‘Civil War’ Takes Box Office Spoils With $25.7M Opening, Best Ever For A24 – Sunday AM Update

SUNDAY AM: A24 is calling Civil War at a $25.7M opening, largely fueled by Democrat and Liberal moviegoers, but with overperforming business in some Red state regions like the South and Southwest.

Screen Engine/Comscore’s PostTrak polled Civil War attendees’ politics reporting that 22% considered themselves Liberal, 19% were Democrats, 11% considered themselves moderate, whereas registered Republicans (6%), Evangelical Christians (6%) and politically conservative folks (5%) showed up as a minority.

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The markets that overperformed were L.A., San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Austin, Navy hub San Diego, and conservative market Denver. But then there were these smaller regional markets that rallied, including El Paso and Waco, Texas, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Charlottesville, Virginia. As we told you, South, South Central, and West were the best regions for the A24 release, which follows journalists chronicling a divided, violent America.

CIVIL WAR, from left: Wagner Moura, Kirsten Dunst, 2024. ph: Murray Close / © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection
CIVIL WAR, from left: Wagner Moura, Kirsten Dunst, 2024. ph: Murray Close / © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

Rival studios concur with A24’s projection for the Alex Garland movie this AM, which is both the biggest opening ever for the filmmaker (previous being 2018’s Annihilation at $11M) and the NYC-based studio. This is after an $8.76M Saturday, which was +11% from Friday’s pure $7.9M (that doesn’t count $2.9M) previews, a very good result. Many are impressed with how A24 got this divided movie across the finish line with a great result. However, I’m told they did spend on P&A on their most expensive movie of all-time, which cost more than $50M, with around $20M+ in marketing.

The comps here are old, but the opening for Civil War beats other nation-in-peril political thrillers, including the wide break of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty ($24.4M), Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center ($18.7M opening), and going way back, Edward Zwick’s 1998 martial law NYC movie, The Siege ($13.9M) — all unadjusted for inflation.

Some rivals snipe that the movie is frontloaded. We shall see: A24 is expected to keep a sizeable portion of PLFs and Imax, and these pics do a 3-3.5x multiple at the box office. Four hundred Imax auditoriums rang up $4.2M of Civil War‘s weekend, or 16.5% of the overall opening. In leading up to the release, Imax did a re-release of Garland’s Ex-Machina, with a first look at Civil War. Overall, PLF and Imax repped close to half of the weekend’s money. AMC Lincoln Square NYC, Civil War‘s top-grossing location, is now at $130K.

PostTrak also shows that there was indeed walk-up business, with 64% of Civil War‘s moviegoers buying tickets same day. Of those buying tickets, 27% identified as frequent moviegoers buying tickets on opening weekend. Some 46% of those said they attended due to the subject matter/plot, whereas 39% citied the genre, and 31% said ‘It looked fun and entertaining’. Only 17% bought tickets because of the cast. Interesting stat: 48% of those who watched Civil War are curious about a sequel.

Moving the needle in regards to marketing was Kirsten Dunst’s presence across social media, the actress counting 2.9M followers, per RelishMix. In addition to pushing Civil War, the actress took female fans down memory lane on Kelly Clarkson, regaling Bring It On and Spider-Man.

On social, A24 did a “What Kind of American Are You?” Green Toy Soldier Generator:

There was also a big splash for Civil War in Times Square:

Despite the great business for a movie like Civil War, the overall marketplace at $77.4M still dragged behind last year’s Super Mario Bros mojo at -48%, but was only behind 2019’s same April weekend at -31%.

The chart:

1.) Civil War (A24) 3,838 theaters, Fri $10.8M, Sat $8.7M, Sun $6.1M, 3-day $25.7M/Wk 1

2.) Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Leg/WB) 3,847 (-101) theaters, Fri $3.9M Sat $7M Sun $4.55M 3-day $15.4M (-50%)/Total $157.9M/ Wk 3

3.) Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (Sony) 3,350 (-485) theaters, Fri $1.4M Sat $2.7M Sun $1.7M 3-day $5.8M (-36%), Total $96.9M/Wk 4

4.) Kung Fu Panda 4 (Uni/DWA) 3,104 (-294) theaters, Fri $1.37M Sat $2.5M Sun $1.55M, 3-day $5.5M (-29%), Total $173.6M/Wk 6

5.) Dune: Part Two (Leg/WB) 2,401 theaters (-435), Fri $1.1M Sat $1.9M Sun $1.2M, 3-day $4.32M (-42%)/Total $272.1M/Wk 7

6.) Monkey Man (Uni) 3,037 (+8) theaters, Fri $1.27M, Sat $1.7M, Sun $1.1M, 3-day $4.1M (-59%), Total $17.7M/Wk 2

7.) The First Omen (20th/Dis) 3375 theaters, Fri $1.15M Sat $1.6M Sun $1M, 3-day $3.78M (-54%), Total $14.6M Wk 2

8.) The Long Game (Mucho) 1030 theaters, Fri $638K Sat $385K Sun $367K 3-day $1.39M /Wk 1

9.) Shrek 2 (re) (Uni) 1,512 theaters, Fri $480K, Sat $530K, Sun $340K, 3-day $1.35M/Wk 1

10.) Suga Agust D Tour ‘D-day’ (Traf) 787 theaters, Sat $990,8K, 3-day $990,8K, Total $2.2M/Wk 1

SATURDAY AM: Civil War is staying strong with A24 reporting a $10.8M Friday. Rivals’ estimates are wild from $24M-$27M. As we previously wrote, that’s a slam dunk opening record for A24.

Here’s the good news: No one is expecting the movie to greatly crater at this point with a spike on Saturday +18% to +20% (vs. Friday less $2.9M previews), this despite a B- CinemaScore and 76% positive on Screen Engine/Comscore’s PostTrak (53% definite recommend), which indicates that crowds are split. Some do have their concerns that the Kirsten Dunst, Cailee Spaeny, Nick Offerman and Wagner Moura movie is frontloaded.

That audience grade isn’t bad news for A24: They have a history of generating heat off of a divided audience score/critically acclaimed movies (typically genre films). Seriously, A24 can own a B or C CinemaScore in ways that other distributors cannot due to their grassroot, digital marketing campaigns. Alex Garland’s Civil War is under the A-s acheived by Kathryn Bigelow’s politically charged thrillers, Zero Dark Thirty and Detroit (those are our comps). Interestingly enough when Zero Dark Thirty went wide, it had a weekend of $24.4M and Civil War is shaping up to beat that.

Mostly male skewing here for Civil War at 73% with 57% of the audience being the prime 18-34moviegiong demo. Largest demo was 25-34 at 36%. Diversity range was 50% Caucasian, a very strong 24% Latino and Hispanic, 12% Black, 8% Asian and 6% other. Best regions for Civil War are South (A24 did have great test scores in Dallas), South Central and the West. Best cinema in the nation is AMC Lincoln Square in NYC with close to $80K. Imax and PLFs are on fire and accounting for 49% of the gross; that speaks volumes on an adult skewing movie that isn’t a fire-breathing tentpole.

Legendary/Warner Bros’ Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is looking at $14.3M-$15M after a $4M Friday, -53%, for a potential $157.4M running total on the high end.

Mucho Mas Media has the Dennis Quaid-Jay Hernandez golf movie, The Long Game with $638K Friday, $1.45M 3-day in 8th place. Pic is inspired by Humberto G. Garcia’s Mustang Miracle, follows the true story of five young Mexican American caddies in 1955 who created their own golf course in the middle of the South Texas brush country. Despite outdated and inferior equipment and no professional instruction to begin with, they would go on to compete against wealthy, all-white teams and win the 1957 Texas State High School Golf Championship. The movie is playing well in Texan markets San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Houston, as well as LA, Orlando and Boston.

Well Go USA has the horror thriller Sting from Kiah Roache-Turner popping into the top 10 with $487K Friday, $1.2M 3-day at 1,350 theaters in 9th. Decent ticket sales in I’m told in LA, NYC, San Diego, Portland, OR, Orlando, Fresno, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Chicago. Pic is 71% fresh with critics, and 50% with audiences.

Also opening wide this weekend is IFC’s Nicolas Cage movie Arcadian with an estimated $202K Friday and 3-day of $475K in early projections at 1,100 locations. Great reviews with critics at 84% on RT, but audiences didn’t warm to the movie at 37%.

We’ll have the chart later for you today.

FRIDAY PM: “Great number,” heralds one rival distributor about the weekend results for A24’s Civil War which will easily become the studio’s biggest opening of all-time at $23M-$25M after $10M Friday/previews at 3,838 theaters. That beats the $13.5M start of Ari Aster’s 2018 movie Hereditary.

It’s an impressive result for a movie which is set against the backsplash of a divided U.S., something that hits extremely too close to home. While Blue State audiences will clearly hear the gong that this movie is sounding through the eyes of war photojournalists, will Red State moviegoers be stoked as well? We shall see. Whatever your views, Act 2 and Act 3 payoff in Imax.

Says News Corp. owned New York Post critic Johnny Oleksinski, “Garland’s movie is no more vital to the discourse than “The Purge,” and is about 1% as entertaining.”

Civil War
A24’s ‘Civil War’

Social media monitor RelishMix, which measured a social media universe north of 101M across TikTok, X, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, reports: “Convo on Civil War runs mixed, like the film itself. Audiences are divided on their feelings towards A24’s most expensive film yet. At the forefront, fans are highly anticipating the next thriller from director Alex Garland: ‘If you look at Garland’s past work, you know this has the potential to be a damn good movie.’ Another spectator adds ‘This is going to be so intense, and I’m so excited it’s in IMAX! Hell yeah, Alex Garland!’ Others are excited about A24 dipping its toes further into the action genre after fan favorite Everything, Everywhere All At Once: ‘I think A24 is my new favorite production studio. This doesn’t look like a typical, big studio, cookie-cutter war pic.’ But those on the opposing side feel the film is stepping into dangerously ‘too close to real life’ territory for them to enjoy it: ‘Why pay money when I can see the real thing for free?’ Others feel the film is too divisive to be entertaining in our current political landscape, ‘Hollywood really thought this was a good idea right now?'”

What’s really cool about A24 is that like HBO, their brand alone can draw a solid portion of their weekend business; even if their fans don’t know anything about the filmmaker or movie (aka ‘A24 core’). I’m told that the portion of A24 die-hards who show up varies per movie.

‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’
‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’

In second place is Legendary/Warner Bros’ Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire which will roar to a third weekend between $14M-$15M (-54%) after a $3.6M Friday (-57%) at 3,847 theaters. That will get the Monsterverse movie to $157.4M by Sunday. That means New Empire has defeated the domestic results of 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong ($100.9M), 2019’s Godzilla King of the Monsters ($110.5M), and its $10.6M away from taking over Kong: Skull Island ($168M domestic).

Third belongs to the fourth weekend of Sony’s Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire at 3,350 theaters with a Friday of $1.2M, 3-day of $4.6M, -49% and a running total by Sunday EOD of $95.8M.

Fourth and fifth belong to Universal with Monkey Man‘s second weekend of $4.5M, -56% after a Friday of $1.3M. That will get Dav Patel’s directorial debut to $18.1M at 3,037 venues.

Then there’s the studio’s DreamWorks Animation Kung Fu Panda 4 with a sixth weekend of $4.4M, -43%, for a running total of $172.9M after a Friday of $1.1M. The fourthquel past the sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2, last weekend ($165.2M).

FRIDAY AM: A24’s Alex Garland political thriller, Civil War, is off to a solid start with $2.9M in Thursday previews at 2,931 locations, the movie on its way to $20M+ opening. That is the best ever in previews for an A24 movie, more than double Hereditary ($1.3M). Nobody, rivals nor A24 are complaining about that for what is the studio’s priciest pic north of $50M before P&A, which we also hear is close to $20M. A24 sold the majority of foreign rights early with Entertainment Film Distributors handling in the UK and Roadhouse in Australia/New Zealand . Other major territories go next weekend.

At 3,800 theaters, boosted by Imax, this is A24’s widest release ever. It’s also the widest R-rated release for an independent studio.

Even before this weekend started, A24 per sources had $2M in the bank already for Civil War and that was just for today’s advance tickets, not last night’s. The question is whether this movie plays to the heartland and not the coasts. There is some confidence that the movie will perform well in red states as the pic was tested in Kansas City and Dallas to great results.

Critics are good with the Kirsten Dunst, Nick Offerman, and Cailee Spaeny movie at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and audiences at 86%.

Comps are hard on this one, but Civil War has the feeling of an Oliver Stone and Kathryn Bigelow movies. Far and away, these preview figures for Civil War are well ahead of Bigelow’s Detroit which did $525K and fizzled to a $7.1M wide opening (in its second weekend). Though a drama, Stone’s Snowden saw $2.7M in previews and $8M opening, but Civil War isn’t expected to crater like that title.

Garland’s Paramount future thriller, Annihilation, starring Natalie Portman did $900K back in February 2018 before posting a $3.8M first day, $11M opening.

Nicolas Cage, Maxwell Jenkins and Jaeden Martell in 'Arcadian'
Nicolas Cage, Maxwell Jenkins and Jaeden Martell in 'Arcadian'

IFC Films has the second wide entry of the weekend with the Nicolas Cage dystopian thriller, Arcadian, which world premiered at SXSW. Pic is in north of 1,000 theaters with an eye on a low single digits start. Critics enjoyed at 87% fresh, but audiences are at 67%. The Benjamin Brewer directed movie follows a father and his twin teenage sons who are fighting to survive in a remote farmhouse at the end of the world.

Elsewhere, Legendary/Warner Bros’ Godzilla x Kong: New Empire made $1.5M yesterday at 3,948 theaters, -23% from Wednesday, ending its second week with $39.1M and a running total of $142.4M.

Universal’s Monkey Man ended its first week with $13.6M after an estimated $680K Thursday at 3,029 sites, -21% from Wednesday.

Sony’s Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire ends week 3 with $11.3M at 3,835 theaters after a $516K estimated Thursday, -12%. Running total is now $91.1M. The pic is trailing 13% behind Ghostbusters: Afterlife at the same point in time; that pic ending its domestic run at $129.3M.

20th Century Studios’ First Omen booked at 3,375 locations ends week one with $10.8M after a $528K Thursday, -13% from Wednesday.

Legendary/Warner’s Dune: Part Two ends week 6 with $10.1M after a $630K Thursday, -14% for a running total of $267.7M.

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