‘PAW Patrol 2’ Is The Top Dog At Box Office With $23M Opening – Sunday AM Update

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SUNDAY AM Final: Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie is lapping up $23M, a big win for Paramount and Spin Master, as the picture is part of a $14 billion global retail franchise which both companies get a nice cut from. And successful movies drive toy sales. It was part of Brian Robbins’ plan when he took over the top job at Paramount Pictures Studios to have family brands work at the box office, which also have a rainfall of cash in merchandise, particularly in an entertainment conglomerate that counts the powerful, and evergreen Nickelodeon brand. EntTelligence says Paw Patrol 2 drew 2.3M admissions, with close to half of the pic’s tickets being sold at child pricing.

Some of the stunts which Paramount did to bark up this latest sequel included getting the film in the Guiness Book of World Records with the most dogs in attendance at a movie screening, with 219 at the Autry Museum of American History at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, CA. Costume characters from the film flooded zoos, a White Sox game in Chicago, and children’s hospitals, as well as on-air appearances in all markets. There was an immersive 5,5k square foot Paw Patrol 2 movie experience in Columbus Circle, which ended with a collectible pup tag, photo opp and Dance PAWty, and a gift shop featuring 24 SKUs of PAW Patrol product for purchase. There were also lyric videos created for the three original songs featured in the sequel, including Down Like That by Bryson Tiller, Bark to the Beat by McKenna Grace and Blackbear, and Learning to Fly by Christina Aguilera. 

Paramount had custom games and interactive ads integrated into high impact, brand-safe platforms for kids, including the popular gaming site Poptropica Jr., which created a mini-island featuring all the mighty pups. There were also energetic dance videos to GoNoodle, helping students in classrooms get their wiggles out to a PAW Patrol beat. Noggin created two learning-based games exclusive to their app.

Brand partners, who helped garner 3 billion impressions for the pic, included Burger King with movie-themed King Jr. Meal, and Dogtopia, which called on all super-pups by encouraging pet parents to share their dog’s super-powers in a first-time film partnership.

Overall, a job well done by Paramount, considering Paw Patrol 2 star Kim Kardashian wasn’t available to constantly tell all her near half billion followers (across TikTok, X, Instagram, Facebook) to go. However, the reality star did drop the trailer on TikTok before the SAG-AFTRA strike started on June 12.

RelishMix reports that the sequel’s social media universe was below other family film comps at just over 117M. However, Paramount cross promotes its own social media channels (21.2M SMU) and Nick Jr (29.2M SMU) “with extreme video view counts, some with over 100M views each on YouTube playlist loops of clips, which, as usual, very young children adore,” per RelishMix.

Lionsgate is calling $18M on Saw X (1.4M admissions, per Entelligence) which rebounded the franchise greatly from Spiral-ing down the drain, this opening +106% over Spiral‘s $8.75M. Saw X opening is just under that of the original movie back in 2004, which was $18.2M. While tracking saw Saw X at $20M+, Lionsgate says that they did not. What’s clear is that at $13M production cost, there’s still a pulse here in the torture genre franchise, unlike the Expendables 4, which can be put to sleep. For trivia purposes: Saw III repped the highest opening for a Saw pic at $33.6M back in 2006. The average domestic opening for a Saw movie through nine pictures is $23M.

The campaign for Saw X, evident in the title, was to return the movie back to its roots and get the core followers back, while creating new faithful with a message that sold the character and heart of the horror series, not the gore. Looking to lasso a meme, Lionsgate had a remote-controlled Billy the Puppet as the centerpiece of the campaign, with some clever viral social media stunts and a PR tour. This yielded 46M views on owned TikTok content alone just from Billy. The question remains whether some of this cool stuff was dropped too late in the campaign.

Billy did a parody of the AMC Nicole Kidman commercial, released two weeks ago:

He also showed up on KTLA, did a Vogue 73 Questions parody (which had close to 10K likes on IG, released two days ago), appeared on a parody of MTV Cribs (released three days ago), and served as a Barista as part of a full HVC partnership. Among in theater stuff there was a “Don’t Text PSA” featuring Billy at Alamo Drafthouse, and Marcus CEO Greg Marcus shot a TikTok with the puppet.

Both Creator and Saw X screened at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX.

Disney’s number for New Regency/20th Century Studios’ The Creator is $14M, or just shy of 1M admissions. This is an upset stateside. However, hope resides in bigger ticket sales abroad, with a $32.3M global start. Disney did support this movie. However, it’s very hard in the current SAG-AFTRA strike to trumpet an original movie like this to the masses. It’s truly upsetting for a burgeoning star such as John David Washington: This is the actor’s second conceived event movie after Warner Bros.’ Tenet to get crimped by external forces beyond movie marketing’s control; the first pic was an attempt to reopen theaters in Covid, which did not work, and this title is up against the actors’ strike.

Understand, this is the type of movie that would have blown the roof off of Comic-Con. However, the cast couldn’t travel down with Gareth Edwards for a solo studio-sponsored panel on the movie (he appeared on Collider’s directors panel and showed off some footage).

The Creator is the type of movie you’d take TIFF, just New Regency did with The Martian back in 2015. It’s also the type of movie that would have world premiered at Venice.

But it didn’t make sense for the studio to spend money to do that during the strike.

Some marketing folks will take jabs at the studio’s campaign, that it was vague in early trailers. However, the movie does deliver. Perhaps a different release date closer to summer and with the wattage of cast would have brought some more money in here. People, it’s like Covid times at the box office: With the actors on strike, we’re not in a normal marketplace. Abroad, Creator opened No. 1 in France, Spain, UK (including previews) as well as Belgium (non-local), Netherlands, Poland (non-local), Bahrain, Georgia, Kazakhstan (non-local), Oman (non-local), Portugal, Qatar, Ukraine, UAE (non-local), Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia (non-local), India (non-local) and Malaysia (non-local). Originality means something somewhere, with Creator opening ahead of Saw X in Spain, UK (including previews) and Australia, as well as Denmark, Norway, Poland, Czech Republic, and Ukraine.

Imax ticket sales for The Creator were $3M domestic, $5.2M WW, and was a big win overall in premium format, with 53% of the weekend coming from PLF and Imax screens. Disney will hold some of these into next weekend, with Sony’s Kraven the Hunter having departed the first weekend of October. Disney will co-share Imax with Universal’s Exorcist: The Believer. Proof remains in the numbers regarding the pic’s playability — with the top 20 locations earning $14K-$52K, the top being AMC Lincoln Square.

Again, New Regency had Disney stick to this release date because of the history of original sci-fi pics launching at this time of year. While we can argue that the place for the movie was elsewhere on the calendar, the exhibition marketplace is $14M richer this weekend because of Creator. Glass half-full.

Official Comscore estimate on the weekend is $85.2M, +31% from the same frame a year ago, but down -10% from the last frame of September 2019.

Sunday studio reported figures:

1.) Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie (Par) 3989 theaters, Fri $6.8M, Sat $9.6M Sun $6.5M 3-day $23M/Wk 1

2) Saw X (LG) 3,262 theaters Fri $8M Sat $6.1M Sun $3.9M 3-day $18M/Wk 1

3.) The Creator (New Reg/20th/Dis) 3,680 theaters, Fri $5.6M, Sat $5.1M $3.3M 3-day $14M/Wk 1

4.) The Nun 2 (NL) 2871 (-665) theaters, Fri $1.32M (-45%), Sat $2M Sun $1.2M 3-day $4.67M (-45%) Total $76.7M/Wk 4

5) The Blind (Fath) 1714 theaters, Fri $1.26M Sat $1.6M Sun $1.2M 3-day $4.1M/Wk 1

6.) A Haunting in Venice (Dis) 2,785 (-520) Fri $1M (-42%), Sat $1.6M Sun $1M 3-day $3.8M (-39%)/Total $31.6M/Wk 3

7.) Dumb Money (Sony) 2837 (+2218) theaters, Fri $1.3M (+31%) Sat $1.3M Sun $900K 3-day $3.5M (+66%), Total $7.3M/Wk 3

8.) Equalizer 3 (Sony) 2,184 (-1086) theaters Fri $765K Sat $1.2M Sun $715K 3-day $2.7M (-43%), Total: $85.9M /Wk 5

9.) Expendables 4 (LG) 3518 theaters, Fri $713K Sat $1M Sun $692K 3-day $2.495M (-68%), Total $13.2M/Wk 2

10.) Barbie (WB) 1,302 (-1332) theaters Fri $355K Sat $650K Sun $425K 3-day $1.43M (-55%), Total $633M/Wk 11

11.) My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (Foc) 1,474 (-1604) theatres, Fri $340K Sat $520K Sun $340K 3-day $1.2M (-60%), Total $26.4M , Wk 4

12.) Stop Making Sense (A24) 786 (+522) theaters, Fri $380K, Sat $372K Sun $287K 3-day $1.04M (+21%), Total $3M/Wk 2

SATURDAY AM: Brand, in the middle of an actors strike when thespians can’t promote, is triumphing at the box office. Paramount and Spin Master’s $30M budgeted sequel, Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie, is the top dog with a $22.5M opening and an “A” CinemaScore, which is better than the first pic’s A-.

On the downside, four wide major studio entries aren’t enough to push the domestic marketplace past $100M, with all pics totaling $86M. While that’s up 34% from last year’s $64M, when Smile bowed, it’s off 9% from pre-pandemic 2019. We can also blame the rain in NYC, which shuttered around 20 cinemas, including powerhouse AMC’s big venues, Lincoln Square, Empire, and 84th Street. By the way, we hear those NYC theaters are re-opening today, and that they largely closed to accommodate the safety of their employees.

There was a yearning need for families to head to the movies, and animated pics in late September have always found a place at cinemas, i.e. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Abominable etc. The flooding in NYC isn’t weathering Paw Patrol 2, as that pic is a big hit in the Midwest, where 15% of all ticket sales are coming from, versus the norm of 12.7%. Great scores will keep this movie unleashed throughout matinees this weekend, with 83% on Screen Engine/Comscore’s PostTrak and a 68% recommend, and a 91% from kids under 12. Mostly women at 65% showed, with close to half of the audience between 13-24, and the largest quad a tie between 13-17 and 18-24 at 24% each. Diversity demos were 34% Caucasian, 32% Hispanic and Latino, 15% Black, and 19% Asian/other.

Lionsgate/Twisted Pictures’ Saw X led all movies on Friday with $8M (which includes $2M previews) for what’s poised to be an $18.6M opening — higher than Jigsaw and definitely higher than franchise worst Spiral, but below the $20M+ tracking was eyeing. Providing some freak-on for Saw X are some PLFs driving 21% of the gross. Still, with all the TV spots and social marketing that Paramount had with Paw Patrol 2 and Disney/20th on The Creator, Saw X isn’t too shabby, considering its $13M production cost. CinemaScore is a B, which is a grade most of the installments in the horror sequel have received, the highest going to 2005’s Saw II, which landed a B+.

PostTrak exits are strong at 82% positive, 62% recommend, with guys at 57% turning out and 70% of the audience between 18-34, and the largest demo being 18-24 at 39%. Diversity demos were a very strong Latino and Hispanic at 44%, Caucasian 30%, 13% Black, and 13% Asian/other. Despite NYC theater closures, Saw X is slaying in East, South Central, and West. AMC Burbank, natch, is best theater stateside with $22K so far.

The Creator movie

New Regency/20th Century Studios/Disney’s The Creator posted $5.6M on its opening day, with an outlook of $14M. The movie gets a B+, which is higher than Ad Astra (B-), higher than Arrival (B), but just under Gravity (A-). PostTrak is 81% positive and a 61% recommend. It’s unfortunate that an original sci-fi movie, which the marketplace needs more of for franchise starters — and is commendable here for studios to continue to take risks on — is underperforming in the domestic marketplace. I hear that overseas is looking better for Creator, with an outlook of $17M-$20M, which in likes-for-likes, is on par with Arrival. That movie ended its run at $102.8M abroad.

Guys at 71% showed up, with 51% between 18-34. This PG-13 movie is slightly older than the R-rated Saw X, with 25-34 the biggest demo at 31% and a third of the audience over 45. Diversity demos are 46% Caucasian, 20% Hispanic and Latino, 18% Black, and 15% Asian/other. The West is the best for Creator, with nearly a third of the gross vs the norm of 24%. IMAX and several PLFs are repping 53% of ticket sales, with the AMC Burbank the pic’s top theater with close to $42K so far.

Dumb Money movie

A coastal play movie like Black Bear and Sony’s Dumb Money is getting hurt by the underwater NYC marketplace and the actors strike, with $1.3M yesterday at 2,837 locations and $4M for the weekend, with a running total in its third week of $7.8M. Black Bear financed this movie for $30M and made the Game Stop meme movie a reality for the big screen. Sony bought U.S., Latin America, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, South Africa, India and select Asian markets. Again, no late night talk shows for this pic’s movie stars of Seth Rogen, Pete Davidson, and Shailene Woodley hurts greatly.

Fathom has the faith-based title, The Blind from filmmaker Andrew Hyatt, which has made $2.1M through Thursday and Friday at 1,714. The weekend outlook is $3.8M. The movie is about Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty and how he fell in love, started a family, and how his demons threatened to take their lives apart. The audience who showed up loved it at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Pic was strong in the Bible Belt, meaning South and South Central, where 65% of its gross is coming from, versus 34%. The Cinemark Tinseltown 18 in West Monroe, LA is the best in the nation to date with more than $11k.

Saturday numbers:

1.) Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie (Par) 3989 theaters, Fri $6.8M, 3-day $22.5M/Wk 1

2) Saw X (LG) 3,262 theaters Fri $8M 3-day $18.6M/Wk 1

3.) The Creator (New Reg/20th/Dis) 3,680 theaters, Fri $5.6M, 3-day $14M/Wk 1

4.) The Nun 2 (NL) 2871 (-665) theaters, Fri $1.32M (-45%), 3-day $4.6M (-46%) Total $76.6M/Wk 4

5.) Dumb Money (Sony) 2837 (+2218) theaters, Fri $1.3M (+31%) 3-day $4M (+66%), Total $7.8M/Wk 3

6) The Blind (Fath) 1714 theaters, Fri $1.26M 3-day $3.8M/Wk 1

7.) A Haunting in Venice (Dis) 2,785 (-520) Fri $1M (-42%), 3-day $3.7M (-41%)/Total $31.5M/Wk 3

8.) Equalizer 3 (Sony) 2,184 (-1086) theaters Fri $750K (-45%) 3-day $2.7M (-43%), Total: $85.9M /Wk 5

9.) Expendables 4 (LG) 3518 theaters, Fri $702K (-77%), 3-day $2.4M (-70%), Total $13.2M/Wk 2

10.) Stop Making Sense (A24) 786 (+522) theaters, Fri $369K, 3-day $1.33M (+55%), Total $3.29M/Wk 2

FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Paramount/Spin Master’s PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie didn’t have previews today, but based on presales and upcoming matinees, the tike sequel is eyeing a $6.5 million Friday and a $22 million opening at 3,644 theaters.

That’s fantastic and underscores the massive power of the kiddie brand after Paramount took the first movie out in theaters and Paramount+ day-and-date back in 2021, scoring a $13.1M opening and $40.1M result. To do nearly double the amount of money in a sequel’s opening is commendable here.

Lionsgate’s decision to take its Saw franchise back to its original name in Saw X is proving worthy. As of right now the movie looks to do $7.6M today, including $2M previews, and $17.5M for the weekend at 3,262 theaters. That’s slightly more than Jigsaw but still under the bullish $20M+ tracking had. We’ll see if there’s momentum as the weekend continues.

In Twisted Pictures’ current installment, John Kramer (Tobin Bell) is back, and it’s the untold chapter of Jigsaw’s final games. Set between the events of Saw I and II, a sick and desperate John travels to Mexico for a risky and experimental medical procedure in hopes of a miracle cure for his cancer – only to discover the entire operation is a scam to defraud the most vulnerable. The infamous serial killer returns to his work, turning the tables on the con artists in his signature visceral way through devious, deranged and ingenious traps. The movie has the best reviews of any Saw pic at 86% fresh.

RELATED: Movie Release Date Calendar For 2023

At this time, New Regency/20th Century Studios’ The Creator is coming up short with $15M-$16M after a Friday that’s at $6M, including previews. The Gareth Edwards-directed title is booked in 3,680 theaters. Oy, on this $80M-budgeted spectacle.

Sony’s wide expansion of Dumb Money from 616 theaters to 2,837 is only seeing $1M today and around $3M for the weekend, way outside the top five pics. Clearly, in the cases of The Creator and Dumb Money, these movies truly require their casts and late-night talk shows to fire up a spirit in a 360-degree campaign. Movies such as PAW Patrol and Saw X aren’t contingent on their casts spurring foot traffic.

Fourth place belongs to the fourth weekend of New Line’s The Nun 2 with around $5M at 2,871 theaters, off 42%, and a running total of $77M. 20th/Disney’s A Haunting in Venice is fifth with $4M, -37%, for a running total of $31.8M in weekend three.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Hopefully three wide releases can wake up what’s been a relatively sleepy time at the box office, ratcheted down by the SAG-AFTRA strike. With New Regency/20th Century Studios/Disney’s original Gareth Edwards sci-fi movie The Creator, Paramount and Spin Master’s PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie and Lionsgate’s Saw X, the top three movies look to make around $45M.

All three of them are vying for No. 1 with a take in the high-teen millions, but it’s likely a two-way race between PAW Patrol 2 and The Creator since both pics have had the loudest marketing campaigns and Lionsgate usually executes its smaller-budgeted movies on the cheap.

Wait, there’s four wide releases this weekend: Sony’s Dumb Money is expanding but only is expected to do in the single digits.

RELATED: ‘Dumb Money’ Review: Paul Dano Outsmarts Seth Rogen In Hilarious And Smart Movie On The GameStop Stock Phenomenon

The Creator and Saw X held previews Thursday night, while PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie skipped because it’s matinee draw on the weekend while school is in session. Coming off Wednesday night premium screenings and Thursday night shows that began at 6 p.m., The Creator earned $1.6M, while Saw X saw $2M. The horror sequel saw a big turnout among Latino and Hispanic moviegoers at 41%.

That’s a slow start for The Creator considering that figure includes Wednesday shows for the $80M production completely financed by New Regency. The sci-fi pic has all the blasters of premium ticket sales in Imax, ScreenX, 4D, etc., amid an overall theater count of 3,680.

RELATED: ‘The Creator’ Review: John David Washington Bonds With All-Powerful AI Child In Gareth Edward’s Remarkable Sci Fi Action Adventure That Paints A Future All Too Possible

Saw X‘s preview figure is ahead of that of the previous two Saw titles: Spiral did $750K in 2021 and Jigsaw made $1.6M in 20167. Jigsaw‘s Thursday repped 23% of its Friday total, which turned into a $16.6M opening and a $38M final domestic.

What remains is to be seen how both older-guy movies were frontloaded with fans Thursday night. The plus for PAW Patrol 2 is that it’s the first family animated movie since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem in early August, but it’s sequel that appeals to kids in diapers and preschool.

In Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak exits, Saw X gets a 78% grade, Creator is 78%, and Dumb Money is 87%. Creator leaned more guy Thursday night than Saw X, 72% to 61%.

RELATED: ‘PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie’ Trailer: Superpowers And Kardashians In Adventure City

Tracking had Saw X way ahead at $20M since it’s the first franchise pic with Saw in the title since 2010’s Saw 3D. The previous movie, Spiral, bottomed out to a franchise-low opening of $8.75M and a $23.2M domestic take. Lionsgate lifted the review embargo late in the game on Saw X, and it turned out that the sequel at 85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes is the best critical rating for the franchise ever. The $13M production plays at 3,262 theaters, the widest ever for a Saw movie. Through nine movies to date, the franchise has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide and is one of the longest running horror franchises in cinema history.

RELATED: ‘Saw X’ Trailer: Jigsaw Is Back And There’s Still A Lot Of Work That Needs To Be Done

Creator‘s previews are being comped to last year’s The Woman King ($1.7M, $19.1M opening in ), 2019’s Gemini Man ($1.6M, $20.6M opening), 2016’s Arrival ($1.5M, $24.1M opening) and 2019’s Ad Astra ($1.5M, $19M opening). Critics aren’t entirely over the moon about Creator at 68% fresh next to the Brad Pitt-led 83% certified fresh Ad Astra and Amy Adams-Jeremy Renner led Arrival, which was 94% certified fresh on RT.

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