Weekend Box Office Forecast (Final): Summer Movie Season Begins to Wind Down with Bullet Train and Easter Sunday (Updated w/ Preview Results)

Photo Credits: Sony Pictures ("Bullet Train"); Universal Pictures ("Easter Sunday")

Friday Update: Sony reports this morning that Bullet Train earned $4.6 million from domestic previews entering Friday. While the studio has yet to confirm, multiple sources indicate this figure includes grosses from Tuesday’s Early Access shows.

That latter fact skews comparisons, as always, but the bulk of the gross still came from Thursday’s previews beginning at 3pm across 3,595 theaters. Similar titles to look at as the weekend progresses, and as noted in forecasts below, include Free Guy ($2.2 million domestic previews from 6pm Thursday last August).

Bullet Train remains on track to approach or exceed $30 million this weekend.

Meanwhile, Universal’s Easter Sunday scored $500K from previews beginning at 5pm Thursday in 2,400 theaters.

Thursday Revision / Final Forecast: Overall trends remain positive, though to err on the side of caution and acknowledge the increasingly middling reviews from critics (now at 53 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), final forecast models for Bullet Train clock in at a range of $27 – $36 million with a pinpoint target of $32 million.

Again, it is important to note that walk-up business should be a stronger factor for this film than franchise titles, so internal weekend play and future weeks’ staying power will be the best barometer for success rather than immediate opening grosses.

(Please note: Bullet Train‘s forecasts below have been updated to reflect the final figures mentioned above, but all other forecasts and location counts remain unchanged from Wednesday’s estimates.)

Wednesday Report: August’s first weekend hosts what the industry is generally considering the last major summer release of 2022, Sony’s Bullet Train, as studios and theaters enter a two-month period that will rely on holdovers and low-to-middling profile releases to support the box office before the fourth quarter.

Tracking for the Brad Pitt-led, comedy-actioner has shown encouraging signals over recent weeks with slight ticks upward to suggest a domestic debut over $30 million is achievable. That’s exactly what the studio is expecting, in line with prior long range forecasts.

Carrying a full arsenal of PLF screens, IMAX included, Bullet Train will be primarily driven by men in the 18-45 demo and should benefit from late summer positioning as most colleges will still be out of session through next week. Social buzz for the popcorn flick is relatively positive despite the film’s middling response from critics, which currently sit at 57 percent from 81 reviews.

Pre-sales have been respectable for the movie, which despite a source 2010 novel by Japanese author Kotaro Isaka should be generally treated as an original film in terms of box office projections and audience patterns. In other words, there isn’t a built-in audience to front-load performances here.

Across the board of social buzz and pre-sales, Bullet Train is pacing ahead of last August’s Free Guy ($28.4 million domestic opening) and The Suicide Squad ($26.2 million), as well as August 2019’s Good Boys ($21.4 million).

Early previews were held on Tuesday night, to be followed by traditional Thursday previews from 3pm onward at over 3,600 locations. The film goes even wider on Friday at more than 4,300 theaters.

Also debuting this weekend is Universal’s counter-programmer, Easter Sunday, led by comedian Jo Koy. That pic is, unfortunately, trending in the opposite direction of earlier forecasts as marketing has underwhelmed in recent weeks and failed to make a significant impact across the universe of tracking.

Pre-sales are lukewarm at best, and no reviews are available yet (typically a bad sign for expected audience reception). Current trajectories are now comparable to films like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent ($7.1 million) and The Kitchen ($5.5 million).

If there’s an upside for this release, it’ll be the lack of competition in weeks ahead, as well as the film’s Filipino American cast that could appeal to an under-served audience. Thursday previews begin at 5pm as the comedy hits more than 3,200 locations on Friday.

Among holdovers, Nope will have to endure a double-hit from the male-driven Bullet Train, which also takes over the Jordan Peele film’s premium screens and higher ticket prices.

DC League of Super-Pets will lose the small share of PLF screens it bowed with in its under-performing debut last weekend, though it should otherwise begin stabilizing fairly quickly as the last animated offering in the market until this fall.

Weekend Ranges

Bullet Train
Opening Weekend Range: $27 – 36 million

Easter Sunday
Opening Weekend Range: $4 – 8 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Current projection ranges call for between a 6 percent decline and a 3 percent increase from last weekend’s $93.9 million top ten aggregate.

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, August 7 Location Count Projection (as of Wed) % Change from Last Wknd
Bullet Train Sony Pictures $32,000,000 $32,000,000 ~4,300 NEW
DC League of Super-Pets Warner Bros. Pictures $12,100,000 $47,800,000 ~4,314 -47%
Nope Universal Pictures $9,900,000 $100,000,000 ~3,300 -47%
Thor: Love and Thunder Disney & Marvel Studios $8,200,000 $317,100,000 ~3,400 -38%
Minions: The Rise of Gru Universal & Illumination Animation $7,700,000 $335,600,000 ~3,300 -30%
Top Gun: Maverick Paramount Pictures $6,800,000 $662,300,000 ~3,000 -19%
Where the Crawdads Sing Sony 3000 Pictures $5,100,000 $64,100,000 ~3,100 -33%
Easter Sunday Universal Pictures $4,800,000 $4,800,000 ~3,200 NEW
Elvis Warner Bros. Pictures $4,600,000 $137,200,000 ~2,400 -20%
The Black Phone Universal Pictures $1,600,000 $86,100,000 ~1,300 -36%

*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.