Weekend Box Office (March 17 - 19, 2017)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Disney demolished the box office with a colossal debut for its fairy tale tentpole Beauty and the Beast which soared to a scorching $174.8M, according to final studio figures, generating the sixth largest opening weekend in history beating all Batman, Spider-Man, Hunger Games, and Harry Potter movies in the process. The big-budget epic also set new box office records for the biggest debuts ever for both March releases and PG-rated movies.

The jaw-dropping sales figure came from 4,120 locations delivering a scorching per-theater average of $41,508. 19% of the gross came from IMAX and PLF screens as many movie fans felt this highly anticipated motion picture was worth paying extra for.

Buzz has been building since Disney first announced it was making a live-action version of the beloved 1991 Oscar-winning animated film. The casting of Emma Watson which was announced over two years ago only added to the excitement. Advance ticket sales ran at record levels for a family film and huge grosses were expected, but Beast came in on the top end of expectations.

The studio has made a fortune using its strategy of taking fairy tale stories and making them into event films. After all, this strategy has been used for decades on comic book characters. Four films right near Belle on the all-time opening weekend list all feature Iron Man. But Beauty and the Beast took its genre to new heights with a launch that was much bigger than the openings for Cinderella and Maleficent - combined. The studio fully expects cash to keep coming in over the years ahead with live-action versions of Aladdin, Mulan and others currently in development.

Studio data showed that Beauty skewed 60% female this weekend and broad appeal was there as half of the audience was non-family. 26% of the gross came from the various 3D formats. Reviews were generally positive for the musical and an A grade from CinemaScore indicates that ticket buyers were satisfied with what they got.

How front-loaded the film is remains a question. Friday kicked off with a stellar $63.8M which included $16.3M from Thursday night pre-shows beginning at 6pm. While past March fairy tale films rose on Saturday, Beast dipped 2% to $62.7M. Intense demand certainly pushed much of the business upfront. Sunday dropped only 23% to $48.3M. Still, with many schools having spring break school closures in March, there is plenty of upside still to come and next weekend's competition is not too direct. Breaking $400M domestic seems very likely.

A mammoth $182M opening weekend from international markets made for a giant $357M global premiere for Beauty and the Beast. China led with a $44.8M start while the U.K. followed with $22.8M. With France, Australia, and Japan still to open, we could very well be looking at a Billion Dollar Belle.

After its mighty opening weekend, the monster movie Kong: Skull Island dropped a reasonable 54% in its sophomore session and grossed $27.8M. That gave Warner Bros. a cume of $109.1M through the second weekend on its way to a domestic final of about $170M. The big-budget Kong has racked up $149.2M overseas and currently stands at a worldwide haul of $258M. Next weekend's openings in China and Japan will take it much higher.

2017's top-grossing film - for now - followed in third place as Fox's Logan dropped 53% to $17.8M after its third weekend of play. The Hugh Jackman hit has grossed $184.3M making it now the biggest of the three stand-alone Wolverine pics. The worldwide tally now sits at $524M on its way to nearly $700M.

Horror hit Get Out once again showed stamina in its fourth weekend grossing $13.4M, off 35%. Universal has banked an incredible $133.3M thus far and will soon surpass the $136.9M of Split, the studio's other low-cost fright smash from this year in its partnership with Blumhouse. The dynamic duo should end with over $300M in combined domestic grosses and cost a mere $14M together to produce.

Off 40% in its third weekend was the faith-based drama The Shack with $6M and a nice new sum of $42.5M for Lionsgate. Despite the arrival of a Disney behemoth, the animated adventure comedy The LEGO Batman Movie still held up nicely falling 40% to $4.6M in its sixth round. With $167.3M to date, the Warner Bros. hit has already surpassed the grosses of some of last year's high-profile toons like Trolls, Kung Fu Panda 3, and The Angry Birds Movie. Global for LEGO Batman now stands at $287M.

The new horror film The Belko Experiment opened to soft results in seventh place with $4.1M from 1,341 locations for a mild $3,085 average. Earning mixed reviews, the low-budget R-rated thriller from Orion and BH Tilt failed to stand out as a must-see genre pic during a year when many other films have already given audiences plenty of scares for their money.

Fox's runaway hit Hidden Figures followed with $1.5M, down 47%, with a stellar $165.5M to date. The highest grossing film for Keanu Reeves in 13 years, John Wick: Chapter Two, fell 56% to $1.2M for a $89.8M cume for Lionsgate. Tumbling 67% was the teen flop Before I Fall with $1M putting Open Road at only $11.2M.

The top ten films grossed $252.2M which was up a staggering 118% from last year when Zootopia stayed at number one with $37.2M; and up a mighty 115% from 2015 when The Divergent Series: Insurgent debuted in the top spot with $52.3M. This weekend saw summer-like spending in March.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

Watch the trailer for The Fate of the Furious.

Compared to projections, Beauty and the Beast flew much higher than my $153M forecast.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Power Rangers, Life, and CHiPs all open.

# Title Mar 17 - 19 Mar 10 - 12 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Beauty and the Beast $ 174,750,616 4,210 1 $ 41,508 $ 174,750,616 Disney
2 Kong: Skull Island 27,832,142 61,025,472 -54.4 3,846 2 7,237 109,107,436 Warner Bros.
3 Logan 17,815,677 38,112,425 -53.3 3,687 3 4,832 184,342,562 Fox
4 Get Out 13,437,220 20,743,440 -35.2 2,979 4 4,511 133,305,365 Universal
5 The Shack 6,005,739 10,007,551 -40.0 2,825 3 2,126 42,490,369 Lionsgate
6 The LEGO Batman Movie 4,602,235 7,614,412 -39.6 2,735 6 1,683 167,325,587 Warner Bros.
7 The Belko Experiment 4,137,230 1,341 1 3,085 4,137,230 Orion/BH Tilt
8 Hidden Figures 1,475,280 2,761,002 -46.6 1,162 13 1,270 165,534,349 Fox
9 John Wick: Chapter Two 1,183,506 2,671,997 -55.7 1,065 6 1,111 89,774,310 Lionsgate
10 Before I Fall 985,631 3,000,782 -67.2 1,551 3 635 11,246,308 Open Road
11 Lion 734,336 1,324,172 -44.5 621 17 1,183 50,000,950 Weinstein Co.
12 La La Land 531,568 1,773,669 -70.0 585 15 909 149,765,752 Lionsgate
13 Split 505,540 1,253,940 -59.7 604 9 837 136,864,765 Universal
14 Rogue One 502,905 209,647 139.9 179 14 2,810 530,748,437 Disney
15 The Sense of an Ending 480,406 39,692 282 2 1,704 533,003 CBS
16 A Dog's Purpose 477,890 1,095,500 -56.4 594 8 805 62,932,920 Universal
17 Fist Fight 460,166 1,303,187 -64.7 533 5 863 31,537,914 Warner Bros.
18 Fifty Shades Darker 453,590 1,652,095 -72.5 607 6 747 114,030,075 Universal
19 Badrinath ki Dulhania 418,202 862,008 -51.5 156 2 2,681 1,584,711 FIP
20 Moana 342,833 430,601 -20.4 264 17 1,299 248,044,531 Disney
Top 5 $ 239,841,394 $ 137,503,300 74.4
Top 10 252,225,276 149,362,845 68.9
Top 20 257,132,712 159,773,220 60.9
Top 20 vs. 2016 257,132,712 124,843,054 106.0

Last Updated: March 21, 2017 at 2:40PM ET

©1997 - 2017 Box Office Guru