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‘Beauty And The Beast’ $174.8M Opening Sparks Moviegoing Explosion; Pic Could Conquer ‘Rogue One’ & ‘Dark Knight’

Deadline logo Deadline 3/21/2017 Anthony D'Alessandro
© Provided by Deadline

Final writethru Monday: Given the massive pre-summer $174.75M opening of Disney’s Beauty and the Beastit’s pretty obvious that people don’t strictly relegate movie-watching to their phones and tablets.

The weekend’s $260.6M ticket sales, which were +99% from the same period a year ago, are another indicator that crowds aren’t thumbing their noses at the big-screen experience.

In the last 23 days alone, five movies —Fifty Shades Darker, Logan, Get Out,  Kong: Skull Islandand Beauty and the Beast–have crossed the $100M mark raising 2017’s count to nine titles. That’s a lot of business in a short amount of time and March isn’t even over yet. That tally is close to double the number of $100M titles a year ago (Daddy’s HomeThe Revenant, Deadpool, Kung Fu Panda 3 and Zootopia).

And the supply of high-grossing titles this year isn’t solely comprised of event films. Only four cost over $80M, while the majority of those moneymakers carried low-to-mid budgets. That’s further proof that economically-budgeted theatrical releases, when properly positioned in the market, aren’t necessarily immediate destinations for the small screen.

And a big film like Beauty only serves as an advertisement for the entire theatrical business with studios climbing over each other to trailer on a pic of this magnitude. According to ComScore, this year’s total ticket sales currently stand at $2.5 billion, a solid 6% ahead of 2016 for the period of Jan. 1-March 19.

How much longer does this box office dance last for Beauty and theBeast stateside?

Compared to other films that have opened in this $170M-plus threshold, they have typically ended their domestic runs between a 2.4 and 3.8 multiple. Given the great reviews and A CinemaScore response, the notion is that Beauty and the Beast will make $475M on the low end, and as high as $555M. At the latter level, that would make Beauty and the Beast the sixth-highest grossing domestic title of all-time above 2008’s The Dark Knight ($533M) and last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($530.7M). While there’s a lot of competition ahead, Beauty‘s biggest threat from a four-quad standpoint doesn’t arrive until April 14 when The Fate of the Furious opens. Beauty reportedly cost $160M, but others have told us it’s substantially higher by as much as +40%. If the latter is true, it doesn’t really matter because any way you slice it, Beauty is bound to be profitable. Number wise, it could be similar to this Marvel title (click here) which was also in the black.

All the records we saw yesterday for Beauty and the Beast still hold: It’s the best opening for Emma Watson, director Bill Condon, pre-summer, March, a Disney live-action feature adaptation of an animated title, and the sixth biggest opening stateside of all-time, ahead of Iron Man 3 ($174.1M) and below Captain America: Civil War ($179.1M). Fandango saw early on that Beauty and the Beast was beating the latter Marvel pic’s advance ticket sales, as well as becoming the company’s highest family pre-seller. Tracking always saw Beauty and the Beast opening with at least $150M, with Disney managing expectations with $120M-$130M.

Beauty And The Beast grossed $48.26M yesterday, a 23% dip from Saturday, which ranks as the fifth-best Sunday after Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($60.6M), Jurassic World ($57.2M), Avengers ($57M) and Avengers: Age Of Ultron ($50.3M).

Below are the top 20 titles for the period of March 17-19 per ComScore actuals:

  1. Beauty and the Beast (Disney) $174.75M, 4,210 locations, $41,508 average/1 Wk.
  2. Kong: Skull Island (WB/Leg), $27.8M,-54%, 3,846 locations, $7,237 average, $109.1M, /2 Wks.
  3. Logan (Fox) $17.8M, -53%, 3,687 locations, $4,832 average, $184.3M/3 Wks.
  4. Get Out (Uni), $13.4M, -35%, 2,979 locations, $4,511 average, $133.3M/4 Wks.
  5. The Shack (LG) $6m,-40%, 2,825 locations, $2,126 average, $42.5M/3 Wks.
  6. TheLego Batman Movie (WB), $4.6M, -40%, 2,735 locations, $1,683 average, $167.3M/6 Wks.
  7. The Belko Experiment (BHT/ORI), $4.1M, 1,341 locations, $3,085 average/ 1 Wk.
  8. Hidden Figures, 20th Century Fox, $1.47M, -47%, 1,162 locations, $1,270 average, $165.5M/13 Wks.
  9. John Wick: Chapter Two (LG), $1.18M, – 56%, 1,065 locations, $1,111 average, $89.8M/6 Wks.
  10. Before I Fall (OR) $986K, -67%,1,551 locations, $635 average, $11.2M/3 Wks.
  11. Lion (TWC), $734K,-45%, 621 locations, $1,183 average, $50M/17 Wks.
  12. La La Land (LG), $532K, -70%, 585 locations, $909 average, $149.8M/15 Wks.
  13. Split (Uni) $506K,-60%, 604 locations, $837 average, $136.9M/9 Wks.
  14. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Dis), $503K, +140%,179 locations, $2,810 average, $530.7M/, 14 Wks.
  15. The Sense of an Ending (CBS), $480K, +355%, 281 locations, $1,710 average, $533K/2 Wks.
  16. A Dog’s Purpose (Uni), $477K, -56%, 594 locations, $805 average, $62.9M/8 Wks.
  17. Fist Fight (WB), $460K, -65%, 533 locations, $863 average, $31.5M, 5 Wks.
  18. Fifty Shades Darker, Universal, $453,590, -73%, 607 locations, $747 average, $114M/ 6 Wks.
  19. Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Fox International Productions, $418K, -52%, 156 locations, $2,681 average/$1.58M/ 2 Wks.
  20. Moana, Disney, $343K,-20%, 264 locations, $1,299 average, $248M/17 Wks.

Notables:

T2 Trainspotting (Sony/Tri-Star), 5 theaters  /PTA: $34K/ 3-day: $170,5k/Wk 1

Personal Shopper (IFC), 22 theaters (+11)  / 3-day: $152,4K (+93%)/Total: $264K/ Wk 2

Song To Song (BG), 4 theaters /PTA: $12,6K/ 3-day: $50,5k /Wk 1

Raw (FOC), 9 theaters (+7)  /PTA: $5,3k/ 3-day: $48,4K (+95%)/Total: $83,6K/ Wk 2

WRITETHRU, Sunday AM after Saturday 10:29 PM post: Marvel has its superheroes and Disney has its vaults of beloved fairy tales, and this morning industry estimates have the latter studio’s Beauty and the Beast easily logging a $62.7M Saturday, making it the fourth best Saturday of all-time ahead of Marvel’s Iron Man 3 ($62.2M) and Captain America: Civil War ($61.2M). The Bill Condon-directed musical per industry projections is now on track for a $174M opening.

All opening records listed in the previous post (see below) for pre-summer, March, Emma Watson (Beauty whips Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2), Condon, and best Disney live-action canon title, still stand, plus Beauty‘s the seventh best debut of all-time stateside, after Iron Man 3 ($174.1M). Sunday looks to be glamorous, with most industry estimates seeing a -25%. It’s very possible a Jurassic World Sunday phenomenon could take effect (-18% from Saturday) pushing Beauty as high as $178M. We’ll see. Don’t forget kids are still off on Monday for spring break with 13% K-12 and 15% colleges resting. Disney is calling the weekend safely at $170M (all records mentioned still stand) due to a their estimate for Sunday which they figure is -31% today from yesterday…but the whole town believes that Beauty and the Beast has nowhere to go but up and up and up. In a matter of days, the live action version of Beauty will beat her 1991 cartoon version, which ended its domestic run at $218.98M.

Beamed Dave Hollis, Disney’s distribution chief, “This goes beyond our wildest expectations and it’s so satisfying to see the audience response. On Twitter fans are saying that they cried multiple times. There’s a hopeful sense of repeat business for the rest of the pic’s run. Audiences responded to the film in ways you don’t often see.”

“You have an extraordinary world here created by VFX which is only possible because it fully leverages every piece of technology, and then you round that off with the iconic music of Alan Menken as the thru-line from old to new, even introducing new songs. You take that nostalgia, the music, the cast, the VFX and the brand sitting on it, and you have a recipe for massive success,” adds Hollis who gave a shout out to Walt Disney Motion Pictures Production president Sean Bailey for the studio’s mission to re-imagine its animated classics into live-action features, a trend that started with Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland.

Here’s how Beauty and the Beast has impacted the theatrical landscape for those radically pondering an early premium VOD window for films: The total weekend B.O. raked in a massive $257M per ComScore, up a huge 96% over the same frame a year ago. This year’s B.O. of $2.5 billion is clicking ahead of 2016 at the same point in time by 6%, and we know that last year set an all-time record of $11.37B. Can we all agree it’s a good time to be in exhibition?

People have been yearning to see the big screen version of the 1991 Oscar-winning film. Back then Beauty and the Beast was an anomaly for an animated movie since it was nominated for best picture, and there were only five slots. The Broadway musical and road tour grossed more than $1.4 billion. In a Fandango survey in January, those polled said Beauty and the Beast was one of the top three movies they were looking forward to this year behind Star Wars The Last Jedi and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

In regards to marketing, Beauty and the Beast‘s promotional partnerships included Nail Alliance, Neutrogena (its first-ever film tie-in), Swarovski (premiere sponsorship and crystal curtain at El Capitan for Beauty and the Beast engagement), a 24-hour movie event on 3/15 on HSN, Twinings, HomeAway (trip sweepstakes and premiere sponsorship), Le Creuset/Williams-Sonoma (premiere sweepstakes and sponsorship), Verizon (premiere live stream sponsorship), Luxe Bloom and Kohl’s. Of note, there was an augmented reality partnership with Microsoft stores that started on March 10 as well as an Oculus partnership to create new VR and 360 video experience “Lumiere’s Dress Rehearsal” which dropped on opening day. All season long on The Bachelor there was a Beauty and the Beast takeover with an in-show integration and trailer debut, hosted by Josh Gad and Luke Evans.

And let’s not forget the massive viral and social media footprint. When the first teaser dropped in May, it scored a record with 92M views in the first 24 hours. This was followed by 127M views of the first official November trailer during its first day. Both blew away the records set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ corresponding trailers at similar points in their respective campaigns. The cast did several Facebook Live streams including Q&A after debut of the first official trailer in November and an IMAX live Q&A and screening at the TCL IMAX in Hollywood that was also simulcasted into nine theaters across the country, plus a Facebook 360 live-stream of the world premiere with 2.3M views to date.

RelishMix reports that Beauty and the Beast‘s social media universe is north of 590M across Twitter, FB, Instagram and YouTube views. Compared to last year’s average SMU for a family/live-action film, Beauty dwarfs last year’s 263M.  Last year’s average viral rate for a film trailer was around 9:1, Beauty is a mindblowing 52:1.  The average family/live-action daily views are around 50K a day, while the Beast is raking in 223K a day.

Also, it’s not just Emma Watson promoting Beauty and the Beast to her massive 84M-plus followers on social, but Ariana Grande too to her 174M, as she sings the movie’s title song with John Legend.

Final Disney reported demos: 60% females, 40% guys with 74% business in 2D. The latter figure means that those who don’t always frequent the movies came out in bulk. For Imax, it’s the best start they’ve had stateside for a PG title with $12.5M (7% of the weekend), beating Alice in Wonderland‘s $12.1M. Imax repped seven of the top 10 locations. The Imax version of Beauty features an expanded aspect ratio for the entirety of the film that is exclusive to the large format. Beauty marks the 300th DMR title in the company’s history, and pushes Imax past the $6 billion mark in total global box office since the inception of the DMR process in 2002. (The first movie was  the re-release of Apollo 13: The IMAX Experience, in Sept. 2002). PLF repped 11% of the box office, while 26% of Beauty‘s B.O. came from 3D ticket sales.

Other pics in the top five saw high double digit jumps Saturday over Friday. Warner Bros./Legendary’s Kong: Skull Island is showing a 69% increases today with $12.3M and a second weekend of $28.9M, -53% and a 10-day run of $110.1M. Beauty and Kong now put 2017’s $100M pic count at nine including La La Land, Hidden Figures, Split, Fifty Shades Darker, Lego Batman, Get Out and Logan.

Speaking of Wolverine, Logan is raising his running total through his third weekend to $184M after an estimated $17.5M (-54%) and Saturday $7.8M (+67%). This makes the threequel easily the highest grossing title in the Wolverine trilogy beating 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($179.88M). Logan has already left X-Men ($157.2M), last year’s X-Men: Apocalypse ($155.4M), X-Men: First Class ($146.4M) and The Wolverine ($132.6M) in the dust. His next conquest is X2: X-Men United ($214.9M).

Universal/Blumhouse’s Get Out was up 57% with $5.9M and a fourth frame take of $13.2M, -36% for a total by tomorrow of $133.1M. Meanwhile, Weinstein Co.’s Lion finally hit $50M in its 17th weekend, repping a post Oscar show boost of 17% to date.

Studio-reported estimates for weekend of March 17-19 as of Sunday AM:

1.) Beauty And The Beast (Disney), 4,210 theaters  / $63.79M Fri. (includes $16.3M in previews) /$62.7M Sat/$43.5M Sun/ 3-day: $170M /Wk 1 [Disney estimate]

Industry estimated for Beauty and the Beast:$64.1M Fri. (includes $16.3M in previews) /$62.8M Sat/$47.1M Sun/ 3-day: $174M /Wk 1 [industry estimate]

2.) Kong: Skull Island (20th/Leg), 3,846 theaters (0)  / $7.3M Fri. /$12.3M Sat/$9.2M Sun/ 3-day: $28.9M (-53%)/Total: $110.1M/Wk 2

3.) Logan (Fox), 3,687 theaters  (-384)/ $4.7M Fri.  /$7.8M Sat/$5M Sun/ 3-day: $17.5M (-54%)/Total: $184M/Wk 3

4.) Get Out (UNI), 2,979 theaters (-164) / $3.78M Fri. /$5.9M Sat/$3.52M Sun/ 3-day: $13.2M (-36%)/Total: $133.1M/Wk 4

5.) The Shack (LG), 2,825 theaters (-63) / $1.6M Fri. /$2.6M Sat/$1.9M Sun/ 3-day: $6.1M (-39%) /Total: $42.6M/Wk 3

6). The LEGO Batman Movie (WB), 2,735 theaters (-568) / $1.2M Fri./$2.06M Sat/$1.4M Sun/ 3-day: $4.7M (-38%) / Total: $167.4M/Wk 6

7.) The Belko Experiment (BHT/ORN), 1,341 theaters  / $1.5M Fri. (includes $306K in previews) /$1.57M Sat/$981K Sun/ 3-day: $4.07M /Wk 1

8.) Hidden Figures (FOX), 1,162 theaters (-259)/ $390K Fri. /$715k Sat/$395K Sun 3-day: $1.5M (-46%) / Total: $165.6M / Wk 13

9.) John Wick: Chapter 2(LGF), 1,065 theaters (-966) / $304K Fri. / $546K Sat/$350K Sun/3-day: $1.2M (-60%) / Total:$89.8M Wk 6

10.) Before I Fall  (OR), 1,551 theaters (-795) / $313K Fri. /$436K Sat/$284K Sun/ 3-day: $1M (-67%)/Total: $11.2M/Wk 3

11.) Lion (TWC) 621 theaters (-339)/$180K /$355K Sat/$249K Sun/3-day: $784K (-36%)/Total: $50M/Wk 17

NOTABLES:

T2 Trainspotting(Sony/Tri-Star), 5 theaters  / $64k Fri./$65k Sat/$51K Sun /PTA: $36k/ 3-day: $180k/Wk 1

Moonlight (A24), 5 theaters  / $60,5k Fri./$116,8K Sat/$93,4K Sun /PTA: $36k/ 3-day: $270,7k (-70%)/Total: $27.5M/Wk 22

MORE…

WRITETHRU, Saturday AM after Friday PM post: “There’s something cultural going on.” That’s just one remark from an exhibition chief Friday who was floored by what’s now looking like a $173 million-plus opening for Disney’s live-action take of Beauty And The Beast. Some even believe it could hit $176M. Beauty‘s opening brings to mind when Universal’s Jurassic World opened two years ago: estimates kept skyrocketing, even into Sunday afternoon. The spread in numbers here stem from the immense amount of pre-sales, coupled with walk-up business. Already on Fandango, Beauty And The Beast beat Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice in advance ticket sales.

Oh, Disney, what box office records are you set to break now? Beauty And The Beast will easily become the top opening for a March release and pre-summer (prior to May), defeating Warner Bros’ Batman V. Superman ($166M). As it clicks past $169.1M, it will become Emma Watson’s highest opening of all time, besting the FSS of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2. The Disney musical is already beautiful for director Bill Condon, making it his biggest debut ever ahead of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 ($141M). On the domestic list of all-time openers, Disney will own six slots in the top 10 thanks to Beauty. Should it grab between $174M-$179M, then she’ll rank as the sixth-best opening of all time under Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War ($179.1M) and above Iron Man 3 ($174.1M).

With an opening day of $64.1MBeauty And The Beast ranks as the third-best first day for a March release after Batman V. Superman ($81.55M) and The Hunger Games ($67.3M). Then how is Beauty And The Beast primed to outstrip those films’ respective openings of $166M and $152.5M? Again, it’s because of that walk-up business. Some industry estimates show Saturday even with Friday’s take which includes Thursday night’s $16.3M. There were reports on Twitter last night about long lines for Beauty And The Beast in the Star Wars sense of the word:

Also no surprise: Beauty And The Beast earns an A CinemaScore, which is right in line with its grades for previous Disney live-action canon titles The Jungle Book, Cinderella and Maleficent. 

Beauty And The Beast is different from female-skewing predecessors like Hunger Games, in that it’s pulling in attendees who don’t always frequent the movies. How do we know this? Essentially, when there’s a majority of 2D business. In Beauty‘s case, 2D is repping at least 60% of all business. Those who don’t attend the cinema frequently will always go for 2D pricing, while the die-hards opt for Imax, PLF or 3D. Nonetheless, everyone is going to Beauty And The Beast from grandparents to the millennial girls who grew up with the property. That group between ages 18-34 account for close to 70% of Beauty‘s audience according to ComScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak.

On CinemaScore, 72% females showed up on Friday night, with 55% 25 and up. The under-18 set, who gave the movie an A+, represented close to a third of the audience. Also giving Beauty a perfect score were the under-25 set at 45% and 18-24 (16%).

As most of the major studios lobby exhibition for an early premium streaming VOD window, which theater chains fear might step on theatrical, the PostTrak data on Friday had some interesting insights. When it comes to those who’ve just watched Beauty And The Beast, few prefer to buy or rent the movie digitally or on VOD. In fact, 24% prefer to watch the movie again in theaters, while 25% want to buy the movie on Blu-ray, and 23% want to own Beauty And The Beast on DVD. 10% said they’d buy it digitally, while 6% or lower said they’d respectively rent it digitally or buy/rent on VOD. Did you hear that Hollywood? VOD/pay-per title streaming — not popular. When the industry has a blockbuster this big delivering on all fronts for a major studio and its exhibition partners, do we really want to pursue the discussion of an early PVOD window? The theatrical business is booming, especially with Kong: Skull Island over performing last weekend.

At Netflix’s Los Gatos, CA headquarters on Friday, Variety reported that CEO Reed Hastings said, “How did distribution innovate in the movie business in the last 30 years? Well, the popcorn tastes better, but that’s about it.” Perhaps Hastings needs to go see Beauty And The Beast in a Cinemark XD theater, or sit in one of the high-end leather luxury seats of the iPic chain that’s showing his upcoming movies Mudbound and The Discovery. Not everyone wants to watch movies on a 70-inch TV in their man-cave, rather with a community, on a huge screen with mindblowing sound that’s not going to wake the neighbors.

Whenever a major studio has a big hit like Beauty And The Beast, other major studios jump on the opportunity to trailer in front of it, promoting their wares. In addition, foot traffic isn’t ceasing dollar-wise for the competition: Warner Bros/Legendary’s Kong: Skull Island is down 58% for a second weekend of $25.7M, Fox’s Logan is down 55% for $17M and Universal/Blumhouse’s Get Out is still the sleeper at -38% in its fourth weekend with $12.8M. Blumhouse’s BH Tilt microbudget release from Orion Pictures, The Belko Experiment, is meeting its tracking projections of $3.4M. Unlike the wave of recent horror films which critics get giddy about, Belko gets a 48% rotten on Rotten Tomatoes. Budget here before P&A, was around $4M.

In the wake of the success of the 1994 Broadway stage show of Beauty And The Beast which grossed north of $1.4 billion worldwide, Disney continually kicked the tires on a film version. In a 2011 interview, the animated pic’s Oscar-winning composer and songwriter Alan Menken said that a big-screen version of the Broadway hit was canned. In the wake of the success of Universal’s 2012 Snow White And The Huntsmen, Disney apparently knocked around the idea of a more aggressive live-action version, from the Beast’s POV, but then 2013’s Frozen ($1.28 billion worldwide) happened, and it was clear, if the princess genre isn’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

Mandeville’s David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman boarded as producers in 2013. Condon would sign on in June 2014.  On January 26, 2015, Watson posted on social media, that she’s Belle. Watson was originally being considered for the lead role in La La Land, for which Emma Stone wound up winning the best actress Oscar. Watson also passed on Disney’s Cinderella, but embraced Belle. In interviews, the Harry Potter actress says she was drawn to Belle’s open-mindedness, sense of female empowerment, and her ability to defy the status-quo in her village.

Outside of the $41K per screen that Beauty and the Beast is putting up, Sony’s T2 Trainspotting which is in release at five theaters in New York, Toronto and Los Angeles, is posting the second-best screen average of the weekend with $38K. The Danny Boyle sequel to the 1996 landmark British punk film has already collected $34M abroad (62% of that from the UK) off an $18M production cost before P&A ($14M after rebates). Pic is 76% certified fresh guaranteeing a good run in specialty houses. Pic, which was the SXSW secret screening, expands next weekend and goes wide March 31.

Estimates as of Saturday AM for March 17-19

1.) Beauty And The Beast (Disney), 4,210 theaters  / $64.1M Fri. (includes $16.3M in previews) / 3-day: $173.5M /Wk 1

2.) Kong: Skull Island (20th/Leg), 3,846 theaters (0)  / $7.3M Fri. (-63%) / 3-day: $25.7M (-58%)/Total: $107M/Wk 2

3.) Logan (Fox), 3,687 theaters  (-384)/ $4.7M Fri. (-54%) / 3-day: $17M (-55%)/Total: $183.5M/Wk 3

4.) Get Out (UNI), 2,979 theaters (-164) / $3.7M Fri. (-37%) / 3-day: $12.8M (-38%)/Total: $132.7M/Wk 4

5.) The Shack (LG), 2,825 theaters (-63) / $1.6M Fri. (-40%) / 3-day: $5.8M (-42%) /Total: $42.3M/Wk 3

6). The LEGO Batman Movie (WB), 2,735 theaters (-568) / $1.2M Fri. (-27%) / 3-day: $5M (-34%) / Total: $167.7M/Wk 6

7.) The Belko Experiment (BHT/ORN), 1,341 theaters  / $1.5M Fri. (includes $306K in previews) / 3-day: $3.4M /Wk 1

8.) Hidden Figures (FOX), 1,162 theaters (-259)/ $390K Fri. (-45%) / 3-day: $1.48M (-45%) / Total: $165.5M / Wk 13

9.) John Wick: Chapter 2(LGF), 1,065 theaters (-966) / $299K Fri. (-57%) / 3-day: $1.08M (-60%) / Total:$89.7M Wk 6

10.) Before I Fall  (OR), 1,551 theaters (-795) / $299K Fri. (-69%) / 3-day: $958K (-68%)/Total: $11.2M/Wk 3

11.) Lion (TWC) 621 theaters (-339)/$176K (-48%)/3-day: $672K (-49%)/Total: $49.9M/Wk 17

NOTABLES:

T2 Trainspotting (Sony/Tri-Star), 5 theaters  / $62k Fri. /PTA: $38k/ 3-day: $191k/Wk 1

Personal Shopper (IFC), 22 theaters (+11)  / $34K Fri  (+22%)/PTA: $3k/ 3-day: $101K (+28%)/Total: $212K/ Wk 2

Song To Song (BG), 4 theaters  / $17K Fri. /PTA: $13,7K/ 3-day: $55k /Wk 1

Raw (FOC), 9 theaters (+7)  / $14K Fri  (+60%)/PTA: $4,4k/ 3-day: $42K (+69%)/Total: $77K/ Wk 2

UPDATE, FRIDAY NOON: Midday matinees. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is destined to land among March’s top openers of all-time with a current $165M-$175M projected weekend, off of what looks to be a $60M-$62M Friday. These are from non-Disney industry estimates.

Should Beauty and the Beast click past $166M, then they’ll steal the all-time March opening record from Warner Bros.’ Batman v. Superman, and the pic grosses upward of $169.19M, it will be Emma Watson’s highest opening of all-time. What does that mean? It means Beauty and the Beast smacked the record opening of a Harry Potter film, that is his last chapter Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. 

Getting Beauty and the Beast to these high numbers hinges on how much walk-up business we’ll see throughout this weekend. We were seeing lofty mid-day figures for Lego Batman a while ago on its first Friday afternoon, but the two things working in Beauty‘s favor are 26% K-12 schools off today with another 39% college, plus it’s a beloved generational legacy brand. There’s a lot of power in millennial females, and they grew up with Beauty and the Beast. Even if her opening slows down by $20M — it’s still an awesome debut.

One non-Disney marketing exec praised the studio’s positioning on Beauty and the Beast today saying, “Their strategy should be commended. They could have sold a family film and they sold it as a dramatic piece with some music rather than a childlike ‘Be Our Guest’ piece. It was really well done. It was some of what was done with the animated film while keeping it serious. Do the fathers come out of the house with the kids during March Madness? I don’t know.”

In the face of Beauty and the Beast, Warner Bros./Legendary’s Kong: Skull Island is looking at -54% second weekend at this point in time with $28M off an $8M Friday and a 10-day running cume of $109.3M. 20th Century Fox’s Logan set to do $5M today and an estimated $17.5M for its third weekend, also down 54% for a running total by Sunday of $184M, easily eclipsing X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($179.88) as the highest grossing title in the Marvel mutant spinoff trilogy. Universal/Blumhouse’s Get Out is on course for $14M in its fourth weekend, -32%, and a running cume of $134M. BH Tilt/Orion’s The Belko Experiment is powering past its $3M-$4M with an estimated $5M three-day.

UPDATE, FRIDAY 8:33 AM: Disney’s Beauty And The Beast danced away with $16.3 million in Thursday previews.  

Yesterday, off early-evening shows, industry forecasts estimated previews would rake in between $12M-$14M. Two waves of previews occurred for Beauty And The Beast: At 6 PM in Imax/3D/PLF, which repped 41% of the night’s gross, and at 7 PM with regular 2D shows.

Beauty And The Beast‘s Thursday night is the biggest of the year, the biggest ever for a Disney live-action title beating Cinderella ($2.3M), Maleficent ($4.2M) and The Jungle Book ($4.2M); the second-biggest ever for a PG film; and the third-biggest preview ever in March after Batman V. Superman ($27.7M) and The Hunger Games ($19.7M).

Beauty And The Beast even leaves Furious 7‘s $15.8M Thursday night loot in the dust. That movie logged a first day of $67M and a $147.1M weekend while Jungle Book clocked $32M with a $103.3M FSS. Translation: today is going to be huge for Beauty And The Beast, with a potential $60M first day. This will likely push its opening weekend well past the $155M mark. Despite the huge night, sources believe Beauty And The Beast isn’t frontloaded, but will play and play throughout the weekend.

Says one non-Disney studio executive about Beauty‘s Thursday: “It’s playing like Star Wars among female audiences.”

Audience scores were more than glowing for the Bill Condon-directed musical: Screen Engine/ComScore’s PostTrak shows that Thursday audiences gave Beauty And The Beast an 88% overall positive score with 4 1/2 stars. Close to 60% of the crowd was made up of females who gave it a 91% positive score, with 53% under 25. Diving deeper into these numbers we see 68% were between 18-34, which means the movie is stoking the generation who actually grew up with the original 1991 Oscar-winning animated movie. It’s a similar phenomenon we saw with the Finding Dory audience.

Seventy percent of last night’s crowd are definitely recommending Belle and Beast to their friends. Forty-six percent cited the genre/type of movie was one of the reasons they bought tickets, while 33% said the movie was part of a franchise they like.

A third of all moviegoers called out Emma Watson as the prime reason for attending. RelishMix reports that Watson is the film’s biggest social media activator in the cast with more than 83M followers across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and she’s continually sharing materials. Ariana Grande, who sings the title song with John Legend, is also spreading Beauty to her 174M social media fans.

Moviegoers also cited what Beauty And The Beast marketing influenced them the most: 53% said it was the in-theater trailer, 48% were influenced by the TV ads, while 41% mentioned the online trailer, and the word-of-mouth from friends. Last night, Fandango reported Beauty and the Beast was selling out all over the country.

Adds RelishMix: #BeautyAndTheBeast, #BeOurGuest, #EmmaWatsonReminder and #Disney continue to intensify, with hashtag activity of unique posts on Twitter and Instagram reaching 285K over the past four weeks and daily posts climbing from 4K, to 9K, to more than 18K per day passing 31K from Thursday previews. They’ve now calmed to a massive 20K. Re-tweets are at 579K and sliced 73% female-26% male, while 67.2% of the hashtags are from Twitter and 32.8% are from Instagram. One of the most popular hashtags behind the movie’s tag is #EmmaWatsonReminder, which enlists the help of Watson herself in reminding Twitter and Instagram users to go see Beast today.

Among films already in release, Warner Bros/Legendary’s Kong: Skull Island placed first with $3.9M at 3,846 locations, raising its first-week cume to $81.3M — 6% ahead of the first week of Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong ($77M). 20th Century Fox’s Logan was second with $2.8M at 4,071 sites, ending its second week with a running cume of $166.5M. Uni/Blumhouse’s Get Out through three weeks is now up to $120M after a $2.1M Thursday at 3,143 theaters.

BH/Tilt, Blumhouse’s mirco-label, has the Orion Pictures genre pic The Belko Experiment debuting this weekend in 1,336 locations. It pulled in $306K off of what is a single-digit-millions digital marketing campaign. The pic hopes to make at least $3M in the shadow of Beauty And The Beast. A recent BH/Tilt success was last year’s The Darkness, which opened just under $5M in the face of Sony’s drama thriller Money Monster ($14.8M) and with Captain America: Civil War dominating No. 1 in its second weekend ($72.6M). Pic ended its run in the thick of summer at $10.7M. Perhaps Belko pulls in a portion of those kids who are too cool for Beauty And The Beast. 

PREVIOUS, Thursday, 4:18 PM: By the way, in case you didn’t know, there’s a huge movie opening tonight: Disney’s live-action feature Beauty And The Beast. Previews kicked off at 6 PM ET in Imax, PLF and Cinemark XD auditoriums, with regular 2D shows starting at 7 PM.

Non-Disney early estimates are pegging Beauty and the Beast between $12M-$14M for tonight, which would blow away recent Disney live action titles, The Jungle Book ($4.2m Thursday, $32M Friday) on its first Thursday and Cinderella ($2.3M Thursday, $23M Friday). That’s a great start for a female-skewing film and unlike last year’s Batman v. Superman which was frontloaded with a $27.7M Thursday –the best for the month of March– sources’ notions are that Beauty will blossom throughout the weekend.

After Batman vs. Superman, The Hunger Games five years ago clocked $19.7M on its first Thursday.

Fandango is reporting that already more than 1,000 showtimes are sold out this weekend across the country from big cities like New York and Los Angeles to small ones from Billings, Montana to Texarkana, Texas. That number is on par to the pre-sales for say, Dark Knight, Avengers and the Twilight sequels at this point in time.

Still that doesn’t mean that tickets aren’t available for the Bill Condon-directed musical. In the digital age, exhibitors can add showtimes in the blink of the eye, and if you look at say a theater like the Hollywood Arclight on Sunset Blvd, they’re showing the movie ten times tonight, but that goes up to 30 showtimes tomorrow. One takeaway from the heartland pre-sales of Beauty and the Beast: The whole uproar among the faith-based over the pic’s LeFou homosexual character doesn’t seem to be slowing business one bit.

Currently the online ticket seller says that Beauty and the Beast is set to topple one of its biggest March pre-sellers Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice with more than 90% of this weekend’s ticket sales on Fandango alone. As previously reported, Beauty is already Fandango’s biggest family pre-seller outstripping the advance sales of Finding Dory and Captain America: Civil War. 

Weekend projections for Beauty and the Beast are as low as $120M, and as high as $150M.

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