Sunday AM final update: Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther once again prevented any other major studio title from advancing on its No. 1 turf with a fifth weekend haul of $27M. Black Panther will cross the $600M threshold today on its 31st day of release, becoming the second-fastest to that mark after Star Wars The Force Awakens (12 days) and ahead of Jurassic World (36 days) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (37 days).
Check out our previous box office update and industry analysis on Black Panther reaping $461M in profit.
For a reboot priced at $90M+, Tomb Raider didn’t wow stateside with a studio-reported weekend of $23.5M plus an overall B CinemaScore, and 70% overall positive on PostTrak. MGM/Warner Bros. are hoping to make up for that shortfall abroad, but the fact that they’re co-financiers on this feature indicates that they knew there was some inherent risk that needed to be mitigated. Tomb Raider‘s opening was only 8% higher than the second 2003 Tomb Raider movie, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life starring Angelina Jolie ($21.7M). That sequel closed the whole franchise down for another 15 years, and if the creators wanted to resuscitate this brand, it had to be better than where the franchise left off. Critics and audiences just weren’t feeling it.
If Tomb Raider carried a production cost in the $50M-$60M range like a Resident Evil, MGM/Warner Bros. could be looking at a mini-genre franchise here akin to what Screen Gems owns. Mostly guy video game fans turned out at 56%. The studios can celebrate the fact that Tomb Raider is the No. 1 film worldwide with $108M this weekend, 78% of that figure coming from abroad. I’ve heard that $275M is the magic number worldwide for a breakeven point, but there are some film finance executives who believe it’s much higher. Imax drew $9.4M on Tomb Raider worldwide, $2.6M of that coming from 400 domestic auditoriums.
Overseas, Alicia Vikander has been traveling to different markets and Warner Bros. sold Tomb Raider as a global campaign. The first trailer, which Vikander introduced on Late Late Show with James Corden drew 100M views, and there was a clever featurette showing how Vikander trained and how she went through hell in her prep. Essentially, the point here was to defy audience expectations who believed that Angelina Jolie should be reprising her role, and proving that Vikander earned her stripes as the iconic character. Relish Mix notices that Daniel Wu is the only social media star with a 1M following, however, WB did other things to get Vikander out in the ether, read in an effort to stoke female audiences, the Oscar-winning actress appeared in Vogue YouTube videos.
It is truly a tough marketplace right now where social media dictates zeitgeist tastes in nano-seconds. Overall weekend ticket sales according to ComScore were at $135M, down close to 50% from the same period a year ago. In regards to tracking, it’s taking into account the power of Black Panther, and that’s the reason why we haven’t seen opening projections increase dramatically in recent weeks for A Wrinkle in Time, Tomb Raider and next week’s Legenadary/Universal title Pacific Rim Uprising which is looking at a $24M-$31M start (a very similar range that Tomb Raider possessed going into this weekend). When this version of Tomb Raider was greenlit, neither Warner Bros. or MGM had any concern about Black Panther. Tomb Raider is opening essentially a month after Black Panther and it’s rare for a February release to own the top spot for five weekends running. “It use to be more straightforward,” says one executive about the theatrical marketplace, “you could get clever on how you market, but individual tastes change dramatically from the point of greenlight to release.”
The biggest eyebrow raiser over the weekend was Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate’s Christian rock movie I Can Only Imagine. As a number of faith-based titles have flooded the market over the last four years, tracking wasn’t expecting this one, about the backstory of MercyMe song, to hit a high note. But this $7M production made its budget back in 3-days after earning a $17M 3-day and a A+ CinemaScore. Pic drew 67% female, 80% over 35. The assumption heading into the weekend was that Greg Berlanti’s Love, Simon after earning strong previews of $800K last Saturday would potentially be the one to overperform. The $10M production still did fine with an $11.5M three day, and A+ CinemaScore.
Love, Simon drew 58% females, 42% males with 59% under 25. The movie over-indexed in the west, Northeast, and Midwest; slightly under-indexed in the Rockies; and under-indexed in the south and southeast. Top 20 markets that over-indexed include LA, NY, SF, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Minneapolis. Top grossing theaters came from LA, NY, SF, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, and San Antonio. Canada repped 5.6% of the weekend’s take.
Bravo, Sony, on the family front as Jumanji:Welcome to the Jungle crossed $400M, just $3.5M away from toppling Spider-Man to become the studio’s highest grossing movie ever at the domestic B.O. Also, Peter Rabbit hopped past $100M.
I Can Only Imagine surfaced on Roadside Attractions’ radar late last summer after the executives caught a screening of the pic at the DGA theater. Universal and Sony were also in the mix, vying for the Andrew and Jon Erwin-directed title, but RSA won out. The title was referred to them by faith-based marketing firm Working Title Agency. Given the success of this movie, RSA will be expanding the pic to north of 2,000 runs. Given how high this movie started, it’s looking at a 4-5x multiple. Heaven Is Real four years ago opened to $22.5M and legged out to $91.4M (4x) while God’s Not Dead debuted to $9.2M and churned out a huge 6.6x of $60.7M.
The movie tells the backstory about MercyMe’s beloved 17-year old song “I Can Only Imagine”.
“There’s a huge brand awareness for the song in the Christian community,” says RSA co-founder and co-president Howard Cohen, “while not a musical, it’s a music-movie, and when they hit, they strike a chord.”
Why didn’t tracking see this movie coming? They projected its weekend outcome in the low single digits. Recent history has shown that most faith-based films aren’t popping, but also, hardcore Christians are a specific subset of moviegoers that a statistical sampling doesn’t necessarily cover as a whole.
Over Valentine’s Day weekend, RSA had MercyMe announce advance ticket sales on Facebook Live. Selling advance tickets for a faith-based title was an anomaly. It’s not done often with such titles, Sony’s War Room being one of the last ones. When RSA began noticing that I Can Only Imagine logged $1.6M in advance ticket sales, they knew they had something special. Fandango reported that the movie was their fifth best seller heading into the weekend.
Other marketing highlights for I Can Only Imagine which had a heavy presence on social media and Christian and country music radio stations: Nationally-known evangelist Greg Laurie sat down with co-director Jon Erwin for a March 1 webinar that lasted 37 minutes that posted on Facebook. In that talk, they told people how to buy pre-sale movie tickets and directed people to City on the Hill which was giving out Church “Campaign Kits” for the film. They also provided special screenings ahead of time. Air1 gave away tickets for opening day. Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe, went around and sang the song live on radio stations like 95.9 (the Fish) FM, a Christian music station. Working Title was hired to handle the faith-based end of marketing.
Studio reported figures for the weekend of March 16-18:
1..) Black Panther (DIS), 3,834 theaters (-108) / $7.5M Fri /$11.6M Sat/$7.8M Sun / 3-day: $27M (-34%)/Total: $605.4M/Wk 5
2..) Tomb Raider (MGM/WB), 3,854 theaters / $9M Fri (includes $2.1M of previews) /$8.8M Sat/$5.7M Sun/3-day: $23.5M /Wk 1
3..) I Can Only Imagine (RSA/LG), 1,629 theaters / $6.2M Fri /$6M Sat/$4.8M Sun/3-day: $17M /Wk 1
4..) A Wrinkle in Time (DIS), 3,980 theaters (0) / $4.6m Fri/$7M Sat/ $5M Sun/3-day: $16.6M (-50%)/Total: $61M/Wk 2
5..) Love, Simon (FOX), 2,402 theaters / $4.6M Fri /$4.1m Sat/$2.8M Sun/3-day: $11.5M /Wk 1
6..) Game Night (NL/WB), 2,686 theaters (-375) / $1.7m Fri /$2.4m Sat/$1.4M Sun/3-day: $5.6M (-29%)/Total: $54.1M/Wk 4
7..) Peter Rabbit (SONY), 2,725 theaters (-387) / $1.4M Fri /$2.2M Sat/ $1.5M Sun/3-day: $5.2M (-23%) /Total: $102.4M/Wk 6
8..) Strangers: Prey at Night (AVI), 2,464 theaters (0)/ $1.5M Fri /$1.9M Sat/ $1.3M Sun/3-day: $4.8M (-54%)/Total:$18.6M/Wk 2
9..) Red Sparrow (FOX), 2,583 theaters (-481) / $1.3m Fri /$1.9M Sat/ $1.2M Sun/3-day: $4.4M (-48%)/Total: $39.6M/ Wk 3
10..) Death Wish (MGM), 2,676 theaters (-206) / $952K Fri /$1.4M Sat/ $952K Sun/3-day: $3.3M (-49%)/Total: $30M/Wk 3
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (SONY), 1,556 theaters (-601) / $463K Fri /$745k Sat/ $442K Sun/3-day: $1.65M (-40%) /Total: $400.2M/Wk 14
7 Days in Entebbe (FOCUS), 838 theaters / $545k Fri /$637K Sat/ $446K Sun/3-day: $1.63M /Wk 1
Flower (ORCH), 3 theaters / $28k Fri /$15K Sat/ $15K Sun/PTA: $19,2K/3-day: $57,8k /Wk 1