Only one more week of drought! Yes, this is the final week of December in which we have no major releases coming out this weekend, once again making it the perfect time to either catch up on whatever you haven’t seen or potentially support the films you want to see do well. Outside of the mainstream, however, there is some excitement as Golden Globe nominations were announced early yesterday, finally giving some much-needed perspective to this awards season. With three high profile indie films being released this weekend in the specialty market, as well as several newly-minted Globe nominees bursting on to the scene next weekend, the box office is about to get awfully crowded, and this will likely be the last weekend that any movie in the top ten at this moment can hope to earn some extra cash. Overall, the weekend is looking to have some solid hold across the board, and some films may actually see business skyrocket thanks to their new Golden Globe nominations.
Looking to threepeat its success from the past two weekends, Ralph Breaks the Internet is poised to come in first place once more thanks to a lack of competition and just overall solid business. The pic is potentially looking at around a 40% hold this weekend for a gross of $15.3 million. That said, Ralph happens to be one of the lucky films in the top ten to have been graced with a Golden Globe nomination, in this case for Best Animated Feature. If Disney is smart (and business-wise, we know they are), they will immediately begin to plaster news of the nomination all over their ads for the film, hoping to sweep up any potential stragglers who have yet to buy a ticket. As I said before, this weekend is the last weekend to catch up on any movies you’ve missed, and Disney is definitely not willing to leave any money on the table, especially not in the presence of our number two entry this coming weekend (TBA). If this strategy is a success, we might see Ralph hold even stronger.
As for the number two spot this weekend, The Grinch looks to hold firm. While these days it might seem as though Disney and Warner Bros. are the most at odds with each other (Marvel vs DC, Live-action Princess movies vs Harry Potter, you get the idea), financially, the biggest thorn in Disney’s side has actually been Universal as of late. I lamented in my last post that Universal (specifically Illumination Entertainment) never tends to get its due when it comes to strong box office performance, mainly because I feel it is always right to acknowledge when people succeed. In the case of Universal and their animation division, they rarely get the recognition they deserve despite actually hitting a lot more than they tend to miss. Case in point, Illumination’s new Grinch film which I compared to this summer’s Hotel Transylvania 3 as the unsung box office heavyweight of the winter season. Having managed a solid opening three weekends ago, and held impressively well given the competition from Ralph Breaks the Internet, the quietly strong film has already raked in over $200 million domestically; and with the first full weekend of December upon us and everyone truly beginning to get into the Christmas spirit, The Grinch is looking at another very strong hold this coming weekend as the only real “Christmas” film in the market at the moment. I am currently anticipating a drop of only around 35% for a gross of $11.6 million. This would put the film’s domestic gross at nearly $220 million by the end of the week.
Creed II looks to come in third place once more. Last weekend served as a test of the film’s audience reception and the result was pleasant enough. The film fell 53%, a bit steeper than expected, but not horrible. Frankly, it seems as though the film’s overall reception is thoroughly average, but that definitely works for a film like this. Thanksgiving weekend already established that the film plays well to a large and diverse audience (a fact proven again last weekend as the film’s demographic breakdown was once again very evenly split, moviegoer-wise, amongst Caucasians, Hispanics, and African-American audiences) and a certain level of deflation was to be expected in its second weekend. Having now been out of two weeks, it can be assumed that the film has found its core audience and will likely manage an okay hold once more. I predict a drop of around 45% for a gross of $9.1 million. The film is already doing pretty solid business, having grossed $85 million domestically and $100 million worldwide and that could potentially pick up a bit more as we get closer to Christmas.
On the other hand, business is certainly slowing down for poor Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. With every passing weekend, the film loses even more ground with large drops compounding upon an already pretty poor opening weekend. This coming weekend looks to be no different as a drop of at least 50% will likely result in a gross of $5.6 million. As of now, the film stands at a domestic haul of $137 million; merely 25% of an already deflated worldwide gross of $536 million (nearly $300 million less than the first Fantastic Beasts). Expect Crimes of Grindelwald to land in fourth place.
In fifth place, we are more than likely to find our second Globe nominee, box office superstar Bohemian Rhapsody, which managed to nab not only a Best Actor (Drama) nomination for star Rami Malek but also continued to shatter expectation by powering through mixed reviews to garner a nomination for Best Motion Picture (Drama). This victory could potentially prompt an even stronger hold this weekend than all its weekends prior as these Golden Globe nominations will serve to vouch for the film and possibly convince any hold-outs to finally head to the theater. Malek will actually be quite competitive in the category, going head to head with fellow nominee Bradley Cooper (for A Star is Born, obviously) for the win, and I believe there is a distinct change that he could actually take home the gold if Fox campaigns hard enough.
Outside the top five, Instant Family is looking at another pretty solid hold going into the weekend, likely to drop around 45% (if not less) for a gross around $4.2 million and confidently stride past the $50 million mark domestically as more and more families begin to gather for Christmas, thus building a bigger audience for Instant Family to take advantage of. In sixth place, I’m predicting that our final Golden Globe nominee, Green Book, will actually manage to leapfrog from its tenth place spot last weekend with a hold around 25% for a gross of about $2.9 million. It’s a bold prediction, but given that the film is already playing in over a thousand theaters and yet still managed to hold by 28.5% last weekend, I think the film actually has a pretty solid chance. One should also not underestimate the power of awards consideration as the film not only scored Globe nominations for its two leads, Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, but also major nominations in the directing category (for director Peter Farrelly) and for Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical). Green Book has been earmarked as a serious contender since the beginning of awards season having taken home the People’s Choice Award form the Toronto International Film Festival (which basically guarantees the film a spot in the Best Picture Oscar lineup), and while it may have gotten off to a rough start at the box office, the film’s new nominations definitely cement its place as a frontrunner and could potentially help the film seriously find an audience over the rest of the month.
In the final three spots, we’re likely to see the last of The Possession of Hannah Grace, Robin Hood, and Widows (in that order, top ten-wise) as they each try to grab as much cash before they are unceremoniously pushed out of the top ten by the wide releases of Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse, Mortal Engines, and The Mule (not to mention the expansion of The Favourite, to be discussed). The Possession of Hannah Grace will likely be the luckiest of the bunch in the long term thanks to its inexpensiveness and its trendy star Shay Mitchell. These aspects will probably allow it to do okay business on streaming where it will maybe make a modest profit. The same cannot be said of the other two films. Robin Hood was dead on arrival with its dismal opening weekend. On a $100 million budget, resulting in a break-even point somewhere near $300 million, the film has only made $49 million as of yet and will surely result in some pretty large losses for Lionsgate/Summit. Widows falls somewhere between these two priors, not nearly as expensive as Robin Hood and having potential streaming viability, but still more likely to end up as a loss for Fox overall. Given the massive prestige of the talent involved, both in front of and behind the camera, the hope was that the film would be able to muster some Globe nominations to keep it in the awards conversation but alas the film came up empty-handed. While there is still potential further down the line for recognition, Widows‘ theatrical release will not be yielding anything substantial.
The real star of this weekend will be that of the specialty market. Now fully recovered from my faux pas last weekend, I can announce with complete confidence that Ben is Back, starring Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges, will be opening in limited release this weekend in four theaters. As I mentioned last week, the story follows a mother and son whose relationship is strained by addiction and who must fight to save their family from falling apart on Christmas Eve when disaster strikes. The film was labeled a sleeper Oscar contender a few months back, however, with the announcement of the Golden Globe nominations and Ben is Back getting shut out, I think its Oscar chances are severely low. That said, the reviews for the film are still quite strong, and it finds itself in the intriguing position starring two strong performers who actually were nominated at Golden Globes yesterday; Hedges scoring a nomination for Best Actor (Drama) for his performance in Boy Erased and Roberts nabbing a nod for her performance in her new Amazon tv show, Homecoming, in the Best Actress (Drama). With this, the film could potentially have a strong per-theater-average by the end of the weekend.
Other than Ben is Back, this weekend also sees the limited releases of the period drama Mary, Queen of Scots, starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, and the musical drama Vox Lux, starring Natalie Portman. Both films are sporting strong reviews from the film festival circuit, but unlike Ben is Back, these films feel extremely late to the party. Being a period drama concerning the relationship between Mary, the titular Queen of Scots being played by Ronan, and Queen Elizabeth, brought to life on the silver screen for the third time by Margot Robbie (after both Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench have done so with Oscar-nominated results), the film would be Oscar catnip. However, it was held back from many of the early film festivals, only premiering at AFI Fest and thus losing a lot of momentum, and the likeliness of the film garnering any major nominations down the line will be nearly impossible (expect nods in the technical categories only). Vox Lux had its premiere in Venice where it found a lot of acclaim for Natalie Portman’s performance, but the film didn’t find a distributor until late October and its release in theaters seems much too late. Neon, the film’s distributor, has always been good a drumming up buzz, but the film’s inability to land any nominations from the Globes is a major set back. It would be surprising to see either film get a strong per-theater-average this weekend.
The final film to be discussed is that of The Favourite, which, in direct contrast to the other specialty offerings, looks to make big bucks over the weekend, capitalizing on its major presence at yesterdays Golden Globe nominations. Yes, yesterday The Favourite walked away with a total of five nominations (second only to Vice, which had the most nominations at six) including Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical), Best Actress for Olivia Colman, Best Screenplay, and two Best Supporting Actress nominations for Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. Taking into account the strength of the film’s box office already, having jumped to 14th place last weekend despite only being in 34 theaters. Grossing $1 million with that theater count last weekend, and taking into account the impact of the film’s Golden Globe nominations, I think it is actually very likely that the film could leap into the top ten. The film will be expanding into 93 theaters total this coming weekend, so it could potentially gross between $2-3 million if not more. A gross like this would place it right next to Green Book which would be an impressive feat. Only time will tell of The Favourite will truly make that significant of a leap.