Weekend Box Office Forecast: Post-Holiday Lull Should Benefit Holdovers, Nomadland‘s Expansion (Friday Update)

Photo Credits: Universal Pictures ("The Croods: A New Age"); Searchlight Pictures ("Nomadland"); Warner Bros. / Sean Bobbitt ("Judas and the Black Messiah"); Warner Bros. / John Schwartzman ("The Little Things")

Friday Update: Studio sources have confirmed that official location counts and box office figures will not be reported for Nomadland despite its semi-wide release this weekend.

As referenced earlier, we’re projecting upward of 1,200 locations screening the film starting today based on data tabulated in The Boxoffice Company’s Showtimes Dashboard. As of Friday evening, an estimated 1,159 were confirmed on the platform.

More updates will follow as they are provided.

Original Report: In a market where an estimated 44 percent of domestic cinemas are currently open, last weekend saw the return of Universal’s The Croods: A New Age to the first place spot atop the box office in its 12th weekend of release. That’s a feat practically unheard of in the 21st century, but one that isn’t terribly surprising under pandemic conditions.

The film’s incredible staying power — even with a PVOD release nearly two months ago — has served as further evidence of the demand for consumers (especially families) to visit movie theaters where safe and possible to do so. Coming off the double holiday boost of Valentine’s and Presidents Day, the animated sequel should remain in a tight running for the crown yet again on February’s penultimate frame — especially with no wide releases from major studios on the docket.

The asterisk next to that fact belongs to Searchlight Pictures’ Nomadland, which will expand nationwide from its two-week limited run in IMAX. Disney will distribute the award season candidate in an estimated 1,200 locations (unconfirmed by Disney as of this reporting). The Frances McDormand-led drama from writer/director Chloé Zhao currently ranks fourth among all booked showtimes, according to The Boxoffice Company’s Showtimes Dashboard.

Nomadland‘s semi-wide expansion could end up somewhat comparable to the recent Focus Features’ title Promising Young Woman, which released on Christmas Day at 1,310 domestic locations and earned a solid $719,305 across its first weekend. Advertising and social media footprints are comparable at the same points of release, and the demand for new theatrical content remains as high as it can be under the circumstances.

The wrench in that direct comp, however, will be Nomadland‘s immediate availability to stream on Hulu beginning this Friday. Young Woman remains a PVOD-only title from Focus and parent Universal Pictures, and that availability didn’t begin until 21 days after its theatrical release.

Warner Bros. will remain high up in the conversation again coming off last week’s debut of Judas and the Black Messiah. Still available to stream on HBO Max for another few weeks, the strongly received prestige title may fall off a bit more sharply than other movies will this weekend due to its fresher-to-the-market nature, but otherwise looks to stand among the top three for the coming weekend. The pic opened to $2.2 million during its first four days.

The other Warner pic in the fray, The Little Things, will head into its fourth weekend in close contention with Judas. The Denzel Washington-Rami Malek-Jared Leto thriller remains available to stream on HBO Max until the end of this month. Theatrically, it’s tallied just over $10.3 million through 11 days of play (as of Monday, February 15).

Warner Bros. has notably begun to confirm weekday and weekend totals with increasing detail since the release of Little Things and Judas, though daily breakdowns at the traditional level of reporting remain withheld — thus maintaining the challenges of identifying in-depth box office trajectories for the studio’s pandemic-era releases.

Elsewhere, STXfilms will continue the steady rollout of The Mauritanian. That film opened in 248 locations last weekend and is estimated to expand up to 285 cinemas this Friday. The studio is planning a staggered a nationwide expansion, but will also release the film for at-home PVOD rentals come March 2.

While drop-offs would traditionally be quite sharp coming off Presidents Day weekend (ranging between 47 and 77 percent declines last year), the nature of a competition-less pandemic market has thus far resulted in an emergence of somewhat steadier moviegoing patterns. The most recent example was Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend when the worst decline was The Marksman‘s 35 percent sophomore frame drop.

Similar trends could develop again this coming weekend, although comparisons are somewhat skewed since last Sunday was extra inflated by Valentine’s Day. The impact of this week’s winter storms could also be felt in various regions around the country, notably in the south and southeast which have become drivers of domestic theater attendance while major coastal markets remain shutdown due to COVID-19 concerns.

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, February 21 Location Count % Change from Last Wknd
The Croods: A New Age Universal Pictures $1,700,000 $50,825,000 1,913 -18%
The Little Things Warner Bros. Studios $1,300,000 $12,050,000 ~2,000 -29%
Judas and the Black Messiah Warner Bros. Studios $1,250,000 $3,825,000 ~1,888 -36%
The Marksman Open Road Films / Briarcliff Entertainment $750,000 $11,425,000 1,643 -32%
Wonder Woman 1984 Warner Bros. Studios $725,000 $42,750,000 ~1,650 -27%
Nomadland Disney / Searchlight Pictures $700,000 n/a* ~1,200 n/a*
Land Focus Features $550,000 $1,700,000 1,251 -39%
Monster Hunter Sony / Columbia $480,000 $13,375,000 1,311 -30%
News of the World Universal Pictures $300,000 $11,775,000 1,161 -20%
The War with Grandpa 101 Studios $180,000 $20,285,000 653 -6%

* Limited-run IMAX grosses from February 2 – 18 not yet reported

All forecasts subject to change before the first confirmation of weekend estimates from studios or alternative sources.

Forecasts above do not necessarily represent the top ten, but rather films with the widest theatrical footprint based on studio confirmations entering the weekend.

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Photo Credits: Universal Pictures ("The Croods: A New Age"); Searchlight Pictures ("Nomadland"); Warner Bros. / Sean Bobbitt ("Judas and the Black Messiah"); Warner Bros. / John Schwartzman ("The Little Things")