Weekend Estimates: ‘Black Panther’ ($30M+) Set for First Five-Time Weekend Crown Since ‘Avatar’; ‘I Can Only Imagine’ ($17M+) Overperforms In Excellent Debut

Saturday Update: Tomb Raider led the way on Friday with an estimated $9.055 million opening day, including Thursday’s early shows. That’s 18 percent ahead of Ghost in the Shell‘s $7.66 million opening day last spring, while also posting a similar Thursday night-to-Friday multiple (4.31x versus Ghost‘s 4.26x). Warner Bros. reports the film earned a “B” Cinemascore, but perhaps most intriguingly, that its audience comprised largely of older males (56 percent men and 68 percent over the age of 25). Last year’s Ghost in the Shell was similarly front-loaded by older male fans (61 percent male, 76 percent over 25), so a similar run should be expected for Tomb Raider. We’re currently projecting an opening weekend around $22 million, in line with pre-release expectations.

Black Panther continues its monumental run as it eased just 25 percent from last Friday to $7.52 million yesterday. With $585.9 million in the domestic bank now, the film still stands as the seventh highest grossing film in domestic history. It should overtake Star Wars: The Last Jedi (currently sitting just under $620 million) for sixth place later this week. Set to become the first film since Avatar to claim the weekend crown a fifth time (and, alongside 1999’s The Sixth Sense, just the third film since Titanic twenty years ago), Boxoffice projects a $30.5 weekend this go around.

Impressing mightily in its debut, Roadside Attractions’ I Can Only Imagine soared to $6.23 million on opening day Friday. That’s 14 percent ahead of The Shack‘s $5.463 million opening day last year, although Imagine did prove more frontloaded to Thursday night with a 4.79x multiple compared to Shack‘s 6.43x. Pre-release forecasts had been significantly more modest for the faith-based docu-drama, but as we always note, the target audience is poorly represented by the industry’s tracking surveys and has a tendency to surprise with strong grassroots marketing campaigns (as was the case here). Initial projections now point to an opening weekend north of $17 million should it hold similar to past films in the genre.

Love, Simon banked a healthy opening day of its own with $4.6 million yesterday, 3 percent behind Everything, Everything ($4.76 million). Some frontloading appears to be setting in since Simon‘s Thursday take was significantly higher than that comparison title, but strong word of mouth could remain a boon to leggy success. Fox is projecting a $12 million debut weekend.

Last but not least, A Wrinkle In Time added $4.6 million in its eight day of release, down 55 percent from opening day last week. The film stands 8 percent behind the pace of Tomorrowland at this point with a $49.1 million domestic total as it eyes a sophomore frame around $17 million.

A mix of our weekend projections and early studio estimates can be found in the chart below. Follow us on Sunday for updated studio estimates.

Early Weekend Estimates (Domestic)
FRI, MAR. 16 – SUN, MAR. 18

WIDE (1000+)

# TITLE WEEKEND LOCATIONS AVG. TOTAL WKS. DIST.
1 Black Panther $30,500,000 -25% 3,834 -108 $7,955 $608,876,528 5 Disney
2 Tomb Raider $22,100,000 3,854 $5,734 $22,100,000 1 Warner Bros.
3 I Can Only Imagine $17,500,000 1,629 $10,743 $17,500,000 1 Lionsgate / Roadside Attractions
4 A Wrinkle in Time $17,000,000 -49% 3,980 0 $4,271 $61,494,654 2 Walt Disney Pictures
5 Love, Simon $12,000,000 2,402 $4,996 $12,000,000 1 20th Century Fox
6 Game Night $6,200,000 -21% 2,686 -375 $2,308 $54,804,184 4 Warner Bros.
7 Peter Rabbit $5,100,000 -25% 2,725 -387 $1,872 $102,340,268 6 Sony / Columbia
8 The Strangers: Prey At Night $5,000,000 -52% 2,464 0 $2,029 $5,000,000 2 Aviron Pictures
9 Red Sparrow $4,800,000 -44% 2,583 -481 $1,858 $39,933,642 3 20th Century Fox
10 Death Wish $3,600,000 -45% 2,676 -206 $1,345 $30,181,685 3 MGM
11 Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle $1,900,000 -31% 1,556 -601 $1,221 $400,523,598 13 Sony / Columbia
12 Annihilation $1,800,000 -45% 1,087 -622 $1,656 $29,694,743 4 Paramount Pictures
13 The Hurricane Heist $1,000,000 -67% 2,283 -119 $438 $5,335,921 2 Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures

LIMITED (100 — 999)

# TITLE WEEKEND LOCATIONS AVG. TOTAL WKS. DIST.
1 7 Days in Entebbe $1,800,000 838 $2,148 $1,800,000 1 Focus Features
2 The Greatest Showman $1,275,000 -33% 737 -215 $1,730 $169,844,618 13 Fox
3 The Shape of Water $850,000 -64% 758 -794 $1,121 $62,738,637 16 Fox Searchlight
4 Fifty Shades Freed $660,000 -52% 873 -484 $756 $99,676,300 6 Universal
5 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri $290,000 -58% 282 -270 $1,028 $53,913,624 23 Fox Searchlight
6 Coco $255,000 -2% 177 -17 $1,441 $209,241,379 17 Disney
7 Star Wars: The Last Jedi $200,000 -25% 211 -35 $948 $619,816,617 14 Disney
8 The Post $150,000 -54% 159 -119 $943 $81,443,899 13 20th Century Fox
9 Early Man $69,000 -34% 144 -42 $479 $8,168,507 5 Lionsgate
10 Hostiles $60,000 -3% 102 12 $588 $29,708,847 13 Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
11 Every Day $35,000 -86% 110 -505 $318 $6,090,565 4 Orion Pictures

PLATFORM (1 — 99)

# TITLE WEEKEND LOCATIONS AVG. TOTAL WKS. DIST.
1 Wonder (2017) $82,000 49% 96 -42 $854 $132,411,356 18 Lionsgate
2 Winchester $56,000 -67% 91 -170 $615 $24,993,147 7 Lionsgate / CBS Films
3 Samson $19,000 -73% 34 -59 $559 $4,674,531 5 Pure Flix

===

Friday Update: Tomb Raider led the new release charge on Thursday evening with an estimated $2.1 million start, according to Warner Bros. That comes in about 17 percent ahead of Ghost in the Shell‘s $1.8 million start last spring, a fan-driven flick that went on to earn $18.7 million during opening weekend. If Tomb follows a similar pattern throughout Friday/Saturday, it remains on course for an expected debut in the low $20 million range.

I Can Only Imagine took in $1.3 million last night, a very strong showing for the faith-based film from Roadside Attractions. By comparison, that’s 53 percent more than The Shack‘s $850,000 start last March. The latter title went on to earn $16.2 million for opening weekend. While Imagine could certainly continue to overperform, its disproportionate share of group sales could indicate significant frontloading toward Thursday evening (and likely Sunday as well). As such, projections remain volatile until we get a better sense of Friday’s business. Either way, this is a fantastic start for the film.

Meanwhile, Love, Simon got off to a healthy start with $850,000 last night, 60 percent more than Everything, Everything‘s $530,000 launch. The latter pulled an $11.7 million weekend, which could should be the absolute low-end of scenarios for Simon at this stage.

Last but not least, Black Panther added $3.6 million domestically and now stands at $578.3 million in North America. With its overall global take yesterday, the film now stands at $1.1264 billion, overtaking The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Transformers: Dark of the Moon to stand at 16th place on the all-time worldwide chart.

Official Friday estimates and early weekend estimates to follow on Saturday.

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