Weekend Box Office Top 10 (Jan 18-Jan 20-MLK Day): (Title / Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Sunday Estimates
- Glass / $40,509,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Universal
- $47,000,000 (4-Day Gross)
- The Upside / $15,010,000 / -26.3% / Weekend 2 / STX Entertaiment
- $18,350,000 (4-Day Gross)
- Aquaman / $10,170,000/ -41.4% / Weekend 5 / Warner Bros.
- $12,570,000 (4-Day Gross)
- Dragon Ball Super: Broly / $9,794,742 / (N/A) / Weekend 5 / Sony (Columbia)
- $11,494,742 (4-Day Gross)
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse / $7,575,000 / -16.3% / Weekend 6 / Sony (Columbia)
- $9,750,000 (4-Day Gross)
- A Dog’s Way Home / $7,185,000 / -36.1% / Weekend 4 / Disney
- $9,635,000 (4-Day Gross)
- Escape Room / $5,600,000/ -37.3% / Weekend 3 / Sony (Columbia)
- $6,750,000 (4-Day Gross)
- Mary Poppins Returns / $5,254,000 / -31.3% / Weekend 5 / Disney
- $6,736,000 (4-Day Gross)
- Bumblebee / $4,750,000 / -34.1% / Weekend 5 / Paramount
- $5,830,000 (4-Day Gross)
- On the Basis of Sex / $3,862,000 / -36.4% / Weekend 4 / Focus Features
- $4,647,000 (4-Day Gross)
11. The Mule / $3,245,000 / -42.8% / Weekend 6 / Warner Bros.
12. Bohemian Rhapsody / $2,300,000 / -28.2% / Weekend 12 / Fox
13. Ralph Breaks the Internet / $2,207,000 / -2.3% / Weekend 9 / Disney
14. Green Book / $2,171,000 / +1.1% / Weekend 10 / Universal
16. If Beale Street Could Talk / $1,635,285 / -32.1% / Weekend 6 / Annapurna
Twas a weekend full of surprises, but not all good ones. Then again, this is what makes the box office so exciting. One minute, you think you have it all figured out, and the next thing you know, a minor detail that you had not thought of whatsoever becomes major. Such is the case with the real and true surprise of this weekend, not Glass but Dragon Ball Super: Broly which came out of nowhere to muster up a fourth place spot in the top ten line up. As for Glass, however, M. Night Shyamalan’s climatic final chapter of his newly formed Unbreakable trilogy ended up being anti-climatic. While not a complete disappointment, the film definitively underperformed and will have no doubt taken Shyamalan several steps backward in his upward crawl back to popularity.
In first place, obviously, we find Glass which, despite winning the weekend in both the 3-day and 4-day frames, seriously underperformed against expectations. Despite a strong opening day with $15 million on Friday, the film’s more negative reviews clearly hampered its performance as it continuously fell in its grosses throughout the weekend, particularly on Sunday where it fell 31.5% from Saturday for a gross of $9.9 million. This collapse did not end on Monday, however, as the film ended up falling to a gross of $6.4 million (had it been doing better, it could have at least made $10 million). All this culminated in a 3-day gross of $40.5 million and a 4-day haul of $47 million; well below the respective $45 million and $55-$60 million projections it had going into the weekend.
So what happened? Well, it’s two-fold. Shockingly, one reason for Glass‘ underperformance is actually that the expectations for the film were too high. That sounds ridiculous when you first hear it, but I discovered over the weekend that, contrary to what one would think, Universal did not have very high hopes for the film. This sounds crazy given that nearly every projection in town saw the film breaking $60 million through MLK Day, but it is on record that Universal only really saw the film potentially grossing $50 million in the 4-day frame (which makes its underperformance sting a bit less). In reality, the more gargantuan projections were actually coming from other studios and not as a play to sink the picture. It would be easy to assume that the other studios may have aimed high in order to create an expectation for Glass that couldn’t possibly be matched (its the reverse of a studio aiming low with projections in order to make their movie out to be an overperformer). That said, what would fly in the face of that idea is the fact that Glass was the only new major release of the weekend (at least that what it seemed), showing that studios, based on the strength of Split, were genuinely worried about Glass and purposefully moved their films out of the potential blast radius. This, unintentionally, created a huge expectation for the film that it simply couldn’t match once the reviews dropped.
Speaking of reviews, that’s the second and perhaps more important reason for the film’s underperformance. The fact is that people were genuinely frustrated by Glass. I’m sure it has its fans and, even more so, its audience share of die-hard Shyamalan fans, but clearly, this audience is much smaller than anticipated. In fact, in hindsight, we actually could have pinpointed the size of that audience from the beginning given that Glass‘ opening is almost totally in line with Split‘s, which opened to $40 million in 2017, and Unbreakable‘s, which opened within striking distance of Glass with $30.3 million back in 2000 (a number that, if we were to adjust for inflation, might actually settle nicely into the $40 million range). The fact remains that M. Night Shyamalan is a divisive filmmaker who draws interest with his unique and ambitious stories as well as his genuinely exceptional directorial skills, but then has a bad habit of disappointing people with his execution and penchant for ludicrous twist endings. Indeed, the ending of Glass (which I will not spoil) is what seems to have audiences in a tizzy (no shocker there). Some love it, some hate it, but the vast majority simply just don’t know how to feel. Exit polls confirm this mixed reaction with a “B” Cinemascore, indicating that the general feeling on this film was muted. Without a strong reaction from the audience, the film stood no chance.
Now, on the bright side. First and foremost, Glass was number one this weekend, which is always something to smile about. What’s also worth smiling about is that Glass, despite seriously underperforming, is still going to make a profit. Yes, despite falling well below expectations, it is really hard to for a film to mess up financially when it only costs about $20 million to make. Having grossed over $40 million domestically, the film has already broken even on its budget, a concern that did not even fall to Universal because, according to reports, M. Night Shyamalan actually financed the film himself. Thanks to this, Universal is likely only on the hook for marketing and distribution costs so the film will be in the black by the end of its run. The film’s performance also looks significantly better once you factor in its overseas grosses, which add up to $48.5 million for a worldwide debut of $95.5 million. That said, Universal won’t be getting anything from overseas given that the distribution is being handled by Disney, but once again, the Shyamalan self-financing of the picture will likely allow for a small profit. It’s also worth noting that with its $47 million debut, Glass now has the fourth highest grossing opening weekend of any film to open on MLK weekend, a nifty headline to have going forward. As for what the future holds for the film, it’s completely unclear. The audience reaction to the film seems to read as one of disappointment and generally low energy, so I don’t expect the film to hold well going forward, but who knows. Unbreakable ended up being a surprise trilogy, so maybe Glass can surprise down the line.
In second and third place, we find The Upside and Aquaman, continuing their already very strong runs. Aquaman made it past $300 million domestically this weekend; a major achievement that pushes it closer to outgrossing Suicide Squad, and perhaps Batman vs Superman, domestically. However, the real big deal here is that of The Upside which, like it or not, is clearly a hit with audiences as it only fell 26.3% for a gross of $15 million in second place. This pushes its domestic haul to $46 million, which compares favorably to Hart’s The Wedding Ringer, itself having opened around the same time back in 2015. That film was only up to $40 million by this point in the release cycle and ended with a domestic gross of around $64 million, thus forecasting a potential $70 million domestic gross for Hart with The Upside, though, based on how it is performing so far, I think it can go higher. The exact break-even point for the film is unknown given the dubious circumstances of its production, but I suspect that a potential $70 million haul domestically will be quite pleasing to STX. Clearly, Hollywood is recognizing the success of the film as Kevin Hart managed to nab two new roles (the lead in Lionsgate’s Monopoly movie as well as in Sony’s Fatherhood, an adaptation of the novel Two Kisses for Maddy) in the wake of The Upside‘s breakout success.
It is in the number four spot that we find this weekend’s big winner, Dragon Ball Super: Broly. I’ll be upfront in admitting that I am not a fan of the Dragon Ball franchise. I bare no ill will toward it, I’ve just never gotten on board; that said, this is a major accomplishment. Distributed by FUNimation, which has been releasing anime properties in the States (both theatrically and on television) for quite some time, the film opened on Wednesday of last week, a move which is typical of films that are expected to not do very well over the coming weekend. However, there were several underplayed factors here that bolstered the film on its way to such unprecedented success. First and perhaps foremost, is the fact that the franchise has made a pretty big impression in the last few years given its return to TV via the Toonami block on Cartoon Network. The franchise already has an extremely potent fanbase in American from its introduction in the ’90s via that same programming block, so its return in this day and age has allowed for a new audience to not only fall in love with the franchise but also has created a great sense of community amongst older and younger viewers. This is also fueled by the next reason, the fact that Akira Toriyama, the original creator of Dragon Ball, has come back to the franchise and was heavily involved with the production of Super: Broly, further whipping fans into a frenzy over the premiere.
Another reason, I presume, is the fact FUNimation recently got a major business boost thanks to its purchase by Sony. In 2017, Sony Entertainment purchased a 95% stake in FUNimation which I expect has allowed the little distributor access to a larger amount of resources in both distribution and marketing for their films. This leads me my final reason for its success, that being an innovative release. Normally, this kind of film would be released as a limited theatrical event, usually through a company like Fathom Events or as a special event via a studio like FUNimation or GKIDS, the premiere distributors for anime in the US. However, recognizing the strength of the fan base, as well as the varied scheduling of school days given the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, FUNimation actually released Super: Broly both ways; some areas, likely were school was out, got a Fathom Events-style release, while other places just had full-on theatrical debuts for the film, thus accommodating everybody. With all these factors in play, Super: Broly ended up being this weekend’s true winner, raking in $9.8 million in the 3-day frame, $11.5 million in the 4-day frame, and a whopping $22 million total from its Wednesday opening! Combined with its overseas haul (as the film has been playing in Japan and other territories since mid-December), this makes for a worldwide gross of $87 million. This is truly an incredible win for FUNimation and will likely boost its profile in tandem with its acquisition by Sony.
Sony, on that note, also deserves a shout out since with the acquisition, the studio controlled four spots (the entire middle) in the box office top ten this weekend. Yes, alongside Super: Broly, Sony also had Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in third place, A Dog’s Way Home in fourth, and Escape Room in fifth. Spider-Verse (which got and OSCAR NOMINATION TODAY, YAY!!!!!!!!) had the best hold in the top ten, dropping only 16.3% for a gross of $7.5 million in the 3-day frame, as well as growing +7.7% for a gross of $9.7 million when factoring in its MLK day gross, which pushed the film to the $160 million mark, thereby putting it within striking distance of both Hotel Transylvania 2 and 3; Hotel Transylvania 2 being Sony Animation’s highest grossing film of all time in terms of domestic grosses. With a newly minted Oscar nomination in tow, I feel that Spider-Verse will likely be outgrossing both of those films in the coming weeks. As for A Dog’s Way Home and Escape Room, both held quite well, dropping only 36% and 37% for respective grosses of $7.1 million and $5.6 million with Escape Room, in particular, have grossed much more than expected in the past few weeks. Bravo, Sony!
Rounding out the top ten, we find Mary Poppins Returns in eighth place, having grossed $5.2 million, also pushing past $160 million. In ninth place, Bumblebee pushed past $117 million while also passing the $400 million worldwide. This is a huge deal for the film, as it is officially a success. Even if the success is minor, it cements Bumblebee as a turning point for Paramount and the Transformers franchise as a whole (let’s hope Paramount can continue this trend). Finally, On the Basis of Sex begins to now bow out of the top ten with a drop of only 36.4% and a gross of $3.8 million bringing its domestic total to $17.5 million. While this is a small gross undeniably, On the Basis of Sex has performed surprisingly well and continues to draw in quite an audience, so it is ripe for profit when it hits streaming.
Finally, in the specialty market, there were no major releases and our attention is once again drawn to just outside of the top ten where we see some strong holdovers and awards contenders. The Mule, while it did not make it to $100 million domestically this weekend, is still going strong in eleventh place and will potentially cross that mark over the course of the week. Bohemian Rhapsody, in its twelfth weekend at the box office (holy crap!), had another amazing drop of only 28.2% for a gross of $2.3 million which has pulled it past $200 million stateside. The film is only $2 million away from a worldwide gross of $800 million, and with its newly minted Oscar nominations for both Best Actor as well as Best Picture (yes! that happened!), it will surely be passing that amazing benchmark by week’s end. Disney made a surprising and savvy move in anticipation of Ralph Breaks the Internet‘s impending Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature and upped its theater count by 382 theaters, making for a surprising mere 2.3% drop and a gross of $2.2 million. While still not a runaway success, Disney has maneuvered the film well and taken great advantage of its awards buzz (its worldwide gross now stands at $456 million). Green Book followed suit, upping its theater count by 170 theaters in anticipation of an onslaught of awards and sure enough it saw a +1.1% boost to $2.17 million; $2.6 million if you count its gross on MLK day (the film walked away with five nominations this morning). The only film that didn’t follow this plan in the top 20 was If Beale Street Could Talk, likely anticipating a lack of major Oscar nominations (they were right as it only received three and was snubbed for Best Picture and Best Director). The film still held nicely, however, with a 32.1% drop for a gross of $1.6 million, bringing its total domestic gross to $10.7 million.
(Box Office Data from Box Office Mojo, Deadline, and Box Office Pro)