We’ve been hearing for quite some time that the advance ticket sales for Focus Features’ big-screen take on the TV series Downton Abbey are just through the roof. On Fandango, presales for the Michael Engler-directed feature continue to best those of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and The Great Gatsby. This is not the case for advance ticket sales to Millennium/Lionsgate’s Rambo: Last Blood at the big chains. One midsize East Coast exhibitor tells us that Downton already has sold seven times more tickets than Rambo at his theater. Despite the discrepancy, its a toss-up as to whether Downton or Rambo wins the weekend with a $23M-$25M take apiece.
Some box office soothsayers believe that Downton has advance ticket sales, and that’s it. An older-skewing female pic like that typically doesn’t play into the wee hours of the night. But Downton already is a success before fully turning down the lights in auditoriums coast to coast. Sneaks were held for the Maggie Smith-Michelle Dockery-Joanne Froggatt ensemble pic last Thursday, racking up $2.2M. Sneaks start again at 7 PM Thursday before Downton plays at 3,076 theaters. The pic opened in 17 offshore markets last weekend, making close to $12M including the No. 1 spot in the UK with a $6.3M opening.
Even if Downton Abbey slaps Rambo still across the face, the latter could wind up looking at the best opening in the Sylvester Stallone franchise’s 37-year history should this finale best First Blood Part II‘s $20.1M bow. Previews are at 7 PM tomorrow night before going wide at 3,500 locations Friday. The previous John Rambo film released by Lionsgate in 2008 opened to $18.2M and topped out at $42.7M stateside. Millennium and Lionsgate already have a late-August hit in theaters, Gerard Butler’s Angel Has Fallen, which soon will overtake 2016’s London Has Fallen as the second-highest-grossing pic in the series stateside with more than $62M.
While Downton sops up all the older women, Hustlers draws the younger women, and the older guys go with Rambo, that doesn’t leave much for the very expensive Brad Pitt astronaut movie Ad Astra, which Disney inherited from Fox, this despite an 80% certified fresh reviews coming out of its world premiere in Venice. Some say this pic cost in the $80M range, we heard well above that in the $100M vicinity. The Plan B and New Regency co-production is only expected to bring in around mid- to high-teen millions, and it’s going to need much more than that from abroad if it’s going to see breakeven. Thursday previews start at 7 PM, with a theater count of 3,450 on Friday including 380 Imax screens, 340 Premium Large Format screens and 130 D-Box/4D locations. Abroad, Ad Astra opens in 82% of markets worldwide with the exception of Italy, Brazil, Russia and a handful of smaller markets. Disney isn’t handling the release of the film in the China, Hong Kong or Taiwan markets.
Elsewhere It Chapter Two should fall around 56% in Weekend 3 to $17M, while STX Entertainment’s R-rated Hustlers should be ahead of it with $18M in Weekend 2, -45%. The ladies of Hustlers in their weekdays have been smacking down Pennywise, beating him on Monday ($2.7M to $2.2M) and Tuesday ($4.6M to $3.3M). Through five days, Hustlers counts an estimated $40.6M, with many finance sources telling us the film will profit in its theatrical window. It Chapter Two, from New Line, is up to $158.2M through Tuesday.