Disney is riding high these days with Avengers: Endgame continuing to inch towards the all-time global record. But the Mouse House is not immune to the occasional box office disappointment. A Wrinkle in Time, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and this year’s Dumbo come to mind. Some of their biggest disappointments have also been a part of three of the last four Memorial Day holidays, and they would certainly like to turn that streak around. Thankfully for them, their live-action version of Aladdin has gotten off to a solid start with a magical $112.7 million over the four-day weekend.
If there is one number Aladdin surely wanted to get in front of it was the four-day number that Solo: A Star Wars Story put up last year over the holiday. Over the first three days of this weekend the numbers were pretty close, with Aladdin on top $90.4 million to $84.4 million and then pulling ahead further on Monday with an estimated $112.7 million vs. $103 million. That number is good enough for the fifth-highest Memorial Day weekend ever, though no film has cracked $120 million it would take to enter the top three since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008. Which is actually a bit shocking given the frequency at which records seem to be broken these days.
So just how good are these Aladdin numbers? As big as some of the past Memorial Day opening numbers have been, very few of the films behind them have actually played the long game. Of the seven previous films to score $100-plus million over the holiday (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Crystal Skull, X-Men: The Last Stand and Days of Future Past, Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover Part II) only Crystal Skull dropped less than 60% the following week. Aladdin is already likely to drop back behind Godzilla: King of the Monsters and, if Rocketman can grab $30 to $35 million, it may even find itself back to third. Indiana Jones and the Caribbean Pirates are the only Memorial Day releases in the modern era to gross over $300 million total. (The original Star Wars opened on the Wednesday prior to Memorial Day 1977 and did it too.) On top of that, only The Hangover Part II and Return of the Jedi made it past $250 million after opening this weekend. Aladdin and Disney can celebrate this weekend, but with a $183 million production budget, this is a win that will be decided again with the international box office. It’s worldwide total stands at $233.7 million. Dumbo is still only at $348 million.
Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart has nothing published about its budget, though one can assume it was on the small side. (How much more could it have cost than Brightburn’s $6 million?) And yet it’s still surprising many the the movie only managed to make $8.69 million over the weekend. Some are saying United Artists Releasing (a.k.a. AnnapurnaOrionMGM) had a tough job of selling it to audiences. The same team gave Laika Animation their worst tally to date with Missing Link (88% on the Tomatometer), which earned less than $17 million total. Now Booksmart, the best-reviewed narrative feature of 2019 (Certified Fresh at 98%) makes a mere $8.69 million over its first four days. The female-oriented teen comedy, which made a splash at South By Southwest in March, is now unlikely to outgross the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels redux, The Hustle, which has made nearly $31 million to date and ranks in the bottom 10 films of the year, according to critics, with a 15% Tomatometer rating. Though it is not like Booksmart is leaving theaters right now. Audiences still have the opportunity to see it and get the word out. And as this is a word-of-mouth film, there is still a chance it could take off.
Lionsgate also received some criticism for failing Long Shot (which dropped 752 theaters this weekend but still hung on just enough for one last week in the Top 10, for a total of $29 million). But the studio is enjoying great numbers for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, which came in second this weekend. Another $31 million over the holiday puts the film on par with Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian, which finished its run in 2009 with more than $177 million. Wick is going to become the sixth highest-grossing domestic film in Lionsgate’s history (behind four Hunger Games and a Twilight). Third place for the weekend went to Avengers: Endgame, which is now the second film to ever cross the $800 million line domestically (it is currently $54 million off the pace of The Force Awakens at the U.S. box office). With $2.677 billion worldwide, Endgame is just $105 million away from breaking Avatar’s all-time international record.
Getting back to Brightburn, the James Gunn-produced evil Superman horror film, which cost $6 million to make, had a not-so-great $9.5 million haul over the weekend. But, again, it was made for $6 million, so that’s more disappointing than calamitous. Especially considering that Sony’s other low-budget May release, The Intruder, has crossed $32 million to date. Meanwhile, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is up to over $120 million. That puts it on par with past May releases Sex and the City and San Andreas, which finished with $152.6 million and $155.1 million, respectively. The $150 million production is up to $356 million worldwide.
Over the Memorial Day holiday, Solo: A Star Wars Story made $103 million in its first four days. That turned out to be 48.1% of its entire gross in what became one of the biggest disappointments of 2018. Deadpool 2 finished second and actually made more in 10 days than Solo would make over its entire run. Avengers: Infinity War had passed the $600 million mark earlier in the week. The Top 10 films grossed $219.2 million over the four-day holiday and averaged 58.4% on the Tomatometer. This year’s Top 10 grossed an estimated $216.7 million and averaged 63.8% on the Tomatometer.
Next weekend is set to be led by Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla opened to $93.1 million in 2014; Kong: Skull Island started with $61 million in 2017. Both are Certified Fresh at 75% on the Tomatometer. What will the King do before the two epic creatures square off in 2020? The story of Elton John, Rocketman, is hoping to get some piece of the Bohemian Rhapsody crowd. So far the movie is impressing critics, Certified Fresh at 88% compared to Tomatometer score of 61% for Bohemian Rhapsody. Then there is the latest from Blumhouse: The last time Octavia Spencer worked with Tate Taylor, she baked a poop pie and won an Oscar; in Ma, she kidnaps a group of teenagers and terrorizes them.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]