If you had asked a few weeks ago, the answer would have been no. The nostalgia-fueled Warner Bros. adventure, which takes place in a near-future where humanity revolves around a virtual reality known as the Oasis, was tracking for a sluggish $35 million opening. But if you’re asking us today, well, the answer is still no, but it’s a more positive version.
Variety is reporting that Ready Player One, based on the Ernest Cline bestseller of the same name, is now tracking between $38 million and $42 million over its four-day opening weekend. There isn’t much new release competition for ticket sales this weekend, and the film did score positive early reviews coming out of the SXSW Film Festival, so perhaps Ready Player One will overcome its so-so social media buzz and the tepid responses to its trailers. Tracking numbers have proven to be inconsistent, after all.
The film, which currently holds an 82 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, opens Wednesday night at 3,500 locations before expanding to 4,200 on Thursday. The movie carries a reported budget of between $150 million and $175 million.
Spielberg, who is in the midst of a two-film slump of sorts at the box office, has amassed 31 films with a domestic gross of more than $5 billion in his career. However, Ready Player One is his most expensive film in 10 years, and only one movie in that frame has grossed more than $100 million (Lincoln).
Will his return to the action fantasy adventure genre help boost the numbers or are fans still sour over his last movie in this arena, the widely despised Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?
A $40 million opening would be the legendary filmmaker’s most lucrative first weekend in awhile, but how will it play long-term?
Recent adventure fantasy vehicles have been all over the map at the box office. WB’s Tomb Raider is doing decent business overseas but is struggling to reach $65 million domestically. Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, on the other hand, opened to $36 million over Christmas break and has legged it to an outstanding $401 million in North America. Admittedly, Jumanji features big stars such as Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, but you can see the variety of possibilities for Ready Player One.
The movie, which stars Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse), Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) and the always great Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), will be an interesting financial case study for Spielberg’s late career.