This week is boom time at the box office before we fall into the standard December pre-holiday funk that precedes Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Close to 100% of students are off from school and college per Rentrak Theatrical as three more releases hit the marquee on the heels of Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 opening weekend of $102.7M.
While Thanksgiving Day typically is down from Wednesday’s till, Black Friday explodes, which might sound odd. You would think with everyone shopping that box office would be down, but moviegoers typically shop in the morning and then head to the cinema by late afternoon and evening.
The post-Thanksgiving FSS of 2013 remains the record holder in total ticket sales with $208M. That’s when The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen presided over the charts, taking in $74.1M and $67.4M, respectively. Many distrib chiefs don’t think we’ll hit that number this weekend, but we’re likely to best last year’s post-Turkey FSS of $163.5M.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur walks over Katniss for the weekend’s five-day haul, but many studio analysts are siding with history, betting that MJ2 takes the 3-day with at least a 50% decline of $51.35M and five-day of $65M-$70M, while Dinosaur collects $45M over the three days and a five-day haul of $60M-$65M. Dinosaur previews start at 7 PM tomorrow with a planned weekend theater count of 3,700-plus, 75% of which are in 3D with some PLFs. In tracking, moms — women over 25 — are the top demos in first choice and unaided awareness. MJ1 made $82.7M over the Thanksgiving Wednesday-Sunday stretch last year, with a with-day of $56.97M.
Many in town are extremely excited by MGM/New Line’s Creed, which Warner Bros is distributing, expecting that it will be the sleeper hit of the holiday season. Ryan Coogler’s Rocky spinoff about the Italian Stallion training Apollo Creed’s son Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) is looking at a five-day in the $35M range with about $20M from the weekend in 3,400-plus theaters; a definite No. 3. Previews also begin tomorrow at 7 PM. In tracking, there’s been a strong response from African-American and Hispanic audiences, with men over/under 25 a solid lock. Creed is hitting the cinemas with an awesome 93% Rotten Tomatoes score. Estimated production costs is $37M-$38M, with MGM covering 50% of the budget, New Line on the hook for 37.5% and RatPac at 12.5%.
There’s always a play for genre fans over Thanksgiving. In previous years, older-guy films like Warner Bros.’ Ninja Assassin would make a cash grab at holiday crowds ($21M five-day opening, domestic B.O. $38M) or CBS’ Dwayne Johnson-Billy Bob Thorton car film Faster ($12M five-day, $23.2M domestic). This year it’s 20th Century Fox’s Victor Frankenstein starring, James McAvoy and Dr. Frankenstein and Harry Potter‘s Daniel Radcliffe as Igor. The film takes a twist on the classic tale and is told from Igor’s POV. Currently the film is showing interest among girls under 25 (makes sense, they’re Potter fans) and men over 25. Made for an estimated $40M, the film directed by Paul McGuigan is looking at a $12M gross from Wednesday to Sunday and $6M-$8M over FSS at an estimated 2,700 playdates. Previews start tomorrow at 7 PM.
The Weinstein Co.’s Carol, after posting a fantastic $63K per theater last weekend will hold in four venues in New York and Los Angeles. The Danish Girl from Focus Features about painter Lili Elbe’s life as a transgender pioneer is also debuting in four theaters in NYC and LA. It currently has a healthy 83% Rotten Tomatoes score which will certainly spur business among upscale adults. As we’ve seen with other limited titles this year, $50K/theater would be a decent start for this Tom Hooper-directed title.