Weekend Box Office Forecast: Elvis and The Black Phone Bow as Late June Market Resembles Pre-Pandemic Levels

Photo Credits: Warner Bros. Pictures ("Elvis"); Universal Pictures ("The Black Phone")

Friday Update: Warner Bros. reports this morning that Elvis earned $3.5 million from domestic previews at more than 3,400 locations. Meanwhile, Universal’s The Black Phone registered $3.0 million from domestic previews at 2,800 theaters.

Not yet specified in those reports are how much came from pre-Thursday screenings. Elvis screened nationwide on June 21, while The Black Phone held AMC previews on June 15 followed by broader Early Access previews on June 22.

Until those specifics are confirmed, comparisons are loose to other preview grosses. For Elvis context, though, Rocketman earned $2.33 million from previews three years ago ($1.75 million from Thursday and $580K from pre-Thursday sneaks).

As for Black Phone, last summer’s Old posted $1.5 million from Thursday-only previews, and the Candyman reboot earned $1.9 million (also Thursday only).

Wednesday Forecast: Father’s Day and Juneteenth weekend provided an ample supply of big screen content for moviegoers, generating a frame that registered 21 percent stronger than 2019’s comparable holiday weekend before the pandemic. Now, two more releases arrive in an attempt to counter-program the recent franchise tentpoles (and each other).

The headliner for the weekend is likely to be Warner Bros. and Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, which is targeting the adult demographic (notably, women) who’ve shown encouraging signs of a return to movie theaters via the blockbuster success of Top Gun: Maverick and spring’s The Lost City.

Social activity and pre-sales have perked up with each surge in marketing over recent months, and the film’s generational appeal could be notable given Luhrmann’s past success with “modernizing” period films such as The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge!.

Elvis‘s overall universe of tracking is comfortably ahead of 2019’s Rocketman and Yesterday, which opened to $25.7 million and $17 million, respectively. Reviews are encouraging with an 83 percent Rotten Tomatoes score from 95 critics as of Wednesday. The uber-optimistic comp would of course be 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which exploded with $51.1 million out of the gate.

If there’s any potential hindrance to Elvis out of the gate, it’s limited screen space and aforementioned competition. The biopic is reaching some PLFs this weekend, such as Dolby Cinema, Screen X, and motion seating, but IMAX remains split between Jurassic World: Dominion, Lightyear, and a small return (roughly one show per day) by Maverick. It’s that latter film that will remain a strong draw in its fifth frame as it continues to shatter all expectations with a sensationally leggy run.

Warner Bros. has Elvis opening at an estimated 3,900 domestic locations and more than 6,500 screens this weekend. Traditional Thursday previews begin at 5pm in around 3,200 theaters, and those grosses are expected to be included with previous Early Access showings from this past Tuesday. The studio expects an opening weekend north of $25 million.

Aiming for a younger adult/older teen audience, Universal and Blumhouse’s The Black Phone hopes to cash in on the lack of mainstream horror/thriller films to open in recent months after a number of low-to-mid profile genre films helped shoulder the market during COVID surges last and early this year.

Original thrillers and horrors often pop late in the pre-sales and marketing cycle due to their nature as youth-driven films, and all signs up to this point indicate that crowd will drive healthy returns this weekend. The film’s metrics are trending comparably to last summer’s reboot of Candyman, which bowed to $22 million (albeit in a less crowded market and with IP to drive initial interest).

Black Phone‘s reviews have also been strong for a couple of months after early industry screenings provided a jumping pad for long-lead buzz. The film currently stands at 86 percent from 57 critics, a very high score for the genre.

Industry expectations are for a debut in the mid-teen millions range. Universal will distribute the film in over 3,100 domestic locations.

Weekend Ranges

The Black Phone
Opening Weekend Range: $17 – 22 million

Opening Weekend Range: $31 – 46 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Current projection ranges call for a 6 to 15 percent decrease from last weekend’s $163.2 million top ten aggregate. 

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, June 26 Location Count Projection (as of Wed) 3-Day % Change from Last Wknd
Elvis Warner Bros. $38,000,000 $38,000,000 ~3,900 NEW
Jurassic World Dominion Universal Pictures $31,500,000 $308,700,000 ~4,100 -47%
Top Gun: Maverick Paramount Pictures $30,000,000 $520,700,000 ~4,000 -33%
Lightyear Disney & Pixar $23,000,000 $96,100,000 ~4,255 -55%
The Black Phone Universal Pictures $20,300,000 $20,300,000 ~3,100 NEW
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Disney & Marvel Studios $2,700,000 $410,300,000 ~1,800 -39%
Everything Everywhere All at Once A24 $700,000 $66,300,000 ~500 -26%
The Bad Guys Universal Pictures & DreamWorks Animation $650,000 $95,600,000 ~1,000 -36%
The Bob’s Burgers Movie 20th Century Studios (Disney) $525,000 $31,000,000 ~600 -55%
Downton Abbey: A New Era Focus Features $425,000 $43,300,000 ~600 -49%

*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 studiosThe 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: Warner Bros. Pictures ("Elvis"); Universal Pictures ("The Black Phone")