6th Update/Writethru, Sunday AM, after Friday night and Saturday AM posts: With chart. Holiday distractions prevented Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse from getting any higher this weekend to what some were expecting would be a possible $40M start. That anticipation was fueled by the fact that this was a Marvel title coming off of stellar exits polls, with an A+ CinemaScore, 5-Star PostTrak. But we need to remember, it’s still the pre-Christmas period and business for all films remained static from their mid-day Friday projections.
Still, $35.4M is a solid start to Spider-Verse heading into Christmas, besting Sony’s own $30M projection. Rivals think this could go lower, in the $33M-$34M range by tomorrow morning. Either way, rivals are impressed by the pic’s start in a stubborn marketplace, a film that is fueled by an 80% definite recommend and destined for a great multiple during the Christmas season. Many believe the pic will pocket $65M easily by Christmas day. Again, it’s about the long haul for Spider-Verse and The Mule this weekend, the latter opening to $17.2M.
“We were always very bullish on our (release) date and we truly believe in the film,” said Sony domestic distribution president Adrian Smith about taking Spider-Verse out earlier, ahead of Christmas, than the Culver City lot did last year with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
While it’s highly anticipated that Aquaman, Mary Poppins Returns and Bumblebee will respectively be an easy 1,2,3 ranking at the box office, some distribution sources believe that Spider-Verse could interrupt that sequence over the five-day Christmas stretch next weekend, potentially ranking third. Though Universal/Illumination’s Sing debuted on the Wednesday before Christmas two years ago, its three-day of $35.2M yielded a 7.6 multiple, with a final domestic take of $270.3M. Should Sony meet its projection today on the film, Spider-Verse will easily rank as the top opening for a December release.
Says social media monitor RelishMix about the pic’s fantastic word of mouth, “Fans are excited for this unique look on the comic book creation with its multiple universe storyline. Others are stoked not only by the unique animation look, but also by the Afro-Latino hero at the center of the story. Recalling the notable soundtrack, many fans are asking about the titles of songs in the film and calling out Sunflower and other music tracks, which spurred them to watch the trailer and clips again. Finally, for those who have seen early screenings, they’re saying the film reviews and super-positive buzz are all real, and audiences should stay until the end of the credits.”
As we mentioned previously, exit demos for Spider-Verse were 67% non-families, with men 25+ repping 41% of moviegoers, followed by men under 25 at 26%. Both enjoyed the movie, with men under 25 giving it 96% and men over 25 a 91% positive score. Boys under 12 outnumbered girls 70% to 30% in turnout. Diversity demos were 43% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic, 16% African-American and 15% Asian. We hear that the pic’s audience remained a mix of families and the college crowd, with business solid throughout yesterday from matinees to evenings, with a $13.1M take. Matinees yesterday for Spider-Verse were running ahead of Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked from December 2011. Friday’s number for Spider-Verse includes last weekend’s money from paid sneaks.
Spider-Verse cost an estimated net $90M before P&A and the movie’s marketing was further boosted by a global promotional partner campaign valued at $115M which spanned 12M boxes of General Mills cereal, Nike Air Jordans, Hasbro action figures and the Genting Cruise lines, to name a few.
Spider-Verse‘s social media universe is reaching close to a half-billion followers (comprised of a near-70M Facebook Fans, 16M Facebook video views, a near-19M Twitter followers, close to 360M YouTube views, and 20.2M Instagram followers, per RelishMix). For comparison, the usual superhero film has an SMU of over 691M by opening weekend. However, the typical family/animated movie has 308.7M, which puts Spider-Verse in the middle. Even more amazing about Spider-Verse‘s SMU is that it doesn’t include “unboxing” videos for the related toys, nor the coordinated campaign connected to its PS4 (Playstation) game.
Spider-Verse videos on the web have gone viral at a great rate of 31:1, exceeding the 16:1 rate of the average family film. Spider-Verse’s average daily YouTube views for top clips far exceeded all genres with 378K, one of the highest levels RelishMix has seen this year for this metric.
Warner Bros./Bron Studio/Imperative Entertainment’s The Mule is also off to a solid start, given the sluggish nature of the pre-Christmas B.O., with a three-day of $17.2M.
“Clint Eastwood is an amazing director who has such a big following and a star, and he’s got an audience: They’re older but faithful and the key is in capturing that audience who then spread out,” beamed Warners domestic distribution president Jeff Goldstein this morning.
Imperative Entertainment was also a producer on The Mule, as the label found the material, developed the material, and approached Eastwood to star and direct.
It’s a notable debut for Eastwood as an actor, ranking under 2000’s Space Cowboys ($18M) and his $29.4M wide break on Gran Torino (which was a platform release before going wide in its fourth weekend at 2,808 theaters; overall a solid debut for a film that cost around $50M. Audiences love it more than critics giving it an A- CinemaScore and 4 stars on PostTrak to the pic’s 64% RT fresh score. The over- 50 crowd, as expected, were out in great numbers, repping 54% of Friday night’s CinemaScore audience. Those over 35 turned up at 78%, while men slightly outnumbered females, 54% to 46%. A- grades throughout most demos. The Mule will have legs, and the pic played best in the Mid-West and South, where eight of the top ten runs hailed.
Warners added Mule back in September to the December calendar, as Eastwood finished the movie ahead of schedule. Essentially, the studio was aiming to capitalize on the adult crowd over the holiday period more than positioning The Mule as an awards contenders. However, similar to Henry Fonda’s Oscar-winning On Golden Pond, Eastwood is sublime as an 80-year old who decides to become a drug runner for a Mexican cartel. So it wouldn’t come as a shock if the filmmaker’s name appears on Oscar ballots.
RelishMix says, “Typical of Eastwood’s other recent releases, the film debuted its one and only trailer very late in the game and there have been few notable social materials to accompany the trailer. With this director’s creative control, it seems less is definitely more. His audience doesn’t need multiple trailers and a host of clips to see. They exclaim how Eastwood’s films are ‘real’ and the trailers never ruin it for them. This target audience has been reached, as they say Eastwood is the last of the true bad-asses who doesn’t bring a political or inflammatory tone to his work; he lets his fan base react for themselves. It’s also really interesting to see how Gran Torino is called out by fans on social media as a comp to The Mule. Finally, The Mule has that one line that fans are calling out over and over again, ‘My Mule don’t like people laughing…’ — and fans are discussing how it racks up against other Eastwood favorites from over the years.”
Peter Jackson has launched some great blockbusters during mid-December, including King Kong, the Lord of the Rings, and Hobbit franchises. But his latest production, Mortal Engines, directed by his Oscar-winning VFX protege Christian Rivers, isn’t one of them, with a disastrous domestic opening of $7.5M. This reported $110M production was co-financed by Media Rights Capital and Universal (the latter which reduced its exposure to around 30%, thanks to participants such as slate financier Perfect World and also Legendary). Rival finance sources who crunch pic’s production costs and revenues full-time for a living believe that Mortal Engines will lose around $105M on the low-end (that is, should it be lucky and gross around $120M WW). However, they’re betting it’s more dire, in the $150M red ink range. Already, the WingNut-produced movie has logged $25.1M abroad in its first week from plays in 43 territories, including South Korea, Russia and Australia. Peg this film’s tanking to the challenges of launching original sci-fi fantasy material and anything that centers around world creation. This despite the fact that the pic is based off a Scholastic non-bestseller by Philip Reeve.
Critics loathe the movie at 28% Rotten, and audiences weren’t warm, giving it a B- CinemaScore and, even worse, 66% positive on PostTrak, with a low 43% recommend. Mortal Engines drew 56% males, 66% under 35, with the largest quad being 25-34 at 34%. The social media reaction has been mixed, leaning negative, according to RelishMix, which reports, “Moviegoers are unimpressed with Mortal Engines, particularly those who have seen the film already. They claim that the movie ‘borrows’ some plot lines, outright steals others, and has very little originality when it comes to plot and character development. Everyone is willing to admit that the visuals and effects are spectacular, but the overall question is, ‘What do effects matter if we don’t care about the characters or story?’ A great example of this sentiment is represented by another contingent, who advises they were downright confused by the multiple villains and their motivation.”
The pic takes place in a post-apocalyptic future years after civilization was destroyed. A mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London (which is a predator city on wheels) from devouring everything in its path. Again, world-creation films are near impossible to launch; arguably the last one that performed well was 2009’s Avatar. However, it’s clear from the commercial reaction to Mortal Engines that there’s a fine line between brilliance and zany when it comes to a movie centering around ‘cities on wheels’.
Universal can count on the sixth weekend of Illumination’s The Grinch, which is looking great with $12.4M at 3,759 theaters in 3rd place, -17%, for a running total of $240.1M. The Grinch is doing so well, he’s one notch ahead of Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet, who declines from his three-week No. 1 streak to 4th place, with $9.6M in weekend 4.
Imax is being split between Mortal Engines and Spider-Verse this weekend, and then Aquaman owns the premium large format for three weeks after Dec. 21.
MGM/New Line’s Creed II posted a $5.4M fourth weekend, which puts the Rocky spin-off at $104.8M, 19% ahead of Creed at the same point in time back in 2015. The sequel is $5M away from overtaking its previous chapter’s $109.7M stateside haul.
20th Century Fox’s Once Upon a Deadpool drew a $2.6M three-day after a $1.1M Saturday, for a $3.88M five-day. No one knew what to expect with this movie, nor could they project it, and at the end of the day, it’s all gravy for the studio. Fox is adding the money to Deadpool 2‘s cume, but it’s a PG-13 rated movie with extra scenes, which means when ranking the potty-mouth Marvel character against other R-rated movies, it will come with an asterisk. Deadpool 2 before this weekend stands as the fifth-highest R-rated movie, with $319.4M, after Passion of the Christ ($370.7M), Deadpool ($363M), American Sniper ($350.1M) and It ($327.4M). Once Upon a Deadpool gets a 51% RT rating, with PostTrak exits at 77% in the top two boxes and a 53% recommend. Those few who showed were 56% male to 44% female and 51% over 25.
Annapurna has Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk at four NY (Angelika and Lincoln Square) and LA sites (Landmark and Arclight Hollywood) and it’s posting the best screen average of the weekend, with close to $55K or a $219K opening weekend. The movie owns a 93% certified fresh RT score. Audiences were equally thrilled with Beale Street, giving it an 87% in the top two boxes and a very strong 75% definite recommend, which bodes well for Annapurna’s expansion of the film. The crowd was 54% over 35 and the single largest quad was between 25–34 years old at 31%. Females led at 58% to 42% males. The ethnic mix was 49% Caucasian, 30% African American, 13% Asian/Other & 8% Hispanic.
WEEKEND B.O. FOR dEC. 14-16
2nd UPDATE 9:47AM with early exit polls after initial 7:35AM post: Sony Animation’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swung into Thursday grossing $3.5 million from showtimes starting at 5 PM from 3,321 locations, a solid number for this time of year.
In early exits from last night, audiences loved Spider-Verse with 5-stars on PostTrak and a 90% positive and a very strong 80% definite recommend. Again these figures fluctuate throughout the weekend as the Screen Engine/ComScore service polls continually from Friday to Sunday.
Sony is still seeing the weekend at $30M; the industry was betting mid $30Ms prior to today, but with this type of Thursday for the Bob Persichetti-, Peter Ramsey- and Rodney Rothman-directed film, Spider-Verse has to overindex (in which case many believe that could be in the $40M range). Fandango noticed yesterday that pre-sales for Spider-Verse were far ahead of Lego Ninjago at the same point in time; that Warner Bros. pic opened to $20.4M in September 2017.
Spider-Verse‘s Thursday number is higher than Universal/Illumination’s Tuesday night $1.7M previews for Sing two years ago when it launched before Christmas, turning in an opening day of $11M. Some are comping this movie to Warner Bros’ Lego Batman, and Spider-Verse beat the Thursday $2.2M previews of that film, which posted a $14.4M opening day and $53M opening.
Keep in mind Spider-Verse‘s numbers are great for a family animated film at a time when no K-12 schools are off and 23% kids and 10% parents showed up last night. Four percent of them will begin going on break Monday, according to ComScore. We heard throughout the week from distribution sources that despite the shock-and-awe of Spider-Verse‘s novel animation, and its award winning critical acclaim to date as Best Animated Feature from the New York Film Critics Circle, that Spider-Verse would likely skew younger than the regular Marvel fanboy film. Well, 67% of the audience last night were non-families, with men 41% over 25 coming out, followed by guys under 25 at 26%. Both enjoyed the movie with men under 25 giving it 96% and men over 25 a 91% positive score. Boys under 12 outnumbered girls 70% to 30% in turnout.
Universal/Media Rights Capital’s Mortal Engines also started its engines last night from 7 PM shows, making only $675,000 from 2,600 locations — a disaster for film that the production claims cost $100M+ but which rival financiers say is higher (around $150M). How bad is that number? Well, Universal made more money from its Legendary bombs Warcraft and The Great Wall on their preview nights with $3.1M and $970K, respectively. Versus other sci-fi bombs, Mortal Engines made less than Warner Bros’ Jupiter Ascending ($975K) and EuropaCorp’s Valerian ($1.7M). This Peter Jackson/WingNut produced sci-fi fantasy film is expected to sputter out with $8M-$11M over three days. Why can we bank on that number? Because Thursday exits were not good at 62% positive and two and a half stars and a low 40% definite recommend for this two-hour and eight minute pic. In fact, Universal made more last night from Illumination’s The Grinch, which led all regular pics in release with an estimated $990K, which ended its fifth weekend with $19.4M and a running total of $227.7M. Men over 25 at 45% were the biggest draw here, followed by Women over 25 at 28% and then men under 25 with 16%.
Warner Bros/BRON Studios has the Clint Eastwood crime drama The Mule this weekend in 2,588 locations. Projections are in the mid- to high-teens for the movie, which was directed by and stars the Oscar winner.
20th Century Fox’s Once Upon a Deadpool fell an estimated 59% with $376K to eighth place yesterday, from its $910K (updated by studio) Wednesday reboot.