The post-Thanksgiving drop at the box office is a real thing. The industry mostly avoids opening its choice titles this weekend, tending to dump some of their turkey leftovers into theaters while moviegoers either play catch-up or wait for the next round of big holiday releases. The big stories this week revolve around animated titles: one continuing to climb up the all-time–record charts and a new release that is setting a milestone at the other end of the spectrum.
Disney’s Frozen II, to no one’s surprise, continued to lead the way with another $34.6 million this weekend. That is the best number 1 opening for the first weekend of December since… well, Frozen. The original Frozen grossed $34.67 million in its post-Thanksgiving weekend. The all-time first-weekend champion in December is Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven, which started with $38.1 million. Frozen II’s also number amounted to the 26th-best third weekend in history and its $337.5 million is the 19th-best ever after 17 days of release. Every film that has grossed at least $320 million in that period has passed the $400 million mark. Frozen II is about $2 million ahead of the pace of where The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was in 2013, which finished its run with $424 million, but it is had a third weekend about $8 million higher. A final tally in the $450 million region is still in the cards domestically. Worldwide the film has passed $919 million and it is personally going to get Disney to $10 billion in global ticket sales this week – the first time a studio has ever reached that mark in a calendar year.
In 2017, Open Road released The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature (13% on the Tomatometer). It currently owns the record for lowest-grossing opening weekend for a film released in over 4,000 theaters ($8.34 million). This year, STX released the animated UglyDolls (27% on the Tomatometer) into 3,652 theaters; it opened to $8.6 million. Open Road became Global Road and quickly dissolved. One of its last releases was to be Playmobil: The Movie (19% on the Tomatometer), which, despite getting some overseas play (to the tune of $12.4 million), was delayed and delayed here in the States. The animated film was eventually picked up by, you guessed it, STX Films, and was finally put into theaters this weekend. It grossed a grand total of $660,000. Not since the December 2008 release of Delgo have we seen a film open on over 2,000 screens and not gross $1 million. Here are the 10 worst openings of that group:
Thankfully for STX, this is just a pick-up release and it is not responsible for the film’s $75 million budget. Yes: $75 million. That makes it easily one of the biggest losers of the year, but it will live in infamy for years to come on that chart above.
Rian Johnson’s murder mystery, Knives Out, dropped 47% to $14.1 million this week. Its total of $63.49 million continues to keep it on a $100 million pace, but it needs to maintain word-of-mouth as the film is running about neck-and-neck with Ford v Ferrari. James Mangold’s racing drama had $62 million after its first 12 days, but had a second weekend of $15.7 million, besting Knives. Ford increased its haul to $91 million this weekend with another $6.54 million. Its final domestic gross is on pace for somewhere between $102-$113 million, but it will still need around another $75-$80 million internationally to break even. Knives Out has made $124 million worldwide to date and is already easily into profit for Lionsgate.
Last week’s other big release, Queen & Slim, is just outpacing the release of Burlesque back in 2010, which had $26.98 million after 12 days of release and had a second weekend gross of $6.13 million. Queen & Slim’s second weekend was $6.53 million and it has grossed $26.89 million domestically so far. Burlesque finished with $39.44 million. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is underperforming a bit, but mostly compared to our hopeful expectations for it. With $43.12 million through its third weekend the film is just outpacing Roland Emmerich’s Midway, which is up to $53.4 million in its fifth weekend – but with only $108 million worldwide it is going to struggle to break even give its budget. The Mr. Rogers drama with Tom Hanks is now looking at $55-$60 million during its run, which is still going to result in a multiple over 4x since its opening weekend, which is better than any November wide release this year. If this comes to pass it will also be only the fourth film of 2019 to open on a Friday and gross more than four times its opening weekend after The Upside, Yesterday, and Overcomer.
Todd Haynes’ Dark Waters with Mark Ruffalo expanded into wide release this week (94-to-2,012 theaters) and grossed $4.1 million, which is not a particularly strong number. Just last year Focus moved the RBG biopic, On the Basis of Sex, from 112-to-1,923 theaters in its third weekend and it grossed $6.07 million. That is about the most favorable comparison we can make for the environmental drama – though it is one to watch, as its Audience Score is a very high 96%. Its $4.1 million is certainly a better number than Amazon’s The Aeronauts put up this weekend. In 50 theaters the hot air balloon weather adventure grossed just $30,000. That is worse than Noah Hawley’s Lucy in the Sky, which opened to $54,058 in 37 theaters this October. NEON’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire was the big per-theater-average winner this week, grossing $67,105 in just two theaters. That is the 16th-best PTA of 2019. The top 20 PTAs of the year have each grossed at least $2 million. Parasite meanwhile is now NEON’s second-highest grossing movie after I, Tonya, with $19.34 million. Finally, Joker has passed this year’s Aladdin for 34th place on the all-time chart with $1.051 billion.
The big new release of the weekend was actually a re-release. Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was put back into 1,029 theaters for its 25th anniversary, and while it did not make the top 10, it did gross $566,750 over the weekend. Beyond that it was business as usual as the same 10 films led the way with the top six films all remaining in the same spots. Ralph Breaks the Internet led for a third straight week with $16.25 million. Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch was not far behind with $15.03 million. Creed II dropped to $9.9 million in third place. The top 10 films of the week grossed just $73.87 million and averaged the same 61.4% on the Tomatometer as the week prior. This year’s top 10 grossed an estimated $79.04 million and averaged 72.1% with critics.
Theaters get crowded again next week with some major new releases hoping for bucks, awards, or even both. Leading the crowd in the bucks department will no doubt be Jumanji: The Next Level, which brings back the gang from the smash 2017 hit and is hoping to earn a large piece of the holiday box office. Clint Eastwood had a solid December hit last year with The Mule, and now turns to another true-crime tale with Richard Jewell (88% on the Tomatometer), about the 2006 bombing at the Atlanta Olympics and the innocent man who was accused of it. Then Universal is taking another stab at horror for the holidays with a second remake of Bob Clark’s Black Christmas. But wait, we’re not nearly done. Opening in limited release is Jay Roach’s Bombshell, about the sexual harassment scandal at Fox News. Adam Sandler teams up with the Safdie Brothers for the anxiety-raising Uncut Gems (96% on the Tomatometer), for which many are touting Sandler for an Oscar nomination. Then there is Terrence Malick’s WWII drama, A Hidden Life (80% on the Tomatometer), about a conscientious Nazi objector, and Kristen Stewart steps into the role of Jean Severg in Seberg (46%), which details how investigations into the actress’s activism destroyed her life.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]