While Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is looking better than it did at midday, back up to a $30M-plus four-day weekend, two of this weekend’s wide entries, Warner Bros.’ Paddington 2 and Screen Gems’ Proud Mary are coming in below where they should with respectively $14.2M in 5th and $11.4M in 8th. I still would give Paddington 2 some benefit of the doubt because once weekend matinees hit, projections can feasibly be revised upward. All of this could spell for a potentially lower MLK four-day weekend at the B.O. than last year’s $185M. Yikes.
Steven Spielberg’s The Post is boosted by great word of mouth sealed with an A CinemaScore, reviews and awards season buzz, even if it’s not winning a lot of trophies. If you’re anti-Trump, the movie means even more to you. The 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks/Participant movie will win Friday by a hair with $6.1M to Jumanji‘s $6M with a second place 4th weekend of $21.5M. Disney take note: Fox kicks ass when it comes to handling adult-oriented product, and many expect this $50M net budgeted pic to be around for a while. This is Fox’s third post-holiday win in recent years after Hidden Figures and The Revenant.
Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi is still strong in weekend five with $15.1M over four-days in 3rd, and by end of Monday will be a little less than $5M shy of the $600M mark. Once that happens, the Rian Johnson-directed movie will be one of six titles to have crossed the six century mark. A year ago, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made a little more over MLK at $16.8M, but was also roughly $93M from where Last Jedi is.Lionsgate is only on the hook for P&A for StudioCanal’s Liam Neeson action pic The Commuter which is coming in 4th with $14.7M over four-days. Sources peg those costs to be around $30M to get this film open on 2,892 theaters. One insider argues that if film gets to $20M, the pic will be profitable for Lionsgate. Other executives in the industry can’t figure out the math on that one: Plain and simple, Lionsgate is in the hole for an estimated $30M. Still, can’t blame LG for minimizing their losses. This is Neeson’s fourth feature with Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra. These pics, like Nicolas Cage action films, are built for foreign audiences at $50m budgets. The 2014 airline hijack release Non-Stop was the most successful of the four with over $222M worldwide, but for stateside audiences these Taken take-offs are ennui, and for most guys, they’re just worth waiting on the coach for; once Porterhouse steak, now beef jerky. All of these Collet-Serra movies earn similar RT scores between 55% rotten to 60% fresh. On 3-day basis with $12.3M, The Commuter is just above the last Neeson/Collet-Serra collaboration, 2015’s Run All Night which debuted to $11M and made a little over double that in the end. The Commuter gets a B CinemaScore which is the lowest grade for a Neeson/Collet-Serra pairing after Non-Stop and Run All Night‘s A-, and below Unknown‘s B+.A $14.2M opening isn’t going to cut it profit-wise for Paddington 2, especially after the $30M Warner Bros. spent to acquire it from the Weinstein Co. in addition to any stateside P&A spend (some believe it’s around $50M). However, despite any immediate losses here, and for the sake of keeping the title in their library to come, the Burbank, CA lot should be commended for rescuing the film (produced by their Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts producer David Heyman) and keeping this classic kid’s film on track to meet its stateside date, and keeping it away from any taint from the embattled Weinstein Co post Harvey. Having completed the acquisition back in the middle of the November, Warner Bros. only had eight weeks to get marketing materials together, and to spread the word. It’s a sequel to family film that is geared to a handholder crowd, and pics aimed at that children’s demo are a challenge to cross over versus the five-quad Disney/Pixar titles or in WB’s case, the first Lego Movie. To date, the U.S. is Paddington 2‘s second highest opening territory after China’s $15.7M. A solid A CinemaScore and 100% Rotten Tomatoes prove for hopeful signs at this early stage of the weekend. It should be noted that WB was expecting a $15M-$17M start on this film whereas tracking was more bullish in the $20M sphere. RelishMix sees a glow on social with fans not only impressed by the first title, but how well the pics have adapted their source material to the screen. Paddington 2 is hindered by a largely older, non-socially activated cast.
For some reason in its hip promo one-sheets, there was a sense that Screen Gems’ Proud Mary could be more, almost in the Atomic Blonde sense of the word ($30M production cost, $18.3M opening, $51.7M domestic take). To Focus Features’ credit, they continually shopped around footage of that film showing Charlize Theron kicking men up and down the stairs, both at CinemaCon and Comic-Con. However, when you get down to it with Proud Mary, there wasn’t that much that distinguished the Pam Grier-like assassin movie in the trailer (she mostly dressed herself), on top of the fact that we’ve seen versions of John Cassavettes’ Gloria before (funny, Sony made a $30M remake of that movie starring Sharon Stone which bit the dust with a $4.1M domestic take). Sony limited critics’ screenings to Proud Mary and it ended up with a lousy 27% Rotten and film reviewers labeling it a paint-by-numbers film. While Sony is known to greatly underestimate tracking, in this case they knew the film wasn’t going to pop over $20M. Funny, but Universal would have known exactly how to make this movie work. Those that are shelling out $11.4M this weekend don’t hate Proud Mary terribly with a B+. We here that the film cost $30M, not $14M. Earlier today, with an $18M 4-day projection, we heard that was OK for a pic that cost $30M. It could have made its way to $50M. Not so good now.
But still with these blase results for Paddington 2, Proud Mary and The Commuter, budgets to B.O. are significantly better than the blood bathes that ensued last MLK with pricey pics Live by Night, Patriots Day, and Monster Trucks all DOA.
Great holds for awards season contenders Darkest Hour from Focus Features/Working Title, which will soon become director Joe Wright’s third-highest grossing title surpassing Pride and Prejudice‘s $38.4M, as well as STXfilms/eOne/Mark Gordon Company’s Molly’s Game with $22M by Monday.