Saturday AM writethru of 3rd update: While Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is looking better than it did yesterday, jumping back up to a $30M-plus four-day weekend, two of this weekend’s wide entries, Warner Bros.’ Paddington 2 and Screen Gems’ Proud Mary are coming in below where they should with respectively $12.6M in 7th and $10.9M in 8th. Hopefully Paddington 2 sees a boost from matinees especially given the fact that word is strong among those who saw it with an A CinemaScore. That’s the same grade the first movie earned. Fifty-seven percent of all females and 45% under 25 gave Paddington 2 an A+.

Nonetheless the fact that some releases are coming in way under their tracking is spelling for a potentially lower MLK four-day weekend at the B.O. around $183M, which is 2% down from last year’s four-day holiday period.

Steven Spielberg’s The Post is boosted by great word of mouth, an A CinemaScore, excellent reviews and awards season buzz, even if it’s not winning a lot of trophies. If you’re anti-Trump, or a dove from the ’60s, the movie just means that more to you. The 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks/Participant production came in second on Friday by a hair with $5.9M to Jumanji‘s $6.1M with a second place 4th weekend of $20.5M. Disney take note: Fox kicks ass when it comes to handling adult-oriented product, and many expect this $50M net budgeted pic to be around for quite a while. This is Fox’s third post-holiday win in recent years after Hidden Figures and The Revenant. Also by Monday, Fox’s The Greatest Showman will be less than $4M from $100M stateside; the studio’s second hit after Murder on the Orient Express since November.

The Post drew 57% females with 54% over the age of 50 and 92% over 25. Forty-four percent came for Meryl Streep while 41% bought tickets to watch Tom Hanks per CinemaScore.

Lionsgate is only on the hook for P&A for StudioCanal’s Liam Neeson action pic The Commuter which is coming in 3rd with $14.9M over four-days. Sources peg those costs to be around $30M to open this film on 2,892 theaters. One insider argues that if The Commuter gets to $20M, the pic will be profitable for Lionsgate. Other executives in the industry can’t figure out the math on that one: Plain and simple, Lionsgate is in the hole for an estimated $30M. Still, you can’t blame them for minimizing their losses. This is Neeson’s fourth feature with Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra. These pics, like Nicolas Cage action films, are built for foreign audiences on $50m budgets. The 2014 airline hijack release Non-Stop was the most successful of the four with over $222M worldwide, but for stateside audiences these Taken take-offs are ennui, and for most guys, they’re just worth waiting on the coach for; once Porterhouse steak, Neeson pics have become beef jerky. All of these Collet-Serra movies earn similar RT scores between 55% rotten to 60% fresh. On a 3-day basis with $12.7M, The Commuter is a few notches above the opening of the last Neeson/Collet-Serra collaboration, 2015’s Run All Night which debuted to $11M and made a little over double that in the end stateside. The Commuter gets a B CinemaScore which is the lowest grade for a Neeson/Collet-Serra pairing after Non-Stop and Run All Night‘s A-, and below Unknown‘s B+.

The Commuter pulled in 57% guys, 79% over 25. The kids under 18 at only 8% enjoyed the movie with an A-. Neeson fans turned out at 70%.

Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi is still strong in weekend five with $14M over four-days in 4th, and by end of Monday will be $5.8M shy of the $600M mark. Once that happens, the Rian Johnson-directed movie will be one of six titles to have crossed the six century mark. A year ago, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made more over MLK at $16.8M, but was also roughly $92M behind from where Last Jedi currently resides. Disney held on to 4,232 theaters for four weekends straight and now sheds approximately 1,100 this weekend.

A $12.6M opening isn’t going to cut it profit-wise for Paddington 2, especially after the $30M Warner Bros. spent to acquire it from the Weinstein Co. in addition to any stateside P&A spend (some believe it’s around $40M). I’m told a low $20M start with a solid multiple would have worked number-wise for this movie. However, despite any immediate losses here, and for the sake of keeping the title in their library, the Burbank, CA studio should be commended for rescuing the film (produced by their Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts producer David Heyman) and keeping this classic kid’s film on track to meet its U.S. date, while also distancing it from any taint in the post Harvey Weinstein era. Having completed the acquisition back in November, Warner Bros. only had eight weeks to assemble marketing materials, and to spread the word. It’s a sequel to a family film that is geared toward a handholder crowd, and pics aimed at that children’s demo are a challenge to cross over versus the five-quad appeal of Disney/Pixar titles or in WB’s case, the first Lego Movie. To date, the U.S. is Paddington 2‘s second highest opening territory after China’s $15.7M. A solid A CinemaScore and 100% Rotten Tomatoes score are hopeful signs at this early stage of the weekend. It should be noted that WB was expecting a $15M-$17M start on this film whereas tracking was more bullish in the $20M sphere. RelishMix sees a glow on social with fans not only impressed by the first title, but they also appreciate how faithful the movies are to the source material. Paddington 2 is hindered by a largely older, non-socially activated cast.

In its retro promo one-sheets, there was a sense that Screen Gems’ Proud Mary could do more at the B.O. than a $10.9M four-day. Going into the weekend tracking saw it between $18M-$22M. Atomic Blonde ($30M production cost, $18.3M opening, $51.7M domestic take) was even a comp. To Focus Features’ credit on that film, they continually showed footage of Charlize Theron kicking men up and down the stairs, both at CinemaCon and Comic-Con. But in the case of the Proud Mary trailer, we really only see her getting dressed. Couple this with the fact that we’ve seen versions of John Cassavettes’ Gloria before (Funny, Sony made a $30M remake of that movie starring Sharon Stone which bit the dust with a $4.1M domestic take nearly 20 years ago. Old ideas die hard.). Sony limited critics’ screenings to Proud Mary, which is never a good sign, and Proud Mary ended up with a sad 27% RT score with reviews labeling it a paint-by-numbers film. While Sony is known to greatly underestimate tracking, in this case they knew the film wasn’t going to pop over $20M. Universal would have known exactly how to make this Taraji P. Henson movie work. Those who actually spent money on Proud Mary don’t hate her terribly with a B+. We hear that Proud Mary cost $30M, not the reported $14M floating around in the press. For a minute on Friday we saw Proud Mary with an $18M 4-day projection. That would have been an OK start for a pic that cost $30M. At that level Proud Mary could make her way to $50M. That’s not the case now. Females showed up at 68% for Proud Mary, 89% over 25. The over 50 crowd at 32% and those aged 18-24 at 10% gave the female action pic its best grades with an A-. Henson fans repped 66% of the audience and gave the movie a B+.

But still with these blase results for Paddington 2, Proud Mary and The Commuter, these budgets to B.O. are significantly better than the blood bathes that ensued last MLK with pricey pics Live by Night, Patriots Day, and Monster Trucks all DOA.

Great holds for awards season contenders Darkest Hour from Focus Features/Working Title, which will soon become director Joe Wright’s third-highest grossing title surpassing Pride and Prejudice‘s $38.4M, as well as STXfilms/eOne/Mark Gordon Company’s Molly’s Game with $21.7M by Monday. And let’s not forget about Golden Globe best supporting actress winner I, Tonya which jumped 34% in its expansion of 275 theaters with a running cume of $11.7M.

For the MLK weekend of Jan. 12-15, 2018, industry estimates:

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle(SONY), 3,849 theaters (+48) / $6.1M Fri (-43%)/3-day: $24.4M (-33%)/4-day: $30.9M/Total:$286.9M/ Wk 4
The Post (FOX/DW), 2,819 theaters (+2,783) / $5.9M Fri (+1090%) /3-day:$17.2M(+912%)/4-day: $20.5M/Total: $25M/Wk 4
The Commuter(LG), 2,892 theaters / $4.5M Fri/3-day: $12.7M /4-day: $14.9M/Wk 1
Star Wars: The Last Jedi(DIS), 3,090 theaters (-1142)/ $2.7M Fri (-58%)/3-day: $10.96M (-54%)/4-day: $14M/Total:$594.2M/ Wk 5
The Greatest Showman (FOX), 2,938 theaters (-404) / $3M Fri (-27%) / 3-day:$11.25M (-18%)/4-day: $13.7M/Total: $96.45M/Wk 4
Insidious: The Last Key(UNI), 3,150 theaters (+34)/ $3.4M (-73%) Fri/3-day: $11.4M (-61%)/4-day: $13.2M/Total: $52.9M/ Wk 2
Paddington 2(WB), 3,702 theaters / $2.6M Fri/3-day: $10.8M /4-day: $12.6M/Wk 1
Proud Mary(Sony), 2,125 theaters / $3.3M Fri/3-day: $9.8M /4-day: $10.9M/Wk 1
9. Pitch Perfect 3 (UNI), 2,505 theaters (-953)/ $1.4M Fri (-56%)/3-day: $4.9M(-52%)/4-day: $5.9M/Total: $96.3M/ Wk 4
10. Molly’s Game (STX) 1,708 theaters (+100)/$1.1M Fri (-52%)/3-day:$4.1M (-40%)/4-day: $5.1M/Total: $21.7M/ Wk 3
11. Darkest Hour (FOC), 1,693 theaters (-40)/ $1.2M Fri (-32%) /3-day: $4M(-33%)/4-day:$5M Total: $36.3M/ Wk 8
Notables:
I, Tonya (NEON/30), 517 theaters (+275) / $955K Fri (+17%)/3-day: $3.2M (+34%)/4-day: $4M/Total: $11.7M/Wk 6

The Shape of Water (FSL), 723 theaters (-81) / $730K Fri (-14%) /3-day: $2.7M (-14%)/4-day: $3.3M/Total: $27M/Wk 7

Three Billboards… (FSL), 1,022 theaters (+712) / $635K Fri (+242%) /3-day: $2.3M (+226%)/4-day: $2.8M/Total: $29M/Wk 10

Phantom Thread (FOC), 62 theaters (+56) / $343K Fri (+408%)/3-day: $975K (+306%)/PTA: $15.6K/4-day: $1.1M/Total: $2.25M/Wk 3

2nd update, Friday midday: Estimates are in with Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle showing a 4th weekend of $21M over three-days, -44% with a four-day that’s currently at $27.5M. This will bring the Dwayne Johnson-Kevin Hart movie to $283.6M, which makes it Sony’s 6th grossing pic ever at the domestic box office, outpegging The Amazing Spider-Man ($262M). Jumanji‘s Friday is looking at $5.5M at 3,849 theaters.

Sony/Screen Gems’ also has genre action pic Proud Mary which is battling awful reviews at 38% Rotten is looking to make $5M today, $15.2M over three-days and $18M over four at 2,125, which is slightly above the $14M that the studio was originally spotting.

However, the best newcomer belongs to DreamWorks/Participant Media/Fox’s The Post which is drawing an estimated $6.25M today, $19M FSS and $22.6M over FSSM. “This film is going to be around for a while at this level,” beamed a rival studio executive. By Monday, including the cash from Post‘s limited run, the Steven Spielberg movie will count $27.1M in U.S./Canada ticket sales. Fox’s The Greatest Showman also showing great sustainability with $3.2m today, 3 day of $11.2m and a 4-day of $13.6M taking its running cume to $96.4M.

Paddington 2 is looking soft with a $3.3M Friday, $12.5M three-day and $17M 4-day, and Warner Bros. doesn’t have overseas to cover its hide on this last-minute $30M acquisition. Perhaps Saturday and Sunday matinees will tell a different story. The first 2015 movie opened to $25.5M over MLK

Lionsgate/StudioCanal’s The Commuter is traveling toward $3.8M today, $11M over FSS and $13M over four days. On a three-day basis, that’s what Liam Neeson last 2015 action title Run All Night opened to, however, it only did a 2.4 multiple.

1st update, Friday AM: It’s bound to be a good MLK weekend at the box office.

Certainly not as high as the time when Warner Bros.’ American Sniper conquered the four-day holiday four years ago with the largest wide opening ever at $107.2M, leading all titles to $250.7M in tickets sales. But this year’s crop of four wide entries, three of which will do $20M-plus over four-days, should be an improvement on last year when most of the new titles died (read Monsters Trucks, Patriots Day, Live by Night and Sleepless with $14M or less). Many in distribution consider this weekend to be the end of the holiday-moviegoing period as most kids head back to school on Tuesday with only 2% K-12 off and 75% of all colleges back in session.

Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle which has been the leading ticketseller daily for the last 11 out of 12 days is expected to lead the charge with $30M over four-days, taking its total running cume in week 4 to just over $286M. Yesterday the Jake Kasdan-directed title earned an estimated $2.1M.

Out of the new stuff, it is expected to be a close call between Warner Bros./StudioCanal’s Paddington 2 and Sony/Screen Gems’ Proud Mary which are expected to respectively open to around $22M.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandals, Weinstein Co. had to unload Paddington 2 to stay financially afloat. After an auction, WB walked away with the family title for $30M before P&A. The kid’s movie carries a 100% Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes score and has already racked up an overseas gross of $125.2M. Paddington 2 will be in play at 3,702 theaters. Paddington 2 made $325K from showtimes starting at 5PM. As with any kid’s pic, they’re not Thursday night movies, rather Saturday matinees movies. Paddington 2‘s preview beat its first chapter’s $175K, and is just under Ferdinand‘s Thursday night cash of $350K.

Proud Mary stars Taraji P. Henson has a hit woman for a Boston organized crime family whose life is impacted when she meets a young boy during a failed hit. In its one-sheets and marketing materials Sony has promoted Proud Mary in the stylish hippness of such Pam Grier movies like Foxy Brown and Coffy. Henson had a huge hit last MLK with Fox’s Hidden Figures (wide expansion opening $27.5M). That was a PG rated movie and Proud Mary is rated R. Earlier this week, Sony saw Proud Mary tracking behind the Screen Gems crime drama When The Bough Breaks which opened to $14M in Sept. 2016 during the post Labor Day corridor (definite interest for that pic was 39 vs. 33 for Proud Mary, first choice 11 vs. 7). Sony reportedly didn’t screen Proud Mary widely for critics, which is never a good sign. Currently the pic has a thumbs up from Variety and thumbs down from The Hollywood Reporter. The pic did not hold any early Thursday previews last night.

20th Century Fox’s expansion of DreamWorks/Participant’s Steven Spielberg drama The Post is looking to ring up $18M, possibly $20M over four-days in its expansion from 36 sites to 2,819. Fox has executed this type of holiday platform over the last two years to great success with The Revenant and Hidden Figures where by they go exclusive over the holidays, create buzz and solid theater averages, then bust it wide to big results. Aside from any awards season momentum, audiences are piqued by the fact that this is a Spielberg movie, and it’s a Tom Hanks-Meryl Streep drama, so that will keep it afloat in addition to its great buzz. The Post, which follows the Washington Post’s race against the New York Times in covering the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, carries an 87% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score. The drama is off to a great start making $775K at 2,325 locations last night off showtimes starting at 7PM. That number is above Spielberg’s previous cold war drama Bridge of Spies ($500k) and last MLK’s Patriot Days ($560K).

Lionsgate is releasing a Liam Neeson-with-a-gun movie, The Commuter which is expected to bring in between $15M-$16M at 2,892 theaters. It’s a P&A deal so Lionsgate is only on the hook for that spend on this StudioCanal production. Critics have decided they’ve seen enough of Neeson’s action hero schtick with a 53% Rotten Tomatoes. Last night The Commuter punched $700K in preview tickets at 2,000 locations

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