Weekend Box Office

Weekend Box Office Results: The Boy and the Heron Swoops in for Surprise Win

Hayao Miyazaki's latest took the crown from Beyoncé, while the Hunger Games prequel and Godzilla Minus One held onto their spots from last week.

by | December 11, 2023 | Comments


‘Tis the season when everyone debates if Nakatomi Plaza fits into their holiday movie plans. This year in particular, the films of Japan have stood apart at a domestic box office without much else of interest to offer. In a rare move, GKids have released the supposed final film from legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki not just for the audience who pack the arthouse theaters but widely for families to see everywhere, and the move paid off, as it did for the folks at Toho who decided that one week in theaters was just not enough for the mighty Godzilla.

King of the Crop: The Boy and the Heron Swoops in for Surprise Win

Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron was released in 2,205 theaters this weekend and grossed $12.8 million. Even Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning Spirited Away in 2001 never reached further than 714 venues and grossed a total of just $10 million in its initial release. This is just a remarkable showing of respect for a filmmaker who has dazzled his fans for decades. Only Disney’s release of Ponyo back in the summer of 2008 has grossed more than Heron at this point with $15.74 million, and that is likely to be surpassed by next weekend. If this had been just another Disney release, these numbers would certainly look paltry, but this is a special release with special numbers to boot on the domestic side. Miyazaki’s films have had solid international successes even before re-releases, with Spirited Away ($274.9 million), Howl’s Moving Castle ($235.3 million), Ponyo ($204.1 million), Princess Mononoke ($159.4 million) and The Wind Rises ($136.4 million). The Boy and the Heron is well on its way to that list with over $96 million so far, and with an additional boost from the domestic side, this could turn out to be one heckuva swan song.

The Top 10 and Beyond: Beyoncé’s Renaissance Drops to Fifth, The Hunger Games Holds at No. 2

Remaining in second on its fourth weekend is Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, making around $9.4 million for a total of $135.6 million. That keeps it above the pace of Pierce Brosnan’s last go-round as James Bond in Die Another Day, which had $131.8 million after 24 days and a $7.78 million fourth weekend. That film also opened the weekend before Thanksgiving and finished with $160.9 million. Our estimate last week for Songbirds to finish in the $165-175 million range continues to hold. The film is over $257 million worldwide and will be a success for the studio.

Sticking around in third place with $8.3 million is Toho’s Godzilla Minus One. The film was expected to just have a single week’s run, but given its turnout (just a 27% drop from last week) and subsequent enthusiasm for it (not to mention a Best Foreign Language Film nomination from my hometown Chicago Film Critics Association, to which I belong) it has extended its run and has now grossed $25.3 million domestic and over $50 million worldwide. The 2015 Point Break remake had made $22.4 million in its first 10 days after a $6.8 million second weekend before dropping off heavy in its third. Removing Godzilla at any point before December ended would be a huge mistake, as it’s already headed over $30 million and could extend much higher with word-of-mouth through the holidays.

Continuing a pattern, Trolls Band Together remained in fourth place this week, dropping just 23% to $6.2 million and a total of $83 million. Is $100 million still in the cards for the third film in the series? Very much so. For starters, no November release with at least $81 million in the bank after 24 days has failed to reach the milestone. That said, it is still skirting a line. Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow back in 1999 (with cheaper ticket prices) had $81.3 million in that same period and only grossed $4.7 million in its fourth weekend, and it still climbed to $101 million. The Boy and the Heron did not force much of a drop for it this week, but it will be facing family fare with Wonka and Migration over the next two weekends and could be knocked out of the top 10 before the end of the year. But the odds do seem to be pretty good, barring a massive exodus from it.

The one film that did take a fall this week was Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé — specifically from $21.8 million down to $5 million, which is a 77% drop from its debut and, as we said last week, pretty much right in line with the concert doc films released in the 2008-2013 period with drops like Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (-69.7%), One Direction: This Is Us (74.4%), and Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience (-77.4%). That brings its technical seven-day total (remember no Mon-Weds showings) to $28 million. That is already past two of those films (and it will pass One Direction next week) and past Katy Perry: Part of Me as well, but it will not approach the concert films from Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and, of course, the Mighty Swift.

The two big-budgeted Thanksgiving releases are in the bottom half of the top 10 in their third weekend. Disney’s Wish took the sixth spot with $5.4 million, though its 29% drop is hardly any consolation when it still hasn’t reached $50 million domestic. Apart from last year’s Strange World debacle and the pandemic release of Raya and the Last Dragon, the last Disney film not to reach that number by its 19th day was Planes: Fire & Rescue back in 2014. The $200 million-budgeted film has only made $105 million worldwide. Meanwhile, Ridley Scott’s Napoleon is doing better but not in-the-black better. Another $4.2 million brings its domestic total to $53.1 million and $170 million worldwide.

Beyoncé was not the only one on stage this weekend, as Bleecker Street’s release of the filmed production Waitress: The Musical with Sara Bairelles made $3.2 million. Rounding out the top 10, we have last week’s Bollywood entry Animal making $2.2 million to bring its running total to $11.9 million and Angel Studios’ The Shift, which added $2.1 million to bring its total to $8.5 million.

Out of the top 10 in just its second week is Lionsgate’s release of John Woo’s Silent Night, which made $1.7 million and has grossed just a total of $5.8 million. The Marvels made $1.3 million for a total of just under $83 million. Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving added $1.2 million to get itself over $30 million. Other holiday-themed movie reissues included 1,355 theaters playing Die Hard, which earned $923,000, and Love Actually, which made $280,000 in 923 theaters. Neon’s Eileen expanded to 532 theaters and grossed $615,000 for a current total of $746,000, and Ava DuVernay’s Origin did an awards-qualifying release in two theaters and grossed $117,064 for a strong PTA of $58,532, the fifth best of 2023.

Opening in just nine theaters in what could be a solid trip as it begins to rack up award nominations is Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things. The Searchlight release made $644,000 for the third-best per-theater average of the year ($71,555) behind only Asteroid City ($140,857) and Beau is Afraid ($80,099). Their previous release of Lanthimos’ Oscar-winning The Favourite began with $422,410 in four theaters, the second-best PTA in the studio’s history behind only Birdman. Poor Things is the best PTA for Searchlight in the Disney era, beating this year’s Theater Camp and last year’s The Banshees of Inisherin. Their top grosser since 2021 was last year’s The Menu ($38.5 million). The Favourite went on to gross $34.3 million.

On the Vine: Wonka to Take Audiences to a World of Pure Imagination

We on the verge of the weekend of Wonka. The director of the Paddington films brings this prequel to theaters, and it is doing pretty well with critics so far, drumming up an early 83% on the Tomatometer. It should be an easy No. 1 next week, as tracking has it around a $35-40 million start. Could it possibly stretch itself through the holiday to challenge the Swift numbers? It has already grossed over $43 million internationally. Also, we will look at the limited release numbers of Jeffrey Wright in Cord Jefferson’s literary and racial satire American Fiction (Certified Fresh at 94%) and the harrowing Holocaust tale from Jonathan Glazer, The Zone of Interest (Certified Fresh at 92%).

Full List of Box Office Results: December 8-10, 2023

97% The Boy and the Heron (2023)

  • $12.8 million ($12.8 million total)

64% The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (2023)

  • $9.4 million ($135.6 million total)

98% Godzilla Minus One (2023)

  • $8.3 million ($25.3 million total)

63% Trolls Band Together (2023)

  • $6.2 million ($83 million total)


  • $5.5 million ($28 million total)

48% Wish (2023)

  • $5.3 million ($49.4 million total)

58% Napoleon (2023)

  • $4.1 million ($53 million total)

100% Waitress: The Musical (2023)

  • $3.2 million ($3.2 million total)

30% Animal (2023)

  • $2.2 million ($11.5 million total)

37% The Shift (2023)

  • $2.1 million ($8.5 million total)

Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

Thumbnail image by ©GKids

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.