MONDAY 7:38 AM: Warner Bros./China Gravity’s The Meg isn’t finished eating, dollars that is. The studio reports this morning that the shark’s opening is looking more like $45.3M,  higher than expected at 4,118 after a Sunday that was down 23% from Saturday’s $16.3M for $12.5M. Better than expected. The Meg easily represents a record opening for director Jon Turteltaub, beating Disney’s 2007 title National Treasure: Book of Secrets ($44.7M). Meg remains the best solo debut for Jason Statham, out of his ensemble pics Furious 7 ($147.1M) and Fate of the Furious ($98.7M).

As of today, we’re still in a safe zone at the box office in regards to the school calendar with only 74% being out according to ComScore. That’s down from last Monday’s 91%, but that number will drop to 47% next Monday, and 30% off on August 27. Colleges remain 93% off.

Warners looks to have another hit again this weekend with Crazy Rich Asians expected to clock around a $20M five-day; the Jon M. Chu directed movie opens Wednesday.  Opening on Friday is STX Entertainment’s Mile 22 with between $13M-$19M for the weekend and Sony’s Ice Age adventure pic Alpha, expected to draw between $6M-$8M.

SUNDAY 7:15 AM UPDATE: Warner Bros./China Gravity’s co-production The Meg is swimming in with an opening of $44.5M at 4,118 theaters, per Warner Bros. — the second-widest August release after Suicide Squad (4,255 locations). Rival studios also sees the three-day around that number as well.

For our previous box office update from Friday and Saturday, click here.

This is to be commended. Tracking, the industry nor Warner Bros., ever thought that another shark movie, specifically one with a 49% Rotten Tomatoes score, had the potential to open at this level. Forecasts had Meg in the mid-to-high $20M range. One Warner Bros. insider heralded Meg as “the largest live action shark movie opening ever at the box office.” (That’s true — while the legendary Jaws franchise was released at a significantly smaller run of theaters back in the ’70s and ’80s, the previous biggest shark opening at the B.O. was Warner’s own Deep Blue Sea at $19.1M).

Meg rallies for several reasons: It’s a popcorn movie that arrives at a time when the summer audience is under-served, plus the pic’s campaign sold how hysterical the movie was instead of another Jason Statham action film that looked like another Jurassic World. Audiences went in and left pleased, and a lot of this has to do with Warner Bros. marketing going into overdrive over the weekend, pushing various demos on digital, and triggering walk-up business. Among talent records: Meg is director Jon Turteltaub’s second-biggest opening after National Treasure: Book of Secrets ($44.7M), and for Statham, it’s his best solo debut outside of his ensemble plays Furious 7 ($147M) and Fate of the Furious ($98.7M).

Meg held fantastically well on Saturday with $16.3M, -1% from Friday’s $16.5M, which, remember, includes $4M of Thursday previews. Technically, Saturday is really +30% over Friday, which means that Meg wasn’t front-loaded like a genre movie. The Meg drew $4.1M from Imax auditoriums. Even Imax boss Greg Foster was in awe of the shark’s sales, “When I call a sampling of our theaters, I hear the same thing: Audiences are having fun with the movie, especially the ooohs and aaahs of the shared experience.”

Given how high Warner’s has opened Meg here off a B+ CinemaScore, they can certainly get the movie past $100M stateside. The grade carries a 3.2 multiple, which puts Meg at around $144M. But Warners has propelled these cinematic Asian exports like Pacific Rim ($37.2M opening, $101.8M domestic) and Rampage ($35.7M, with a domestic that we’re told will ultimately cross $100M) to lofty heights before in the U.S./Canada. Meg’s over-indexing bodes quite well for this year’s August box office, which collapsed last summer, delivering a 20-year low of around $657.7M. ComScore reports that weekend ticket sales are at $146.7M, up a huge 25% over the same period a year ago. Annual B.O. to date is currently counting $7.79 billion, 8.4% ahead of the 2017 period of Jan. 1-Aug. 12. Those under 18 (15% on CinemaScore) loved The Meg the most with an A-. 52% males and 48% females gave it a B+, with those over 25 giving it a B.

Profitability is a whole other topic when it comes to Meg, and we’ll assess that in the days to come. Warners says this Sino-Foreign co-production cost $130M net, while we’ve heard from people who have knowledge of the production cost that it’s $178M. The latter number isn’t out of the realm for what these types of Chinese co-productions cost; read The Great Wall ($150M), Warcraft ($160M), etc. We examined in our last post how global profit lies around $400M (we’ll keep reassessing), and what this Sino-Foreign co-production means to Hollywood at a time when President Donald Trump has escalated a trade war with the PRC. The upside is that Warners is getting 43% of the China box office back because it’s a Sino co-prod versus the regular 25%-27% which comes with a standard Hollywood export to the country.

Sony

Elsewhere among the fresh fare, Sony’s Slender Man is coming in at $11.3M at 2,358 in fourth place, which isn’t scary enough to keep moviegoers flocking. The movie received a D- CinemaScore. On CinemaScore, 56% females turned out for this PG-13, while males repped 44%. Both sexes gave it a D-. But there were a lot of F’s mixed in the CinemaScore reporter card, including 18-24 demo (30%), 25-34 (13%), 25+ (26%), and 50+ (3%). Screen Gems claims the movie isn’t related to a real-life Wisconsin ‘Slender Man’ stabbing from four years ago. Two years ago, the studio acquired the rights to this Internet meme from Mythology Entertainment, Madhouse Entertainment, and No Dream Entertainment.

Focus Features

Focus Features’ BlacKkKlansman improved over the weekend, with FSS now at $10.8M at 1,512 after a Saturday that was $4.1M, +14% over Friday’s $3.6M. BlacKkKlansman‘s three-day bests the debuts of The Birth of a Nation ($7M) and Detroit‘s second weekend wide break in 3K theaters ($7.1M). CinemaScore crowds gave the Spike Lee movie an A- CinemaScore, with PostTrak crowds saying that the pic has a great 67% definite recommend and 85% overall positive score. The 50+ CinemaScore crowd at 38% gave this movie an A, along with the 77% over 25. Males at 51% graded BlacKkKlansman an A-, while females at 49% gave it an A. Per Focus, 23% of the audience was African-American; 13% Latino; 55% Caucasian; and 6% Asian, with 59% of overall moviegoers being over 35. Top markets were New York, Los Angeles, DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Philly, San Diego, Baltimore, and Austin.

Says Focus Features distribution boss Lisa Bunnell, “We went wide with this movie instead of platforming because it was really important to get this message out to the country; an urgent wake-up call for everyone, an issue that effects everyone. Spike felt it was important for the whole country to go out and see this film.” The movie’s release was timed to the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville, VA riots, and indeed, BlacKkKlansman was booked there at the local Alamo Drafthouse, Regal and Violet Crown.

Social Media convo, per RelishMix: “This latest effort from Spike Lee definitely has sparked some very intense and controversial online discussion. There are fans of independent film, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Lee, and cast members like Topher Grace and Adam Driver – and they’re shouting that they’ll be coming out this weekend. There are also folks that are dismissive of these kinds of controversial films, who hold more conservative viewpoints, and feel their cinema dollar is better spent elsewhere.”

Another win for Focus Features this weekend: Its Mr. Rogers doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor? crossed $21.69M, becoming the No. 12 documentary of all-time, passing Bowling for Columbine. 

“People in America really want to feel like we are all neighbors,” says Bunnell about how the doc has resonated with summer crowds, “It’s cathartic for the times that we’re in, and the response we’ve received from this movie is overwhelming.”

LD Entertainment’s comedy Dog Days went to the dogs despite winning over Wednesday night crowds with an A- CinemaScore. The $10M-budgeted pic had box office scraps of $2.6M over three days and $3.6M over 2,442. RelishMix said there weren’t any notable social media efforts to push Dog Days, though the cast, such as Vanessa Hudgens (51.3M followers), Nina Dobrev (28.7M), and Eva Longoria (18.3M) were. In regards to the chatter, RelishMix saw that “Moviegoers don’t care who’s on the poster. If it’s about dogs, they’re just not going to see it. They find comedies involving pets cheesy and they don’t find the humor that pet owners do.”

Top 10 movies per studio-reported Sunday morning figures:

thumb rank film dist scrs(chg) fri sat sun 3-day total week
1 The Meg WB 4,118 $16.6M $16.3M $11.4M $44.5M $44.5M 1
2 M:I – Fallout Par/Sky 3,888 (-507) $5.3M $8.4M $6.3M $20M (-43%) $161.9M 3
3 Christoper Robin Dis 3,602 $3.6M $5.3M $3.5M $12.4M (-49%) $50M 2
4 Slender Man Sony 3,359 (-155) $4.8M $3.8M  $2.6M $11.3M $11.3M 1
5 BlacKkKlansman Focus 2,725 (-663) $3.6M $4.1M $3M $10.8M $10.8M 1
6 The Spy Who Dumped Me LG 3,111 $1.8M $2.7M  $2M $6.6M
(-45%)
$24.5M 2
7 Mamma Mia 2 Uni 2,812 (-547) $1.7M $2.3M  $1.7M $5.8M (-35%) $103.8M 4
8 The Equalizer 2 Sony 2,373 (-352) $1.4M $2.3M $1.6M $5.5M (-37%) $89.6M 4
9 hotel Transylvania 3 Sony 2,589 (-573) $1.4M $2.2M $1.4M $5.1M (-36%) $146.8M 5
10 Ant-Man & The Wasp Dis 1,863 (-370) $1.1M $1.7M $1.1M  $4M (-37%) $203.5M 6