2nd Update, Thursday AM: As we forecasted, Universal’s Fifty Shades Freed filed $10.8M at the Valentine’s Day box office, which is very impressive in comparison to its installment last year, Fifty Shades Darker: Yesterday’s ticket sales were only $200K off from Darker‘s Valentine’s Day take of $11M. Like Freed, Darker was in a scenario a year ago with Valentine’s Day falling in the middle of the week. The current running total for Freed is $56.07M which is 14% behind Darker’s first six days. Freed‘s Valentine’s Day booty repped a 174% gain over Tuesday’s till of $3.9M.
It all begins tonight stateside with Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther. Many are now projecting that the movie could easily surpass $180M over three-days, and if that’s the case, it won’t just be the best February and President’s Day opening of all-time, but the best pre-summer debut (prior to May) beating Disney’s own Beauty and the Beast which began with $174.7M last March. Box office analysts say that for Black Panther to do anything above $170M, the movie has to clear $20M tonight (though Avengers did mint $18.7M on its Thursday night before posting $207.4M, but you get the idea).
The biggest Thursday night preview for Marvel title belongs to Avengers: Age of Ultron with $27.6M, followed by Captain America: Civil War with $25M. This is the first time ever that Marvel has played so early in the calendar, having played its previous releases in summer and November. By comparison, before Deadpool rang up a $152.1M four-day take ($132.4M three-day), it commanded a $12.7M Thursday night. As is standard in the industry, tonight’s ticket sales for Black Panther are rolled into Friday’s.
In second place yesterday was Sony Animation’s Peter Rabbit with an estimated $1.88M, +23% in its daily take, at 3,725 and a running six-day total that’s just under $30M. Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s 15:17 to Paris slotted third with $1.7M, +12% over Tuesdays, with a $16.8M total through six days.
1st Update, Valentine’s Day, 4:44PM: Tomorrow Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther will own the night, and the entire weekend for that matter, but as far as BDSM romance Fifty Shades Freed goes, they’ll always have Valentine’s Day.
According to industry estimates –not Universal figures– the E.L. James threequel has already bagged $5.5M for the lovers’ holiday, already 41% ahead of its $3.9M Tuesday figure, and will swoon moviegoers by tonight with a total Wednesday between $10M-$11M. That will bring the James Foley-directed pic to over $56M on the high end. A year ago, Fifty Shades Darker earned $11M on Valentine’s Day alone and further juiced the sequel’s business to a final result of $114.6M. Valentine’s Day fell on Saturday when Fifty Shades of Grey
Meanwhile, projections for Black Panther continue to go crazy. At the start of the week, projections were between $155M-$170M over four-days. Now rivals are talking $180M, maybe even $200M for the Ryan Coogler feature which will be in play at 4,000 theaters (Lego Batman holds the record as the widest release for February with a star of 4,088 locations). Distributors tell Deadline that Black Panther is already poised to do unprecedented business in theaters in Atlanta, Baldwin Hills, and Harlem.
But there’s the thing: If Black Panther is going to see any of these huge numbers north of $170M, it will need to clear between $20M-$25M tomorrow night when previews start at 7PM. Then we’re looking at a scenario of $75M on Friday (including Thursday previews), $60M on Saturday and then $40M on Sunday for a grand total of $175M.
Similar to how Black Panther is setting records for advance movie ticket seller Fandango in regards to superhero movies, ditto for Atom Tickets. The mobile app movie ticket retailer reports that presale volume for the title is currently selling at 5X the rate of the first day of pre-sale (Jan. 9). In addition, Black Panther has a higher average group size (tickets per order) than any superhero title released last year.
Even if the industry is wildly off, and Black Panther comes in between $130M-$150M (which many aren’t expecting), that’s indeed a great start for this $200M Marvel production considering that Deadpool is the only February release to open north of $100M for February, holding the month and the President’s Day holiday four-day record of $152.1M. From the ComScore school calendar: 23% K-12 and 9% colleges are off on Friday which will respectively swell to 88% out and 34% out.
Black Panther‘s location count, more than 80% will have 3D, with 400-plus Imax screens in play, 660+ premium large format screens and 200+ D-Box locations. In addition Black Panther will be the first title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be converted to ScreenX and play in over 101 locations across eight countries including the U.S. That’s the 270-degree wraparound theater format that’s essentially today’s answer to Cinerama Dome.
Also opening this weekend is Lionsgate’s kid pic Early Man, in 2,400 locations with an eye at the mid-single digits. The Aardman Animation title is the second film from Lionsgate’s StudioCanal partner after The Commuter. PureFlix also has the sword and sandal movie Samson starring Billy Zane, Taylor James, and Rutger Hauer. Pic is in play at 1,249 theaters and will likely bring in between $2M-$3M.