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‘Coco’ and ‘Wonder’ Lead Lousy December Box Office

Survival of the fittest means hanging onto theaters when the "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" tsunami hits next weekend.

THE LAND OF THE DEAD – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) finds himself in the Land of the Dead—a rich and vibrant community featuring bridges of marigold petals. Directed by Lee Unkrich, co-directed by Adrian Molina and produced by Darla K. Anderson, Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

“Coco”

Pixar

Grosses this weekend were seasonably typical, which means as lousy as most early December weekends. With “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” looming large, most companies are avoiding new wide releases. That makes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Like “Moana” last year, a Disney animated title leads the pack for a third straight week: Pixar’s “Coco” continues to be a strong performer, well-positioned to play well through the lucrative holidays ahead. “Coco” should easily continue in two-thirds or more of its dates, even though it started lower than last year’s “Moana.”

Unlike last year, no new wide release boosted results, which will come in just under the same weekend in 2016 at around $80 million total. Last year saw “Office Christmas Party” open to $17 million. This year, the sole film to risk opening wide was the senior citizen comedy “Just Getting Started” (Broad Green). It managed a poor $3.2 million, good enough only for #9.

Wonder Jacob Tremblay

“Wonder”

The saving graces this week: good holds for both “Justice League” (Warner Bros.) and “Wonder” (Lionsgate). The box office was buttressed by above-average performance — $10 million in the Top Ten alone — for three crossover specialty hits, two from A24. “The Disaster Artist” provided about two-thirds of that total for a #4 showing in only 840 theaters in its second weekend, and “Lady Bird” continues to thrive at #8. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight) fell just outside the Top Ten.

(Read more box office coverage of specialty titles at Arthouse Audit).

With “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Disney) predicted to open to over $200 million next weekend, grabbing multiple screens in many complexes, this weekend it was critical for current films to show as much strength as possible to improve their chances for holding on next week (which also launches Fox Animation’s “Ferdinand”).

Among the top four holdovers, “Wonder” held best, down 30 per cent, crossing the $100 million mark. Its current gross level and position as the sole Lionsgate film in release as well as its family appeal guarantees strong representation in the weeks ahead.

“Justice League”

Screenshot

“Justice League” isn’t collapsing. It maintained second place, though “Wonder” is getting close, with a 42 per cent fall. “Justice league” is vulnerable to losing many screens to “Star Wars” next weekend when exhibitors have so many choices. With Warners’ vital D.C. Comics franchise  projected to total $700 million worldwide total and a pre-marketing cost of $300 million, that means a profit shortfall. Yet the holidays and the chance to add to the total beckon. How this holds next week will determine its fate ahead.

“Daddy’s Home” (Paramount) and “Murder on the Orient Express” (20th Century Fox) continue their march to about $100 million, at the high end of what appeared likely when they opened mid-November. The animated “The Star” (Sony) with its faith-based religious appeal held best of all, down under 10 per cent.

All in all, not a routine weekend despite low end totals.

The Disaster Artist Dave Franco James Franco

“The Disaster Artist”

A24

The Top Ten

1. Coco (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$18,303,000 (-33%) in 3,748 theaters (-239); PTA (per theater average): $4,883; Cumulative: $135,509,000

2. Justice League (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #2

$9,595,000 (-42%) in 3,508 theaters (-312); PTA: $2,735; Cumulative: $212,060,000

3. Wonder (Lionsgate) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$8,450,000 (-30%) in 3,519 theaters (+70); PTA: $2,401; Cumulative: $100,303,000

4. The Disaster Artist (A24) Week 2; Last weekend #12

$6,435,000 (+431%) in 840 theaters (+821); PTA: $7,661; Cumulative: $8,032,000

5. Thor: Ragnarok (Disney) Week 6; Last weekend #4

$6,291,000 (-36%) in 3,047 theaters (-101); PTA: $2,065; Cumulative: $301,156,000

6. Daddy’s Home (Paramount) Week 5; Last weekend #5

$6,000,000 (-21%) in 3,263 theaters (-140); PTA: $1,839; Cumulative: $91,159,000

7. Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox) Week 5; Last weekend #6

$5,100,000 (-25%) in 3,089 theaters (-112); PTA: $1,593; Cumulative: $92,708,000

8. The Star (Sony) Week; Last weekend #9

$3,675,000 (-10%) in 2,976 theaters (+154); PTA: $1,235; Cumulative: $32,279,000

9. Lady Bird (A24) Week 6; Last weekend #8

$3,547,000 (-17%) in 1,557 theaters (+363); PTA: $2,278; Cumulative: $22,331,000

10. Just Getting Started (Broad Green) NEW – Cinemascore: C; Metacritic: 25; est. budget: $22 million

$3,182,000 in 2,161 theaters; PTA: $1,472; Cumulative: $3,182,000

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