While that number isn’t anything to jump up and down about for a Thanksgiving release, there’s a lot of goodwill here in the Rian Johnson whodunit’s favor, notably its 98% certified fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes from 103 reviews. Also working on the pic’s side is Johnson himself, and in this era, great auteurs are stronger than stars in driving ticket sales. In a November marketplace where Disney’s Frozen 2 stands to debut to $100M-$120M+, Lionsgate knows how to zag while others zig, and Knives Out is that type of counterprogramming, however, its prime audience is older and younger males. Lionsgate pulled off a great counter-programming stunt in the middle of November 2017 against Justice League with Wonder, drawing families to that feature adaptation of the kids’ bestseller. That same month and year, Fox’s all-star ensemble Murder on the Orient Express, without any Oscar buzz (which Knives Out has), drew in upscale adults with a $28.6M opening during the early part of November and $102.8M final domestic and $352.8M WW result. Murder brought in the over-50 crowd at 50% with females at 59% (the Agatha Christie fans). Would be interesting to see if Knives Out can dynamite that demo into seats in the next four weeks. Some theaters are previewing Knives Out in advance on Nov. 22 at 7PM before its Nov. 27 opening.
Universal’s Melina Matsoukas directed and Lena Waithe written Queen & Slim is seeing a $11M start over 5 days. Some think it’s higher in the mid-teens over 5 days with the pic strong among African American audiences. The drama stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith as a couple whose firsts date takes an unexpected turn when a cop pulls them over. Both Uni and Lionsgate have been respectively proud of both pics and screening them well in advance for the press. If the studios didn’t think either film had any upside potential, they wouldn’t be screening them.
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