Man, do we need a hit.
Right now, November domestic ticket sales are at a four-year low with around $447M per ComScore, down 27% from the same period a year ago before the 10-day Thanksgiving stretch rings in. Last November grossed $1.065 billion, which turned out to be the third best result for the month and the fourth November to push past $1 billion.
We’re in this funk, of course, after two anticipated tentpoles, Terminator: Dark Fate and Charlie’s Angels flunked alongside a potential sleeper, Doctor Sleep. All weary exhibition eyes look to Disney, the studio which has carried the entire year, to snow cash with Frozen 2 the follow-up to the biggest animated film of all-time, the first one raking in $1.27 billion worldwide.
Industry estimates see a big swing for Frozen 2, both stateside with $90M-$135M, and $120M-$140M abroad as the Jennifer Lee-Chris Buck directed movie blasts off around the global. While most domestic B.O. prognosticators see Frozen 2 well above $100M, the fact that no animated film has ever delivered an opening that has rivaled the first Frozen‘s $93.9M five-day take, gives some pause as we’re not in June, we’re in November. While there’s only 1% colleges and K-12 schools out this Friday, holiday breaks begin Monday going respectively to 41% and 14% for both categories, moving to 100% off by Thursday and Friday. Countering any asterisk to Frozen 2‘s lowball projections is the fact that advance ticket sales for the pic among theater circuits like AMC are posting records for an animated pic, well ahead of Toy Story 4 and Incredibles 2 (again those sales may not all be for this weekend, but over the Thanksgiving stretch). Even if Frozen 2 comes up short, it’s in for the long haul over the holiday period. Currently, the sequel is 81% certified fresh to the first 2013’s release of 90% certified fresh. In regards to this November’s B.O.,Frozen 2 could potentially lead us to a result that’s north of $900M, yet much shy of $1 billion.
All in, the average for Frozen 2‘s global debut comes out to $242.5M. That would rep a new global opening record for an animated film, unseating Disney’s Toy Story 4 ($240.9M) and Incredibles 2‘s $235.8M. I understand that Disney considers Jon Favreau’s CGI reboot of The Lion King to be in the live-action category. That pic for box office nerds got a head start abroad before domestic in China, with its U.S./Canada debut at $191.8M with a technical 51-market (second) offshore weekend of $275.2M for a combined global start of $467M.
Stateside previews start Thursday at 6PM for Frozen 2 with full play on Friday in 4,400+ theaters, comprised of 2,500 3D locations, the full 400 screen IMAX network, 800 branded Premium Large Format screens, and 235 D-Box/4D enhanced locations. Beginning today through Friday, Anna and Elsa are out in such territories as Japan, China, France, Germany, Korea, Spain, Mexico and the UK. All told, it’s 37 material offshore markets for about 82% of the international foot print.
The original Frozen was a phenomenon that just built and built, so the thinking is that this one will be more frontloaded, particularly in markets like Japan and Korea which had massive multiples last time around. Much of Frozen 2‘s $120M-$140M offshore opening also hinges on China where most have it in the $30M range. However, we understand local tracking suggests it could do $50M. There may be competition from The Farewell, an indie hit in the U.S. that tells a Chinese story, as well as feelgood pic The Upside.
There are some key markets not going this session on Frozen 2, including Italy, Russia, Australia and Scandinavia. Brazil, a big family market, doesn’t release until Jan. 2 which is typically a great date for that country. The push during this offshore frame is aimed to prepare for the burst of schools out in December.
Frozen opened to $67M in like-for-like foreign markets and at today’s rates. It finaled at $873.5M internationally (unadjusted) and $400.7M stateside. The top hubs were ultimately Japan with a staggering $249M (and a No. 1 hold for 16 weeks); followed by Korea, the UK, Germany and China.
In other comps, Incredibles 2 did $112M in the same suite of markets where Frozen 2 is opening this session (and at today’s rates). The unadjusted overseas final of $634.2M was ultimately led by the UK, China, Japan, France and Brazil. That film skewed more to boys as well, while Frozen is definitely seen as a female play.
Toy Story 4 did $120M in its offshore bow (again in the same markets and at today’s numbers). The leaders on that one were Japan, the UK, Mexico, Brazil and France. The unadjusted overseas final was $639.4M.
Also opening in the U.S. is the Sony/TriStar’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood which is seeing around $15M at 3,231 theaters, depending on older females. They could very well be stolen away from Frozen 2, but the foresight on this Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers movie is that it will leg out. Pic directed by Marielle Heller blasted out of its TIFF world premiere with a current RT score of 97% certified fresh. Movie, scripted by Micah Fritzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster is inspired by the 1998 Rogers Esquire article “Can You Say… Hero?” by Tom Junod. Thursday early shows begin at 4:30 p.m. at 2,860+ locations. Reported studio production cost on the pic was $25M net.
STX is opening the AGBO Studios/Madison Wells Media/Huayi Brothers film 21 Bridges starring Chadwick Boseman in his first original big screen appearance post the Avengers movies and Black Panther. He stars as an embattled NYPD detective who is on a manhunt for two cop killers and must close all 21 bridges in and out of Manhattan. Pic was made for a net reported budget of $33M with projections in the $10M-$12M range. 21 Bridges is comping to such (largely) guy crime pics as Den of Thieves ($15.2M), End of Watch ($13.1M) and Widows ($12.3M). The Brian Kirk-directed movie will open in 24 offshore territories this weekend including UK and Australia.
On the specialty side Focus Features has the Todd Haynes-directed thriller Dark Waters at four sites in NY and LA: AMC Lincoln Square, Angelika, Landmark and Arclight in Los Angeles. Pic is currently at 94% fresh.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.