Sunday AM Update/writethru: Following Saturday 7:28AM post, with final: Warner Bros./Legendary’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu is coming in ahead of its $50M-$55M domestic tracking with a $58M No. 2 opening being called by the studio. They excelled with the first Pokemon movie back in 1999 with a $31M launch, and they’ve done even better with this updated live-action hybrid comedy close to 20 years later. It’s a great comeback for Legendary on the Burbank lot after its five-year deal at Universal. When Detective Pikachu jumped to Warner Bros. last July, it was a sign that Legendary, which was behind such Warner Bros. successes as the Dark Knight and Godzilla franchises, was coming back. Smart dating here on behalf of Warner Bros.: They waited for Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame to calm down, going two weekends after the summer juggernaut, which, as of this morning, continued to top the box office with its third No. 1 in a row, an estimated $63.1M.
Among third weekends, Endgame‘s is the fourth-best after Star Wars: Force Awakens ($90.2M), Avatar ($68.4M), and Black Panther ($66.3M). However, Endgame can celebrate the fact that it crossed $700M yesterday, tying Star Wars Force Awakens’ 16-day record to the mark. By EOD today, it is the third-highest grossing domestic pic of all time at $723.5M, surpassing Black Panther. Imax theaters contributed $6M this weekend to Endgame, bringing the large format exhibitor’s domestic total to $58M.
Overall, this Pikachu felt fresh, and the genius here is that it was a recipe not unlike those with superhero movies, pulling in non-fans as well as the brand’s anime devotees. Warner Bros. in their marketing, especially their snappy in-theater trailer, played into Ryan Reynolds’ wit (a great echo of Deadpool’s sarcasm, though at a PG level), and that is what’s resonating here. His social media pull alone counts 49M fans.
“This is a movie where truly everything came together: the concept, the marketing, and the date. It all jelled together and each of the pieces made it pop,” said Warner domestic distribution boss Jeff Goldstein this morning, beaming.
“Reynolds has been integrally involved in the film’s campaign from the get-go. In fact, this trend is very notable, the combination of a studio partnering with the star of the project and using the star’s substantial social media reach to aid in the campaign’s awareness and fun materials,” says Relish Mix.
“Ryan Reynolds has incredible talent, and audiences respond to him; he’s funny and edgy,” adds Goldstein about the Deadpool actor, catapulting Pokemon to a great result this weekend.
“We’ve seen it with Universal and The Rock in promoting Hobbs & Shaw, and with Pikachu, Reynolds has shared several clips that are engaging, funny, and paid dividends for the Detective campaign. Using his 1.1M YT Subscribers, Reynolds has shared homemade clips – and official trailers, too. It’s a superb strategy move that makes this family-friendly comedy stand out in a busy summer,” adds the social media analytics corp. A trailer with an angle on foot massaging, as only Reynolds could best emote it:
But it’s not just the voice of Reynolds that’s the catalyst for Pikachu‘s success here. The film is coming off the immense hit of the 2016 mobile app game Pokemon Go, which counts over one billion downloads worldwide and around 150M obsessed users a month. Those folks are attending around the world this weekend.
RelishMix, assessing the positive WOM, says that “Lots of Fans are taking to social media to share their experiences growing up – and as adults, by the way – of watching the Pokemon anime productions, playing the related games and all things that made them enjoy the Pokemon character and pals/villains from this universe. There are Fans chiming in with insider dialogue, their own videos of Pikachu’s dance moves, and much more. Reynolds gets his fair share of the discussion, too, with fans and casual moviegoers alike perceiving this star as a brand unto himself.”
Pikachu really held on Saturday with $20.48M, -1% from its Friday night of $20.6M (which, mind you, included $5.7M previews). Back out those previews, and Saturday was technically up a whopping 37%. It just speaks to the power of the rebooted Pokemon brand.
On Friday, Pikachu bested Endgame, which drew $16.2M. He landed an A- CinemaScore, which is great. He received 4 stars from general audiences and parents and 4 1/2 from kids under 12 in ComScore/Screen Engine PostTrak exits. Those who bought tickets were 56% male and 61% under 25, with 32% under 17 years old. General audiences numbered 65%, with kids under 12 at 24% and parents at 11%. Breaking down general audience demos further, Pikachu looked nearly even across all four quads with males under 25 leading at 30%, males overs 25 at 28%, females under 25 at 23%, and females over 25 at 19%. Diversity demos were 48% Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, 18% Asian/Other, & 10% African American. Pikachu played best in the West & Mid-West but was quite strong everywhere.
Pikachu counts a massive social media universe of 625.4M. “This movie’s reach far outweighs the usual familiy/live action film’s SMU of 154.9M,” says RelishMix. Broken down, his SMU was comprised of 52.9M Facebook Fans, 59.3M Facebook video views, 37.9M Twitter followers, 419.1M YouTube views, and 56.2M Instagram followers. Pikachu excelled at all levels, with a high viral rate for its video materials of 32:1; a typical family/live-action film has an average rate of 13:1. The movie’s average daily views for top YouTube clips were an immense 302k, thanks to a variety of official and fan-made clips that stoked moviegoers’ attention heading into opening weekend. The typical movie in the genre has only 16k such views.
One the biggest pops on YouTube on the Detective Pikachu official channel was this clip, which made it look like it was the pirated version of the film, but, alas, a joke. It’s a long, looped clip of Pikachu dancing. It even has a reference in the top right corner to “R. Reynolds,” as if the star’s team might have leaked the clip. The result? 16M views to date since dropping four days ago:
The battle between femme comedies this weekend, STX/eOne’s Poms and MGM’s The Hustle, shows the latter winding up the best, with $13.5M after a $3.95M Friday in 3rd place. Here you have all these comedies bowing and trying to counter-program against Endgame, and The Hustle, fueled by Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson’s press tour, meets its mark ahead of its $12M tracking. Also playing in 27 offshore markets, The Hustle pulled in a global start of $27.2M. Also, it wouldn’t come as a shocker if Hustle comes in ahead of its 3-day by tomorrow AM, because Mothers Day has that much sway over the box office. Two years ago, Fox reported $17.5M for the Goldie Hawn-Amy Schumer comedy Snatched (B CinemaScore) and it came in on Monday with a $19.5M three-day.
Sure, exits were alright, with CinemaScore audiences giving The Hustle a B-, and PostTrak showing that females under 25 (who showed up at 21%) enjoyed it the most at 76%, with women over 25 (50%) giving the pic a 72%. The point is that the core demo came out for this film in a way that they did not for Long Shot and Poms. Folks in the West, Middle America and Southwest were doing The Hustle.
Hustle‘s figure is near the $14.2M start of Rebel Wilson’s previous romantic comedy, Isn’t It Romantic? ($14.2M), which did a 3.4 multiple for a final domestic of $48.79M. Hustle is going to make more than Isn’t It Romantic on a global basis, ultimately because New Line sold foreign on that movie to Netflix. Originally, Hustle was suppose to launch last summer, first on Aug. 10, then June 29, but MGM jumped the film to this weekend, as Hathaway was busy last summer with Ocean’s Eight. Wilson did double duty on Hustle as producer as well.
RelishMix reports that Hathaway is the social media star of Hustle, bringing 18.3M fans and followers across Facebook and Instagram to the mix. In fact, she contributes over 20% of the entire film’s social media universe of 85.2M. Wilson’s 9.2M reach is also substantial. Top theaters were AMC Burbank 30, AMC Century City 15, AMC Lincoln Square 13, Pacific Grove 14 in LA and AMC Northpark 15 in Dallas.
Poms is a missed opportunity and is arriving below its $7M-$10M tracking with a $5.1M opening, in 6th place after a $1.5M. Pic’s best play was in the South-East retirement belt. The pic has even better exits on PostTrak than Hustle, with a B+ CinemaScore, and women over 25 (who repped 63% of the crowd) giving it an 81% positive. Even though it’s a movie that skews to older females (29% were 55+ to Hustle‘s 5%; the seniors loved Poms at 93%), the notion is that Poms, which could have had the same potential as last year’s Diane Keaton ensemble, Book Club (another AFM pick-up, aimed at seniors, but released by Paramount). That said, Poms should have never gone up against The Hustle in the Mothers Day B.O. face-off, and the second weekend of Lionsgate’s Long Shot, which is still female heavy, with 63% over 25 in weekend 2 and drawing $6.1M, -37%. Next weekend would have been a better launch for Poms, and coming off of last weekend’s disaster with UglyDolls, it would have be nice if STX has some sort of make-good here.
Even though eOne financed the movie at around $10M, and STX picked it up for $8M-$9M, P&A was targeted and thrifty on Poms (ads targeted morning shows versus a Friday night blitzkrieg). We hear it was roughly half what Paramount spent on Book Club (studio comedies are around $30M-$35M domestic). But, here’s the thing: you’ve got to spend for an opening, and it’s for this reason that Poms is far lower than Book Club’s $13.5M and MGM’s Hustle. The whole low-cost digital marketing spend might work with Millennials and genre pics at the B.O., but not with movies aimed largely at 50+ audiences. And the whole notion of elderly-skewing pics having legs: If you don’t launch it high enough, it’s not going to go far enough, especially if exhibition isn’t feeling it. Book Club, like Poms at 30% RT, didn’t have great reviews at respectively 54%, but it was able to beat that in its opening.
Fox Searchlight rarely ever goes wide with one of their movies, but that is what they’re doing with Tolkien this weekend, and at 1,495 theaters, it is coming up short with a studio-reported $2.1M. Saturday at $715K was down 13% from Friday’s $825K. The film received an A- CinemaScore, but you wouldn’t know it from the grosses. PostTrak shows another dynamic of what audiences think at 76% positive which is low. Typically, whenever an arthouse distrib goes wide with a movie, it means they have to make their money back quick, and with Tolkien having so-so reviews of 48% Rotten, it likely didn’t make sense to invest in a platform release. Some PostTrak exits are popping here, with males over 25 showing up at 41% enjoying the film at 87% positive, and males overall at 51% giving it a 82% positive score. Tolkien played best on the coasts, particularly in the west, but even there, it was nothing to scream about.
Studio-reported figures on Sunday AM:
WEEKEND B.O. FOR MAY 10-12
Chart as of Saturday AM:
BOX OFFICE FOR MAY 10-12
2ND UPDATE, Friday 12:17 PM: Legendary/Warner Bros’ Pokémon Detective Pikachu is looking to beat Avengers: Endgame on Friday, $20 million to $18 million. That said, Endgame will take the weekend with an estimated $70 million at 4,662 theaters, off 53% from a week ago, for a running total of $730.4M.
That will make the Disney/Marvel pic the third highest-grossing title of all time at the domestic box office by Sunday. By tomorrow, the Russo Brothers-directed movie will cross $700M in its 16th day of release, tying the Star Wars: The Force Awakens record.
Meanwhile, Pikachu has nothing to cry about with an estimated second-place opening of $53.6M at 4,202 theaters.
MGM’s The Hustle via United Artists Releasing is looking at a $3.8M Friday and an estimated $13.5M opening weekend for third place in 3,007 locations. Lionsgate’s Long Shot is looking at a sweet hold of -18%, or $8M, for a 10-day total of $21.6M, good for fourth place overall.
STX’s Poms in fifth is eyeing $6.3M at 2,750 theaters for the weekend after an estimated Friday of $1.75M.
Fox Searchlight’s Tolkien, at 1,465 theaters, is seeing $1.25M today and $3.7M for the weekend.
More updates later.
PREVIOUSLY, Friday 7:22 AM: The Legendary/Warner Bros Ryan Reynolds-voiced Pokemon Detective Pikachu gobbled up $5.7 million last night from showtimes beginning at 4 PM. It a great amount and not far from New Line’s $5.9M Thursday night for Shazam!, which turned in a $20.3M Friday for a $53.5M 3-day total. Detective Pikachu is now poised for a $50M-$55M opening.
Warners has done right by the franchise before, when it opened the first title statesid, 1999’s Pokemon: The First Movie, to a notable $31M at 3,043 theaters (unadjusted for inflation and big for the day).
A $5.7M Thurday is a very healthy start, and a sober sign that the marketplace is loosening up from Avengers: Endgame‘s grip. Yes, two blockbusters have shown they can co-exist in the marketplace (i.e. Jurassic World and a Pixar film), but Endgame was unprecedented, and Warners was smart to avoid having Pikachu immediately in Endgame‘s wake.
Pikachu also bests the preview nights of DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 3 ($3M), Sony’s Spider-Man: Spider Verse from December ($3.5M), and Warner Bros’ Lego Batman Move ($2.2M). Pikachu cost a net $150M before P&A.
Meanwhile, Avengers: Endgame from from Anthony and Joe Russo remains strong with $7.5M last night, the best for all films in regular release, putting its two-week running total at $660.4M. The film will cross $700M this weekend and overtake Black Panther to become the third highest-grossing film ever at the domestic B.O. with third-weekend estimates in the $80M-$85M range.
It took Star Wars: The Force Awakens 16 days to cross $700M, and Endgame looks to tie that record. It took Black Panther 171 days to cross $700M, while Avatar crossed the mark in 72 days. Star Wars: Force Awakens ($936.6M) and Avatar ($760.5M) remain in Endgame‘s record gross path as the Disney/Marvel title pegs its way up the all-time list.
Also this frame, United Artists Releasing has MGM’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels femme reboot The Hustle playing at 3,007 theaters and looking at $12M this weekend. Previews to date have earned $774K. Critics are snooty about the film at 16%. But it’s not for them, it’s for female audiences looking to have fun who are fans of Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson.
STXfilms’ senior female-skewing Poms from eOne took in $225K last night from about 2,000 screens in previews that started at 3 PM. Compared to other senior-skewing movies, Poms was less than the previews nights of Book Club a year ago ($625K), The Intern ($650K) and Going in Style ($600K). The pic, which expands to 2,750 theaters today, is eyeing $7M-$10M, but critics are not cheering for it at 30% Rotten. STX bought Poms at AFM for $8M-$9M.
Both Poms and The Hustle are hoping for great Sunday grosses given the spike among female moviegoers on Mothers Day.
Fox Searchlight has Tolkien at 1,425 locations which will likely fall in low-single-digits off a 48% Rotten Tomatoes score given the period pic’s aim at sophisticated audiences.