“Thor: Ragnarok” (Disney) repeated at #1 its second weekend, but was joined by “Daddy’s Home 2” (Paramount) and the remake of “Murder on the Orient Express” (Paramount) as strong performers. And “A Bad Moms Christmas” (STX) had a strong hold to add to the good news.
But otherwise it was more famine than feast. #5-10 combined only grossed $11 million. Last year’s #5 (a holdover) grossed nearly that much by itself. The lingering effects of a weak October continue to affect the overall results. Initial estimates show total business this weekend down around six per cent from the same weekend last year.
The two new entries both fall into the realm of mid-budget (between $50-75 million) titles that have been so problematic of late. Both came in several million or more above the $20 million or close estimates, with both now in range to be make money, though each has a different path to reach that.
“Daddy’s Home 2” came in particularly strong on Saturday with a second full day increase of six per cent allowing it to beat out “Murder.” This has been a comedy-deprived year overall, and lingering positive vibes after the first one just under two years seemed to connect to boost this. Paramount took a big chance in placing this in early November rather than the Christmas date last time. The initial response suggests they bet right. A normal three time multiple would get this to $90 million. But positioned two weeks before Thanksgiving it might get a bigger boost ahead. The first one, with holiday weekday boost and beyond ended up at $150 million, four times its opening.
“Murder on the Orient Express” did even better compared to its cost and then has the bonus of an initially strong overseas response. Now at $57 million (its in its second strong U.K. weekend) it surprised with a $19 million start in China. The domestic response relied on older audiences, not as well served by wide releases in recent weeks, with the inclusion of Judi Dench in the cast certainly boosting it. Of note is that this is the second straight Dench film that didn’t receive better than mixed reviews (similar to “Victoria & Abdul”) yet drew a strong older audience. That defies typical patterns.
Both these films and their success shows at least a temporary retreat to the familiar among regular movie goers, with both likely to end up with domestic totals at or around the far more expensive “Blade Runner 2049,” which despite its strong reviews and massive media attention failed to get the intended response. But though neither is a breakthrough effort, the ability to be conventional and still do well is something of a relief after signs that nothing other than core franchise films and the odd horror hit can amass much interest.
Among franchise titles, “Thor: Ragnarok” with a 53 per cent drop fell in normal range among comic universe titles, more impressive since its initial gross outpaced other November titles. The second weekend, though falling more than “Doctor Strange” last year, was still $13 million higher for the weekend than that title. Worldwide it is already at $650 million. Better than many films this year at this stage of release, even more so for its non-summer, non-holiday release date. It does face a challenge from D.C. Comics’ “Justice League” (Warner Bros.) this Friday, but it has to date done better than its high expectations.
Rounding out the positive news, “Bad Moms Christmas” fell only 31 per cent its second weekend, although that number came in lower in part because it opened on a Wednesday, spreading initial business over five days instead of three. For a more accurate comparison, the film through weekend two (with two extra days) is just under $40 million, compared to $50 million for the first series entry late last summer. The numbers, particularly if this like last time can do decent foreign numbers, could be enough to make another entry plausible.
Four viable films, all certain to play through Thanksgiving, will help the upcoming weeks as they add to the giant grosses expected for “Justice League” and “Coco” (Disney). The year is still down five per cent from last year, and something close to the decline for the full year is looking more likely all the time.
1. Thor: Ragnarok (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend: #1
$56,600,000 (-54%) in 4,080 theaters (no change); PTA (per theater average): $13,873; Cumulative: $211,590,000
2. Daddy’s Home 2 (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 30; Est. budget: $69 million
$30,000,000 in 3,575 theaters; PTA: $8,392; Cumulative: $30,000,000
3. Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 53; Est. budget: $55 million
$28,200,000 in 3,331 theaters; PTA: $8,441; Cumulative: $28,200,000
4. A Bad Moms Christmas (STX) Week 2; Last weekend: #2
$11,510,000 (-31%) in 3,615 theaters (no change); PTA: $3,184; Cumulative: $39,874,000
5. Jigsaw (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend: #3
$3,420,000 (-48%) in 2,651 theaters (-290); PTA: $1,290; Cumulative: $34,354,000
6. Boo 2: A Madea Halloween (Lionsgate) Week 4; Last weekend: #4
$20,070,000 (-54%) in 1,900 theaters (-302); PTA: $1,089; Cumulative: $45,920,000
7. Geostorm (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend: #5
$1,545,000 (-51%) in 1,685 theaters (-981); PTA: $917; Cumulative: $31,624,000
8. Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros.) Week 6; Last weekend: #7
$1,410,000 (-39%) in 863 theaters (-601); PTA: $1,634; Cumulative: $88,001,000
9. Happy Death Day (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend: #6
$1,312,000 (-51%) in 1,564 theaters (-620); PTA: $839; Cumulative: $54,955,000
10. Lady Bird (A24) Week 2; Last weekend: #26
$1,249,000 (+243%) in 37 theaters (+33); PTA: $33,766; Cumulative: $1,781,000