The No. 1 films for the past five weeks going back to the opening of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil have grossed a total of $97 million. This weekend, Disney’s Frozen II surpassed that number. Tracking services went on the defensive after a few weeks of high-end estimates crashed and burned. So they went with a safe $100 million projection for a sequel to the highest-grossing Disney animated film of all-time globally. Audiences responded, “Who are you kidding?”
Thursday night, Frozen II had the fourth-best preview for an animated film ever behind Incredibles 2 ($18.5 million), Toy Story 4 ($12 million), and Finding Dory ($9.2 million). Take into account that those were all summer releases with no school Friday morning and Frozen II’s $8.5 million Thursday is even more impressive. No matter what the season its $127 million opening weekend is mightily impressive. That is the third-best animated opening of all time behind summer releases Incredibles 2 and Finding Dory. The previous best non-summer animated opening was Disney’s Zootopia with $75.1 million and the holiday season champion was the November release of The Incredibles ($70.5 million) back in 2004. Five of the eight animated films to open over $100 million went on to gross over $400 million, a feat 2013’s original Frozen managed to accomplish after starting with just $67.4 million (now the fourth-best November opening ever after last year’s The Grinch). Frozen II’s global haul for the weekend was $350 million as it begins its billion-dollar box office run.
Profit may be well out of its reach for director Brian Kirk’s 21 Bridges. STX pushed the cop thriller with Chadwick Boseman out of the summer into September, and then moved it away from their big success, Hustlers, into the November slot where it opened with $9.2 million. Movies this month opening between $8.8 million–$9.8 million have averaged a final gross of $30.1 million and have never grossed higher than Set It Off’s $36.5 million. That is not good news for the $33 million production. Only four STX films have grossed over $50 million outside of the U.S. and Canada in its five-year history (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, The Foreigner, Bad Moms, and A Bad Moms Christmas). The studio boasted two $100 million grossers in Hustlers and The Upside this year, but no other film has reached $30 million. Countdown reached $25 million this weekend.
Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was not quite the immediate audience grabber that some of us were thinking it would be, but many still hope it will be a slow burn, gaining audiences over the holiday. Though a $13.5 million start does not give it much chance to be the success many believed it could be. The average gross for a film opening between $12 million–$14 million in November is just $41.18 million with the high-end achieved by Three Men and a Little Lady ($71.6 million.) Only four other films this month in that range grossed over $59 million: Jingle All the Way, Scrooged, Bad Santa, and My Girl. The sixth-highest grosser was Men of Honor with $48.8 million, and Arthur Christmas (3,376) was the only film of the 30 on this list to open in more theaters than Neighborhood (3,235).
Last week’s No. 1, Ford v Ferrari dropped nearly 50 percent with $16 million this week, bringing its total up to just under $58 million after 10 days of release, roughly the same amount that Dumb and Dumber To reached in 2014, though it only made $14.1 million in its second go-round. Todd Phillips’ Due Date earned about $1.1 million more by this same point, made about $600,000 less than FvF in weekend two, and barely surpassed $100 million domestically. A $100 million goal means, however, that FvF will need an international haul of $150 million to break even between production and advertising costs. It currently stands at $45.8 million. Meanwhile, Phillips’ Joker continues to climb the all-time worldwide chart with almost $327 million domestic and $708 million international for a total of $1.036 billion, passing Despicable Me 3 for 36th place overall.
A large group of disappointments and outright failures unfortunately make up the rest of the Top 10. At $43.2 million after 17 days, Roland Emmerich’s Midway has grossed less than last year’s Disney failure The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, which finished with just $54.8 million. Even with international assistance, Midway still has not reached $100 million, which is what its production alone cost and making it one of the biggest losers of 2019. Playing with Fire and Last Christmas are still on pace for what we reported last week around $40 million and $36 million, respectively. And if anyone on their holiday box office card had The Good Liar making a run to outgross Charlie’s Angels, you have an appointment in Vegas. The Helen Mirren–Ian McKellen thriller is not exactly lighting things up with $11.7 million total to date, but it did stay steady in 7th place, while the Angels dropped back to 9th place with just $13.9 million total and is unlikely to hit even $20 million. Midway is still going to take a bigger hit on the books than Elizabeth Banks’ reboot or Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep, which fell out of the Top 10 in its third weekend with just $28 million to date, so keep that in perspective.
Todd Haynes’ Dark Waters made a decent splash with $110,000 in four theaters. That amounts to the 17th-best per-theater-average of the year and the 7th-best of launches in four theaters. Also in limited release, Amazon’s Honey Boy expanded into 44 theaters this weekend and grossed $269,000. That is a bit better than Whiplash moving into 46 theaters in its third week and grossing $248,313, but is less than Anamolisa grossed going from 17-to-37 theaters ($305,364) and ultimately finished with $2.61 million. Honey Boy has made $939,677. Both Jojo Rabbit and Parasite lost screens for the first time in their runs. They have grossed $16.1 and $16.5 million, respectively. Lulu Wang’s The Farewell still leads all releases in 2019 that did not expand to over 1,000 theaters with $17.6 million. Both films are in position to pass it.
It was the Thanksgiving holiday and three sequels led the five-day stretch starting with the one-two punch of Ralph Breaks the Internet ($84. 8 million) and Creed II ($56 million). Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald finished third with $42.4 million and crossed the $100 million mark to $116.6 million; though the film would go on to make only another $43 million total. The Grinch was right behind in fourth with $42.1 million, and Bohemian Rhapsody may have fallen back to fifth with $19.5 million, but it also crossed the $150 million line. One of the biggest bombs of the year in Lions Gate’s Robin Hood grossed a paltry $14.3 million and would eventually squeeze out just over $30 million. From Friday-to-Sunday the box office grossed a total of $203.8 million. Add in Wednesday and Turkey Day and the 5-day total rose to $298.6 million, the largest ever for the holiday. The Top 10 films also averaged 64.8% on the Tomatometer compared to this year’s Top 10, which averaged 60.5% with critics. This week’s pre-Thanksgiving total amounted to $187.52 Million.
Rian Johnson introduces a little mystery into the holiday season with the critically acclaimed Knives Out. At 97% on the Tomatometer, the film is the best-reviewed title to date to come out of the fall festival circuit and is expected to become one of the big crowd-pleasers to close out 2019. It grossed $2 million at 7 p.m. preview screenings on Friday and Saturday in 936 venues. Melina Matsoukas and Lena Waithe’s outlaw justice road movie Queen & Slim, starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie-Turner Smith, is also doing well early with critics. Will critical support help influence its award chances more than its box office prospects for such a heavy drama during a more family-oriented time?
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]