Friday Update: Searchlight Pictures reported this morning that Antlers earned $370K from Thursday night previews, while Focus Features is not currently reporting preview grosses for Last Night in Soho. The latter held Wednesday screenings in Dolby Cinemas across the domestic market, followed by a wide rollout of previews on Thursday evening.
Thursday Report: Capping off a streak of four consecutive $40 million-plus opening weekends this month, the end of October and Halloween weekend are poised for a brief and expected slowdown at the domestic box office.
Leading the charge in its second weekend will be Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Dune, which is fresh off a $41.0 million opening frame. Despite some cannibalization from a simultaneous HBO Max release and ongoing hesitancy from older audiences that kept the film from reaching pre-pandemic potential, the film at least landed on target with forecasts.
Dune will retain the IMAX footprint driving a significant share of its business thus far, but the question now turns to how strong of a hold it can muster in its sophomore frame.
On the plus side: Dune faces very little direct competition as an adult-driven sci-fi epic, and word of mouth is very healthy so far.
On the negative side: Warner Bros.’ experimental hybrid releases this year have a notorious history of posting big second weekend drops, and Dune will lose premium footprint in Dolby Cinemas to one of this weekend’s openers.
Whether or not buzz as a big screen event will continue convincing more audiences to view Dune in a cinema rather than at home is a major “X” factor now that the initial fan rush at the box office has passed. Making projections even more volatile is the fact that Warner Bros., after unveiling daily breakdowns over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, has resumed their pandemic-era practice of not reporting daily box office earnings this week.
Focus Features will deliver Soho in 3,016 locations this weekend following Dolby Cinema previews on Wednesday evening and traditional Thursday night previews. Tracking models suggest the film is likely heading for a debut in the mid-to-upper single digit million range with metrics comparable to films like Malignant (a hybrid release) and pre-pandemic titles Ready or Not and Bad Times at the El Royale. Pre-sales are heavy in Dolby Cinema but fairly light (so far) on traditional screens.
As openers go, Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho will open exclusively in theaters just in time for Halloween. The film has fresh 92 percent audience and 72 percent critics’ scores on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing, and it looks to appeal strongest among female demographics. Wright is fresh off the over-25, male-driven sleeper success of 2017’s Baby Driver, but Soho will likely play younger and more niche.
Speaking of sleepers, a candidate to crack the top five this weekend could be Funimation’s distribution of My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission. The film is set to open at an estimated 1,600 locations and follows on the successful run of 2020’s Heroes Rising entry in the franchise. That pic scored $9.3 million over a five-day midweek opening in late February just weeks before the pandemic crippled movie theaters and the world at large.
Forecasts are fluid given the absence of relative comparisons for Mission, but observable pre-sales from the dedicated fan base and healthy social trends suggest some upside for a potential debut north of $5 million this weekend. The film is not scheduled to hold Thursday previews.
Now under the Disney distribution banner, Searchlight Pictures’ and Scott Cooper’s Antlers will get a push at 2,800 locations this weekend as another pic hoping to take advantage of the spooky season frame. The film currently has a 64 percent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Given competition against Soho and holdover business for the third frame of Halloween Kills on its namesake holiday weekend, Antlers has an uphill battle to capture mainstream attention based on lukewarm social media and tracking metrics. The film is modeling in a similar realm as fellow Searchlight pic The Night House and slightly below 2018’s Hell Fest from Lionsgate, although it may have a pre-sales boost from horror master Guillermo del Toro’s producing credit and promotional push.
As the overall market goes, Halloween could make daily jumps and drops a bit more erratic across the board than usual. This is the first time since 2010 that the holiday will land on a Sunday. Saw: The Final Chapter opened to a robust $22.5 million that weekend eleven years ago, but since nothing looks to open anywhere near that level, many holdovers could benefit with modest declines.
Within the top ten, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch is aiming to build on the momentum of its strong $1.35 million platform start at 52 venues in 14 domestic markets last weekend as it expands to 788 venues and more than 60 local markets this Friday.
For comparison, The Grand Budapest Hotel didn’t reach that many locations until it expanded from 304 to 977 in its fourth frame back in 2014, earning $8.54 million at the time. On the more conservative end, Birdman earned $2.3 million in its fourth weekend expansion from 231 to 460 locations in November later that same year.
Of course, those are pre-pandemic benchmarks. While Dispatch‘s strong showing last weekend certain indicates a positive trend for the return of arthouse and older audiences, it remains to be seen how that progress translates and evolves in more representative markets across the country.
Meanwhile, Sony is opening A Mouthful of Air in limited release at 816 domestic locations.
Opening Weekend Range: $3 – 6 million
Last Night in Soho
Opening Weekend Range: $5 – 10 million
My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission
Opening Weekend Range: $5 – 10 million
Boxoffice projects a 24 to 29 percent decline for this weekend’s top ten films from last weekend’s $94.7 million top ten aggregate.
|3-Day Weekend Forecast
|Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, October 31
|% Change from Last Wknd
|Warner Bros. Pictures
|Last Night in Soho
|No Time to Die
|MGM / EON / United Artists Releasing
|My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission
|Venom: Let There Be Carnage
|Sony Pictures / Columbia
|Ron’s Gone Wrong
|20th Century Studios
|Disney / Searchlight Pictures
|The Addams Family 2
|United Artists Releasing
|The French Dispatch
All forecasts are subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.
Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studios. 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.