“Coco” (Disney/Pixar) outgrossed by a wide margin the second weekend of DC’s “Justice League” over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend. Their robust numbers were buttressed by strong holds for several other films, led by the second weekend of “Wonder” (Lionsgate) along with other holdovers that showed surprising signs of renewed life.
The holiday weekend was about three per cent ahead of a year ago, a welcome increase looking forward to the lucrative Christmas period. That’s positive, though it marks a minimally acceptable performance given two films at the top with a combined budget of a half-billion dollars.
Pixar’s “Coco” fell short of other recent animated Thanksgiving holiday releases (including “Moana” last year and “Frozen” in 2013), but its $71-million five-day total combined with an A+ Cinemascore (only the fifth this year, and third since January) suggests a shot at a total gross of $275 million or higher with strong play through Christmas.
While Pixar’s costly titles tend to lean more domestic than most animated features, they are still heavily dependent on foreign grosses. Mexico, the setting of the film, opened early and has already grossed over $50 million (a huge total). The initial new foreign returns totaled around $30 million (a majority from China), with the bulk of important territories (including most of Europe) opening this week or later.
Assuming that “Coco” cost in the same range as most Pixar films (around $200 million) the opening results portend a positive result at a time when the company’s head John Lasseter is absenting himself for half a year after reports of workplace misconduct. But it also shows, on the domestic side of domestic releases at least, a continued small but noticeable decline in grosses for top animated films.
“Justice League” remains a problem for Warner Bros. and DC Comics. This all- star superhero ensemble, with a $300-million reported budget, fell 57 per cent. That’s in the second-weekend range for most comic-book titles without the boost of a Friday that plays like a strong Saturday.
Normally “Justice League”‘s $171-million total through ten days would be considered fine. But given its combined production and marketing expense, the franchise installment needs to reach the $700-million mark worldwide. At this point, it should reach $250 million domestic. Worldwide is over $480 million so far, so it needs perhaps another $150 million more overseas. The bulk of its take is already in as it has already opened around the world, so it could be a stretch. Far from being profitable, the movie could lose a lot of money.
“Wonder” on the other hand should be in profit shortly on domestic results alone. The $20-million budget sleeper, an adaptation of a popular novel about a fifth grader trying to live a normal life despite a deformity, is taking on a life of its own with a meager 19 per cent drop. Already grossing just under $70 million, the family drama could play through Christmas (something “Justice League” will struggle to achieve), and could become the biggest word-of-mouth audience pleasing long run film since “Hidden Figures” early in 2017. And potentially it might exceed its $169 million gross. That still is a high goal, particularly with several low-gross weeks to get through before Christmas. But it stands as a sign that the movie going public is responding to stand alone titles not part of franchise structures and offering more heart and middle-American dramatic subjects.
“Thor: Ragnarok” (Disney) is giving Marvel a head to head victory with rival D.C. Comics, despite being the third film is a series of films from an off shot of its comic book universe. It dropped only 22 per cent and will pass $300 million and head toward as much as $600 million overseas. Its cost? $180 million, so major money maker again for Marvel.
“Daddy’s Home 2” (Paramount) and “Murder on the Orient Express” (20th Century Fox) both kept their decreases to under ten per cent. Both look to approach the $100 million domestic mark, with the latter with its British roots and international cast looking to reach higher levels overseas. Both are mid-budget titles, again showing appeal not tied in with the expensive action/event realms that dominate studio movie making these days.
The strength of several of this week’s best grossing films will come in handy over the next two, with only one new wide release title (Broad Green’s comedy “Just Getting Started” on December 8) opening ahead of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” the following week. Also helping should be ongoing interest in two limited release titles showing strength. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight) held on to a Top Ten position a second week, and “Lady Bird” (A24) is just behind.
None of this will propel the year’s box office to 2016’s total. The over $1.6 billion gap is way too much to overcome. But the strength of recent titles could reduce the gap (now over four per cent).
The Top Ten
1. Coco (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic: 76; Estimate budget: $200 million
$49,022,000 in 3,987 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $12,295; Cumulative: $71,195,000
2. Justice League (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$40,730,000 (-57%) in 4,051 theaters (no change); PTA: $10,054; Cumulative: $171,547,000
3. Wonder (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #2
$22,300,000 (-22%) in 3,140 theaters (+44); PTA: $7,030; Cumulative: $69,440,000
4. Thor: Ragnarok (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #3
$16,791,000 (-22%) in 3,281 theaters (-779); PTA: $5,118; Cumulative: $277,468,000
5. Daddy’s Home 2 (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #4
$13,250,000 (-8%) in 3,518 theaters (-57); PTA: $3,766; Cumulative: $72,662,000
6. Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox) Week 3; Last weekend #5
$13,000,000 (-6%) in 3,214 theaters (-140); PTA: $4,124; Cumulative: $74,247,000
7. The Star (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #6
$6,875,000 (-30%) in 2,837 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,423; Cumulative: $22,031,000
8. A Bad Moms Christmas (STX) Week 4; Last weekend #7
$5,010,000 (-28%) in 2,948 theaters (-639); PTA: $2,173; Cumulative: $59,755,000
9. Roman J. Israel, Esquire (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #37
$4,515,000 (+7,182%) in 1,648 theaters (+1,644); PTA: $2,705; Cumulative: $6,274,000
10. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight) Week 3; Last weekend #9
$4,400,000 (+299%) in 590 theaters (+537); PTA: $7,166; Cumulative: $7,624,000