UPDATED WRITETHRU, SUNDAY AM after Saturday 10:41 am and 2:13AM post: With chart: At a time when talk is percolating that CBS is kicking the tires of Lionsgate’s Starz unit, the mini-major is making a comeback at the box office with its R-rated Keanu Reeves action pic, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, which whipped its $50M tracking for a studio-reported $57M opening.
All-in global debut is at $92.2M. That’s the highest opening for Lionsgate since November 2015’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2‘s $102.6M. The threequel, which is not a victim of threequelitis at the box office in any way shape or form, earned an A- CinemaScore, the same grade as John Wick: Chapter 2. John Wick 3 also is very strong on PostTrak, with 4 1/2 stars and a 75% definite recommend. Also helping John Wick: Chapter 3 — that 89% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score.
Saturday’s business for John Wick: Chapter 3 eased 14%, with $19.6M, off Friday’s $22.7M. But if you subtract Thursday night’s $5.9M business from Friday, Saturday was +14% over Friday’s actual $16.8M ticket sales. John Wick 3 played best in the West and South but was very good everywhere. Imax drove $3.8M of Wick 3‘s stateside sales at 245 sites, repping 6.6% of its three-day opening.
Males over 25 at 45% are the biggest quad, followed by females over 25 at 29%, and then males under 25 at 18%. Caucasians repped 42% of all John Wick ticket buyers, followed by 22% Hispanic, African Americans at 19% and Asians at 14%.
Further props to the continued mojo of Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, which, despite shedding 442 screens, will power past Avatar’s lifetime domestic of $760.5M this weekend to become the second-highest grossing film ever at the domestic box office, with $770.8M.
Warner Bros./Legendary’s Pokémon Detective Pickachu held well, with a studio-reported $24.8M in weekend 2, -54% for $94M by Sunday. No severe front-loading here, as the pic will clear $100M well before the holiday weekend. Overall, a very healthy pre-Memorial Day weekend at the box office, even though such counterprogramming as Universal/Amblin’s A Dog’s Journey ($8M) and Warner Bros./MGM’s teen girl pic The Sun Is Also a Star ($2.6M) aren’t wowing. The event pics are truly squashing it.
The success of John Wick: Chapter 3 is reminiscent of New Line’s Austin Powers series during the early aughts. What appeared to look like a niche genre demo pic with John Wick ($43M at the domestic box office) popped in home ancillaries, and Lionsgate was keen to jump on and mine. Such IP is rare, and what studios crave in the changing times of DVD-to-digital home entertainment.
As chairman of the Motion Picture Group, Drake has been focused on re-establishing Lionsgate as a home for talent: filmmakers and executives. In a relatively short period of time, he has made a significant impact, infusing Lionsgate with a diverse slate of highly anticipated event films, suspenseful thrillers, comedies and faith-based dramas. John Wick 3 reflects all of these initiatives, and is one of the first films Drake greenlighted after returning to the studio in October 2017.
The threequel’s launch was orchestrated by the new global marketing team led by Damon Wolf, president of Worldwide Marketing.
In Media, the team launched their campaign in January, with high-profile integrations and custom content partnerships executed across 10 networks reaching over 193 million views for the trailer.
Such campaign needle movers for John Wick 3 include a fan-first “Text for a Head Start,” which allowed tens of thousands of rabid fans to enable in-world text messaging from The Continental (Wick’s haunt) straight to their phones. Throughout every beat, fans received film content, key art, and promotional opportunities first, one hour before the general population. This effort allowed for direct-to-audience promotional communication, ensuring the rapid dissemination of campaign messaging across social platforms, originating from the passionate fans and press members that signed up and received the materials first. This initiative was part of the core strategy of the studio’s data-driven marketing.
There’s also no better way at reaching a kinetic male core audience then partnering with the Fortnite game, which has a reach of 250M users. Lionsgate’s games division, headed by Peter Levin, and Epic Games collaborated on a John Wick in-game event for Fortnite that included free John Wick challenges. Additionally, players could jump into the in-game shop to purchase the John Wick Set, which includes the John Wick Outfit.
Lionsgate also embraced core franchise themes to expand the John Wick audience by executing multiple weeklong “theme campaigns” across online outlets, directed at a number of opportunity audiences; from using Valentine’s Day messaging to communicate John Wick’s unexpected sensitivities and passions. One campaign emphasized he’s doing all this for love of his wife and dog, after all, with creative clearly communicated in the special “A Tale of Two Strays” trailer released on National Puppy Day. The campaign also had a separate focus on “The Continental Hotel Week,” celebrating the ever-expanding story, world and cast of characters from the hotel at the center of the Wick series.
Among promo partners, there was the Ike Behar clothing line, which the designer created for the film, dubbed “The Continental Collection,” composed of Italian-made suits, dress shirts and ties. Behar worked closely with John Wick 3 costume designer Luca Mosca.
RelishMix beams about John Wick 3‘s social media dynamics, that its social media universe of 214M blows away the 90M reach of an average action film. Broken down, that’s 5.4M Facebook fans, 34.3M Facebook video views, 2.3M Twitter followers, 165.2M YouTube views and 6.7M Instagram followers. Halle Berry was the social media star of the pic, with 6M across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as Reeves does not have a social footprint.
“Lionsgate has not let their star’s social status dictate the campaign’s engagement,” RelishMix says. “Reeves is one of those stars that resonates with fans because he’s authentic, kind and comes across as legitimately interested in his projects. There is a wide host of clips in this campaign that feature Reeves’ training for the part, his stunt work and even his hand-and-footprint ceremony in Hollywood. Wick 3 is a great case study for creating social engagement despite a non-social star.”
RelishMix also points out that Reeves’ appearance on Stephen Colbert alone generated 3.5M views on YouTube.
A Dog’s Journey is playing like a threequel, even though technically it’s not. To the outside person, it’s too much Dog and the second W. Bruce Cameron canine feature adaptation in less than five months, following Sony’s January release of A Dog’s Way Home. Journey isn’t connected to Way Home, rather the 2017 A Dog’s Purpose. With a $8M start, it’s lower than Way Home‘s $11.2M opening and A Dog’s Purpose $18.2M.
For Universal, Journey is a distribution deal. Journey gets an A CinemaScore from those who showed up, on par with Purpose‘s grade, and a notch ahead of Way Home‘s A-. Purpose did a 3.5x for a final domestic of $64.5M, while Way Home yielded a 3.75x multiple for a final stateside of $42M. Dog’s Journey gets four stars from parents and kids, who, combined, made up 35% of yesterday’s crowd. 3 1/2 stars from general audiences. Females at 58% are the only ones attending. 52% were under 25, with 36% under 17 years old. Dog played best in the Mid & South-West, where this family genre typically does well.
RelishMix noticed the social media sentiment, which was spread across a moderate reach of 64.2M, was “how many of these movies do we need?” The social media analyzer also reports, “Journey is falling short across all key social measures, starting with its video viral rate (EOR), which is 12:1, under the family/live-action average of 13:1. The movie is adding about 400 new Facebook fans on average daily, which is again behind the usual 1.2K. Lastly, Journey is earning 5.9K average daily views across its top YouTube clips, far shy of the 15.9K typical of this genre.” No surprise here: No one is rushing out to see this movie.
Similarly, no one got off the couch for Warner Bros./MGM’s The Sun Is Also a Star. Yes, the film is cheap at $9M (split evenly between MGM and Warners), and we hear the marketing spend was, too. When Orion makes these small movies, their ancillaries kick in off a $10M final domestic B.O. threshold. But the optics on this aren’t good, especially for a hit YA novel, and Warners/MGM have fared considerably better with this early summer teen counterprogramming, read Me Before You ($18.7M opening, $56.2M domestic, $208.3M global aimed at young women), and the previous Nicola Yoon feature adaptation Everything, Everything ($11.7M opening, also made on the cheap for $10M, $34.1M domestic, $61.6M global).
I mean, indie studio Aviron opened After to $6M, and the consensus is that movie could have done better with a bigger P&A, given how the pic has over-indexed abroad, with more than $52M. Granted, Me Before You did star Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke, while these other teen weepies did not. Hence, their inability to perform. Audiences were also sour on Sun, giving it a B- to Me Before You‘s A, and Everything, Everything‘s A-. Sun sets with a 2 1/2 stars on PostTrak, with females under 25 being the biggest demo at 44%, followed by females over 25 at 31%, respectively giving low grades in the mid 60%-tile. Single largest quad was 18-24 at 37%. Sun played best on the coasts, but even there it wasn’t very good.
Social media universe also was moderate per RelishMix, which says: “From casual moviegoers to fans of Sun who hope it isn’t a sad ending; there’s a negative conversation out there for the film. Naysayers claim that they’ve seen this film before, and have been disappointed by similar adaptations or confused by everything from the music used to the time line of the plot. There are plenty of comparisons to other romance movies that did not work and questions about the story.”
RelishMix adds: “It’s worth noting that Warner Bros. only posted one official clip for this title, which is a little unconventional. Further, Sun is earning about 500 new Facebook fans daily, while a teen drama usually adds 1.8K. Finally, the film is clocking about 7.9K average daily views for its top clips on YouTube — the typical teen drama earns 18.6K.”
Studio-reported Sunday estimates:
WEEKEND B.O. FOR MAY 17-19
Top 10 as of Saturday AM:
BOX OFFICE FOR MAY 17-19
UPDATE, 1:35 PM: If there is a film that is stopping Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame from taking No. 1 at the domestic box office for a fourth weekend in a row, it is Lionsgate’s John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum, which is looking at a $25 million Friday including $5.9M from Thursday previews for a $55M-$60M weekend. And we hear it could go higher.
Endgame will take a fourth Friday with $8M for a fourth-weekend take of $30M, which will send it past Avatar on Sunday to become the second highest-grossing movie of all time domestically with $771M
Warner Bros/Legendary’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu, meanwhile, is looking at $6M today for a three-day total of $24M and $93.1M by Sunday.
Universal/Amblin/Reliance’s A Dog’s Journey is eyeing $2.5M today (including an estimated $250,000 from Thursday shows) for an estimated three-day of $8M-$10M.
MGM’s The Hustle looks like $1.7M today for a three-day of $6M and 10-day of $23M, good for No. 5 overall.
Warner Bros/MGM/Alloy’s The Sun Is Also a Star is seeing $1.4M today (including an estimated $180K from Thursday shows) for a three-day today of $4M.
PREVIOUSLY, Friday, 7:23 AM: Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum grossed a great $5.9 million last night, a figure that blows away the R-rated action pic’s previous previews. That ranks it as the highest Thursday night preview gross in Lionsgate history outside of Twilight: Breaking Dawn 2 and The Hunger Games films. The pic opened on 3,000 screens.
The first John Wick Thursday previews earned $950,000, while John Wick 2 made $2.2M, which repped 20% of its $10.95M Friday. John Wick 3‘s Thursday is even higher than the previews for Sony/MGM’s last James Bond movie Spectre, which made $5.25M (and went on to earn a $27.4M Friday), and even 2012’s Skyfall ($4.6M Thursday, $30.5M Friday), though both of those pics were PG-13.
The Keanu Reeves’ R-rated action threequel from director Chad Stahelski (who helmed John Wick: Chapter 2) is poised to see the series’ highest domestic opening this weekend with $50M at 3,850 theaters, finally unseating Disney’s Avengers: Endgame in its fourth weekend. The Marvel epic is expected to do $30M at 4,220 theaters, and led all titles Thursday with $3.4M at 4,662 sites bringing its three-week running total to $741.38M.
If that $30M estimate sticks by Sunday, Avengers: Endgame will topple Avatar as the second-highest grossing film at the domestic box office ($760.5M) with a cume that’s north of $771M.
We hear that early PostTrak results for John Wick 3 are similar to part 2: largely males over 25, then females over 25, followed by males under 25 and females under 25. This is a franchise that has grown with age thanks in large part to its play in the home ancillary market. The first John Wick on October 24, 2014 opened to $14.4M, and John Wick 2 opened to $30.4M.
In part 3, the assassin is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, and has a $14M price tag on his head — he is the target of hit men and hit women everywhere. Halle Berry and Ian McShane also star.
Warner Bros/Legendary’s Pokemon Detective Pikachu is looking at a second weekend of $20M in third place. The Ryan Reynolds-voiced pic ended its first week with $69.1M after a Thursday take of $2.7M. MGM’s The Hustle was third yesterday with $797K and a first week of $17.06M.
Warner Bros also has the MGM/Alloy Entertainment teen pic The Sun Is Also a Star based on the Nicola Yoon novel and directed by Ry Russo-Young. Previews started at 4 PM last night for the pic which is expected to do between $6M-$9M. Film follows a teenager who finds love at a difficult time in her family’s life.
Universal Pictures has Amblin/ Reliance/Walden Media/Alibaba’s A Dog’s Journey in roughly 3,200 North American theaters with a mid-teens opening expected. Directed by Emmy winner Gail Mancuso, A Dog’s Journey is produced by Gavin Polone and written by W. Bruce Cameron & Cathryn Michon, and Maya Forbes & Wally Wolodarsky, and is based on Cameron’s bestselling novel. A Dog’s Purpose from Uni/Amblin opened to $18.2M and finaled at $64.5M.