"Wonka" Box Office Update: $37M–$38M, a Sweeter Opening Weekend


UPDATED, Saturday AM: Warner Bros.’ Wonka is doing what it’s suppose to do this weekend for a mid-December, pre-Christmas family title: A- CinemaScore on its way to an improved $37M-$38M after a higher than expected previews/Friday of $14.4M. Some industry estimates have Wonka at a $40M opening.

Dive deep into Wonka demos and you find that many are sweet on the film, i.e. females under 18 (11% of the audience) who gave it an A+ and those under 25 who gave it an A (36%).

'Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes'


Again — a great result for a musical after the genre’s funk post Covid, and the studio intentionally didn’t sell Wonka as one in trailers. Why? Apparently test audience focus groups hate musicals and the only way to get people into the theater when it comes to them is to trick ’em. If they get tricked, and they like it, then business is solid for a studio on a musical. This is the same reason why Lionsgate didn’t lean into those beautiful country ballad numbers in its Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes marketing to set that prequel apart from the rest of its previous sequels. Speaking of that movie, it continues to hold well at -35% with a fifth weekend of $6M and running total of $145.4M. Look for a pop on the pic over Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

PostTrak exits are still very good for the Paul King directed Wonka at 4 1/2 stars, 85% in the top boxes and 64% definite recommend. Kids under 12 gave it 87% positive and a 70% definite recommend, but parents gave it 5 stars which means they’ll tell other parents who’ll spend money to get their kids out of the house in the near future. More females on this Timothee Chalamet movie at 54% which isn’t a surprise with 60% of the audience between 18-34 and the largest demo being 18-24 at 33% with 10% between 13-17. Diversity demos are 46% Caucasian, 27% Latino and Hispanic, 10% Black and 11% Asian American. PLF and Imax screen are only driving 35% of the weekend’s ticket sales, which is no surprise for a family title. Wonka is the sweetest in the West, South Central and Mountain Regions. Top grossing theater in the nation? Not the tried and true AMC Burbank, but the Jordan Commons in Utah with $62K so far. 

Other social media comps from RelishMix: Wonka at north of 326M followers across TikTok, Instagram, X, Facebook and YouTube is just under the reach of pre-Covid musical The Greatest Showman (331.2M) and far ahead of the post-Covid 20th Century Studios/Amblin/Disney’s West Side Story (175.2M).

Fathom’s Christmas With The Chosen: Holy Night booked at 2,059 is looking at $872K for Friday after a a Tuesday launch for a 3-day of $3M in 7th place. No CinemaScore, but Rotten Tomatoes audiences like it at 88%. South and the Midwest are the best regions, natch, for this faith-based movie. The Village Cinema in Meridian ID (which never pops up on any list of top grossing theaters for a movie) is the highest grossing venue for the pic at $2K so far.


Amazon MGM’s TIFF winning American Fiction launched in seven locations in three markets (AMC Century City, AMC Burbank, AMC Grove, Alamo South Lamar Austin, Alamo Brooklyn, Angelika NYC and AMC Lincoln Square) with $121K yesterday on its way to $219K 3-day or a $31K solid opening weekend theater average for this marketplace. Alamo Brooklyn is tops with $25,2K. Pic will expand throughout the holidays. The Cord Jefferson directed comedy is up for two Golden Globe noms for Best Comedy Musical Feature and for Jeffrey Wright in the Best Actor Comedy Musical slot.


More poms poms for Amazon MGM on the arthouse front: Their Emerald Fennell 2x Golden Globe nominated Saltburn is crossing the $10M mark this weekend with $686K at 476 theatres before its Dec. 22 Prime Video drop date. That’s nearing the $10.5M domestic result of Barry Keoghan’s The Banshees of Inisherin last year, and it’s more than other arthouse titles last fall, i.e. Tar ($6.8M), Bones and All ($7.8M) and Fennell’s 2020 Covid theatrical release (sans NYC, LA and San Fran markets), Promising Young Woman ($6.4M).

Searchlight Pictures

More fun times on the specialty front during the pre-Christmas period: Searchlight’s saucy Poor Things popped into the top 10 with $488K yesterday after a 73 theater expansion in 21 markets on an 82 theater count and a $1.1M 3-day for a near $15K theater average. Running total for the Emma Stone starring and produced period absurdist comedy is $2.1M by EOD Sunday. The movie is up for seven Golden Globe noms including Best Feature Comedy Musical.

A24 has their 4x Cannes Film Festival award winning Jonathan Glazer directed drama The Zone of Interest in four theaters –AMC Century City, Vista LA, Angelika NY and AMC LSQ NY– with good numbers after a $58K Friday, and expected 3-day of $143K or $35K per theater. The movie about an Auschwitz commandant and his family living next to the camp is up for three Golden Globe nominations including Best Drama Feature.

All movies this weekend look to gross $80.5M, which is +13% over last weekend when The Boy and the Heron was the only wide release, but it’s -47% from a year ago as that’s when Avatar: The Way of Water debuted. This weekend is also off -32% from the same frame in pre-Covid December 2019 which was when Jumanji: The Next Level led all movies before Christmas with $59.2M.

The chart as of Saturday:

1.) Wonka (WB) 4,203 theaters, Fri $14.4M, 3-day $37M-$38M/Wk 1

2.) Hunger Games: Songbirds & Snakes (LG) 3,291 (-374) theaters, Fri $1.7M (-37%), 3-day $6M (-35%), total $145.4M/Wk 5

3.) Boy and the Heron (GKIDs) 2,325 (+120) theaters, Fri $1.4M (-75%), 3-day $5M (-62%), Total $22.9M/Wk 2

4.) Godzilla Minus One (Toho) 2,622 (+82) theaters, Fri $1.34M (-41%), 3day $4.89M (-42%), Total $34.1M/Wk 3

5) Trolls Band Together (Uni/DWA) 3,157 (-294) theaters, Friday $900K (-34%) 3-day $4M (-34%) Total $88.7M/Wk 5

6) Wish (Dis) 3,100 (-310) theaters, Fri $730K (-38%) 3-day $3.2M (-39%), Total $54.3M/Wk 4

7) Christmas With the Chosen: Holy Night (Fathom) 2059 theaters, Fri $872K 3-day $3M, Total $4.7M/Wk 1

8) Napoleon (Apple/Sony) 2,601 (-749) Fri $640K (-45%), 3-day $2.2M (-46%), Total $57M/Wk 4

9) Renaissance/Beyonce (AMC) 1,723 (-819) theaters Fri $553K (-66%) 3-day $1.9M (-65%) Total $30.7M/Wk 3

10) Poor Things (SEA) 82 (+73) theaters Fri $488K (+75%), 3-day $1.1M (+66%), Total $2.1M/Wk 2


UPDATED, Friday afternoon: Warner Bros’ Wonka is looking at a $12 million-$13 million Friday, including those $3.5M previews from last night, on its way to a $35M+ start at the domestic box office at 4,203 locations. That’s a respectable opening for this time of year when moviegoers are still sidelined by holiday activities, and it’s a solid start for a feature musical, currently ahead of the three-day total of 2008’s Mamma Mia! ($27.7M) and Hairspray ($27.8M).

In fact, after such musical missteps as In the Heights ($11.5M), West Side Story ($10.5M) and Dear Evan Hansen ($7.4M), Wonka is definite comeback for feature musicals.

Social Media analytics corp RelishMix reports a social media universe for the Timothée Chalamet movie across X, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and Instagram of 326.4 million, boosted by a dedicated TikTok channel plus 55% of engagement on YouTube videos. That SMU is higher than such movies as Mary Poppins Returns (229.4M), yet below Cruella (424.7M).

The rest of this frame’s top pics are as follows

2.) Hunger Games: Songbirds & Snakes (LG) 3,291 theaters, Fri $1.65M (-37%), 3-day $6M (-35%), total $145.4M/Wk 5

3.) Boy and the Heron (GKIDs) 2,325 theaters, Fri $1.2M (-79%), 3-day $4.7M (-64%), Total $22.8M/Wk 2

4.) Godzilla Minus One (Toho) 2,622 theaters, Fri $1.2M (-45%), 3day $4.4M (-48%), Total $33.7M/Wk 3

5) Trolls Band Together (Uni/DWA) 3,154 theaters, Friday $900K, 3-day $4M (-34%) Total $88.7M/Wk 5

PREVIOUSLY, Friday AM: Warner Bros.’ Wonka made $3.5 million in previews from 3,500 locations. The Timothée Chalamet feature musical expands to 4,203 theaters with an eye on $30M-$40M opening.

Interestingly enough comp wise, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse opened in the same mid-December spot back in 2018, and notched a $3.5M Thursday preview before a three-day of $35M. That pic legged out to a 5x-plus multiple at the domestic box office with $190.2M.

Wonka is one of three big pics coming from Warners in which the Burbank studio is expected to own the top three spots at the domestic box office during Christmas week. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom arrives next weekend with a $45M-$50M four-day outlook, and The Color Purple on December 25 with an opening-day projection of $8M.

Wonka is arguably the first Hollywood tentpole to get a fire-breathing, six-week in advance marketing campaign rollout. Other movies such as Lionsgate’s The Hunger Game: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, even though it had a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement, only had about a week’s runway to trot out their cast at the last minute following the end of the actors strike in November. Disney’s The Marvels had two days with its cast before opening.

Wonka is 83% certified fresh with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Early audience exits on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak are solid at 84% positive and 63% definite recommend with 5 stars from parents and kids under 12. Last night’s audience leaned 52% men, 48% women with 33% guys over 25, 30% women over 25, 22% women under 25, and 16% men under 25.

Following Chalamet’s Best Actor Oscar nomination for Call Me by Your Name in 2018, there’s been a mad push by Hollywood to make him a box office star. At $41M, Warner Bros./Legendary’s Dune remains his top opener stateside with $41M; that pic’s theatrical day-and-date debut with HBO Max crimping its full commercial potential. Several sources believe that Dune: Part Two during the first weekend of March 2024 is the tentpole that will finally fire up the year.

Elsewhere at the box office, Gkids’ and Studio Ghibli’s The Boy and the Heron did $970K yesterday, -26% from Wednesday for a f

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