Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” made $3.5 million in its preview screenings at the box office on Thursday from over 3,400 screens (inclusive of sneak previews on Tuesday), while “The Black Phone” also made $3 million in its own Thursday preview screenings from 2,800 theaters with showings beginning at 5 p.m.
“Elvis,” the biopic about The King Elvis Presley from Warner Bros., is projected to earn in the $28-30 million range. Meanwhile “The Black Phone,” which has “Sinister” director Scott Derrickson returning to his horror roots for Universal and Blumhouse, is projected to make in the high teens in its opening weekend. It opens on 3,150 North American screens this weekend.
For an “Elvis” comparison, Paramount’s Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” which opened in the summer of 2019, made $2.3 million in its previews before it opened to $31 million. “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” which like “Elvis” has been one of the few films this year aiming to appeal to an older audience in the post-COVID era, made just $1 million in previews before it opened to a muted $16 million.
As for “The Black Phone,” one potential comp is “Scream,” which this year made $3.5 million in previews before opening to $30 million, and last year’s “Candyman,” which made $1.9 million in previews and opened to $22 million.
“Elvis” stars Austin Butler as Presley alongside Tom Hanks as Elvis’ long time manager Col. Tom Parker. The film first premiered at Cannes to strong buzz, and even bigger praise for Butler, and explores the life story and career of Presley alongside his relationship with Parker, who for years manipulated and abused Presley’s business practices behind the scenes.
“The Black Phone” stars Ethan Hawke as The Grabber, a serial killer in the late 1970s who abducts children and keeps them locked in a basement until he chooses to do away with them. The film follows one boy who discovers that a disconnected phone in the room allows him to secretly speak with some of The Grabber’s past victims from beyond the grave.