BDSM = Lite versus LEGO, or Moms vs. Kids
By John Hamann
February 12, 2017
We've got another "sequel weekend" where somehow, all three openers are the second film in their respective franchises. Why do we have three of them? Because the pre-Valentine's weekend has become incredibly popular.
So, it's the weekend before Valentine's Day (guys, the big day is Tuesday, I repeat, Tuesday), and the weekend before President's Day weekend, which often leaves this frame in a strange position. Before we get to that, let's talk about the huge amount of strength from the three opening films this weekend, all sequels, but only one expected to match or beat the open of its predecessor. Fifty Shades Darker, Universal's follow up to Fifty Shades of Grey was in position to conquer the weekend. The original opened to $85 million, but then word got out about how bad it was, and it failed to earn twice what it earned over its opening frame, at least domestically. Overseas though, it was a monster, earning $400 million overseas, and more than $150 million over opening weekend. The LEGO Movie was a bit more of a surprise, pulling in just short of $70 million over its opening frame, and finishing with $470 million worldwide. Our last sequel is the much smaller John Wick: Chapter Two (from here out known as John Wick 2) based on a sequel that opened to only $14.5 million and finished domestically with $43 million, nothing to really suggest a sequel. The overseas revenue brought another $43 million into Wick’s coffers, though, and this $20 million film made money. Then, it became a cult revenge flick hit, and they greenlit the sequel as quickly as possible. This sets up what will easily be the biggest box office weekend of the year.
The race of the sequels got started on Thursday night, with Fifty Shades Darker spanking all comers with a preview amount of $5.7 million, followed by The LEGO Batman Movie and John Wick 2 with $2.2 million apiece. It is absolutely logical to say that a movie aimed at kids isn’t going to pop on Thursday night, as kids have school on Friday. But wait, there’s more. Warner Bros. started screening LEGO Batman at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, so kids had two screenings instead of one to gobble up the action. Maybe most surprising is that John Wick 2 tied the blockbuster LEGO Batman Movie in Thursday previews. So, after day one of competition, Fifty Shades Darker was out ahead, LEGO might be fading, and John Wick has a large, built-in audience.
On Day 2, these three powerhouse sequels faced off again, now laying out there true weekend strategies, all based on results from questionable polling firms. The LEGO Batman Movie came out swinging, at least in the venue count department, as LEGO Batman opened at a very wide 4,008 screens. Fifty Shades Darker went out to 3,710 locations, as opposed to 3,655 for the original, with Universal hoping to catch lightning in a bottle twice. John Wick 2 opened at 3,113 venues, compared to the 2,589 for the first film when it opened.