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‘Rogue One’ Blasting Off To Est. $30M Thursday Night – B.O. Update

Deadline logo Deadline 12/16/2016 Anthony D'Alessandro
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EXCLUSIVE 3rd Writethru 9:29PM: Updated with audience reactions Based on early evening estimates, we’re hearing that Disney/Lucasfilm’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is heading for an estimated $30M preview night, which is off 47% from Force Awakens’ record $57M Thursday night a year ago. These figures aren’t from Disney, but from what exhibitors are spotting off showtimes that began at 7 PM ET. Disney will send out their official figures in the AM.

Even though Rogue One is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the critical consensus is slightly lower than Force Awakens, 85% to 92%. In similar fashion, the first round of audience polls tonight from ComScore PostTrak shows an overall postive score of 88% to Force Awakens’ 94% last year. Overall moviegoers’ recommend rate is at 77% which is still strong despite Force Awakens carrying an 88% thumbs up. Slightly more females turned up this time around for Rogue One compared to Force Awakens: 38% to 29%, while guys were still dominant at 62% (Force had 71%). Men enjoyed Rogue One more than women, 94% to 79%. Despite any notoin that Rogue One is a darker film, 90% of all boys under 12 will recommend it to their friends, while 84% of all girls will pass the good word around about Jyn Erso. And parents? 92% of ’em are going to also tell their friends that Rogue One is great.

Essentially Rogue One already is doing 50% of Force Awakens Thursday night business, a figure that should rise to 62% by the end of the night.

At noon, we heard that advance ticket sales for the day were down 50% from Force Awakens‘ first night. At $30M, Rogue One still is the second-best opening day’s eve that December has ever seen and one of seven movies to gross that much on a preview night. Prior to Force Awakens, 2014’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies rang up $11.2M in its 7 PM Tuesday night previews at 3,100 theaters; that bested the $8.8M Thursday night of the trilogy’s 2013 installment The Desolation of Smaug.

Tonight’s Rogue One stash will drive the stand-alone Star Wars prequel to an estimated $60M-$65M Friday and a weekend that’s north of $140M. Again, still amazing, but what’s slowing Jyn Erso and her team of rebels is winter storm Decima, which is gradually making its way eastward from Oregon to the Great Lakes to New England by Saturday. No closings are reported, but this might mean delayed trips to the multiplex. By the end of week, 80% of the nation will see below-freezing temperatures. Last year, Force Awakens ended its first day at $119.1M with Thursday night repping 48% of that figure.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros./New Line is playing it smart: They’re not holding previews tonight for Will Smith weepie Collateral Beauty given Rogue One‘s audience grip. Manchester by the Sea is also expanding this weekend from 366 venues to 1,208.

Over at Fandango, Rogue One ranks as its No. 2 advance ticket seller of all time after Force Awakens. Currently, the Gareth Edwards-directed Star Wars movie reps 90% of the weekend’s ticket sales, with 62% of their ticket buyers polled saying they’re already planning on seeing Rogue One twice. Prior to Force Awakens’ record domestic debut of $247.96M last year, an estimated $100M in advance tickets were sold, a majority of which were for Christmas Day. In the last 24 hours, Rogue One represents 81% of all ticket sales for Movietickets.com.

Rogue One will play in 4,157 venues, that’s 23 more than Force Awakens and an all-time high for the month of December. As previously reported, 540 Premium Large Format screens make this the largest most in the format of any Disney film. Of Rogue One‘s count, 3,665 are 3D screens and 193 are D-Box locations.

Aiding Rogue One: Thirteen percent of K-12 schools are out tomorrow (vs. 18% a year ago for Force Awakens). By next Thursday, that figure will boom to 100% and stay consistent through January 2.

Social Media monitor RelishMix reports that Rogue One‘s social media universe surged from 364M from last Monday to 386M today, a size that outstrips the SMUs of Doctor Strange (311M) and Fantastic Beasts (282M) and is just under Moana‘s (391M). Broken down, Rogue One‘s SMU is composed of 102.7M Facebook fans, 16.5M Twitter followers, 248.3M-plus YouTube views and 18.5M Instagram followers. The increase from last week to this week is driven mostly by YouTube views (20M in eight days). 

The film’s social media stars across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter combined are international martial arts star Donnie Yen (3.2M) and Diego Luna (2.4M), who are beating the drum for Rogue One with all sorts of materials. Stars Felicity Jones and Ben Mendelsohn are non-social, while Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed and Mads Mikkelson are, but they all have small social reaches. In regard to the non-social stars per RelishMix, Disney is adapting a social media strategy that’s similar to Doctor Strange’s: sharing all kinds of video assets that include these non-social co-stars, from Good Morning America to Ellen and Star Wars conventions.

States Relish Mix: “Rogue One has extremely positive conversation, as one might expect. Fans of the original trilogy and Star Wars fans from elsewhere, video games, TV series, books and toys — are all aboard for this unique, standalone entry to the beloved series. There’s one element to the social conversation worth mentioning: the time and place of Rogue One. Some fans are shocked to see Darth Vader in some of the official trailers, and they are a bit lost as to when this Star Wars story takes place. So, other fans are chiming in to clarify that this is a standalone film that occurs between Episode III and IV of the official series. Despite the fact it’s been confirmed that Rogue One will not have a sequel, Star Wars fans will show up en masse for opening and beyond.”

The top clips for Rogue One average over 230K views/day, up from 40k/day last week. The viral rate for a Rogue One clip is 36:1 which is enormous considering the average for a regular tentpole movie is 10:1. Fans are reposting trailers, Lego parodies and interviews with the stars, cast and crew. And, fanboy portals like Collider and Nerdist are sharing their own theories on what Rogue One might feature, like the degree of Darth Vader’s participation, for example.

Also propelling tonight’s fandom are exhibitors who are whetting the appetites of merchandise-hungry Star Wars crowds. Here’s a sampling of some of the night’s celebratory tchotchkes:

-Regal Cineamas sold 1,000 “ultimate tickets” at $100 a pop, which allows a moviegoer to see Rogue One an unlimited number of times. Guests tonight also will have the opportunity to buy one of five collectible popcorn tins.

-At Cinemark there are custom-made XD miniposter giveaways for those attending the first show.

-Remember those Star Wars drinking glasses that Burger King use to give away? Well Alamo Drafthouse has a supply of Rogue One tumblers for those buying tumblers.

–At AMC venues, there’s a free mini-poster for anyone who sees the movie in Dolby Cinema tonight, as well as exclusive Imax posters tomorrow, Christmas day and New Year’s Day. In addition, AMC is hosting Sensory Friendly Film showings of Rogue One on Dec. 27 and 31. This is part of the exhibitor’s partnership with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where the lights are regulated, and the sound is turned down.

RELATED: A look at "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

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Follow Anthony D’Alessandro on Twitter @AwardsTony

Anita Busch contributed to this report.

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