UPDATE, SATURDAY, 8:00AM: With studio-reported estimates after 12:3AM post. Distrib chiefs earlier in the week spoke about how Friday and Saturday are the saving graces during Super Bowl weekend since most films are frontloaded on those two days. Well, Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s American Sniper is the only film that continues to hook the masses and hammer the competition. Industry estimates had it at $9.9M last night, but Warner Bros. is calling Friday at $10M, with the rest of this weekend’s audience fractured across so-so choices at the multiplex. Current cume for American Sniper stands at $227.1M. The industry sees the Clint Eastwood film making double digit gains on Saturday, and if the film clears $31.12M, it will be the biggest haul for a movie during the Big Game frame, beating the bow of 2008’s Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert.
If weekend estimates seem low, it’s because most B.O. analysts are predicting Saturday-to-Sunday drops of 70% or greater due to big game. Family films such as Paddington will post softer daily declines on Super Bowl Sunday. That coupled with Saturday matinees, will propel the Bear to second place over Project Almanac with an estimated $7.8-$7.9M. Paddington made $1.938M per TWC yesterday.
In a distant second on Friday, Paramount’s teen sci-fi MTV film Project Almanac charted $3.1M, far below the industry’s mid-day estimate. The revised take on Project Almanac sees the film coming in way short of its $10-$12M projection, with $7.75M, further hindered by a B CinemaScore. It’s a disappointment considering how much O.T. Paramount put into promoting Project Almanac, creating interstitials geared toward the MTV universe, not to mention hitting a number of blossoming social media platforms.
With Snapchat, Paramount ran a custom Project Almanac video grabbing 16M impressions in 24 hours. Par also hooked up with Wattpad, where users contribute YA driven stories. The company targeted top writers on the platform to revisit their most popular stories, giving a character a “second chance” to play out a situation differently, much like the Project Almanac characters. The promo drew over 1.3M views, delivering Wattpad’s most successful campaign to date. Messaging app Yikyak targeted potential colleges crowds. In addition, Paramount engaged online influences by creating custom Project Almanac-themed videos with popular YouTubers including Smosh, Alexis Zall, Loanthony, Andrea Russett and popular Viner, Zach King, reaching a combined fan base of over 25M.
Relativity’s Black or White made $2.3M Friday and is now on track to slot fourth with $6.2M, above what the industry was pegging the film at during mid-day, but below its projected $7-9M estimate. The film earned a much needed A- CinemaScore. Kevin Costner and Rod Lake financed the film. Costner mentioned in interviews that he made the racial family drama outside of the studio system since the majors don’t make movies like this anymore. The film played at Toronto and found distribution through Relativity, but never caught on fire with awards bloggers or voters, for what most critics (at 34% rotten) saw as a movie-of-the-week without the crossover potential of such crowd pleasing African American dramas such as The Help, which appealed to auds in the South and the heartland. Black or White’s lack of awards and critical traction remain its biggest banes.
Universal’s Jennifer Lopez film The Boy Next Door is slightly down from mid-day industry projections with $2M (Universal says $2.1M) on Friday night and an anticipated FSS of $5.7M, off 61% in its second frame with a cume just over $24M. Some analysts think the film could make $6M this weekend. The $4M Blumhouse production should rank fifth. That 61% drop is steeper than Lopez’s previous thriller, 2002’s Enough which bowed to a similar gross as Boy Next Door — $14M — but only declined 51% on its way to a final cume of $40M.
Sony’s The Wedding Ringer generated $1.9M Friday with a projected $5.8M FSS and a $48.2M cume. The Kevin Hart film will soon surpass his romantic comedy About Last Night ($48.6M), the title that mostly all analysts have been using as a comp for the comedian’s latest R-rated film.
The weekend’s third new wide release, eye-candy thriller The Loft is way off its mid single digits estimate, with a projected 10th place haul of $2.6M. The film, which was kicked between Warner Bros. and Universal before landing at Open Road, earned a B- CinemaScore and a 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Hardly any critics saw the film, and of the 17 who did, all of them gave it a thumbs down. Open Road is reporting a $1.179M Friday.
Focus Features’ submarine treasure hunt pic Black Sea, which earned an 84% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score, expanded its theaters from five in New York and Los Angeles to 313 in its second sesh, reaping enormous gains on Friday with $144K and an estimated FSS of $386K. Cume by Sunday should be at $438K.
The top 10 films per industry estimates on Friday night:
1). American Sniper (WB), 3,885 theaters (+180)/ $9.9M Fri. (-46%) /3-Day: $31.3M (-52%)/Total cume: $248.7M/ Wk 6
2). Paddington (TWC), 3,303 theaters (-52) / $1.9M Fri. (-27%) / 3-Day: $7.8M (-36%) / Total cume: $49.9M /Wk 3
3). Project Almanac (Par), 2,893 theaters / $3.1M Fri. / 3-Day: $7.75M/ Wk 1
4). Black or White (REL), 1,823 theaters / $2.3M Fri./ 3-Day: $6.2M / Wk 1
5). The Boy Next Door (UNI), 2,615 theaters (13)/ $2M Fri.(-64%)/ 3-Day: $5.7M (-61%)/ Total cume: $24.1M/Wk 2
6). The Wedding Ringer (Sony), 2,820 theaters (-183)/ $1.89M Fri. (-42%) / 3-Day: $5.6M (-50%)/ Total cume: $48M /Wk 3
7). The Imitation Game (TWC), 2,402 theaters (+377) / $1.6M Fri. (-15%) / 3-Day: $5.38M (-22%)/Total cume: $68.1M / Wk 10
8). Taken 3 (Fox), 2,533 theaters (-376)/$2M Fri (-42%). / 3-Day: $3.8M (-48%)/Total cume: $81.5M/ Wk 4
9). Strange Magic (DIS), 3,020 theaters (0) / $1.3M Fri. (-35%)/ 3-Day: $3.5M (-36%)/Total cume: $9.9M/ Wk 2
10). The Loft (OPRD), 1,841 theaters / $1M Fri. / 3-Day: $2.6M/ Wk 1
Selma (Par), 1,714 theaters (-332) / $892K Fri. (-40%)/ 3-Day: $2.7M (-50%)/Total cume: $43.6M / Wk 6
Game Of Thrones (WB), 205 theaters/ $686K Fri. / 3-Day: $1.9M / Wk 1
Birdman (FSL) 976 theaters (+143)/ $466K Fri. (-5%)/3-day cume: $1.66M (-14%)/Total cume: $33.38M/Wk 16
Mortdecai (LGF), 2,648 theaters (0)/ $491K Fri. (-67%)/ 3-Day: $1.5M (-64%)/Total cume: $6.9M/Wk 2
The Theory of Everything (FOC), 858 theaters (+349)/ $286K Fri. (-11%)/ 3-day cume: $982K (-22%)/Total cume: $30.5M / Wk 13
Whiplash (SPC) 525 theaters (-42)/$174K Fri. (-11%)/3-day cume: $620K (-21%)/Total cume: $8.5M/Wk 17
Black Sea (FOC) 313 theaters (+308)/$144K Fri. (+1102%)/ 3-day cume: $386K (+925%)/Total cume: $438K/Wk 2
Cake (FREE), 482 theaters (0) /$93K Fri. (-67%)/ $3-day cume: $266K (-71%) /Total cume: $1.58M / Wk 2
Boyhood (IFC), 125 theaters (-79) / $17K Fri. (-63%)/3-day cume: $57K (-69%)/Total cume: $24.96M/ Wk 30
PREVIOUS, FRIDAY 1:30PM: Midday industry estimates show Warner Bros/Village Roadshow’s American Sniper in first place with $9.8M on Friday and a projected FSS of $29.4M at 3,885 theaters. Box office analysts are expecting the film to spike 55% on Saturday night with $15.2M and falling 71% on Super Bowl Sunday with $4.4M. Domestic B.O. through six weekends is projected to be at $246.5M through Sunday.
Paramount’s Project Almanac is looking to bow in second with $4.8M today and $12.2M FSS at 2,893 venues. The film, which Paramount sneaked to favorable reactions at last summer’s Comic-Con, has a production cost of $12M. Project Almanac is opening day-and-date in Russia, Spain, New Zealand and select other territories, repping 20% of the overall foreign footprint. The UK, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Germany rollouts will begin in mid-February.
In third, TWC/Dimension’s Paddington is on track for $2.02M today and a weekend of $8.8M at 3,303 theaters, raising its cume past $50M by Sunday.
Universal’s Jennifer Lopez thriller The Boy Next Door is projected to log $2.2M today and a FSS of $6.34M in 2,615 hubs, off 57% from its opening weekend. Domestic cume by Sunday is estimated to be at $24.9M.
Fifth place belongs to Sony/Screen Gems’ The Wedding Ringer with $2.04M in its third Friday and an estimated weekend of $6.1M on 2,820 for an expected stateside cume of $48.6M by Sunday.
Newcomers Black Or White from Relativity and The Loft from Open Road are filing outside the top five for the weekend with FSS of $5.5M and $3.7M, respectively. The Kevin Costner-Octavia Spencer drama Black Or White is currently eyeing a $2M Friday in 1,823 theaters, while The Loft is projected at $1.5M in 1,841.
Warner Bros.’ release of HBO’s Game Of Thrones The IMAX Experience in 205 playdates is looking at a gross today of $1M with a projected weekend of $2.85M and a per theater average of $13,902. The last two episodes of Season Four, “The Watchers on the Wall” and “The Children,” are digitally remastered into the format’s image and sound quality with proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology.
PREVIOUS, FRIDAY 7:25 AM: Paramount Pictures is reporting its Platinum Dunes sci-fi time travel film Project Almanac pulled in $375,000 in evening shows on Thursday and is eyeing $10M to $12M in its opening weekend. It opens wide everywhere today, playing in 2,893 locations.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY, 12:28 PM: Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s American Sniper is expected to continue to dominate this weekend with approximately $35-$36M, off 44%, despite the fact that Super Bowl Sunday will steal away a number of male auds. Years ago, the studios use to consider the Big Game frame to be a deathtrap at the box office, however, distrib execs’ attitudes have changed in recent years as certain films geared toward females and teens have broken through to notables openings, i.e. the two highest openings over Super Bowl weekend are 2008’s Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best Of Both Worlds concerts ($31.1M) and 2010’s Dear John ($30.5M). Even a male-demo pic has a chance during Super Bowl weekend with most of its business being frontloaded on Friday and Saturday. Case in point: During the Super Bowl weekend of Feb. 5-7, 2010, Avatar in its eighth weekend did $22.9M, while 2009’s Taken drew in guys with a $24.7M FSS. Warner Bros. is adding 180 theaters tomorrow to American Sniper‘s count, raising it to 3,885 by tomorrow. American Sniper continues to be the widest R-rated release ever. Its domestic B.O. to date through yesterday is $209.6M. Universal’s Jennifer Lopez title The Boy Next Door is looking at about a 60% slide with $6M FSS.
But more than the Big Game, another gigantic snowstorm in the Northeast, and also in the Midwest, has some distribution folks concerned. Outside of that, the anticipation is that Super Bowl weekend will be as solid as in previous years. While 2013 and 2014 respectively charted $88.6M and $86.1M total domestic weekends, the Super Bowl frame has the potential to rack up $100-$128M in domestic ticket sales.
Looking to gather teens is Paramount’s Platinum Dunes sci-fi time travel film Project Almanac, which will unspool in over 2,800 locations and should see $10-$12M over three days. Released through the studio’s Insurge label and MTV Films, Paramount has been pushing Project Alamanac via unique promotional interstitials on MTV with the theme of ‘What would you redo in your life?’. There was also a Project Almanac video released on teen social media platform Snapchat. Paramount was estimating to get 7-8M impressions from the video and they received 16M. In addition, there was a special Project Almanac vignette promo that aired during last night’s episode of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars, an ‘it’ TV series for tweens and young teens.
Relativity Studios is opening Kevin Costner’s Black Or White in around 1,700 locations with an expected FSS of $7-9M. The film written and directed by Mike Binder, whose 2005 film The Upside Of Anger also starred Costner, follows a grandfather (Costner) who is suddenly left to care for his beloved granddaughter. When her paternal grandmother (Octavia Spencer) seeks custody with the help of her brother (Anthony Mackie), the little girl is torn between two families who love her. The drama, which is inspired by real events, premiered at last September’s Toronto International Film Festival. Costner financed it with Rod Lake. Black Or White is a Treehouse Films production in association with Sunlight Productions and IM Global; the latter which is also handling foreign with Relativity.
Open Road Films, which was able to penetrate Halloween weekend with a $10.4M bow of its cult thriller Nightcrawler, is looking to lure women with the thriller The Loft this weekend. The film directed by Erik Van Looy was acquired by Open Road after Universal punted the thriller off its release schedule back in June. Originally the film was set up at Warner Bros. at its Dark Castle label in 2011. Sources say The Loft should make mid-single digits over FSS. The murder mystery follows five married guys who share a penthouse where they indulge in their extramarital affairs. Chaos ensues when a woman’s dead body turns up. The Loft stars James Marsden, Rachael Taylor, Rhona Mitra, Eric Stonestreet, Karl Urban and Wentworth Miller. There have been TV spot buys for The Loft on Oxygen, VH1, Logo, WE, TNT, TBS, MTV, Adult Swim, Syfy as well as ABC Family.
Fox Searchlight’s PGA and SAG feature ensemble winner Birdman is scheduled to raise its theater count from 833 to 962. Through yesterday, Birdman has collected $31.35M stateside. Brian Brooks will weigh in with the arthouse preview tomorrow.