By Shawn Robbins
Fox reports this morning that Kung Fu Panda 3 held onto first place against this weekend's trio of new releases. The well-received animated sequel scored $5.2 million on Friday, down just 50 percent from opening day last week. That brings its domestic tally up to a healthy $53.25 million after eight days of release as it aims to continue cornering the family market through February. BoxOffice is projecting a sophomore frame around $21.5 million.
The Coen Brothers' star-studded Hail, Caesar! opened to an estimated $4.31 million on Friday, including Thursday night's $543,000 launch. Unfortunately, the film proved to be more front-loaded than expected, which will probably result in a weekend finish closer to pre-release expectations. By comparison, The Monuments Men earned over $6.9 million on its opening day with a near identical Thursday night figure of $545,000 included. Although critics have generally approved of the film with a 79 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, early word of mouth among audiences doesn't appear to be nearly as positive judging by the disappointing 51 percent Flixster score this morning. BoxOffice and Universal are both projecting an opening weekend around $11.6 million. Hopefully the pic will find legs after Super Bowl Sunday and in the weeks ahead.
Lionsgate reports that The Choice took in an estimated $2.48 million in third place for its opening day. Unfortunately, that fell 40 percent short of fellow Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Best of Me, which bowed to a $4.1 million opening day in October 2014. While critics have given the film just a 6 percent score, word of mouth is more middling (relative to most romantic drama scores) at 54 percent. The one bit of good news for the film is that it could prove back-loaded as it will aim to benefit from Valentine's date crowds next weekend. For now though, it's looking at an opening weekend around $5.5 million.
The Revenant came in fourth place on Friday with an estimated $2.08 million, off just 35 percent from last week. That brings the 12-time Oscar nominee's domestic total to an excellent $144.7 million and counting. Look for a weekend finish around $6.5 million.
Sony's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies landed in fifth place with its debut yesterday, pulling in a disappointing $2.035 million. The film had been tracking fairly well via social media outlets, but that unfortunately didn't translate to the box office despite the studio hoping to duplicate past teen/young adult-friendly openers on Super Bowl weekend. On the plus side, the film claims the best Flixster score (61 percent) among this weekend's openers despite a poor 41 percent critics' score. Sony is projecting a $5.3 million weekend, although we're a bit more conserative at $5.1 million.
Finally, Star Wars: The Force Awakens officially became the first movie in history to cross the $900 million threshold domestically on Friday with another $1.76 million in its 50th day of release. With a total of $900.8 million in the bank, the all-time domestic box office champion continues to hold strongly in the post-holiday winter season as it eased just 29 percent from last Friday. We're projecting a weekend tally around $6.6 million, which would put it in a close race against The Revenant for third place this weekend.
Updated weekend estimates from the studios will be posted on Sunday morning.
Friday Update: Sources report that Hail, Caesar! bagged an estimated $543,000 from Thursday night's first shows, a very encouraging start to the weekend that's in line with The Monuments Men's $550,000 Thursday start in 2014. Caesar has the distinction of opening on Super Bowl weekend though, so the comparison isn't completely straight, but the film could net an opening weekend in the $17-20 million range based on last night's performance.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies scored $300,000 last night, a fair start for the film targeting teens and young adults this weekend. That's noticeably behind the $530,000 of Warm Bodies' Thursday launch before Super Bowl weekend three years ago. Look for a weekend around $10-12 million.
Meanwhile, The Choice earned $290,000 last night -- considerably behind the $630,000 of fellow Nicholas Spark adaptation The Longest Ride ($630,000). An opening weekend between $6-9 million looks feasible.
All around, Kung Fu Panda 3 will likely repeat as the top film this weekend, but Hail, Caesar! has a slim outside chance to unseat it should the Coen Brothers film over-perform today and/or Saturday.
BoxOffice will have weekend estimates based on official Friday estimates from the studios on Saturday morning.