UPDATED, 6:17 PM: As we pointed out, oh … 13 days ago, September was bound to cross the $700M mark. ComScore made it official tonight that the 30-day month grossed an all-time domestic record of $708.9M, up 19% from last year’s $594.5M and 14.7% higher than the previous September record of $617.8M two years ago.
Per comScore, “Notably, this is also the first September to surpass a traditional summer blockbuster month (May through August) in terms of total revenue beating August 2017’s $668.5 million haul.” Thank Warner Bros. and New Line for It, which broke a slew of records including first September release to open north of $100M and to surpass $200 million at the North American box office. It will cross $300M next weekend.
In addition, there were some solid starts last month that still are early in their runs, read Fox/MARV’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which at $66.6M through its second weekend is running 2% behind its predecessor — not too shabby for a sequel sans a Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day weekend built into its launch. In addition there’s The Lego Ninjago Movie, which even though it’s not as big as Batman Lego earlier this year, will fit the bill for young kids and families for some time.
As we said in our summer wrap, that awful season shouldn’t be attributed to a change in moviegoing habits, rather the lack of innovative, quality product on the marquee. That’s why summer stunk.
PREVIOUSLY, September 20: Having already logged $446.6M, the month of September could come close to hitting $700M in the next 10 days, easily an all-time high for the first month of autumn thanks to New Line/Warner Bros’ It, 20th Century Fox’s Kingsman: Golden Circle and Warner Bros.’ The Lego Ninjago movie.
To date, per ComScore, September is running 17% ahead of the same 18-day period last year, and will easily eclipse 2015’s record $616.4M for the month (when Sony’s Hotel Transylvania 2 led all titles).
Another September coup this weekend according to ComScore: For the first time ever in the month’s history, the top three films will make over $25M each.
20th Century Fox’s sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle from director Matthew Vaughn, is looking at a three-day comfortably in the high $40M range, possibly $50M at 4,000-plus sites with help from premium large format and Imax screens. The sequel to the 2015 title follows the British spy org to the U.S. after its HQ is destroyed; here they team with the Yank associates to fight an evil Julianne Moore and her Golden Circle gang. The first movie was a Valentine’s Day sleeper which opened to $36.2M and legged out a 3.5 multiple to $128.3M. New pic stars Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong and welcomes Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum and Moore. Pic is shaping up to be a four-quad movie with strong male interest and rising under 25 female interest thanks to Tatum. Golden Circle will share some Imax with The Lego Ninjago movie. Golden Circle currently has a 52% RT score versus its first installment’s 74% certified fresh. Previews kick off at 7PM on Thursday. Production cost before P&A is estimated at $104M.
Lego Ninjago will easily be behind with anywhere from $31M-$44M per a variety of tracking services; however, the best bet is that the third WB animated Lego pic will arrive in the high $30Ms on 4,000 sites. No previews tomorrow night because it’s a school night. Ninjago was directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan and is based on the toy brick’s famed ninja line. Pic follows six young ninjas who must defend their island home of Ninjago. By day, they battle the other enemy: High school. The Lego Batman Movie opened to $53M back in February and ended its run at $175.8M. Ninjago has an 83% fresh RT score.
And Warner Bros. will definitely have a solid No. 3 slot with New Line’s It, which should easily bag around $30M, -50% in its third weekend for a $270M running cume.
Entertainment Studios will vie to appease those horror fans hung over from It with the R-rated Simon Verhoeven pic Friend Request which they acquired back in early 2016. Pic’s logline reads: A popular college student graciously accepts a social outcast’s online friend request, but soon finds herself fighting a demonic presence that wants to make her lonely by killing her closest friends. Similar to Entertainment Studios’ 47 Meters Down which beat its tracking in June and opened to $11.2M and finaled at $44.2M, Aviron Pictures is handling marketing. Rivals underestimated Byron Allen’s new movie label over the summer, and ES proved them wrong. Is that the case again? Competitors think Friend Request will be a loner at the B.O. with a $4M weekend at 2,550 theaters, but ES insiders believe otherwise with a $8M-$10M three-day start. Reviews are currently at 38% Rotten. Previews happen at 7PM tomorrow.
And for sophisticated audiences with zero interest in the above, worry not, awards season kicks off this weekend. Hot out of Telluride and Toronto, Fox Searchlight has The Battle of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in the 1973 gender tennis showdown. Pic will play in seven markets — LA, NY, SF, Toronto, Chicago, Phoenix, Washington, D.C. — for a total of 21 playdates. Current Rotten Tomatoes rating is 81% fresh.
David Gordon Green’s Stronger starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman opens at 575 locations via Roadside Attractions with a projected take around $2M. Pic is 96% fresh.
Also, Focus Features has Stephen Frears’ Victoria and Abdul in New York and Los Angeles. Movie follows Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) as she strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal). Current RT is 68% fresh.