Super Bowl weekend has always meant a drastic downturn in box office sales for domestic theaters, a trend that won’t reverse but could still be mitigated by a handful of new releases this year. Two of them will try to counter-program the big game, and one — The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert – is an IMAX specialty release that could fight for a top ten position.
Meanwhile, the industry will be watching many of this week’s new Oscar nominees in their awards season extensions.
The headliner this weekend should easily be Death on the Niledirector and star Kenneth Branagh’s sequel to the hit Agatha Christie adaptation Murder on the Orient Express. The latter was a notable hit with his bow and long legs, grossing $28.7 million to $107.3 million in North America, grossing $353 million worldwide – all on a budget of production estimated at just $55 million.
Nile enters a very different world, however. Even before the pandemic, this sequel was identified as a candidate for diminished returns in long-term predictions due to the nature of similar genre followings and the somewhat lower profile of the source novel compared to the more ubiquitous. Orient-Express IP. Now, Nile must deal with changing audience habits and an ever-cautious older female audience – the bread and butter of these films and Christie’s fan base.
Orient-Express However, its age appeal wasn’t completely lopsided thanks to a strong cast and marketing in a modern style. The first weekend of this film attracted 51% over 35s, while 56% were women. The old stat might be beneficial for Death on the Nile with another set led by Branagh, Gal Gadot, Letitia Wright, Russell Brand, Emma Mackey and Rose Leslie, while being supported by a healthy promotion cycle aimed at attracting adults aged 25-34.
Trailers for the film have been showing in theaters since the pandemic began, and regularly since they reopened, even though the release date has been pushed back several times. Awareness will not be a major problem. The overall follow-up ranks among the best of any film released so far in 2021 or 2022 among those that woo adult women as their primary audience. Various metrics and social trends are ahead of where West Side Story was before its opening of $10.6 million in December and comparable to Gucci House ($14.4 million three-day Thanksgiving arc).
Disney will distribute the film to approximately 3,200 locations nationwide this weekend, including 375 IMAX theaters and more than 700 premium large-format screens. The sequel is hosting early access screenings in select premium formats on Wednesday, followed by traditional Thursday previews starting at 5 p.m. With audiences and the Super Bowl in mind, stamina is on the line for the film due to minimal competition in the coming weeks.
The other high-profile version of Super Bowl weekend falls even more squarely into the counter-programming column, although expectations are more modest. Marry mestarring Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, aims to get a jump on Valentine’s Day business ahead of the date itself on Monday, but tracking has shown mixed signals so far.
Lopez is by far the rom-com’s biggest asset, as the star continues to be a force in pop culture and isn’t far short of 2019 success. Hustlers, while Wilson himself remains a viable and well-known presence. Still, Universal has shifted this film to a hybrid release strategy over the past few months and will release it for free to Peacock streaming subscribers the same day it opens in theaters.
That last factor is remarkable considering this film’s main selling point for – again – adult women. Lopez’s core audience is moving away from the current generation of young moviegoers who run the bulk of the theatrical business during the waning pandemic, which means Marry me will likely have to over-index young women and late-night crowds to exceed expectations this weekend.
Opening in more than 3,600 locations with previews on Thursday evenings, Marry me follows similarly to other pandemic-era releases Respect, which bowed to $8.8 million last year. Lopez herself opened a romantic comedy the Super Bowl weekend before when The wedding planner bowed to $13.5 million in 2001.
Elsewhere, Briarcliff Entertainment sends Liam Neeson’s latest thriller — Black light – in wide release this weekend in 2,772 locations. Marketing only started helping the film show up on mainstream tracking and social metrics in recent days, and male audiences will likely pay more attention to the game this weekend. Black light closely follows cop shop and The protected.
After a strong $391,000 performance in 67 IMAX theaters on January 30, Disney and the PLF Company will send Peter Jackson The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert in more venues for special engagements this weekend. In addition to single screenings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, a screening on Wednesday is also planned. The studio has yet to confirm how box office receipts will be reported, but strong attendance last week and continued pre-sale activity for this weekend’s dates show the documentary could be nearing or reaching the top ten this weekend.
The Oscar nominations were announced earlier this week. In years past, this has often been a signal that films would expand nationally and capitalize on their growing award glow. Although still far from the norm, this will be the case for Belfast and Licorice Pizza This weekend.
Focus has confirmed that the former will increase its number of locations from 390 to 920 from Friday after receiving seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. The UAR has not confirmed its co-nominee Pizza‘s account, but the scorecard projections show it could be north of 1,800 after playing 786 last weekend. This film remains exclusive to theaters, while Belfast is otherwise currently only available at home as a $20 PVOD rental or purchase after premiering theatrically only in the final weeks of 2021.
West Side Story was also a big contender, but current scorecard estimates show a more modest increase in Steven Spielberg’s slot count this weekend (although that may change as Disney has yet to report on its expansion) . Instead, the distributor took the opportunity to announce Story will get its streaming debut via Disney+ and HBO Max on March 2.
Spider Man look
Finally and especially, Spider-Man: No Coming Home will continue its historic march this weekend. Despite new male competition and the loss of its remaining IMAX footprint a week ago, the Marvel epic only dropped 13.6% at the box office. Even if the Super Bowl will impact it like all the other films on Sunday, the absence of direct competition should again help it to display a very strong hold in the circumstances.
Of course, the great “wait and see” story with No coming home stay when it passes Avatar on the national all-time chart. Through Tuesday, Feb. 8, Spidey was at $750.4 million, just $10.1 million behind James Cameron’s film. Our current projections have Spider Man just a little late Avataris $760.5 million in lifetime gross by the end of Sunday, but it seems inevitable that No coming home will overtake him and take third place no later than next Tuesday, February 15.
Wide broadcast forecast ranges
Opening weekend range: $1-4 million
Death on the Nile
Opening weekend range: $12-17 million
Opening weekend range: $6-9 million
Weekend forecast and number of pitches
Box office projects between a 7 to 17% drop for this weekend’s top ten films from last weekend’s top ten of $55.9 million.
|3 Day Weekend Forecast
|National total projected through Sunday February 13
|Number of slots
|3-day % change from last weekend
|Death on the Nile
|Disney / 20th Century Studios
|Spider-Man: No Coming Home
|Sony Pictures/Columbia and Marvel Studios
|United Artists Liberating
|The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert
|Disney / 20th Century Studios
*All predictions are subject to revision prior to the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.
The number of theaters is updated as confirmed by the studios. The chart above does not necessarily represent the top ten, as some studios are not finalizing weekend slot counts and/or intend to report box office returns prior to release.