UPDATED 8:48AM with revised estimates: The Christmas box office menu of Warner Bros’ Aquaman, Paramount’s Bumblebee, Disney’s Marry Poppins Returns, Universal’s Welcome to Marwen and STX’s Second Act hit tracking today, and for many of these movies, it’s about the long road instead of the traditional three-day weekend, and that’s because moviegoing surges after Christmas Day.
Despite Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi hoarding most of the weekend dollars last year, such movies as Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Fox’s The Greatest Showman respectively made 91% and 95% of their business after their opening weekends last holiday season.
Mary Poppins Returns, the sequel to the 1964 musical film that won five Oscars including Best Actress for Julie Andrews, is launching on Wednesday, December 19 to get ahead of Aquaman, which opens that Friday, and industry estimates believe the Disney-branded pic could deliver a first week in the $70 million range (Christmas falls on the following Tuesday after the Rob Marshall movie opens). Total awareness and unaided awareness (the poll category where respondents bring up a film’s title without being prodded, and off which studios make their ad-spend decisions) is best with women under/over 25 at this point in time.
In comparison to other musicals launched during the Christmas frame, Marshall’s feature adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods raked in a first week of $64M back in 2014. while Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables delivered a first week that was close to $73M. Buzz has been strong on Mary Poppins Returns, and Disney has been previewing the film extensively to awards voters and critics in recent weeks.
Aquaman in its five-day run from Friday to Christmas Tuesday is expected to bring in around $100M, with $65M over the three-day. Before anyone can scream that’s lower than Justice League ($111.9M for first five days), many rival distribs expect this $160M production to leg the holiday out. We’re hearing that in regards to the paid tickets for the December 15 Amazon Prime preview of the James Wan-directed movie at major cinema circuits, 65%-70% have already been sold and Warner Bros. is adding hundreds of more screens. Also working in this film’s favor compared to other DC movies is the fact that Wan brings his Conjuring fan base. Before the arrival of Disney’s Star Wars movies over the last three Christmases, Warner Bros held the top December opening record with 2012’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at $84.6M. Aquaman is solid across the board for men and women in unaided awareness, though the latter category with a number around 30 is close to where Captain America: Winter Soldier was ($95M three-day opening).
Also solid is Paramount’s Bumblebee, which looks to take $40M in its first Friday-Tuesday. That could be higher if the movie wasn’t up against Aquaman; Bumblebee’s unaided awareness among all audiences is half that of Aquaman’s. Paramount is holding one-day previews of Bumblebee on December 8.
Coming up short in this survival of the fittest is STX’s Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy Second Act and Universal’s Robert Zemeckis’ fantasy drama Welcome to Marwen. Unaided and total awareness is significantly lower compared to the other three top openers, with industry estimates ranging from the high single digits to low teens for both movies.
Again, these estimates can fluctuate up or down as we approach these pics’ opening weekends, with studios making pushes on social media and critics weighing in.