Weekend Forecast: Doctor Sleep, Last Christmas, Midway, & Playing with Fire

The early portion of 2019’s holiday box office season rolls on this weekend with a quartet of wide releases looking to get started in the pre-Thanksgiving market.

Expected to lead the way is Warner Bros.’ Doctor Sleep, the long-in-development sequel to The Shining which should appeal strongly to Stephen King fans. King’s cinematic branding has been revitalized lately with the success of both It films, as well as the Pet Sematary remake earlier this year. Sleep‘s 75 percent Rotten Tomatoes score is also quite solid, particularly for the horror genre.

Stars Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson will appeal to the 30+ crowd this film is likely to resonate with given the age of the original Shining film and source novel, although the horror genre is known for drawing a strong young female crowd. The more cerebral aspects to this film (relative to franchises like The Conjuring and Insidious) may skew that typical demographic reach a bit, but pre-sales trends are generally encouraging as moviegoers look for a smart thriller in a year that’s been short on horror breakouts (save for Jordan Peele’s Us last spring).

Potentially dividing some of that young female crowd will be Universal’s Last Christmas, a strongly marketed film in recent months that should attract date night crowds in addition to George Michael and Wham! fans. Stars Emilia Clarke and Henry Goulding will also pull from their respective Game of Thrones and Crazy Rich Asians fan bases this weekend, but the play here is ultimately for long legs through the holiday season for what should be a mostly review-proof “feel good movie” made for audiences.

Last Christmas has been a social media success thanks to targeted promotion in recent months. Our forecasting models point to a similar audience makeup as that of Yesterday, which proved to be a strong counter-programming success over the summer thanks to a similar dose of musical nostalgia.

Meanwhile, Midway and Playing with Fire round out the openers with modest expectations in tow. The former of the two could enjoy some synergy with Veterans Day landing on Monday, plus a star-driven ensemble with recognizable names and faces to the target 45+ male crowd. Models are more wide-ranging for Midway, particularly given the film’s footprint on PLF screens this weekend, but a 36 percent Rotten Tomatoes score won’t help attract review-sensitive adult moviegoers. Observable trends suggest an opening weekend performance comparable to 2016’s Ben-Hur.

Conversely, Playing with Fire aims for a cut of the family market this weekend, but it could be hindered by holdovers Maleficent and Addams Family — not to mention cash-strapped parents who just helped drive a big pre-sale start for Frozen II — opening in two weeks’ time.

On the holdover front, Terminator: Dark Fate could benefit from generally positive word of mouth and avoid the kind of major drop-off seen by similar films like Alien: Covenant and Blade Runner 2049 in their second weekends. The catch, however, will be its loss of many premium screens to Doctor Sleep, Midway, and Last Christmas, cutting down on the average ticket price versus Terminator‘s first weekend.

Opening Weekend Ranges

  • Doctor Sleep ($20 – 30 million)
  • Last Christmas ($15 – 20 million)
  • Midway ($9 – 14 million)
  • Playing with Fire ($6 – 11 million)

Top 10 v. Last Year

Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will decline approximately 27 to 32 percent from the same frame one year ago when The Grinch bowed to an excellent $67.6 million opening weekend as part of an overall $152.6 million top ten market, further anchored by Bohemian Rhapsody‘s $31.2 million sophomore performance.

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, November 10 % Change from Last Wknd
Doctor Sleep Warner Bros. $25,000,000 $25,000,000 NEW
Last Christmas Universal $16,500,000 $16,500,000 NEW
Terminator: Dark Fate Paramount $13,000,000 $50,400,000 -55%
Midway Lionsgate $11,400,000 $11,400,000 NEW
Joker Warner Bros. $8,300,000 $312,400,000 -39%
Playing with Fire Paramount $8,000,000 $8,000,000 NEW
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Disney $7,800,000 $96,700,000 -40%
Harriet Focus Features $7,300,000 $23,000,000 -37%
The Addams Family (2019) United Artists Releasing $5,000,000 $92,000,000 -40%
Zombieland 2: Double Tap Sony / Columbia $4,200,000 $66,400,000 -43%

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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