This weekend promises to be a huge one at the box office, led of course by Star Wars which is slated to basically block out the sun. We are expecting it to earn twice as much money by itself this weekend than every other movie did last weekend combined. Seasonally, with three weeks to go, this is the point in the year where the movie-going audience picks up substantially. With little competition in sight, and the conditions right Star Wars: The Last Jedi is legitimately gunning for the number one opening weekend of all time – a title currently held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens released two years ago, almost to the day.
Ferdinand has a decidedly tougher row to hoe. It is a title which has been repeatedly pushed back and rescheduled (never a good sign) and it is competing in-genre with the excellent Coco which is currently in its third straight week at the top of the charts. It may be lining up to sort of draft behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi and pick up on the movie-going audience, but Fox sort of tried this before when the Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out releasing Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip at the same time and that was a pretty big failure.
FLIQ likes The Last Jedi quite a bit, but it does not appear likely that it will break the $250M opening weekend record set by the previous release. There are a number of driving factors here, all of which generally point back to the inescapable gravity of iterative sequels underperforming prior releases. For example, the views for the Wikipedia page for The Last Jedi for yesterday are 270K. Looking at The Force Awakens, on Tuesday before it’s release, it was at 480K. That’s one data point but the rest of the audience interest data like trainer views, google search, etc. tracks accordingly.
The other element of risk according to our models is writer/director Rian Johnson. FLIQ specifically focuses on the last three years of history for the key players in a production, and in the last three years, Johnson just doesn’t have much of a track record so FLIQ doesn’t know what to make of him. His previous writing/directing feature was Looper back in 2012, around the same time he directed three outstanding Breaking Bad episodes.
Every week we will compare the FLIQ forecast to others made by BoxOfficeMojo, Pro.BoxOffice and BoxOfficeProphets.com. We will also be making a weekly prediction setting up a fun Men vs Machine experiment. As we go forward, it will be interesting to reflect on and understand which types of predictions are better, where and how.
Looking at the other forecasts we see that FLIQs is tracking well directionally, the consensus is that Star Wars has a fantastic opening though less than the 2015 Force Awakens
Check out the detailed forecasts from the other guys below, the Star Wars analysis from Box Office Mojo is particularly insightful this week:
When forecasting the opening weekend for Star Wars: The Force Awakens back in 2015 it was a rather monumental task as no film had ever opened over $100 million in December let alone over $200 million. Not to mention anticipation was at a fever pitch as Force Awakens marked the first new live-action installment in the iconic franchise in ten years with the marketing might of Disney behind it. Now comes time to forecast the latest installment in the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and while the factors going into forecasting the sequel aren’t nearly as numerous, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a walk in the park.
In terms of tracking, Last Jedi has shown interest and awareness levels between those of Rogue One and The Force Awakens, further reinforcing our long range forecasts from months prior. On the social media front, Twitter activity has trailed that of the latter title by a significant margin, while also coming in just behind last year’s anthology film. That being said, Last Jedi has generated about 165 percent more relevant Twitter mentions than Jurassic World did in the comparable week-of-release window.
Fox will be playing the long game with this animated title [Ferdinand] as the Christmas and New Year’s corridor should be very lucrative for the last animated release of the year, with only Coco serving as direct competition for families with young kids. The counter-programming strategy this weekend is aimed to reel in those parents with children for whom The Last Jedi may be too intense.
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