Box Office Rundown (Dec 14-Dec 16) Spider-Verse Underwhelms While The Mule Surprises with a Solid Debut!! Mortal Engines is Dead On Arrival While the Rest of the Top 10 Hold Strong!!

Weekend Box Office Top 10 (Dec 7-Dec 9): (Title / Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Sunday Actuals

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse / $35,363,376 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Sony (Columbia)
  2. The Mule / $17,509,431 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Warner Bros.
  3. The Grinch / $11,753,665 / -21.8% / Weekend 6 / Universal
  4. Ralph Breaks the Internet / $11,753,665 / -42.9% / Weekend 4 / Disney
  5. Mortal Engines / $7,559,850 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Universal
  6. Creed II / $5,385,914 / -46% / Weekend 4 / MGM
  7. Bohemian Rhapsody / $4,314,179 / -29.8% / Weekend 7 / Fox
  8. Instant Family / $3,790,287 / -34.2% / Weekend 5 / Paramount
  9. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald / $3,789,839 / -45.5% / Weekend 5 / Warner Bros.
  10. Green Book / $2,774,630 / -28.9% / Weekend 5 / Universal

Notable Outsiders:

11. Once Upon a Deadpool / (N/A) / +39.5% / Weekend 3 / Fox

12. The Favourite / $2,605,484 / +73.3% / Weekend 4 / Fox Searchlight

20. If Beale Street Could Talk / $224,476 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Annapurna ; (Per-Theater-Average: $56,119)

38. The House That Jack Built / $34,091 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / IFC ; (Per-Theater-Average: $1,065)

42. Capernaum / $24,988 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Sony Pictures Classics ; (Per-Theater-Average: $ 8,329)

 

In first place, we find Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which had a weaker performance than expected. The writing was admittedly on the wall with the projections being between $30-$35 million. I had felt that this was just the trades aiming low so that they could shout from the rooftops when Spider-Verse was a massive success, especially given the amount of advertising Sony had done for the film, including a global promotional deal with companies like that of Air Jordans which is valued at around $115 million. That makes it all the most disappointing to see the film only open with only $35.4 million. This is not necessarily a bad opening for the film (the movie has a $90 million budget) and it cannot be overstated that the film does benefit from fantastic reviews (97% on Rotten Tomatoes, 87 on Metacritic, with multiple major awards nominations in tow) and a rare “A+” Cinemascore which will help the film down the line with regards to word-of-mouth, but what worries me is the fact that it is entering a very crowded market this weekend. With the release of Mary Poppins Returns (which debuts this Wednesday), Aquaman, and Bumblebee, the film will be entering a saturated market when it come to family-fare and young audiences. Admittedly, the film did play to an older audience, with men over 25 repping a majority 41% of moviegoers and, so one would think that Spider-Verse might have the edge in this crowded market given that it could potentially carve out its own unique piece of the box office. However, even in that case the market is gonna be saturated with The Mule and Second Act, both of which play to older audiences; Second Act likely playing well with millennials and older women in particular. I loved Spider-Verse very much when I saw it this weekend (It might be my favorite movie of the year) and for this I find its opening weekend worrisome. I am not saying that the film can’t possible break out and play very well through Christmas and New Years, and many pundits are making the comparison to Sing, which opened to $35 million, but then legged it out to $270 million domestic. However, Sing did not premiere in nearly as crowded a market as  Spider-Verse, so we’ll just have to hope for the best.

In second place, The Mule outdid my predictions and had a pretty respectable opening overall, $17.5 million. Given that Eastwood’s last few films have opened in the $11-$13 million so this is a welcome change of pace. It also played well to its target audience, earning an “A-” Cinemascore, and playing very strongly with audiences of ages 54 and up, an audience that is typically is thoroughly underserved when it comes to the movie marketplace. Once in a while, studios are able to crank out a film that appeals to that age range and they are rewarded with surprisingly strong box office return (take Book Club from this past summer as great example) This bodes well for the film as we go into Christmas weekend, which, as I mentioned above is saturated with film targetting a younger audience. The Mule has absolutely no competition and solid reviews, so expect the film to hold quite well over Christmas; and with a frugal budget of $50 million, Warner Bros. can expect to see some healthy returns down the line.

In third place, The Grinch continued its fantastic performance with a drop of only 21.8% for a gross of $11.7 million and is primed for a big boost through this weekend. The film is now officially the highest grossing film of all time based on a Dr. Suess property with a domestic haul of $239.4 million and an international haul of $135.1 million adding up to a $374.5 million worldwide gross. The film is currently inching toward besting the live-action Grinch film from 2000 to become the highest grossing Dr. Suess film domestically (the Jim Carrey iteration grossed $260 million in the US), and with Christmas Weekend right around the corner, I would not be surprised to Illumination’s Grinch leapfrog over right over it (expect a pretty large jump for the film’s Christmas Day gross). On the other hand, Ralph Breaks the Internet is definitely slowing down and is falling further and further behind Moana in terms of its performance. Dropping 42% for a gross of about $9.2 million in fourth place, the film is currently pacing $8 million behind Moana. Worldwide, the film is also slowing down a lot, to the point where I actually feel that the film could potentially not gross as much as the original, let alone break even.

Rounding out the top five, Mortal Engines really fell apart this weekend, not even managing to make it into double digits. It doesn’t help that the main headline for the film in the trades throughout the weekend was that the film is probably going to lose Universal at least $100 million. Once again, the fact that Universal did not advertise the film is a mystery to me. Clearly, they knew they had a dud on their hands, but in that case, why would the studio not do some more advertising so that the film would be able to save some face on upon opening weekend. It’s a tricky situation all around because more advertising could also result in more money going down the drain, but this is definitely not a note that Universal wanted to end the year on after a year full of big hits like Jurassic World 2Halloween, and even The Grinch, as well as smaller yet solid hits like Mamma Mia 2 and The House with a Clock in its Walls. The studio has one final entry this year in the form of Welcome to Marwen, so we’ll see if they can turn it into a surprise Christmas hit or if it fails and the studio writes it off as a victim of the “slow Christmas moviegoing season.”

In sixth place, Creed II finally managed to pass the $100 million mark; faster than its original, much to its credit. Domestically, the film has grossed $104 million, putting its worldwide total around $131 million, and I predict it will play through Christmas quite well. Bohemian Rhapsody once again held very well with just a 29% drop for a gross of $4.3 million in seventh place and I am interested to see how well does in Christmas day (the film’s feel-good atmosphere seems geared for a great day gross).  Instant Family, Fantastic Beasts, and Green Book all saw strong holds again in eighth, ninth, and tenth place, respectively, with Crimes of Grindelwald now sporting a worldwide gross of $596 million. One has to hand it to the Potterhead’s who powered the film to where it is right now, especially since it looked totally dead on arrival. It will likely push past the $600 million mark this coming weekend, which will help Warner Bros. save some face. This is by no means a saving grace for the film given its massive underperformance, but at least Warner can sleep well knowing that this second Fantastic Beasts entry broke even and maybe even squeak out a small profit in theaters.

In the specialty market, The Favourite has still yet to pop into the top ten and it is looking more and more likely that it simply will not. This week it was foiled by Once Upon a Deadpool, the PG-13 recut of Deadpool 2, which had a thoroughly ordinary gross of $2.68 million. For a special release like this, its that not impressive, but its still not measly. Speaking of ordinary debuts, that was the story for If Beale Stree Could Talk this weekend, which only debuted to a per-theater-average of $56,119. This is not bad by any stretch of the imagination but is much lower than I would have anticipated from the follow-up to Barry Jenkin’s MoonlightMoonlight debuted to a per-theater-average of over $100k, so to see this debut is very strange; though, it is in line with the trend this year of the more popular films being Oscar contenders, i.e. A Star is Born and Black PantherCapernaum and The House that Jack Built also debuted to little fanfare, though that was to be expected of the later given the director’s tendency toward perversion and indecency.

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