office grosses. She Said is 85% certified fresh critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and has a 92% audience score from the few who’ve seen it.