2nd Writethru, 12:27AM Saturday: Naughty versus nice essentially describes the battle for No. 1 at the box office with Office Christmas Party and Moana literally tied for the top spot with $18M apiece.
Office Christmas Party‘s strength is its late night shows, while Moana will benefit from Saturday matinees. By Saturday night, there’s bound to be a bigger separation between the two titles on the chart.
Given the lack of major studio wide entry competition, specialty distribs took the advantage to either open or expand, and the one title that’s packing people in New York and Los Angeles is Lionsgate/Summit’s La La Land which could best Grand Budapest Hotel‘s opening theater average of $203K. Estimates tonight for the movie lie between $275K-$325K for Friday (includes $64K previews) and a three-day between $800K-$900K at five locations. A superb start for a movie that’s been considered risky since it’s an original musical not based on a pre-existing property (a la any Broadway adaptation), not to mention, La La Land has is a leading best picture contender at various awards shows. Pic apparently sold $100K in advance ticket sales at the Hollywood Arclight. La La Land is certified fresh at 96% Rotten, and as this widens gradually, the pic’s auditoriums should remain at full capacity.
On the upside, for Paramount/DreamWorks-Reliance’s holiday bacchanal, is the fact that its beating its $13M-$15M weekend projection, and winning Friday with an estimated $6.7M at 3,210 venues. Office Christmas Party‘s current forecasted opening is 81% better than the FSS of Seth Rogen’s R-rated holiday comedy last year, The Night Before ($9.9M, A- Cineamscore, final domestic $43m).
Paramount took strides to show in their trailers that this movie was a modern day It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with a huge comedy ensemble (I even heard that they shot scenes at the last minute and added some comedians in smaller parts too); quite different from other party-hardy movies that have preceded it this year. The Will Speck-Josh Gordon-directed movie gets a B CinemaScore tonight which is in line with a number of other bacchanal comedies including last year’s Sisters, this year’s Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and 2014’s Neighbors.
The big question is how much money can Office Christmas Party sleep its way to before the end of the year?
There’s an eagerness to comp Office Christmas Party to Sisters last year which did a 6.3x multiple of $87M of its $13.9M. However that’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. Last year Sisters was pure counterprogramming to the biggest movie of all-time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and it was squarely aimed at older women who had no interest in going to that movie immediately. Sisters also starred two very solid TV personalities with huge followings, not to mention it wasn’t saddled by a holiday theme. Nor is the PG-13 Boo! A Madea Halloween a great comp either has it drew a predominately African American crowd and amassed $73M in seven weeks off an A CinemaScore.
According to ComScore, Office Christmas Party is pulling in 50/50 males-females, 69% over 25 with only a meh 55% recommending it to their friends.
R-rated comedies have it had it hard this year, and party hardy movies even harder. Audiences have had a short tolerance for them.: Neighbors 2 fell flat with a 2.5x of $55.3M off a $21.8M opening while Mike and Dave did a 2.8x of $46M from a $16.6M opening. Maybe Office Christmas Party can prove them wrong (and it does have the holiday multiple on its side), but the pic does have the deck stacked against it, and its 44% Rotten Tomatoes score isn’t doing it any favors. Earlier this weekend, Fandango noticed that Office Christmas Party was outpacing this year’s R-rated comedies, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising at the same point in the Fandango sales cycle.
Meanwhile, should Moana meet its estimates this weekend with a running cume by Sunday of $144.2M, it will be pacing 4% ahead of Frozen when compared to that pic’s first 19 days.
Among specialty fare cracking the top 10 is Focus Features Tom Ford-directed thriller Nocturnal Animals, which expanded from 126 to 1,261 and is looking to do $1.1M on Friday, a weekend of $3.5M and a running cume through four weekends of $6.6M. The movie cost under $23M, and Ford said at a Nocturnal Animals lunch yesterday that it’s been wonderful working with the studio classic label. He had his concerns prior to production in regards to working with a studio and tried to hold on to foreign, however, wound up selling it all to Focus for $20M at last year’s Cannes Film Festival with the label committing to an eight-figure P&A commitment. It boasts 72% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes which is alright. PostTrak shows a 50/50 male/female split, 80% over 25, but it’s a hard movie for some to swallow (it is a bit David Lynch in town between its bubbly opening credits and its terror on the side of the road drama): Total positive score is at 73% with a 44% definite recommend (not good). A want to see among upscale adults could pervade should the pic gain traction throughout awards season.
Amazon’s Manchester by the Sea via Roadside Attractions goes from 156 to 368 locations for a $3.1M fourth weekend, +37% from a week ago.
EuropaCorp’s Miss Sloane isn’t look so hot with a projected $624K today and FSS just under $2M off 1,648 runs (tracking indicated $3M-$5M). It’s a shame because Miss Sloane is earning an 83% positive score, after drawing older females on Friday (53% females, 90% over 25). It’s a serious drama for a listless time at the box office, not to mention the specialty sector is splintered with too much competition. Essentially, this $13M budgeted movie went too wide, too fast, and that could be because the distributor needed to make as much money back fast. If Jessica Chastain doesn’t get any nominations this coming week from SAGs or Golden Globes, it’s all over for this movie.
1). Moana (DIS), 3,875 Theaters (0) / $4M Fri (-40%) / 3-day cume: $18M (-36%)/Total: $144.2M/Wk 3
Office Christmas Party (PAR/DW), 3,210 theaters (-156) /$6.7M Fri. / 3-day cume: $18M /Wk 1
3). Fantastic Beasts… (WB), 3,626 theaters (-362) /$2.8M Fri. (-44%) / 3-day cume: $10M (-43%)/Total: $198.5m/Wk 4
4). Arrival (PAR), 3,115 theaters (+200)/$1.55M Fri (-24%)/3-day cume: $5.2M (-28%)/Total:$81.1M/ Wk 5
5).Doctor Strange (DIS), 2,763 theaters (-172) /$1.2M Fri (-32%) /3-day cume: $4.4M (-35%) /Total cume: $222M/Wk 6
6). Allied (PAR), 3,018 Theaters (-142) /$1.19M Fri (-45%)/3-day cume: $4M (-43%) /Total: $35.6/Wk 3
7). Nocturnal Animals (Focus), 1,262 theaters (+1.135) /$1M Fri (+407%) /3-day:$3.5M (+400%)/Total: $6.6M/ Wk 4
8.) Manchester by the Sea (RSA/AMZ) 368 theaters (+212)/$880K Fri (+32%)/3-day: $3.1M (+37%)/Total: $7.8M/Wk 4
9) Trolls (DWA/20th Century Fox), 2,786 theaters (-370) /$619K Fri (-38%)/3-day cume: $2.9M (-37%) /Total Cume: $145M/Wk 6
10). Hacksaw Ridge (Lionsgate), 2,277 theaters (-217) / $663K Fri (-32%)/3-day:$2.3M (-30%)/Total: $61M/ Wk 6
Miss Sloane (EUR) 1,648 theaters (+1,644)/$624K Fri (+5572%)/3-day: $1.97M (+4377%)/Total: $2.1M/Wk 3
La La Land (LG) 5 theaters/$275K-$325K/3-day: $800K-$900K/$170K PTA
PREVIOUS Friday AM: Paramount’s DreamWorks/Reliance all-star comedy ensemble Office Christmas Party began jingling with $950,000 in box office change last night at 2,429 theaters from shows starting at 7 PM.
With Office Christmas Party the only major studio wide entry, the notion is that the specialty side of the business will get room to breath, with Lionsgate/Summit’s La La Land opening in five locations and expansions in the works for Fox Searchlight’s Jackie, EuropaCorp’s Miss Sloane and Focus Features’ Nocturnal Animals.
Meanwhile, how does Office Christmas Party‘s Thursday night compare to other R-rated comedies?
Well, it beats last year’s Sisters which made $769K on its Thursday night in the shadow of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Sisters was squarely aimed at those older women sidestepping Star Wars, and it grossed $4.96M on its first Friday and a weekend of $13.9M. Office Christmas Party also bests the preview night for The Night Before which bowed before Thanksgiving last year to a $550K Thursday night and produced a $3.56M Friday and $9.88M weekend. The all-star comedy is just under the $1M preview cash made by Horrible Bosses 2, which also starred Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. That R-rated comedy sequel grossed a $4.2M Wednesday and $15.5M FSS.
For some time, tracking has projected that Office Christmas Party will open to $13M-$15M for a potential second-place spot this weekend. Disney’s Moana is expected to hold No. 1 for a third weekend in a row with $18M, which will take its running cume by Sunday to $144.2M.
Paramount is hopingOffice Christmas Party like Sisters will have long legs at the B.O. in the face of Rogue One, which opens this coming Thursday night. More specifically, similar to Lionsgate’s Boo! A Madea Halloween, the hope is it makes a ton of cash in the next three weeks. Sisters churned out a 6.3x multiple off its three-day opening for a final domestic take of $87M. That Tina Fey-Amy Poehler movie had slightly better reviews at 60% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes versus Office Christmas Party‘s lump-of-coal 44% rotten rating. Sisters earned a B CinemaScore, while Seth Rogen’s The Night Before received an A-. His movie ended its run with 4.4x multiple off its FSS with $43M.
Heading into the weekend, social media monitor…