Weekend Box Office Forecast: Jordan Peele’s Nope (Updated with $6.4M Preview Analysis)

Photo Credits: Universal Pictures ("Nope")

Friday Report: Universal and Jordan Peele’s Nope scored $6.4 million from domestic previews at 3,250 locations beginning at 4pm on Thursday.

That figure lands within the range of expectations heading into the weekend, leaving the rest of the work now up to word of mouth for the original sci-fi horror.

For comps, look to The Black Phone ($3.0 million with Early Access shows) last month, and perhaps more loosely, M. Night Shyamalan’s Old ($1.5 million) during the early days of theatrical recovery one year ago this month. Peele’s own Us drew $7.4 million from 7pm previews in March 2019.

For the weekend, Nope appears likely to land on the low-to-middle end of final forecast ranges outlined below.

Wednesday Report: Summer moviegoers have had a taste of superheroes, dinosaurs, jet fighters, cartoons, a few adult dramas, and a musical biopic to boot. Adding to the successful season’s puzzle next is an original, genre-bending tentpole from an auteur filmmaker set for a strong debut as Jordan Peele’s Nope hits theaters.

The writer/director, already popular for his comedic chops, burst onto the big screen with Get Out‘s enormous critical, commercial, and cultural success five years ago. That was followed by the biggest opening in history for an original horror movie (Us) in 2019.

Now, Nope is poised to build on the budding filmmaker’s young but impressive resume. The film has quietly been tracking for a debut over $40 million in recent months with advance marketing and long-lead pre-sales building awareness for a non-IP sold largely on Peele’s name and a pop science-fiction concept (alongside horror elements, based on mysterious trailers).

Thankfully, questions surrounding Universal’s decision to withhold review embargos until just over one day from release appear to be living up to the “glass half full” view as to reasoning for the silence. Critics are largely praising the film as Nope boasts an 82 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes from 104 critics as of early Wednesday afternoon, a very encouraging signal for a summer genre film.

While audience sentiment isn’t always guaranteed to be in lock-step with reviewers, this is the kind of critical boost that an original film often needs to push eleventh hour pre-sales and eventual walk-up business at the ticket booth, especially after Peele’s own Us divided some audiences.

Demographically, Nope will probably lean male with its sci-fi angle, but Us notably drew an even split among men and women on opening weekend with a 53 percent share of those aged 25 and older. Nope is tracking strongest among men in the 17-to-34 demographic.

Premium screens will also provide an anchor for Peele’s third project. Filmed specifically for IMAX by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema (Tenet, Dunkirk, Spectre, Her, Interstellar), Nope is designed as a midsummer spectacle with thrills that should translate to a strong box office run if word of mouth is on par with, if not stronger than, critical reception.

Previews begin at 4pm on Thursday nationwide before a full rollout to an estimated 3,700 domestic locations on Friday.

Where holdovers are concerned, Universal has a quartet of films that could benefit from Nope‘s release in various ways due to potential double-bookings at drive-ins and the like. Their own Minions: The Rise of Gru will remain unchallenged for its family audience, boding well for a healthy fourth weekend hold.

The champion of the past two weekends, though, will take another tumble. Thor: Love and Thunder slid 67.7 percent in its sophomore frame, which was sharp but generally expected given the combination of 3pm Thursday previews in its first weekend gross and audience reception that’s not quite up to par with that of Thor: Ragnarok or other pre-pandemic MCU films.

The Marvel blockbuster will now lose its premium footprint in IMAX and other formats to Nope along with the ticket price boost that comes with those auditoriums. It stands to reason some direct audience competition will be a factor as well.

On the expansion front, A24 is sending Marcel the Shell With Shoes On to a projected 600 locations this weekend after a modest expansion to 153 last frame. Although unconfirmed by the studio as of yet, such a move should be enough to finally push the film into the top ten for its fifth weekend of play.

Weekend Ranges

Opening Weekend Range: $48 – 63 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Current projection ranges call for between a 4 percent decline to a 7 percent increase for this weekend from last weekend’s $131.2 million top ten aggregate.

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, July 24 Location Count Projection (as of Wed) % Change from Last Wknd
Nope Universal Pictures $55,500,000 $55,500,000 ~3,700 NEW
Thor: Love and Thunder Disney & Marvel Studios $20,400,000 $275,100,000 ~3,900 -56%
Minions: The Rise of Gru Universal & Illumination Animation $18,500,000 $299,100,000 ~3,700 -31%
Where the Crawdads Sing Sony 3000 Pictures $9,600,000 $36,700,000 ~3,650 -44%
Top Gun: Maverick Paramount Pictures $9,300,000 $635,000,000 ~3,100 -24%
Elvis Warner Bros. $6,500,000 $118,900,000 ~3,000 -19%
Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank Paramount Pictures $3,600,000 $13,500,000 ~3,475 -43%
Jurassic World Dominion Universal Pictures $3,300,000 $365,900,000 ~2,200 -36%
The Black Phone Universal Pictures $3,200,000 $78,300,000 ~2,000 -40%
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On A24 $1,400,000 $3,400,000 ~600 144%

*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: Universal Pictures ("Nope")

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