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'Aladdin' Tops

Aladdin earned an estimated $86 million over the Fri-Sun portion of its projected $105 million debut weekend. That’s no record, but it’s higher than the over/under $90 million pre-release tracking. It’s also a better debut than last year’s Disney’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. That Han Solo prequel earned $84 million Fri-Sun and $103 million over its Fri-Mon debut weekend. The problem was that reshoots and a director swap sent that film’s budget soaring to around $275 million. While $183 million for Aladdin isn’t cheap, it’s cheaper than $275 million and there’s little reason not to presume that Aladdin will perform a lot better overseas than the mostly ignored Star Wars Story.

Presuming Disney isn't under-estimating the Sunday/Monday numbers, it will have earned a 3.38x four-day weekend multiplier, just below Alice Through the Looking Glass (3.45x in 2016) and above almost every recent “opened on a Friday” Memorial Day weekend release save for Alice 2 and Men In Black 3 ($69 million from a $17.6 million Friday) back in 2012. The film received mixed reviews but strong audience polling results. Warts and all, the film delivers on its promises of a big-scale live-action redo of Aladdin and mostly works as a blustery and colorful live-action musical with a fine cast and strong production values. The script’s a mess, but it works as surface level entertainment no matter your feelings about its source material.

Yes, there is a lot of family-friendly entertainment (Secret Life of Pets 2, Toy Story 4, Men in Black International) and at least one potentially huge musical (Rocketman) on tap over the next few weeks. However, let's presume that the Mena Massoud/Naomi Scott/Will Smith/Marwan Kenzari/Nasim Perdrad musical romance plays like a normal Memorial Day biggie. For reference, the outliers in both directions are X-Men: The Last Stand ($234 million from a $122 million Fri-Mon debut in 2006) and Men In Black 3 ($179 million from a $69 million debut in 2012). An “average” 2.11x multiplier (Days of Future Past with a $233 million cume from a $110 million debut in 2014) gives Aladdin a $222 million cume.

An upper-level multiplier (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Alice Through the Looking Glass) gives it a 2.29x multiplier and an over/under $241 million domestic cume while a lower level multiplier of around 1.97x (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and X-Men: Apocalypse) still gives it a $207 million domestic finish. Yes, Memorial Day releases tend to be relatively front-loaded in terms of earning much of their money in the first four days (or five days, depending on when it opens) of domestic release. That’s why it’s a big deal for Walt Disney that the much-discussed Guy Ritchie flick over performed this weekend.

With a $121 million overseas debut, that gives the flick a $207 million global opening, not yet counting whatever it will earn in North America and overseas on Monday. That's a 41/59 domestic/overseas split, and that's with a "meh" $18.7 million debut weekend in China. Not every big movie can count on hitting pay dirt in China, but Aladdin is doing well enough here and in the rest of the world that it won't need a bail out from the biggest overseas market in the world, albeit on that usually only gives the studio 25% of a given ticket sale.

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