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‘Shazam!’ Shoots To Super $53M+ Opening, $56M+ With Previews; ‘Pet Sematary’ Purrs $25M – Sunday AM B.O. Final – Deadline

Warner Bros.

SUNDAY AM UPDATE: New Line/DC’s Shazam! posted a solid hold on Saturday of $19.75M, -4%, putting its opening weekend at $53.45M. Add those Fandango $3.3M paid previews from March 23 and the DC superhero who was originally known as Captain Marvel (really, he was) has a running total of $56.7M. Shazam! flew in ahead of projections which were at $45M-$50M for the DC film. Warners knew it was working as they spotted heat on their social media diagnostics in recent weeks.

It was a bold move to date Shazam! in between Disney/Marvel’s Captain Marvel and upcoming April 26 release Avengers: Endgame, and to make this vintage DC property work, “we needed the movie to be its own best friend in terms of creating interest” Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich told Deadline this morning. That meant screening the movie in advance well in advance to create word of mouth. That’s always risking too, as a studio is putting a movie out there, and the reviewers are ready to pounce. But Warners felt they had something special here in Shazam! much like Aquaman and Crazy Rich Asians. 

Zachary Levi with guests of Lollipop Theater Network
Lollipop Theater Network for outpatient screening of Shazam!

Patrick Lewis/Shutterstock

“We had a terrific brand ambassador in Zachary Levi, and putting him out there with the movie was one of the best calling cards we had and was a big part of our marketing strategy and we played that card in a big way,” added Emmerich.

“We always wanted the movie to play young, to be very inclusive of younger audiences, for kids to really relate to movie,” said Emmerich. Penny Marshall’s Big was always a big influence for director David F. Sandberg as well as the New Line DNA of such kids pics as 17 Again, and the concept here with Shazam! “was a superhero movie mixed with a body switch movie” says Emmerich, a comedy subgenre that has clicked at the B.O. with such pics as 17 Again, Big and even Freaky Friday.

Shazam had always been considered a cheesy character known mostly for its lead saying things like “holy moly.” Geoff Johns introduced a new take on the story in his New 52 run that made Billy Batson more relevant to today’s audience.  That run prominently featured the foster family.  New Line also embraced that storyline and set out to make a fun, wish-fulfillment movie that harkened back to the family movies of the 1980s. 

Similar to how Crazy Rich Asians and The Meg overindexed on their opening weekends, Warners worked its magic between the digital marketing department and distribution to push ads to those markets where Shazam! ticket sales were hot, or needed some boost next to their 52 weekend norms. It’s a last minute push that has worked for the studio that begins on Thursday and is executed throughout the weekend.

IMAX & PLF accounted for 28% of the superhero’s gross with 3-D repping 12%. Imax drove $6.1M to Billy Batson, repping 12% of the 3-day ticket sales. Shazam!‘s strongest regions were the West and Southwest but was really powerful everywhere. The expectation is that Sunday will ease 33% from Saturday with $13.2M. That’s around what others are seeing as well.

Paramount

Paramount is calling Pet Sematary at a $25M opening after an estimated $9.1M Saturday that dipped 9% from Friday first day which included previews of $9.9M. The second remake of the 1983 Stephen King novel debuted in the range that the industry and Paramount were expecting. It’s a very good counterprogramming start in the shadow of a DC superhero movie, though the latter skewed more family. Those who bought tickets to Pet Sematary were 54% Male while 66% of the audience was 18-34 years old and 75% was under 35 years old. Best regions for this R-rated horror pic from directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer were the East, Mid-West, and Southwest but eight of the top ten plays for Pet Sematary were on the West coast. However, exits were sour at C+ for Pet Sematary (the same grade which remakes Evil Dead and Poltergeist received) so the chances of the pic legging out to a 3x multiple is not expected. Evil Dead debuted to $25.7M and finaled at a 2.1x multiple of $54.2M.

Aside from closing SXSW, Pet Sematary played the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival with the cast and filmmakers in attendance and there was also a fan buzz screening in Bangor, Maine, King’s hometown with the directors present.

Baby, oh, my: Disney’s Dumbo took third with $18.2M in weekend 2, down 60% which is unusual for a family film, and a 10-day total of $76.2M. “Nice horror film drop,” snarked one rival studio exec. Even Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children didn’t even whether that type of second weekend drop -48%, and that was a niche title. Dumbo‘s decline here is close to the -57% that Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass posted in its weekend 2.

STX is reporting that their Civil Rights drama The Best of Enemies opened to $4.5M at 1,705 theaters. Saturday was +4% with $1.69M. Despite excellent exits scores which included an A+ from women 35 and older, an overall A CinemaScore and 82% from PostTrak, it’s near impossible to open a drama at the box office that has middling reviews, especially outside awards season (even during awards season a film with middling reviews is as good as dead). And when you start this low at the B.O. with great exits, unfortunately it’s unheard of to catch up.

A24

On the specialty side, A24’s Claire Denis deep space drama High Life starring Robert Pattinson as a father who is struggling to survive with his baby daughter in isolation posted the weekend’s highest theater average of $25K for a 3-day of $100K at four sold out theaters in NY and LA. Oscar winner Juliette Binoche also stars. The pic is 89% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Studio reported actuals as of Sunday AM:

thumb rank pic dis scrs(cg) fri sat sun 3-day total wk
1 Shazam! NL/WB 4,217 $20.4M $19.7M $13.2M $53.4M $56.7M 1
2 Pet Sematary Par 3,585 $10M $9.1M $5.9M $25M $25M 1
3 Dumbo Dis 4,259 $4.9M $7.8M $5.4M $18.2M (-60%) $76.2M 2
4 Us  Uni 3,512 (-231) $4.3M $5.9M  $3.5M $13.8M (-58%) $152.3M 3
5 Captain Marvel Dis 3,573 (-412) $3.4M $5.4M $3.8M $12.6M (-39%) $374.1M 5
6 Best of Enemies STX 1,705 $1.62M $1.69M  $1.1M $4.5M $4.5M 1
7 Five Feet Apart CBS/LG 2,484 (-361) $1.2M $1.5M $922K $3.7M 
(-40%)
$41.5M 4
8 Unplanned PF 1,516 (+457) $1M $1.1M $980K $3.2M (-50%) $12.4M 2
9 Wonder Park Par 2,281 (-1,023) $555K $925K $560K $2M 
(-59%)
$41.9M 4
10 …Dragon 3 DWA/Uni 1,928 (-857) $520K $862K $603K $1.98M (-55%) $156.7M 7

SATURDAY AM WRITETHRU after Friday 11:44PM post: After showing exhibitors at CinemaCon that they are indeed the force to be reckoned with, especially with upcoming DC pics like Birds of Prey, The Joker, and Wonder Woman 1984, Warner Bros. heads into this weekend celebrating a No. 1 win for its comic book label’s Shazam!, with current Friday night estimates seeing $20.5M (including $5.9M Thursday previews) for a weekend of $53.7M.

We continue to hear that the New Line production is hooking a late night crowd well before Saturday matinees kick in. Some industry projections think Billy Batson can do the same amount of money on Saturday as Friday (including previews).

Courtesy of Disney

This is all very reminiscent of Disney/Marvel’s Ant-Man, when they decided to expand beyond their older fanboys into families.

Overall CinemaScore for Shazam! is a solid A, like Ant-Man and Wonder Woman, but better than Aquaman‘s A-, Justice League and Suicide Squad‘s B+ and Batman v. Superman‘s B. In Screen Engine/ComScore PostTrak exits, Shazam! drew 25% under-18, with males under/over 25 essentially equal at 33%. Kids and parents combined repped 25% of the audience, and both gave this superhero Big-liked pic 4 1/2 stars each. Kids under 12 give it a 72% recommend, while general audiences enjoyed Billy Batson at 4 stars, 61% recommend. Diversity breakdown was 53% Caucasian, 17% Hispanic, 13% Asian and 11% African American. All super stats.

Many B.O. analysts had a feeling that Shazam! would over-index due to what they were seeing on social media. RelishMix reports that the viral rate of four trailers for the superhero pic stands at 129:1, “far and above the superhero standard of 37:1.”

In regards to the positive word-of-mouth for Shazam! RelishMix says folks online “are shouting that it’s by far the best DC film so far, very funny and entertaining. Some even compare it to Captain Marvel, saying this is the movie they were hoping for. There’s an ongoing feud between Marvel & DC Fans related to the very name, ‘Captain Marvel’” Shazam was renamed and formerly known as Captain Marvel despite being a DC character/hero. Regardless, others are intrigued by leading man Zachary Levi, and like what they see in Mark Strong as the villain – and are loving how the trailers worked in the Eminem song.”

A lot of that WOM was spurred by Warner Bros/New Line advance screenings for the film (both free and paid screenings through Fandango, which rang up a record $3.3M next to other family film/partnership screenings). Add that into the three-day and the running stateside total is $57M. Nancy’s sources say Shazam‘s foreign B.O. should definitely cross $100M.

Warner Bros

As an aside, after dropping the first teaser to Todd Phillips’ R-rated The Joker online during the past CinemaCon week, Fizziology via Warner Bros. reports that the trailer generated higher conversation than any of the studio’s trailers in the last 12 months. Google Analytics via WB says that The Joker trailer trended in 69 total markets on YouTube, and 47 total markets on Twitter.

Paramount

At $24M, Paramount’s Pet Sematary is solid counter-programming in second place. The Stephen King feature adaptation’s start is in the realm of other average horror pic starts like Happy Death Day (PG-13, $26M), 2013’s Evil Dead remake ($25.7M), and just under 2016’s R-rated original Don’t Breathe ($26.4M). However, profit-wise, it’s a whole different animal: $20M+ is a huge opening win for Blumhouse, because they budget their pics in the low-to-mid single digits (before P&A). Pet Sematary cost a reported $20M. Still low, but not Blumhouse wow. If Pet Sematary climbs to $30M, that’s impressive, but many are expecting this pic to drop, given its exit scores. While nothing comes close to the massive success of New Line’s It in the recent rebirth of King pics on the big screen, this is a better start than Sony/MRC’s The Dark Tower, which opened to $19.1M and cost a reported $60M (that was largely a fantasy film).

Evil Dead is likely the best comp here for Pet Sematary: It’s a remake of a well-known horror pic, they’re both rated R, both have the same exact Rotten Tomatoes score of 62% fresh, cost around the same amount of money (Evil Dead was made for $17M before P&A) and both earned C+ CinemaScores. Weekend 2 of Evil Dead declined 63% and the pic ended its stateside play with a 2.1 multiple with $54.2M.

Exits are lower on PostTrak for Pet Sematary: 2 1/2 stars, with a low 47% definite recommend. Biggest demos in descending order were males over 25 (33%), females over 25 (24%), males under 25 (22%) and females under 25 (20%). The under 25 set at 43% liked it more than the over 25ers, 73% to 61%. Diversity breakdown was 50% Caucasian, 19% Hispanic, 15% African American, and 10% Asian.

Paramount’s exits show that the under-18 crowd and over 50 on CinemaScore gave Pet Sematary a B, and that the audience skewed more female at 55%. 80% of the audience was between 18 and 44. The 1989 Pet Sematary opened to $12M at 1,585 locations during the April 21-23 weekend, and finaled at $57.5M stateside. The pic also spawned a sequel.

STX

Civil Rights drama The Best of Enemies from STX is looking at $1.6M on Friday and an estimated $4.9M opening for the weekend in sixth place. Unfortunately, even if the company claims that they’re going to profit off this –it was a distribution deal for them– the optics aren’t dazzling. Astute financed this movie reportedly for net $10M and backstopped the P&A. The project was announced and went into production in May 2017 before Rockwell won his best supporting actor Oscar for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. 

Green Book isn’t the right comp to this movie, even though its opening was just $500K more with $5.5M at 1,063 theaters (and that was part of a week- long launch, initially platformed). Green Book had a huge amount of awards season groundswell, great buzz, won TIFF, was flying under the radar, and became discovered. The Best of Enemies, despite its good intentions, is a movie playing outside the August-December awards corridor, with a 50% Rotten Tomatoes score, so that unfortunately tells you the pic’s prospects right there.

The results for Best of Enemies are reminiscent of Focus Features’ Jesse Owens movie Race. This despite the fact that the Taraji P. Henson-Sam Rockwell movie skewed toward females at 59% on PostTrak, whereas Race leaned toward guys at 52%Both movies had excellent exit scores, with solid ‘A’ CinemaScores (also Enemies has a 70% definite recommend, and 4 1/2 stars). But both movies didn’t have great reviews (Race was 61% fresh). And if you’re a drama, and you wanna rally at the box office, that’s a basic requirement. Women over 35 gave the movie an A+. Just like Race, there’s a disconnect between audiences and critics on this film. Race opened to $7.3M in more theaters than Race–2,369–and did a 2.6x multiple. Of Race‘s audiences, 38% were African American versus 25% for The Best of Enemies. Caucasians at Race numbered 45% to 54% at Enemies. As we said with Race, if you start out this low at the B.O. with exits that high, the picture isn’t going to go anywhere.

Industry estimates as of Saturday AM

thumb rank film dis. screens (chg) friday 3-day total wk
1 Shazam! NL/WB 4,259 $20.5M $53.7M $57M 1
2 Pet Sematary Par 3,585 $9.9M $24M  $24M 1
3 Dumbo Dis 4,259 $4.9M (-68%) $18.5M
(-60%)
$76.5M 2
4 Us Uni 3,512 (-231) $4.3M
(-57%)
$14.5M
(-56%)
$153.1M 3
5 Captain Marvel Dis 3,573 (-412) $3.4M (-38%) $12.8M (-38%) $374.2M 5
6 Best of Enemies STX 1,705 $1.6M $4.9M $4.9M 1
7 Five Feet Apart CBS 2,484 (-362) $1.2M (-38%) $3.9M (-36%) $41.8M 4
8 Unplanned PF 1,516 (+457) $1M (-65%) $3.8M (-40%)  $13M 2
9 Wonder Park Par 2,281 (-1,023) $547K (-54%) $2.2M (-55%) $42.2M 4
10 …Dragon 3 DWA/Uni 1,928 (-857) $522K (-53%) $2M (-53%) $156.7M 7

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