A dark force threatens Ponyville, and the Mane 6—Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rarity—
embark on an unforgettable journey beyond Equestria where they meet new friends and exciting challenges on a quest to use the magic of friendship to save their home.
September 29th, 2017 (Special Engagement), released as Mano mažasis ponis (Lithuania)
October 6th, 2017 (Wide) (Brazil)
October 6th, 2017 (Special Engagement), released as My Little Pony Film (Czech Republic)
October 6th, 2017 (Wide) (Germany)
October 6th, 2017 (Wide), released as Mano mažasis ponis (Lithuania)
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Happy Death Day led the weekend, as expected, but did so with a surprisingly strong $26.04 million. The only other truly wide release of the week was The Foreigner, which also beat expectations, albeit by a smaller margin. The overall box office still fell from last weekend, down 4.2% to $100 million. This is 1.4% higher than the same weekend last year. On the one hand, this is not enough to compensate for inflation. On the other hand, at this point, any win is worth celebrating. Year-to-date, 2017 is still behind 2016 by a large margin, but at least it was able to close the gap by a little bit at $410 million / 4.7% at $8.34 billion to $8.75 billion.
October started on a soft note with none of the new releases meeting expectations over the weekend. Blade Runner 2049 led the way with $32.75 million, which would have been fine, had the movie not cost $155 million to make. (That’s $185 million on the screen, $155 million cost for the studio, after you take into account tax breaks, etc.) Neither The Mountain Between Us, nor My Little Pony: The Movie made much of an impact at the box office, but at least neither of them bombed. The biggest news was It hitting $300 million. Overall, the box office did climb compared to last weekend, growing 16% to $105 million. This is just 1.2% higher than the same weekend last year, but at this point, a win is a win. Year-to-date, 2017 is 5.1% or $440 million behind 2016 at $8.19 billion to $8.64 billion. We really needed a big win this weekend to put a dent in that number. Unless November and December are really big months, 2017 has already lost the year-over-year competition.
After It smashed the September weekend record a month ago, further proving that films can open huge at any time of the year, prospects looked great for the long-awaited sequel to Blade Runner. Its trailers had created positive buzz, the early reviews were very favorable, and there was little by way of competition. The bar it needed to cross to break the record, Gravity’s $55.8 million wasn’t even all that high. But something went wrong on the way to the multiplex.
I was bullish about Blade Runner 2049’s chances for a number of reasons. It was setting October records for pre-sales on a number of sites. Its reviews were over 90% positive. Its previews were a little stronger than expected, so everything was looking up. Then Friday happened. The film only pulled in $12.7 million on Friday, which is well below expectations. This is not a case of critics loved it, but the audiences didn’t, as it scored an A minus from CinemaScore. Perhaps not enough of the target audience even remembers the original Blade Runner and that’s why this movie is struggling. A lot of people thought it had a shot at $50 million this weekend but now $35 million is likely out of reach. $33 million is more likely at this point.
Blade Runner 2049 pulled in $4 million in previews on Thursday night. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of comparisons we can make here. The record holder for October is Gravity, but it opened in 2013, before previews were a major thing, so we can’t compare its $1.4 million in previews. Even The Martian’s $2.5 million previews isn’t a great comparison. We can say this is a good omen and a $50 million opening is a little more likely than it was yesterday. The reviews and its word-of-mouth should certainly help out, but it likely won’t be enough to break any records.
September ended on a slow note, but it looks like October will open fast. Blade Runner 2049 has been setting October pre-order records for a few sites, but it will also need strong walk-up sales in order to actually break the October weekend record, currently held by Gravity, with $55 million. I don’t think that’s likely, but at this point I would be shocked if it didn’t land in the top ten weekends for the month. The Mountain Between Us looks more and more like busted Oscar-bait. Its reviews have fallen from just over 70% positive to under 50% positive. As I started writing this, My Little Pony: The Movie still had no reviews, which is almost worse than bad reviews. (Reviews are starting to trickle in.) Finally there’s Victoria and Abdul, which is expanding. It isn’t expanding wide, or even semi-wide; however, it should still earn a spot in the top ten. This weekend last year, The Girl on the Train opened with $24.54 million. Blade Runner 2049 could earn twice that. If 2017 does win in the year-over-year comparison, then it will be on the back of Blade Runner 2049.
September destroyed the previous September monthly record for total box office take, with $800 million or so (we won’t know the exact figure until after the weekend), which tops 2016’s record of $616 million. Granted, this is almost entirely due to It’s record breaking run, and the rest of the month was merely average. Kingsman: The Golden Circle was the only other film to come close to $100 million. October doesn’t look any better, as far as depth is concerned. Blade Runner 2049 is widely expected to be the biggest hit of the month, but it is the only film expected to reach $100 million domestically. Boo 2 should be the second biggest hit of the month, while there are only a couple of other films that have a shot at $50 million. Part of the problem is the level of competition, as there are 16 films opening during the four October weekends. (Needless to say, some of the predictions below will be a little short, as there’s not much to say about a film that will barely open in the top ten and disappear two weeks later.) That’s way too many and most will be buried by the competition. Last October was a flop, as no film earned more than $100 million at the box office. There were a few films that came close, including the original Boo! movie. As long as Blade Runner 2049 matches expectations, 2017 should win the year-over-year comparison by a small margin. If we get one surprise hit, then 2017 has a real shot at closing the gap with 2016 by a significant margin. I choose to be cautiously optimistic.
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