TriStar/eOne’s The Woman King is coming in higher than expected, with a $19M opening boosted by lively word of mouth off an A+ CinemaScore and a massive 95% positive on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak. Friday, including $1.7M previews, came in at $6.8M while Saturday pulled in $7.15M.
A+ CinemaScores are hard to come by, and The Woman King is right up there with previous awards contenders like Harriet and Hidden Figures.
Comping this Black female epic to other Hollywood titles was a challenge, but that’s also what made the project extremely appealing; the fact that there’s been nothing else like it, as TriStar Boss Nicole Brown said at TIFF last weekend. Some guessed that Harriet ($11.6M) and Viola Davis’ Widows ($12.8M) were the right comparisons, but even going back to Thursday previews, Woman King has already bested those numbers. No theatrical window has been indicated yet for the Gina Prince-Bythewood directed movie, which indicates Sony’s commitment for the long haul theatrically for this movie during awards season.
Should this Viola Davis-produced and starring vehicle go higher, that will hinge on business this afternoon when Sony is expecting the churchgoing demo to head to cinemas. The studio is estimating Sunday at $5M.
Credit is due here to Sony marketing for getting this movie to as close to a $20M start as possible. While they dropped the first trailer to The Woman King for exhibition at CinemaCon back in April, with that trailer being made to the public in July, the Davis feature loaded up all its fuel in the last week in its premiere at TIFF where the Oscar-winning actress delivered an impassioned speech and the crowd in Roy Thomson Hall went wild.
The social media universe for Woman King stands at 123.8M (“strong for the genre” says RelishMix) with 35.1M views off six YouTube videos that have “an exceptional viral repost rate of 37:1” reports the analytics corp. Beyoncé re-recorded or re-mixed her song “The Power” for the soundtrack “which is unifying the message of the film and also playing in the trailer. Viola Davis fans are well aware of the film and word-of-mouth will impact the turnout on opening weekend as the film is well connected,” said RelishMix in its pre-weekend report.
As expected, women are the majority at Woman King at 60%, with 58% over 35 and 39% over 45, another promising sign for an older demographic that was reluctant to head out during the height of the pandemic. Black moviegoers turned out at 59%, with Caucasians at 19%, Latino and Hispanic at 12%, and Asian/other at 10%. The Woman King saw its best business in the East and South, where seven of the top ten runs came from. LA’s AMC Burbank and the Grove also ranked in the top ten, along with the Country Club in Chicago. PLF screens and Imax auditoriums are repping 34% of Woman King‘s weekend ticket sales at this point in time. Imax Woman King prints at 235 grossed $950K for the weekend. Best markets were NYC, Atlanta, DC, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Philly, Miami, Baltimore, Orlando, Detroit, and Tampa.
20th Century Studios/Disney’s Barbarian is holding up pretty spectacularly for a horror movie at -40% (they’re typically down -65% in weekend 2) with an estimated $6.3M. Disney always had a feeling the pic would thrive off of hot buzz; that’s why they went theatrical with it. Curious to see how far this might be able to go in the long run. Pic’s second weekend will bring its ten-day running total to $20.9M.
A24’s horror movie Pearl, which got an extra boost with a run at TIFF last weekend after its world premiere at Venice, is expected to come in slightly lower than the $4M debut of its predecessor, X, with a $3.124M start in third place. The R-rated Ti West-directed movie skewed 53% guys, with 79% between 18-34. Grades were meh, though on par for a horror movie, at B- CinemaScore and 75% positive, 54% recommend from PostTrak. The coasts and Southwest were potent here, with nine of the top ten runs. Alamo counted four of the top ten. Demos were 51% Caucasian, 25% Latino and Hispanic, 11% Black, and 13% Asian/other.
Searchlight’s wide release of comedy caper See How They Run, directed by Tom George and starring Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan, didn’t have the best reviews at 70% on Rotten Tomatoes. While Searchlight had a lot at the festivals, i.e. The Menu and Chevalier at TIFF and The Banshees of Inisherin and Empire of Light at TIFF and Venice, this title wasn’t in the mix, and I hear it was just merely a pithy title, not really one with any awards patina.
Still, applause is needed for this movie going theatrical vs. Hulu, as Disney has confined Searchlight to a set amount of big screen releases annually. As we’ve been preaching throughout this part of the pandemic, anything is better with a window, even for an OTT service, and See How They Run is at 45 days. Unless Pearl has a strong Sunday, See How They Run will settle for fourth at $3.1M at 2,404, the pic falling in the range of Searchlight’s projections. Honestly, it feels like See How They Run is more like the type of Sunday film to overindex vs. a horror film which is frontloaded on Friday and Saturday nights. The caper played best on the coasts and Midwest, but results were OK: Only a third of the pic’s runs were over $500 on Friday while Saturday put over a third of the pic’s runs over $1K+ for the two days. Friday’s $1.08M includes $200K Thursday previews. Strong results at AMC Lincoln Square, Century City, Grove, Burbank and in hipster markets like Brooklyn and Austin; even Utah where PG-13 titles fare quite well.
However, if there’s life in the arthouse sector, it’s coming from NEON’s Brett Morgen-directed David Bowie doc Moonage Dream, which is chalking up an awesome $7,2K per theater at 170 locations for what looks to be a $1.22M opening in No. 10. That’s easily the best opening for a music documentary post pandemic, and the best start for a docu post pandemic on less than 200 screens, second only to Focus Features’ Roadrunner which was booked at 900+ sites and debuted to $1.988M. In the last 52 weeks, the only pic to go out on less than 200 screens and surpass $1.2M was Searchlight’s French Dispatch. A lot of that business had to do with the documentary being booked in Imax. Also, Morgen did Q&As to sold out shows at the TCL Chinese Theatre in LA. Bravo. The movie in 77 markets is putting up excellent ticket sales in NYC, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego, and Toronto. The pic premiered in the Midnight section at Cannes back in May and was the centerpiece of NEON’s CinemaCon session. Moonage Dream expands to 600 theaters next weekend.
Another film capturing a bulk of screens during this dry period at theaters is UP2U Films’ faith-based drama Running the Bases, from directors Marty Roberts and Jimmy Womble. Logline: When a small-town baseball coach gets the offer of a lifetime from a larger 6A High School, he uproots his family and leaves the only home he’s ever known, but soon faces opposition to his coaching methods from the school superintendent.
Friday was $195K in a 3-day that looks like $545,5K. Audience scores at 86% positive on PostTrak, and 76% were brighter than the bucks being made. Female faith-based crowd here at 51%, 79% over 35, 58% over 45, and 40% over 55. Diversity demos were 86% Caucasian, 11% Latino and Hispanic and 3% Black. Midwest and South saw the most activity.
Paramount has the Miramax Jon Hamm title Confess, Fletch, which is theatrical day-and-date on PVOD. Booked at 516 locations, the pic did $96K on Friday for what is a $260K 3-day opening.
While the industry, especially during awards season, calls for the need for diverse films, Focus Features has the wonderful, and emotionally moving The Silent Twins, which made its premiere in Un Certain Regard at Cannes. This Agnieszka Smoczynska-directed drama was amazing in its based-on-a-true story of June and Jennifer Gibbons, who spent their childhood only communicating with each other, and yielding brilliant, creative endeavors.
However, they hit teenage-dom, open up and fall in love with the same guy, and everything goes sideways. It’s a tragic, jarring story. With $102K at 279 theaters (a $365 theater average), the movie isn’t making waves on the arthouse set when it should. It’s so early on the fall release schedule here, I don’t even know if Focus screened the movie for Academy members. The pic is truly underrated, and critics were too harsh at 60% fresh. Really, this is a movie that could have made a dent and with reviews like that, I don’t know if Focus will carry this Letitia Wright production further into awards season. I heard there would be an expansion next weekend, then heard that’s not the case. It’s very upsetting, as this is a very original movie, much like when Moonlight came on the scene, that deserves much more attention, support and push.
All of these wide releases spell for a weekend that’s estimated at $51M for all titles. While +16% from last weekend, it’s the fourth-worst weekend YTD. So far, there has only been 14 weekends in 2022 that have grossed over $100M. Three weekends have seen all movies grossing north of $200M+.
Next weekend will be fun as we watch how much the Harry Styles fans’ over deliver on Olivia Wilde’s genre movie Don’t Worry Darling. The under-and-over is $20M. As we already reported, paid preview screenings in Imax were the fastest selling-to-date for the large format exhibitor.
Top 10 pics for Sept. 16-18., chart updated with Sunday numbers.
1.) The Woman King (Sony) 3,765 theaters Fri $6.8M, Sat $7.15M, Sun $5M, 3-day $19M/Wk 1
2.) Barbarian (20th/Dis) 2,340 theaters, Fri $1.96M (-48%), $2.7M, Sun $1.6M 3-day $6.3M (-40%)/Total $20.9M/Wk 2
3.) Pearl (A24) 2,935 theaters, Fri $1.3M, Sat $1M, Sun $803K, 3-day $3.124M/Wk 1
4.) See How They Run(Sea) 2,404 theaters, Fri $1.08M/Sat $1.16M, Sun $854K, 3-day $3.1M/Wk 1
5.) Bullet Train (Sony) 2,602 (-454) theaters, Fri $720K, Sat $1.1M, Sun $655K 3-day $2.5M (-24%)/, Total $96.3M/Wk 7
By hook or by crook, this Brad Pitt movie will make it to $100M.
6.) Top Gun: Maverick (Par) 2,604 (-401) theaters, Fri $630K (-25%), Sat $1M, Sun $550K 3-day $2.18M (-31%), Total $709M/Wk 17
7.) DC League of Super-Pets (WB) 2,756 (-287) theaters, Fri $440K (-11%) Sat $1.02M, Sun $715K, 3-day $2.175M (-18%)/Total $87.8M Wk 8
8.) The Invitation (Sony) 2,425 (-692) theaters, Fri $485K, Sat $775K Sun $440K 3-day $1.7M (-36%)/Total $21.4M/Wk 2
9.) Minions: Rise of Gru (Uni) 1,970 theaters (-304), Fri $260K (-21%), Sat $640K, Sun $420K, 3-day $1.32M (-24%), Total: $364.1M/Wk 12
This Illumination Entertainment sequel is still trying to catch up and become the highest grossing movie in the Minions/Despicable Me universe stateside, that title currently owned by Despicable Me 2 with $368M domestic.
10.) Moonage Dream (NEON) 170 theaters, Fri $592K, Sat $373K, Sun $260K, PTA $7,2k/3-day $1.22M/Wk 1
Brahmastra Part One – Shiva (Dis/Star) 810 theaters, Fri $319K (-83%), Sat $480K Sun $301K 3-day $1.1M (-76%)/Total $6.76M/Wk 2