Weekend Box Office Top 10 (Aug 3-Aug 5): (Title / Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Sunday Estimates
- Mission Impossible-Fallout / $35,000,000 / -42.8% / Weekend 2 / Paramount
- Christopher Robin / $25,003,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Disney
- The Spy Who Dumped Me / $12,350,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Lionsgate
- Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again / $9,090,000 / -39.8% / Weekend 3 / Universal
- The Equalizer 2 / $8,830,000 / -37.0% / Weekend 3 / Sony (Columbia)
- Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation / $8,200,000 / -33.1% / Weekend 4 / Sony (Columbia)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp / $6,188,000 / -29.4% / Weekend 5 / Disney
- The Darkest Minds / $5,800,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Fox
- Incredibles 2 / $5,009,000 / -31.0% / Weekend 8 / Disney
- Teen Titans GO! To the Movies / $4,860,000 / -53.3% / Weekend 2 / Warner Bros.
12. Eighth Grade / $2,870,000 / +126.2% / Weekend 4 / A24
13. Death of a Nation / $2,325,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Quality Flix
14. The Miseducation of Cameron Post / $53,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / FilmRise
29. Puzzle / $128,598 / +110.1 / Weekend 2 / Sony Pictures Classics
33. Black Panther / $35,000 / +1,299.4% / Weekend 25 / Disney
It seems that last weekend’s box office was indeed affected by a torrential downpour on the east coast, as this weekend the holdovers managed fantastic holds across the board. Either that or perhaps the roster of the top ten was in desperate need a shake-up, which it got in the form of three new studio pictures, including Christopher Robin which squared off against Mission Impossible-Fallout for the number one spot with Fallout winning the weekend.
Taking the number one spot this weekend was Mission Impossible-Fallout which grossed $35 million, a drop of only about 43%, the second lowest second-weekend drop in the franchise (technically the lowest given that the second-weekend drop was from Ghost Protocol which started in limited release). This proves not only Tom Cruise’s ability to sell movie tickets but also is a testament to the quality of the filmmaking. As I’ve mentioned before, Fallout is the most well-reviewed Mission Impossible movie in the franchise, with some critics comparing it to a Christopher Nolan movie given its level of technical wizardry and polish. Given that awards season is beginning to warm up, there is now speculation as to whether or not Fallout will become the first Mission Impossible film to be recognized by the Oscars in the technical categories, and with a hold like this having now brought the film to a domestic gross of $124 million in just a week, as well as a worldwide gross of $329 million, this prospect is becoming more likely. The movie is currently pacing ahead of Rogue Nation (its most natural comparison) by $17 million, and if it can continue to hold well, expect that gap to become even larger as Fallout zooms toward the $600 million mark worldwide. Right now, it is looking to out-gross Rogue Nation and potentially surpass $700 million at the box office (a first for the franchise) but we’ll have to keep a close eye on it until then. For now, however, Paramount should relish this win for the studio along with their mega-win in the form of A Quiet Place from earlier this year as they are slowly turning things around for themselves while they navigate an executive reshuffling.
The real interesting story this weekend, however, is with Fallout‘s competitor, Disney’s Christopher Robin. Continuing their trend of live-action remakes/adaptations of their animated properties, Disney’s projections (as well as the projections of the trades and other third parties) saw the film potentially earning $30+ million over the weekend, putting it into close combat with Fallout which, earlier this week, didn’t look as though it was going to hold as well as it did. Based on its Thursday night preview gross, I had felt that the $30+ million gross for the weekend would likely come to pass, an assumption further reinforced by the comparison I found to one of this year’s earlier live-action/CGI hybrid offerings, the similarly updated children’s classic Peter Rabbit. With both sharing a similar source material, the manner in which said films were made, and the fact that both received middling reviews from critics, I had felt justified in my assumption that Christopher Robin would manage a strong showing similar to Peter Rabbit which debuted on the higher end of its projected range with $25 million. Having let the weekend play out, I see my assumption was accurate as Christopher Robin performed a lot like Peter Rabbit, only instead of debuting on the higher end of expectations, Christopher Robin instead opened with an identical gross of $25 million.
So what happened? Hard to say. Maybe Disney was overconfident in their predictions because they overestimated the strength of the Winnie the Pooh brand, maybe there are simply other, more strongly established brands currently playing at the box office (Hotel Transylvania 3 and even Teen Titans GO!), or (and this seems more likely) maybe this is simply the range in which live-action/CGI hybrid films are capable of opening in. Surprisingly, several of the trades, in their coverage of this weekend’s box office, refuse to outright acknowledge the underperformance of the film when compared to its projections, instead making note of how the film beat out Disney’s live-action adaptation of Pete’s Dragon from two years ago which debuted to $21 million despite stronger reviews. While I can understand why this comparison is being made and that it’s certainly a feather in Christopher Robin cap, one can’t ignore the fact that the film certainly had the potential for something greater.
That said, the more I think about it, the more I believe that audiences are likely just put off by this sort of film. The largest opening for a film of this nature in recent memory has been Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel from 2009 with a $48 million opening. However, that movie was critically reviled (as have been most of the other films in that franchise) and most films that have featured a blend of humans interacting with CGI animals (or other creatures) haven’t fared much better, with the entire genre seeing diminishing returns with every entry. After Alvin and the Chipmunks, Sony released The Smurfs which debuted with a solid $35 million but also was torn apart by critics, with the sequel bombing and the franchise being shifted to a become a fully animated film. Pete’s Dragon saw much stronger critical reception, but ended up with dismal box office returns, and not even Paddington 2, currently one of, if not the most well-reviewed movie of 2018, was able to capitalize on the surprise success of the original in the U.S. and bombed stateside in its January release (though it still made a strong profit thanks to massive overseas numbers and a third film is in development, YAAAYYYY!!!!!!). This speaks to an audience that is either unimpressed with this kind of fare or one that has been tainted by the bad impression left by other entries into the genre and thus was unwilling to show up for Christopher Robin despite the strength of the Disney brand as a whole propping it up.
Despite Christopher Robin stumbling out of the gate, however, I wouldn’t cry for Disney just yet. As I mentioned earlier, Peter Rabbit (the movie which I believe presents the best comparison to Christopher Robin) debuted to $25 million despite an even more mixed critical reception than Christopher Robin, yet managed to make a great impression on audiences, resulting in fantastic word-of-mouth translating into phenomenal weekend-to-weekend holds and making Peter Rabbit a sleeper hit with not just $115 million in the states but also a massive $350 million worldwide. With Christopher Robin sporting slightly better reviews, a strong audience reception based on its Cinemascore (“A” versus Peter Rabbit‘s “A-“), and (it cannot be stated enough) the strength of Disney as a brand, it has the potential to be as strong a performer as Peter Rabbit, if not stronger. We’ll see if the film holds up in the coming weeks.
In third place, we find The Spy Who Dumped Me, which debuted to about $12 million. This is within the range that the trades had projected ($10-$15 million) but below the $13 million that most were expecting. I had hypothesized that a big hurdle for the film would be the presence of Kate McKinnon as one of the leads given her box office track record to date, which has been littered with poorly reviewed films and box office misfires, all giving the impression that she doesn’t have the best taste when picking projects. While this seems to be a likely factor, it also seems as though moviegoers simply weren’t impressed with the overall film, giving it a “B” Cinemascore which usually indicates, not disdain, but more so an ambivalence toward the film being viewed. Combined with the critics reviews-which despite looking absolutely dreadful based on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 39%, actually reflect the ambivalence of audience with a 51 on Metacritic-it seems as though most people found nothing in the movie to be provocative (be it positively or negatively) or worth recommending, if they even went to go see it in the first place. In other words, it’s not a bad film, maybe even quite an enjoyable film, but it’s simply not worth seeing in theaters. While that certainly isn’t the best news, the film is not necessarily DOA. While it carries a $40 million dollar budget (mid-range, not crazily expensive, but not a budget that a $12 million opening bodes well for), Deadline pointed out that more than half the budget was funded by foreign sales. Other trades echoed this information, and though the wording changes between each article, if Lionsgate played their cards right, perhaps there is much less exposure on the film that one would think. Perhaps its net budget is more likely around $20 million, which would make for a lower break-even point which the film could reach while still in theaters. If this is the case, the film will still likely be able to turn a profit once it hits the ancillary market (rentals, streaming, On-Demand, etc…) where it will likely be more appealing given that audiences will be able to see it for less than they would in theaters. Here’s hoping the film’s financial future bodes well.
In fourth place, we begin to find more holdovers from the previous weekend. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again bounced back from its surprisingly large drop last weekend with a hold of 39.8% this weekend and a gross of $9 million, bringing the domestic haul of the film to $91 million. Thanks to the strength of its opening weekend, the film is still pacing ahead of the original by $4 million, and with it’s continued strong weekday numbers, the film will pass $100 million domestically by the end of the week (likely by the middle of this week, actually). Internationally, however, the film did hit a bump in the road as it opened in China to a dismal $323,000, signaling that it will not be getting much mileage out of the Middle Kingdom which could have potentially given it a massive profit boost down the line. Overall though, the film continues to be a strong performer in Europe and still has openings in Korea, Japan (major box office pockets), Russia, Mexico, and Italy to look forward to. Its worldwide gross currently stands at a healthy $230 million (by my rough estimate the film is already profitable). Meanwhile, in fifth place, The Equalizer 2 also held exceptionally well given its very large drop last weekend, holding at only a 37% drop to a gross of $8.8 million. However, as opposed to Mamma Mia 2, the film lost a lot of steam last weekend and is now tracking at the same domestic gross ($79 million) that the original was in its release cycle four years ago. Combined with its highly deflated box office internationally, while Denzel Washington will certainly live to fight another day, the Equalizer franchise looks unlikely to continue past this installment.
Outside the top five, we find Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation in sixth place with its best hold yet of 33.1% for a gross of $8.2 million. With a worldwide gross of $338 million, the film undoubtedly contributed to the more deflated opening weekend gross of Christopher Robin. Given that Hotel Transylvania 3 has already been out for four weeks and, based on its holds, clearly has great word-of-mouth in the child-focused, more family-centric space, it is making it very hard for other family audience fair to stake out a space for itself. The film is currently matching Hotel Transylvania 2 (the highest grossing film in the franchise) at this point in its tracking domestically, but should soon overtake the original Hotel Transylvania worldwide. Expect this in the next two weeks.
Ant-Man and the Wasp actually looks to be breaking out of its Solo-like box office pattern as it sported the strongest hold in the top ten with a drop of only 29.4% for a gross of $6.2 million. Worldwide the film had a surprising spike in activity, jumping over $26 million worldwide from last week for a $426 million worldwide gross. Disney also got some great news this weekend as the film officially secured a Chinese release date of August 24th, and with the fact that first Ant-Man grossed $105 million in China when it was released there, Ant-Man & Wasp will be more than profitable by the end of the month, at which point it will have also seen releases in both Italy and Japan. Perhaps the newer, better comparison would be to Spider-Man: Homecoming, which, after losing a lot of steam stateside after its opening weekend, saw its worldwide gross ballon into the $800 million range after its Chinese release. While Ant-Man & Wasp will likely not be jumping to the range by the end of its run, it will certainly be able to reach the $500 million mark and match, if not surpass the first Ant-Man‘s gross. Disney definitely dodged a bullet there but should be wary given the shakiness of the film’s performance overall. The MCU is moving into a new phase with the end of Avengers 4 and many of the newer heroes are (according to Marvel head, Kevin Feige) supposed to take over the franchise. Given the more deflated box office and shakier performance of these newer generation Avengers movies, Marvel and Disney may want to tread cautiously and try to fix any problems they can before proceeding.
In eighth place, we find the last new release of the weekend, The Darkest Minds, which bombed right out of the gate with a gross of $5.8 million. With the trades first expecting the film to open between $7-$8 million, then lowering those expectations to around $6 million as the weekend approached, this is a massive disappointment for 20th Century Fox and perhaps the final nail in the coffin for the young adult dystopian film franchise. With the end of the Hunger Games being much softer than anticipated and the Divergent franchise failing to gain much ground before collapsing (the final proposed installment of the franchise, Ascendant, was pulled from the release schedule after the financial and critical meltdown that was Allegiant and was supposedly being reworked into a proposed television film that is still in development limbo), this audience has seemingly evaporated, with all the conceivable plots for said stories having fallen into not only cliche but also just flat out laziness on the part of most of the filmmakers that worked on them. The YA genre as a whole is still highly viable in book form as such novels are now shifting away from otherworld concerns to focus on more realistic social issues and commentary. Darkest Minds star Amandla Stenberg is staring in the upcoming adaptation of the critically acclaimed YA novel The Hate U Give (also from Fox) which dives directly into issues of race and police brutality. Given the political climate today, if Hollywood is still looking to profit off the anxieties of adolescence and “new adulthood”, perhaps they should be looking at material that approaches the subject from a more grounded perspective. On a side note, Amandla Stenberg was cast in The Darkest Minds not too long after her role in Everything, Everything, another YA film adaptation of the book by author Nicola Yoon which ended up turning a small but solid profit (enough for Fox to want to scoop Stenberg up to anchor their next potential YA dystopian franchise with Darkest Minds). Sure enough, another Nicola Yoon novel is being adapted to film, this time bestseller The Sun is Also a Star with Grown-ish‘s Yara Shahidi in the lead, which shines a spotlight on immigration and deportation. Given the popularity of Yoon’s books, this serves as proof it might behoove anyone looking to produce films in the YA genre to focus on more socially conscious and realistic fare.
Incredibles 2 and Teen Titans GO! To the Movies round out the top ten in ninth and tenth place, respectively. Incredibles 2 dropped 31% while Teen Titans GO! dropped 54%, going fifth place opening weekend to tenth place this weekend. Clearly, it failed to connect with the audience and has become another casualty of Hotel Transylvania‘s box office dominance. Meanwhile, despite dropping out of the top ten, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom managed another strong hold of 41% and in doing so, blocked out Eighth Grade‘s attempted to enter the top ten, landing the Bo Burnham-directed middle-school comedy in twelfth place with a weekend gross of $2.8 million. While I had, at first, thought that this would be quite bad for its Oscar campaign, my research reminded me that Moonlight, A24’s crown jewel and 2016’s Best Picture Winner, never actually made it into the top ten at all, peaking at number eleven in its third and fifth weekends before beginning a slow and steady decline. With Eighth Grade‘s impressive per-theater-average, it already has cemented its place in the minds of industry elites, and its momentum still has the capacity to carry it into the top ten in the coming weeks.
The rest of the specialty market saw a few new releases, including Quality Flix’s Death of A Nation, which failed to make much an impression with only a $2,345 per-theater-average. The real major specialty release was that of The Miseducation of Cameron Post from FilmRise. Directed by Desiree Akhavan and starring Chloe Grace Moretz, the film debuted with a solid $24,319 per-theater-average, but that number seems a bit low given buzz the film had comming out of the Sundance Film Festival eariler this year as the Grand Jury Prize Winner. It also doesn’t help that the film only debuted in two theaters. Usually, this is done to boost the per-theater-average even higher, so that fact that the film only managed the per-theater-average typical of a film debuting in 4 to 5 theaters is not promising if FilmRise is looking to launch an Oscar campaign, especially given that FilmRise does not have much an Oscar track record. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is one of two films coming out this awards season which deal with gay-conversion therapy for teenagers, the other being Joel Egerton’s Boy Erased, starring Academy Award Nominee Lucas Hedges, for Focus Features. Both films are based on books, interestingly, but as of yet, Boy Erased looks to be the stronger contender. Still, the issue that both films tackle is high topical in the wake of the Trump Presidency (and Mike Pence’s Vice Presidency) so expect both films to have a lot of buzz surrounding them as the year continues.
To close out, we find two films that surreptitiously found a surprising amount of success this weekend. The first was Puzzle, last weekend’s Kelly Macdonald vehicle from Sony Pictures Classics, which did not increase its theater count of 5 theaters yet saw a more than 100% jump in its weekend gross from last weekend to this weekend. While still unlikely to garner awards attention, this is a great headline for both the film, as it shows that people are thoroughly enjoying the film as well as recommending it, and Kelly Macdonald who has reinforced her status as a noteworthy actress. Many have been calling her to level up ever since she was seen in No Country For Old Men and maybe Puzzle is a stepping stone toward a higher profile in the mainstream. Speaking of mainstream, the other noteworthy event in the specialty market was that of Black Panther passing the $700 million mark domestically to become the third highest grossing film of all time in the United States. While many in the industry had been expecting Disney to make this move, no one expected it so soon, with pundits predicting that Disney would likely re-release the film in October so that it would cross this historic line in the thick of award season and grab the attention of voters. Only time will tell if it was too early to push Black Panther across the $700 million line, but for now Disney can boast another strategic achievement, having increased Black Panther‘s theater count by merely 10 theaters for a whopping +1,395% increase in its weekend gross. Disney may have done this by attaching Black Panther to the back of another of their films in the form of a double feature (likely Incredibles 2, which they did for Wrinkle in Time to pull that film across the $100 million line), but no matter what, this just cements Black Panther‘s position as a landmark Hollywood achievement.