It’s Memorial Day Weekend in the U.S. so the movies have a 4-Day run on their hands. Whilst there’s no surprise that Solo: A Star Wars Story (4,381 screens) took out the top spot, there’s a lot of online chatter about the projected 4 day result of $114m being a huge disappointment for the rumoured $250m production. Yes, Solo: A Star Wars Story is one of the most expensive films of all time. Pulling down a screen average of $26,067, it’s still a solid opening but trails Deadpool 2‘s $132m opening last weekend (over 3 days) by 13.48% and Rogue One‘s $155.1m by 26.37%.
So, in that perspective, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a letdown of sorts for the studio and also marks the softest opening of this new generation of Star Wars films. It should’ve been a $160m-$170m 4 day opening weekend. So the question begs, why?
There’s a wall of factors that go into the result with two major ones standing out as contributing to it’s solid but disappointing opening. The market place: just look at what’s in the arena at the moment, you’ve got Deadpool 2, Avengers: Infinity War, and Black Panther is still running around, all of them targeting the same audience, all of them brandishing the same type of content and all of them having a much more directly invested audience interest. It’s nice to see a Han Solo movie, but it doesn’t add or propel the central films along whereas its competition do.
Another one is the critical reaction, which is good but not great for Han Solo: A Star Wars Story with it posting 71% fresh aggregated on Rotten Tomatoes (The Last Jedi – 91%, Rogue One – 85%, The Force Awakens – 93%). So, it’s also ranking a little softer with critical mass in an already oversatured sci-fi/comic book franchised market place. Will word of mouth carry it through? Given it is sporting an A- Cinemascore, a rating given by exiting audiences from cinemas, it may buck the trend but it leads to the next question: Did this need to release in the holiday window frame?
As we saw with Deadpool in 2016 with a February release date, and Black Panther this year, increasingly you can garner blockbuster results outside of traditional holiday frames. Deadpool earned a whopping $363m domestically outside of holidays ($783m globally) and Black Panther smashed $698m domestically ($1.34bn globally) and kicked off outside of holidays, too. Solo: A Star Wars Story would’ve been better served given some breathing space to go out on its own with a clear weekend prior and post. (Then again, on that mega budget, you need holidays)
From here, Solo: A Star Wars Story looks in the $300m range for a domestic result with fingers crossed for a strong international turnout to drive the prospects up as this will need north of $700m to make it a viable return theatrically. Luckily, there is little in the way of direct competition opening for the next few weeks until Ocean’s 8 on June 8 and The Incredibles 2 lands on June 15. Mind you, Friday is Action Point (Jackass does a comedy at an Amusement Park), Adrift (Lost At Sea Adventure), and Upgrade (Sci Fi Horror).
Deadpool 2 (4,349 screens) plummets in weekend 2, dropping 59%, for a $55.8m to bring the domestic haul to $220m. Much like the question I raised on Solo: A Star Wars Story, did this need to go out now? Or should Deadpool 2 retained its date in February? This has been doing like for like business to the first one as the 2nd weekend for Deadpool came in at $56.47m (a 3 day weekend, however, and still higher than this) with its season to date sitting at $236.9m. Deadpool 2 is tracking 7.13% off the pace of the original yet has still cracked $420m in global ticket sales. And get this, this is how like for like the films are, 53.6% of the global box office of Deadpool came from outside the U.S., Deadpool 2 is sitting at 53.8%.
Avengers: Infinity War (3,768 screens) is slowing down fast, kiddies, she’s slowing down fast as the film pulls down $20.6m, down 42% on last weekend, to bring the domestic gross to $625.7m. There’s a real chance this won’t hit $700m, which is right where Black Panther ($698m) is sitting domestically, which we flagged previously and, if Avengers: Infinity War doesn’t hit that mark, the Wakandans will have the highest grossing release of 2018 domestically. Globally, the film is smashing it as its about to cross $1.9bn and is the highest grossing title of the year and 4th highest of all time.
Book Club (2,810 screens) holds up well in its second weekend, slipping 30%, for a $12m long weekend, on a $4,270 screen average, to bring the gross to $34.2m. With a budget of $10m, this low budget little earner is the second profit driver for Paramount Pictures behind the juggernaut of A Quiet Place. Made even more surprising that it is a female skew picture, something that the studio has very much shied away from over the last decade. Book Club should be able to coast its way to a $60m+ finish if the grey rinse white people set keep rolling out to see it.
Life of the Party (2,937 screens) limps to a $6.4m weekend to bring the gross to $40.3m with a $50m finish line most likely from here. Given the business is so top end heavy, ostensibly it’s all about 3 films, this release and all the ones below it really are cosmetic placements to fill up empty screens and nowhere is this better expressed than in the screen average performances. For this week, Life of the Party earned $2,179 per screen. That’s a season ending result in any given frame and signals that the screen count will drop substantially this week for newer titles.
Breaking In (1,985 screens) takes $5.3m in its third weekend, on a $2,670 screen average, to bring the domestic haul to $36.9m. Posting a more than 6x multiplier from its $6m budget, the film is a little hit for Universal as it makes its journey from cinemas to home entertainment. $45m finish.
Show Dogs (3,212 screens) opened like a dog and fell over in weekend 2 for a $4m weekend on a $1,245 screen average. With $11.6m in the can thus far, this $22m budgeted production is looking to finish its run with $15m. It’s a flop, kiddies, and I would expect many an international territory with be rethinking a theatrical release, too. Ouch, poor pooch!
Overboard (1,196 screens) takes $3.6m for the weekend, on a modest $3,010 screen average, to bring the domestic total to $42.1m. Performing better than Life of the Party, Breaking In, and Show Dogs, this $12m production should nudge $45m before bowing it and will have broken even theatrically for Lionsgate/MGM.
A Quiet Place (1,524 screens) conquers $180.3m domestically on a $17m budget! With a $2.6m eighth weekend on a $1,706 screen average, this is easily the most profitable studio film of the year (and possibly last year, too). Paramount Pictures are back, people, with this and Book Club working in the black. All eyes now turn to the amazing looking Mission: Impossible Fallout to see if they can slam dunk a blockbuster this year, too!
RBG (415 screens) continues to impress, taking $1.2m on a $2,892 screen average and bringing the domestic gross to $5.7m. That marks the highest grossing profile documentary release since last year’s I Am Not Your Negro‘s $71m domestic haul. What a result!
In Cinemas Friday 1 June, 2018 – Action Point, Adrift, Upgrade
Figures from Deadline