‘Demon Slayer’ Makes $1.8M Previews, ‘Bob Marley’ To Rule Again

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SATURDAY AM WRITETHRU after Friday night post: Paramount’s Bob Marley: One Love remains on uppers at the weekend box office with a $3.7M Friday, and a 3-day of $13.95M at 3,597 theaters, -51% which will get the Reinaldo Marcus Green directed title to $71.6M by Sunday. Through yesterday, global is already at $101.1M ($39.7M overseas, $61.4M domestic). That’s a great piece of counterprogramming business in a struggling marketplace. Say what you will, S&P Global about putting Paramount Global on “credit watch negative,” but the film studio has a vibrant theatrical release schedule this year with Gladiator 2, Quiet Place: Day, If and Smile 2 to name a few.

Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba -To the Hashira Training opens at the box office.

Sony

Sony/Crunchyroll’s Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba -To the Hashira Training which is not a movie, but “is the last episode (episode 11) of the Swordsmith Village Arc and the first episode of the Hashira Training Arc” is looking at $10.8M after a $5.5M Friday (including those $1.8M previews) at 1,949 locations. I’m told that some of the fanboys here were also customers of Sony’s Madame Web last weekend.

Demon Slayer devotees gave this edition a B+, which is the same grade they gave last year’s big screen version of the anime toon. ComScore/Screen Engine PostTrak audiences gave it an 84% positive and a 68% definite recommend. Male leaning at 66% with 75% of those who bought tickets between 18-34 and 25-34 the biggest demo at 45%. Diversity demos were 43% Latino and Hispanic, 23% Caucasian, 13% Black and 14% Asian. IMAX and PLF screens are responsible for a third of the weekend’s ticket sales as Demon Slayer slayed in South Central, West and Mountain regions. AMC Burbank is the highest grossing theater so far with a near $19K since Thursday.

Thank God for Crunchyroll during depressed times at the box office; they can fill the void. However, the overall box office stands at $64M, -32% from a year ago. March couldn’t get here any faster with Dune Part Two.

Third goes to Lionsgate/Kingdom Story’s Ordinary Angels, which despite an awesome A+ CinemaScore (typical for a faith-based movie), solid reviews at 80% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and a 100% RT audience score — isn’t wildly overperforming. Right now a $2.3M Friday is yielding a $6.5M result in third place. The reason why some believed this could beat its $5M-$7M projection is because faith-based audiences often fly under the radar of tracking services. Last February’s Kingdom Story movie, Jesus Revolution, hit a homerun with a $15.8M opening and $52.1M. Where’s the seat fillers?

It’s odd considering there was positive chatter for Ordinary Angels from RelishMix: “Audiences who are drawn to see Reacher star Alan Ritchson headlining the film, appreciate the different type of performance than his action-oriented roles and there’ enthusiasm to see Hilary Swank return to theaters.” However, the social media metric company does report, “Ordinary Angels social media universe stats run -31% under indie-drama norms at 38.1M across Facebook, X, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok combined.”

Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Right now, Spider-Man clairvoyant Madame Web is showing a -64% second frame drop (which is bad though not as atrocious as Marvels -78% second weekend freefall or Sony/Marvel’s Morbius‘ -74%) with an estimated $5.56M in 4th place at 4,013 theaters after a $1.5M Friday. She’ll stand at $35M by Sunday. Still, both Marvels and Morbius look like crowdpleasers next to Madame Web respectively at $84.5M and $73.8M domestic finals. Let’s not put lipstick on this. If you’re going to make a superhero movie going forward, really focus on it in development and hire solid directors. The theatrical business can’t afford cookie-cutter any more.

Universal’s tenth weekend of Illumination’s Migration continues to nest in the top five at 2,422 theaters with a $700K Friday, $3.3M weekend, -14%, $120.7M by Sunday. Given the lack of family animated movies, many are betting big on Uni/DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4 when it hits in the post Dune 2 slot of March 8. A $50M opening wouldn’t be shocking.

And in the dust is Focus Features’ Ethan Coen directed title Drive-Away Dolls at 2,279 theaters with a $1M Friday (including previews) for a $2.5M opening. That start is lower than Focus Features’ Lisa Frankenstein ($3.69M), and that Zelda Williams-directed movie cost less ($13M) than what Drive-Away Dolls was acquired for. I hear that Lisa Frankenstein (with a gross of $8.8M through yesterday), will wind up making a little profit for Focus at the end of the day. Sure, there’s a big difference in demand when two Coen Brothers’ names show up in the trailer instead of one. It’s not often that a Coen Brothers movie goes wide in its first weekend, and in the case of when a studio doesn’t platform a title, it means they have to segue a movie quick from theatrical into home ancillary markets so that it makes money. With a 66% RT critic score and current 37% audience score, you can see why Focus went wide and fast with this one.

RelishMix notes that as far as the social media wattage for Drive-Away Dolls, which counts 73M followers, that “Star power on the film sits in the wings as most of the star cast are non-social or not activated.”

RelishMix on the social media reaction to the movie, “Though the appearances of Pedro Pascal and Matt Damon are exciting fans, some are bemoaning that their roles are likely small and being overly used to promote the film. Many compared the film to ‘Dumb and Dumber but with females’, while some argued that the film is derivative, saying ‘Even though it’s new, I feel like I’ve already seen this movie.’” 

FRIDAY AM: Sony/Crunchyroll’s Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba -To the Hashira Training had the most action among three wide entries last night in previews with $1.8M from 1,870 locations that started showtimes at 4PM. That was boosted, in standard Sony/Crunchyroll fashion, by PLFs and Imax. The movie is only suppose to do in the high single digits this weekend, much lower than other Demon Slayer movies as it’s a TV episode that’s been streamed on Crunchyroll, just shown on the big screen for the first time. In sum, it’s not a movie. 2021’s Demon Slayer movie posted $3.8M in previews.

Hilary Swank in Ordinary Angels movie

Hilary Swank in ‘Ordinary Angels’

Allen Fraser

Lionsgate/Kingdom Story’s faith-based Hilary Swank drama Ordinary Angels saw $285K off previews that began at 6PM. While that’s low, there’s hope that this movie could over exceed its $5M-$7M projection given its pretty good reviews of 78% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. We’ll see.

Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan in 'Drive-Away Dolls'

Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan in ‘Drive-Away Dolls’

Working Title / Focus Features

Focus Features has the Ethan Coen directed comedy caper Drive-Away Dolls. They moved the movie out of the fall due to the actors strike so that it has a shot at some livelihood. Despite a NYC premiere and reviews at 68% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes — it has none. So much, that the distributor isn’t reporting preview grosses today. That means the movie made less than the $700K they did report for Lisa Frankenstein on its previews, however that included previews outside Thursday. Oy. Industry estimates are figuring around $450K. Lisa Frankenstein with its fresh face cast opened to $3.6M; and Drive-Away Dolls could be lower or about the same. How is that possible? Coen Brother=hip. Margaret Qualley, Beanie Feldstein, Geraldine Viswanathan and Matt Damon=hip. Tracker Quorum reports, “Sadly, Focus struggled to build awareness for the film. Dolls arrives in theaters with only 20% awareness. Of the 17 films over the past two years with awareness of 20% or lower, none opened above $4M. That’s a challenging trend to buck.” 

‘Bob Marley: One Love,’ and ‘Madame Web’

Everett

As we told you, it’s Paramount’s Bob Marley: One Love which will keep everyone together at cinemas this weekend with around $15M, -45%. The pic had a great Thursday hold, -4% from Wednesday with $1.6M ending its running total through nine days at $57.6M at 3,539 theaters. That’s 25% ahead of Rocketman through nine days, and that movie ended its domestic run at $96.3M.

Sony/Marvel’s Madame Web eased 9% on Thursday with $786K at 4,013 ending its nine-day run with $29.4M. If the panned femme superhero movie is lucky, it will only ease -55% this weekend for a $6.8M. That would be mindboggling.

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