In both a noble gesture toward exhibition after the studio’s Project Popcorn, and in a means to monetize downstream revenues, Warner Bros is taking what was a HBO Max movie, Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike’s Last Dance, and putting into 1,500 theatrical locations this weekend. That’s with a thrifty marketing spend. It’s the second movie after New Line’s House Party ($8.8M) for which Warners has reverse-engineered a streaming release for the big screen.
Meanwhile, Paramount is building off the heat of James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water with a 25th anniversary 3D reissue of the filmmaker’s Oscar-winning 1997 smash Titanic. There are arguments to be made that either could notch No. 1: Titanic apparently is tracking better than the fall re-issue of Avatar ($10.5M opening) with a shot at double-digit millions in 2,400 theaters and the Channing Tatum-Salma Hayek Pinault threequel also having a potential $10M debut with the chance for more heading into Valentine’s Day Tuesday.
Both are squarely aimed at women, a reliable demo over the Big Game frame, despite the fact that moviegoing falls off a cliff on Sunday. While the majors will complain about how bad Super Bowl weekend is at the box office, they’ve been able to capitalize on what has been a two-day weekend: i.e. Disney’s Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds concert movie dynamited young girls and moms in 2008 with a $31.1M start, whereas the sixth weekend of American Sniper did $30.66M in 2015.
Tatum has a long history of opening movies in February, often around Valentine’s Day and/or Super Bowl weekend and pulling in his female demo, read 2012’s The Vow ($41.2M opening), 2010’s Dear John ($30M opening) and even last year’s Dog ($14.9M opening). Warners is banking on star power working its trick again. The studio has booked a swath of theaters known for filling their capacities and avoided overbooking the movie in the same zone to fuel demand.
The marketing here for Magic Mike’s Last Dance has largely been TV spots on Warner Discovery channels. iSpot estimates that Warners spent just under $9M on TV spots that generated 1.37 billion impressions across TLC, Investigation Discovery, TBS, Food Network and Discovery Channel and on shows like The Big Bang Theory, Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, Dr. Phil, Young Sheldon and 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way. I’ve heard from exhibition sources that rental terms are generous, north of 55% in their favor, so no complaints about how Warner Bros is handling Magic Mike’s Last Dance. Previews start Thursday at 5PM for the R-Rated movie, its previous two installments grossing $180M domestic, $285M WW.
Titanic previews start at 3 p.m. Thursday. The movie stands at No. 8 on the all-time list of highest-grossing movies in U.S./Canada with $659.3M (Avatar: The Way of Water has yet to catch up, with a running total through Tuesday of $638.6M in the No. 10 spot). The best re-release debut for Titanic was in 2012, when a 3D version opened to $17.2M, and legged out to $57.9M.
Paramount will also see a strong hold from 80 for Brady which beat Universal’s Knock at the Cabin on both Monday ($1.2M) and Tuesday ($2.5M). The five-day running totals for both 80 for Brady and Knock at the Cabin are tied at $16.4M. Look for 80 for Brady to ease around 30% in weekend 2 for around $8.8M while the M. Night Shyamalan thriller is poised to drop by 60% for around $5.6M.