‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Fighting $700M Grossing ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ For No. 1 As National Cinema Day Pulls In 8M+, Beating Labor Day Weekend 2021 Admissions

SUNDAY AM UPDATE: $3 tickets on National Cinema Day helped drive even more audiences to the highest-grossing movie of the year to date, Paramount/Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick, putting the highest-grossing Tom Cruise movie over the $700M mark in its 15th weekend.

However, Saturday’s discount day has many distribution box office analysts confused on what exactly is the No. 1 film for the weekend. They say it’s Top Gun: Maverick. But Sony is calling champs of the sluggish Labor Day frame with their re-release of Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home grossing $7.6M over four days.

While it’s organic in any given weekend for Saturday business to be higher than Friday, the last-minute publicized (the press release dropped a week ago Sunday AM), National Cinema Day fueled movies in the top 10 to see 100%-257% Friday-to-Saturday surges, and in the case of the Jerry Bruckheimer produced Top Gun: Maverick, it was +139% on Saturday, with $2.6M. Paramount is calling the 4-day weekend at $7M.

Top Gun: Maverick

As far as the results of National Cinema Day, NATO is reporting 8.1M admissions for Saturday vs. box office stat org EntTelligence’s 8M admissions. Saturday’s box office for all movies is estimated around $24.3M, which is +9% from last Saturday, per Comscore. What National Cinema Day did was suction most of the $ business out of Friday and displaced it to Saturday: EntTelligence reports that just under 1M people went to the movies on Friday. In addition the analytics org saw Saturday notching 6x more presales than Friday. Friday to Saturday business for all movies last weekend was +37% versus +96% this weekend over the last two days. The 3-day box office for all titles this weekend is estimated to come in at $53.5M, roughly on par to last weekend.

No one is saying that holding a National Cinema Day with $3 tickets (even cash-strapped Regal was among the three major circuits participating) is a bad idea. Three thousands locations across 30K screens took part. The whole point of the day is to attract those who haven’t been to the movies during the pandemic, in addition to provide life to cinemas at a time when studios don’t have any fresh fare. And headcount-wise, that is a mission accomplished: 8.1M people came out in one day, which is just under the total weekend admissions for the 3-day portion of Labor Day 2019 (8.2M per EntTelligence) and even higher than last year’s 3-day 7.8M, when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was on the marquee. Moviegoing begets moviegoing.

National Cinema Day Labor Day Weekend Admissions chart

“The success of National Cinema Day was measured in patron count this past weekend.  It was about bringing back audiences who were still concerned about the return to the theater, and for rewarding loyal moviegoers. Arguably, this is the first time there was a push for moviegoing as opposed to seeing a particular movie. Collectively, the industry succeeded,” said EntTelligence Chief Strategy Officer Steve Buck.

“With National Cinema Day, we wanted to do something to celebrate moviegoing,” said Cinema Foundation president Jackie Brenneman in a statement. “This event outstripped our biggest expectations. The idea of the day was to thank moviegoers for an amazing summer, and now we have to thank them for this amazing day.”

However, the mind wonders if we’d get an even greater surge had we known about National Cinema Day earlier in the summer. Distribution sources say the Saturday during Labor Day weekend sans a major movie was an ideal day to pull this stunt off. I’m told ads for National Cinema Day were placed on connected TV (if you saw a commercial literally on TV, please email me…, we did see news about the day on Spectrum One here in LA), digital billboards, in-store digital, paid social media (YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) and Fandango.

I know that exhibition rolled up their sleeves, got hold of slews of advertising assets to get the word out on their social media handles (how else to publicize when no one went to the movies last weekend in what was the lowest-grossing one of the summer?) and to their loyalty club members.

Sunday reported studios estimates:

1.) Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) 3,935 theaters, Fri $1.75M, Sat $2.2M (+26% from Fri), Sun $2.05M, Mon $1.6M,  3-day $6M, 4-day $7.6M, Total $812.3M/Wk 29

2.) Top Gun: Maverick (Par) 3,113  (+151) theaters, Fri $1.09M, Sat $2.6M (+139%), Sun $1.8M, Mon $1.5M, 3-day $5.5M (+16%), 4-day $7M/Total $700.3M/Wk 15

3.) DC League of Super-Pets (WB) 3,115 (-169) theaters, Fri $725K, Sat $2.55M (+252%), Sun $2.175M, Mon $1.53M/3-day $5.45M (+32%)/4-day $6.97M /Total $82.3M Wk 6

4.) Bullet Train (Sony) 3,117 (-396) theaters, Fri $1.1M, Sat $2.38M (+116%), Sun $1.92M, Mon $1.4M, 3-day $5.4M (-4%)/4-day $6.8M, Total $87.3M/Wk 5

5.) The Invitation (Sony) 3,114 locations, Fri $1.05M, Sat $2.05M (+95%), Sun $1.6M, Mon $1.045M, 3-day $4.7M (-31%)/4-day $5.75M, Total $13.77M/Wk 2

6.) Beast (Uni) 3,217 (-537) theaters, Fri $760K, Sat $1.8M (+137%), Sun $1.08M, Mon $700K,  3-day $3.64M (-25%)/4-day $4.34M,Total: $26.1M/Wk 3

7.) Minions: Rise of Gru (Uni) 2,457 theaters (-37), Fri $490K, Sat $1.76M (257%), Sun $880K, Mon $750K, 3-day $3.13M (+15%), 4-day $3.88M Total: $359.6M/Wk 10

8.) Thor Love and Thunder (Dis) 2,090 (-360) theaters, $436K, Sat $1.26M (+189%), Sun $746K, Mon $537K, 3-day $2.44M (-8%), 4-day $2.98M, Total $340.4M, Wk 9

9.) Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (Cru) 2,500 (-600) theaters, Fri $511K, Sat $1.08M (+111%), Sun $814K, Mon $394K  3-day $2.4M (-48%), 4-day $2.79M, Total $35.1M/Wk 3

10.) Jaws (Uni) 1,246 theaters, Fri $870K, Sat $890K (+2%), Sun $540K, Mon $430K, 3-day $2.3M, 4-day $2.73M, Total $266.65M
The Steven Spielberg directed classic saw an Imax global weekend of $1.23M over four days of which the bulk is $1.2M from 285 stateside screens.


Honk for Jesus: Save Your Soul (Focus, also on Peacock) 1,882 theaters, Fri $430K, Sat $610K (+41%), Sun $400K, Mon $310K, 3-day $1.44M, 4-day $1.75M/Wk 1
Jill Goldsmith will have more details on the Deadline indie report.

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: “Estimates aren’t worth a whole lot this morning thanks to the brilliant idea of National Cinema Day,” cried one industry source to us this morning. They were speaking about the challenges for studio box office analysts to peg exactly what’s going to be No. 1 over the 4-day holiday weekend.

Despite all good intentions by the Cinema Foundation to drive business over a slow weekend, taking a page out of the book from what’s been done in Spain to spike admissions, it’s not creating a windfall of cash for the marketplace. But several movies are projected to show a 150%-200% gain in their Saturday box office over Friday, thanks to $3 tickets on National Cinema Day today.

What we heard going into the weekend is that presales for Friday were scant, whereas all the action is today. Coming off the lowest weekend of the summer last weekend at $53.3M, how do we judge the success of National Cinema if today is still a lousy day, dollar-wise, even with cheaper tickets?

Why by admissions, and that’s where box office analytics firm EntTelligence, which actually counts seats sold in a 3-day period, comes in. Of those who bought tickets last weekend, EntTelligence measure 1.7M, so if today comes in substantially higher than that, it’s clear that some word of mouth got out there about National Cinema Day.

Overall last weekend, EntTelligence measured 4.2M admissions. Over the 2021 Labor Day, which, of course, had the blessing of Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings driving a record opening for the summer end 4-day holiday of $94.6M. The 3-day portion for all films over Labor Day 2021 was 7.8M admissions, with 2.8M tickets ripped on Saturday a year ago.

However, on a dollar basis, this weekend’s 3-day portion of $58.4M is only up lightly, +10% from last weekend’s doldrums.

Top Gun Summer Box Office Wrap

Say what you will about the lackluster weekend, but it’s enough business to get the highest-grossing movie of the year, Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverickhigher and near $700M. Paramount is calling the total running cume by Monday at $699.28M. However, rivals think it can cross the seven century number. Even if it doesn’t, the sequel will cross $700M in the next week. A continued bravo for a movie which didn’t just make its bread in NYC and L.A., but played coast-to-coast getting people out who hardly go to the movies.

But what’s No. 1? Rival studio projections are all over the place with calling Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home – More Fun Stuff No. 1 for the weekend with around $7M for the 4-day. But others have the Culver City studio’s Bullet Train with $6.1M in its 5th weekend. According to Sony’s calculations, Spider-Man will take No. 1 with $6.1M over the 4-day frame.

If you haven’t read our summer box office wrap yet, it’s here. At $3.35 billion, +91% from last year, we’re still ascending, so the studios have nothing to complain about. However, financially strapped exhibitors will require more, and need to reconfigure themselves.

1.) Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) 3,935 theaters, Fri $1.75M, 3-day $4.9M, 4-day $6.1M, Total $810.8M/Wk 29

2.) Top Gun: Maverick (Par) 3,113  (+151) theaters, Fri $1.075M (-21%), 3-day $4.5M (-5%), 4-day $5.95M/Total $699.3M/Wk 15

3) Bullet Train (Sony) 3,117 (-396) theaters, Fri $1.1M (-29%), 3-day $4.67M (-17%)/4-day $5.875M, Total $86.4M/Wk 5

4.) DC League of Super-Pets (WB) 3,115 (-169) theaters, Fri $725K (-33%) 3-day $4.1M (-0%)/4-day $5.1M/Total $80.4M Wk 6

5.) Beast (Uni) 3,217 (-537) theaters, Fri $750K (-43%),  3-day $4M (-17%)/4-day $4.83M,Total: $26.6M/Wk 3

6.) The Invitation (Sony) 3,114 locations, Fri $1.05M (-61%) 3-day $3.83M (-44%)/4-day $4.725M, Total $13.77M/Wk 2

7.) Minions: Rise of Gru (Uni) 2,457 theaters (-37), Fri $470K (-32%), 3-day $3.57M (+32%), 4-day $4.39M Total: $360.1M/Wk 10

8.) Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (Cru) 2,500 (-600) theaters, Fri $520K (-61%), 3-day $2.65M (-43%), 4-day $3.19M, Total $35.6M/Wk 3

9.) Thor Love and Thunder (Dis) 2,090 (-360) theaters, $436K (-39%), 3-day $2.39M (-10%), 4-day $2.89M, Total $340M, Wk 9

10.) Where the Crawdads Sings (Sony) 2,074 theaters (-142), Fri $440K (-34%), 3-day $1.75M (-24%)/4-day $2.3M, Total $81.8M/Wk 8


Honk for Jesus: Save Your Soul (Focus) 1,882 theaters, Fri $430K, 3-day $1.27M, 4-day $1.53M/Wk 1

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