Weekend Box Office Top 10 (Feb 8-Feb 10): (Title / Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Sunday Estimates
- The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part / $34,400,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Warner Bros.
- What Men Want / $19,000,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Paramount
- Cold Pursuit / $10,800,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Lionsgate (Summit)
- The Upside / $7,220,000 / -16.8% / Weekend 5 / STX Entertainment
- Glass / $6,422,000 / -32.7% / Weekend 4 / Universal
- The Prodigy / $6,004,403 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Orion Pictures
- Green Book / $3,567,000 / -18% / Weekend 13 / Universal
- Aquaman / $3,300,000 / -32.4% / Weekend 8 / Warner Bros.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse / $3,040,000 / -33.2% / Weekend 9 / Sony (Columbia)
- Miss Bala / $2,725,000/ -60.3% / Weekend 2 / Sony (Columbia)
16. The Oscar Nominated Short Films of 2019 / $912,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Magnolia Pictures
34. Everybody Knows / $75,000 / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Focus Features (Per-Theater-Average: $18,750)
Wow. This was a bad weekend. There is no other way to describe it. What was supposed to be the weekend to revitalize the box office after an inauspicious January but ended up being a big fat dud. It kind of makes you wonder what would have happened if some of these new releases had been launched last weekend during the Superbowl. While that certainly wasn’t the most exciting of weekends, it proved to have very little competition in the form of Miss Bala, with many of the holdovers actually doing solid business. Particularly in the case of What Men Want, which focuses on a sports agent, I could have seen some of these movies ending up doing good business over that weekend instead of relegating themselves to an overcrowded slump.
Now, in the case of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Warner Bros. clearly thought that it would do great no matter what weekend it was released. I believed this as well, seeing it posting at least $57 million for its opening weekend, with all the trades predicting it to at least cross the $50 million mark. Alas, this would not come to pass. There were early signs of underperformance, with a Friday gross of $8.5 million immediately causing pundits to lower their projections to $40 million; an adjustment that felt assured thanks to an uptick to $18.6 million on Saturday. However, few expected that the film would only end up with $34.4 million total on upon opening weekend. Warner can take some solace in the fact that this new Lego movie still managed to open at number one as well as best The Lego Ninjago Movie‘s $20.4 million opening (it opened in fourth place), but the fact remains that this opening is still pretty bad for the franchise (even The Lego Batman Movie opened better with $53 million).
So what happened? I mentioned in my weekend predictions that there central thesis of the subsequent installments of the Lego franchise has been “It’s not as fresh as the original”, and while I did not think that factor would be nearly as much of an issue for this installment given that Phil Lord & Chris Miller were once again scripting the film (although not directing), that factor ended up reeling its ugly head to pull this franchise to the ground. Yes, despite strong reviews, every single critic did in some way point out the fact that this film did not feel as innovative as its direct predecessor, The Lego Movie. This lack of freshness was likely only compounded upon by the fact that the last two Lego movies were released in relatively quick succession, with The Lego Batman Movie being released in February of 2017 quickly followed by the release of The Lego Ninjago Movie in September of that same year. The quick turnover likely highlighted the growing staleness of the franchise (particularly with Ninjago which received highly mixed reviews) and as a result, family’s likely didn’t feel like turning out for this new iteration. Proof if this is in the fact that the largest age demographic for the film was actually people between the ages of 25-34, showing that this installment couldn’t really bring in new younger fans.
As for the film’s future, it certainly has good prospects. While Cinemascore has instituted a ridiculous new policy of only releasing scores for new movies the Monday after (thereby excluding themselves from the conversation as the weekend progresses), The Lego Movie 2 is expected to have an “A-“. Combined with very good reviews, it seems as though the only people who don’t like the movie are those who’ve yet to see it. Good word-of-mouth will likely help it catch on and potentially spread its appeal to family in order to boost its box office. However, with an opening of just about half the original film (which opened to $69 million), The Second Part has a lot of ground to make up and will likely not be able to reach the heights that the original did. The film is estimated to have a budget of over $100 million as well as a marketing budget full of promotional tie-ins that is estimated to be worth just about the same. That would put the film’s break-even point at around at least $300 million, if not substantially more. In other words, Warner better pray for great word-of-mouth lest risk a major financial loss.
In second place, pundits have tried to paint What Men Want as the strongest performer of the weekend, and indeed, based off its $20 million budget, an opening gross of $19 million is an okay start. However, the fact is that this is still something of an underperformance. It’s within the range of early projections which saw the film opening between $18-$28 million but significantly on the lower end. I mentioned earlier that this might have been a good candidate to open for Superbowl weekend given that Taraji P. Henson plays a sports agent in the film, but the film would have also surely been helped by the fact that it didn’t share much of an audience with Miss Bala as the demographic breakdowns for both films saw Miss Bala and What Men Want not only appealing specifically to Latinos and African-Americans, respectively, at 41-42% each, but also notably having an inverse relationship in the other direction with not many Latinos going to see What Men Want and not many African-Americans turning up for Miss Bala. This makes sense given that the marketing for both films was geared specifically toward those respective audiences, and given that Miss Bala was an underperformer overall, What Men Want could’ve probably taken it head on and managed a better gross. Overall, this marks another low opening for Taraji P. Henson who, coming off of Proud Mary and Acrimony, really needed this film to open in the $20 millions. Surely, the film will likely go on to make a profit as it is expected to have an “A-” Cinemascore and it is heading into Valentine’s Day weekend this coming weekend (the film does contain a romantic subplot that makes it a viable Valentine’s Day candidate) which will likely boost word-of-mouth. That said, it’s hard not to think about what could have been had the film had not debuted in such a crowded weekend.
In third, we find Cold Pursuit which, contrary to what many might tell you, actually came in right where expected. Obviously, a $10.8 million opening is not great, however, given Neeson’s scandal, I’m surprised that the film didn’t fall lower. Cold Pursuit‘s opening falls right in line with the kind of business that Liam Neeson’s brand of action pics has been doing for a while now, with Walk Among the Tombstone‘s opening at $12.7 million, Run All Night opening at $11 million, The Commuter opening at $13.7 million, and even Widows (which technically was an ensemble film, so Neeson wasn’t the driving force) opening at $12.3 million. Cold Pursuit is definitely on the lower end of that spectrum but certainly not terribly out of the ordinary for the action star; the debut looking even stronger in spite of the racism allegations.
Of course, $10.8 million may not be terrible given the circumstances, but it is still not great for a film with a $60 million reported budget. The film’s prospects down the line are what get hurt the most by Neeson’s scandal with the more people who find out being less likely to go see it. The reviews are positive, but they don’t seem to be able to overcome this film feeling like another generic Neeson actioner. With regard to the previous films I mentioned, each of them ended their domestic runs with grosses between $26-$36 million, with only Widows grossing some more at just $42 million. With a lack of prospects on the domestic front, the only reprieve for the film will likely be overseas. The Commuter notably pulled in over $83 million from international grosses, and Cold Pursuit is assisted in that regard by the fact that it is a remake of a Norwegian film and helmed by the same director as the original. Critics have also noted the “European” feel of the film, with sweeping icy vistas that recall Scandinavian countries as well as the predominant use of the Norwegian Helly Hansen brand for much of the clothing in the film, so perhaps it will have more appeal overseas. Overall though, considering the debut and the scandal, Cold Pursuit is likely to fade away very soon.
Rounding out the top five, there was a surprise overperformance, but not from the film that I expected. While the Upside, which I had thought might have the strength to overtake Cold Pursuit, did sport the lowest drop in the top ten with just 16.8% for a gross of $7.2 million in fourth place, it was Glass who surprised with the lowest drop of its run so far. Dropping only 32.7% for a gross of $6.4 million, Glass landed in fifth place, pushing out The Prodigy which was expected to debut there. Glass has now hauled in a domestic total of $98.4 million, thereby making it the highest grossing film of 2019 domestically. It also has raked in a grand total of $221.4 million worldwide, and in so has topped the highest grossing films of 2019 worldwide list. These two accomplishments will undoubtedly be short-lived as bigger films are coming down the pipeline, however, I can’t deny that I am quite impressed. Universal will soon see the film pass $100 million domestically, and given that it is off a $20 million budget (self-financed by Shyamalan himself), the studio will be seeing a nice return in profit. The Upside also deserves a shout out for still staking a claim at in the top five after five weeks. While it is unlikely to reach $100 million given were it currently stands, a potential $95 million total domestic gross is not completely out of the question and would be a great cap off for the film. Worldwide, the film is up to $94 million and will surely pass $100 million by this weekend.
As for the rest of the top ten, The Prodigy was booted out of fifth place by Glass and had a very meager debut. Thankfully, the newly revived Orion Pictures (the distributor behind such classics as Dances With Wolves, Platoon, and Silence of the Lambs; man, how the mighty have fallen) is trafficking in very low budget pictures nowadays. With a budget of $6 million, The Prodigy will no doubt break even in theaters before heading to streaming to make a profit. Meanwhile, Green Book saw the second lowest drop in the top ten with a hold of 18% for a gross of $3.5 million in sixth place. After now a full 13 weeks in theaters, Green Book is the epitome of a modern awards film, strategically positioned to take advantage of awards buzz and wins and using this momentum to pull in box office. The film also has been slowly rolling out worldwide and has actually grossed over $106 million as a result; more than other Best Picture nominees The Favourite, Blackkklansman, and Roma. While I personally am not a fan of this awards film distribution practice (an awards film should be able to stand on its own merit), I can’t help but marvel at the precision of its execution.
In eighth place, Aquaman had another win (in its eighth weekend no less!) as it overtook Suicide Squad‘s domestic gross of $325 million and swam up to $328 million in its total domestic haul. It is now only $2 million away from overtaking Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This major for the film as it gives the film a bit more credibility as a hit. Prior to this, many detractors could’ve pointed out the gulf between the film’s domestic and overseas grosses (a 29.3% to 70.7% split) which made it look as though the film was only a worldwide hit because it was propped up by the overseas box office. Now, racing to overtake the domestic gross of BVS, Aquaman has proved that it was indeed a hit in the states and merely just did very well overseas on top of that. Warner Bros. is aggressively looking to shake up the status quo with their upcoming DC movies and if they are to succeed in this endeavor they will need this kind of audience support.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ended up with a bigger drop than expected this weekend at 33.2% for a gross of $3 million in ninth place. The drop is more than likely attributable to The Lego Movie 2 entering multiplexes; an interesting note given that they both hail from the creative team of Phil Lord & Chris Miller, thus sharing the same brand of humor, which likely means that Lord & Miller cannibalized themselves with their films’ box office. Spider-Verse has seen pretty strong numbers for the past few weeks, so maybe the film’s presence in the top ten did indeed contribute to The Lego Movie 2‘s bad opening weekend. Finally, Miss Bala fell like a rock to the bottom of the top ten with a 60.3% drop for a gross of $2.7 million. With a domestic gross of only $11.8 million so far, I am calling it now that Miss Bala is officially a flop.
The specialty market saw the surprise release of The Oscar Nominated Short Films of 2019 reel in theaters by Magnolia Pictures. However, given that this category is, notoriously, one of the least cared about Oscar categories, the film compilation understandably did little business, grossing only $912k in 265 theaters. The only other specialty release of note was that of Everybody Knows with Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. However, clearly, there will be no Oscar prospects for this Focus Features release as it only grossed $18,750 per-theater across four theaters for a total gross of $75k. To its credit, this was the highest per-theater-average of the weekend, but given that it was below $20k and the film was released in February, it will be long forgotten by the time the Oscars roll around next year. Also, given that this year’s Oscars are right around the corner, the attention this film was going to get was already minimal. Clearly, Focus was looking to dump the notoriously not-well-liked Ashgar Farhadi film quickly so they could remain focused (no pun intended, for real, I mean it) on their upcoming Oscar prospects.
(Box Office Data from Box Office Mojo, Deadline, and Box Office Pro)