SUNDAY AM: Amazon bought MGM –a motion picture studio–for $8.45 billion back in May 2021, and this weekend the streamer had their first taste of how wonderful a box office blockbuster is, as MGM/UAR’s Creed III opened to a franchise record of $58.6M. That’s also the highest debut ever for a sports movie. At this level, Creed III stands to also become the highest-grossing Creed title stateside at $150M, besting Creed‘s $109.8M and Creed II‘s $115.7M, while also providing a lot of lift to a domestic box office looking to return to pre-Covid levels.
Some may argue, ‘Oh, well, Creed III was always meant to be theatrical.’ We can’t just go on that line, because we know how most streamers are prime to jettison a title onto their service nowadays. Following Amazon’s $8.45 billion purchase of MGM back in May 2021, the streamer put such Lion movies as Thirteen Days and Sylvester Stallone’s $100M Samaritan on the service.
But Amazon with Creed III has turned a corner, and it should come as a lesson to all streamers, including those motion picture studios who have services, that the best publicity for a film’s success doesn’t come in the quiet, anecdotal reporting of data (nor a service’s own defined measurement of viewership), but good, old American dollars.
Amazon Studios Head Jen Salke, who emulated the Netflix limited theatrical-to-OTT service distribution model starting with the 2019 Adam Driver movie The Report, told Deadline’s Natalie Sitek at the Creed III premiere Monday that “We can look forward to more” theatrical releases. Next up for Amazon is the Easter weekend release of the Ben Affleck-directed, Matt Damon-starring Air.
“We’ll look at each film individually and make the right decision for each of them. It couldn’t be more exciting,” Salke said, “Hopefully, we’ll bring tons of people back to theaters with these two movies to start.”
More proof that Salke is serious about theatrical is in the hiring of former Warner Bros. President of Production Courtenay Valenti who is behind this year’s 8x Oscar-nominated Elvis, which was one of the movies to bring adults back to the movies last year, grossing $151M domestic, $287M+. You know what looks better heading into an Oscar race? A movie that can boast that it made money, not one that’s reporting $0. It just looks better, and image is everything.
While Netflix saw some $15M+ from the Thanksgiving week launch of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story at 696 theaters after scooping up the Rian Johnson franchise for $400M, the streamer isn’t pivoting to full on theatrical wide releases, preferring to stay in its zone of high-priced tentpoles sans downstream windows.
Taking the reigns of WarnerMedia, Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav immediately recognized the sins of the conglom’s former administration in their theatrical-day-date HBO Max experiment with tentpoles like Dune, Mortal Kombat, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Suicide Squad, in how heaps of money was left on the table, and much cash burned in the talent slate buyout deals.
Recently, Warners put HBO Max’s Channing Tatum movie Magic Mike’s Last Dance into theaters, with the pic grossing $25M+ through four weekends. While the lowest of the Steven Soderbergh male stripper drama movies, what matters is that money was made, even if the movie didn’t profit in its theatrical window, and that big screen launch is the best publicity to carry the IP through to minting any amount of bucks in subsequent windows.
However, good on Amazon here as the WGA, DGA, and SAG sit-down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Creed III is a win for data transparency, Amazon having hid their grosses on their limited theatrical releases of Coming 2 America, Cinderella, and the Harry Styles’ movie My Policeman.
For dealmaking purposes, and to justify clients’ worth, guilds want more access to viewership data in the next round of contract talks. However, they should be asking for more than that: Streamers should be giving up their churn rate info: As equally as important as it is that 364M hours were watched by global Netflix subscribers for the Dwayne Johnson/Gal Gadot/Ryan Reynolds movie Red Notice, it’s also vital for all creatives involved to know the amount of subscriber dollars that movie raked in for the streaming service.
A big deal here in regards to Creed III‘s win: it’s March release date. UAR/MGM moved the threequel away from Wakanda Forever at Thanksgiving and pushed it to here, the first weekend of March. Very smart play, as the threequel gained PLF and Imax screens which they wouldn’t have access to back in November, nor at Christmas if they decided to go then in the face of Avatar: The Way of Water.
More diagnostics on Creed III: Imax and PLF drove 35% of the pic’s domestic box office. Saturday only dipped -3% with $21.4M next to Friday’s $22M. Creed III is also a huge diverse win, with Blacks repping 38% of ticket buyers, followed by 28% Latino and Hispanic and 13% Asian/other.
Box office analytics corp EntTelligence observed excellent business in each daypart, especially late evenings when ticket sales taper off, with 30% attending between 1p-5p, 32% between 5p-8p and 29% after 8p. The movie represented 45% of all box office admissions this weekend outside its preview nights. Overall, 4M attended Creed III.
Per RelishMix, MGM and Amazon’s marketing team had Creed III primed heading into the weekend on social media, with a universe of 353.5M (+69% over Creed II) across TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram. There were 88M views for Creed III materials alone on TikTok, with 464M #views the week of opening for #creed3. YouTube views stats exceed 212.2M, with an excellent viral reposting ratio at 21:1. Director/lead Michael B. Jordan weighed in with 29.4M activated fans, along with boxer Canelo Álvarez at 23.5M, former-boxer Tony Bellew at 1.5M, boxer Florian Munteanu at 807K, and Selenis Leyva at 782K in regards to talent pushes for the movie on social.
“In social threads, some fans took sides in the ongoing dispute between Sylvester Stallone and producers as a show of loyalty to Rocky and his brand as Rocky, which will be missing from the story. Otherwise, chatter ran positive from Jonathan Majors followers, who are getting the Ant-Man ‘Kang’ double feature effect in full play — along with appreciation for Jordan as director, the new Creed Camp video, and IMAX BTS materials.”
More at the box office:
Crunchyroll’s Demon Slayer Into the Swordsmith Village at a revised 1,780 theaters is seeing $10.1M after a $3.4M Saturday, -17% from Friday’s $4.1M.
Lionsgate’s release of Miramax’s Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre in early AM numbers is seeing a $1.26M Saturday, +17% over Friday, for a $3.1M opening. RelishMix noticed Lionsgate re-activating the pic’s digital campaign from a year ago, which actually counts under 79M across social media from TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
Said RelishMix on pic’s pulse, “Convo tone on Operation Fortune tracked mixed with questions about release date and studio pivots — interwoven with continuous affection for Aubrey Plaza and her recent projects, as she’s over-indexing on the risk-taker-meter — as well as Jason Statham super fans, who wonder if this will hit similar notes or break some new ground for his brand and characters. Guy Ritchie film fans were also paying attention at the campaign as it ramped back-up.”
Chart updating with Saturday and Sunday numbers, updates bold:
1.) Creed III (UAR) 4,007 Fri $22.1M, Sat $21.4M, Sun $15M 3-day $58.6M/Wk 1
2.) Ant-man and the Wasp Quantumania (Dis) 3,825 (-520) theaters, Fri $3.1M (-63%) Sat $5.86M Sun $3.49M 3-day $12.4M (-61%), Total $186.7M/Wk 3
3.) Cocaine Bear (Uni) 3,571 (+37) theaters, Fri $3.1M (-64%), $4.8M, Sun $2.9M 3-day $11M (-54%)/Total $41.2M/Wk 2
Very good hold here for the genre pic; these types of movies are usually steeper at -60% or worse.
4.) Demon Slayer…Swordvillage (Cru) 1,753 theaters, Fri $4.2M, Sat $3.4M Sun $2.45M 3-day $10.1M/Wk 1
5.) Jesus Revolution (LG) 2,575 theaters (+100), Fri $2.2M (-68%), Sat $3.4M Sun $2.97M 3-day $8.65M (-52%)/Total $30.5M/ Wk 2
6.) Avatar: The Way of Water (Dis) 2,300 theaters (-195), Fri $776K (-30%) Sat $1.7M Sun $1M 3-day $3.57M (-27%)Total $670.6M /Wk 12
James Cameron remains $3.47M away from beating himself, meaning having this sequel unseat Titanic ($674M) to become the eighth highest grossing film ever in U.S./Canada.
7.) Operation Fortune…(LG) 2,168 theaters, Fri $1M, Sat $1.26M Sun $821K 3-day $3.1M/Wk 1
8.) Puss in Boots: Last Wish (Uni) 2,588 theaters (-252), Fri $550K (-39%) Sat $1.3M Sun $840K 3-day $2.72M (-34%), Total $177.1M/Wk 11
9.) Magic Mike’s Last Dance (WB) 1,737 (-1,181) theaters,Fri $355K (-61%), Sat $500K, Sun $325K 3-day $1.18M (-59%) total $25.3M/Wk 4
10.) 80 for Brady (Par) 1,495 (-902) theaters, Fri $215K (-55%) Sat $370K Sun $260K 3-day $845K (-56%)/Total $38.3M/Wk 5
SATURDAY UPDATE after Friday PM update: Amazon, as it reembraces theatrical with its acquisition of MGM, will easily see the company’s biggest box office opening ever with Creed III, which is headed to a franchise record start of $51.1 million after a great $22M Friday (including $5.45M in previews).
Creed III‘s opening day alone is bigger than any previous box office weekend for an Amazon title. Big walk-up business here, with Comscore/Screen Engine’s showing that 74% of Creed III moviegoers bought their tickets either day-of or the day before.
For the most part, previous Amazon theatrical releases (of yore, not the current day-and-date Amazon Prime or truncated window titles) saw platform rollouts, sometimes through distribution partners like STX, Lionsgate, or Roadside Attractions. Following Jen Salke taking over the top post at the studio, Amazon Studios pivoted to a truncated limited theatrical distribution plan for its titles (sometimes day-and-date model) starting with their 2019 Sundance acquisition The Report, before quickly segueing them on Prime Video.
A previous wide notable weekend for an Amazon title was the fourth-weekend wide break of The Big Sick ,with $7.56M (in 2,597 theaters). Lionsgate handled that movie in 2017. Amazon recently took the Ben Affleck-directed, Matt Damon-starring Air and pivoted it from Prime Video to a full theatrical release over Easter weekend.
Creed III bests the three-day totals of Creed ($29.6M) and Creed II ($35.5M), both of which had five-day launches over their respective Thanksgiving weekend openings.
RELATED: ‘Creed III’ Review: Highly Predictable Film Still Entertaining Thanks To Jonathan Majors’ Acting & Michael B. Jordan’s Directing
The Rotten Tomatoes audience score for the Michael B. Jordan-directed and starring threequel, which also headlines Jonathan Majors and Tessa Thompson, is still high at 96% fresh, and last night it received an A- CinemaScore to the previous installment’s As. Audience exits on PostTrak were at a great 5 stars, 92% positive, and very strong 80% recommend pulling in 36% Black audiences, 28% Latino and Hispanic, 23% Caucasian, and 13% Asian/other.
Creed III overperformed in the East and the South. However, it was strong throughout the country. Moviegoer make-up was 63% guys, 55% between 18-34, and 29% between 35-54. Creed III was 65% under 35, which is very similar to Creed II‘s 66% turnout for that crowd. PostTrak shows that 40% came for the cast as a whole, while 43% showed up as they love the Rocky spinoff franchise.
Other wide releases:
Crunchyroll’s Demon Slayer Into the Swordsmith Village at 1,753 theaters grossed $4.1M yesterday, very close to what we were seeing sans Thursday previews, for what is looking like $10M over Friday-Sunday. Demon Slayer fans were harder on this film, both with their wallets and reactions. The last Demon Slayer, the movie Mugen Train, was a bright spot at the pandemic box office, giving New Line’s Mortal Kombat a run for its money with a near No. 1 opening take of $21.2M. Swordsmith Village features episodes 10 and 11 from the series’ Entertainment District Arc, as well as the extended Episode 1 of the highly anticipated Swordsmith Village Arc, all of which were combined into one feature-length cinematic experience remastered in 4K.
Fans gave it a B+ CinemaScore and 74% positive on PostTrak, 61% recommend. 66% guys showed up, 79% of the overall audience was between 18-34 with 40% Latino and Hispanic, 26% Caucasian, 15% Black and 9% Asian/other. Best regions for Demon Slayer were the West & Southwest, where nine of the top ten theaters were.
Lionsgate’s distribution deal for Miramax’s Guy Ritchie directed action movie Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre at 2,168 (which was dated two weeks ago) grossed $1M yesterday, including previews, for what is looking like a $2.9M-$3M weekend. The pic is on a 17-day window, and the hope for the distributor is that theatrical release here will set the table for home entertainment. Again, the whole last-minute release here stemmed from the film becoming available to Lionsgate and Miramax after the title was tangled up with the banks in an STX restructuring (the former studio has an output deal with Lionsgate). Miramax had to go quick with the movie stateside, as the title, already released overseas, had made $41.4M.
Miramax also sought out other buyers on the title, but kept it with Lionsgate. This was the one place on the calendar which worked for Lionsgate, keeping it away from March 24’s John Wick: Chapter 4, Ritchie’s other movie, The Covenant, on April 20, and Jason Statham’s Meg 2 on Aug. 4. It’s not the worst movie in the world, earning a B+
CinemaScore, same grade as Ritchie’s The Gentlemen, and not far from the A- the filmmaker nabbed for Wrath of Man. Critics aren’t wowed at 52% Rotten, but audiences are at 91% for the action pic toplined by Jason Statham, Hugh Grant, Cary Elwes, Josh Hartnett, and Aubrey Plaza. Who doesn’t want to see Statham and Plaza go at it? The low result here has largely to do with the last minute of it all. Lionsgate is getting a fee on this $50M production, which was largely funded through foreign sales.
Overall weekend for titles looks to clock an estimated $108.4M, which is -35% from the same frame a year ago, when The Batman led all movies with an overall weekend of $166M. The 2023 box office for the period of Jan. 1-March 5 is clicking to $1.33 billion, +29% over the same period a year ago.
1.) Creed III (UAR) 4,007 Fri $22M, 3-day $51.1M/Wk 1
2.) Ant-man and the Wasp Quantumania (Dis) 3,825 (-520) theaters, Fri $3.1M (-63%) 3-day $12M (-62%), Total $186.3M/Wk 3
3.) Cocaine Bear (Uni) 3,571 (+37) theaters, Fri $3.1M (-64%), 3-day $10.6M (-54%)/Total $40.8M/Wk 2
4.) Demon Slayer…Swordvillage (Cru) 1,753 theaters, Fri $4.1M, 3-day $10M/Wk 1
5.) Jesus Revolution (LG) 2,575 theaters (+100), Fri $2.2M (-68%) 3-day $7.65M (-52%)/Total $29.4M/ Wk 2
6.) Avatar: The Way of Water (Dis) 2,300 theaters (-195), Fri $773K (-30%) 3-day $3.3M (-31%)Total $670.3M /Wk 12
7.) Operation Fortune…(LG) 2,168 theaters, Fri $1M, 3-day $2.9M-$3M/Wk 1
8.) Puss in Boots: Last Wish (Uni) 2,588 theaters (-252), Fri $540K (-40%) 3-day $2.35M (-43%), Total $176.7M/Wk 11
9.) Magic Mike’s Last Dance (WB) 1,737 (-1,181) theaters,Fri $355K (-61%) 3-day $1.17M (-59%) total $25.2M/Wk 4
10.) 80 for Brady (Par) 1,495 (-902) theaters, Fri $215K (-55%) 3-day $850K (-55%)/Total $38.3M/Wk 5
RELATED: ‘Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre’ Review: Jason Statham Vs Hugh Grant In Guy Ritchie’s Stylish And Fun Spy Caper
FRIDAY AM: The Michael B. Jordan-directed Creed III drew $5.45M from Wednesday and Thursday night previews. The threequel is expected to do $38M-$40M at 4,007 theaters, which would rep a thre-day opening record for the Rocky spinoff franchise.
I’m hearing that 74% of that preview number for Creed III came from Thursday showtimes that began 7 p.m. Wednesday previews were from Imax and PLF showtimes only.
This easily beats the $3.6M previews for Creed II and the $1.4M from Creed, both of which were Tuesday previews before those pics’ Thanksgiving runs. Other comps being used for Creed III are last year’s Nope ($6.4M in previews, $44.3M opening) and Uncharted ($3.7M previews, $44M opening).
The movie is hot with audiences out of the gate at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviews have settled to 87% certified fresh, higher than Creed II‘s 83% but lower than the first installment’s 95% certified fresh.
The MGM title reps a big return to the big screen for streamer Amazon, with wide releases after a largely theatrical day-and-date business strategy with its Prime Video service.
Also opening this weekend is Lionsgate/Miramax’s Guy Ritchie action film Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre in 2,168 theaters, expected to do in the single digits (read the review). Thursday made $220K. Previous Ritchie previews for his action pics were Wrath of Man ($500K, $8.3M opening in 2021) and pre-pandemic 2020’s The Gentlemen ($725K, $10.6M opening). There’s also Crunchyroll’s cinema experience Demon Slayer Into the Swordsmith Village at 1,722 theaters, which has no Imax and PLFs because they belong to Creed III this weekend.
Universal’s Cocaine Bear won Thursday with an estimated $1.48M (-5% from Wednesday) at 3,534 theaters and a $30.2M first week (read the review). Disney/Marvel Studio’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania at 4,345 theaters saw $1.4M (-8%) yesterday, a second week of $39.1M and running total of $174.2M (read the review). Lionsgate’s Jesus Revolution at 2,475 theaters made an estimated $1.3M (+2%) and $21.8M first week (read the review). 20th/Disney/Lightstorm’s Avatar: The Way of Water at 2,495 made $361K yesterday, +2%, an 11th week of $6.3M and running total of $667M (read the review). Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Oscar nominated Puss in Boots: The Last Wish booked at 2,840 locations saw an estimated $235K Thursday, +2%, and 10th week of $5.1M and running total of $174.4M. As we already told you, that domestic total is higher than Illumination/Universal’s Sing 2 last holiday season ($162.7M) and original Puss in Boots ($149.2M in 2011).