Opening box office metrics point to Sony Animation’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse —a fresh take on the Marvel superhero where anyone can wear the mask told in a novel cartoon style– in the neighborhood of $30M-$35M, which would be a great start in this sleepy pre-Christmas marketplace.
Those who deal in box office projections are holding their hands up, emphasizing the leg-out factor of the movie, and how hard it is to make moviegoing a priority at this point in time during the holiday season. Interest is strong among families, African American and Hispanic demos. However, there’s an immense amount of heat surrounding this Phil Lord-scripted animated feature, which he produced with his creative partner Christopher Miller, as well as Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, and Christina Steinberg, so no one will be surprised if this movie overindexes. Sony has been screening this movie for the last month, stoking the awards season media with the animated feature earning Best Animated Feature nominations from the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, and the Annie Awards (as well as six other noms), along with Best Animated Feature wins from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Detroit Film Critics Society. Current Rotten Tomatoes is 99% Certified Fresh. Let’s face it: this Spider-Man has more buzz than Venom did before its opening ($80.2M opening, $212.7M and a 28% Rotten score). Last weekend, Sony held paid sneaks for Spider-Verse on Friday at 7PM and Saturday at 2PM. The fun starts on Thursday at 5PM and will play at 3,800 locations on Friday. Spider-Verse carries a reported net $90M production cost.
Also looking at the marathon of the holiday season versus the opening weekend sprint is Clint Eastwood’s The Mule with a mid-to-high teens start at 2,588 locations, which on the high-end is where his elderly comedy Space Cowboys opened to at $18M eighteen years ago. There aren’t any Thursday night previews. This Warner Bros. crime drama stars the Oscar winner as a 90-year old man who becomes a successful drug mule for a Mexican cartel. RT Score hasn’t registered yet, but the film played enthusiastically last night at its Hollywood world premiere in Westwood. The movie is directed by Eastwood and stars him; his last appearance on screen being 2012’s Trouble With the Curve (which he did not direct). Warner Bros. added the Eastwood film onto the December calendar back in September since he wrapped post-production ahead of time. Expect the 50+ crowd to come out for this. Trouble With the Curve pulled in that demo at 50% per CinemaScore, while Gran Torino drew 46% and American Sniper 21%.
Universal has the Media Rights Capital co-financed WingNut Films-produced sci-fi feature Mortal Engines which carries a production between $100M-$150M (we’re hearing more toward the high-end). Based on the series of Scholastic YA novels by Philip Reeve, the movie is expected to greatly tank with an opening between $10M-$13M at 3,000 theaters. Even if the film, directed by Oscar-winning VFX artist Christian Rivers, reaps a holiday multiple of 8X off its opening, it’s still not a good result for this very pricey, very unique movie set in the post-apocalyptic future where cities ride on wheels. Forty-three overseas markets including South Korea, Russia and Australia have only minted $20.1M to date. Thursday previews stateside start at 7PM. Mortal Engines currently has no oil from its RT Score which is at 36%.
Fox has Once Upon a Deadpool opening tomorrow in 1,547 theaters, a PG-13 re-imagining with a Yuletide bent of Deadpool 2 which is the 5th highest grossing movie of the year at the domestic B.O. with $318.4M, also the 5th highest ever for an R-rated movie. Previews are tonight at 7pm.
On the specialty side, Annapurna has Barry Jenkin’s If Beale Street Could Talk opening exclusively in NY/LA. Pic is based on the James Baldwin novel about an African American young man who is falsely accused of rape and sentenced to jail around the time that he’s becoming a father. Jenkins’ Moonlight won the Oscar for best picture last year in a surprise upset to La La Land.
Sony Pictures Classics’ has their Lebanon Oscar foreign film entry Capernaum debuting in Los Angeles and New York.