Weekend Box Office Forecast (Updated): Onward and The Way Back

Thursday Evening Update: Revising our final forecast for Onward, our pinpoint number in the chart below has been updated to $48 million. Our range is revised to $40 – 60 million.


As the first full weekend of March approaches and spring break begins for some kids around the country, Disney and Pixar have loaded up Onward as the latter studio’s first of two major releases this year.

Receiving very encouraging reviews and audience buzz out of the film’s Leap Day screenings last Saturday, which earned $650K from a single showtime in 470 theaters, Onward marks Pixar’s first original film since 2017’s Coco and their second since 2015’s The Good Dinosaur.

The Pixar brand is a mainstay with parents and kids alike, not to mention film fans that have grown up with the studio over the last quarter century. With voice stars Chris Pratt and Tom Holland leading the way, we expect that appeal to continue — particularly with fathers and sons, given the narrative.

Disney’s strategy here mimics the early March release of Zootopia four years ago. That animated smash opened to $75.1 million at the time. Our models for Onward aren’t quite that bullish when looking at social media footprints, although it’s hard to rule anything out when considering the very healthy pre-sales activity for an original film.

Another element in play is the fact that Sonic the Hedgehog and The Call of the Wild only recently courted the family market and are still somewhat significant players at the box office. Our current metrics for Onward are similar to those of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, an encouraging sign given that latter film’s sequel status and Onward‘s likelihood to be less front-loaded.

Disney itself expects a little over $40 million through Sunday from the domestic side of things. Globally, Onward has a fair shot at approaching $100 million by the end of Sunday, though that is a fluid expectation given the current state of many markets.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. will drop The Way Back as a counter-programmer for adults this weekend. The Ben Affleck-led film is drawing fairly positive reviews itself, though tracking and social media engagement have been modest in recent weeks. With The Invisible Man‘s strong performance right now, it could be challenging for Way Back to establish a footprint.

Also, Focus Features will expand Emma. in an estimated 1,550 locations starting Friday. In platform release, the period comedy has already earned $1.56 million domestically through Wednesday.

Opening Weekend Ranges

  • Onward ($40 – 60 million)
  • The Way Back ($5 – 10 million)

Top 10 vs. Last Year

Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will decline approximately 42 to 47 percent from the same weekend one year ago. At the time, Captain Marvel bowed to the third largest March weekend ever with a $153.4 million opening as part of an overall $198.1 million top ten aggregate.

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, March 8 % Change from Last Wknd
Onward Disney / Pixar $48,000,000 $48,000,000 NEW
The Invisible Man Universal $17,300,000 $53,500,000 -39%
The Way Back Warner Bros. $8,000,000 $8,000,000 NEW
Sonic the Hedgehog Paramount $7,800,000 $140,600,000 -52%
The Call of the Wild 20th Century Studios $6,800,000 $56,900,000 -49%
Emma. Focus Features $4,000,000 $5,900,000 +245%
Bad Boys for Life Sony / Columbia $3,200,000 $202,200,000 -26%
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) Warner Bros. $2,700,000 $83,000,000 -34%
1917 Universal $2,000,000 $158,900,000 -26%
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising FUNimation Entertainment $2,000,000 $13,000,000 -65%

Forecasts subject to change as location counts are finalized before Friday

The chart above excludes releases and potential expansions from limited and platform films

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