Weekend Box Office Forecast: Raya Eyes Third #1 Frame as The Courier Debuts and California Cinemas Re-Open (Friday Update)

Photo Credits: Disney ("Raya and the Last Dragon"), Roadside Attractions ("The Courier"), Warner Bros. ("Tom & Jerry")

Friday Update: Fresh off the film’s six Academy Award nominations earlier this week, A24 has checked in with official reports on Minari‘s box office performance in limited release thus far.

Based on this historical data and strong trends for the Lee Isaac Chung-helmed release, an expansion into 786 locations this weekend could easily yield it a spot in the weekend’s top ten. The forecast chart below has been updated to reflect this expectation.

Bowing on February 12, Minari earned $193,460 from 251 venues on opening weekend and has posted steady holds ever since with minimal screen count expansions before this weekend. Last weekend generated $132,232 from 282 venues, lifting the lifetime box office to $1.09 million as of Thursday, March 18.

Thursday Report: The steady progression of exhibition’s return to the public consciousness is living up to the “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” mantra cautioned for many months. While the pandemic remains upfront in the minds of most consumers, the re-opening of New York City and California theaters this month have marked significant steps forward.

The latter may already be showing an early impact at the box office. More than a handful of key titles are posting strong week-to-week gains against comparable days last week as Los Angeles and other key markets in the Golden State have turned theater lights back on this week. Raya and the Last Dragon, for instance, drew $514,812 on Wednesday — up 33 percent from its earnings on the same day last week.

Some of these bumps can be attributed to the peaking of spring break season for kids. Still, even adult-driven titles like The Marksman (up 44 percent Wednesday to Wednesday) are benefiting from an expanding theatrical footprint in areas where higher ticket prices are common relative to the parts of the country which have seen some theaters open since last fall.

Nevertheless, we remain in the early stages of recovery and product remains relatively limited as studios see through the ever-improving status quo of vaccine distributions in North America. As a result, only Roadside Attractions is entering the arena this coming weekend with a wide release in the form of The Courier.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Rachel Brosnahan, the film’s target audience will be men and women over 35. The period spy drama has a very encouraging 79 percent Rotten Tomatoes score as of Thursday evening, and potentially enough mainstream appeal through its stars to outstrip other recent dramas like Land, which bowed to $900K back in February with a smaller theatrical footprint and just as consumer confidence was starting to trend upward.

Male-driven films like The Marksman, Let Him Go, and Honest Thief were early standouts for the nascent days of new releases during the pandemic, suggesting Courier could be next in line. However, Roadside will not be distributing the film as widely as once expected — now going in an estimated 1,433 locations, and reducing the opening forecast range to between $1.5 million and $3 million.

With that film expected to play modestly compared to the more widely appealing family films at the top of the box office in recent weeks, a top three debut is possible, but not guaranteed, for The Courier. Raya and Warner Bros.’ Tom & Jerry look set to remain in the top two positions, respectively, leaving Chaos Walking in a potentially close battle for third. There could be room for over-performance on Courier‘s part in these days of unpredictability, but overall modest pre-release impact and late marketing have brought forecasts down to a more conservative level.

Elsewhere, location counts are not confirmed for various films (notably Warner Bros.’) but estimates via Showtimes Dashboard indicate titles like The Little Things and Wonder Woman 1984 may sharp declines in theater totals despite the California factor. Saban Films will also release City of Lies in an estimated 550 locations (not confirmed by the studio).

This Weekend vs. Last Weekend

Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will decline 5 to 15 percent from last weekend’s $15.5 million top ten haul.

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, March 21 Location Count % Change from Last Wknd
Raya and the Last Dragon Walt Disney Pictures $4,900,000 $23,000,000 2,261 -14%
Tom & Jerry Warner Bros. Studios $3,500,000 $33,200,000 ~2,300 -15%
The Courier Roadside Attractions $1,850,000 $1,850,000 1,433 NEW
Chaos Walking Lionsgate $1,800,000 $9,500,000 2,132 -20%
Boogie Focus Features $620,000 $3,300,000 1,184 -20%
The Croods: A New Age Universal Pictures $510,000 $55,100,000 1,411 -6%
The Marksman Open Road Films / Briarcliff Entertainment $400,000 $14,200,000 1,002 -12%
The Father Sony Pictures Classics $330,000 $840,000 ~950 -24%
Minari A24 $290,000 $1,375,000 786 +120%
The Little Things Warner Bros. Studios $240,000 $14,600,000 ~950 -40%
Wonder Woman 1984 Warner Bros. Studios $230,000 $45,300,000 ~850 -43%

All forecasts subject to change before the first confirmation of weekend estimates from studios or alternative sources.

Theater counts are updated as confirmed.

Forecasts above do not necessarily represent the top ten, but rather films with the widest theatrical footprint based on studio confirmations entering the weekend.

For press and media inquiries, please contact Shawn Robbins

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Photo Credits: Disney ("Raya and the Last Dragon"), Roadside Attractions ("The Courier"), Warner Bros. ("Tom & Jerry")
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