EXCLUSIVE: Next weekend Walden Media will see the release of two of its films. Lionsgate is debuting Wonder on Nov. 17 and Sony is also putting the animated feature The Star into the market via their Affirm label. Both films are targeting a family audience. The Lionsgate film is based on a best-selling book of the same name about an 11 year-old boy with facial differences who tries to find his way through school. The Star is an animated film about a group of animals who end up finding their destiny with the first Christmas.
The Star was actually supposed to be released this weekend, but Sony decided to move the film up a week. For Walden Media, that poses an unusual situation. The decision was made by the Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group Tom Rothman, said Walden Media CEO Frank Smith.
Smith said he initially had concerns because both “The Star and Wonder are intended for a wide family audience. We have two films coming out the same weekend, it doesn’t seem like the best situation but you have to look at the films separately and apart. I think he was doing the right thing for that film. He didn’t want to lose out on the Thanksgiving weekend.”
Current tracking forecasts have The Star at $10M and Wonder at $9M. Both titles are skewing toward older females, meaning moms. Cross Creek Pictures faced a similar situation back on Sept. 18, 2015 when Warner Bros. went wide with its Johnny Depp mob movie Black Mass aimed and older adults, and Universal gave a 545 theater limited start to Everest in Imax. Everest went wider during Black Mass‘ second frame in 3,006 theaters.
Had The Star bowed this weekend, it would be against PG-13 family comedy Daddy’s Home 2 and the adult-oriented Murder on the Orient Express. On Wednesday, Nov. 22, Disney/Pixar’s Coco enters the Thanksgiving stretch and will naturally share the top of the box office chart with Warner Bros.’ behemoth Justice League. But, logically, it’s an odd decision: The Star is an animated faith-based film which would draw a different audience than Daddy’s Home 2.
Going way back, originally Lionsgate was initially going to release Wonder back on April 7. They moved the film to November in February. Before Sony settled on Nov. 17 for The Star and prior to that Nov. 10, they were eyeing Dec. 8. However, the more leg room you have for a holiday release, the better.
The Star, says Smith, “is directly faith-based,…