Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis
May 18, 2019
For weeks now we've wondered who could stop the Avengers at the box office. We finally have our answer, as Keanu Reeves, Hollywood's most realistic killbot, has done what Thanos and his multi-jeweled glove could not. We can't help but wonder what the Avengers did to John Wick's dog.
The ascension of the John Wick series has been fascinating to witness. A violent ballet of a film with a spectacular world that was created to house its story, the first John Wick earned a more or less expected $14.4 million during its opening weekend in October 2014 before going on to tally $43 million domestically. John Wick: Chapter Two expanded substantially and continued the audience goodwill by expanding the story and taking the (anti?) hero to new heights. That film doubled the opening weekend of the original by earning $30.4 million in February of 2017 and $92 million domestically.
That brings us to John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum. Speaking as a fan of these films, I think the excitement was palpable, and other audience members agreed. John Wick 3 earned $22.7 million yesterday at the box office, $5.9 million of which came from Thursday night previews. One thing to note about John Wick is that it is precisely the kind of movie that fans rush to see, especially as we were left on a bit of a cliffhanger after Chapter Two.
Looking at the numbers, John Wick 3's "true" Friday number would be $16.8 million (still more than the opening weekend of the first film, by the way). I'd guess a 2.8 multiplier (though it might be lower depending). Added all together, that would give us a $56.3 million debut. Given the solid reviews (88 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes) and the audience score (A- at Cinemascore, 8.3/10 at IMDb), that seems perfectly reasonable and should be a thrilling result for the folks at Summit Entertainment, whose hits are few and far between these days.
We had another new release this weekend, the emotionally manipulative A Dog's Journey (sorry, one of my pet peeves is movies or stories that use the death of a pet to drive plot or emotion). A sequel to A Dog's Purpose and also featuring Dennis Quaid, people were simply not up for a repeat. Where the first film earned $5.3 million on its first Friday, Journey earned just $2.5 million, deflating more than 50 percent. I'd guess it'll hold up fine over the remainder of the weekend, but people didn't want their heartstrings tugged this time around. Let's give it $8 million or so for an opening, but it's still probably a lot less than Universal was hoping for.
Our final new wide release features Yara Shahidi, star of television's black-ish and grown-ish. The Sun Is Also a Star, based on a young adult novel by Nicola Yoon, proves the be the latest in a recent line of mediocre young adult-targeted movies that perform generally poorly at the box office. That's too bad, as Shahidi is utterly charming, and reviews of the film tend to agree on that point, although they also mention that the film's plot stretches credulity. The film earned $1 million yesterday and will likely be estimated at $3 million.
Remember The Avengers? How quickly we fickle fans move on to the new hot thing. Well, it should pass Avatar for #2 domestic all-time, and gain on that film for the #1 spot worldwide. We should see around $38 million this weekend.
Also, Detective Pikachu is now in weekend number two, and it had a fairly heady 70 percent drop, though that shouldn't be a surprise as it's one of the most fan-targeted films you can possibly imagine. Let's just say that if you go into the film knowing little or nothing about the Pokemon universe, you're not going to understand it any better after you watch this. $32 million seems about right here.