10TH Writethru, Monday — final actuals:  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story came in on target, meeting its weekend estimate with a $155M opening, the second-best ever for December and the franchise after last year’s all-time high set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($247.96M) and the 12th-biggest opening of all-time.

All in this weekend, Rogue One’s $290M global debut pushed Walt Disney Studios past the $7 billion mark, setting a new industry high for a major studio.

Given the film’s momentum and outstanding word-of-mouth industry observers believe the pic has a shot at ending its run between $550M-$600m. By comparison, Titanic, the third-highest grossing movie of all-time at the U.S./Canada box office made $600.8M. Given that Christmas Eve is on a Saturday, the expectation is that business for all pics will be dented. In regards to Rogue One, the expectation is that its FSS will ease as much as -50% for $77.5M with five new releases coming into the market: Sony/Village Roadshow’s Passengers, 20th Century Fox’s Assassins Creed and Illumination/Universal’s Sing on Wednesday, Fox’s Why Him? on Friday and Paramount’s Fences on Sunday. Force Awakens by comparison declined 40% for a $149.2M second weekend — the best Christmas haul ever for a movie, and the biggest Christmas weekend ever for all titles at $296.4M. We hear that in regards to pre-sales for Rogue One, a majority were for opening weekend where as with Force Awakens a bulk of advance sales were for Christmas day.

On Sunday, Rogue One made $37.67M, -19% from Saturday. Force Awakens fell 34% on its first Monday with a daily take of $40.1M and quite clearly with fewer schools out today (48% per Disney’s watch) compared to a year  ago (77%), the Gareth Edwards-directed prequel is currently poised to be down 40% for a near $23M take.

Remember, this year is set to break a record at the domestic B.O., beating last year’s $11B.  ComScore shows that after this weekend, we’re at $10.6B before we hit the uber-lucrative holiday frame, 4% ahead of last years $10.2B at the same point in time for Jan. 1-Dec. 18. Interestingly enough, at $211.5M this wasn’t the highest grossing weekend of 2016, rather it was Easter weekend with Batman v. Superman which raked in a total ticket sales number of $252.3M.

rogue-one-19
Disney

Rogue One‘s percent hold between Friday and Saturday bests the -43% ease over the same time frame for Force Awakens. We always knew Rogue One wouldn’t be Force Awakens, but even if the prequel’s opening is -37% from the J.J. Abrams-directed sequel,  it’s still phenomenal business for this time of year, and the fun part will be watching this pic conquer throughout the holiday.

Disney’s marketing timeline for Rogue One was very different from Force Awakens, and intentionally so.  Initially, we saw the first trailer for Force Awakens more than a year in advance over Thanksgiving 2014. Partly, Disney did not want to confuse audiences in regards to Rogue One‘s connection to Force Awakens. It’s why they opted not to drop a trailer with Force Awakens and waited close to four months after that giant calmed down before they unveiled a Rogue One trailer on Good Morning America April 7. The launch drew 77M global views and was further bolstered by an in-theater trailer drop on Captain America: Civil War‘s opening weekend during the first frame of May.

But another reason why Rogue One had a different rollout for its promotions during the course of the calendar was because “with the standalone movie, part of the conceit was to create a way in for the uninitiated in Star Wars. We wanted to tee this up as an event. And a response like this shows that Rogue One is part of this unbelievable brand,” says Disney domestic distribution chief Dave Hollis.

Hollis gave a big shoutout to Disney marketing architects Ricky Strauss, president of marketing, and Asad Ayaz, EVP marketing Walt Disney studios and their “global marketing team for the ages.” They’re the guys who marshal the individual departments from creative to social to media and have catapulted Disney to $7 billion at the worldwide B.O.

Star Wars Celebration
StarWars.com

On July 16 a Star Wars Celebration panel in London was live-streamed globally and featured the teaser poster debut, an exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette, and the full principal cast (Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Ben Mendelsohn) on stage with director Gareth Edwards, Kathleen Kennedy, Kiri Hart, and John Knoll, moderated by Force Awakens star Gwendoline Christie. This event truly expanded a spotlight on the film, revealing more details about this fresh crop of characters.

There was a Rio Olympics stunt with a five-day multi-channel integration across multiple day-parts and events with custom TV creative, co-branded spots with day-of event footage. The payoff poster debuted on The Star Wars Show on Oct. 12 with trailer dropping Oct. 13 on GMA, supported across ESPN, Univision, and ABC News, and debuting in theaters with Doctor Strange. There were major media hits across Thanksgiving Weekend, leading to a Cyber Monday ticketing blitz across Fandango, YouTube, Flixster, IMDb, VEVO, Yahoo Movies, NFL, The Voice, Gotham, Twitter and more, with ticket sellers and exhibitors offering special packages and generating the second highest presales for any movie ever except for The Force Awakens. Twitter supported with creation of a Death Star emoji.

rogue-one-nissan
Disney

Extensive synergy support across Disney, including ESPN SportsCenter takeover throughout December and unprecedented segment during College Football Games (Dec. 2-3) that featured fighter jets flyovers, Epcot’s Spaceship Earth at Orlando’s Disney World being turned into the Death Star (Dec. 5) with Mads Mikkelsen in attendance. This was live-streamed on Disney Parks blog and other Star Wars and Walt Disney Studios social channels. Major Rogue One promotional partners included Gillette, Duracell, Nissan, Verizon, General Mills, and Uber; digital partnerships included Google, Twitter, Facebook.

At $19M, Rogue One is the second biggest December opening for Imax theaters ever, and the best to date in 2016. That figure reps over 12% of the pic’s weekend ticket sales. The large format provider had to add 2AM showtimes across the country to meet demand. Rogue One easily slots into the top 5 best all-time Imax opening weekends ever. Per screen was $47K with Imax auditoriums represented in four of the top five grossing theatres and eight of the top 10.

550 premium large format Rogue One screens  drew an estimated $17.9M; the second highest of all-time for the format behind Force Awakens, and repping 12% of the total weekend gross. Cinemark XD led all exhibitors with an estimated PLF gross of $3.7M for FSS (its 4th highest all time and 2nd highest for December) and a 21% share of all PLFs.

One thing was clear on Twitter, and that was the weather didn’t keep moviegoers from seeing this movie this weekend:

Social media monitor RelishMix reported today that Rogue One broke the record for combined hashtags on Twitter and Instagram for a movie on Thursday with 128,6K off #RogueOne, #StarWars and #DarthVader. On YouTube, several spots and trailers have gone supersonic viral with organic views of 467K per day with a Globe Foundation Star Wars spot clocking 801K views per day up to 3.8M views.

Luke Skywalker’s thumbs up for Rogue One:

collateral-beauty
WB

Warner Bros.’ release of New Line/Village Roadshow’s tearjerker Collateral Beauty will go down as Will Smith’s lowest opening ever for  a wide release at $7.1M (ironically, that’s close to the same amount of cash that Sandra Bullock’s Our Brand Is Crisis died with last year on a non-competitive weekend).We detailed the calamity that this film faced as it was buried by critics yet embraced by Friday night audiences with an A- CinemaScore.

It’s understatement to say that whenever Smith is outside his tentpole wheelhouse, that his grosses have just dropped sliding from an opening for Seven Pounds of $14.8M to Focus’ $18.9M to now this. It is arguable that no matter who starred in this movie, it would have still be panned given its schmultziness. For many studios executives, even those outside Warner Bros, they pin it to the challenge of opening a populist pic in a Rotten Tomatoes-dominant era where aggregate critic scores impact ticket sales more than ever.  Warner Bros. showed Collateral Beauty at ShoEast in Orlando and I hear from non-Warner Bros. sources that the movie left the crowd in tears

To what degree moviegoers enjoy Collateral Beauty remains a question as PostTrak’s polling tells a different story from CinemaScore: The total positive score is 76% (not amazing) with a meh definite recommend of 55%. Like CinemaScore, PostTrak shows a heavy turnout by older women (55% females, 78% over 25). Warners is hoping that Collateral Beauty comps to the December 2007  romantic drama P.S. I Love You in the end. Similar to Collateral Beauty, that Gerard Butler-Hilary Swank movie was dumped on by critics (27% rotten), embraced by moviegoers (A- CinemaScore) and opened to a bleak $6.5M. But thanks to holiday business, P.S. I Love You pumped out an 8.3x multiple with a final domestic of $53.7M ( $156.8M worldwide B.O.) off a $30M budget). Like a soothsayer to Julius Caesar, tracking was continually indicating a low opening for this movie weeks in advance (the range was between $6M-$10M, with some seeing $12M). Still, the movie’s cast — who truly locked arms in supporting and believing in this movie — hit the road for a blitzkrieg of interviews on ABC’s Good Morning America this past week. Smith also appeared on Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel Live last week, and on Today two days ago.

“The Golden Globe and numerous other national nominations, awards and ten-best lists propelled Manchester by the Sea to a great wide release this weekend,” beamed Bob Berney, Head of Marketing and Distribution, Amazon Studios about the Kenneth Lonergan movie’s $4.2M weekend take. “Manchester is great storytelling and the family dynamics are touching people across the country.” Manchester counts five Golden Globe noms (best drama, actor Casey Affleck, supporting actress Michelle Williams, director and screenplay Lonergan), and four Screen Actors Guild nods (best ensemble, actor Affleck, supporting actress Williams and actor Lucas Hedges). Last Sunday it won at the Critics’ Choice awards for actor Affleck, young actor Hedges and screenplay for Lonergan.

Per Lionsgate, La La Land landed $4.1M in 7th place during its second weekend and a running cume of $5.2M at 200 sites. That’s a fantastic $20,5K theater average. The Damien Chazelle-directed original musical expands to 750 sites this weekend in the top 100 markets. Paramount’s Fences rose its per theater to $32,3K for a $129K take at five New York and L.A. theaters. It would be premature right now to evaluate its fate, particularly as it’s picking up awards season steam. There are those in the industry who thought it would be closer to $50K, but again, moviegoing is set to pick-up after Christmas when this movie goes wide.
Top 20 actuals per ComScore for the weekend of Dec. 16-18:
  1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney, $155,081,681, 4,157 locations, $37,306 average, $155,081,681, 1 weeks.
  2. Moana, Disney, $12,726,232, 3,587 locations, $3,548 average, $162,920,977, 4 weeks.
  3. Office Christmas Party, Paramount, $8,587,528, 3,210 locations, $2,675 average, $31,655,795, 2 weeks.
  4. Collateral Beauty, Warner Bros., $7,102,085, 3,028 locations, $2,345 average, $7,102,085, 1 weeks.
  5. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Warner Bros., $5,071,323, 3,036 locations, $1,670 average, $207,722,418, 5 weeks.
  6. Manchester By The Sea, Roadside Attractions, $4,244,014, 1,208 locations, $3,513 average, $14,104,319, 5 weeks.
  7. La La Land, Lionsgate, $4,102,091, 200 locations, $20,510 average, $5,342,257, 2 weeks.
  8. Arrival, Paramount, $2,972,958, 2,157 locations, $1,378 average, $86,666,325, 6 weeks.
  9. Doctor Strange, Disney, $2,210,912, 1,930 locations, $1,146 average, $226,260,939, 7 weeks.
  10. Nocturnal Animals, Focus Features, $1,407,088, 1,246 locations, $1,129 average, $8,828,454, 5 weeks.
  11. Trolls, 20th Century Fox, $1,370,880, 1,714 locations, $800 average, $147,426,817, 7 weeks.
  12. Allied, Paramount, $1,323,176, 1,625 locations, $814 average, $38,532,093, 4 weeks.
  13. Hacksaw Ridge, Lionsgate, $956,516, 1,341 locations, $713 average, $62,854,620, 7 weeks.
  14. Almost Christmas, Universal, $608,555, 720 locations, $845 average, $41,208,485, 6 weeks.
  15. Jackie, Fox Searchlight, $573,645, 84 locations, $6,829 average, $1,616,380, 3 weeks.
  16. Miss Sloane, EuropaCorp, $448,555, 1,463 locations, $307 average, $3,188,191, 4 weeks.
  17. Moonlight, A24, $378,081, 305 locations, $1,240 average, $11,479,755, 9 weeks.
  18. Bad Santa 2, Broad Green Pictures, $236,766, 414 locations, $572 average, $17,544,512, 4 weeks.
  19. Loving, Focus Features, $217,182, 396 locations, $548 average, $7,111,424, 7 weeks.

20. Incarnate, High Top Releasing, $184,105, 318 locations, $579 average, $4,723,514, 3 weeks

 *****
Estimates based on studio-reported Sunday morning estimates:

 1.) Rogue One  (DIS), 4,157 theaters  /$71.1M Fri.  (includes $29M previews)  /$46.4M Sat/$37.5M Sun/ 3-day cume: $155M /Wk 1

2). Moana  (DIS), 3,587 Theaters (-288) / $3M Fri  /$5M Sat/$3.55M Sun/3-day cume: $11.66M (-37%)/Total: $161.9M/Wk 4

 3.) Office Christmas Party  (PAR/DW), 3,210 theaters (0) /$2.6M Fri.  /$3.4M Sat/$2.45MM Sun/ 3-day cume: $8.45M (-50%)/Total: $31.5M/Wk 2

 4.) Collateral Beauty  (WB/NL), 3,028 theaters  /$2.4M Fri.  /$2.7M Sat/$1.8M Sun/3-day cume: $7M /Wk 1

5). Fantastic Beasts…  (WB), 3,036 theaters (-590) /$1.37M Fri. /$2.08m Sat/$1.6M Sun/3-day cume: $5M (-52%)/Total: $207.7m/Wk 5

6).Manchester by the Sea (RSA/AMZ) 1,208 theaters  (+842)/$1.28M Fri /$1.7M Sat./$1.1M Sun/3-day: $4.156M (+32%)/Total: $14M/Wk 5

7.) La La Land (Lionsgate) 200 (+195)/$1.36M Fri/$1.5M Sat/$1.16M Sun/3-day: $4.02M (+309%)/$20,1K PTA/Total: $5.26M/ Wk 2

8.)  Arrival  (PAR), 2,157 theaters (-958)/$823K Fri /$1.2M Sat/$747K Sun/3-day cume: $2.77 (-50%)/Total:$86.5M/ Wk 6

9.) Doctor Strange  (DIS), 1,930 theaters (-833) /$570K Fri  /$886K Sat/$580K Sun/3-day cume: $2M (-51%) /Total cume: $226M/Wk 7

10.) Nocturnal Animals (Focus), 1,246 theaters (-16) /$428K Fri./$567K Sat/$396K Sun/3-day:$1.39M (-56%)/Total: $8.8M/ Wk 5

Notables:

Jackie (FSL) 84 theaters (+58)/$162K Fri./$229K Sat./$159K Sun/3-day $550K (+12%)/Total cume: $1.59M/Wk  3

Lion (TWC) 16 theaters (+1)/$33K Fri./$54K Sat/$43K Sun/3-day $131K (-22%)/Total cume: $702K /Wk 4

Fences (PAR) 4 theaters /$41K Fri/$49K Sat./$38K Sun/$3-day: $128K/$32K PTA/ Wk 1

7TH WRITETHRU Saturday AM: Disney’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is higher than everyone imagined with a Friday that’s grown to $71.1M, putting the film on course for an opening that’s at $152.5M for the three-day weekend at 4,157 theaters.

Like Force Awakens, Rogue One earns an A CinemaScore, and Disney can take that to the bank because the halo of that grade will take this prequel to higher echelons at the holiday B.O.

rogue-one-droid

Should Rogue One stay the course toward its current opening, it will become the 12th highest opening of all-time, the sixth Disney release to open north of $150M and as we’ve always expected — the second best ever for the month of December after Force Awakens’ all-time record of $247.96M. There’s a chance that Rogue One could fall toward the mid $140Ms, and that wouldn’t be the end of the world. As we mentioned, there are fewer kids off school on Monday than a year go and that could impact Sunday’s business.

Director Gareth Edwards has even more bragging rights tonight: Rogue One‘s ‘A’ beats the  A-s earned by all the George Lucas prequels (2005’s Revenge of the Sith has the highest FSS at $108M).  Currently, Rogue One is playing 37% behind Force Awakens, a trend that started the day at -46% with Disney seeing steady growth through the hours. Rogue One earned straight As throughout all demos with males repping 66% of all ticketbuyers today, with 60% over 25. That audience makeup isn’t that far from Force Awakens which hooked 64% guys, 67% over 25. Episode VII also drew A+s in certain pockets (i.e. females, under 25, under 18 and 35-49). Of those who bought tickets, 76% did so because it’s a Star Wars movie.

will-smith
Warner Bros.

Warner Bros./New Line/Village Roadshow’s Collateral Beauty isn’t winning any box office pageants, on a course to be Will Smith’s lowest-ever wide release opening with an estimated $7.2M at 3,028 venues in 4th after an estimated $2.4M Friday. That’s way under last year’s Concussion which turned in a FSS of $10.5M and finaled at $34.5M; literally a 3x multiple. The film review headlines are worse than the box office headlines for this weepie (Kyle Smith’s review in the New York Post:”Collateral Beauty does Collateral Damage”), which is squarely aimed at females (59% turned out, 74% over 25) and meant to counter-program the male dominant Rogue One. Many in distribution say that female audiences become more available once the holidays are in full swing, and Warner Bros. is clinging to the hope that the melodrama’s A- CinemaScore will create a halo that will counter the venomous reviews which are at 14% Rotten. Says one insider close to Collateral Beauty about the critical reaction, “It’s a school yard assault.”

collateral-b

While Warner Bros. sold the movie as an ensemble, it’s not a Garry Marshall ensemble holiday movie, rather a Will Smith title since he’s featured prominently in the ads. To say that Collateral Beauty is an ensemble movie would be like saying It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t a Jimmy Stewart movie. In fact, on CinemaScore, 52% of the audience bought tickets because the movie starred Smith (and they gave it an A), while 18% came for the actresses (they gave it an A-).

Collateral Beauty revolves around Howard, a New York ad executive (Will Smith) who loses his daughter, and tailspins into a funk. He begins to write letters to Love, Death, and Time. His ad exec colleagues get wind of this. They’re best bet is to have him declared insane, so they can sell the company out from under him. Hence, they hire actors to impersonate Love, Death and Time. Howard talks extensively with them, as his associates hatch a plan. Ultimately this leads to a Kleenex finale. Smith in the New York Post railed, “This must be the first movie ever made in which the death of a child is presented as a pesky obstacle to a corporate sale.” In general, reviewers find the film to be manipulative, corny and unbelievable.

So how did everything get so ugly for Collateral Beauty?

One rival distribution executive who saw the movie actually came to the defense of Warner Bros. today (a bit). Distribution executives always think that the competition talks smack about them, but that’s not always necessarily the case. This non-WB suit believed Collateral Beauty was truly appealing to the masses, and that the reviewers were to blame for its defeat. “Film critics are narrow-minded and have dark hearts. They prefer something like Manchester by the Sea which is significantly much darker than this film and deals with a similar set-up: the death of children,” said the executive.

ps-i-love-you

That said, Collateral Beauty could have benefited from being released at a quieter time of year, and having the proper audience find it, thus generating ample good word of mouth before any film reviewer could sink their hooks into it. It’s a guilty pleasure movie. In testing, Collateral Beauty scored over 90% — twice. It also had an 81% definite recommend. Also, going up against Rogue One doesn’t help, despite any arguments about getting a leg-up on the holiday. When you start this low, with a CinemaScore this high, there’s typically nothing to become of it.

But there is hope…

There’s a comp that Warner Bros. is eyeing, and if Collateral Beauty mimics it, they’ll breath a sigh of relief: the 2007 Gerard Butler-Hilary Swank romance P.S. I Love You. Like Collateral Beauty that movie opened over the holidays (Dec. 21), was stomped on by critics (27% rotten), earned an A- CinemaScore and bowed to a dismal $6.5M…but it churned out an 8.3x multiple with a final domestic of $53.7M (and global of $156.8M off a $30M budget). We also need to consider the foreign drawn of Smith and the power wattage of its British cast (Kate Winslet, Kiera Knightley, Naomie Harris, Helen Mirren). Smith’s previous odd duck with Warner Bros., last year’s Focus, pulled in 66% of its global $159M B.O. from overseas.

But if a quieter weekend was the best launchpad for Collateral Beauty, then why was it dated here? It’s a Dan Frankel-directed movie with Will Smith, and both have succeeded with melodramas during the holiday season respectively with Marley and Me ($143.1M domestic) and The Pursuit of Happyness ($163.6M).

I heard two different stories about Collateral Beauty‘s conception today. First, was that the movie was originally conceived as a Richard Curtis-type romantic comedy/drama (not with the director, but akin to his style). But when Smith became attached, Collateral Beauty morphed into a tearjerker. This is not true. Collateral Beauty was always conceived as a melodrama, even when Hugh Jackman was attached, and it was the version of the story that Warner Bros. greenlit.

Production cost is another wrinkle around Collateral Beauty. I understand that the net was between $36M-$38M, but many studio outsiders believe it’s much higher, and that’s before we even account for $30M-$40M estimated P&A.  Smith, especially when he’s not listed as a producer, doesn’t come cheap with an estimated fee that’s between $10M-$15M, plus big star demands i.e. entourage, travel; but in the case of Collateral Beauty I heard this morning that Smith went lower than his usual ask. Overall, Warner Bros./New Line has Village Roadshow to carry some of the weight here.

Emma Stone, John Legend, Ryan Gosling - La La Land.jpeg
Lionsgate

But enough of all this crying. It’s time to get happy. So, how’s Lionsgate/Summit’s La La Land doing? Damien Chazelle’s rebirth of the Hollywood musical has exploded into the top 10, landing in 7th place with an estimated $4.1M weekend and it’s only at 200 theaters! Theater average is a whopping $20,5K which will bring its 10-day cume by Sunday to $5.3M.

Jovan Adepo, Denzel Washington - Fences.jpeg
Paramount Pictures

Paramount’s Fences is doing OK with a  $30K theater average for the weekend and $120K over three-days at four locations. I think with its two Golden Globe acting noms for Viola Davis and Denzel Washington along with another three at the SAGs including best ensemble, the consensus was that it would fare better. After all, it’s a major studio movie, and we keep remembering the $100K opening theater average that A24’s emotional Moonlight posted back in October. Nonetheless, it’s still early for Fences. It goes wide on Christmas and the expectation is that it will log $9M in its first two days.

The top 10 films per industry estimates for the weekend of Dec. 16-18, 2016 as of Saturday morning

 1.) Rogue One  (DIS), 4,157 theaters  /$71.1M Fri.  (includes $29M previews)  / 3-day cume: $152.5M /Wk 1

2). Moana  (DIS), 3,587 Theaters (-288) / $3M Fri (-29%) /3-day cume: $12.5M (-32%)/Total: $162.7M/Wk 4

 3.) Office Christmas Party  (PAR/DW), 3,210 theaters (0) /$2.6M Fri.  (-59%)/ 3-day cume: $7.9M (-53%)/Total: $31M/Wk 2

 4.) Collateral Beauty  (WB/NL), 3,028 theaters  /$2.38M Fri.  /3-day cume: $7.2M /Wk 1

5). Fantastic Beasts…  (WB), 3,036 theaters (-590) /$1.36M Fri. (-51%)/3-day cume: $5.1M (-51%)/Total: $207.7m/Wk 5

6).Manchester by the Sea (RSA/AMZ) 1,208 theaters  (+842)/$1.27M Fri (+37%) /3-day: $4.12M (+32%)/Total: $14M/Wk 5

La La Land (Lionsgate) 200 (+195)/$1.36M Fri (+335%)/3-day: $4.1M (+309%)/$18K PTA/Total: $5.3M/ Wk 2

8.)  Arrival  (PAR), 2,157 theaters (-958)/$824K Fri (-50%)/3-day cume: $2.9M (-47%)/Total:$86.6M/ Wk 6

9.) Doctor Strange  (DIS), 1,930 theaters (-833) /$583K Fri (-52%) /3-day cume: $2.2M (-51%) /Total cume: $226.3M/Wk 7

10.) Nocturnal Animals (Focus), 1,246 theaters (-16) /$427K Fri. (-63%)/3-day:$1.4M (-55%)/Total: $8.8M/ Wk 5

Notables:

Jackie (FSL) 84 theaters (+58)/$161K Fri./3-day $551K (+12%)/Total cume: $1.59M/Wk  3

Lion (TWC) 16 theaters (+1)/$33K Fri./3-day $123K (-27%)/Total cume: $694K /Wk 4

Fences (PAR) 4 theaters /$41K Fri/3-day: $120K/$30K PTA/ Wk 1

Previous update, Friday at 9:54PM. Follow Anthony at @Awardstony

rogueone5849bdcf46d16
Disney

5TH UPDATE, FRIDAY, NOON: For a sequel in December, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is off to a fantastic start, Given its momentum and positive word of mouth, it’s also a movie that moviegoers will gradually make their way to during the holiday season — even if they’re not out in ultimate force this weekend. Still, with a projected weekend of $140 million-$145 million at 4,157 theaters, that’s pretty damn good. Currently, Friday looks like it’s in the high $60M range, including $29M from last night.

Now, some think Rogue One could tip to $70M today, and if that’s the case, its three-day will get closer to $150M. With so much pre-sold business, it’s hard for some analysts to see a trend this early. Weather is a bit of a factor this time around compared to last year when Star Wars: The Force Awakens bowed. There were situations last night where Canadian advance ticket holders couldn’t get to the theater. Winter Storm Decima, which is bringing a snowy, icy mess from the Rockies to the Northeast this weekend, isn’t expected to close down theaters, but still it could delay moviegoers getting to the theater.

Another factor slowing Rogue One‘s business upfront is that fewer kids are off from school on Monday (at 37% K-12) then there were a year ago for Force Awakens’ first Monday, which logged 73% K-12 off. That puts a bit of crimp on Sunday night’s business.

Disney’s Moana meanwhile is solid against the newfound family competition in the market, looking at $13.8M-$14.8M, down 20%-25% in its fourth weekend for a running cume by Sunday that’s close to $165M.

collateral-beauty

Elsewhere, Warner Bros/New Line’s Collateral Beauty is looking like a case of the box office ulgies: Pained by 13% Rotten Tomatoes reviews, it’s looking at delivering Will Smith his lowest wide-release opening of his career with $7.5M-$8M at 3,028 theaters (that’s lower than the $10.5M that Concussion made last year). This is according to industry estimates, not Warner Bros. There’s more than Rogue One to blame here for this ensemble which also stars Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley and more. If Collateral Beauty is lucky, it’ll get to $10M, but that would still be low for Smith. Estimated production cost is between $36M-$38M before P&A.

We hear that Paramount/DreamWorks/Reliance’s Office Christmas Party is staying on target with its second-weekend projections for $7.6M at 3,210 theaters, -55%, for a 10-day cume of $30.6M.

4TH UPDATE, FRIDAY, 8:24 AM: Disney is calling Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘s preview night at $29 million, which is 51% of the record $57M that Star Wars: The Force Awakens made a year ago on its Thursday night. It’s the biggest preview night of the year, slotting ahead of the cash made by Batman V Superman ($27.7M) and Captain America: Civil War ($25M).

Last year, Thursday night repped 48% of Force Awakens’ $119.1M first day, and projectionsat this early stage put Rogue One with at least $60M today and a $140M stateside weekend. If Rogue One clicks that high, it will be the 17th-best opening of all time at the domestic box office, and the prequel will easily land — as we always knew– as the second-best ever for December after Force Awakens ($247.96M).

Rogue One‘s play at 401 Imax auditoriums last night grossed $3.7M, and it marked the widest domestic release ever for the large-format exhibitor.

rogue one badge
Jenny Hopkins

Neither torrential rain in Los Angeles nor 20-degree temperatures in New York prevented fans from seeing the latest Star Wars prequel. From Marblehead, MA to San Francisco, people lined up  — which is a longstanding tradition with this movie franchise. In the case of the Bay Area, some donned costumes as early as 6 AM to wait in the rain and see the movie at 10 PM. Some companies, like Charles Schwab, even bought out private screenings for their employees and friends/family with celebratory tchotchkes being handed out for the night.

Last night, ComScore’s PostTrak reported that the Gareth Edwards-directed Star Wars stand-alone earned an 88% total positive score with a strong 77% definite recommend from moviegoers, boding well for Rogue One‘s word of mouth heading into the holiday season. For all the loose talk that Rogue One is oh so scary for kids — PostTrak found that 90% of boys under 12 are beaming about it to their friends, while girls are giving it a definite 84% recommend, and parents a 92%.

Warner Bros did not screen its New Line melodrama Collateral Beauty last night due to the fierce competition from Rogue One. The Will Smith movie about a father who loses his child and tries to recoup from it as his fellow employees try to steal his company is booked at 3,028 venues and is expected to make $10M-plus.

Among regular ranked movies last night, Disney’s Moana was tops with $1.3M and a three week-running cume of $150.2M. Paramount/DreamWorks/Reliance’s Office Christmas Party was close behind in second with $1.29M at 3,210 theaters, and a first week’s take of $23M. The R-rated party movie is expected to ring up $7.6M, -55% in its second weekend, for a 10-day cume of $30.6M.

Rogue One was always expected to play like a sequel in its ticket sales to Force Awakens, specifically meaning: it has a fresh new crop of characters, it’s not about the Skywalkers, there are hardly any Jedi in it, and it’s a new spin on the Star Wars story we know.

EXCLUSIVE 3RD WRITETHRU, 9:29 PM: Updated with audience reactions Based on early evening estimates, we’re hearing that Disney/Lucasfilm’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is heading for an estimated $30M preview night, which is off 47% from Force Awakens’ record $57M Thursday night a year ago. These figures aren’t from Disney, but from what exhibitors are spotting off showtimes that began at 7 PM ET. Disney will send out their official figures in the AM.

rogue one
Disney

Even though Rogue One is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the critical consensus is slightly lower than Force Awakens, 85% to 92%. In similar fashion, the first round of audience polls tonight from ComScore PostTrak shows an overall postive score of 88% to Force Awakens’ 94% last year. Overall moviegoers’ recommend rate is at 77% which is still strong despite Force Awakens carrying an 88% thumbs up. Slightly more females turned up this time around for Rogue One compared to Force Awakens: 38% to 29%, while guys were still dominant at 62% (Force had 71%). Men enjoyed Rogue One more than women, 94% to 79%. Despite any notion that Rogue One is a darker film, 90% of all boys under 12 will recommend it to their friends, while 84% of all girls will pass the good word around about Jyn Erso. And parents? 92% of ’em are going to also tell their friends that Rogue One is great.

Essentially Rogue One already is doing 50% of Force Awakens Thursday night business, a figure that should rise to 62% by the end of the night.

At noon, we heard that advance ticket sales for the day were down 50% from Force Awakens‘ first night. At $30M, Rogue One still is the second-best opening day’s eve that December has ever seen and one of seven movies to gross that much on a preview night. Prior to Force Awakens, 2014’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies rang up $11.2M in its 7 PM Tuesday night previews at 3,100 theaters; that bested the $8.8M Thursday night of the trilogy’s 2013 installment The Desolation of Smaug.

Scott Pineau of Dalton, Pa., is dressed as Director Orson Krennic for the opening night of "Rogue One," a new movie in the Star Wars series at the Regal Theater in Dickson City, Pa.

Tonight’s Rogue One stash will drive the stand-alone Star Wars prequel to an estimated $60M-$65M Friday and a weekend that’s north of $140M. Again, still amazing, but what’s slowing Jyn Erso and her team of rebels is winter storm Decima, which is gradually making its way eastward from Oregon to the Great Lakes to New England by Saturday. No closings are reported, but this might mean delayed trips to the multiplex. By the end of week, 80% of the nation will see below-freezing temperatures. Last year, Force Awakens ended its first day at $119.1M with Thursday night repping 48% of that figure.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros./New Line is playing it smart: They’re not holding previews tonight for Will Smith weepie Collateral Beauty given Rogue One‘s audience grip. Manchester by the Sea is also expanding this weekend from 366 venues to 1,208.

Related Will ‘Rogue One’ Vanquish The Christmas B.O. Competition?

Over at Fandango, Rogue One ranks as its No. 2 advance ticket seller of all time after Force Awakens. Currently, the Gareth Edwards-directed Star Wars movie reps 90% of the weekend’s ticket sales, with 62% of their ticket buyers polled saying they’re already planning on seeing Rogue One twice. Prior to Force Awakens’ record domestic debut of $247.96M last year, an estimated $100M in advance tickets were sold, a majority of which were for Christmas Day. In the last 24 hours, Rogue One represents 81% of all ticket sales for Movietickets.com.

Rogue One will play in 4,157 venues, that’s 23 more than Force Awakens and an all-time high for the month of December. As previously reported, 540 Premium Large Format screens make this the largest most in the format of any Disney film. Of Rogue One‘s count, 3,665 are 3D screens and 193 are D-Box locations.

Aiding Rogue One: Thirteen percent of K-12 schools are out tomorrow (vs. 18% a year ago for Force Awakens). By next Thursday, that figure will boom to 100% and stay consistent through January 2.

Social Media monitor RelishMix reports that Rogue One‘s social media universe surged from 364M from last Monday to 386M today, a size that outstrips the SMUs of Doctor Strange (311M) and Fantastic Beasts (282M) and is just under Moana‘s (391M). Broken down, Rogue One‘s SMU is composed of 102.7M Facebook fans, 16.5M Twitter followers, 248.3M-plus YouTube views and 18.5M Instagram followers. The increase from last week to this week is driven mostly by YouTube views (20M in eight days). 

The film’s social media stars across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter combined are international martial arts star Donnie Yen (3.2M) and Diego Luna (2.4M), who are beating the drum for Rogue One with all sorts of materials. Stars Felicity Jones and Ben Mendelsohn are non-social, while Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed and Mads Mikkelson are, but they all have small social reaches. In regard to the non-social stars per RelishMix, Disney is adapting a social media strategy that’s similar to Doctor Strange’s: sharing all kinds of video assets that include these non-social co-stars, from Good Morning America to Ellen and Star Wars conventions.

States Relish Mix: “Rogue One has extremely positive conversation, as one might expect. Fans of the original trilogy and Star Wars fans from elsewhere, video games, TV series, books and toys — are all aboard for this unique, standalone entry to the beloved series. There’s one element to the social conversation worth mentioning: the time and place of Rogue One. Some fans are shocked to see Darth Vader in some of the official trailers, and they are a bit lost as to when this Star Wars story takes place. So, other fans are chiming in to clarify that this is a standalone film that occurs between Episode III and IV of the official series. Despite the fact it’s been confirmed that Rogue One will not have a sequel, Star Wars fans will show up en masse for opening and beyond.”

The top clips for Rogue One average over 230K views/day, up from 40k/day last week. The viral rate for a Rogue One clip is 36:1 which is enormous considering the average for a regular tentpole movie is 10:1. Fans are reposting trailers, Lego parodies and interviews with the stars, cast and crew. And, fanboy portals like Collider and Nerdist are sharing their own theories on what Rogue One might feature, like the degree of Darth Vader’s participation, for example.

Also propelling tonight’s fandom are exhibitors who are whetting the appetites of merchandise-hungry Star Wars crowds. Here’s a sampling of some of the night’s celebratory tchotchkes:

rogue-one-popcorn-tin
Regal

-Regal Cineamas sold 1,000 “ultimate tickets” at $100 a pop, which allows a moviegoer to see Rogue One an unlimited number of times. Guests tonight also will have the opportunity to buy one of five collectible popcorn tins.

-At Cinemark there are custom-made XD miniposter giveaways for those attending the first show.

-Remember those Star Wars drinking glasses that Burger King use to give away? Well Alamo Drafthouse has a supply of Rogue One tumblers for those buying tumblers.

rogue-one-imax-posters
Imax

–At AMC venues, there’s a free mini-poster for anyone who sees the movie in Dolby Cinema tonight, as well as exclusive Imax posters tomorrow, Christmas day and New Year’s Day. In addition, AMC is hosting Sensory Friendly Film showings of Rogue One on Dec. 27 and 31. This is part of the exhibitor’s partnership with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where the lights are regulated, and the sound is turned down.

Follow Anthony D’Alessandro on Twitter @AwardsTony

Anita Busch contributed to this report.

Previous updates

–5:35PM, Thursday, Dec. 15

–4:35PM, Thursday Dec. 15