Amazon bought MGM –a motion picture studio–for $8.45 billion back in May 2021, and this weekend the streamer had their first taste of how wonderful a box office blockbuster is, as MGM/UAR’s Creed III opened to a franchise record of $58.6M. That’s also the highest debut ever for a sports movie. At this level, Creed III stands to also become the highest-grossing Creed title stateside at $150M, besting Creed‘s $109.8M and Creed II‘s $115.7M, while also providing a lot of lift to a domestic box office looking to return to pre-Covid levels.
Some may argue, ‘Oh, well, Creed III was always meant to be theatrical.’ We can’t just go on that line, because we know how most streamers are prime to jettison a title onto their service nowadays. Following Amazon’s $8.45 billion purchase of MGM back in May 2021, the streamer put such Lion movies as Thirteen Days and Sylvester Stallone’s $100M Samaritan on the service.
But Amazon with Creed III has turned a corner, and it should come as a lesson to all streamers, including those motion picture studios who have services, that the best publicity for a film’s success doesn’t come in the quiet, anecdotal reporting of data (nor a service’s own defined measurement of viewership), but good, old American dollars.
Amazon Studios Head Jen Salke, who emulated the Netflix limited theatrical-to-OTT service distribution model starting with the 2019 Adam Driver movie The Report, told Deadline’s Natalie Sitek at the Creed III premiere Monday that “We can look forward to more” theatrical releases. Next up for Amazon is the Easter weekend release of the Ben Affleck-directed, Matt Damon-starring Air.
“We’ll look at each film individually and make the right decision for each of them. It couldn’t be more exciting,” Salke said, “Hopefully, we’ll bring tons of people back to theaters with these two movies to start.”
More proof that Salke is serious about theatrical is in the hiring of former Warner Bros. President of Production Courtenay Valenti who is behind this year’s 8x Oscar-nominated Elvis, which was one of the movies to bring adults back to the movies last year, grossing $151M domestic, $287M+. You know what looks better heading into an Oscar race? A movie that can boast that it made money, not one that’s reporting $0. It just looks better, and image is everything.
While Netflix saw some $15M+ from the Thanksgiving week launch of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story at 696 theaters after scooping up the Rian Johnson franchise for $400M, the streamer isn’t pivoting to full on theatrical wide releases, preferring to stay in its zone of high-priced tentpoles sans downstream windows.
Taking the reigns of WarnerMedia, Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav immediately recognized the sins of the conglom’s former administration in their theatrical-day-date HBO Max experiment with tentpoles like Dune, Mortal Kombat, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Suicide Squad, in how heaps of money was left on the table, and much cash burned in the talent slate buyout deals.
Recently, Warners put HBO Max’s Channing Tatum movie Magic Mike’s Last Dance into theaters, with the pic grossing $25M+ through four weekends. While the lowest of the Steven Soderbergh male stripper drama movies, what matters is that money was made, even if the movie didn’t profit in its theatrical window, and that big screen launch is the best publicity to carry the IP through to minting any amount of bucks in subsequent windows.
However, good on Amazon here as the WGA, DGA, and SAG sit-down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Creed III is a win for data transparency, Amazon having hid their grosses on their limited theatrical releases of Coming 2 America, Cinderella, and the Harry Styles’ movie My Policeman.
For dealmaking purposes, and to justify clients’ worth, guilds want more access to viewership data in the next round of contract talks. However, they should be asking for more than that: Streamers should be giving up their churn rate info: As equally as important as it is that 364M hours were watched by global Netflix subscribers for the Dwayne Johnson/Gal Gadot/Ryan Reynolds movie Red Notice, it’s also vital for all creatives involved to know the amount of subscriber dollars that movie raked in for the streaming service.
A big deal here in regards to Creed III‘s win: it’s March release date. UAR/MGM moved the threequel away from Wakanda Forever at Thanksgiving and pushed it to here, the first weekend of March. Very smart play, as the threequel gained PLF and Imax screens which they wouldn’t have access to back in November, nor at Christmas if they decided to go then in the face of Avatar: The Way of Water.
More diagnostics on Creed III: Imax and PLF drove 35% of the pic’s domestic box office. Saturday only dipped -3% with $21.4M next to Friday’s $22M. Creed III is also a huge diverse win, with Blacks repping 38% of ticket buyers, followed by 28% Latino and Hispanic and 13% Asian/other.
Box office analytics corp EntTelligence observed excellent business in each daypart, especially late evenings when ticket sales taper off, with 30% attending between 1p-5p, 32% between 5p-8p and 29% after 8p. The movie represented 45% of all box office admissions this weekend outside its preview nights. Overall, 4M attended Creed III.
Per RelishMix, MGM and Amazon’s marketing team had Creed III primed heading into the weekend on social media, with a universe of 353.5M (+69% over Creed II) across TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram. There were 88M views for Creed III materials alone on TikTok, with 464M #views the week of opening for #creed3. YouTube views stats exceed 212.2M, with an excellent viral reposting ratio at 21:1. Director/lead Michael B. Jordan weighed in with 29.4M activated fans, along with boxer Canelo Álvarez at 23.5M, former-boxer Tony Bellew at 1.5M, boxer Florian Munteanu at 807K, and Selenis Leyva at 782K in regards to talent pushes for the movie on social.
“In social threads, some fans took sides in the ongoing dispute between Sylvester Stallone and producers as a show of loyalty to Rocky and his brand as Rocky, which will be missing from the story. Otherwise, chatter ran positive from Jonathan Majors followers, who are getting the Ant-Man ‘Kang’ double feature effect in full play — along with appreciation for Jordan as director, the new Creed Camp video, and IMAX BTS materials.”
More at the box office:
Crunchyroll’s Demon Slayer Into the Swordsmith Village at a revised 1,780 theaters is seeing $10.1M after a $3.4M Saturday, -17% from Friday’s $4.1M.
Lionsgate’s release of Miramax’s Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerrein early AM numbers is seeing a $1.26M Saturday, +17% over Friday, for a $3.1M opening. RelishMix noticed Lionsgate re-activating the pic’s digital campaign from a year ago, which actually counts under 79M across social media from TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
Said RelishMix on pic’s pulse, “Convo tone on Operation Fortune tracked mixed with questions about release date and studio pivots — interwoven with continuous affection for Aubrey Plaza and her recent projects, as she’s over-indexing on the risk-taker-meter — as well as Jason Statham super fans, who wonder if this will hit similar notes or break some new ground for his brand and characters. Guy Ritchie film fans were also paying attention at the campaign as it ramped back-up.”
1.) Creed III (UAR) 4,007 Fri $22.1M, Sat $21.4M, Sun $15M 3-day $58.6M/Wk 1
2.) Ant-man and the Wasp Quantumania (Dis) 3,825 (-520) theaters, Fri $3.1M (-63%) Sat $5.86M Sun $3.49M 3-day $12.4M (-61%), Total $186.7M/Wk 3
3.) Cocaine Bear (Uni) 3,571 (+37) theaters, Fri $3.1M (-64%), $4.8M, Sun $2.9M 3-day $11M (-54%)/Total $41.2M/Wk 2
Very good hold here for the genre pic; these types of movies are usually steeper at -60% or worse.
4.) Demon Slayer…Swordvillage (Cru) 1,753 theaters, Fri $4.2M, Sat $3.4M Sun $2.45M 3-day $10.1M/Wk 1
5.) Jesus Revolution (LG) 2,575 theaters (+100), Fri $2.2M (-68%), Sat $3.4M Sun $2.97M 3-day $8.65M (-52%)/Total $30.5M/ Wk 2
6.) Avatar: The Way of Water (Dis) 2,300 theaters (-195), Fri $776K (-30%) Sat $1.7M Sun $1M 3-day $3.57M (-27%)Total $670.6M /Wk 12
James Cameron remains $3.47M away from beating himself, meaning having this sequel unseat Titanic ($674M) to become the eighth highest grossing film ever in U.S./Canada.
7.) Operation Fortune…(LG) 2,168 theaters, Fri $1M, Sat $1.26M Sun $821K 3-day $3.1M/Wk 1
8.) Puss in Boots: Last Wish (Uni) 2,588 theaters (-252), Fri $550K (-39%) Sat $1.3M Sun $840K 3-day $2.72M (-34%), Total $177.1M/Wk 11
9.) Magic Mike’s Last Dance (WB) 1,737 (-1,181) theaters,Fri $355K (-61%), Sat $500K, Sun $325K 3-day $1.18M (-59%) total $25.3M/Wk 4
10.) 80 for Brady (Par) 1,495 (-902) theaters, Fri $215K (-55%) Sat $370K Sun $260K 3-day $845K (-56%)/Total $38.3M/Wk 5