Weekend Box Office Forecast (Preview Update): Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to Conquer Again; Cocaine Bear and Jesus Revolution Counter with Sleeper Potential

Photo Credits: Disney & Marvel Studios ("Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania"); Universal ("Cocaine Bear"); Lionsgate ("Jesus Revolution")

Friday Update: It’s a very positive start to the weekend with both wide openers reporting healthy preview results.

Universal’s Cocaine Bear posted $2.0 million from 3,000 domestic locations with Thursday previews beginning at 5pm. That nearly doubles the $1.1 million start by Violent Night back in December, while also topping Knock at the Cabin‘s recent $1.4 million.

Lionsgate’s Jesus Revolution is off to roaring start as well with $940,000 reported from Thursday previews alone. Combined with Wednesday’s early access screenings, the studio reports a strong $3.3 million in the bank so far before the weekend proper even begins.

Final forecasts from Wednesday remain below, with Cocaine Bear looking likely to open on the higher end of (perhaps above) expectations.

Wednesday Report: Fresh off the third best February debut in history, Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp has an easy path to a second weekend crown.

The 31st film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe led over President’s Day weekend and will continue to command a strong premium screen presence alongside appeal to casual moviegoers and families. Whether or not the film’s positive audience score (84 percent) from Rotten Tomatoes and PostTrak (75 percent) help drive better legs than critics’ 48 percent Tomatometer and a “B” CinemaScore might indicate is up for plenty of debate right now, though.

Countering the MCU tentpole are two films with varying degrees of sleeper hit potential. First up is Universal’s Cocaine Bear, which is hoping to ride a wave of social media buzz driving the high-concept action-comedy premise.

With a hard R rating, the film is tracking comparably to recent Universal films like Knock at the Cabin and Violent Night, while trending ahead of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent with key appeal to men between the ages of 17 and 34.

That said, sales for post-Thursday shows are not as robust as other R-rated, young male-driven titles in recent memory. Walk-up business could change that if reviews are positive, though no score was available via Rotten Tomatoes as of this report.

Across the universe of pre-sales, social metrics, and general tracking, there are a number of scenarios that could play out here here with some more bearish (forgive the pun) than others. Case in point: Universal expects $15 million or higher from opening weekend revenue, despite some models being a little more conservative.

That said, this is the kind of film that could easily over-perform if the aforementioned social buzz continues to build momentum over the next few days.

Previews begin Thursday at 5pm, and the film won’t have a major premium screen presence as Quantumania still holds rights to the lion’s share of them.

For something completely different, Lionsgate counters with Jesus Revolution in a play to attract faith-based moviegoers. That audience has helped drive a number of post-pandemic specialty hits like The Chosen releases, Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist, and titles such as Overcomer, I Can Only Imagine, The Shack, and many more before the pandemic.

The latter sample set is more apt for comparison here since Revolution is a true wide theatrical release unlike Fathom Events strategies that capped showtimes for The Chosen season premiere and finale in recent months.

Again, forecasts are volatile for this release — in large part because the film is holding special Wednesday screenings with strong pre-sales boosting all tracking measurements. Those early screenings were also heavily discounted, per multiple reports. Weekend sales look healthy, though, indicating this might have some potential to exceed the studio’s expectation of a weekend debut between $6 million and $7 million.

Lionsgate has not yet indicated whether Wednesday’s grosses will be included in the weekend tally or not. Thursday previews will start at 6pm.

Weekend Ranges

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Second Weekend Range: $35 – 43 million

Cocaine Bear
Opening Weekend Range: $11 – 16 million

Jesus Revolution
Opening Weekend Range: $7 – 12 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Current projection ranges are for a 39 to 48 percent decrease from last weekend’s $138.7 million top ten aggregate.

Film Studio 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, February 26 Fri Location Count Projection (as of Wed) 3-Day % Change from Last Wknd
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Disney & Marvel Studios $38,600,000 $176,200,000 ~4,345 -64%
Cocaine Bear Universal Pictures $13,700,000 $13,700,000 ~3,500 NEW
Jesus Revolution Lionsgate $10,000,000 $10,000,000 ~2,250 NEW
Avatar: The Way of Water Disney & 20th Century Studios $5,500,000 $666,200,000 ~2,500 -16%
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Universal Pictures & DreamWorks Animation $4,100,000 $173,300,000 ~3,000 -23%
Magic Mike’s Last Dance Warner Bros. Pictures $2,500,000 $22,800,000 ~2,800 -54%
Knock at the Cabin Universal Pictures $2,400,000 $34,600,000 ~2,200 -40%
80 for Brady Paramount Pictures $2,300,000 $36,700,000 ~2,500 -39%
Missing Sony & Screen Gems $1,200,000 $31,700,000 ~1,100 -31%
A Man Called Otto Sony & Columbia Pictures $1,000,000 $62,400,000 ~1,200 -38%

All forecasts are subject to revision/finalization before the first confirmation of opening previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are either studio estimates OR unofficial projections if preceded by “~”.

The above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

Photo Credits: Disney & Marvel Studios ("Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania"); Universal ("Cocaine Bear"); Lionsgate ("Jesus Revolution")
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