Moviegoers had a chance to return to Zombieland this weekend and many of them did. But it was Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent that was able to put the Joker in his place — second place, that is, as Joaquin Phoenix’s interpretation of the Clown Prince of Crime heads much quicker than anyone thought for the all-time October record. The numbers were solid this weekend on the surface, making for a nice October weekend, but profit for the newcomers is still up in the air.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil took the top spot this weekend with $36 million, but won’t continue Disney’s unprecedented streak of releasing four billion-dollar films in a row. The $185 million–budgeted film joins a number of sequels in 2019 that have had significant drop-offs from their predecessors. Seven of them have fallen off 50 percent or higher from the previous film and they include:
The Angry Birds Movie 2 (-72.9 percent), Happy Death Day 2U (-63.5 percent), Shaft (-59 percent), A Dog’s Journey (-55.9 percent), The Secret Life of Pets 2 (-55.3 percent), The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (-50.6 percent), and Dark Phoenix (-50.1 percent).
The Angry Birds Movie 2 actually opened on a Tuesday, but even if you added the $5.7 million it made from Tuesday to Thursday, it would still have opened to 50 percent lower than the $38.1 million of the original. Disney’s Maleficent opened to $69.43 million back in the summer of 2014. The $36 million Mistress of Evil grossed this weekend represents a 48.2 percent drop, putting it between Godzilla: King of the Monsters (-48.7 percent) and Men In Black International (-45 percent) — the latter more of a spin-off than direct sequel — for the ninth-worst drop of the year among sequels or follow-ups. Globally the film is up to $153 million, but it is going to need well over $500 million total to break even. The only sequels this year to reach the total are the ones you would expect: Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.
Zombieland: Double Tap did get off to a nice start for Sony. The original opened to $24.73 million in 2009 and given that would equate to about $29.6 million 10 years later, a $26.7 million opening for the sequel still is not too bad. The budget did increase from $23 million to $42 million, however, so this one also has its work cut out for it. Ruben Fleischer’s debut managed to score $75.5 million domestically but just $102.3 million total worldwide. Some estimates suggested that film even missed its profit margin due to extensive advertising costs. Like most of the top films this week, including phenomenon Joker, Zombieland: Double Tap could easily benefit from the upcoming pre-Halloween weekend.
Grossing $29.2 million in its third weekend, Joker will pass Gravity to become the all-time champion of October. Joker’s third weekend is a far greater than any of the films comparative to its $246 million 17-day total, such as Man of Steel, Thor: Ragnarok, and the first parts of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Those films grossed between $16.5 million and $21.6 million in weekend three. For Joker, $300 million now seems very likely, and the film’s global total stands at over $737 million, which makes Joker far and away Warner Bros.’ biggest hit of the year and one of the year’s biggest successes. Joker will become the seventh-highest grossing film worldwide by next weekend.
Last week’s The Addams Family dropped 47 percent to $16.1 million, but its 10-day total of $56.81 million has not only driven ahead of what Abominable has made in four weeks ($53.91 million), but ahead of the pace of Where the Wild Things Are, which topped out at $77.3 million. The $40 million–budgeted film should cross $80 million with no problem and get a decent stay next week with parents looking for some spooky family-oriented entertainment to take their kids to. Though it will need to cross $100 million globally to turn a profit, The Addams Family is in much better shape than Paramount and Ang Lee’s $138-million budgeted Gemini Man, which fell 58.6% this weekend to $8.5 million. It is only at $118 million worldwide.
In milestone news, Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers passed the $100 million mark this week. Downton Abbey became Focus’ all-time domestic grosser, passing Brokeback Mountain, and Roadside’s Judy is now their fifth highest-grossing film ever with designs on passing The Peanut Butter Falcon this week and maybe even Mud’s $21.5 million for third place.
Three big limited-release stories are brewing right now for three filmmakers who have generated significant buzz on the festival circuit. A24 released Robert Eggers’ follow-up to The Witch in eight theaters this weekend. The Lighthouse (93% on the Tomatometer) grossed $419,000 in those eight theaters; the third-best total ever for a launch in that number of theaters behind The Big Short ($705,527) and Memoirs of a Geisha ($682,504) and ahead of Match Point ($398,593) and Dead Poets Society ($340,456). A24 will reportedly expand it into 500 theaters, similar to the strategy of last year’s Blindspotting, which went from 11 theaters (opening to $338,999) and moving to 523 theaters (where it grossed $1.28 million). The Lighthouse is one to watch next weekend.
Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit (77% at RT) made $350,000 this weekend in just five theaters. That is the 12th-best opening in as many theaters ever, behind La La Land ($881,104), The Master ($736,311), Brokeback Mountain ($547,425), The Big Sick ($421,577), Zero Dark Thirty ($417,150), Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride ($388,166), Boyhood ($387,618), Syriana ($374,502),and Punch-Drunk Love ($367,203) as well as Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love ($361,359) and Café Society ($359.289). Jojo’s $70,000 per-theater-average is the fourth-best of 2019 behind Avengers: Endgame ($76,601), The Farewell ($88,916) and Bong-Joon Ho’s Parasite ($128,072), which is quite the story.
Parasite (99% Tomatometer score) moved into 33 theaters this weekend (up 30 from last week) and grossed another $1.2 million, a haul that puts it into some big-league conversation. Lady Bird went from four to 37 theaters in its second week and grossed $1.19 million. Boyhood went five to 34 ($1.17 million), The Farewell four to 35 ($1.14 million), and The Favourite four to 34 ($1.07 million). Parasite in 33 theaters even beat the per-theater averages of Juno ( $1.42 million in 40 theaters) and The Royal Tenenbaums ($1.26 million in 40 theaters) in their second weekends of limited release. Parasite has grossed $1.8 million to date, and Neon needs to keep spreading the word.
David Gordon Green’s Halloween fell just a few million shy of besting Venom’s all-time opening record; nevertheless its $76.2 million (now third after Joker) handily led the box office. A Star Is Born finally eclipsed Venom in their third weekends outgrossing the Marvel villain $19.05 to $18.04 million. In limited release, Jonah Hill’s Mid90s had the top per-theater average of the weekend ($64,539) with $258,157 in four theaters. Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me with eventual Oscar nominees, Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, posted a $32,302 PTA with $161,510 in five theaters. The $155.99 million made by the Top 10 films was the second biggest weekend ever in October, and they averaged 70.1% on the Tomatometer. This year’s Top 10 grossed $128.67 million and averaged 64.7% on the Tomatometer.
The weekend before Halloween offers different kinds of horror on what looks to be a pretty slow one for the newbies. STX offers the Ring-like Countdown about a killer app that predicts when someone is going to die. Racial angles are explored between corrupt and righteous police officers in Black and Blue with Naomie Harris and Frank Grillo. Then Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s The Current War finally hits theaters after its debut at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival just before the Weinstein Co. was scuttled. The film charts the battle between Benedict Cumberbatch’s Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon’s George Westinghouse.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]