‘Wonka’ Sweet In Short-Lead Tracking With $35M-$40M Pre-Christmas Opening – Box Office Update

UPDATED EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros’ feature musical Wonka arrived on three-week-out tracking this week with a revised industry projection of $35M-$40M when it opens on Dec. 15.

That start is in the vicinity of Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ($36.2M) which opened before Christmas on Dec. 20. While going pre-Christmas is always risky for any movie, family branded pics are quite safe and remain a powerful distraction for families who are still in the throes of shopping.

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The Timothée Chalamet movie is great with women right now, under and over 25. Unaided awareness is 22-23 with women which is the category by which respondents cite a movie’s name to pollster’s without being prodded (it’s evidence that a movie’s promo machine is working on a title). Those numbers are a point above the unaided awareness for females on Illumination/Universal’s Super Mario Bros Movie. In first choice at 12 for women under 25, and 15 for women over 25, Wonka is more than double in each category ahead of the first choice for Trolls Band Together ($30M) and Mary Poppins Returns ($23.5M 3-day, 5-day $32.3M).

The Paul King directed movie began screening to the media this past week with a world premiere set for Nov. 28 in London.

Wonka expected to open to $35M-$40M at domestic box office.
Wonka expected to open to $35M-$40M at domestic box office.

While Warner Bros showed a fully loaded musical clip at CinemaCon for exhibitors, it’s interesting to note that the studio is intentionally not selling Wonka as a musical in trailers. Whether or not you love or hate musicals, the Roald Dahl brand of Wonka is expected to bring moviegoers in nonetheless. BTW, Hugh Grant steals the movie as an Oompa-Loompa; that alone is worth the price of admission. The Tim Burton directed take on the classic novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, opened to $56.1M stateside back in July 2005 with Johnny Depp playing Willy Wonka, and a young Freddie Highmore as Charlie.

PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, Nov. 3: Warner Bros’ anticipated Paul King-directed feature musical Wonka has hit early tracking six weeks before its release on December 5, with box office analytics film The Quorum predicting a $20 million-$23 million opening. Note it’s still early in the campaign, so there’s potential for upside.

Unlike other tracking services that project three weeks before a movie’s release, Quorum is six weeks ahead.

In regards to Wonka‘s marketing campaign, there is material out there to move the needle: Two official trailers on the Warner Bros YouTube channel measuring at 31M and 9M views each, respectively; and lead star Timothée Chalamet will host Saturday Night Live on November 11 with the actor also on the cover of GQ. In addition, Warners has 17 one-sheets out there for the movie (in billboards, in-theater and online), and if there’s any barometer as to how much a studio is committing to a movie, it’s in the quantity of one-sheet posters.

RELATED: ‘Wonka’ Movie Posters: Timothée Chalamet, Rowan Atkinson, Olivia Coleman, Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Grant, Calah Lane & More

Note, holiday moviegoing always explodes post-Christmas after the masses are worry-free of holiday activities and a movie such as Wonka has the potential to leg out much like other holiday musicals, i.e., The Greatest Showman, which had a six-day holiday launch of $19M and went on to make $174.3M. Family films and other tentpoles historically have had great multiples off their openings over the holiday season. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish last year opened to $12.4M and did a near 15x multiple, with a final domestic of $185.5M. A family movie such as Wonka has the potential to play to the heartland. Comps for Wonka include pre-Christmas releases Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ($36.2M), Bumblebee ($21.7M) and Sony’s 2014 feature adaptation of the Broadway musical Annie ($15.8M).

Currently, we hear Wonka is trending with under-35 males, versus Puss in Boots: The Last Wish a year ago which was great with the under-35 female crowd.

RELATED: ‘Wonka’ Director Paul King Praises Timothée Chalamet’s Singing Voice & Likens Him To Bing Crosby

Wonka tells the story of how the world’s greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker became the beloved Willy Wonka we know today.

Warner Bros’ original 1971 Mel Stuart-directed Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, based on Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is a cult family classic and received an Oscar nomination for Best Music, Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score in 1972. Warners’ reboot, 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was directed by Tim Burton and starred Johnny Deep as Willy Wonka and Freddie Highmore as Charlie. It grossed $206.4M domestic and $474.9M worldwide and was also nominated for an Oscar for Gabriella Pescucci’s costumes.

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