Saturday AM Update: Even with three new wide releases at this weekend’s box office, and New York City finally reopening, numbers still aren’t at pre-pandemic levels, but there’s a lot of drama going on.

Let’s start with Disney’s theatrical day and date Disney+ release of animated pic Raya and the Last Dragon which looks to be leading the weekend with a studio-reported $2.5M Friday and an industry weekend estimate of $8.3M at 2,045 theaters. These numbers are slightly less than the $3M Friday and $9M-$10M we were hearing about, and they’re definitely less than the $14.1M that Warner Bros’ same day HBO Max release of Tom & Jerry posted last weekend. Raya‘s opening weekend is also less than Croods: A New Age‘s 3-day opening over its Thanksgiving stretch which posted $9.7M. And that’s definitely because Disney did not reach a deal with No. 3 chain Cinemark, as we first told you (thus, losing around 250 bookings), Harkins, and Canada’s Cineplex. Even with New York City open, Raya isn’t the type of movie that would rally in the city like say a Marvel movie would.

Even though these numbers on Raya aren’t as robust (for the pandemic) as we saw yesterday, the release is striking plenty of fear for rival distributors and for exhibition; particularly after Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s recent remarks Monday at a virtual investment conference hosted by Morgan Stanley in which he said things like “The consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before” and that given how the pandemic has brought a number of movies into the home, he’s not sure “there’s going back” to the way business was done prior. Even though Chapek said, “We certainly don’t want to do anything like cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run,” many are concerned all of this is code for Disney moving forward with their theatrical day and date Disney+ model; and that Black Widow may emulate the same distribution path as Raya on May 7. Keep in mind that even if Los Angeles is reopened by then, and auditorium capacity restrictions ease, Disney still needs the rest of the world to move ahead with Black Widow and make the $1 billion grossing film that everyone wants to see, that is it for the title to remain a pure theatrical release.

What’s scaring many about Raya is that Disney gets to keep 100% of whatever they’re making from the $30 Disney+ PVOD purchase of Raya. Disney doesn’t have to split that PVOD revenue with any exhibitor. It was explained to me that Raya‘s $30 price point on Disney+ is roughly equivalent to the rental that Disney would get from five or six movie tickets. Wow. While I’ve heard Warner Bros. has been a partner with exhibition, and has made a deal on terms for their same day HBO Max titles, Disney hasn’t budged.

I’m told that Disney’s terms for Raya were a two-week minimum play with a scale that starts at a 50% rental if the film grosses ultimately between $0 and $37.5M, and then 51% if the domestic gross finals between $37.5M and $50M. While those terms aren’t stiff in a regular marketplace, we’re still in a pandemic, and people still aren’t flocking to the movies in great numbers, plus movie theaters have to compete with the whole Disney+ PVOD of it all. How fair is that for exhibition?

Let’s see what happens with Black Widow, and if Disney emulates a Raya theatrical-Disney+ distribution pattern for that. I would like to give Chapek the benefit of the doubt. Back at December’s Disney Investor Day he clearly emphasized that a robust Disney+ slate wouldn’t be possible without the power of the big screen and the franchises it has created. He’s alsothe guy who crushed the theatrical-DVD window, starting with Alice in Wonderland back in 2010; and the studio still walked away with a $1.025 billion global gross on that movie. Disney didn’t burn down the house to keep warm back then, and I still don’t think they will now. Currently, the studio says that Black Widow is still going theatrical on May 7, and exhibition hasn’t heard otherwise, they’re just very suspicious since there weren’t any trailers for the Marvel movie on Raya this past weekend, only those for Disney’s May 28 theatrical release Cruella. 

From a sheer box office optics point of view, one can argue that Disney left money on the table with Raya with boxing out Cinemark and Canada’s Cineplex. Why would you do that with a film like Raya that has an A CinemaScore, is 95% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and fantastic PostTrak audience exits of 93% with an 80% recommend from the general crowd?

Only Disney knows the answer to that question. When it comes to the potential non-reporting of Disney+ Raya PVOD figures, no news is good news. For anything greater would throw the motion picture distribution model off its axis.


On the upside for the Don Hall and Carlos Lopez Estrada directed feature, Raya pulled in a largely 57% female crowd with a third of those who purchased tickets being under 17 years old. The diversity breakdown was 37% Caucasian, 22% Black, 21% Asian and 20% Hispanic. Raya played best in Salt Lake City, I hear, but it had very good numbers for the pandemic in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Washington DC, Houston, Seattle, Phoenix; the list goes on.

Warners isn’t reporting numbers on Tom & Jerry today but we hear it’s headed for a No. 2 slot in its second weekend at 2,563 locations (+88) with an industry estimated Friday of $1.6M, -60% from a week ago, and 3-day of $6.75M, -52% for a ten-day running total of $23.1M. There was chatter among rivals heading into the weekend that Tom & Jerry could possibly steal it from Raya given how that film didn’t have Cinemark; that doesn’t look to be the case, and the fall on these theatrical-HBO Max titles are looking to be steeper in weekend 2. Remember, Wonder Woman 1984 dropped 67%, and that was over a New Year’s Weekend, typically a big time for moviegoing.

Lionsgate’s much delayed $100M YA gamble Chaos Walking starring Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland is poised to lose money just like any big wide release coming out during the pandemic where 50% of all 5,8K U.S. and Canadian theaters are closed. Industry estimates show the movie with a $1.3M Friday and 3-day of $3.7M. The diagnostics on the film with a B CinemaScore, horrible reviews at 24% Rotten, and a PostTrak of 67% and a 41% recommend indicate the movie was never going to rally even in a healthy marketplace, so the studio decided to go and not hold this feature any further. The pic’s opening weekend is in sync with what box office sources were projecting heading into the weekend. The Doug Liman directed sci-fi feature pulled in 54% guys, 65% over 25 with the 25-34 demo repping 30% of ticket buyers. Diversity breakdown was 56% White, 20% Hispanic, 15% Black, and 11% Asian. Top markets were New York, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago, Houston and Denver.

In fourth place is Focus Features’ Eddie Huang movie Boogie which did $430K at 1,252 locations yesterday on its way to a 3-day of $1.26M. Pic landed a C+ CinemaScore. Rotten Tomatoes score was low here at 44% and PostTrak Ok with 70% and 55% recommend. Guys bought tickets at 53% with over 60% between 18-34, and the 18-24 demo repping over 40%. Diversity mix was 44% Black, 20% Hispanic, 18% Asian and 18% Caucasian. Boogie was best on the East Coast with New York, Philly, Boston, Chicago, and Miami among its top markets.

Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Croods: A New Age in weekend 15 scored at 1,604 locations earned a $200K Friday, -28%, and a 3-day of $890K, -29% for a running total of $53.7M.

Overall, how is New York City doing box office wise? Fandango isn’t releasing results this weekend about auditorium sellouts, and Comscore may have some intel once the weekend finishes.




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