Weekend Box Office Top 10 (Nov 30-Dec 2): (Title / Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Sunday Estimates
- Ralph Breaks the Internet / $25,756,000 / -54.2% / Weekend 2 / Disney
- Dr. Suess’ The Grinch / $17,730,000 / -41.7% / Weekend 4 / Universal
- Creed II / $16,832,863 / -52.7% / Weekend 2 / MGM (Wow! We haven’t see that in a while!!)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald / $11,200,000 / -61.9% / Weekend 3 / Warner Bros.
- Bohemian Rhapsody / $8,100,000 / -42.1% / Weekend 5 / Fox
- Instant Family / $7,150,000/ -41.9% / Weekend 3 / Paramount
- The Possession of Hannah Grace / $6,500,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Sony (Screen Gems)
- Robin Hood / $4,700,000 / -48.9% / Weekend 2 / Lionsgate (Summit)
- Widows / $4,400,000 / -46.5% / Weekend 3 / Fox
- Green Book / $3,900,000 / -29.1% / Weekend 2 / Universal
13. The Favourite / $1,105,000 / +161.6% / Weekend 2 / Fox Searchlight
28. Mirai / $62,497 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / GKids
30. Anna and The Apocalypse / $50,163 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Orion Pictures
With the Thanksgiving season officially over and December having just begun, the box office saw a sharp contraction this weekend as almost every major title saw a slightly bigger drop than expected. That said, larger drops after Thanksgiving are common, and this part of the year continues to showcase some films with really strong legs as they head into the Christmas season. The biggest news this weekend, however, is that I messed up! While in my predictions for this past weekend I had mentioned the release of Ben is Back as a potential awards play for Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges, I realized over the weekend that I mixed up the dates and that Ben is Back will actually be released next weekend inside a more crowded group of specialty offerings (to be discussed). My apologies!!
As for what was actually released this weekend, there were a few surprises to be found if you were paying attention, though anyone could have easily predicted that Disney would indeed rule the roost. Ralph Breaks the Internet, managed to once again to top the box office this weekend. Disney managed to do this both last year with mega-hit Coco and the year prior with Moana, which saw relative success as well (though not nearly on the same level as Coco). It will be interesting to see which of these films will offer up the best comparison for Ralph Breaks the Internet in terms of its overall gross, though either would be a big win for Ralph as it would big step up from the first film’s $471.2 million (Coco would go on to make $807 million while Moana would go on to make $643 million). As of now, Moana seems to be Ralph‘s best comparison as both fell in their second weekend with drops of 50.1% and 54.2%, respectively, while Coco saw a more favorable drop of 45.8% in its second weekend of release. This was the biggest surprise for me as I had believed that Ralph‘s sequel status would give it a much bigger fan base and allow it to hold better going into the post-Thanksgiving weekend frame, especially since the first Wreck-it-Ralph actually managed to hold by 32.7% in its second week of release.
So are audiences not taking to the Wreck-it Ralph sequel? No, I don’t believe that is the case. What likely happened is that major fans of the original did not waste time on this second round. Recall that, while moderately successful, the first Wreck-it-Ralph was not a slam dunk at the box office; the film opened softly in mid-November, but then legged it out through February in an impressive slow burn. By now, six years later, many people have been able to catch the original via the ancillary market and fans of the franchise have become pretty clearly delineated from non-fans. If you really loved the original, you were more than likely to see it opening weekend, and you had more than enough time to do so given the 5-day Thanksgiving weekend frame. So where does this leave Ralph Breaks the Internet? Currently, it is neck-and-neck with Moana at this same point in the release cycle (both having grossed $119 million domestically in their first 12 days of release), and with its solid daily grosses, a domestic haul in the $200 million range seems very likely.
The second surprise this weekend outside of Ralph‘s bigger than expected drop was that of The Grinch‘s second-place victory over Creed II. Another case where I had predicted a stronger hold, Creed II ended up dropping 52.7% for a gross of $16.8 million in third place. While not completely unexpected given that its predecessor, Creed, dropped nearly 50% in its second weekend (also a post-Thanksgiving weekend), audience reaction to the film seemed to suggest that it would hold a bit better. I can see the same situation with Ralph Breaks the Internet occurring here, however, with Creed II having already established an audience back in 2015 off of the success of the first installment. Being a good spirit film about determination and family, to a degree, Creed II also made for great viewing on Thanksgiving, and thus all the big fans of the original came out to see it opening weekend, resulting in a drop that is bigger than expected. Of course, you shouldn’t cry for Creed II. Whereas the first Creed took 6 weeks to pass the century mark domestically, Creed II will more than likely pass $100 million at the domestic box office by next weekend thanks to a supercharged opening from last weekend. These kinds of movies are pretty cheap to make, with Creed II costing only $50 million, and the film looks to still have a lot of runaway in the domestic market. What will be most interesting to watch, however, will be how the film performs internationally. Movies featuring black protagonists are not typically known to do that well in the foreign market, specifically Asian countries, but Creed star Michael B. Jordan is coming off the massive commercial success of Black Panther, which grossed nearly $650 million internationally ($105 million of which came from China). It will be intriguing to see if afterglow effects of the Marvel juggernaut will potential supercharge Creed II‘s international haul. If that is the case, expect Michael B. Jordan to rocket to the top of every casting director’s shortlist.
Back in second place, I just did exactly what every other outlet is doing: Glossing over Illumination’s The Grinch! I love to make comparisons between certain films in different seasonal frames, and in that regard, I think we’ve found our Christmas Hotel Transylvania 3. Over the course of this past summer, the Hotel Transylvania threequel both opened well and held extremely well throughout its run, legging out all the way into September thanks to family and seasonal appeal. I would argue that Hotel Transylvania 3 was the silent king of the summer movie season, and it looks as though The Grinch is shaping up to do just the same for the winter box office. Much like Hotel Transylvania 3, The Grinch opened well (actually grossing the highest opening weekend gross of all time for a Christmas movie, bet you didn’t know that) and has continued to hold extremely well over the course of the last few weeks, especially given the competition it has. Yes, despite having to share its audience with a Disney heavy-hitter like that of Ralph Breaks the Internet, The Grinch has managed to hold its own, last weekend only seeing a 21.2% drop as Ralph broke (haha) on to the scene.
The wins just seem to keep on coming for The Grinch as this weekend it did something completely unexpected. Dropping merely 41.7% for a gross of $17.7 million, The Grinch actually managed to swing past Creed II into second place, bringing its total domestic gross to $203.5 million (higher than that of Ralph Breaks the Internet) and its worldwide haul to $268.3 million. While not as successful as Illuminations other, longer-running, franchise offerings like that of Despicable Me and the Minions, this is still quite a robust performance for the property. Case in point, despite opening smaller than that of Illumination’s last Dr. Suess film, The Lorax in 2012, The Grinch is already outpacing the film $203 million to The Lorax‘s $177 million at this same point in the release cycle, and will overtake The Lorax‘s total domestic gross of $214 million by the end of the week; not to mention that with the hold’s the film is having, The Grinch will likely get within striking distance of the first Despicable Me film in terms of domestic gross ($250 million, if not more, which actually highly likely). And yet, despite all this, just as with Hotel Transylvania 3, no one in the trades is giving The Grinch its due. Sure, they make mention of the film’s performance as part of the overall box office report, but instead of making note of its success and box office strength, the trades focus on other studios like that of Disney (for Ralph) and Warner Bros. (for Fantastic Beasts). Admittedly, The Grinch doesn’t have great reviews (also like Hotel Transylvania), but clearly, audiences are really enjoying it. What this speaks to is a lack of respect for Illumination as a brand (and Universal for that matter). Despite clear success across the board with most of there films (and not just by way of frugal film budgeting as Illumination Entertainment has three of their films on the list of the top ten highest grossing animated films of all time), the perception of this animation studio is of one that appeals to the lowest common denominator and puts out mediocre fare. As a fan of the brand and many of its offerings, it is quite a shame to not see the films get their due. Then again, *he said sarcastically*, I’m sure Illumination must be crying all the way to the bank. For now, here’s to The Grinch, currently the King of the Christmas movie-going season.
Once again in fourth place, we find Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald which performed almost exactly as I predicted, although Warner Bros. is probably not too happy about that. It seems as though the film’s reprieve over Thanksgiving was only to be a short one as this weekend the film fell 61.9%, grossing $11.2 million. I suspect that Crimes of Grindelwald likely suffered the same fate as Ralph Breaks the Internet and Creed II, though both those films are able to stand much taller thanks to much stronger openings. Yes, having tripped right out of the gate with a $62 million opening weekend, the reported $200 million film is truly struggling to muster any kind of strength as we head into the December window. I mentioned a slight reprieve last weekend with the film only dropping about 52% in what was its second weekend, a completely normal and healthy (if not amazing) performance for a blockbuster of this magnitude. However, as with the other Thanksgiving offerings, once the weekend was over and the audience volume dropped, Crimes of Grindelwald was back to falling apart. Unfortunately, critics and audiences have spoken, and the film is simply not cutting it. In a franchise renowned for its intricate, detailed, and patient storytelling, Crimes of Grindelwald stands out as an overly-written mass of story with no real payoffs. While Warner Bros. has invested too much money into the Wizarding World for the franchise to end here, this sequel’s days at the domestic box office are numbered. Expect a major creative revamp when the third installment arrives in 2020.
As for international box office, this seems to be the only thing keeping Crimes of Grindelwald afloat. For the third weekend in a row the new Fantastic Beasts installment has been the number one movie in the world (outside of North America). This speaks to the strength of the Harry Potter brand overseas, where the films in this franchise have always performed quite well. The first Fantastic Beasts movie was almost totally propped up by the foreign film market on its way to making $814 million at the worldwide box office with 71.2% of that gross coming from overseas. Crimes of Grindelwald does manage to impress me in how it is able to jump over $100 million per week in its worldwide gross thanks to its strength in foreign markets. That said, I fear that even this will be coming to end quite soon as the weekend to weekend drops for the film’s foreign total are quite large, around 55% each week. Hardcore fans are still pressing on, but it does not look as though this will be enough to stop the bleeding, especially with no new fans coming to the table. Demographically, both Fantastic Beasts films have played primarily to an older audience, usually 25 years old or more. This signals that fans of the original series are showing up, but also that Warner Bros. is failing to entice younger audiences to join in; and with results like this, they can’t hope for this to change any time soon.
Rounding out the top five is Bohemian Rhapsody, which once again saw a strong hold of 42.1% for a gross of $8.1 million. This brings the film’s total domestic haul to $164 million while it has made nearly $540 million worldwide. This puts the film in a great position going into this week as Golden Globe nominations are to be announced on December 6th; with voting closing soon, this headline should do wonders for star Rami Malek who has entered the Best Actor race in full force. Speaking on strong holds, slow starter Instant Family is taking advantage of its Thanksgiving mega-boost and manage to drop only 41.9% for a gross of $7.1 million in sixth place. While I highly doubt that it will be able to make back its budget in the states (although the film deserves credit for having grossed $45 million stateside; more than three times its opening weekend which signals strong word of mouth), good business here will likely lead it to become a viable rental and streaming candidate down the line in the ancillary market. That said, I am optimistic about the film’s potential internationally. While there are no guarantees, and the film is playing in a pretty crowded market for family fair, the strong word-of-mouth generated here may be able to cross over into other markets and boost the film’s international success. Deadline pointed out that comedies tend to play best in English-speak countries but that the film’s family-centric storyline could make it a very viable player in Latin America, a fact proven this weekend as the film opened in the number one spot in Mexico. Isabela Moner’s presence in the film, as a Peruvian-American, would actually potentially add to this film’s Hispanic appeal (especially given that she has been cast as Dora the Explorer in the live-action film currently in production), while Rose Byrne’s presence, being a very well regarded Australian actress and UK staple, will help the film play well in those markets which could add a serious boost. Overall, I’ve very excited to see if this film can play well through the month, especially as it begins its international rollout in over 40 countries through Christmas.
In seventh place, we find the weekends sole new wide release, Sony Screen Gems’ The Possession of Hannah Grace, which did manage to overperform, though not by much. I made the comparison in my predictions to Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, which was originally pegged at a $12-$15 million opening weekend gross before, despite very bad reviews, managing to gross an impressive $18 million and then going on to gross $94 million worldwide (all on a $3.5 million budget). Much of this was owed to star Lucy Hale’s following coming of her hit show Pretty Little Liars, and it seemed interesting that fellow co-star, Shay Mitchell, would be trying to use the same fanbase to boost her own horror film. On the bright side, that technically worked as Hannah Grace was originally tracking for a $3.2 million opening before opening to $6.5 million. Realistically, however, this doesn’t hold a candle to Truth or Dare, especially given that while Truth or Dare‘s opening weekend gross was nearly six times its budget, Hannah Grace‘s opening is $3 million less than its $9.5 million budget. Sony admittedly did a poor job marketing this film to audiences, opening for a last minute social media push rather than an earlier and more story-driven trailer like Truth or Dare, giving the impression that Screen Gems was trying to hide Hannah Grace from audiences. Expect the film to fall out of the top ten by next week.
As for the rest of the top ten, Robin Hood surprised with a solid hold of 48.9%, however, coming off of its dismal opening, nothing looks to be able to save this film. Widows managed to hold on by 46.5%, bringing its worldwide gross to $53 million, but off a $42 million budget, its awards chances continue to look slim. Here’s hoping that Fox can manage a few Golden Globe nominations by Thursday to support the film. Finishing off the top ten was Green Book which sported the lowest drop in the top ten with 29.1% for a gross of $3.9 million. It’s grosses overall are still not very up to par, but the film has already managed to engender a lot of support from the industry and is looking to potentially clean up on the morning of the Globe nominations.
In the specialty market (where I mistakenly believed that Ben is Back was debuting), there was very little commotion. Two offerings debuted to very little fanfare, those being Mirai from GKids, which is getting a Best Animated Feature push from the distributor and could make waves at the Golden Globes given their penchant fpr nominating foreign animated features (Mirai is Japanese), and the “High School Musical meets Zombie-flick” Anna and the Apocalypse. The real story was that of The Favourite, the Yorgos Lanthimos period comedy about Queen Anne starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult, and Joe Alywen. After debuting with an impressive per-theater-average last weekend in four theaters (get it right Fox Searchlight!), the film expandrs into 34 theaters where it soared into 13th place with $1,105,000. Speaking of cleaning up at the Globes, The Favourite will likely be competing directly with Green Book in the Comedy/Musical sector with Olivia Colman being the frontrunner in Best Actress-Comedy/Musical. Having just won ten British Independent Film Awards thia past weekend, The Favourite is quickly picking up steam as an Oscar contender. Only time will tell if the film truly live up to its name come nominations.