‘Guardians’ Gang Steals ‘Book Club’ Ladies’ Purse Over Mother’s Day Weekend: Best Second Weekend Hold For MCU Post Covid – Sunday Box Office Update

'Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3'
‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3’

SUNDAY AM WRITE-THRU after Saturday AM update: The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 keeps getting stronger — and The Book Club: The Next Chapter weaker. If that latter Focus Features movie, which is now pegged at $6.5M, is going to rise to another level, it’s today on Mother’s Day by surprise. However, analysts have already built into the projection that isn’t happening. Note that older female moviegoers typically plan their trips to the cinema in advance, hence we’d see advance ticket sales.

With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 repping the best second weekend hold for a Marvel Cinematic Universe title post-pandemic at -49% with $60.5M, it appears that the movie is sopping up all the mom action. But sources say that’s not the case. It’s a completely different film, aimed at the fanboy demo. GOTG3‘s second weekend ease is better than the -55% second weekend holds of the two previous GOTG movies, and the threequel’s weekend 2 is just $5M off from GOTG2‘s second frame of $65.2M, and it’s roughly $1.7M off from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘s second weekend of $61.7M. After a lower-than-usual MCU summer start last weekend of $118.4M, what’s clear is that the A CinemaScore is showing its mojo for the final James Gunn-directed title in the franchise.

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The last time we saw a second weekend hold this strong during the pandemic for an MCU title was Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, with a -54% ease. Since then, most MCU titles have been in the deep -60% percentile, including last summer’s kickoff Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (-67%), and even the pandemic high Spider-Man: No Way Home (-68%). Gosh, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania fell -70% in weekend 2.

From left: Mary Steenburgen, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Candice Bergen in ‘Book Club: The Next Chapter’
From left: Mary Steenburgen, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Candice Bergen in ‘Book Club: The Next Chapter’

Before everyone cries ‘boo-hoo, female skewing movies aren’t working,’ or ‘boo-hoo, non-tentpole movies aren’t working,’ consider the fact that if Book Club 2 doesn’t get a big bounce on Mother’s Day today (right now, Sunday is being estimated at a +17% increase over Saturday), it may just boil down to product: No one was asking for a sequel here to the Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, and Diane Keaton ensemble.

Don’t blame streaming: Older female skewing ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ also had a single digit opening — back in 2015.
Don’t blame streaming: Older female skewing ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ also had a single digit opening — back in 2015.

Also, consider this: By pre-pandemic standards, the start here for Book Club 2 isn’t that far from where another older-skewing female title, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, was back in 2015, that posting a $8.5M opening (finaling at $33M stateside).

Furthermore, there isn’t any lower ticket pricing in place by exhibition like there was on the previous Fifth Season theatrical release, 80 for Brady, which starred Book Club 2 actress Fonda with cinematic buddy Lily Tomlin. That might have been a great idea here for circuits to practice. How else to open a movie to $12.7M during the winter around Super Bowl weekend (there’s also a theory that the ‘Brady’ in the title got some guys dragged along with their better halves). However, there’s nothing for guys to tag along to here on Book Club 2, with 77% women showing up, and the largest quad being over 55 at 48%.

In addition, we’ve seen female-skewing titles fare significantly better, read last summer’s Elvis ($31.2M) and even Focus Features’ Downton Abbey: A New Era ($16M). Realize the latter is a huge appealing franchise for older-skewing females in a way that Book Club is not. If counter-programming is going to work, you gotta eventize it. Old pre-pandemic ideas aren’t going to work.

C’mon, ‘The Hustle’ was a fun film…
C’mon, ‘The Hustle’ was a fun film…

More Mother’s Day drill-downs in relations to Book Club 2: Realize there’s nothing here in the sequel that’s appealing to the younger demo, meaning daughters. In pre-Covid 2019 Mother’s Day, there was the female Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake The Hustle, starring younger fan faves Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway. The comedy opened to $13M off a B- with a near +7% uptick on Mother’s Day Sunday. The pic finaled domestic at $35.4M.

Romantic comedy queens in ‘Mother’s Day’
Romantic comedy queens in ‘Mother’s Day’

Going way back to the buggy whip days of 2016, there was Open Road’s Garry Marshall swan song, Mother’s Day, which had plenty of stars to appeal to moms and daughters in Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, and Jason Sudeikis.

Here’s the interesting leg-out patter for that movie: It opened to a lackluster $8.3M the weekend preceding the Mother’s Day frame, then popped over the holiday weekend, that being $11M (+33%). Mother’s Day Sunday on that movie was +60% more than Saturday. So clearly, the anticipated letdown here with Book Club 2 comes down to product and not moviegoing habits, especially with last year’s examples, and, of course, the tried and true post-pandemic romantic comedy, Ticket to Paradise seeing a $16.5M opening, $68.2M final U.S./Canada take.

Also potentially slowing Book Club 2 down is that it got a B CinemaScore to the first pic’s A-. ComScore, and Screen Engine exits weren’t that far behind at 81% in the top two, with a 55% recommend for the general crowd. Diversity demos were 67% White, 20% Latino and Hispanic, 4% Black, & 9% Asian/other.

HYPNOTIC, from left: Alice Braga, Ben Affleck, 2023. © Ketchup Entertainment
HYPNOTIC, from left: Alice Braga, Ben Affleck, 2023. © Ketchup Entertainment

 There’s also Ketchup Entertainment’s Robert Rodriguez $70M production Hypnotic, which is flailing with an estimated $2.3M start in sixth place. Don’t put that movie in the category of ‘Oh, smaller movies don’t work in a tentpole-driven, post Covid marketplace’ category, because clearly there wasn’t enough P&A spent to open this movie. Nor should a lofty marketing spend here be expected, given the complicated noir’s reception with critics at 39% on Rotten Tomatoes and Cinemascore audiences at C+. Deadline’s Andreas Wiseman detailed the pic’s hijinks to a theatrical release, including foreign sales buyers’ ire after seeing a cut at Berlin, Hypnotic‘s original distributor Solstice imploding, and that studio’s financier and pic’s EP Gareth West saving the movie through his Ketchup Entertainment. It’s not like Lionsgate acquired this movie and is contracted to spend $20M+ to open it. Hypnotic will also be playing during the Cannes Film Festival.

More poor diagnostics on Hypnotic: PostTrak exits were 69% in the top two, with a 44% recommend for the general crowd. Guy-leaning at 66%, and 37% between 18-34. Diversity demos were 44% White, 25% Latino, 15% Black, & 16% Asian/other. The movie, which is seeing most of its income from the West, with seven out of its ten runs from California, minted its best result (if you can call it that) at Regal Manchester in Fresno CA at a near $4K so far. If only one could clone all those rabid Rodriguez fans who came out for the film at its SXSW premiere.

Sony has the service deal for Toei Animation’s Knights of the Zodiac. The pic’s grosses were $222K for Friday, $186K yesterday and $127K today at 600 theaters, for a 3-day of $535k. So-so numbers in LA, San Diego, NYC and San Francisco, but that’s it.

The second weekend of summer 2023 looks to have clocked $103.3M for all movies per sources, +13% from the same period a year ago. Annual box officer at $3.3 billion, +28% from a year ago.

Sunday figures:

1) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 (Dis) 4,450 theaters, Fri $15.7M (-67%) Sat $26.3M Sun $18.5M 3-day $60.5M (-49%), Total $213.2M/Wk 2

2.) Super Mario Bros Movie (Ill/Uni) 3,800 (-109) theaters, Fri $2.99M (-30%) Sat $5.59M Sun $4.4M 3-day $13M (-30%), Total $535.9M/Wk 6

3.) Book Club: Next Chapter (Foc) 3,508 theaters Fri $2.1M Sat $2M Sun $2.35M 3-day $6.5M/Wk 1

4.) Evil Dead Rise (NL) 2,821 (-215) theaters, Fri $1.1M (-35%) Sat $1.6M Sun $978K 3-day $3.7M (-37%) Total $60.1M/Wk 4

5.) Are There God?…(LG) 2,359 (-984) theaters, Fri $508K (-43%), Sat $906,6K Sun $1.08M 3 day $2.5M (-22%) total $16.4M/ Wk 3

6.) Hypnotic (Ketch) 2,118 theaters, Fri $940K, 3-day $2.3M/Wk 1

7.) John Wick: Chapter 4 (LG) 1,613 (-45) theaters, Fri $478K (-20%),Sat $876K, Sun $570K 3-day $1.93M (-21%), Total $182.9M/Wk 8

8.) Love Again (Sony) 2,703 theaters, Fri $385K (-60%) Sat $540K Sun $625K 3-day $1.55M (-35%) Total $5M/Wk 2

9.) Air (Amazon) 1,210 (-422) theaters,Fri $223k (-42%), Sat $343K Sun $309K 3-day $875K (-37%), Total $51.7M/Wk 6

10.) Dungeons & Dragons (Par/eOne) 934 (-817) theaters, Fri $212K Sat $331K Sun $197K 3-day $740K (-45%), Total $92.1M/Wk 7

10) Blackberry (IFC) 450 theaters Friday $473K, 3-day $740K/Wk 1

FRIDAY AFTERNOON: Right now, Focus Features’ Book Club: The Next Chapter is looking at a third place debut of $2.1M today (including Thursday previews) and a $7M 3-day at 3,508 theaters. We’ll have to wait to see what kind of rise, if any, this reteam of Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen gets from Mothers Day Sunday. There aren’t any circuits doing any kind of discount pricing, ala what went on with the previous Fifth Season older-skewing female title, 80 for Brady. I’m told that exhibitors are doing valued added promotions with Book Club 2 tickets sales, i.e. free mimosas and margheritas.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.3
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Super Mario Bros Movie are lording the top spots. The Marvel Cinematic Universe threequel is seeing a $15M second Friday, -69%, for a 3-day of $54M-$55M (-54%) at 4,450 locations. The second weekend hold isn’t that far from GOTG2‘s and GOTG‘s weekend 2 of -55%, however, the former pic’s second weekend was higher at $65.2M while GOTG did $42.1M. GOTG3‘s running tally by Sunday is looking to hit $207.9M.

Super Mario, from Illumination/Universal/Nintendo, booked at 3,800 is eyeing a sixth Friday of $2.9M, 3-day of $13.3M, -28%, and running total of $536.2M.

New Line’s Evil Dead Rise, booked at 2,821 theaters, is seeing a fourth Friday of $1M, 3-day of $3.6M (-39%), and a running total by Sunday of $60M. The Sam Raimi executive produced movie has already beat the domestic total of the 2013 Fede Alvarez-directed remake which ended its run at $54.2M.

In fifth place, it’s Lionsgate’s third weekend of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret at 2,359 locations with $2.3M, -28%, after a $515K Friday and running total of $16.3M.

Ben Affleck in ‘Hypnotic’

Robert Rodriguez’s Ben Affleck noir, Hypnotic, hits 2,118 theaters from Ketchup Entertainment. There were some TV spots. What does that mean as far as money goes? A Friday that’s between $800K-$900K and $2.2M-$2.3M opening.

FRIDAY AM: The box office and the industry is in need of counterprogramming working after several non-tentpoles were squashed by Super Mario Bros Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and hopefully that will be Focus Features’ Book Club: The Next Chapter. With $550K in Thursday previews, the movie is looking at a $7M-$10M start at 3,507 theaters. Hopefully it clears double digits, something that will be evident on Mother’s Day when the Universal specialty label is expecting a pop in business.

As a comp, 80 for Brady, another Jane Fonda movie from earlier this year, did $750,000 in Thursday previews that began at 3 p.m. That pic went on to open to $12.7M, but the pic had discount ticketing across most major circuits to get the older female audience in. In this post-pandemic environment, that debut was a win for an older female skewing movie. Hopefully, Book Club 2 can do the same.

The first Book Club was a domestic acquisition by Paramount, and proved to be a sleeper with a $13.5M opening and a 5x leg-out for a $68.5M domestic take — very good for pre-pandemic for a movie such as this. Paramount wasn’t interested in the sequel, so Fifth Season, the financier, sold global to Focus Features here; a negative pick-up in the $20M+ sphere. Fifth season was also behind 80 for Brady which cost around $20M, and made $40.2M WW.

Disney/Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will dominate in weekend 2 with a hopeful -60% hold, meaning around $47M. Week one of the James Gunn directed threequel did $152.6M at 4,450 theaters, which is 17% behind the first week of Vol. 2 ($183.1M, which finaled at $389.8M) and it’s 14% ahead of the first week of the original GOTG ($134.3M, final US B.O. of $333.1M). Thursday was $7.1M even with Wednesday.

Illumination/Universal/Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros Movie did $1M last night for a fifth week of $23.6M at 3,909 theaters and a running total of $523.2M.

New Line’s Evil Dead Rise made $490K, -1% from Wednesday, for a third week of $8M at 3,036 theaters and running cume of $56.4M.

Lionsgate’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret made $289K, -17% from Wednesday, for a second week of $4.76M and a $14M domestic take.

Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 4 at 1,658 made $223K yesterday, -2% for a seventh week of $3.3M at 1,658 theaters and a running cume of $181M.

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