Comcast Q4 Earnings Top Estimates as Universal’s ‘The Grinch,’ ‘Halloween’ Boost Box Office

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Bolstered by a pair of holiday-based, ticket-moving movies in “Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch” and “Halloween,” Universal Pictures owner Comcast bested media analysts’ fourth-quarter (Q4) financial predictions.

Wall Street had forecast Q4 earnings per share (EPS) of 62 cents on $27.55 billion in revenue, per a Yahoo Finance consensus estimate. Comcast actually reported adjusted EPS of 64 cents on $27.85 billion in revenue.

Peeling back some big tax benefits from the end of 2017, this quarter’s earnings increased from the comparable three months last year. It’d be a very different story if one left them in, but the Street knew that to be a one-time thing.

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Revenue at Comcast’s cable communications business grew 5.2 percent over the recently wrapped 90 days. Consistent with the trends these days, that is the net of high-speed internet and business increases more than offsetting TV and voice declines — the cord cutters.

Comcast’s cable-providing business added 258,000 customers in Q4 2018.

Its NBCUniversal experienced Q4 revenue growth across the board. On a purely percentage basis, it was filmed entertainment (+14%) leading the pack, thanks to a 189.3 percent jump at the box office versus Q4 2017. Lower licensing and home releases took a big chunk out of that hike, but not the whole thing.

Also Read: Netflix Posts Record Subscriber Growth, Strong Q4 Earnings

Television is still the bigger business for NBCU, and cable revenue growth of 8.9 percent outpaced broadcast’s 3.7 percent increases. The cable channels enjoyed higher distribution and content licensing, though they lost viewers. NBC proper could pin its momentum on better distribution and ad sales, though ratings declined there as well.

Finally, it is worth mentioning how Comcast’s new acquisition Sky performed in essentially its first quarter under new ownership. On a pro forma basis, revenues for Sky increased 2.4 percent to $5 billion in the fourth quarter. Sky’s big direct-to-consumer business rose 4 percent in the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2018.

Comcast paid $39 million for Sky in a September bidding war with Disney-Fox.

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Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, said the following in a statement accompanying his company’s financials:

2018 was a successful and pivotal year for Comcast. I’m pleased with the strong operational and financial results that we delivered across the company. Highlighting a few of our accomplishments during the past year, Comcast Cable’s customer relationship growth accelerated, driven by our 13th consecutive year of over 1 million broadband net additions. 2018 Cable EBITDA growth was the highest in seven years, underscoring the financially attractive transition of our business to connectivity. NBCUniversal had a great year, fueled by double-digit growth in our TV businesses, reflecting our terrific broadcasts of big events like the NFL’s Super Bowl LII, the 2018 Olympics, and the FIFA World Cup, and overall robust demand for our leading sports, news and entertainment content. We truly became a global company with our acquisition of Sky, and are excited about its future and the potential of our combined company in 2019 and beyond. Comcast’s track record of consistent financial performance and our confidence in our outlook for continued, profitable growth is what underpins our announcement of a 10% increase in our dividend in 2019, our 11th consecutive annual increase.

Comcast executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET Wednesday to discuss the quarter and fiscal year in more detail.

Shares of Comcast closed Tuesday at $34.97 apiece, down $1.24 for the day. The U.S. stock markets officially reopen at 9:30 a.m. ET, though the premarket numbers are currently looking good for shareholder value.

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‘Dr Seuss’ The Grinch’ Surpasses $500 Million at Worldwide Box Office

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Illumination and Universal Pictures’ “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” has surpassed the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office, making it the sixth Illumination movie to reach the half-billion mark.

The film’s opening weekend grossed $67.7 million (Illumination’s seventh no. 1 opening) and has since grossed $270 million domestically. That makes it the sixth-highest grossing film of 2018 and the second-highest grossing animated film of the year.

The film also opened no. 1 in 30 territories that included Norway, Mongolia, Thailand, Iceland, Romania, France, Spain, Belgium, Greece and New Zealand. Internationally, the film has earned $231 million.

Also Read: ‘The Grinch’ Pilfers $66 Million at Box Office

Worldwide, “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” was the highest-grossing opening for a Christmas-themed movie and has since become the highest-grossing Christmas-themed movie ever — as well as the biggest Dr. Seuss film ever.

“Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” featured the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch as the infamous Grinch, who lives alone in a cave on Mt. Crumpet, with just his dog Max keeping him company. Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson and Angela Lansbury voiced characters as well. Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney directed.

Also Read: ‘The Grinch’ Leads Box Office as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Keeps Going Strong

The last “Grinch” film was 2000’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which was directed by Ron Howard and featured the voice of Jim Carrey as the titular character. That film grossed $345 million globally.

Next up for Illumination is “The Secret Life of Pets 2” starring the voices of Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Harrison Ford. The film will hit theaters on June 7.

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UK On Course For Highest Cinema Admissions In Almost 50 Years

Read on: Deadline.

The UK is on course for its highest annual cinema attendance in almost 50 years, according to trade body the UK Cinema Association.
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‘Aquaman’ Reels In $261M Overseas Cume As China Powers To $189M; ‘Spider-Verse’ Swings To $21M Bow – International Box Office

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‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Swings to Top Box Office Spot

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is hitting analyst expectations and taking the top spot at this weekend’s box office, earning $12.6 million on Friday and on track to finish the weekend with a $35.5 million opening from 3,813 theaters.

With a $90 million budget, “Spider-Verse” is looking to leg out through the holiday season, as kids are only just starting to get out of school for holiday break and are expected to turn up in droves with their families to matinee screenings over the next three weeks.

The film has received overwhelming critical and audience acclaim, earning an A+ on CinemaScore and a 98 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, which should lead to strong word of mouth. By comparison, the Illumination movie “Sing” opened to $35 million in December 2016 and went on to post a domestic theatrical run of $270 million.

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In second is Warner Bros.’ “The Mule,” which is also posting a solid opening after earning $5.8 million on Friday and is estimated for an $18.5 million launch from 2,588 screens. Clint Eastwood’s $50 million crime film is only getting a slightly positive reception from critics with a 64 percent RT score, but it has won over the veteran actor-filmmaker’s fans with an A- on CinemaScore. Like “Spider-Verse,” “The Mule” will attempt to leg out over the holiday season, but with older audiences looking for an alternative to superheroes.

The big bomb of the weekend is Universal’s “Mortal Engines,” which had a reported budget of over $100 million and is projected to finish below its already abysmal tracker projections with an opening of just $8 million and fifth place on the charts.

While the marketing for this steampunk dystopian film flaunted the phrase “From the makers of ‘The Lord of the Rings’” — Peter Jackson and filmmaking partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens wrote the script — critics panned the film as dramatically inert, giving the film a 28 percent RT score while audiences gave it a B- on CinemaScore.

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Universal is expected to take a hit on this film, marking a tough end to what has been a strong 2018 with over $1.7 billion grossed domestically. Universal co-financed the film with Media Rights Capital, with Jackson’s WingNut Films also producing.

On the bright side for Universal, Illumination’s “The Grinch” continues to hold up strong as a Christmas family film, estimated to earn $12.7 million in its sixth weekend as it steams towards the $250 million domestic mark. The film is now guaranteed to be the top grossing family film from last month’s competitive market, as it has finished above Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” on this weekend’s charts. After three weekends at No. 1, the Disney film has fallen to fourth on the charts with an estimated $9.5 million weekend.

Outside the top ten is Fox’s “Once Upon a Deadpool,” a Christmas-themed, PG-13 cut of the studio’s “Deadpool 2” with new footage starring Ryan Reynolds and Fred Savage. Released on Wednesday, the film is looking at a $3.6 million five-day opening, with one dollar of every ticket donated to Fudge Cancer.

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Box Office: ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ Narrowly Defeats ‘Grinch’ in Sleepy Pre-Holiday Weekend

Read on: Variety.

Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” topped a quiet weekend at the domestic box office, marking the third straight win for the animated sequel. It earned $16.2 million in its third week of release, generating $140 million since it ope…

‘Ralph’ Owns Weekend For Third Time In A Row With $15M As B.O. Slows Down In Pre-Holiday Period –Midday Update

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‘The Favourite’, ‘Mary Queen Of Scots’, ‘Vox Lux’, ‘Ben Is Back’ & More Banking On Quiet B.O. Weekend & Potential Golden Globe Love

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‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ Stays No. 1 With $26 Million

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

With Thanksgiving releases still casting a large shadow over the market and moviegoers generally skipping the cinemas as the Christmas season kicks off, post-Thanksgiving weekend tends to be a quiet one at the box office. This year was no different, as the top five went unchanged and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” easily held on to the No. 1 spot.

In its second weekend, “Ralph” added $26.1 million to bring its domestic total to $119.7 million after two weekends. By comparison, “Wreck-It Ralph” had grossed $101 million at the same point in its theatrical run six years ago, signifying a 18.5 percent increase for the sequel.

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Outside the top five, the only new wide release this weekend, Sony’s “The Possession of Hannah Grace,” hit tracker projections with a $6.5 million opening from 2,065 screens. While the film was panned with a C- on CinemaScore and a 20 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, Sony reached their launch goal on this thrifty, $12 million horror title.

As for the rest of the charts, Illumination/Universal’s “The Grinch” continues to have a strong hold with family audiences despite the presence of “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” In its fourth weekend, the film has hit $200 million domestic with a total of $17.7 million, pushing its cume to $203 million.

In third is MGM’s “Creed II,” sitting just behind “Grinch” with a $16.8 million second weekend. Like “Ralph,” the “Rocky” spinoff is showing an improvement over the first “Creed” with an $81 million total and a 25.5 percent improvement over the $64.5 million two-weekend total of its predecessor.

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Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” takes fourth with $11.2 million, taking its total to $134 million after three weekends. Fox/New Regency’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” completes the top five with just under $8 million and $164 million after five weekends.

Finally, down in tenth place, Universal/DreamWorks/Participant Media’s “Green Book” had the strongest post-Thanksgiving hold with $3.9 million. That’s just a 29 percent Fri.-Sun. drop from last weekend, showing that the awards contender is finding the word of mouth that Universal is hoping will carry it through December despite the muted wide opening. “Green Book” now has a domestic total of $14 million.

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‘Fantastic Beasts 2’ Opens Solid, But Behind Predecessor at Box Office

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Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” will top the box office charts with an estimated $65 million opening after making $25.7 million on Friday, including $9.1 million from Tuesday/Thursday previews. But signs are already present that while this sequel might have a solid run, “Harry Potter” fans aren’t as excited for this spinoff series as they were for the film adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s novels.

By comparison, the first “Fantastic Beasts” opened to $74.4 million in November 2016 and went on to gross $234 million domestically. That opening was already lower than those of all eight “Potter” films; and while the box office performance of the “Potter” series flicked up and down before peaking with the final, two-part “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “Fantastic Beasts” and its sequel are showing the sort of diminishing franchise returns in North America that “Potter” never did.

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That includes how the films were received, with the first “Fantastic Beasts” earning an A on CinemaScore and 74 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, while “The Crimes of Grindelwald” has a B+ and a 44 percent RT score. That makes “Crimes of Grindelwald” the first film in the “Potter” franchise to fail to score an A or A- in audience polls.

At least, that’s how the film is being received domestically. Overseas is another story, with international grosses already totaling $74.3 million to push the worldwide total to $100 million. Currently, the film is 14 percent ahead of the pace set by the overseas launch of the first “Fantastic Beasts,” which made 71 percent of its $814 million global total internationally. With three more films planned by Rowling and Warner Bros. in the “Fantastic Beasts” saga, that should be enough to keep the Wizarding World going.

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Two holdovers will take second and third this weekend. Illumination/Universal’s “The Grinch” is in second with an estimated $39 million in its second weekend, a strong hold that is down just 42 percent from the film’s $67.5 million opening. With such a strong hold, it’s possible that this animated title is peeling off family audiences from “Fantastic Beasts,” especially families with younger children.

In third and still going strong is Fox/New Regency’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” dropping 49 percent in its third weekend for an estimated $15 million total. Both “Grinch” and “Bohemian” are expected to finish the weekend with domestic totals of approximately $127 million.

Finishing the top five are this weekend’s other two new releases, Paramount’s “Instant Family” and Fox/New Regency’s “Widows,” both of which are sitting on the lower end of tracker projections with a $12-13 million opening. With budgets in the $40-50 million range, both of these films are going to have to find a way to leg out in a competitive holiday season market if they are going to find any sort of profit.

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The good news for both films is that audience and critical reception has been strong. “Instant Family,” which opened to $4.5 million on Friday from 3,286 locations and is currently projected to take the No. 4 spot, has an A on CinemaScore and a 79 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Widows” didn’t do as well with audiences with a B, but has won over critics with a 91 percent “Certified Fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes. “Widows” also has the advantage of being in consideration for major awards, with buzz circling around Viola Davis for Best Actress and Elizabeth Debicki for Best Supporting Actress. If that awards buzz is still around, it could help draw the attention of older audiences who traditionally go to see awards contenders later in their theatrical run.

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You’re A Rich One, Mr. ‘Grinch’: Illumination-Universal Toon Sees Near $78M Four-Day Opening

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Monday PM: With many schools taking off for the Veterans Day holiday today, turnstiles didn’t stop spinning with Illumination-Universal’s The Grinch grossing an estimated $10.3M today, -52% from Sunday taking its four-day opening to $77.8M….