In other Thursday box office news that isn’t Aquaman, Mary Poppins Returns earned another $4 million on its second day of release. When Walt Disney originally moved the Emily Blunt sequel from December 25 to December 19, I figured it was a way of essentially stomping on everyone else’s Christmas. But now I can’t help but wonder if they shot themselves in the foot by not waiting for Aquaman (and possibly Bumblebee) to do their thing. Maybe Disney’s strategy was predicated on Aquaman being as bad as a stereotypical DC Films flick and Bumblebee being as bad as a stereotypical Transformers sequel. But if that’s the case, then it may backfire.
Look, $8.8 million in two days, especially in the Christmas season, isn’t automatic doom-n-gloom. But Walt Disney does not want to be in a position of ending the Wed-Sun frame with around $26m and thus praying for Greatest Showman-worthy legs just to justify itself. Its 16.6% drop from Wednesday is larger than Greatest Showman (-12%), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (+4.6%) and Sing (-12%). It’s an enjoyable, family-friendly musical romp. But it is so very much like the first Mary Poppins that it may be a hard sell to the very families (for whom a movie outing can cost around $100m when you factor tickets and concessions) that it is clearly targeting.
Bumblebee opened with $2.85 million in previews, counting the $700k sneak preview from two weeks ago. That’s obviously below the various advance-night preview grosses for the last five Transformers movies (which opened on a Tuesday, a Wednesday, a Wednesday, a Friday and a Wednesday). The well-reviewed and well-received Transformers prequel (or soft reboot, depending on how much it earns) cost around $135m to produce, much less than the last four over/under $200m Transformers sequels, so it can make a lot less and still be okay. The hope is that folks are waiting until the weekend and we’re looking at a 7.5% Thursday-to-weekend split and not a 12% split.