As cautioned for many weeks, the dry spell of January is here.
Combined with studios holding off on major theatrical releases, the post-holiday corridor of the box office is living down to expectations. Only an estimated 39 percent of domestic cinemas were open last weekend.
After a domestic box office year that finished somewhere north of an estimated $2.2 billion — the lowest sum in four decades, albeit with many asterisks — 2021 has only a scant few releases throughout January and February to help prop up exhibitors.
This weekend specifically marks one of the early examples to lack a nationwide opener from key studios, leaving Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 an open course to lead the pandemic-struck box office for a third straight weekend.
Last week, the DC superhero sequel slid a sharp 67 percent from its Christmas opening weekend, elevating concerns that the film’s lukewarm word of mouth, day-and-date streaming release on HBO Max, and potential piracy impact have diminished the profile of what was once considered to be a major global blockbuster candidate.
In fact, Wonder Woman 1984‘s steep drop-off sent its nominal second weekend gross to $5.5 million — below that of Tenet‘s $6.35 million sophomore frame in mid-September, the only significant point of comparison for big-budget releases during the pandemic.
The Christopher Nolan film notably leveled off pretty quickly (a typical trend for the filmmaker’s movies) during its months-long run in theaters, something Wonder Woman 1984 now needs to hope for. At the current pace, it may yield the top spot at the box office when January 15’s The Marksman, from Open Road Films, hits theaters.
Excluding Warner Bros.’ The Little Things on January 29 and Tom & Jerry on February 26, the next earliest hope for a major studio release across the market won’t come until at least March 5. That’s when Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon is slated to open day-and-date in theaters and on the studio’s streamer. Lionsgate also tentatively has Chaos Walking dated for its theatrical debut that frame.
This current weekend will at least see Amazon Studios push Regina King’s One Night in Miami into limited release, though. While exact location counts haven’t been announced by the distributor yet, the film currently ranks ninth among total booked screenings according to our parent company’s Showtimes Dashboard tracker.
Based on a sample of over 353 theaters as of Thursday afternoon, Miami‘s overall universe could land in approximately 370 cinemas nationwide this weekend. That would be comparable to Bleecker Street Media’s Wild Mountain Thyme (450) and Sony Pictures Classics’ The Climb (408) when they opened on December 11 and November 13, respectively. Each opened to just under $100K.
Looking at holdovers, The Croods: A New Age and News of the World may end up in a close battle for second and third places. The latter slipped just 25 percent in its holiday-driven sophomore frame and is increasingly considered to be in the award season mix. Similarly, Promising Young Woman is likely to generate more staying power thanks to strong reception from indie and arthouse fans supporting the film in theaters before its January 15 PVOD launch.
Post-New Year’s drops are historically sharp with the existing calendar alignment. When last the holiday fell on a Friday in 2016, the following weekend saw an average drop of 56 percent across the top 20 films (excluding The Revenant, which expanded into nationwide release at the time). Something similar is likely to occur for many titles this weekend, though the lack of new competition and an already depressed market could soften the blow to some marginal extent.
|Film||Distributor||3-Day Weekend Forecast||Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, January 10||% Change from Last Wknd|
|Wonder Woman 1984||Warner Bros. Studios||$2,600,000||$32,600,000||-53%|
|The Croods: A New Age||Universal Pictures||$1,100,000||$36,100,000||-51%|
|News of the World||Universal Pictures||$1,000,000||$6,900,000||-41%|
|Monster Hunter||Sony / Columbia||$700,000||$7,450,000||-45%|
|Promising Young Woman||Focus Features||$575,000||$2,800,000||-16%|
|Pinocchio (2020)||Roadside Attractions||$160,000||$1,025,000||-44%|
|One Night in Miami||Amazon Studios||$80,000||$80,000||NEW|
|The War with Grandpa||101 Studios||$75,000||$18,775,000||-37%|
|Come Play||Focus Features||$35,000||$9,625,000||-41%|
All forecasts subject to change before the first confirmation of weekend estimates from studios or alternative sources.
Forecasts above do not necessarily represent the top ten, but rather films with the widest theatrical footprint based on studio confirmations entering the weekend.
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