ACTUALS, MONDAY PM: Warner Bros./Village Roadshow was slightly higher in the three-day actuals reported today with $64.6M and a $200.4M running domestic cume in its fifth frame (vs. yesterday’s weekend estimate of $64.3M and $200.1M). Originally, Warner Bros. was expecting to make $17.28M on Sunday, but their fall from Saturday was softer than anticipated, off 38% with $17.77M.  Out of all the films on the charts, American Sniper posted the best per theater with $17,444.

birdman 9A majority of this season’s Oscar contenders saw big boosts due to their expansions. Fox Searchlight/New Regency’s Birdman which rallied at the SAGs with a best feature ensemble win and at the PGAs with the Darryl F. Zanuck award for best theatrical motion picture saw a 26% boost with $1.9M and a domestic cume in its 15th weekend of $30.9M. Other best picture nominees reaping the Oscar halo effect and seeing weekend gains included Whiplash (+114%), The Theory Of Everything (+30%) , The Grand Budapest Hotel (+17%) and TWC’s The Imitation Game which held sixth place for the third week in a row, +2% with a running U.S./Canada cume of $60.45M. Still Alice, from Sony Pictures Classics, is reaping B.O. from Julianne Moore’s best actress wins at the Golden Globes and SAGs, seeing a 102% surge in its second sesh with $397K from 26 theaters and a cume through two weekends of $701K.

The final weekend and annual figures also show an uptick over yesterday’s estimates with the frame of Jan. 1-25 posting $875.8M, 9.4% ahead of 2014 at this point in time.  The total weekend came in at $158.46M, up 34% from the same FSS last year which was $118.1M.

This Friday, three wide releases are aiming to counterprogram Sunday’s Super Bowl: Paramount’s PG-13 teen sci film Project Almanac in an estimated 2,800 venuesOpen Road’s R-rated thriller The Loft in 1,800 and Relativity’s Kevin Costner racial drama Black Or White in 1,500.

Top 20 films, actual box for the weekend of Jan. 23-25 from Rentrak Theatrical:

1. American Sniper (WB)., $64.6M (-28%), 3,705 locations, $17,444 average, $200.4M, Wk 5

2.The Boy Next Door, (UNI), $14.9M, 2,602 locations, $5,730 average, $14.9M*, Wk 1
*includes Thursday previews

3. Paddington, (TWC/Dimenion), $12.27M (-35%), 3,355 locations, $3,656 average, $39.9M, Wk 2

4.The Wedding Ringer, (Sony), $11.3M (-45%), 3,003 locations, $3,766 average, $39.39M, Wk 2

5. Taken 3 (Fox), $7.4M (-50%), 2,909 locations, $2,548 average, $75.9M, Wk 3.

The Imitation Game6. The Imitation Game (TWC), $6.9M (+2%), 2,025 locations, $3,430 average, $60.45M, Wk 9

7. Strange Magic (Dis) $5.5M, 3,020 locations, $1,823 average, $5,504,441, Wk 1

8. Selma (Par), $5.4M (-38%), 2,046 locations, $2,648 average, $39.1M, Wk 5 .

9.  Mortdecai (LG), $4.2M, 2,648 locations, $1,586 average, $4.2M, Wk 1

10. Into The Woods, (Dis), $3.9M (-43%), 2,270 locations, $1,711 average, $121.5M, Wk 5.

11. Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (WB), $2.77M (-43%), 1,444 locations, $1,921 average, $249.5M, Wk 6

12. Unbroken (Uni), $2.1M (-51%), 1,606 locations, $1,290 average, $112.4M, Wk 5

13. Birdman (SEA), $1.9M (+26%), 833 locations, $2,327 average, $30.9M, Wk 15

14.  Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (Fox), $1.79M (-53%), 1,370 locations, $1,304 average, $108.6M, Wk 6

15. Blackhat (Uni), $1.67M (-57%), 2,568 locations, $650 average, $7.1M, Wk 2

16. The Theory Of Everything (Foc), $1.26M (+30%), 858 locations, $1,472 average, $29.1M, Wk 12

17. Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (LG), $1.04M (-44%), 676 locations, $1,539 average, $334.3M, Wk 10

18. Wild (Sea), $957K (-34%), 505 locations, $1,895 average, $34.7M, Wk 8

19. Cake (Free/Cinelou) $919K, 482 locations, $1,907 average, $919K, Wk 1

20. Spare Parts (LG), $808K (-40%), 424 locations, $1,906 average, $2.6M,  Wk 2


whiplash22. Whiplash (SPC), $782K (+114%), 567 locations, $1,379 average, $7.6M, Wk 16

24. Foxcatcher (SPC), $562K (-43%), 516 locations, $1,089 average, $10.97M, Wk 11

26. Still Alice (SPC), $397K (+102%), 38 locations, $10,450, $701K, Wk 2

42. The Grand Budapest Hotel (FSL), $39.134 (+17%), 62 locations, $631 average,  $59.2M / Wk 47

44. Black Sea (FOC) $37,675, 5 locations, $7,535 average, $37,675Wk 1

53. Red Army (SPC), $20,914, 3 locations, $6,971 average, $26,848, Wk 1 (includes qualifying run)

54. Song One (TFA), $20,200,  27 locations, $748 average, $20,200, Wk 1

FINAL UPDATE, SUNDAY AM: Warner Bros. is reporting that American Sniper will raise its domestic cume to $200.1M through Sunday after a massive $64.4M weekened at 3,705 theaters, the third-highest weekend ever in January, behind Sniper’s opening last weekend, and Avatar’s third FSS of $68.5M.

MortdecaiThe story was wildly different for Mortdecai, which went nowhere in its debut weekend. Despite a cast that featured Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Ewan McGregor and Gwyneth Paltrow, it’s more like Mortality, and headed toward a dead-on-arrival $4.1 million opening.

For Sniper, should it hold its estimate into tomorrow, this weekend would mark a mere 28-percent slip – the best second-week hold for a wide release ever for a film that debuted with more than $85M. Previous to this, the best big debuts to hold an audience were 2004’s Shrek 2 (down 33 percent in its second frame) and 2002’s Spider-Man (down 38 percent). American Sniper is marching toward $300M, a mark only six Warner Bros. films have passed.

“Many exhibitors are hearing from their theater managers that the infrequent moviegoers who go only two to three times a year, are coming out to see this movie,” said Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman. “This a movie about patriotism, recognizing heroes, those who served; it’s about family. There are those who feel it’s anti-war movie. However, there are only 10 films in CinemaScore’s history that have done an A+ in every single category, and that’s telling, because no matter how one views American Sniper, everybody ends up in the same place.”

After posting a solid Friday of $18.3M, American Sniper shot up 58 percent Saturday, with another $28.8M.  The prediction is that it will fall off 40 percent Sunday, adding another $17.3M.

Across the South and the heartland, American Sniper was playing strong: On Saturday, Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla., both were up 63 percent, and Charlotte, N.C. was up 64 percent. But it wasn’t just in the South. Cleveland was up 73 percent and  even D.C. was up 102 percent.

The film’s 388 premium large-format screens did an estimated 11 percent of American Sniper’s weekend gross with $6.951m (not counting IMAX). The PLF’s per-screen-average was $17,916. Cinemark’s 107 runs made 27% of the PLF gross, followed by Regal (18.3%), Cineplex Canada (15.1%), Carmike (7.7%) and AMC (5.9%).

American Sniper‘ is resonating with audiences across America who are seeking out the large format experience and we are proud that the per-screen-average for Cinemark XD and other private label PLF theaters beat IMAX for the second week in a row,‎” said Cinemark CEO Tim Warner.

It wasn’t just American Sniper that contributed to a big January so far, either. Several counter-programming films also thrived, including Jennifer Lopez’s The Boy Next Door, family film Paddington and awards contender The Imitation Game. For now, 2015 is pacing ahead of 2014 through the first 25 days of January, up 9.3 percent with $874.8M, according to Rentrak Theatrical.

This weekend alone grossed $158M – a number more typical of a four-day MLK holiday weekend a decade ago. This weekend is up 34% vs. the same frame last year, which made $118M. Weinstein Co.’s The Imitation Game raised its cume to $60.6M, edging past Fox Searchlight’s The Grand Budapest Hotel ($59.1M), which held the title as 2014’s highest-grossing indie film for much of last year. Among this year’s best pic Oscar nominees, The Imitation Game is second behind only American Sniper in total gross.

Boy Next DoorNewcomer The Boy Next Door from Universal and Blumhouse opened in second with $15M on 2,602 theaters, slightly higher than the studio’s low-teens projection. Star Jennifer Lopez’s latest thriller ranks as her best January opener ever, beating the romantic comedy The Wedding Plannerwhich opened to $13.5M on the way to $60M.

The Boy Next Door also improved upon her previous thriller bows,  Angel Eyes ($9.2M) and Enough ($14M) and more than doubled her last outing, the Jason Statham action film, Parker ($7M). Boy is already close to eclipsing that film’s total domestic ($17.6M) Boy drew 71% females with strong regional plays in Miami, the South and central Southwest, lending to the film’s strong Latino turnout of 44%.

“According to our exit polls, Jennifer Lopez was the compelling reason why audiences checked out our movie,” said Nicholas Carpou, Universal’s president of domestic distribution.

With two family choices in the market, many opted to see Paddington over Disney’s Strange Magic.

Paddington took third in its second sesh with $12.39M, slipping just 35% from its opening with a total cume of $40M. Disney/Lucasfilm’s Strange Magic didn’t work any magic with $5.5M in seventh. According to one studio executive, the indication that the film smelled like a bomb: “When it comes to animated films, Disney usually stakes out a date on the release schedule far in advance, even years. They dropped it on there in November. When it comes to family films, kids do have a say in what they see, but if mom can’t tolerate, forget about the family even going.” Demos for Strange Magic were 56% females, 44% males. Families were 71% and adults 24%. Kids under 12 repped 38% of the audience.

Sony-Screen Gems The Wedding Ringer took fourth in its second frame, off 44% with a three-day of $11.6M and a total of $39.7M. Sony is ecstatic: With this weekend’s gross, Kevin Hart‘s Screen Gems movies will have generated over a combined quarter of a billion dollars at the worldwide box office on budgets under $75 million.

Lionsgate’s Mortdecai died as expected in ninth with $4.1M.  Despite the bomb, Johnny Depp fans did in fact show up, according to exit polls for the R-rated comedy, evident in the films older-skewing female crowd (76% over the age of 25 and 52% female/48% male).

As has always been the redeeming factor on Depp’s stateside bombs, foreign audiences will whisk Mortdecai out of box-office hell (while Alcon/WB’s Transcendence bombed worldwide, it made close to four times its domestic take of $23M with $80M abroad. Mortdecai‘s international pre-licensing strategy and financial partnership with Odd Lot mitigates Lionsgate’s exposure.

Studio-reported top 10 films
1). American Sniper (WB), 3,705 theaters (+150)/ $18.27M Fri. /$28.8M Sat. (+58%)/ $17.28M Sun. (-40%)/3-Day: $64.3M (-28%)/Total cume: $200.1M/ Wk 5

2). The Boy Next Door (UNI), 2,602 theaters / $5.69M Fri./ $5.76M Sat. (+1%)/ $3.5M Sun. (-39%)/ 3-Day: $15M/ Wk 1

3). Paddington (TWC), 3,355 theaters (+52) / $2.6M Fri. /$5.9M Sat. (+128%)/ $3.8M Sun. (-35%)/ 3-Day: $12.39M (-35%) / Total cume: $40M /Wk 2

4). The Wedding Ringer (Sony), 3,003 theaters (0)/ $3.3M Fri./$5.2M Sat. (+58%)/ $3.1M Sun. (-40%)/ 3-Day: $11.6M (-44%)/ Total cume: $39.7M /Wk 2

5). Taken 3 (Fox), 2,909 theaters (-685)/$2M Fri/$3.5M Sat. (+70%)/ $2M Sun. (-42%)/3-Day: $7.6M (-48%)/Total cume: $76M/ Wk 3

6). The Imitation Game (TWC), 2,025 theaters (+414) / $1.9M Fri./ $3.25M Sat. (+69%)/ $1.95M Sun. (-40%)/3-Day: $7.1M (+5%)/Total cume: $60.6M / Wk 9

7). Strange Magic (DIS), 3,020 theaters/ $1.3M Fri./ $2.57M Sat. (+98%)/ $1.66M Sun. (-35%)/ 3-Day: $5.5M/ Wk 1

8). Selma (Par), 2,046 theaters (-189) / $1.4M Fri./$2.4M Sat. (+65%)/ $1.5M Sun. (-37%)/ 3-Day: $5.5M (-37%)/Total cume: $39.2M / Wk 5

9). Mortdecai (LGF), 2,648 theaters / $1.47M Fri./ $1.7M Sat. (+16%)/ $945K Sun. (-45%)/3-Day: $4.1M/Wk 1

10). Into The Woods (DIS), 2,270 theaters (-488) / $958K Fri./ $1.8M Sat. (+92%)/ $1M Sun. (-41%)/ 3-Day: $3.88M (-43%)/Total cume: $121.4M / Wk 5


Birdman (FSL) 833 theaters (+362)/$490K Fri./$910K Sat. (+86%)/ $515 Sun. (-43%)/3-day cume: $1.9M (-16%)/Total cume: $30.9M/Wk 15

Blackhat (UNI), 2,568 theaters (1)/ $475K Fri. /$745K Sat. (+57%)/ $424K Sun. (-43%)/ 3-Day cume: $1.6M (-58%)/Total cume: $7M / Wk 2

The Theory of Everything (FOC), 858 theaters (+349)/ $323K Fri./ $586K Sat. (+81%)/ $391K Sun. (-33%)/ 3-day cume: $1.3M (+34%)/Total cume: $29M / Wk 12

Cake (FREE) 482 theaters /$267K Fri./$396K Sat. (+48%)/ $340K Sun. (-14%)/ 3-day cume: $1M/Wk 1

Whiplash (SPC) 567 theaters (+378)/ 3-day cume: $787K (+114%)/Total cume: $7.6M/Wk 16

Black Sea (FOC) 5 theaters /$12K Fri./ $14K Sat. (+17%)/ $9K Sun. (-36%)/ 3-day cume: $35K/Wk 1

Boyhood (IFC), 197 theaters (+64) / $46K Fri./ $80K Sat. (+74%)/ $48K Sun. (-40%)/ 3-day cume: $174K (-21%)/Total cume: $24.89M/ Wk 29

The Grand Budapest Hotel (FSL), 62 theaters (+24) /$8.6K Fri. /$16.7K Sat. (+94%)/ $10.8K Sun. (-35%)/ $3-day cume: $36.15K (+8%)/Total cume: $59.2M / Wk 47

Song One (TFA) 27 theaters /$9K Fri./$7.5K Sat. (-18%)/ $4.8K Sun. (-35%)/ 3-day cume: $22K/Wk 1

PREVIOUS, SATURDAY 3AM: With Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s American Sniper shooting down more box office records this weekend with an updated industry projection of $61.2M, another star-studded bomb went off at the B.O. following last weekend’s 
mortdecai 3Blackhat debacle: Johnny Depp’s $60M R-rated comedy Mortdecai flatlined with an estimated $1.6M on Friday at 2,648 theaters, on track for a horrendous $4.6M weekend in eighth place – far below the $10-$12M that distributor Lionsgate was expecting for the OddLot co-production. Among Depp’s wide releases, that bow is lower than his 2011 Hunter S. Thompson adaptation The Rum Diary, which posted $5.1M and was also overpriced ($45M) in relation to its final domestic cume ($13M). It’s Depp’s fourth flop domestically after Alcon/WB’s Transcendence ($100M budget, $23M domestic B.O.), The Lone Ranger ($215M budget, $89M domestic) and Rum Diary (This is outside his ensemble work in Disney’s Into the Woods which is looking to take tenth this weekend with a projected cume through Sunday of $121.29M).

Has Depp’s predilection for playing goofy, absurdist personalities alienated his fans? The answer is a resounding “Yes” as Mortdecai, in which Depp plays a posh, curly mustachioed Euro art dealer, got a C+ CinemaScore, not too far above Rum Diary’s C, and on par with Transcendence’s C+ (granted, Depp was playing more dramatic in that film, but his cyber-afterlife self was too mindboggling for the masses).

Mortdecai marks the second outing for both Depp and director David Koepp (who excelled at writing blockbuster scripts like Jurassic Park and Mission: Impossible) after 2004’s $40M Stephen King adaptation Secret Window. That one  also failed to send shockwaves through the B.O. with a final domestic of $48M. When Lionsgate and OddLot signed a co-financing deal in fall 2013, Mortdecai, based on Kyril Bonfiglioli’s 1970s novels, was trumpeted as one of the studio’s first projects. Depp made this bad decision after Lone Ranger opened in July 2013, and within weeks of wrapping Transcendence.

mortdecaiThree weeks before its opening, Mortdecai was showing tracking figures on par with Blackhat’s bottom dwelling figures. Both first choice and unaided awareness (when any person polled can cite any film title opening without being prodded by the pollster) were in the low single digits of 1-2%.  Translation: It was on no-one’s radar, despite a heavy media campaign that launched six weeks out. Some highlights: Marketing integrations and sponsorships across 14 networks with nearly 100 million impressions, and custom vignettes of the cast on Comedy Central, E!, Bravo and TBS (specifically during Conan). A Mortdecai Twitter handle @PartTimeRogue was created six months out in the voice of the character collecting 21K followers (as a measure, Disney’s Lone Ranger handle had 16K while a Johnny Depp News site mortdecai 2has 74K).  Relish Mix, which measures celebrity social media marketing, showed Gwyneth Paltrow as the lead social driver for the film (1.1M FB, 2M TW) as well as actress Olivia Munn (600k TW). Munn’s Conan interview, in which she comically describes Depp grabbing her breast during production drew 4M Facebook video views. There was also a promo celebrating Mortdecai’s mustache on shopping website The Art of Shaving.

By January 16, none of this seemed to be persuading anybody with first choice and unaided awareness still at 2-4%. Definite Awareness remained in the low 30 percentile just like Blackhat. Critics didn’t help, giving Mortdecai a 13% Rotten Tomatoes score and a critical consensus summation of “aggressively strange and willfully unfunny.” Lionsgate tried to control critical word of mouth by nixing media screenings and shuttling select critics and media to the LA premiere on January 21, which one insider remarked “was an attempt to put them among a crowd that would deliver a positive response, hoping to sway their opinions.”

Warner Bros. sets date for American SniperIn happier news, American Sniper took in $18M on Friday; and if its projected $61.2M second wide weekend holds, that will be the third highest haul for a film playing in January behind Sniper’s opening weekend of $89.3M and Avatar’s third FSS of $68.5M. It’s also the second best weekend for any film that went wide (or opened) in January.

Universal’s Jennifer Lopez thriller The Boy Next Door was the only new wide release to crack the top five and took second on Friday with an estimated $5.56M at 2,602 venues. The film is now looking to make $15.3M which will be a FSS take that is close to four times its $4M budget. The film has a B- CinemaScore.

paddingtonFamilies on Friday night showed more interest in seeing TWC-Dimension’s Paddington, shelling out $2.57M in 3,355 theaters, than Disney-Lucasfilm’s Strange Magic, which only hooked $1.2M at 3,020. Not even matinees are expected to push the goblin-fairy redux of A Midsummer Night’s Dream up the charts. Unlike The Boy Next Door, which is beating its B- CinemaScore in its opening, Strange Magic is being hindered by it. Over three days, Paddington is going to hold its spot in third with $11.8M, off 37% and a total cume by Sunday of $39.5M.

In its second Friday, the Kevin Hart and Josh Gad R-rated comedy The Wedding Ringer made $2M, down 51% from a week ago. It looks to slot fourth through Sunday with $10.95M, down 47% with a cume of $38.9M, which is legging pretty close to the comp that the industry pegged the Jeremy Garelick-helmed title to: About Last Night.

Cinelou’s Cake released via Freestyle is estimated to make $300K from 482 venues with a $924K weekend. Cake’s weekend is more robust than the bows of Jennifer Aniston’s critically acclaimed titles 2006 Friends With Money ($589K on 28) and 2002’s The Good Girl ($152K from four), though those were on significantly fewer screens during the first weekend. Aniston is nominated for a best lead film actress SAG award this Sunday.

1). American Sniper (WB), 3,705 theaters (+150)/ $18M Fri. (-40%) /3-Day: $61.2M (-31)/Total cume: $197.7M/ Wk 5

2). The Boy Next Door (UNI), 2,602 theaters / $5.56M Fri./ 3-Day: $15.3M/ Wk 1

3). Paddington (TWC), 3,355 theaters (+52) / $2.57M Fri. (-45%) / 3-Day: $11.8M (-37%) / Total cume: $39.5M /Wk 2

4). The Wedding Ringer (Sony), 3,003 theaters (0)/ $3.2M Fri. (-53%) / 3-Day: $10.95M (-47%)/ Total cume: $38.9M /Wk 2

5). Taken 3 (Fox), 2,909 theaters (-685)/$2M Fri (-51%). / 3-Day: $6.9M (-53%)/Total cume: $75.1M/ Wk 3

6). The Imitation Game (TWC), 2,025 theaters (+414) / $1.8M Fri. (-2%) / 3-Day: $6.5M (-3%)/Total cume: $59.68M / Wk 9

7). Selma (Par), 2,046 theaters (-189) / $1.5M Fri. (-%)/ 3-Day: $5.49M (-37%)/Total cume: $39.45M / Wk 5

8). Mortdecai (LGF), 2,648 theaters / $1.6M Fri./ 3-Day: $4.6M/Wk 1

9). Strange Magic (DIS), 3,020 theaters  / $1.2M Fri./ 3-Day: $4.3M/ Wk 1

10). Into The Woods (DIS), 2,270 theaters (-488) / $1M Fri. (-39%)/ 3-Day: $3.8M (-43%)/Total cume: $121.29M / Wk 5


Blackhat (UNI), 2,568 theaters (1)/ $476 Fri. (-66%)/3-Day cume: $1.6M (-59%)/Total cume: $4.8M / Wk 2

Oscar Best Pictures: (outside of the top 10, all of them added more runs)

Birdman (FSL) 833 theaters (+362)/$487K Fri. (+20%)/ 3-day cume: $1.85M (+20%)/Total cume: $30.8M/Wk 15

The Theory of Everything (FOC), 858 theaters (+349)/ $330K Fri. (+33%)/ 3-day cume: $1.2K (+32%)/Total cume: $29M / Wk 12

Whiplash (SPC) 567 theaters (+378)/$202K Fri. (+120%)/3-day cume: $802K (+120%)/Total cume: $7.6M/Wk 16

Boyhood (IFC), 197 theaters (+64) / $58K Fri. (+5%)/3-day cume: $229K (+3%)/Total cume: $24.95M/ Wk 29

New Releases:

Cake (FREE) 482 theaters /$300K Fri./ 3-day cume: $924K/Wk 1

Song One (TFA) 27 theaters /$22K Fri./ 3-day cume: $71K/Wk 1

Black Sea (FOC) 5 theaters /$11K Fri./ 3-day cume: $37K/Wk 1

PREVIOUS, 12:57 PM: Noon industry estimates are flying in, and Warner Bros’ American Sniper is looking at another enormous record-setting weekend with a projected $59.3M. If that number holds through Sunday, it would be the second-highest weekend ever for a film in January, after Sniper‘s gigantic FSS of $89.3M. Friday alone looks to be $17.45M, which is just under what the Clint Eastwood film posted on MLK Monday ($17.9M). By the end of the weekend, American Sniper will be short of $200M by $5M in its domestic cume — again, just jaw-dropping numbers for this war-hero film. One exhibitor chief told Deadline, “American Sniper is playing everywhere, not just the flyover states. There’s a been a little controversy about the film from blue and red audiences, but that’s what makes it great: It’s a film that has moviegoers talking.”

Universal’s Blumhouse thriller The Boy Next Door starring Jennifer Lopez is looking quite sexy at No. 2. The $4M film is Boy Next Dooron a track to make $16.5M and a potential $6M Friday. Following Boy Next Door are last weekend’s holdovers Paddington and The Wedding Ringer eyeing spots three and four with respective estimated weekend takes of $12.5M and $11M. Both films are looking at cumes around $40M by Sunday. Taken 3 in its third weekend is looking at $7.05M with a $2M Friday, raising its cume on Sunday to about $75.5M. It’s not quite certain exactly where newcomers Disney’s Strange Magic and Lionsgate’s Mortdecai will rank. Strange Magic is being estimated at $1.5M for Friday and a $6M weekend, while the R-rated Johnny Depp absurdist comedy is looking at $2M today with $5.8M for the weekend. Again, these are early third-party estimates. As we get closer to midnight tonight and multiplexes close out their cash drawers, the numbers become more certain, but this is how the weekend is looking at this point.

UPDATED, FRIDAY, 8:33 AM: Thursday night preview figures are being posted, with Universal’s Blumhouse thriller The Boy Next Door racking up $500K in 1,869 theaters. Meanwhile, Warner Bros’ American Sniper had a solid week grossing $132.3M overall, with Thursday generating $7.65M. The film came close to making $10M on Tuesday, the day after the MLK holiday. Current domestic cume for the Clint Eastwood film stands at $135.8M prior to its fifth frame. More to come.

MortdecaiPREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY PM: Prior to Super Bowl next weekend, three wide releases are looking to get a leg up before the big game this Friday — Lionsgate’s Johnny Depp -Gwyneth Paltrow period comedy Mortdecai, Universal’s The Boy Next Door as well as Disney’s Lucasfilm toon Strange Magic. However, it’s Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s American Sniper that is expected to secure first place again with $40-45M, an anticipated average drop of 50-55%  in its second wide frame after last weekend’s $89.3M. Fandango is reporting that its advance ticket sales for American Sniper are so strong, the film could wind up posting the second best frame ever for January.

It’s hard for distributors to put a comp on the Clint Eastwood title as there has never been an MLK release quite like it. Unlike the female demos which flocked to Kevin Hart comedies such as The Wedding Ringer and Ride Along, and the young demo which shelled out for Cloverfield,  American Sniper drew a massive older male crowd. You can’t even compare American Sniper to the January carryover titan Avatar as that film was propped by 3D ticket pricing. Even comparing American Sniper to Michael Bay’s World War II film Pearl Harbor ($75.2M four-day bow, $198.5M total cume). is a stretch given that film’s Memorial Day rollout, and it’s romantic epic nature (vs. Sniper‘s as dramatic biopic of an actual Navy SEAL).  Through Tuesday, American Sniper‘s cume stands at $120.56M.  Warner Bros. will 150 engagements Friday, raising its theater count to 3,705.

The Boy Next DoorUniversal and Blumhouse’s Jennifer Lopez suspense film The Boy Next Door is looking to profit like its previous microbudget thrillers and horror films. The $4M film is looking to mint a figure somewhere in the low teens at 2,599 venues. Sneaks for the film will kick off after 8PM tomorrow night. The thriller is directed by Rob Cohen (who helmed the first Fast and Furious) and it is making a play for Latinos and females.  The Boy Next Door is Lopez’s third suspense thriller since 2002’s Enough ($40M) and 2001’s Angel Eyes ($24.2M), the upside this time around is that the Blumhouse title is more economically priced than those two titles which respectively cost $38M and $53M. Part of Lopez’s promotion for The Boy Next Door entailed the star’s largest Hispanic press tour ever in Miami. She visited such shows as Univision’s Despierta America for the first time as well as the network’s beauty pageant reality show Nuestra Belleza Latina. Lopez’s appearance on the season premiere of that primetime show registered a 22% uptick in ratings from its season premiere a year ago.

Lionsgate-Odd Lot Entertainment’s co-production Mortedecai stars Johnny Depp as a flamboyant art dealer-adventurer who is dodging British Spies, Russian and terrorists as he aims to lay his hands on a painting that will lead him to Nazi gold.  The film rolls out in sneaks tomorrow at 7pm.  At a cost, per industry execs, of $60M, Mortdecai which has been described as a Peter Sellers absurdist type film, and continues to provide a platform for Depp’s offbeat onscreen personalities (such as Barnabas Collins in 2012’s Dark Shadows) is eyeing $10-$12M over FSS. Lionsgate employed a heavy social media and TV marketing campaign. Six weeks out, Lionsgate targeted a broad audience with marketing integration and sponsorships across 14 networks earning nearly 100M impressions, and custom vignettes featuring the cast on Comedy Central, E!, Bravo and TBS (specifically during Conan).

Strange MagicGirls 7-11 are the target demo for Disney’s release of Lucasfilm’s goblin-fairy animated pic Strange Magic, given its themes of female empowerment and princess characters.  Strange Magic was directed  by Gary Rydstrom with a story penned by George Lucas, who also produces.  The animated feature was made at Lucasfilm’s Singapore studio and was in production prior to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. With a family release in each of the last three months — Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good ,Very Bad Day in October, Big Hero 6 in November and Into the Woods last month, Strange Magic is Disney’s January entry. And the thinking is that it will co-habit multiplexes just fine with TWC/Dimension’s Paddington in the market. Strange Magic is looking to make $10M in 3,020 theaters. However, TWC/Dimension’s bear-in-the-hat Paddington should beat out goblins and fairies with a projected $12-$13M.

Jennifer Aniston Cake In pharmacyBrian Brooks will weigh in further on the arthouse scene tomorrow, however, Cinelou is releasing its Jennifer Aniston drama Cake via Freestyle Releasing Friday in 465 runs in the top 75 markets.  Since the film launched at the Toronto Film Festival, Aniston has received high praise for her 180 degree method turn as a curmudgeon woman, battling chronic pain and personal tragedy.   She earned a Golden Globe nomination for best actress drama and is up for a SAG female leading actress nom this Sunday.  Expectations are that Cake makes $1.5-$2M, and will expand accordingly.

In addition, Focus Features is releasing its submarine Jude Law thriller Black Sea bows in two theaters in New York and three in Los Angeles.  The R-rated film will expand nationwide on January 30.