FRIDAY PM: No, family moviegoers were never gone.
Do you hear that Disney CEO Bob Chapek? (Admit it: it was always about the seasonal churn rate for Disney+; that’s why Turning Red skipped theaters).
Families turned Spider-Man: No Way Home into the third highest movie of all-time with $803M, and they kept Sing 2 in the top 10, 14 out of the pic’s 15 weekends for a $162M stateside total. And further underscoring that family audiences haven’t lost their appetite for moviegoing during the pandemic is Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which we hear from industry sources is bound for a $23-$26M Friday (including $6.25M previews), for what looks to be at this moment as a $60M-$65M opening at 4,234 theaters. That’s higher than the $58M 3-day of the first movie. That’s the 5th slam-dunk, No 1 opening by Paramount during the pandemic after A Quiet Place: Part II, Scream, Jackass Forever and The Lost City. There’s a great optimism out there among sources that Sonic 2 will go higher once matinees take effect.
Off the road, and broken down is Universal/Endeavor Content’s Michael Bay action film, Ambulance, with a $2.8M estimated Friday and $7.25M opening at 3,412 theaters in 4th place. And the movie has all the Imax screens. Now, before we blame this person, that person, and Bay, the movie serves as a reality check as moviegoing roars back. Essentially, moviegoers have become more discerning during the pandemic, and they’re particularly choosey about the types of movies they’ll see. A Marvel, DC, Sonic the Hedgehog, is worth the price, especially if you’re going to the movies 2 to 3 times a year. But if it looks like an action film they’ve seen on a Netflix queue, they’re not going to go out of their way to see it. Ambulance is obviously on a 17-day window, and given that, well, older dudes will wait to see this at home. All of this despite the movie notching the best reviews of Bay’s career, Jake Gyllenhaal doing quite well in the role and Universal’s marketing materials testing well. Times have changed, and a brilliant movie such as 1994’s Speed would have a hard time in today’s moviegoing economy. Furthermore, when it comes to action films in today’s cinemas, it’s the superhero films that have it all, everything else is B-rated. They’ve stolen the air away from something as standard as Ambulance. Ambulance came to together in November 2020.
Meanwhile, a movie like Lost City, a combo of romantic comedy and adventure; that’s a different genre we don’t see all the time. It’s not overabundant, and because it had the right star package, opened to $30.4M. It appealed straight to women, and there haven’t been that many female-demo movies over the last two years. The Sandra Bullock-Channing Tatum movie in weekend 3 at 3,797 theaters is seeing $2.5M today, -42% from a week ago for a 3-day of $8.5M-$9M in 3rd, -39%, for a running total of $68.6M on the high end by Sunday.
Sony’s Morbius booked at 4,268 theaters is out of blood in weekend 2 with $9M-$9.3M in 2nd, -76% on the high end, for a running total of $56.1M. The movie crossed $100M WW yesterday; its current global cume being $102.7M before the weekend.
Warner Bros.’ The Batman in weekend 6 is seeing $6M-$6.3M, -43%, for a running total of $358.8M in 5th at 3,254 locations.
Sixth place right now is going to A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once with a $5M third weekend off 1,250 theaters (+1,212) and an expected running total by Sunday of $7.2M.
FRIDAY AM: Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 grossed $6.25M in previews from Wednesday fan screenings and Thursday showtimes that started at 3 p.m. The film is expected to make north of $50M this weekend. Universal/Endeavor Content’s Ambulance is not looking great with $700K in previews at 2,800 theaters that started at 7 p.m.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2‘s Thursday was $5M, or 66%, higher than the original 2020 movie’s $3M Thursday previews, which started at 5 p.m. That movie saw a $20.9M opening day, of which previews accounted for only 14%, and a $58M three-day and $70M four-day weekend before finaling at $148.9M. The movie’s legs were indeed impacted then by the onset of the pandemic and exhibition closing nationwide.
In regards to Ambulance, the good news is that it’s double the preview number of Universal’s previous action dud The 355, which did $350K at 2,300 theaters that began at 7 p.m. on its Thursday. The irony here with Ambulance is that it’s the best-reviewed movie of director Michael Bay’s career — tied with The Rock, which also was 68% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes — but the movie isn’t going to make it to double digits in its opening.
The logical question is why wasn’t this sent to Peacock, day-and-date. I understand that Universal wanted to be in the Bay business and made a negative pickup here from Endeavor Content, which financed the pic starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza González for an estimated $40M. The only bragging rights for Universal is that Ambulance was cheap. After the pic’s disastrous $20M foreign box office result in 59 territories, Uni already is dealing with the reality that this vehicle is broken.
Among regular movies in release, Sony’s Morbius did $1.3M on Thursday, ending its week with an estimated $46.9M. The Jared Leto Spider-Man spinoff is expected to decline 65% in Weekend 2 given its genre nature. Paramount’s The Lost City did $1.1M, -8% from Wednesday, for a second week estimated at $19.9M and two-week total of $59.7M. Warner Bros.’ The Batman did $745K, -7% from Wednesday ending its fifth week with $14.3M and a running total of $352.5M. Sony’s Uncharted did $303K in its seventh Thursday for a week ending of $5M and a running total of $140.3M.
Meanwhile, A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once is the little engine that could. The Michelle Yeoh movie did $113K at its current 38 Week 2 locations and another $530K in previews (all in Thursday $643K) heading into its 1,200-theater expansion, bringing the movie’s running total to $2.8M. This is a very promising result for specialty cinemas.
The 25th anniversary of Jennifer Lopez movie Selena from Iconic ranked fifth Thursday with an estimated $216K at 308 locations, we hear. This is not a one-night-only event but will continue in upcoming weeks.