We’re still in the midst of an atypical May when it comes to summer box office, but this weekend will at least deliver the widest footprint of new releases yet during the pandemic as three films target more than 2,000 venues each. That could make weekend expectations quite messy as exhibition endures the final stages of this May waiting period for truly mainstream, multi-quadrant content.
The headliner of the bunch belongs to Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures. They’ll distribute the revival of the Saw franchise, Spiral, a film that’s been a hot topic among genre fans over the past couple of years thanks to the creative and on-screen involvement of Chris Rock, as well as Samuel L. Jackson’s supporting role. This marks the first time the series has been captained by such prolific Hollywood names.
Spiral is one of the many films whose release had been delayed multiple times due to the pandemic, but it now looks to generate the best box office debut out of the horror/thriller genre in nearly 15 months (dating back to The Invisible Man‘s $28.2 million start pre-COVID-19 in February 2020).
The Saw franchise has been come back to life before, but not quite in this way. In addition to Rock and Jackson, Darren Lynn Bousman returns in the director’s chair after helming the prime entries (from a box office standpoint) of Saw II, Saw II, and Saw IV between 2005 and 2007. The series’ most recent installment, 2017’s Jigsaw, bowed to $16.6 million in October 2017 before closing out with $38.1 million in North America and $103 million globally. It cost only an estimated $10 million to produce.
Such low expenses are again why it makes sense to release this picture right now during the early and mostly competition-free summer days of box office recovery, as far as the domestic market is concerned at least. The barrier to success is notably low, and that was true even before the encouraging performances of similarly fan-driven, R-rated films like Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer last month.
Social media activity for Spiral is solid so far, with recent marketing and news of an IMAX release helping to boost chatter among die hard fans. Lionsgate’s most recent trailer has drawn over 10 million views since posting last month. That bests Nobody‘s 8.2 million views from an official trailer that had been available three times as long before the film opened in cinemas.
With approximately 60 percent of domestic cinemas open currently, seating capacities relaxing in some areas, and vaccines reaching more arms, forecasts have slightly improved from the earlier range of $10 – 15 million. Based on adaptive models and pre-sale measurements, Spiral is most likely positioned to hit the $12 – 17 million range this weekend. Front-loading by fans should naturally be expected across Thursday night and Friday shows.
The film currently claims a 50 percent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, but the franchise’s box office prowess has been known to known buck that trend before. Spiral opens at 2,811 locations this weekend, including 342 IMAX screens and 474 PLF screens in North America. It also bows in 16 overseas markets this weekend, including Mexico, Russia, Korea, Australia, Denmark, and Norway.
Warner Bros. will also return to theaters this weekend with their latest hybrid release, Taylor Sheridan’s Those Who Wish Me Dead. Opening day-and-date alongside its HBO Max streaming option, the neo-western thriller is hoping to capitalize on Angelina Jolie’s star presence — not to mention a strong ensemble cast.
Unfortunately, marketing had been almost non-existent until recent days and the film opens just one week after the male-leaning Wrath of Man debuted to fair results and will remain a presence in its sophomore frame. Reviews currently hover around 66 percent, social media activity has been generally quiet, and pre-sales are trending behind recent films like The Courier and The Little Things. The film will bow at a projected 2,900 locations this weekend, per Showtimes Dashboard.
The last of this weekend’s truly wide releases, Focus Features’ Profile is hoping to conjure up fans of fare like Searching and Unfriended. Its latest official trailer released last month and has drawn a respectable 4.8 million YouTube views ahead of release. Reviews are mixed at 60 percent so far, and pre-sales are sluggish, but this could be a dark horse to watch for with some appeal to the under-35 crowd where walk-up business might pop at the last minute.
Roadside Attractions is heading into semi-wide release with the romance film Finding You, slated to hit 1,312 locations. The studio’s most recent entry to the market, The Courier, hit 1,433 locations back in March and delivered a $1.9 million opening frame. The domestic market has evolved a bit since then, but the target audience will be considerably different here. A debut somewhere between Together Together ($532K) and the $1 million start from last week’s Here Today, from Sony and Stage 6, could be in store.
Meanwhile, Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, from Netflix, will play in a projected 600 locations (nearly half of which belong to Cinemark) as part of a one-week exclusive engagement before the film’s availability on the streaming service from May 21 onward. Forecasts are volatile given the highly unique nature of its release. There is no present confirmation that box office grosses will be reported, so we’re withholding public forecasts on the anticipated film. That being said, it wouldn’t be surprising for the zombie heist pic to register among the top ten — and potentially the top five, given the filmmaker’s following — this weekend in any unofficial reports that may arise.
Last but not least, Dolby Cinema fans will have another anniversary re-issue to celebrate as Paramount drops Top Gun in the premium format for a one-week run. Expected to hit around 150 locations, the footprint is nearly identical to the strategy Universal employed for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘s 10th anniversary screenings in Dolby two weeks ago. That film scored a healthy $730K over its weekend, although it was driven by a younger target audience with more social buzz for the cult classic than the decidedly adult-leaning Top Gun return will muster.
This Weekend vs. Last Weekend
Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will increase between 35 percent and 50 percent from last week’s top ten aggregate of $21.74 million.
|Film||Distributor||3-Day Weekend Forecast||Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, May 16||Location Count||% Change from Last Wknd|
|Spiral: From the Book of Saw||Lionsgate||$14,800,000||$14,800,000||2,811||NEW|
|Wrath of Man||United Artists Releasing||$3,500,000||$14,400,000||3,007||-58%|
|Army of the Dead||Netflix||n/a||n/a||~600||NEW|
|Those Who Wish Me Dead||Warner Bros. Studios||$2,000,000||$2,000,000||~2,900||NEW|
|Raya and the Last Dragon||Walt Disney Pictures||$1,700,000||$46,100,000||2,285||-11%|
|Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – the Movie: Mugen Train||Funimation||$1,500,000||$42,000,000||~1,975||-51%|
|Godzilla vs. Kong||Warner Bros. Studios||$1,400,000||$94,900,000||~2,400||-30%|
|Mortal Kombat (2021)||Warner Bros. Studios||$1,200,000||$39,600,000||~2,500||-50%|
|Top Gun (35th Anniversary Re-Issue)||Paramount Pictures||$650,000||$650,000||~150||NEW|
All forecasts subject to change before the first confirmation of Friday estimates from studios and/or alternative sources.
Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studios.
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