6TH UPDATE/Tuesday AM: Disney’s Aladdin will final its Memorial Day weekend opening between $116M-$117M after a robust estimated $25.7M Monday, +15% from Sunday. This comes from estimates this morning. Should Disney call Aladdin at $117M+ for the Friday through Monday stretch, then the Guy Ritchie-directed musical will become the 4th best Memorial Day opening at the domestic box office, taking over Fast & Furious 6 ($117M) and filing behind 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($139.8M), 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($126.9M) and 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand ($122.8M).
Yesterday, off Disney’s 4-day Aladdin estimate of $112.7M, ComScore called the holiday frame for all films at an estimated $230M, 1% ahead of last year’s Memorial Day stretch of $227.7M. Now, with Aladdin coming in roughly $4M+ higher, the Memorial Day domestic box office weekend should be at $234M, the 6th best of all-time, and +3% ahead of last year.
Disney has played the Memorial Day period for several years, Pirates 3 being its last truly great opener. Over the last 12 years, they’ve misfired greatly with Alice Through the Looking Glass, Prince of Persia, Pirates 5, Tomorrowland and even last year’s Solo (despite a $103M start, not much next to its $250M production cost before P&A).
Disney will have their early AM estimates soon.
5TH UPDATE/Writethru, Monday AM after Sunday posts: So Disney is now calling the 4-day on Aladdin at $112.7M which is where we saw it on early Sunday AM (before industry figures indicated $110.9M). Still the studio continues to be safe in their projections as industry estimates continue to show Price Ali floating higher to $114.3M. Either way, it’s still the fifth best Memorial Day opening of all-time, unseating 2014’s X-Men: Day of Future Past ($110.5M). Can’t emphasize what a comeback Aladdin is for Disney over the holiday weekend. In the wake of their 2007 holiday champ Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($139.8M), they’ve just had a lot of turds including Tomorrowland, Prince of Persia, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Pirates 5, and even Solo which despite earning $103M over FSSM, was not enough in regards to its cost.
As we’ve been saying all weekend, Aladdin is director Guy Ritchie’s best domestic opening ever and Will Smith’s second behind Suicide Squad ($133.6M).
Even though ComScore reports that on a 3-day basis, all films clocked $175.1M, -4% from the same period a year ago, things are apt to be rosier than expected with Aladdin‘s improved 4-day. Last year’s Memorial Day stretch grossed $227.7M. Memorial Day 2013 stills holds the holiday record with $314.2M. That’s when Fast and Furious 6 topped the chart with a $1177M debut. For the period of Jan. 1-May 26, the 2019 running domestic box office counts $4.3 billion, still lagging -9% behind the same period a year ago. We will have updates on this tomorrow.
Aladdin played great everywhere, but its strongest plays were in the South and the West. Imax drove $8.2M at 402 sites repping the large format exhibitor’s second-best Memorial Day weekend.
In marketing Aladdin, Disney knew they had women in the door for this prince and princess pic. However, they needed to mine more males. So they pushed Aladdin during sporting events, i.e., the first trailer dropped during the Oct. 10 NFL Eagles vs. Giants game. There were also pushes during ESPN’s NCAA March Madness, along with Golden State Warriors NBA champ Steph Curry granting wishes in pre-game and in-same spots. ABC also had an exclusive look at Aladdin during the NFL Draft.
And of course there were the mass eyeball grabs with Disney dropping the second trailer (which showed Smith’s Genie) during the Grammys. Aladdin also trailered in-theater on films like Bohemian Rhapsody, The Grinch, Shazam, and Avengers Endgame. There was a Bachelorette premiere stunt, Comedy Night finale takeover with special looks of the pic during American Housewife, blackish, The Kids Are Alright, Bless This Mess, and on Freeform as well (Bold Type, Pretty Little Liars, The Perfectionists finale). And, of course, Disney advertised the heck out of the pic via their vertical-integrated arms, i.e. the Disney Channel, the parks, and an exclusive screening for Disney Vacation Club member cruises on Disney Cruise Line.
Bad news on Screen Gems/H Collective’s Brightburn. While Sony contends the movie cost $6M net before P&A, we heard from two sources with knowledge of the budget that the R-rated horror, anti-Superman film cost $12M net after Georgia rebates, which means Brightburn will not reach break-even after distribution costs. Whether this film cost $6M or $12M, the optics of a $9.5M opening over a holiday weekend for this pic aren’t anything to scream about.
While producer James Gunn has been out there promoting the film, unfortunately, that’s not creating a stampede. The film had so-so reviews (59% RT score) and poor exits. Sony had to know this, and likely curbed their P&A cost. The studio gets behind riveting, original material, i.e. Baby Driver and Don’t Breathe. And when Sony knows a film can sing, they’re relentless and loud about their marketing, and may even launch a pic at a prolific festival (which was the case for Baby Driver at SXSW and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at Cannes).
Baby Driver sold itself as a not-before-seen action film ballet with a hip soundtrack. The studio trailered Baby Driver on all the big summer tentpoles two years ago. Yet, there was something quiet here in the push for Brightburn. Social media monitor RelishMix noticed “negative discussions coming out of early screenings; attendees were not exactly impressed.” Critics, like New York’s David Edelstein and Chicago Sun Times’ Richard Roeper found the film to be just another slasher. With Spider-Man: Far From Home coming down the line, Brightburn really won’t burn Sony that much in the end. Brightburn played best in the South and on the coasts.
While Sony tried to give Brightburn a better spot on the calendar this weekend versus the pic’s original post Black Friday weekend dead zone of Nov. 30, some sources believe that the holiday weekend wasn’t the best place to launch a mixed genre film which conspired to get a yawn from the audience. Also, there’s a case to be made here that horror and superhero are not good playmates: audiences like their horror and they like their superhero, but don’t like the two combined. No matter who created them.
Also, we can’t ignore the small start of UA/Annapurna’s Booksmart, which is bound to see $8.7M over four days. The movie looked like a female Superbad, but more indie. Great reviews and solid exits, but no one is taking the time out over the holiday weekend to see it. Saturday’s $2.1M ticket sales were down 16% from Friday. Smart, R-rated, critically acclaimed teenage girl pics remain a tough sub-genre: STX’s The Edge of Seventeen could bust through in a competitive 2016 awards season with a $4.7M opening. Booksmart‘s bests plays were in big cities on the coast, especially in the West.
Counter-programming is becoming collateral damage in a franchise-dominant marketplace. Avengers: Endgame can partially be blamed for creating this whirlwind. But at the same time, we’ve seen original movies like Get Out and Baby Driver break through in previous competitive seasons. For over-indexing success to happen on these smaller movies, it’s crucial for distributors to position them as events. When they don’t, they’re just cutting their losses. Lionsgate tried with the Charlize Theron-Seth Rogen title The Long Shot ($29.2M running cume in weekend 4), but the latter’s strongest suit is with anarchistic comedies (like Neighbors, Sausage Party), not screwball comedies where he plays the wrinkled guy.
Studio-reported figures with added industry estimate on Aladdin as of Monday morning.
1…Aladdin(Dis) 4,476 theaters, $31M Fri, /$29.6M Sat/$29.8M Sun/$22.3MMon/3-day $90.4M, 4-day, $112.7M, Wk 1 [Disney reported]
……..Industry estimate: $31M Fri/$29.8M Sat/$30M Sun/$23.5M Mon/3-day $90.8M/4-day $114.3M
2…John Wick: Chapter 3 (LG) 3,850 theaters, $6.6M Fri /$8.9M Sat/ $9M Sun/$6M Mon/3-day $24.6M (-57%), 4-day $31M, Total $107.6M/Wk 2
3…Avengers: Endgame(Dis) 3,810 (-410) theaters, $4.2M Fri /$6.5M Sat/$6.5M Sun/$5M Mon/3-day $17.2M (-43%), 4-day $22.3M, Total $803.6M/Wk 5
4…Pokemon Detective Pikachu (WB/Leg) 3824 (-424) theaters, $3.4M Fri /$5.1M Sat/$4.8M Sun/$3.8M Mon/ 3-day $13.3M (-47%), 4-day $17.2M, Total $120M/Wk 3
5…Brightburn (Sony) 2,607 theaters, $3M Fri/$2.4M Sat/ $2.4M Sun/$1.6M Mon/3-day $7.9M, 4-day $9.5M/Wk 1
6…. Booksmart (UA/ANNP), 2,505 theaters, $2.5M Fri/$2.1M Sat/$2.3M Sun/$1.7M Mon/3-day $6.9M, 4-day $8.7M/Wk 1
7… Dog’s Journey (Uni/Amblin) 3,279 (+12) theaters, $1.1M Fri/$1.5M Sat/$1.4M Sun/$1.5M Mon /3-day $4.1M (-48%), 4-day $5.5M, Total $16.3M/Wk 2
8… The Hustle (UA/MGM) 2,377 (-700) theaters, $1M Fri /$1.3M Sat/$1.3M Sun/$980K Mon/ 3-day $3.7M (-39%), 4-day $4.7M, Total $30.7M/Wk 3
9… The Intruder (Sony) 1,612 (-619) theaters, $605K Fri/$877K Sat/$815K Sun/$625K Mon/, 3-day $2.3M (-43%), 4-day $2.9M, Total $32.6M/Wk 4
10… Long Shot (LG), 1,358 (-752) theaters, $439K Fri /$585K Sat/$616K Sun/$460K Mon/3-day $1.6M (-51%), 4-day $2.1M, Total $29.2M/Wk 4
2ND SATURDAY AM UPDATE: With updated figures after 2:16AM post – It’s a whole new world for Disney at the Memorial Day box office. After weathering through a slew of failed franchise attempts over previous Memorial Days, including Alice Through the Looking Glass, Prince of Persia, and last year’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, to name a few, the pure nostalgia for their live action reboot of 1992’s Aladdin is flying to a grand estimated $107.7M four-day Memorial start after a $31M Friday, and an estimated 3-day of $86.1M. At 4,476 locations, Aladdin is the widest Memorial Day release ever for Disney, higher than their 4,381 count last year for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Scary Will Smith Blue Genie? Smith no replacement for Robin Williams? Not the Aladdin of your childhood? Such negative buzz, which rival studios enjoyed sniping about at CinemaCon, hasn’t seeped into the general moviegoers’ consciousness. On social media, RelishMix noticed that most of the negative buzz, like critics, came from those with zero interest in Disney live action cartoon remakes. Disney fans have had a louder voice in the discussion.
“Fans are absolutely loving the materials they’re seeing for Aladdin, from Will Smith’s performance to the authentic look and feel of the movie, to the soundtrack and its many songs. Like other Disney movies of recent note, there is that element of older ticket buyers sharing their excitement, to be able to share one of their childhood memories on the big screen with their kids and this younger generation,” says the social media analytics corp in their weekly report.
Aladdin will certainly rep the biggest opening ever for director Guy Ritchie (ahead of Sherlock Holmes at $62.3M), a complete B.O. redemption after back-to-back disasters King Arthur and The Man From UNCLE. Aladdin is also poised to be Disney’s second-best opener at the Memorial Day box office after 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($139.8M), slotting ahead of last year’s Solo (which, though high for the holiday at $103M, was unfortunate next to the pic’s exorbitant $250M cost before P&A).
For Smith, it’s his second-best opening on a 3-day basis after 2016’s Suicide Squad ($133.6M). Aladdin was originated by and produced by Rideback’s Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich. It is Lin’s second biggest opening, behind It ($123.4M). Aladdin, we hear, only cost $182M net.
Aladdin is also another big win for diversity at the box office, with a multi-cultural cast on the marquee. As the biggest studio in the world, it’s important for Disney to make event pics in which many people can see themselves reflected on screen, i.e. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Black Panther, and even A Wrinkle in Time (a big swing which came up short for them). Caucasians made up 42% of Aladdin‘s audience, followed by 27% Hispanics, 15% African American and 11% Asian.
Other bragging rights for Disney this weekend: After the less-than-anticipated performance of Mary Poppins Returns and Dumbo, Aladdin remains an uptick for their live action ‘toon remakes. It’s evident that the Gen X/Y appealing ‘toons from the 1990s during the Jeffery Katzenberg animation renaissance at the studio is what remains rich fodder, versus some of the older IP (which has recently shown to be inconsistent; perhaps the strength in the old stuff lies in re-imagination spinoffs like Maleficent and the upcoming Cruella). By the way, Aladdin is just an appetizer here at the summer B.O.: The entire town is banking on Jon Favreau’s The Lion King to shoot cash out of a confetti gun when it opens on July 19.
In addition to Memorial Day riches, Disney can smile about Aladdin‘s solid A CinemaScore, and fantastic PostTrak exits, which are still at 4 1/2 stars and a 70% definite recommend for combined demos. Females at 59% are driving business, with millennials (ages 25-34) the biggest age quad at 28%. Women still love the pic more than men, 94% to 84%, with females over 25 still taking up the most seats at 30%, followed by females under 25 (29%), males over 25 (22%) and males under 25 (19%). Families repped 36% of the audiences to general moviegoers’ 64%. Parents give it 4 1/2 stars to kids under 12’s four stars. Moms outweighed Dads, 57% to 43%, and girls outnumbered boys, 59% to 41% (and, of, course they like it better, 90% to 88%).
The heat that RelishMix observed on social media about Prince Ali: Aladdin had an immense social media universe north of 763M, “a level we have not observed yet this year for a family/live action title” across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and YouTube views. Video viral rate for materials was 15:1, ahead of the family action pic’s 13:1, “superb considering the 24 clips Disney posted for this film.” RelishMix has an asterisk on these numbers. Not counted in this reach is the push Aladdin is receiving across other studio social media channels, i.e. partner shops PIXAR, Disney Animation, the Parks, etc. Not to mention, there has been an Aladdin musical playing on Broadway since 2014, all of which adds toward the movie’s reach and engagement.
The soundtrack has been key in driving social media traffic, with the pic’s YouTube views for all clips at a massive 215M+. “The soundtrack that brings us back pays social dividends,” says RelishMix.
The soundtrack to the original Aladdin is a classic, and the song “A Whole New World” at the time was the first and only number from a Disney feature to earn a Grammy Award for Song of the Year. The single went gold at 500K copies sold. “Taking a page from that original film, this 2019 live-action version has definitely capitalized upon a superb song list – and enlisted lots of social media help to get fans singing the songs leading up to open.”
ZAYN and Zhavia Ward’s “A Whole New World” rendition from the Ritchie film has earned more views than any other YouTube video in the Aladdin campaign, with 46M+. Similar to what Disney did with Frozen and “Let it Go”, they made various renditions of “A Whole New World” for various markets, with local artists in Brazil, South Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and India, and a Spanish version with Zayn and Becky G. Disney dropped Aladdin star Naomi Scott’s new single from the film “Speechless” a couples of days ago, and it already has logged 2.5M views on YouTube.
“At the end of the day, this campaign has built a lot of engagement around its soundtrack, a tactic other summer tentpoles could easily imitate,” remarks RelishMix.
Counter-programming still battles. Sony/Screen Gems/H Collective James Gunn R-rated superhero horror film Brightburn is seeing a $10M debut over four-days at 2,607 theaters in 5th place. The pic only cost $6M. We’ll see if this gets higher as reviews are mixed at 59% Rotten. CinemaScore didn’t publish a score, and PostTrak exits are low at 2.5 stars, with a 39% definite recommend. Males over 25 at 41% turned out in numbers, but weren’t big on this novel film about a child from another planet, who isn’t so much a Superman, but something more sinister. Just as Sony was promoting this film at Comic-Con last year, the right wing take down of the pic’s producer James Gunn occurred. The studio took care to move the film out of the sleepy post-Thanksgiving period of Nov. 30, wait out the Gunn noise, and jettison to a more lucrative weekend at the B.O.
Annapurna’s R-rated female teenage comedy Booksmart from director Olivia Wilde is currently seeing $8.4M over four days at 2,505 in 6th place. The pic tested through the roof in the 90s, and United Artists sought to mine the pic’s prime millennial and female audience with a thrifty, largely digital campaign with Instagram early access screenings and Ellen DeGeneres plugging the pic on her online portals. PostTrak shows a total positive of 80% for this movie, which has the best reviews among the wide entries for the weekend at 97% certified fresh. CinemaScore is higher with a B+. Females under 25 (25%) love the movie the most at 87% with a big turnout by women over 25 (34%) and the 18-34 demo making up a huge 77% of the entire audience.
1…Aladdin(Dis) 4,476 theaters, $31M Fri, 3-day $86.1M, 4-day, $107.7M, Wk 1
2…John Wick: Chapter 3 (LG) 3,850 theaters, $6.6M Fri (-71%), 3-day $24.2M (-57%), 4-day $30.2M, Total $106.8M/Wk 2
3…Avengers: Endgame(Dis) 3,810 (-410) theaters, $4.1M Fri (-44%), 3-day $16.6M (-44%), 4-day $21.5M, Total $802.8M/Wk 5
4…Pokemon Detective Pikachu (WB/Leg) 3824 (-424) theaters, $3.3M Fri (-48%), 3-day $13.4M (-47%), 4-day $17.5M, Total $120.3M/Wk 3
5…Brightburn (Sony) 2,607 theaters, $3M Fri, 3-day $8.5M, 4-day $10M/Wk 1
6…. Booksmart (UA/ANNP), 2,505 theaters, $2.5M Fri, 3-day $6.8M, 4-day $8.4M/Wk 1
7…. The Hustle (UA/MGM) 2,377 (-700) theaters, $1M Fri (-41%), 3-day $4.3M (-30%), 4-day $5.5M, Total $31.5M/Wk 3
8…. Dog’s Journey (Uni/Amblin) 3,279 (+12) theaters, $1.1M (-56%) Fri, 3-day $4.1M (-49%), 4-day $5.4M, Total $16.2M/Wk 2
9… The Intruder (Sony) 1,612 (-619) theaters, $625K (-43%), 3-day $2.4M (-23%), 4-day $3.1M, Total $32.8M/Wk 4
10… Long Shot (LG), 1,358 (-752) theaters, $409K Fri (-58%), 3-day $1.6M (-52%), 4-day $2M, Total $29.1M/Wk 4
UPDATED, FRIDAY 1:17 PM: At this time we can tell you that Disney’s Aladdin is off to a healthy start at the domestic box office with a $28 million-$30 million Friday (including $7 million in Thursday’s previews). It is now expected to hit $80 million over three days and $95 million over the full four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend frame.
Some see the Guy Ritchie film besting Solo: A Star Wars Story‘s four-day Memorial Day start of $103M last year with a potential $104M gross, but this holiday is so wonky it is too soon to call it at that. There can be fall-off as people become distracted by holiday activities.
Regardless, it’s a better than anticipated start for Disney’s latest live-action remake, on which critics are divided but exit polls show audiences love. Aladdin is a brand that is fresher than Dumbo and hipper, being a fave of Gen X and Gen Y audiences.
We will have more box office updates later today.
PREVIOUSLY, 7:36 AM: Disney’s Aladdin is off to strong start after $7 million in Thursday night previews that began officially at 6 PM yesterday, preceded by 5 PM fan events. That figure is exceedingly better than the frumpy Thursday night start of Dumbo, which only snorted up $2.6M for a $46M weekend.
Last night was also the best preview start for director Guy Ritchie at the domestic box office; two summers ago, his King Arthur: Legend of the Sword tanked with a $15.3M opening, leading to a $39.1M domestic finish and $148.6M global off a $175M production cost.
Tracking is between $73M-$85M on Aladdin over the Friday-through-Monday stretch of Memorial Day weekend. Critics are split about the live-action reboot of the 1992 Disney classic at 60% fresh. We’ll see whether the die-hard Aladdin fans dominate or remain divided as the weekend continues.
So far, so good: ComScore/Screen Engine PostTrack exits show general audiences giving Aladdin 4 1/2 stars and a solid 69% definite recommend. Females over 25 lead at 34% (98% positive grade), followed by females under 25 at 25% (97% grade), men over 25 at 21% (88%) and Men under 25 at 20% (83%). Parents gave the pic four stars after turning out at 12%, and kids under 12, who repped 20% of the crowd and loved it at 4 1/2 stars.
If those figures maintain, Ritchie is bound to see his best opening at the domestic B.O. after 2009’s Sherlock Holmes ($62.3M). We went into the weekend projecting on the low end, given the funkiness of moviegoing over the Memorial Day stretch. Since Marvel movies have taken over the earlier part of the month (or late April), Memorial Day has increasingly become anti-climactic at the box office. Disney has traditionally tanked over Memorial Day weekend with its event attempts, but this year might be different.
Aladdin‘s Thursday also bests that of Disney’s 2017 Memorial Day attempt Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ($5.5M off 7 PM shows for a $78.4M four-day opening) as well as late May 2014’s live-action Sleeping Beauty spinoff Maleficent ($4.2M previews from 9 PM and midnight, $69M opening). Many are comparing Aladdin to the female-skewing Cinderella, and Prince Ali also beat her 8 PM Thursday showtimes of $2.3M, which turned into a $67.8M opening.
Among the preview nights for the live-action remakes of Disney’s toons, Beauty and the Beast is still the fairest in the land with a huge $16.3M from March 16, 2017 shows.
Those who’ve seen the top sheet of Aladdin say it cost around $182M net, which is cheaper than Pirates 5 ($230M production cost net before P&A), and a little higher than Beauty and the Beast ($160M).
Atom Tickets saw Aladdin presales outstrip those of Dumbo and Mary Poppins Returns. Based on Atom’s recent Summer Movie Survey, Aladdin was in the top 10 Most Anticipated Summer Movies list in addition to the top 5 Most Anticipated Family Summer Movies. Of those that voted for Aladdin as their top summer movie, they also said they are most excited to hear the song “A Whole New World” from the movie. The majority (70%) are really excited to see Will Smith as the genie. In terms of the survey demographics, 50% were 25-34 years old, 26% were in the range of 35-44, and 12% were 45-54. Also based on the survey, fans of the movie also skewed more female (~60%), which was what tracking spotted and what last night’s exit polls indicated.
Sony Screens Gems/The H Collective has the James Gunn-produced superhero horror pic Brightburn, which drew $950,000 last night from 7 PM shows at 2,257 locations. Pic’s opening is projected at $8M over three days and $10M for four days. That’s ahead of Warner Bros’ R-rated July 2015 horror pic The Gallows, which opened to $9.8M. Brightburn cost an estimated $6M before marketing and distribution costs.
United Artists’ release of Annapurna’s Olivia Wilde-directed teenage comedy Booksmart took in $875K in previews. The R-rated film is tracking towards a domestic four-day weekend opening in the mid- to high-single-digits.