SATURDAY PM: Unlike other genre films during this lackluster time at the box office, Paramount’s Smile isn’t even beginning to frown this weekend. Deadline hears the horror pic written and directed by Parker Finn had a strong Saturday of $7.4 million, off 10% from Friday’s and previews’ $8.2M, which will get Smile to a $20M opening. The pic cost a reported $17M before P&A.
Paramount leaned in heavily with the digital spend we understand and aired TV spots on sporting events. The pic trailered in-theaters on such movies as Bullet Train, Black Phone, Beast and Barbarian in recent months. RelishMix noticed that TikTok views were driving engagement at 42M, plus YouTube views at 39M, prior to the weekend, fueling the pic’s social media universe to 110.2M across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. That figure is above the horror averages measured by the analytics company. One zany stunt the studio pulled to raise awareness for the film was to have people infiltrate MLB games. Paramount placed these individuals in the crowd, and had them smile throughout the entire game directly into broadcast cameras. Really.
What did we learn this weekend at the box office? It pays to go theatrical, not streaming. Kudos once again to Paramount Motion Pictures boss Brian Robbins for not sending this one to Paramount+.
We’ll have more updates in the AM.
SATURDAY AM: Paramount and other studios are calling Smile at a $19M opening. In a deja vu to last weekend with New Line’s Don’t Worry Darling, another genre pic, this R-rated horror film has received a B- CinemaScore and a severe 69%/53% definite recommend on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak, a standard audience reaction for such fare. We see one studio calling Smile at $20M, and frankly with this audience score, and the front-loaded nature of horror films, only tonight will determine if this goes up. Last weekend, everyone got excited about the initial numbers they were seeing for Don’t Worry Darling, got over their skis, and called the weekend at $20M on Saturday AM before it eased to $19.3M by Monday. Smile‘s Friday is $8.2Mwhich includes Thursday’s $2M previews.
Demos, as is typical for R-rated horror, are 28% guys over 25, 27% women under 25, 25% guys under 25, and 20% women over 25. If you were at the AMC Porter Ranch last night in California, you wouldn’t know it was the doldrums of the fall box office, as the place was hoppin’ like a 1920s speakeasy. The 18-34 bunch showed up at 73%. Diversity demos are 32% Caucasian, 32% Latino and Hispanic, 20% Black and 9% Asian, 8% other — Smile was always expected to play vibrantly across all demos. Best markets were in the West and Southwest. Eight of the top ten theaters were in the LA market. PLF screens drove 25% of ticket sales so far.
In second, Don’t Worry Darling at 4,121 theaters is eyeing a $7.56M second weekend, -61% for a 10-day of $33.1M. That’s in early AM estimates. Domestic outlook for this Florence Pugh-Harry Styles-Chris Pine starring, Olivia Wilde-directed New Line movie is $50M. Social media analytics corp RelishMix says, “Fans who state that they ‘have seen the film’, not only runs positive, but are also defending the film and suggesting that Don’t Worry Darling should be seen without watching the trailers so that audiences experience it with a clearest mindset.” Adds Relish, “Some fans are throwing in spoilers as well as incidental political shrapnel into threads. Plus, there are explosive new references to Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, who is now a subject of comparison to Chris Pine’s character in very recent interviews from director Olivia Wilde, which are drawing even more attention.”
The pic’s social media universe stands at close to 184M now across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. YouTube views are drivers, while Instagram pages are where many of the behind-the-scenes and materials are being discovered, along with added conversation and flaming chatter. Cast posts since the opening have spiked and drawn media attention, including Pugh’s two photo essays on Instagram last Friday with 2.5M likes and glowing comments. Wilde has added 124K fans during the last week on Instagram, and there’s strong engagement on her BTS posts. Styles posted on his concert Instagram and Twitter and popped another 1.4M on his HSHQ feeds too.
Universal’s wide release of the Billy Eichner co-scripted/starring LGBTQ romantic comedy Bros is coming up quite short in No. 4 with $4.75Moutpegged by TriStar’s The Woman King in No. 3 with $6.2M. Still, bravo for Uni for having the guts to make this movie, and put it out on the big screen. Friday was $1.8M, with those who turned out for the film giving it a solid A Cinemascore and 80% on PostTrak, and a 69% recommend. Guys showed up at 60%, with 63% between 25-44. Diversity demos were 61% Caucasian, 19% Latino and Hispanic, 6% Black, and 14% Asian/other. The movie was always expected to play well in the big cities, and here we see that NY, LA and San Francisco have all the top ten theatrical runs. Middle America and the South underperformed norms, we’re told. PLF screens only repped 3% of the pic’s B.O. to date.
Popping into the top 5 is the Sarigama Cinemas title Ponniyan Selvan: Part One in 500 locations in 136 markets, with a $4.1M opening after a $2.1M Friday. The glamorous Indian epic follows Vandiyathevan, who sets out to cross the Chola land to deliver a message from the Crown Prince Aditha Karikalan. Kundavai attempts to establish political peace in the land seemingly civil war plotted by vassals and petty chieftains. There were strong sales in NYC, LA, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, DC, Atlanta, Houston and Detroit for the Mani Ratnam-directed movie.
Booked wide at 1,062, but underperforming greatly, is the Sigourney Weaver-Kevin Kline Amblin dramedy The Good House from Roadside Attractions which is estimated to bring in $688K between Friday-Sunday. The movie about an alcoholic woman reigniting an old flame is the type of dramedy that studios use to make in the 1980s. Pic made its world premiere at TIFF last year, was later acquired by Roadside, and has earned 70% fresh from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences were in line with critics, giving it 74% on PostTrak, and a 51% recommend. Fifty-four percent women attended, 65% over 45 with 52% over 55. Diversity demos were 87% Caucasian, 8% Latino and Hispanic, 3% Black, and 2% Asian/other. Again, not strong business, but where the movie played was the West and Midwest.
How much money does the current fall box office stand to make sans a big tentpole? The same amount of money as last weekend. Industry estimates are at $61.3M for all titles, which is 3% behind last weekend’s $62.9M total, and 35% off from the same weekend in 2019 pre-pandemic, which was $94.5M — and that was considered low at the time (and now looks extravagantly rich). The No. 1 pic three years was the DreamWorks Animation title Abominable which debuted to $20.6M.
Meanwhile, Sony finally chugged Brad Pitt’s Bullet Train past $100M in its 9th weekend. Woo hoo choo choo.
Saturday AM estimates:
1.) Smile (Par) 3,645 theaters, Fri $8.2M3-day $19M/Wk 1
2.) Don’t Worry Darling (NL/WB), 4,121 (+8) theaters, Fri $2.35M (-75%), 3-day $7.56M (-61%)/Total $33.1M/ Wk 2
3.) The Woman King (Sony) 3,504 (-261) theaters Fri $1.7M (-41%), 3-day $6.2M (-44%)/Total $45.9M/Wk 3
4.) Bros (Uni) 3,350 theaters, Fri $1.84M3-day $4.75MWk 1
5.) Ponniyan Selvan: Part One (Sar) 500 locations, Fri $2.1M3-day $4.1M/Wk 1
6.)Avatar (re) (20th/Dis) 1,860 theaters, Fri $1.16M (-65%), 3-day $4.04M (-62%), Total $778.4M/Wk 2 of re-issue
7.) Barbarian (20th/Dis) 2,720 theaters (-145), Fri $809K (-42%), 3-day $2.65M (-45%)/Total $32.9M/Wk 4
8.) Bullet Train (Sony) 1,931 (+24) theaters, Fri $365K (-27%), 3-day $1.3M (-28%)/, Total $101.2M/Wk 9
9.) DC League of Super-Pets (WB) 1,924 (-427) theaters, Fri $250K (-31%) 3-day $1.21M (-30%)/Total $91.6M Wk 10
10.) Top Gun: Maverick (Par) 1,561 (-464) theaters, Fri $335K (-27%), 3-day $1.16M (-28%), Total $713.3M/Wk 19
FRIDAY AM: Paramount’s horror movie Smile struck up $2M in Thursday night previews that started at 7 p.m., a figure that’s just above M. Night Shyamalan’s Old from summer 2021, which did $1.5M in its previews, and just under Universal/Blumhouse’s Black Phone Thursday previews which were $3M in June.
Paramount is expecting a high-teens start this weekend, while it won’t be shocking if Smile exceeds $20M. Black Phone opened to $23.6M. Critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes for the new pic stand at 78% fresh, still good for a horror film. The movie from writer-director Parker Finn sits at 82% with RT audiences, which is very good. When the movie originally was conceived, there was a possibility it would go to Paramount+, however, a rock concert test screening propelled Smile‘s fate for a theatrical release.
Universal’s Brosthe LGBTQ romantic comedy starring and co-written by Billy Eichner, made $500K from 2,700 theaters, which started showtimes at 5 p.m. The studio is only expecting a number in the high single digits this weekend.
Meanwhile, New Line’s Olivia Wilde genre pic Don’t Worry Darling ended its first week with $25.5M. The pic’s cume for the first seven days is just slightly ahead of TriStar’s first week for The Woman King, which did $25.1M at 4,113 theaters. Don’t Worry Darling posted solid weekdays: $1.66M on Monday, $2M Tuesday, $1.3M Wednesday and $1.2M Thursday. The pic is expected to decline by 55%-60% in its second weekend, around $7.7M.
Peter Bart: Media Fervor Over Olivia Wilde’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Obstructs More Critical Inspection
Woman King made $720K on Thursday in second place, -4% from Wednesday, for a second week of $14.5M and running total of $39.7M. The Viola Davis movie was booked at 3,765 venues.
The rerelease of 20th Century Studios/Disney’s Avatar at 1,860 locations grossed $580K, -15% for a first week of $13.8M and running grand total of $774.3M — still the fourth-highest-grossing movie ever at the domestic box office after Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($936.6M, 2015), Avengers: Endgame ($858.3M, 2019) and Spider-Man: No Way Home ($814M, 2021).
20th Century Studios/Disney’s Barbarian made $6.6M in Week 3 for a running total of $30.2M. Thursday at 2,865 saw $370K, -17% from Wednesday.
A24’s Pearl in Week 2 made $2.8M at 2,982 sites with Thursday at $170K, -22% from Wednesday and a running total of $7.5M.