Disney/20th Century Studios’ New Mutants got an early jump on the weekend last night, grossing $750K in a pandemic marketplace where only 62% of all movie theaters are open.
Studios have often said that preview figures aren’t perfect indicators of the weekend box office. I beg to differ: It was more predictable during pre-pandemic times. Now, we don’t know what to expect. One of the reasons why Disney is leading with this movie as theaters reopen is because research shows that the 18-34 crowd is more open and eager about returning to cinemas. Atom Tickets’ polling indicates that 40% of moviegoers are comfortable returning to theaters immediately. A reminder why it’s hard to draw conclusions about how the 3-day will ultimately look is because hard-top theaters in California, New York, New Jersey, Arizona (partial), North Carolina, Michigan, Maryland, and New Mexico remain closed along with the metro areas of Seattle, Miami, Portland and Philadelphia. That said, New Mutants is playing at those drive-ins which are open in those areas. Last night, the Josh Boone-directed Marvel pic played the Rose Bowl pop-up drive-in in Pasadena, CA.
Some of the Thursday night comps that Disney is looking at for New Mutants include 20th’s Stuber ($750K, $8.2M opening), Aviron’s Strangers: Prey at Night ($610K, $10.4M), 20th’s Bad Times at the El Royale ($575K, $7.1M), 20th’s The Darkest Minds ($550K, $5.8M), Entertainment Studios’ 47 Meters Down: Uncaged ($500K, $8.4M), and 20th’s Underwater ($500K, $7M). The weekend estimate for New Mutants is $8M-$10M.
It’s the first notable Thursday night previews for a major studio movie that have been reported since the weekend of March 13-15, the last time all the major circuits were open, and the last time that domestic weekend box office was reported in full before the pandemic shutdown. On the evening of March 12, Sony’s Bloodshot posted $1.2M (before grossing a $9.1M opening weekend) off previews that started at 5pm at 2,631 screens; Lionsgate’s I Still Believe had $780K (also a $9.1M opening) at 2,600 sites plus Imax previews; while Universal/Blumhouse’s The Hunt made $435K at 2,200 theaters from showtimes starting at 7pm (translating into a $5.3M opening). And all of that was in a weekend when moviegoer sentiment was ratcheting down over coronavirus jitters.
Disney’s Searchlight also previewed Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield last night, but we’ll see if they report. The PG-rated period comedy is booked at 1,360 theaters and hoping for at least $700K.
Canada has Warner Bros.’ Tenet in 300+ locations. We heard that middays were great yesterday, however, the studio isn’t apt to report until next week when they roll those figures into the U.S. opening. The movie is launching in 40 offshore markets with an eye on a $25M international B.O. start. The Christopher Nolan movie in South Korea made $2M in its first two days+previews release on its way to a $6M-$7M weekend, that is if theaters don’t shutter due to rising COVID-19 cases.
United Artists Releasing has Bill & Ted Face the Music in 1,007 theaters, while Picturehouse has booked its Roman Catholic faith-based movie Fatima in 215 sites. Both are on PVOD and playing independent theaters, not the big chains.
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