Labor Day box office is in for quite a turnaround from last year’s record-breaking holiday frame, led by Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, as re-releases and holdovers anchor the end-of-summer calendar marker for Hollywood.
Following several weeks of scant offerings from studios, exhibitors are hoping that legacy names and recent mega-blockbusters will attract some foot traffic this weekend. Saturday also plays host to National Cinema Day, which sees more than 3,000 domestic locations charging just 3 dollars per ticket for all movies in all formats.
That latter factor is a variable with hardly any useful historical comparison, and should be viewed as the giant invisible asterisk next to all forecasts below. Modeling indicates a wide array of potential outcomes with the promotion in play, ranging from a significant boost in expected attendance to minimal positive impact given the lack of new, high profile content actually playing in theaters at the moment.
As such, the field is wide open.
Returning to more than 3,850 locations will be Sony and Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man: No Way Home, which has been available at home for several months since its $804.8 million, six-month domestic run ended in late June.
Notably, Sony also expanded Spider-Man: Far from Home three years ago this same holiday weekend when new releases were scarce (though compared to the landscape right now, it was still relatively active). That Peter Parker adventure was a current release at the time and had momentum to carry as it was playing in over 1,000 theaters before expanding back into 3,162 for Labor Day. Far from Home earned $4.3 million that weekend.
No Way Home has proven to be a bigger event film than that already successful Spider-Man entry, but the longer window and home availability may counter-balance potential to attract a large audience again. It will have the aid of Dolby and various premium screens this weekend.
Joining Spidey in the re-release party is Steven Spielberg’s original Jaws, planned to hit over 1,200 theaters courtesy of Universal.
IMAX and 3D comprise the vast majority of showtimes, so premium prices will be in play much like they were for the E.T. and Rogue One re-issues in recent weeks. Jaws will have a larger location count than either of those, so walk-up attendance — particularly with the aforementioned National Cinema Day promo — will decide how much higher it can go at the box office.
Meanwhile, there’s a considerable chance that the top film this weekend could again be Top Gun: Maverick. The year’s biggest movie thus far has mastered the art of low week-to-week drops all summer, ranking outside the top five just once in its 14 weekends of release so far.
Maverick is receiving another staggered push with scattered showtimes in premium formats like IMAX and ScreenX this weekend, looking to climb back over the 3,000 theater mark for the holiday.
Despite just hitting at-home purchase availability, Maverick remains an unquestionable theatrical draw that should also benefit from the long holiday weekend and communal viewing appeal during this time.
Something else to watch for this weekend: Maverick is on the brink of becoming the sixth film to ever cross the $700 million domestic threshold, as well as the fifth-highest grosser of all time (Black Panther at $700.43 million).
Lastly, opening in semi-wide release is Focus Features’ Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. at approximately 1,800 theaters.
While the film could sneak into the top ten, tracking isn’t currently high enough for the hybrid release going to streaming on the same day to warrant inclusion in final forecasts below.
Overall, the market’s raw numbers simply won’t measure up to the $108.3 million top ten three-day haul of last Labor Day (led by Shang-Chi‘s holiday record bow). In fact, it’s likely the top ten will generate less than half of Labor Day 2019’s three-day, $84.3 million top ten gross.
Weekend Range: $2 – 4 million (4-day)
Spider-Man: No Way Home (Re-Issue)
Weekend Range: $4 – 7 million (4-day)
Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections
Current projection ranges call for a 14 to 19 percent decline from last weekend’s $41.4 million top ten aggregate.
|Film||Distributor||3-Day Weekend Forecast||Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, September 4||4-Day Weekend Forecast||Projected Domestic Total through Monday, September 5||Location Count Projection (as of Wed)||3-Day % Change from Last Wknd|
|Top Gun: Maverick||Paramount Pictures||$5,000,000||$698,500,000||$6,600,000||$700,000,000||~3,100||+7%|
|Spider-Man: No Way Home (Re-Issue)||Sony Pictures & Marvel Studios||$4,600,000||$4,600,000||$5,800,000||$5,800,000||~3,850||NEW|
|Bullet Train||Sony Pictures||$4,300,000||$84,800,000||$5,400,000||$85,900,000||~3,000||-23%|
|The Invitation||Sony Pictures||$3,800,000||$12,900,000||$4,800,000||$13,900,000||~3,114||-44%|
|DC League of Super-Pets||Warner Bros. Pictures||$3,500,000||$79,000,000||$4,900,000||$80,400,000||~3,100||-15%|
|Minions: The Rise of Gru||Universal & Illumination Animation||$2,900,000||$358,800,000||$3,800,000||$359,700,000||~2,400||+7%|
|Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero||Sony & Crunchyroll||$2,300,000||$34,900,000||$2,900,000||$35,500,000||~2,700||-51%|
|Jaws (3D and IMAX Re-Issue)||Universal Pictures||$2,100,000||$2,100,000||$2,600,000||$2,600,000||~1,200||NEW|
|Thor: Love and Thunder||Disney & Marvel Studios||$2,000,000||$339,500,000||$2,600,000||$340,100,000||~2,200||-24%|
|Where the Crawdads Sing||Sony 3000 Pictures||$2,000,000||$85,000,000||$2,600,000||$85,600,000||~2,100||-13%|
*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 studios. The 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.
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