3rd update, Sunday writethru: Jumanji remained king of the box office jungle despite the entry of three new titles, two of which were action films geared towards an older male audience — 12 Strong and Den of Thieves, both of which are estimated to take in mid-teens this weekend. January has begun to ratchet down after the holidays, with weekend ticket sales seeing an estimated $137M or down about 6.6% from a year ago. This was the weekend also that Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi shot past the $600M mark domestically with $604.25M.

Some will say that business is slow because all the kids returned to school, but ComScore shows only 3% of K-12 schools off with another 16% colleges on break. However, let’s not forget that a year ago, Universal/Blumhouse’s Split drew a great 45% under-25 crowd, surprising us with the fifth-best January start ever at $40M and legging out to $140M off a $9M production cost.

Alcon

No distributor in town could find a similar piece of lightning in a bottle this weekend akin to that M. Night Shyamalan film, and so we have two older male action films –Alcon/Black Label Media/Warner Bros.’ 12 Strong and STXfilms/Diamond Films’ Den of Thieves — splitting the crowd and respectively earning $16M+ and anywhere between $14.7M and $15M (STX thinks it will land around $15.3M) in spots 2 and 3. Last year at this time, xXx was down 42% on its Sunday so it is possible for Den of Thieves to drop less than 50% today.

But it is still a Jumanji-ruled world. The film is taking its third No. 1 rank in a row with an estimated $19.75M to $20M, down around 29%.

Through today, with a running five weekend total of $316.7M,  Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle becomes Sony’s fifth-highest film at the domestic B.O. after Spider-Man ($403.7M), Spider-Man 2 ($373.6M), Spider-Man 3 ($336.5M) and Spider-Man: Homecoming ($334.2M). 

But with 12 Strong and Den of Thieives, it’s almost like deja vu all over again: Instead of one older guy/ thrifty action title, specifically Lionsgate/StudioCanal’s The Commuter ($13.7M opening), we get two. This weekend, that Liam Neeson picture declines an estimated -50% to 7th place with $6.7M and a total running cume of $25.8M.

STXfilms

Both the Nicolai Fuglsig-directed 12 Strong and Den of Thieves cost around $30M before P&A, and another similarity between the two is that their main studio distributors have little risk: For both Warner Bros. and STXfilms, 12 Strong and Den of Thieves are respectively service deals so they’re getting a distribution fee. The Christian Gudegast-directed Den of Thieves’ estimated $25M+ P&A backstopped by Diamond Films which also provided gap financing. About 60% of the budget was covered by international pre-sales. When you add in tax credit, it brings more like around 70%. 12 Strong is meeting its industry expectations, while Den of Thieves is coming in stronger than the high-single digit projection. It took Den producers Tucker Tooley and Mark Canton 15 years to bring this film to the screen.

“Any of these films that you struggle to get made over a decade over even longer, it’s incredibly satisfying and with such strong results it confirms your instincts really,” Tooley told Deadline, who also gave high praise to producers Canton, Butler and Alan Siegel and distributor STX. They also target marketed Den of Thieves to the Hispanic and African American audiences, and it looked like it paid off. Exit polls from Friday showed the audience was made up of 25% from each quad, which shows room of growth those audiences.

Their cast is also socially engaged. 50 Cent and Butler have a combined Social Media Universe composed of 37.1M Facebook fans, 25.2M Facebook videos, 11.1M Twitter followers, 20.7M YouTube views and 21M Instagram followers. 50 Cent is the social driver with 62.6M SMU across FB, TW and IG. Butler has 1.6M on Instagram while O’Shea Jackson has 1.2M. Together, it’s a 115.1M SMU, all according to RelishMix.

Here’s the lowdown with these thrifty-priced action titles, which lack a theatrical event star like Dwayne Johnson or Tom Cruise: When it comes to such fare’s box office openings, the range is pretty narrow and distributors hope for a debut in the teens, a 3x multiple and an over-conversion of their domestic B.O. at 70% in the home entertainment market. In addition, this genre shoot-’em-up is built for the foreign market. They’re constructed to win as much as possible, and that’s why we see an abundance of them, i.e. 13 Hours, American Assassin, and The Commuter, continually hit the marquee. When it comes to the major agencies’ indie departments financing and packaging such low budget product, it’s not the Carols or the Lions of the world which are populating their lists in bulk; it’s these genre titles which typically star Gerard Butler, Nicolas Cage or Jason Statham, ones which hook a foreign audience.

Just like Bay’s 13 Hours, 12 Strong saw a big turnout from the patriotic crowd on Friday night, with a solid A CinemaScore. 55% males turned out, with 79% over-25, per CinemaScore. ComScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak shows an 81% overall positive, with 57% of the audience being men over 25. Sixty-three percent of the audience will recommend the feature adaptation of Doug Stanton’s Horse Soldiers to their friends. The slim minority of under-18ers at 6% gave 12 Strong its best CinemaScore grade of A+. The Chris Hemsworth-Michael Shannon-Michael Pena movie could over-index; 13 Hours posted $16.1M in its opening; however, that was juiced by MLK weekend two years ago. Final domestic B.O. was 3.3x its opening at $52.8M. Per RelishMix, Chris Hemsworth is the pic’s social media star with close to 23M across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and he’s definitely promoting the post- 9/11 Afghanistan war pic.

Den of Thieves gets a B+ CinemaScore, which is better than Butler’s previous outings of Geostorm, Gods of Egypt (both B-), and just under the A- of Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen. Both 12 Strong and Den of Thieves are succeeding better with audiences in terms of their reception than film reviewers. Den of Thieves is just above Butler’s opening for Geostorm ($13.7M), but, again, that film was 4x-plus more expensive than this bank heist picBut with close to 63M followers across FB, Twitter and Instagram, it’s 50 Cent who is the Den of Thieves social media star. PostTrak shows Men 25+ as the dominant crowd here at 43%. The Butler vs Hemsworth battle for women over 25 is quite close, respectively 31% to 32%.

Roadside Attractions’ Forever My Girl was another title showing a divide between audiences and critics, with the former giving it an “A” CinemaScore and Rotten Tomatoes slapping this feature adaptation of Heidi McLaughlin’s novel with an 18% rotten. Roadside considers this acquisition for them to be a win.

The general industry estimates have the drama grossing anywhere between $4.29M and $4.38M for the three-day; however, Roadside has it much higher — at $4.7M with only a slight percentage drop on Sunday because of its strong female audience (exits showed 78% of its audience were women). Roadside expects to expand the film this coming weekend by an additional 500 runs.

Industry estimates for the weekend of Jan. 19-21:

1.) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle  (SONY), 3,704 theaters (-145) / $4.85M Fri. (-19%) / $9.5M Sat. (+96%) / $5.68M Sun. (-40%) / 3-day: $19.75M to $20M (-29%) / Total cume: $316.7M / Wk 5

2.) 12 Strong (WB/ALC), 3,002 theaters / $5.6M Fri. / $6.8M Sat. (+21%) / $3.75M Sun. (-45%) /  3-day: $16.2M / Wk 1

3.) Den of Thieves (STX), 2,432 theaters / $5.65M Fri. / $6M Sat. (+7%) / $2.5M to $3M Sun. (-42% to 50%) / 3-day: $14.7M to $15M+ / Wk 1

4.) The Post (FOX/DW), 2,851 theaters (+32) / $3.5M Fri. (-41%) / $5.5M Sat. (+59%) / $3M (-45%) / 3-day: $12.1M (-37%) / Total: $45.19M / Wk 5

5.) The Greatest Showman  (FOX), 2,823 theaters (-115) / $3M Fri. (-2%) / $4.9M (+66%$) / $2.9M (-40%) / 3-day: $10.9M (-12%) / Total: $113.39M / Wk 5

6.) Paddington 2 (WB), 3,702 theaters / $1.785M Fri. (-26%) / 3-day: $8.3M (-25%) / $3.9M Sat. (+122%) / $2.5M Sun. (35%) / Total: $25M / Wk 2

7.) The Commuter (LG), 2,892 theaters / $2M Fri. (-55%) / $3.1M Sat. (+59%) / $1.7M Sun. (-45%) / 3-day: $6.7M (-50%) / Total: $25.8M / Wk 2

8.) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (DIS), 2,456 theaters (-634) / $1.6M  Fri. (-38%) / $3.158M Sat. (+95%) / $1.7M Sun. (-45%) / 3-day: $6.6M (-45%) Total: $604.25 M / Wk 6

9.) Insidious: The Last Key (UNI), 2,546 theaters (-604) / $1.8M Fri. (-48%) / $2.7M Sat. (+55%) / $1.39M Sun. (50%) / 3-day: $5.96M (-52%) / Total: $58.7M / Wk 3

10.) Forever My Girl (RSA), 1,115 theaters / $1.46M Fri. / $1.8M Sat. (+24%) / $1M Sun. (-40%) / 3-day: $4.29M to $4.38M / Wk 1

11). Proud Mary (Sony), 2,125 theaters / $1M Fri. (-67%) / $1.7M Sat. (+76%) / $884K Sun. (50%) / 3-day: $3.65M (-63%) / Total: $16.9M / Wk 2 

1st update, Friday 7:30AM: For the third weekend in a row, Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is expected to slot No. 1 in its fifth go-round at the box office with $15M-$16M as wide entries 12 Strong from Alcon/Black Label Media/Warner Bros. and Den of Thieves from STXfilms and Diamond Film Productions hit the marquee.

STXfilms

Den of Thieves drew a solid $950K last night in its Thursday night shows and will play at 2,432 locations with an eye at a three-day in the high single digits. Den of Thieves, directed by Christian Gudegast and starring Gerard Butler is a bank heist film about an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. and California’s most successful bank robbery crew as the latter plans a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank. Last night’s ticket sales were more than twice of Jamie Foxx’s Sleepless and ahead of The Commuter ($700K) and American Assassin ($915K). The last two movies opened respectively to $13.7M and $14.8M. Den of Thieves was fully financed by Diamond Film for $30M and the pic reps a distribution deal for STXfilms. The P&A will be backstopped by Diamond Film.

Warner Bros. Pictures

12 Strong from producer  Jerry Bruckheimer earned $900K, which is sync with such war pic comps as Hacksaw Ridge ($750,000 Thurs, $15.2 FSS) and Michael Bay’s 13 Hours ($925,000 Thurs, $19.2m FSSM). The movie based on Doug Stanton’s book Horse Soldiers about the first Special Forces team deployed too Afghanistan after 9/11 is expected to bring in $15M. Critics are pretty hard on Den of Thieves, as well as the other older male choice offering 12 Strong with respective Rotten Tomatoes scores of 36% and 54% Rotten. Black Label Media is the lead financier on this mid $30M-budgeted post 9/11 war pic with Alcon handling P&A through their distribution deal with Warner Bros.

Yesterday Jumanji came in second with $1.57M behind 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks/Participant’s The Post which made $1.7M. But,  of course, it’s the matinees which is expected to ride Jumanji to a No. 1 take. The Jake Kasdan-directed movie has already grossed close to $297M and many believe it will end its run between $350M-$360M. On the high end, that will make Jumanji the third-highest grossing film ever for Sony stateside after Spider-Man ($403.7M) and Spider-Man 2 ($373.6M) — a huge win for the Tom Rothman administration at Sony (worldwide, the Dwayne Johnson-Jack Black-Kevin Hart-Karen Gillan pic is at $700M).

The Post is expected to ease 45% in its second wide weekend with an estimated $10.6M per industry calculations. The current running cume for the Steven Spielberg-directed pic is $33M.

Lionsgate/StudioCanal’s The Commuter currently with a first week of $19M will be down 50% to 55% for a second weekend in the $6M range.  

Paddington 2 from Warner Bros./StudioCanal will be down 40% to 45% in weekend 2 which will also be in the same range as Commuter.

Screen Gems/Sony’s Proud Mary is not expected to keep on rolling with a projected 60% tumble in her second weekend with close to $4M.