At the box office, Christmas week is the year’s biggest gift. As industry cliche has it, is every day is Saturday night. And with movies opening on different days up to December 25, it takes closer observation to glean the full picture — especially as old-school word of mouth (aka chatting over Christmas dinner) takes hold.
Initial numbers suggest that the holiday will be down about five percent from last year, a bit more than the projected full year three percent drop. That comes with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” performing ahead of “Rogue One” last Christmas and a strong showing so far from “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” Wintry weather in some parts of the northeast and midwest are a factor, but generally the rest of the lineup is weaker than usual for Christmas.
The Top Ten for Monday/Tues
1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney) – $54.2 million; Cumulative: $424.0 million
2. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) – $35.2 million; Cumulative: $89.1 million
3. Pitch Perfect 3 (Universal) – $13.8 million; Cumulative: $33.8 million
4. The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox) – $10.6 million; Cumulative: $24.0 million
5. Ferdinand (20th Century Fox) – $6.6 million; Cumulative: $33.5 million
6. Coco (Disney) – $5.2 million; Cumulative: $167.3 million
7. Downsizing (Paramount) – $4.6 million; Cumulative: $9.6 million
8. All the Money in the World (Sony) – $4.4 million; Cumulative: $4.4 million
9. Father Figures (Warner Bros.) – $3.6 million; Cumulative: $6.9 million
10. Darkest Hour (Focus) – $3.1 million; Cumulative: $9.9 million
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Remains Dominant
The two-day total of $54.2 million puts its total now at $424 million. That compares to $341 million for “Rogue One” through 12 days, and $601 million for “The Force Awakens” two years ago. Project a similar performance ahead and “Jedi” will end up over $650 million domestic. That would make it second only to “Force” among performers over the last three years, with the top three all in the Star Wars series.
Very encouraging for Disney is that Tuesday — a work day for some — came in slightly ahead of Christmas Day. That suggests continued strong family interest.
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” Is a Strong #2
Sony has a hit (and a successfully rebooted franchise). Also getting strong family appeal, “Jumanji” took in $36 million for the two days. That’s only about $1 million less than it grossed for the three-day weekend. Added to its initial Wednesday and Thursday initial figures, and its first week totaled $88 million. It now is looking for a possible ultimate domestic gross between $175 million-$200 million.
That would make it their second biggest success (by far) of the year after “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (and also ahead of anything Sony had in 2016). For what had a modest budget (they claim under $100 million) and still has a majority of the world to open, this is now a needed breakout hit for them.
“Pitch Perfect 3” and “The Greatest Showman” Are Holding Their Own
The third time out for Elizabeth Banks’ choral group sleeper success series had the best Tuesday uptick from Monday of any non-animated title. That suggests is core female audience is responding. The two day number is $13.8 million, for a five-day total of $34 million.
That’s adequate for its $45 million budget, assuming it continues to draw through next Monday and continues to have some (if less) foreign appeal. But it is a huge drop from the first sequel, which grossed $69 million its first weekend alone. It appears the film’s core fans are there in big enough numbers to keep this in play for a while. Next weekend will clarify its fate.
“The Greatest Showman” did $10.6 million for the two days (that’s up from $8.8 for the weekend) with an older audience appeal (with some family interest), which accounts for the uptick. It opened last Wednesday for a first full week figure of $27.2 million. That means a slight majority of its number has come since the weekend.
The Hugh Jackman musical still has nearly all of the rest of the world to open. The actor has major international appeal, and might propel this to success. It could be a struggle, butt is rebounding this week.
“Ferdinand” Bests “Coco,” But Both Hurt By Other Family Films
The four films ahead of these two animated titles all have general audience appeal. But both cut into the other, with the newer “Ferdinand” coming out ahead. It grossed $6.6 million for two days, with Tuesday 44 percent better than Monday, by far the best uptick of any film.
Still, at $27.4 million through 12 days, that’s a lagging figure for a film that cost $111 million. It will need a strong international take (Fox Animation titles often soar overseas) to turn this around.
The competitive issue, at least between cartoon-feature juggernauts like Fox and Disney (with and without Pixar) will be eased with their proposed merger. But, no question: “Ferdinand” is hurting “Coco.” Last year, “Moana” had no significant competition and was the #4 film during Christmas weekdays, grossing between $4 million-$5 million a day. “Coco” is doing only half that, mostly because of “Ferdinand.” It is up to $167 million since its Thanksgiving opening. That is not that far behind “Moana” through its post-Christmas Tuesday. Fortunately, Pixar is having an international take about double its domestic, so even at an estimated $200 million+ cost it will come out OK. Worldwide, it is now at $500 million.
“Downsizing” and “Father Figures” Are Flops, and “All the Money in the World” Has Started Slow
Alexander Payne’s most expensive ($68 million) film went wide from the start with Matt Damon and his draw (in years before 2017) considered a good reason go wide at this intense date. The mixed reviews at a time flooded with high-end adult appeal films and a high concept that fell short has led to only $4.6 million for the two days and under $10 million so far. Its 29 percent drop Tuesday from Monday isn’t a good sign.
It at least was better than the 34 percent drop for the R-rated comedy “Father Figures,” which totaled only $3.6 million for the two days and a pathetic $6.9 million so far. Its ultimate total will fall far short of $20 million, with the weekday numbers likely to fall in the fast track at play now.
The sole wide Monday opening (the last of the year) was Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World.” Its incredible last-minute reshoots with Christopher Plummer replacing Kevin Spacey elevated this to very high awareness. But that led to only $4.4 million for its first two days — less than “Downsizing.” And its 31 percent second-day drop was no better than average among adult-oriented films.
The late opening date might have confused some moviegoers. (Christmas Day isn’t an unusual date, but falling on Monday at the end of the weekend seems to have hurt). There is strong competition among similar older audience films, and its decent but not high-end reviews may have made it less essential. And what gave it media attention — the quick replacement of a major character — perhaps made that the central appeal rather than its ransom/thriller story starring Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams. And, perhaps too much of a gimmick.
With a cost of at least $50 million, that’s a weak start. But the weekend and better evidence of its initial word of mouth (its B Cinemascore discouraging, though) is still ahead, and Ridley Scott’s films do tend to have consistent international appeal.
Courtesy of STXfilms
“Molly’s Game,” “The Post,” and “Phantom Thread” Open
Late opening awards contenders are a staple of Christmas, with two of this year’s – Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread” (Focus) and Aaron Sorkin’s “Molly’s Game” (STX) debuting on Christmas Day, and Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” (20th Century Fox) still in its initial week.
With different opening days and theater totals, they aren’t on equal levels to evaluate. But “The Post” is the clear standout. With $393,000 for the two days, it has a per-theater average for its nine locations of $44,000. That puts it at $919,000 for five days, over $100,000 per theater so far. That includes three in Washington, D.C. and an additional run above the usual platform dates in New York and Los Angeles.
That is stellar. Fox opened “The Revenant” in four core theaters over Christmas in 2015, and did almost $700,000 in five days. But that was a staggering total, and came with not as much demand for seats in its theaters. How this equates to its broader run January 12 (closer to awards boosting elements) isn’t certain yet, but the initial showing is very strong.
Photo : Laurie Sparham / Focus Features
“Phantom Thread” took in a strong $196,000 in four theaters (all playing “The Post” as well) for a $49,000 PTA. Anderson’s films always platform, and always have strong initial results. “The Master” opened to $735,000 in five theaters in September, 2012 in its first weekend, “Inherent Vice” to $328,000 in five in early December, 2014 before going on to minor later wide results. “Phantom” looks like a much stronger Oscar presence and its later wider break could push it to better results. Initial numbers remain strong.
“Molly’s Game,” with Jessica Chastain hoping for a Best Actress nod, grossed $1.8 million in 271 theaters, for a two day PTA of $6,642. That’s decent in context if not spectacular, with once again the glut of older appeal films cutting into everything playing wider.
“Darkest Hour” Leads Older Specialized Titles
Making it into the Top 10 for the two days on 806 theaters, “Darkest Hour” grossed $3.2 million. Again, a decent performance that puts the film now at $10 million with awards attention still ahead. Focus was smart to maximize this despite the crowded period with its new dates coming in after several other successful films have already been viewed.
“The Shape of Water” had slightly lower results — $2.6 million — in somewhat fewer (730) theaters. With one less week of play it stands at $9.2 million.
“Call Me By Your Name” continues its slower roll out — it expands wider on January 12 and 19 — with $450,000 for Monday and Tuesday in 114 theaters and $3.5 million, still early in its play. This should be a major beneficiary of upcoming nominations.
“I, Tonya” (Neon) also is awaiting mid-January to reach a wider public. Its newest expansions brought in $377,000 Monday and Tuesday, now $1.4 million early in its run.
The longer running titles had to fight hard to remain on screen, not surviving in all markets and sometimes having to share screens. The silver lining is that they should rebound in varying degrees with new awards attention.
With all this in play, “Lady Bird” remains impressive. It added $1.3 million for the two days in 372 theaters, now up to $29.6 million. That’s already the best total for the company, including better than “Moonlight,” its Oscar Best Picture winner last year. This remains the standout of specialized releases over the last two months.
A24 also has “The Disaster Artist,” more recently released but falling more quickly. It took in $650,000 in 488 theaters since Sunday, now at $16.4 million.
“Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight) could see a revival next month, but currently is lagging with $390,000 in 264 theaters, now at a little over $23 million.
The specialized film totals for the two days exceed $11 million at a time when “The Greatest Showman,” “Downsizing,” and “All the Money in the World” among wide releases are peeling off older ticket buyers, who also are of course seeing “The Last Jedi” and other general audience films. That’s up from the holiday Monday-Tuesday last year, when the expansion of “La La Land” made up about half the business. Still, nearly all these films are losing business to other entries, and in some cases not able to play theaters at the moment that could add to their totals in a lucrative period. Fortunately for several they have a chance to rebound in a few weeks.