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Last weekend, Netflix’s latest Adam Sandler collaboration, Murder Mystery, dropped on the streaming platform to one hell of a debut. But without monetary statistics for the film’s debut, no one was really sure how much the film could have made were it to have opened in a traditional theatrical release. Well, somebody just did the math, and if this was a theatrical opening weekend, the film would have made about $120.5 million – which is a pretty big deal.
Now before we compare these stats to the box office market of 2019, let’s quickly go over the figures that went into this estimate. According to Netflix, Murder Mystery’s first weekend saw 13,374,914 accounts watch the film in the US. With the average ticket price for a theatrical movie estimated at $9.01, the math puts Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston’s big reunion project at $120,507,975.
Were this hypothetical $120.5 million opening to have taken place during a theatrical exhibition, that would put Murder Mystery’s domestic opening weekend above Aladdin’s $91.5 million opening, and right below the $153.4 million opening of Captain Marvel. So Netflix would have the third highest opening weekend at the box office, so far, in 2019.
That’s nothing to sniff at, especially when looking at the fact that in the same weekend Murder Mystery opened, we saw the champion of the weekend, Men In Black International, only scrounging $30.1 million. But then again, Fortune’s big estimate for Murder Mystery’s monetary prospects doesn’t take into account the one big variable that might deflate this prospect in a real world scenario: would that many people have shown up to their local theater for an Adam Sandler movie?
Looking at his last couple theatrical openings, we see that his last live-action film in theaters, 2015’s Pixels, opened with a $24.7 million weekend. That’s nowhere even close to where Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix film is estimated to have opened, though that’s with an unadjusted domestic opening. But even with his wildly successful Hotel Transylvania franchise, we see that Sandler’s Hotel Translvania 3: Summer Vacation opened at an impressive, but still paltry $44.1 million opening just last summer.
While we’ve seen several spins of Netflix’s “opening weekend” numbers adding up to impressive feats of strength, each instance still begs the question of whether or not those films would have been as popular if people had to leave their living rooms for those same films. And it’s a question Netflix will have to keep in mind in the future to come, especially if those sorts of estimates are influencing their choice to try and buy their own movie theaters.
Theatrical and streaming exhibition are still extremely different animals, so the comparison of opening weekends isn’t exactly apples and oranges. While a fun thought experiment, the “money” a streaming film makes isn’t exactly going to be the cold hard cash it would have made in the open market. That said, Murder Mystery’s opening is still pretty impressive, possibly to the point where Adam Sandler may want to ask himself if he wants to try and dip his comedic toe back in the waters of studio production and distribution.
Murder Mystery is currently streaming on Netflix.