5th Update Sunday AM:  Disney/Pixar’s Coco easily takes No. 1 with $26.1M per Disney which is $2.1M lighter than what Moana did in the post Thanksgiving period a year ago. The princess halo always give any Disney property an extra bump and that’s one of the reasons why Coco is pacing 9% behind the Pacific Princess with $108.7M. Coco will easily own next weekend as the major studios continue to take a break from any wide entries. The ratcheted-down Broad Green is the only distributor braving it this coming Friday with the Tommy Lee Jones-Morgan Freeman-Rene Russo action comedy Just Getting Started. Specialty distributors in the wake of Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations will continue to expand wide. As we mentioned yesterday, there’s more moolah this year in the post Thanksgiving sleepy frame with ComScore reporting $105M, a 9.4% spike over the same weekend a year ago.

But the true winners of this weekend are largely the awards contenders which are teeing off or widening: Fox Searchlight’s The Shape of Water ($83K per theater at two NYC locations), Sony Pictures Classics’ Call Me by Your Name ($70K theater average second weekend!), audiences are choosing both Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with $4.53M (3%) and A24’s Lady Bird with $4.54M, and there are per A24 “raucous sell-out shows” for its The Disaster Artist which reaped $1.2M on 19 venues or $64K per theater.

On social media, Relish Mix observed that The Disaster Artist across the big four social networks (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram) showed the strongest social heat over the last three days with a SMU (Social Media Universe) of 196M fueled by 43M YouTube views and strong daily views averaging 42K per day for the top 5 videos. Additionally, the cast’s 112M social reach from James Franco, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Zoey Deutch and Seth Rogan is connecting fans with and the boldest Twitter hashtags for #TheDistasterArtist and the tag for @DisasterArtist at close to 16K in a single day. As one rival major studio distribution head complimented this morning about A24’s results with Disaster Artist, “It takes a hip, edgy distributor like A24 who knows how to stoke a hipster crowd to get to these great results.” New Line is a co-producer on Disaster Artist.

The Shape of Water
Fox Searchlight

Guillermo del Toro, a relentless promoter, was present at Q&As at the Lincoln Square and Angelika Film Center showings for The Shape of Water, and director/talent’s presence always helps to boost grosses in big city venues. Searchlight wanted to tee this pic up gradually as we head into Last Jedi, for the del Toro and Star Wars fanboys overlap. Right now, a La La Land distribution plan is in place with 700-800 runs around the year-end holidays and then a 1,000 break in early January. Why just New York this weekend? Essentially, Searchlight would have encountered more specialty pic competition at the Landmark and the Arclight versus going against less at its NYC venues. Three Billboards will grow to about 1,500-1,600 theaters in the next week.

Amazon Studios

Globe and SAG noms will add some energy to the mix and some of these specialty titles could use it, i.e. Focus Features’  Darkest Hour featuring a sublime turn by Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill is getting beat out in its New York and Los Angeles run ($109K at four theaters in weekend 2 for a $27K per theater). Ditto for Amazon’s Wonder Wheel from Woody Allen which only grossed $140K from five NY/LA sites this weekend, 61% less than what Cafe Society minted in its five-theater opening last summer. It boils down to reviews with Wonder Wheel falling short with critics at 41% Rotten versus Cafe Society‘s 70% fresh. Darkest Hour, Wonder Wheel go wider in limited release next weekend followed by Disaster Artist with Neon’s I, Tonya coming out in New York and LA.

RelishMix sees that Amazon has an opportunity in having Justin Timberlake as a social media star for Wonder Wheel with an online universe that spans 147.2M SMU (64M TW, 47M IG, 38M FB), however, his Twitter river is largely devoted to his music.

In weekend two, Coco is still a monster on PostTrak with a 95% overall positive, and moms largely leading the way at 64% female. Huge definite recommend at 79% here. Moana was able to play through Rogue One last year making close to $60M during the last two weeks of the year, and the thinking is that Coco can do the same in the face of Last Jedi. 

Studio reported estimates for Dec. 1-3 as of Sunday AM:

1.) Coco (DIS), 3,987 theaters / Fri: $6.2M / $11.8M Sat/ $8M Sun/3-day cume: $26.1M (-49%)/Total:$108.7M / Wk 2

2.) Justice League (WB), 3,820 theaters (-231)/$4.5M Fri/  $7.5M Sat/ $4.5M/3-day cume: $16.58M  (-60%)/Total: $197.3M/ Wk 3

3.) Wonder (Lionsgate), 3,449 theaters (+277) /$3.6M Fri/$5.1M Sat/ $3.7M Sun/3-day cume: $12.5M (-45%)/ /Total: $88M/Wk 3

4). Thor: Ragnarok (DIS), 3,148 theaters (-133) / $2.6M Fri/$4.3M Sat/$2.6M Sun/ 3-day cume: $9.65M (-44%) / Total cume: $291.4M / Wk 5

5) Daddy’s Home 2 (PAR), 3,403 theaters (-115) /$2.1M Fri/ $3.4M Sat/ $1.96M Sun/3-day cume: $7.5M (-43%)/ Total: $82.8M/Wk 4

6) Murder on the Orient Express (FOX), 3,201 theaters (+49)/  $2M Fri/$3M Sat/ $1.7M Sun/ 3-day cume: $6.7M (-49%)/Total: $84.7M/ Wk 4

7/8) Lady Bird (A24), 1,194 theaters (+403) /$1.25M Fri/ $1.8M Sat /$1.4M Sun/3-day cume: $4.54M (+12%)/ Total cume: $17M / Wk 5

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO (FSL), 1,430 theaters (+816) / $1.37M Fri/$1.86M Sat/$1.3M Sun/ 3-day cume: $4.53M (+3%) /Total: $13.67M /Wk 4

9.) The Star (SONY), 2,822 theaters (-15) /$885K Fri /$1.8M Sat/ $1.2M Sun/ 3-day cume: $4M (-42%)/Total:$27.2M/Wk 3

10). A Bad Moms Christmas (STX), 2,251 theaters (-55) /$1.1M Fri/$1.4M Sat/ $910K Sun/3-day cume: $3.48M (-29%) /Total cume: $64.8M / Wk 5

11.) Roman J. Israel, Esq. (SONY),1,669 theaters (0)/$607K Fri/ $853K Sat/$475K Sun/3-day cume: $1.9M (-57%)/Total: $9.5M/Wk 3

12.) The Disaster Artist  (A24), 19 theaters / $507K Fri/$408K Sat /4306K Sun/3-day cume: $1.22M /PTA: $64k /Wk 1

13.) The Man Who Invented Christmas (BST), 674 theaters (+48) /Fri $262K /$367K Sat /$233K Sun/3-day cume: $863K  (-36%)/Total: $3.1M/ Wk 2

14.) Titanic 20th Anniversary  (PAR), 87 theaters / $172K Fri/$148K Sat/ $95K Sun/3-day cume: $415k /Total: $659M/Wk 1

15.) Call Me By Your Name  (SPC), 4 theaters (0)/ $77K Fri/3-day cume: $281k (-32%) /PTA: $70k /Total: $908K/Wk 2

Notables:

The Shape of Water  (FSL), 2 theaters / $55K Fri/$59K Sat/ $52,8K Sun/ 3-day cume: $166,8k /PTA: $83,4k /Wk 1

Wonder Wheel (AMZ), 5 theaters/ $37K Fri/$60K Sat/ $43,5K Sun/3-day cume: $140,5k /PTA: $28k /Wk 1

Darkest Hour (FOC), 4 theaters (0)/ $24K Fri /$48K Sat /$38K Sun/ 3-day cume: $110K (-37%) /PTA: $27,1k/ Total: $413k/ Wk 2

Pixar

4th Update Saturday AM writethru: The sluggish post-Thanksgiving period, which will continue into next weekend, is just a better weekend for studios to play into, versus go with a wide release. That’s essentially their thinking when it comes to overall ticket sales. During last year’s post-Turkey weekend, ticket sales amounted to $94.9M,  and this year it’s estimated to be 11% higher at $105.7M, and that’s because there’s a bit more meat throughout the chart. That includes solid holdovers like Thor: Ragnarok, with potent expanded indies like A24’s Lady Bird and Fox Searchlight’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri bringing up the rear. And let’s not forget the season’s sleeper, Wonder, which is well on its way to $100M before Christmas. But, again, everyone is saving their money to blow when Star Wars: The Last Jedi debuts on Thursday night, Dec. 14.

Disney/Pixar’s Coco, in the wake of winning best animated film from the New York Film Critics Circle and National Board of Review, is maintaining its hold on No. 1 with an estimated $27.8M, a bit better than what we saw Friday afternoon. While that’s only $470K less than what Moana made a year ago in weekend two, Coco is pacing behind the Pacific Island princess with a projected total by Sunday of $110.4M by 8%. Moana finaled at $248.8M. She stayed around 2,700 during the last two weeks of the holiday season, and we should expect Coco to have a similar hold on screens, especially as Disney has negotiating power with exhibitors thanks to Last Jedi. 

Warner Bros.’ Justice League is looking at $15.8M right now in its third weekend, down a hard 61%. At $196.5M, it’s 7% ahead of where Warner Bros. Thanksgiving hit Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was a year ago, and that pic ended its run at $234M, which if Justice League maintains that rate, will end its stateside run at around $250M. The pic only shed 231 locations this weekend. Through last weekend, overseas stands at $311M. It’s obviously past the $500M worldwide, but it hasn’t profited yet. $700M is really the safe, magic number which will trigger ancillaries to a break-even point.

Lionsgate/Participant Media’s sleeper Wonder is eyeing a $13.2M third weekend, a great 42% dip for a running cume by Sunday near $88.7M. It will certainly hit $100M by next weekend. As of this morning, schools in Valencia, CA, 25 miles north of Los Angeles, were swarming the local Regal for an early morning showtime.

Twentieth Century Fox

If there’s any action at the box office this weekend, it’s largely on the specialty side. Fox Searchlight’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, after jumping from 614 locations to 1,430, looks to turn in $4.5M in weekend 4, taking its running cume to $13.6M. We recapped how theater owners demanded the film this weekend, given the lack of product on the marquee across the country. Audiences in both blue and red states are enjoying it. Fox Searchlight could have busted this film in north of 2,000 locations, but the key during Oscar season is to create anticipation that can last throughout both the holiday season and the awards nom stretch. Three Billboards owns an A- CinemaScore.

SXSW

A24’s Lady Bird is also looking solid with a fifth weekend of $4M, a strong even hold. Then there’s A24/New Line’s The Disaster Artist which we’ve heard is a hot seller in its advance ticket sales, selling out at the Hollywood Arclight and theaters in Manhattan. A24 product has a wonderful pace in that their grosses continually improve throughout the weekend. Right now, at 19 locations, the making of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is looking at a fantastic $1.3M three-day. Current PTA is a great $69K. To date, Disaster Artist has accumulated a best adapted screenplay win with the National Board of Review, best actor for Franco from the Gotham Awards, and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best actor.

Fox Searchlight

Searchlight has nothing to complain about with Guillermo del Toro’s monster romance The Shape of Water earning $85K per theater at New York’s Angelika Downtown and Lincoln Center. What’s crucial in hitting these great theater averages is booking the right venues that can yield the bucks. And at this time of year, it’s crucial award-worthy product has at least a $50K theater average start. Sony Pictures Classic’s hold at four NY/LA spots with Call Me by Your Name is posting a strong second weekend theater average of $65k+ .

Amazon

Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel, Amazon’s first solo distributed title, is booked at primo-locales: The Angelika, Lincoln Plaza, and City Cinemas in NY; and Arclight and The Landmark in LA. But with a 40% Rotten Tomatoes score, no one is packing in theaters, with a $21.8K per theater. This is less than the $72K per theater posted by Allen’s previous Amazon release last summer, Cafe Society, which also opened at five locations. That movie busted wide in weekend 2 with $850K at 50 theaters, and after peaking at 631 sites during its run, ultimately made $11M at the domestic B.O. There’s just too much competition from better-reviewed films that already have some awards heat on them. Still, Kate Winslet’s turn as a frustrated 1950s Coney Island housewife is worth the price of admission. Wonder Wheel builds out to the top 10 markets next weekend.

After SAG Award and Golden Globe noms hit the week of Dec. 11, the outcome of above will no doubt be further impacted.

Industry estimates as of Saturday AM for the weekend of Dec. 1-3:

1.) Coco (DIS), 3,987 theaters / Fri: $6.3M (-67%)/ 3-day cume: $27.8M (-45%)/Total:$110.4M / Wk 2

2.) Justice League (WB), 3,820 theaters (-231)/$4.5M Fri/  3-day cume: $15.8M  (-61%)/Total: $196.5M/ Wk 3

3.) Wonder (Lionsgate), 3,449 theaters (+277) /$3.6M Fri/3-day cume: $13.2M (-42%)/ /Total: $88.7M/Wk 3

4). Thor: Ragnarok (DIS), 3,148 theaters (-133) / $2.3M Fri/ 3-day cume: $9.36M (-44%) / Total cume: $291M / Wk 5

5) Daddy’s Home 2 (PAR), 3,403 theaters (-115) /$2.1M Fri/ 3-day cume: $7.45M (-44%)/ Total: $82.8M/Wk 4

6) Murder on the Orient Express (FOX), 3,201 theaters (+49)/  $2M Fri/ 3-day cume: $7M (-47%)/Total: $85M/ Wk 4

7) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO (FSL), 1,430 theaters (+816) / $1.4M Fri/ 3-day cume: $4.5M (+2%) /Total: $13.6M /Wk 4

9). Lady Bird (A24), 1,194 theaters (+403) /$1.2M Fri/3-day cume: $4M (0%)/ Total cume: $16.6M / Wk 5

10.) The Star (SONY), 2,822 theaters (-15) /$874K Fri / 3-day cume: $3.8M (-45%)/Total:$27.1M/Wk 3

11). A Bad Moms Christmas (STX), 2,251 theaters (-55) /$1.1M Fri/3-day cume: $3.4M (-30%) /Total cume: $64.8M / Wk 5

12.) Roman J. Israel, Esq. (SONY),1,669 theaters (0)/$602K Fri/ 3-day cume: $2M (-55%)/Total: $9.6M/Wk 3

13.) The Disaster Artist  (A24), 19 theaters / $478K Fri/3-day cume: $1.32M /PTA: $69k /Wk 1

14.) The Man Who Invented Christmas (BST), 674 theaters (+48) /Fri $263K (-48%)/3-day cume: $913K  (-33%)/Total: $3.2M/ Wk 2

Notables:

Titanic 20th Anniversary  (PAR), 87 theaters / $172K Fri/3-day cume: $400k /Total: $659M/Wk 1

Call Me By Your Name  (SPC), 4 theaters (0)/ $77K Fri/3-day cume: $267k (-35%) /PTA: $66,6k /Total: $894K/Wk 2

The Shape of Water  (FSL), 2 theaters / $55K Fri/3-day cume: $170k /PTA: $85k /Wk 1

Wonder Wheel (AMZ), 5 theaters/ $37K Fri/3-day cume: $109k /PTA: $21,8k /Wk 1

Darkest Hour (FOC), 4 theaters (0)/ $24K Fri /3-day cume: $86K (-51%) /PTA: $20k/ Total: $388k/ Wk 2

1st Update, Thursday: Much like Labor Day weekend, the major studios will not be releasing new wide releases north of 2,000 theaters this weekend.

The first weekend of December is notoriously slow as the holiday season kicks in and moviegoers are pulled away. And next weekend, it doesn’t get any more exciting with the majors continuing to sit out. The only wide release on December 8 is the Tommy Lee Jones-Morgan Freeman action comedy Just Getting Started from Broad Green’s (which has gone back to the drawing board on its theatrical strategy).

In recent years, the first weekend of December has been largely confined to genre titles opening or also-ran independent titles that potentially won’t factor in awards season (read 2012’s Killing Them Softly, 2013’s Out of the Furnace). That said, it’s a time when holdovers can continue to post solid results: Last year, Disney’s Moana made $28.3 million in its second weekend, off 50%. The studio’s Pixar title Cocowhich is rapidly collecting critics accolades most recently from the National Board of Review and New York Film Critics Circle, looks to have a similar ease this fram and an exepected No. 1 hold with around $25M. Running cume to date is $80.5M.

The Shape of Water
TIFF

In addition, the post-Thanksgiving period is a prime time for awards-worthy titles on the specialty tracks to either expand or launch. However, if there’s a New York or Los Angeles launch in fewer than 10 theaters, it’s crucial a movie post $50,000 per screen or higher to remain buzzworthy in a fierce holiday environment. This weekend there’s a slew: Amazon’s first theatrical release sans a distribution partner, Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel in five LA/NYC plays; A24’s The Disaster Artist; and Fox Searchlight’s Guillermo del Toro festival hit The Shape of Water at the Angelika Downtown and AMC Lincoln Square in NYC.

Rotten Tomatoes ratings are high for Disaster Artist (95% certified) and Shape of Water (97% certified), though critics are so-so on Wonder Wheel at 43% Rotten. Despite that grade there’s been plenty of buzz for Kate Winslet’s turn as frustrated working-class 1950s Coney Island housewife following the pic’s premiere at the New York Film Festival two months ago. Ditto for Sally Hawkins’ sublime performance as a mute who falls in love with a sea monster during the Cold War in Shape of Water, and James Franco’s hysterically brilliant take on cult director Tommy Wiseau in Disaster Artist.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
20th Century Fox

Given the momentum for Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in its second-weekend Thanksgiving expansion, where the pic minted $4.4M at 614 sites, Fox Searchlight has met the call of several exhibitors and will break the drama in north of 1,000 theaters a week sooner than scheduled. The movie, with its sharp-rhetoric drama — especially between Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand — is playing equally well to blue- and red-state audiences. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri will be in play at 1,420 locations with an eye on making $4M or more. Running domestic cume to date is $8.8M, 22% ahead of where Spotlight was at the same point in time (that pic finaled at $45M off its Oscar Best Picture win).

Also holding their spots in second and third place, respectively, are Warner Bros/DC’s Justice League and Lionsgate/Participant’s Wonder with $15M-$20M and $11M-plus each. Midweek numbers versus the lead-up toward Thanksgiving have been softer for all titles. To date, Justice League counts $179M, while Wonder is at $74M.