One year after an animated Yeti film opened we get…another animated Yeti film. More on that connection later. For now, the domestic numbers may not be spectacular for Universal, but they did manage to grab box office attention for a week by taking the #1 slot this weekend. Big drops abound for last week’s releases, even as many in the top 10 seek some personal milestones.
Abominable was indeed the winner this weekend with a $19.5 million start. That is the lowest debut for a September release since the weekend of Sept. 6-8, 2013, when Riddick began with $19.03 million. This month has always been a better one for animated films than August has ever been with the first two Hotel Transylvanias and the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs films opening between $30-49 million for the best four animated openings ever. But Abominable’s start falls behind Open Season, Storks, and last year’s Smallfoot. History has shown that an animated opening over $16 million can still get you over $50 million (as both The Boxtrolls and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole can attest) but that is not great for a $75 million production like Abominable. Even Smallfoot (which cost $80 million) grossed $83.2 million domestic and another $130 million overseas, and it still came up in the red. Abominable has grossed a total of $31 million so far.
Last week’s historic #1 for Focus Features, Downton Abbey, fell 57% this weekend to second place with $13.2 million. No worries, though, as it now has the 17th best September total ever after 10 days with $58.5 million and finds itself ahead of both The Maze Runner and Eagle Eye, which grossed $102.42 & $101.44 million, respectively. We’ll see if it can maintain that pace through next weekend, but it is looking good that it will become Focus’ all-time highest domestic grosser. It is over $107 million worldwide as well.
Also making a run for the $100 million finish line is Hustlers, which moved back up to third place with $11.4 million. That is higher than the $9.7 million that The Equalizer grossed in its third weekend, which brought its 17-day total to $79.8 million. Hustlers is currently at $80.6 million and The Equalizer finished with $101.5 million. Approaching the $200 million line is It: Chapter Two which held on to fourth place with $10.4 million. It has grossed over $417 million worldwide.
Last week’s other big releases are not doing as well with their drops. James Gray’s Ad Astra fell 47% to $10.1 million, putting it squarely between The Lego Ninjago Movie and Resident Evil: Retribution after ten days. That suggests a final gross someone in the vicinity of $50-55 million. The $80-100 million budgeted film has grossed $89 million worldwide to date. Then, over to Sylvester Stallone and Rambo: Last Blood, which fell even further at 55%, putting its total at $33.1 million. That puts the macho man just ahead of female-led hits Easy A and A Simple Favor, though Rambo’s second weekend is more than $2 million behind nearly both of them, meaning their $58 & $53 million grosses are out of reach. To come full circle, it is just a couple million ahead of Riddick which, like the fourth Rambo film, finished between $42-43 million.
Roadside Attractions is having a pretty solid weekend themselves. First off they debuted Renee Zellweger in Judy in the first step to securing that Oscar nomination for her. In 461 theaters, the film finished in 7th place with $3 million. Why is that a significant number? Well, only four other films since 2000 have opened between 400-499 theaters and grossed that much. Among those four were Baahubali 2: The Conclusion ($10.43 million), Closer ($7.7), Sicko ($4.5) and No Manches Frida 2 ($3.8). Only the latter grossed less than $20 million, so this suggests promise for Judy‘s eventual expansion and becoming one of Roadside’s biggest grossers to date. That would make two of their films entering their all-time top five in 2019, along with The Peanut Butter Falcon, which, in a real upset, has now won the battle between the festival darlings of the summer. With $18 million in the bank, it has now surpassed A24’s The Farewell from Sundance ($17.4 million) as the highest grossing fest acquisition.
Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish defeated the animated yeti for the top spot as Night School grossed $27.25 million to Smallfoot’s $23.04 million, even if the latter would go on to outgross the former. Lionsgate’s Hell Fest opened a month for Halloween and paid the price with just a $5.13 million start. Funimation’s anime My Hero Academia: Two Heroes was just in 508 theaters but still opened in 11th place with $1.38 million. While all the anticipation is on Greta Gerwig’s adaptation this holiday, there was nevertheless a 2018 version of Little Women, which opened to just $705,063 in 643 theaters. Night School represented 29.58% of the Top Ten gross of $92.14 million though the films averaged just 51.8% with critics. This year’s Top Ten grossed an estimated $84.17 Million and averaged 68.2%.
The month of October is preparing itself for awards talk, a big box office splash, and controversy all right out of the gate with Todd Phillips’ Joker. The film has been somewhat divisive for critics who saw it at festivals, before and after it won the Golden Lion prize from Venice. (Its score has dropped to 77% since Toronto and could get lower.) Nevertheless, it has led to speculation that Joaquin Phoenix could become the second actor to win an Oscar for playing the iconic Batman villain. In the meantime, it is poised to have the biggest October opening ever, passing last year’s iconic villain reboots in Venom and Halloween. Also on tap in limited release is Natalie Portman in Lucy in the Sky, based loosely on the story of astronaut Lisa Nowak and her obsessive affair with a fellow NASA colleague. Critics from Toronto were not thrilled with Noah Hawley’s version of the story, as it currently sits at 20% on the Tomatometer. Then Pedro Almodovar is back with his introspective tale, Pain and Glory, starring Antonio Banderas. Critics are much more enthusiastic for this, as it currently registers a 95%.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by Liam Daniel / © Focus Features