Welcome to 2019, moviegoers. Anyone see Escape Room? Some of you did. More than prognosticators expected. Still, many more of you were out catching up on all the holiday releases and continuing to add to that 2018 box office record. In another 11 months or so we’ll probably be talking about 2019’s record year, but let’s get through week one first – a week aided by schools still being on holiday break and that DCEU behemoth.
Aquaman is not going anywhere. Not at least until Glass dethrones what should be a four-week run atop the box office on January 18. The last film to do that was Black Panther. While Aquaman won’t quite reach the heights of last year’s box office champion, it is fixing to do something that not Batman, Superman, nor even Wonder Woman could do in DC’s extended universe. For the first time since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films, a DC property is going to reach the $1 billion mark worldwide. Aquaman is the sixth-highest grossing film ever in December after 17 days and is looking at a final domestic gross somewhere in between Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers ($339 million) and The Return of the King ($377 million.) James Wan’s film had a better third weekend (and first week of January) than either of those films, and its international total currently stands at $940 million. Not only will it be the fifth film released in 2018 to cross the billion dollar mark, but it will be the fifth film in Warner Bros.’ history to do it after the final Harry Potter chapter, the two Dark Knight sequels, and the first Hobbit film.
Sony went a little Blumhouse on us this weekend with the low-budget and respectable opening of Escape Room. Critics weren’t too harsh on the $9 million production – especially for a horror flick released in January – giving it a 53% on the Tomatometer, and it grossed $18 million this weekend. That puts it in between 2010’s Legion and 2004’s The Butterfly Effect for January horror openings. Audience response suggests it could fall in the same final range of those films, between $40 million and $50 million. Sony’s success continues with Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse which will be heading into profit soon with a final estimate that continues to rise; the film now looks to finish with around $172 million. But on the other end of the spectrum for Sony, Holmes & Watson is proving to be a real embarrassment. It could become just the second film to open on Christmas Day with more than $5 million and not reach $40 million. Holmes & Watson’s had a $42 million production budget and has currently earned $28.4 million.
Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns is still hoping to forge a path to clear $200 million. As of now it should have no problem passing comparable past December opener Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ $186 million, but it is going to need some solid daily holds to maintain the pace of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which opened mid December in 2011 and finished with $209 million. Ralph Breaks the Internet has a clearer path to the milestone, likely finishing somewhere between $200 and $205 million. However, with an international total of just $217.6 million to date, Ralph is still well in the red for Disney.
In a few days, Bumblebee will become the 33rd film released in 2018 to reach $100 million. It is still $22 million behind Transformers: The Last Knight’s pace overall, but posted nearly twice as much in its third weekend as that film, so there is still hope that the best-reviewed (and only Fresh) Transformers film will not have the lowest-grossing domestic run of the series. There is also some good news for Clint Eastwood’s The Mule. Only one December film has ever reached $80 million in its first 24 days and not finished with over $100 million; that was WB’s 2008 film, Yes Man, with Jim Carrey ($97.6 million). The Mule, which has not yet opened outside the U.S., will need roughly $50 million internationally to get into the black for the studio.
In limited release, Destroyer led this week’s per-theater-average with $18,335 in six theaters, followed by Cold War ($15,500 on the same number of screens) for totals of $110,012 and $93,000, respectively. Focus’ On the Basis of Sex expanded into 112 theaters and grossed $1.67 million, a $14,920 average per screen. Then there was Stan & Ollie with a $12,022 average in eight theaters. Also expanding were Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, now in 335 theaters, and Mary Queen of Scots, which added 211 theaters for a total of 1,052. They grossed $1.84 and $2.2 million, respectively. The Favourite also continues to chug along adding $1.97 million for a total gross of $19.3 million.
2018 kicked off with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle celebrating a box office victory in its third week, but Insidious: The Last Key was no slouch either with a $29.5 million start for second place. The Post and Phantom Thread continued to lead the per-theater-average list in limited release with $47,167 and $40,040 per screen, respectively. The top 10 grossed a total of $144.1 million and scored an average of 69.9% on the Tomatometer. This year’s top 10 grossed an estimated $118.1 million and averaged 64.8% on the Tomatometer.
Two long-delayed projects go up against a puppy next week, even as one is expected to be a dog. The Upside, starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017 when it was owned by the Weinstein Co. A few scandals later and STX is now finally releasing the remake of 2012’s The Intouchables, one of the most successful films of all time in France. It will go up against Keanu Reeves in the sci-fi clone film, Replicas, which was filmed back in 2016 and is likely to arrive with a thud. Then Charles Martin Smith, the actor-turned-director who helmed Air Bud and the Dolphin Tale films, brings us A Dog’s Way Home, not to be confused with 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose, nor its 2019 sequel, A Dog’s Journey. Finally, On the Basis of Sex expands nationwide.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]