SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Universal/Blumhouse’s M3GAN won Friday with $11.7M, taking its weekend projections to $27.5M. All of this was built on the back of 2D admission prices, since Avatar: The Way of Water has all the Imax and PLF screens. Marvelous. Hopefully, the horror fans don’t have this front-loaded.
CinemaScore at a solid B (horror fan are always hard) is very good, and higher than the 3 1/2 stars on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak. Universal did a spectacular job here making a creepy doll film for the TikTok generation. If someone is dancing in your movie, and you can market it on TikTok, consider it a win. The protag’s droopy dance caught on like wild fire out of the first trailer — and this was without the studio doing a #MeganDanceChallenage. There was none of that. It was all organic with 1.3 billion views on TikTok across the hashtags #M3GAN, #M3GANMovie, and #M3GANDance.
Universal took that whole dance conceit up a notch by having a troupe of M3GAN dancers at the premiere before Christmas boogeying to Taylor Swift’s “It’s Nice to Have a Friend”. That gang came out for the Rams game at halftime last weekend and cut the rug again. It’s great gimmick marketing that sells a horror film and makes it a must-see. Paramount did a stunt for Smile, but with scary smiling people stunt at sports games, which TV cameras would capture and zoom in on.
Some may say in its concept, M3GAN is like Chucky or Annabelle, another serial killing doll. Oh, no, she’s totally different and Universal made sure to sell that tonally, distinguishing her posh and deadpan attitude to a Gen Z and millennial crowd. Namesake Megan Thee Stallion posted the first trailer on social media and gave it a huge shoutout, while M3GAN and Chucky began a frenemy feud on social.
The trailers generated multiple trending topics on Twitter, YouTube, and GIPHY, with the worldwide count for both exceeding 250M views.
The 18-34 crowd came out at 62%. Though led by guys over 25 at 28%, women weren’t far behind at 27% over 25, and 26% under 25. Men under 25 attended at 19%. Women at 53% gave the film an overall 72% grade in PostTrak exits. Also indicative of that demo, 20% came to the movie with 2 to 4 friends. Diversity demos were 38% Caucasian, 27% Hispanic or Latino, 21% Black, and 7% Asian, a very good swath.
Among horror openings in January, the top one belongs to Blumhouse’s Glass, with $40.3M off a B CinemaScore. MEGAN is the first film to open to more than $20M during the first weekend of January since 2018, when Insidious: The Last Key started with $29.6M. It’s also the first PG-13 horror movie to open to more than $20M since A Quiet Place Part II during Memorial Day 2021 ($47.5M). Scream, which debuted to $30M last January, was Rated R.
Disney’s Avatar: The Way of Water is still looking at No,. 1 with a $38M-$43M weekend, which at either end gets it over the half-billion mark in the US and Canada. Best fourth weekend (for a regular film in release, not an expansion like American Sniper) belongs to the first Avatar in 2010 with $50.3M, followed by Top Gun: Maverick,which did $44.6M. It’s possible that Avatar 2 surpasses the fourth frames of Force Awakens ($42.3M) and Black Panther ($40.8M). At this weekend level, it’s clear the James Cameron movie has a significant amount of gas left in the tank.
Both movies top off a weekend that’s bound to add up to around $101M for all titles, +61% from Jan. 7-9 a year ago, which made $62.7M per Box Office Mojo. Still, there’s money missing in the marketplace, as the first weekend of 2020, before we ever thought Covid would become part of our vocabulary, did $142.3M, led by the third weekend of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.
1.) Avatar 2 (Dis) 4,340 theaters Fri $11.4M (-54%) 3-day $38M-$43M (-36% to 44%), Total $514.7M (on the high end)/Wk 4
2.) M3GAN (Uni) 3,509 theaters, Fri $11.7M, 3-day $27.5M/Wk 1
3.) Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Uni/Ill) 3,919 (-202) theaters, Fri $3.3M (-49%), 3-day $12.4M (-26%), Total $87M/Wk 3
4.) A Man Called Otto (Sony) 637 (+633) theaters, Fri $1.5M 3-day $3.68M/
total $3.76M/Wk 2
5.) Wakanda Forever (Dis) 2,255 (-55) theaters, Fri $968K (-50%) 3-day $3M (-41%), Total $445M/Wk 9
6.) I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Sony) 3,184 (-441) theaters Fri $700K (-51%) 3-day $2.38M (-39%) Total $19.6M/Wk 3
7.) Babylon (Par) 2,381 (-970) theaters Fri $430K (-54%), 3-day $1.4M (-46%), Total $13.5M/Wk 3
8.) The Whale (A24) 850 (+270) theaters, Fri $423K (-15%) 3-day $1.38M (-1%) Total $8.4M/Wk 5
9.) The Menu (Sea) 800 (-60) theaters, Fri $211K (-45%), 3-day $724k (-34%)/Total $37.7M/Wk 8
10.) Violent Night (Uni) 1,981 (-582) theaters, Fri $210K (-75%) 3-day $670K (-68%) Total $49.3M/Wk 6
FRIDAY PM: For an early January weekend falling after New Year’s Day and before MLK, it’s sure not sleepy. Some adult films may have a hard time working at the box office as moviegoing comes out of the pandemic, but you can bet the house on horror films. Universal has a vibrant No. 2 winner in Blumhouse’s creepy posh doll film M3GAN which is looking at a $26.7M opening after a $11.4M Friday (plus previews) at 3,509 theaters. The Gerard Johnstone directed PG-13 horror movie has landed at 94% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with critics and a current audience score of 78%. This movie is in such great shape, they’re already kicking around ideas about a sequel for it, I hear.
Meanwhile, James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water is headed to break even destination (per the filmmaker) with a running total stateside by Sunday well north of a half billion. The fourth Friday of the 20th Century Studios/Disney/Lighstorm film looks like $10M, -60% from last Friday for a 3-day of $37M, -45%, for a running total of $508.7M in first place at 4,340 theaters.
Universal also owns No. 3 in DreamWorks Animation’s third weekend of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish at 3,913 locations. Friday is $2.5M (-62%), third weekend is $10M (-40%) and the running total by Sunday is $84.6M.
Popping into the top five in fourth place is Sony‘s limited release of A Man Called Otto which goes from four theaters in NYC and LA to 637 sites for an estimated Friday of $1.2M, 3-day of $3.4M. The movie ended its first week with just over $85K. The pic sits at 67% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes but remains an audience pleaser at 94%.
Fifth goes to Disney/Marvel Studio’s 9th weekend of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at 2,255 theaters with a $900k Friday, -53%, 3-day of $3.1M, -39% and a running cume of $445.1M.
The third weekend of Babylon from Paramount/C2 is in 6th place with a Friday of $400K, -57% from a week ago, $1.3M 3-day, -50%, for a running total by Sunday of $13.4M.
FRIDAY AM: The Blumhouse-Universal PG-13 genre title is off to a great start with $2.75M after 5PM showtimes. Universal is betting $17M heading into the weekend on M3GAN while tracking was seeing well north of $20M. Horror fans always come out on Thursday night so hopefully this great momentum keeps up.
A Blumhouse movie with great reviews aimed at the under 25 demo is always a good sign for box office prospects: Critics gave M3GAN 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. The pic is booked at 3,509 theaters and is expected to take the No. 2 slot behind Avatar: The Way of Water which is eyeing between $25M-$30M in weekend 4. Currently the James Cameron-directed sequel has under $472M going into the weekend — it has a shot at hitting the half billion mark stateside.
In regards to comps, the Thursday previews for M3GAN are just under that of Scream‘s a year ago which did $3.5M before a $30M opening weekend, but that was over an MLK holiday weekend. It’s also above Sony’s The Escape Room which kicked off New Year 2019 with $2.3M in previews before notching an $18.2M opening. That pic was 50% with critics on RT with a 52% audience score.
Among regular films in release, 20th Century Studios/Lightstorm/Disney’s Avatar: The Way of Water lead Thursday with $6.7M at 4,202 theaters, -10% from Wednesday with a running total of $471.7M. The sequel made $113.5M for the week.
Uni/DreamWorks Animation’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish at 4,121 sites did $2M yesterday, -11% from Wednesday for a $30M second week and running total of $74.6M.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at 2,310 ends its eighth week with an estimated $8.8M, a $490K Thursday and a running total of $441.9M.
Tri-Star/Compelling Pictures/Black Label Media’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody at 3,625 saw a second Thursday of $444K, a second week of $6.7M and a running total of $17.3M.
Paramount’s Babylon at 3,351 posted an estimated $353K Thursday, -16% from Wednesday, a second week of $4.7M and a running total of $12M. That bests the $11.3M lifetime domestic total of Guillermo del Toro’s period title Nightmare Alley which went on to be nominated for four Oscar including Best Picture. Proof that poor ticket sales don’t necessarily impact awards season chances.