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That puts Downton Abbey on course to gross $18 million for the weekend, a solid opening for a movie depending upon older females.
Friday’s gross included $1.1 million in Thursday evening previews.
It isn’t a surprise that A New Era is coming in behind the first Downton Abbey, which earned $1.5 million in previews in September 2019 on its way to an elegant, record-breaking $31 million domestic opening for specialty distributor Focus Features.
The 2019 big-screen adaptation of Julian Fellowes’ hit British TV series was fueled by older moviegoers — a demo that has been the most reluctant to return to cinemas since the COVID-19 crisis struck, particularly older females.
Downton Abbey: A New Era will test whether consumers 45 and older are ready to come to cinemas en masse or will opt to wait until the movie is available in the home. Among Friday ticket buyers, 73 percent were female, while nearly 50 percent of the audience was 55 and older.
Focus’ marketing campaign has tried to broaden the appeal of the film to younger consumers.
Downton Abbey 2 is playing in 3,815 locations, the widest release in the history of Universal-owned Focus.
Overseas, where it rolled out early in the U.K. and other select markets, the movie has grossed north of $30 million to date. Universal Pictures International is handling foreign distribution.
Written by Fellowes, the movie sees the Grantham family journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess’ newly inherited villa. There’s also the matter of a movie crew using the Abbey to shoot a film.
Returning members of the principal cast and new additions include Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Raquel Cassidy, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Michael Fox, Harry Hadden-Paton, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Tuppence Middleton, Lesley Nicol, Douglas Reith, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Penelope Wilton, Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West.
A24’s folk horror film Men is opening nationwide in 2,212 theaters timed to its screening at the Cannes Film Festival this weekend. Directed by Alex Garland, the movie earned $1.4 million on Friday for a projected opening of $3.2 million to $3.3 million.
Men is expected to place No. 5, followed by A24’s specialty hit Everything Everywhere All at Once, which on Saturday will become the top-grossing film of all time for the indie distributor after passing up Uncut Gems ($50 million).
Among top holdovers, Doctor Strange 2, now in its third weekend, is expected to earn as much as $30 million for a domestic tally of $340 million.
May 21, 10 a.m. Updated with revised estimates.
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