February 11, 2017

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “LEGO Batman,” “50 Shades Darker,” “John Wick 2″” All Solid

This is a well-designed weekend for Hollywood, with a trio of sensibly-budgeted franchise titles all drawing audiences from their mostly separate target demos.  The Friday winner, according to preliminary numbers at Deadline, was FIFTY SHADES DARKER (Universal), with $20M ($5.7M of it from Thursday night).  That’s about 2/3 of the $30.3M opening day for Fifty Shades of Grey 2 years ago, which wasn’t unexpected, considering that picture’s phenom status and the fact that its opening weekend included Valentines Day.  The latter boosted Shades to a $85.2M weekend, and Darker will be much less than that, more like $47M.  That still puts Darker in line for substantial profit, especially since it’s expected to be even stronger overseas than in the US (Shades earned 71% of its worldwide total internationally), and since the franchise is very reasonably priced thanks to its lack of CG and giant stars with around $175M in worldwide production/marketing costs.

Although THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (Warner Animation) was in 2d place on Friday with $15M ($2.2M from Thursday night), family audiences should put it well ahead of Fifty Shades Darker for the weekend with around $58M.  There’s the possibility for potential upside beyond that if word of mouth approaches the enthusiasm for the first LEGO Movie, as that opened with $17.1M and climbed all the way to $69.1M for its weekend, but Batman is likely to be more front-loaded.  As with the Fifty Shades franchise, the LEGO movies are relative bargains compared to more elaborate Disney animations ($75M or so in production costs), so even with the usual full-throttle Warners marketing campaign, LEGO Batman should be enormously profitable, especially if it can do better than LEGO Movie‘s 55%/45% split between US and international box office.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (Summit/Lionsgate) is an example of a franchise pathway that’s relatively unusual these days.  The first John Wick was treated as a B-movie and performed modestly, with a $5.4M opening day and $14.4M weekend in the US, leading to totals of $43M here and $86M worldwide.  But it caught fire on subsequent platforms, leading the studio to believe that a sequel could overperform in a big way.  That’s happening, as Chapter 2 almost doubled the first movie’s opening day with $10.5M on Friday ($2.2M from Thursday night), which should lead to a $28M weekend.  The Wick films are also responsibly priced, so this should be a tidy piece of business for Lionsgate.

Holdovers were well behind the new arrivals.  They were led once again by SPLIT (Blumhouse/Universal), down 46% from last Friday to $2.6M, which should give it a $9M weekend, on its way to a hugely profitable $130M in the US.

HIDDEN FIGURES (20th) continues to be wildly popular, down just 28% from last week to $2.2M on Friday, which should also bring it to a $9M weekend, with a $150M US total dead ahead.  LA LA LAND (Summit/Lionsgate) is fading a bit faster at this point, down 39% Friday-to-Friday to $1.4M for a $5M weekend, with a $135M US total ahead.  The film that’s really benefiting from Oscar attention is LION (Weinstein), which has hit its stride, down a mere 7% from last Friday to $1M for a $4M weekend that will push it toward a $40M US total as it hopes for some dark horse awards.

A DOG’S PURPOSE (Walden/Amblin/Reliance/Universal) is holding well, down 38% from last Friday to $1.7M for a $7M weekend and hopes of reaching $50M in the US.

Last weekend’s openings are falling apart.  RINGS (Paramount) plunged 73% from last Friday to $1.5M and might have a $5M weekend and a $30M US total.  (Reportedly the failure of Rings led Paramount to cancel its planned reboot of the Friday the 13th franchise last week.)  THE SPACE BETWEEN US (Huayi/STX) sank 66% to less than $500K on Friday for a dismal $1.5M weekend, probably incapable of reaching $10M in the US.

A UNITED KINGDOM (Focus/Universal) was held back from awards season after it became clear that it was going to get lost in the pack, but February isn’t proving to be much kinder, as it heads to a mediocre $13K weekend per-theatre average at 4 arthouses.

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (Magnolia) expanded to 100 theatres and may average $5K for the weekend.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."