Sunday AM: Disney dominated this weekend’s box office, commanding the top two spots with Marvel’s mighty Black Panther and Ava Duvernay’s’ A Wrinkle in Time. With an 84% from Friday to Saturday, Black Panther will gross $41.1M for the weekend as it pushes to almost $562M. A Wrinkle In Time will end its debut weekend with $33.3M.
Black Panther has owned the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office for four weekends in a row. This weekend, the Ryan Coogler-directed movie crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide, becoming Walt Disney Studios’ 16th title and the MCU’s 5th ever to pass that benchmark.
Despite A Wrinkle in Time posting a softer opening in comparison to its huge $100M-plus production cost, Disney isn’t crying: They easily own the top two spots at the box office, plus it’s a major breakthrough for two films which boast positive messages of diversity.
What A Wrinkle in Time has to look forward to are rolling spring breaks in hopes of luring families. On Monday, 18% of K-12 students are out and 37% of colleges; those figures will spike over Easter weekend with Good Friday seeing 79% of K-12 out and 43% of colleges. Even though A Wrinkle in Time had a marketing campaign which sought to hook a diverse moviegoing crowd, African-American and Hispanic crowds turned out at 18% and 14%, respectively, along with 54% Caucasian per ComScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak. Compare this to Black Panther‘s first weekend, which pulled in 37% African-American, 36% Caucasian and 17% Hispanic. Arguably, Black Panther is stealing away a good bulk of A Wrinkle in Time‘s audience. However, if the exit scores on the female family movie were higher, its chances of over-indexing would be greater.
From day one of production on this film, Disney pulled out all the stops in promoting A Wrinkle in Time. Ava DuVernay tweeted out the production start back on November 2, 2016 followed by a mannequin challenge of the #InclusiveCrew and cast on set.
The official ramp up for the film began in July with a first-look debut across EW, People and Essence, followed by a teaser trailer and poster debut at D23 Expo with the cast and a viral stunt at Comic-Con recreating the film’s Camazotz eerie bouncing ball scene. A trailer also also dropped during the simulcast premiere of Descendants 2 across ABC, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Lifetime and Freeform. Another trailer arrived in November, which later was attached to Star Wars: The Last Jedi in theaters.
Though the pic was originally dated for April 6, its launch was moved next to March 8, International Woman’s Day. Stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Storm Reid and Gugu Mbatha-Raw took part in a Google Talk broadcast live on that day with custom content along with #HereWeAre spots. Overall, this cast worked tirelessly to promote the movie, including surprising fans at Disney California Adventure with a sneak peek of the film. RelishMix reports that the cast drove 40% of the movie’s solid 304M-plus social media universe. Winfrey reaches over 67M social media followers across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with Witherspoon counting 18.4M and Mindy Kaling north of 15M.
There was a Warriors Who Code event in partnership with Facebook, Black Girls Code, Nissan jetBlue and HP which hosted 50 young women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in a coding challenge to unlock prizes and an early viewing of A Wrinkle in Time, with surprise appearances by the cast.
Promotional partners included Nissan with a $100K prize filmmaker contest, HP, jetBlue, W Hotels, Elizabeth Arden, Alex and Ani, and Crate & Barrel. jetBlue sent out emails to its customers encouraging them to see the movie this weekend and announcing that the pic will play in flight as early as May 1. The soundtrack featured a song by Sade which was her first new track in seven years “Flower of the Universe.”
As we mentioned in the previous update Winfrey’s machine was there to deliver for the film, and there was the crowdfunding “Give a Child the Universe” Color of Change and AMC campaign to provide tickets to underprivileged kids. Questlove created the #WrinkleChallenge to encourage celebrities and followers to donate to the initiative. Bad Feminist author Roxanne Gay bought out two screenings at the ArcLight Culver City over the weekend. One of the most personal pushes for DuVernay was having her hometown of Compton, CA host the first public screening of A Wrinkle in Time. The city has no movie theaters, so Disney created a pop-up one with great sound and picture quality. Last Sunday’s Oscars on ABC offered a final synergistic flourish courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel’s stunt of bringing stars across Hollywood Boulevard to surprise an audience catching an early screening of the movie.
Other pictures in their first weekend of release include Strangers: Prey at Night, which took the No. 3 spot this weekend for a tidy meal of $10.2M. The Hurricane Heist blew in at No. 9 with $2.8M+ while Gringo didn’t even open in the Top Ten with a 2,404 theater release. It opened below Jumanji, which is in its 12th weekend of release.
NOTEWORTHY: Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water bumped up its theater count this weekend by 720 to capitalize on its Best Picture Oscar win. Its domestic cume has now risen to $60.85M. Also, New Line/Warner Bros.’ Game Night had a great hold in weekend 3 of -24%. There’s some word of mouth in effect here and the R-rated Jason Batman-Rachel McAdams comedy has a shot of getting into the $60M range.
Industry estimates for the weekend of March 9-11:
1). Black Panther (DIS), 3,942 theaters (-142) / $10M Fri. / $18.5M Sat. (+84%) / $12M Sun. (-35%) / 3-day: $41.1M (-39%) / Total: $562M / Wk 4
2). A Wrinkle in Time (DIS), 3,980 theaters / $10.2M Fri. (includes $1.2M previews) / $13.6M Sat. (+33%) / $9M (-33%) / 3-day: $33.3M / Wk 1
3). Strangers: Prey at Night (AVI), 2,464 theaters / $3.9M Fri. / $3.9M Sat. (0%) / $2.3M Sun. (-40%) / 3-day: $10.2M / Wk 1
4). Red Sparrow (FOX), 3,064 theaters (+8) / $2.3M Fri. / $3.6M Sat. (+56%) / $2.1M Sun. (-40%) / 3-day: $8.15M (-51%) / Total: $31.1M / Wk 2
5). Game Night (NL/WB), 3,061 theaters (-441) / $2.1M Fri. / $3.55M Sat. (+62%) / $2.1M Sun. (-40%) / 3-day: $7.88M (-24%) / Total: $45M / Wk 3
6). Peter Rabbit (SONY), 3,112 theaters (-495) / $1.4M Fri. (-27%) / $3.1M Sat. (+112%) / $2M Sun. (-35%) day: $6.6M (-34%) / Total: $93.4M / Wk 5
7). Death Wish (MGM), 2,882 theaters (+35) / $1.7M Fri. (-59%) / $2.9M Sat. (+69%) / $1.9 Sun. (-35%) / 3-day: $6.6M (-49%) / Total: $23.8M / Wk 2
8). Annihilation (PAR), 1,709 theaters (-403) / $870K Fri. (-43%) / $1.4M (+62%) / $916K (-35%) / 3-day: $3.15M (-43%) / Total: $26.1M / Wk 3
9). The Hurricane Heist (EST), 2,402 theaters / $925K Fri. / $1.2M Sat. (+31%) / $900K Sun. (-38%) / 3-day: $2.85M to $3M / Wk 1
10). Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (SONY), 2,157 theaters (-156) / $665K Fri. (-38%) / $1.28 Sat. (+94%) / $800K+ (-35%) / 3-day: $2.7M (-37%) / Total: $397.2M / Wk 12
11). Gringo (AMX/STX), 2,404 theaters / $983K Fri. / $1M Sat. (+5%) / $670 K (-40%) / 3-day: $2.63M / Wk 1
12). The Shape of Water (FSL), 1,552 theaters (+720) / $620K Fri (+80%) / $1M Sat. (+67%) / $675K Sun. (-35%) / 3-day: $2.3M (+58%) / Total: $60.85M / Wk 15
Saturday AM writethru following Friday midday update: Disney will own the box office with two films touting diverse casts, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther now at No. 1 with an estimated $41M and Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time with $32.7M.
At a time when our U.S. President cultivates division in society, Hollywood and moviegoers counter that by supporting pics with positive messages of inclusivity.
A Wrinkle in Time is arriving where tracking saw it in the mid-$30Ms, with the added bonus that it beat Marvel’s monolith Black Panther on Friday, $10.3M to $10M. Generating an 89% positive score among 13-17 year olds, A Wrinkle in Time is clearly a weekend matinee movie and before calling its ticket sales final, let’s see how it plays out later tonight.
Currently, the pic’s opening is coming in higher than many other feature kid lit adaptations including Wonder ($27.5M), Bridge to Terabithia (another Newbery Medal winner at $22.56M), The Golden Compass ($25.78M), Where the Wild Things Are ($32.7M) and Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief ($31.2M).
DuVernay had mentioned at screenings and the premiere that A Wrinkle in Time was squarely made for kids, and the under 18 bunch at 31% and the under 25 set at 39% are giving the pic an A- per CinemaScore. Females repped close to 70% of Friday night’s audience. With an overall B CinemaScore, who is dragging down Wrinkle‘s grades? Why, that would be adults over 25 who turned up at 61% and graded the pic a B-.
Rival studio executives would like nothing more than to gaze on Disney’s humanity at the B.O. this weekend, having buzzed that a $30M-ish start for A Wrinkle in Time just doesn’t cut it profit-wise with regard to this $100M-plus production (a $40M-plus start would put this pic at a better end-game stateside which is where it needs to make most of its money). With combined estimated $250M P&A and production costs film finance sources do not see A Wrinkle in Time breaking even, but given the lack of family product in the U.S./Canada marketplace, there’s a chance it gets to $100M-$120M.
However, it is because of Disney’s enormous global B.O. track record that they’re able to swing at the fences with this lavish sci-fi fantasy (some believe it’s more in the net $120M range before P&A) of A Wrinkle in Time with a big-name cast including Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Zach Galifianakis, Mindy Kaling, etc.
A Wrinkle in Time is a very ambitious property for any director to bring to the screen with its physics sci-fi narrative. As co-scribe Jennifer Lee told Anne Thompson at Deadline’s fellow site IndieWire, “You have to evoke what it feels like…You can’t translate it literally. It’s an evocative book that everyone has a unique relationship with. You can’t try to make it definitive. You have to be inspired by what is there, show them something unique.” Bringing the 56-year old novel up to speed in regards to science and grounded humanity was key. Critics were hard on A Wrinkle in Time this weekend at 42% Rotten, but they also pounded on the 2003 ABC Movie directed by John Kent Harrison. No wonder it took so long to turn this book into a movie. One reason we’ve heard was because author Madeleine L’Engle didn’t want to sell film rights for some time. Prior to Disney’s purchase of Miramax in 1993, the Weinstein-run company purchased the film franchise rights to A Wrinkle in Time in an effort to revive what was then a stalled family pic business with the hopes of turning the novel into a $15M-budgeted film. Screenwriters like John August and Beauty and the Beast‘s Linda Woolverton took cracks at adapting L’Engle’s story about 13-year old Meg Murry, who seeks to rescue her father from a time trap with the help of her genius brother Charles Wallace and three goddesses. Disney would retain the rights in 2010, with Jeff Stockwell writing. Lee landed the assignment to write a new version four years ago with DuVernay choosing the project to direct in February 2016 after passing on Black Panther.
Even if Wrinkle isn’t a global B.O. win for Disney in the way that its Walden Media co-production The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was ($745M), there’s an enormous amount of takeaways here.
First of all, as studios look to mine new franchises, why not take a shot with A Wrinkle in Time? And if you’re going to make the movie, it demands to be built off a huge budget. Film financiers will argue otherwise or counter that franchises should be started on budgets lower than $100M, however, you can’t make A Wrinkle in Time on Wonder‘s $20M ledger. The intent here was to eventize a classic children’s novel with a fanbase that had never been brought to the screen before. Not making A Wrinkle in Time would be mistake.
Second, Disney has made a movie that many children of color can see themselves in. Winfrey and Kaling mentioned that such fare didn’t exist in the cinema when they were growing up. Similar to Black Panther, there was the crowdfunding initiative Give A Child The Universe sponsored by Color of Change and AMC Theatres to give underprivileged kids the opportunity to see A Wrinkle in Time for free this weekend.
Third, Disney fully backed and supported the vibrant vision of a passionate female director (the first African American woman to direct a $100M-plus event film), and such major studio corporate maneuvers shouldn’t be questioned, rather celebrated and continually championed. DuVernay got to make the movie she wanted from a literary property she’s cherished since childhood. Yes, we heard stories about test screenings and last minute tweaks, but that’s part of the Disney way of “plus-ing” and making a movie the best that it can be. This wasn’t a scenario where a studio bailed on a movie but rather, as we’ll detail in the next update, gave a tremendous promotional push (with an invigorating multi-cultural angle) to A Wrinkle in Time, with Winfrey even dropping her promo machine into fifth gear with custom spots and special looks during Queen Sugar, and Witherspoon, Winfrey and Kaling on the March cover of O. The magazine even hosted a special New York City screening.
Is A Wrinkle in Time‘s opening too close to the hit Black Panther? Sure, but at the same time you want to launch the film during a rolling spring break, to capitalize on family crowds. Even if kids are in school that’s a benefit as they can attend the film via field trips.
As a former wise female distribution executive once exclaimed to me on a Sunday morning following her film’s shortcoming at the box office seven years ago, “We don’t go into these things to fail.”
Audiences thumbed-down the other trio of wide entries this weekend with Entertainment Studios’ Hurricane Heist landing a B-, with a 55% male turnout, 73% over 25. Byron Allen’s company acquired the movie pre-finished from the producers for seven digits and a P&A spend much lower than Hostiles estimated $23M.
Aviron’s Strangers: Prey at Night, the best of the bunch in ticket sales with an estimated $10M, landed a C CinemaScore, which is average for a horror movie with those under 18 giving it its best grade of a B (13%). Males turned out for this R-rated film at 53% with 52% under 25. This was a microbudget pic in the low single digits that Aviron acquired at the script stage. They’ve already made their production cost back before P&A which was targeted at the under 25 set in a strong digital push.
Hardly anyone wants to see Amazon Studios’ Charlize Theron-David Oyelowo-Joel Edgerton action pot-pill comedy Gringo, which is flailing with $2.8M. It looks like it has an arthouse vibe, but the fact that they can’t platform speaks volumes that they have to make their money back fast on this, especially with a C+ audience score. 52% females, 85% over 25 were the few that sat in seats.
Industry estimates for the weekend of March 9-11:
1..) Black Panther (DIS), 3,942 theaters (-142) / $10M Fri (-37%) / 3-day: $41M (-38%)/Total: $561.8M/Wk 4
2..) A Wrinkle in Time (DIS), 3,980 theaters / $10.3m Fri (includes $1.2M previews)/3-day: $32.7M /Wk 1
3..) Strangers: Prey at Night (AVI), 2,464 theaters / $4M Fri /3-day: $10M /Wk 1
4..) Red Sparrow (FOX), 3,064 theaters (+8) / $2.3m Fri (-61%)/3-day: $7.9M (-53%)/Total: $30.9M/ Wk 2
5..) Game Night (NL/WB), 3,061 theaters (-441) / $2.1m Fri (-27%)/3-day: $7.7M (-26%)/Total: $44.8M/Wk 3
6..) Peter Rabbit (SONY), 3,112 theaters (-495) / $1.4M Fri (-27%) /3-day: $6.5M (-35%) /Total: $93.1M/Wk 5
7..) Death Wish (MGM), 2,882 theaters (+35) / $1.7M Fri (-59%)/3-day: $6M (-54%)/Total: $23.3M/Wk 2
8..) Annihilation (PAR), 1,709 theaters (-403) / $870K Fri (-43%)/3-day: $3.2M (-43%)/Total: $26.1M/Wk 3
9..) The Hurricane Heist (EST), 2,402 theaters / $950k Fri /3-day: $3M /Wk 1
10..) Gringo (AMX/STX), 2,404 theaters / $983K Fri /3-day: $2.8M /Wk 1
11..) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (SONY), 2,157 theaters (-156) / $660K Fri (-38%)/3-day: $2.7M (-39%)/Total:$397.2M/ Wk 12
12…) The Shape of Water (FSL), 1,552 theaters (+720) / $620K Fri (+80%) / 3-day: $2.4M (+64%)/Total: $61M/Wk 15
1st Update, 8:32AM: If there’s one headline Disney will own this weekend, it’s that they’ll have the No. 1 and No. 2 box office spots with films that star diverse ensemble casts: Marvel’s Black Panther and Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, which drew $1.3 million from previews Thursday starting at 7 PM.
Tracking has had A Wrinkle in Time in the low-to-high $30 million range over the past four weeks, but there’s a small constituency of analysts who believe the feature adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 Newberry Medal winning sci-fi children’s novel could cross into the $40Ms, which would be a decent start for a production reportedly budgeted at $100M. As has been widely reported, A Wrinkle in Time is the first mega-budget live-action event film to be directed by a woman of color.
Wrinkle in Time has a 43% Rotten Tomatoes score, though that may not necessarily impede its traction among women and young girls, its prime demo. There have been other kids films with platinum RT scores that have floundered at the B.O. (Paddington 2 at 100% certified fresh didn’t create a stampede with $40M, while Peter Rabbit, which will likely hit $100M, did so off a ho-hum 60% fresh RT rating.)
A Wrinkle in Time will be in play at 3,980 locations. Broken down, that’s 2,800 3D locations, 258 IMAX, 407 PLF, and 128 D-Box.
Note that families don’t really come out until tomorrow’s matinees, so we’re likely to see Black Panther win tonight. A Wrinkle in Time‘s preview cash is in between Alice Through the Looking Glass, which made $1.5M ahead of a $34M opening, and Wonder‘s $740K which saw a $28M debut. Wonder, which was based on a much beloved novel, legged out to $132M off 85% fresh reviews and a $20M production cost, while Alice 2 crashed at the B.O. with $77M off a $170M production cost despite earning an A- CinemaScore.
Black Panther, after collecting $4.1M yesterday, is starting its weekend with a domestic total of $520.8M. Many bet it will be No. 1 with $40M-plus in its fourth weekend.
A Wrinkle in Time will hope to hold its own not only against Black Panther stealing crowds away but also The Strangers: Prey at Night from Aviron. Yes, that horror movie. The R-rated pic could eat into an older femme crowd. Strangers 2 tracked between $6M-$10M earlier this week and last night made $610,000. The reported $5M microbudget sequel to the 2008 Bryan Bertino title, which he also co-scripted, follows a family in a secluded mobile home park who are are visited by three masked psychopaths one night. Chaos ensues. Pic has a 38% Rotten score.
There’s another mid-budget guy action pic in the marketplace, a genre that’s been overpopulated with titles like Den of Thieves, The Commuter and Death Wish. It’s Entertainment Studios’ The Hurricane Heist starring True Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten. Pic is expected to earn between $2M-$7M at 2,400 locations. Critics aren’t fans of the pic at 22% Rotten.
Amazon has the Nash Edgerton R-rated pot action comedy Gringo, which is being handled by STXfilms via a distribution deal. Starring Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Thandie Newton, and David Oyelowo, the pic is only expected to clear between $2M-$5.5M million at 2,404. It has 36% Rotten, and that won’t be enough to convince the older Amazon specialty demo to attend.