FRIDAY LATE AFTERNOON: As we told you, once a Disney princess film gets momentum, well, it’s wandering free at the box office. Such is the case for The Little Mermaid, which after $10.3M in previews is seeing $38M for Friday, which will result in a $105M 3-day, and a $125M 4-day opening at 4,320 theaters per sources. Again, a great result for a predominantly female skewing tentpole; it’s the smaller movies aimed at women which the marketplace is still on the fence about. Little Mermaid‘s success here with female moviegoers also paves the way for another big summer: Warner Bros’ Barbie at the end of July.
If the Rob Marshall directed musical keeps pace, Little Mermaid will rank as the four highest Memorial Day opening ever after Top Gun: Maverick ($160.5M), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($153M), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($152M). Hands down, Little Mermaid buries Aladdin‘s 4-day start over the holiday of $116.8M, to be the best for a live action take of a Disney toon.
That preview figure of $10.3M is rolled into Friday’s figure and also counts $850K from the special fan Wednesday showtimes. Overall, Ariel’s preview number is the 7th best ever for a PG/G rated title.
After Little Mermaid, May tentpole holders, Universal’s Fast X and Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4, give the holiday weekend a spine. However, the counterprogramming– Legendary/Screen Gems’ The Machine, Lionsgate’s Sebastian Maniscalco comedy About My Father, and Open Road/Briarcliff’s Gerard Butler movie, Kandahar, are for nothing. We’ll make sense of these pics’ fates as they make their way through the weekend. See numbers below.
1) Little Mermaid (Dis) 4,320 theaters, Fri $38M, 3-day $105M, 4-day $125M/Wk 1
2) Fast X (Uni) 4,088 (+42) theaters, Fri $6M (-79%), 3-day $21.8M (-67%), 4-day $27.2M, Total $112.1M/Wk 2
3) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Dis) 3,940 (-510) theaters, Fri $5.4M (-36%) 3-day $20.6M (-36%) 4-day $26.6M, Total $306M/Wk 4
The MCU James Gunn swan song will cross the $300M mark in its 24th day of theatrical release on Sunday. GOTG 2 hit that number in 17 days. The first Guardians took 44 days to the three century mark stateside.
4) Super Mario Bros (Uni) 3,148 (-392) theaters, Fri $1.65M (-29%) 3-day $6.2M (-35%), 4-day $8.2M, Total $560.8M/Wk 8
5) The Machine (Leg/Sony) 2,409 theaters, Fri $2.4M 3-day $6.3M, 4-day $7.8M/Wk 1
The is right where Sony was expecting this service deal to come in. Critics are asking themselves why they sat through it at 33%, but comedian Bert Kreischer has a fanbase at 96%.
6) About My Father (LG) 2,464 theaters, Fri $1.3M 3-day $3.8M 4-day $4.7M/ Wk 1
Currently this is slightly under what Liongate was expecting. One would think the Sebastian Maniscalco crowd would be showing up. Critics don’t get it at 30% Rotten, audiences do get the joke at 75%.
7) Kandahar (OR/Briar) 2,105 theaters, Fri $550K 3-day $1.64M 4-day $2M /Wk 1
The meat and potatoes action movie is play for guys with the plan to get this pic straight into its ancillaries where it will make bank. Remember this happened with the Lionsgate/STX Guy Ritchie title Operation Fortune: Rules de guerre (which opened to $3.1M, ended at $6.4M after 21 days in theaters). Critics are at 43% Rotten, audiences better at 75%.
8) You Hurt My Feelings (A24) 912 theaters, Fri $300K 3-day $890K 4-day $1.1M /Wk 1
The upscale Julia Louis Dreyfus starring, Nicole Holofcener directed comedy generated lots of laughs at its Sundance premiere. Rotten Tomatoes critics are 95% certified fresh on it, but RT audiences not so much at 57%.
EXCLUSIVE, late Thursday PM: Sources are telling us that Disney’s Rob Marshall directed The Little Mermaid is singing some high notes tonight of $10M+ in previews. Should that figure exceed $10.8M it will rep the 6th highest preview performance among PG and G rated titles in motion picture history. Tracking pegged the Halle Bailey movie at a $120M 4-day start over Memorial Day.
Remember, that preview cash is made up of Wednesday 6PM fan screenings at 500 premium screen theaters and early shows which began at 3PM today.
Even more impressive, Little Mermaid‘s preview figure bests that of Disney’s live action take of animated toon, Aladdin, from Memorial Day weekend 2019; that Will Smith pic doing $7M before grossing $31.3M on its first Friday for a $116.8M 4-day. Little Mermaid also easily beats the $2.3M previews (8PM start) of 2015’s Cinderella, which had a $23M first day, $67.8M start. However, Little Mermaid is swimming slower than Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast from 2017 which did $16.3M, for a $63.7M Friday and $174.7M opening.
Female skewing movies, like Twilight for instance, often get a bad rep for being front-loaded. However, once a mass-appealing Disney princess movie fires up from its opening, it doesn’t let go. Beauty and the Beast only eased around -2% between its Thursday previews/Friday and Saturday business. Frozen 2 was +19% over a similar period while Aladdin, which starred Princess Jasmine, only eased -4% between its Thursday night/Friday and Saturday.
Though critics on Little Mermaid waned to 68% fresh, audiences on Rotten Tomatoes are very happy at 95%
We’re just getting started here.