Weekend Box Office Forecast: Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID Could Net a Splashy $135-140M+ Memorial Day Bow

Photo Credits: Disney & Dion Beebe ("The Little Mermaid")

Friday Update: Disney reports that The Little Mermaid opened to $10.3 million from domestic previews. Additional analysis and updated expectations are available here.

Wednesday Forecast: Often one of the most lucrative weekends on the box office calendar, this Memorial Day is shaping up to be a splashy one for Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

While early tracking already pointed to what would have been a healthy $100 million-plus four-day start domestically, pre-release social trends and ticket sales have continued to gain momentum. Independent models now point to a potential four-day bow north of $135 million.

Pinpoint forecasts (see below) are even more bullish. Disney itself is understandably more conservative, expecting around $120 million for the four-day.

Worth noting is that overall market business this weekend may exceed last year’s $174.4 million three-day haul from the top ten films over the same holiday corridor, which itself topped the pre-pandemic measuring stick of 2019’s $173.1 million three-day Memorial frame.

Driving optimism is the pent-up demand for a female-driven tentpole with generational appeal, combined with generally positive reviews at a current 73 percent fresh score from 123 Rotten Tomatoes critics.

Pre-sales have steadily gained steam in recent weeks with Wednesday’s early access shows alongside traditional Thursday previews tracking for more than $11 million and potentially upward of $13 million. For reference, 2019’s Aladdin remake earned $7 million from Thursday previews — though the market has certainly evolved in the last four years. Mermaid will naturally be a little more frontloaded.

Just last year, Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick set a new Memorial Day weekend record with a $126.7 million three-day / $160.5 million four-day split, unseating Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End 15-year-standing benchmarks of $114.7 million / $139.8 million. Now, one year later, Disney has a chance to eclipse itself with Mermaid having a shot to at least surpass the Pirates threequel for the second best Memorial opening ever.

All of this said, weekend play will be critical to reaching the upward range of potential. As a heavily female-skewing film, it will be interesting to see how the demographics break out. Aladdin‘s opening weekend drew a 54 percent female audience, compared to The Lion King‘s 53 percent that same summer and Beauty and the Beast‘s 60 percent in 2017.

The original Little Mermaid film was never the box office powerhouse of later Disney animated films in the 1990s, but this modern remake is trending in the right direction to sit alongside some of the studio’s most successful live-action re-imaginings.

On the holdover front, Fast X will see a sharp drop due to natural franchise front-loading and the simultaneous loss of many premium screens to Mermaid.

The previous film, F9, slid over 67 percent in its second frame back in summer 2021 as theatrical recovery was just underway mid-pandemic. That film didn’t face major competition at the time, though Fast X can arguably still coexist as a male-driven tentpole.

Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Super Mario Bros. Movie should benefit from the long holiday weekend and family turnout even with some competition from Mermaid‘s debut.

Several other openers will hit theaters this weekend, though with mostly middling expectations. Lionsgate’s About My Father is likely to be the standout as a comedy counter-programmer with modest family potential, though Sony’s The Machine will have special live screenings to help eventize the Bert Kreischer pic.

Open Road will also launch the Gerard Butler-led Kandahar, while A24 is sending You Hurt My Feelings into moderate release at around an unconfirmed 900 locations. We’re not currently offering forecasts for the latter.

Weekend Ranges

About My Father
4-Day Opening Weekend Range: $4 – 7 million

4-Day Opening Weekend Range: $2.5 – 5 million

The Little Mermaid
4-Day Opening Weekend Range: $130 – 155 million

The Machine
4-Day Opening Weekend Range: $3 – 5 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Current projection ranges call for a 47 to 57 percent increase from last weekend’s $118.9 million top ten aggregate.

Film Studio 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, May 28 Fri Location Count Projection (as of Wed) 3-Day % Change from Last Wknd 4-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Monday, May 29
The Little Mermaid (2023) Walt Disney Pictures $117,800,000 $117,800,000 ~4,300 NEW $149,000,000 $149,000,000
Fast X Universal Pictures $25,700,000 $112,300,000 ~4,046 -62% $32,400,000 $119,000,000
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Disney / Marvel Studios $19,000,000 $297,300,000 ~3,900 -41% $24,700,000 $303,000,000
The Super Mario Bros. Movie Universal Pictures $6,000,000 $558,700,000 ~3,200 -37% $7,600,000 $560,300,000
About My Father Lionsgate $5,300,000 $5,300,000 ~2,400 NEW $6,500,000 $6,500,000
The Machine Sony Pictures / Legendary $3,800,000 $3,800,000 ~2,300 NEW $4,600,000 $4,600,000
Kandahar Open Road Films $2,400,000 $2,400,000 2,105 NEW $3,000,000 $3,000,000
Evil Dead Rise Warner Bros. Pictures $1,300,000 $66,400,000 ~1,100 -46% $1,600,000 $66,700,000

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 & Dion Beebe ("The Little Mermaid")

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