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Led by ‘The Curse of La Llorona,’ This Easter Box Office Is the Worst In a Quarter Century

Faith-based "Breakthrough" starring Chrissy Metz shows strength, but exhibitors are waiting to be saved by next week's "Avengers: Endgame."

“The Curse of La Llorona”

New Line Cinema

With total grosses this weekend around $110 million, “Avengers: Endgame” can’t come soon enough. In attendance, it’s the worst Easter weekend since at least 1994 — a period when the North American population was 20% less than what it is today.

It also marks the 13th weekend out of 16 so far in 2019 in which results lagged below the preceding year. This one is particularly grim because this 12% drop compares to a date one week post Easter. The actual 2018 Easter weekend grossed $140 million, which would represent a 21% drop. Best not to think about it.

That makes the results for “The Curse of La Llorona” stand out more. Budgeted at $9 million, this horror film (tangentially related to the “Conjuring” franchise) opened over $25 million. Easter weekend typically is a strong draw for Latino audiences, and they made up about half of the ticket buyers for this Mexican-folklore story. This is a core group that continues to be underserved by studios, and these results show the benefit of projects that target the audience while maintaining wider appeal.

Faith-based audiences are another niche that continues to show theatrical support. Obviously Easter made sense for “Breakthrough,” (20th Century Fox; this is the first weekend in which its grosses arrived with those of its Disney parent). Based on “Breakthrough: The Miraculous True Story of a Mother’s Faith and Her Child’s Resurrection,” in which Joyce Smith wrote about the near drowning of her son and his revival after her family’s prayer for a miracle, It also is exactly the sort of film Disney has stopped making in their near-total franchise orientation. The A Cinemascore should help keep it alive amidst the lack of other new films.

“Breakthrough”

Fox 2000

“Penguins” the other wide opener, also came from Disney. It only could muster a little over $2.3 million in 1,815 theaters, very much at the low end for a nature documentary from the studio.

Among holdovers, the standout was “Captain Marvel.” The weekend before “Endgame” opens, this actually went up 6%. That sign of elevated interest suggests lagging viewers figured they should catch up, and pushed the year’s biggest domestic success to $400 million. Now we await supercharged expectations that “Endgame” might do, at its maximum, 75% of that next weekend.

With a $121 million total “Shazam” dropped 29%, which pales against “Marvel,” but still has had a respectable performance. “Dumbo” managed to creep to $100 million, with a 28% drop. Laika Animations “The Missing Link” also benefited, with 27% off, but still lagging behind the company’s previous Focus Features-released titles.

“Pet Sematary” dropped by half in its third week; at just under $50 million, it’s a bit of a disappointment. However, the nadir is “Hellboy,” which began badly at $12 million and then fell 68%. That’s one franchise that looks stillborn in its first time out as a reboot.

The Top Ten

1. The Curse of La Llorona (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 40; Est. budget: $9 million

$26,505,000 in 3,372 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $7.860 Cumulative: $26,505,000

2. Shazam! (Warner Bros) Week 3; Last weekend: #1

$17,340,000 (-29) in 4,183 theaters (-123); PTA: $4,145; Cumulative: $121,342,000

3. Breakthrough (20th Century Fox) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 47; Est. budget: $14 million

$11,100,000 in 2,824 theaters; PTA: $3,391; Cumulative: $14,607,000

4. Captain Marvel (Disney) Week 7; Last weekend: #6

$9,100,000 (+6%) in 2,653 theaters (-322); PTA: $3,430; Cumulative: $400,026,000

5. Little (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend: #2

$8,451,000 (-45%) in 2,667 theaters (no change); PTA: $3,169; Cumulative: $29,380,000

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

$6,800,000 (-28%) in 3,225 theaters (-481); PTA: $2,109; Cumulative: $101,255,000

7. Pet Sematary (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend: #4

$4,850,000 (-50%) in 3,146 theaters (-439); PTA: $1,542; Cumulative: $49,583,000

8. Missing Link (United Artists) Week 2; Last weekend: #9

$4,370,000 (-27%) in 3,437 theaters (+24); PTA: $1,271; Cumulative: $12,777,000

9. Us (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend: #7

$4,264,000 (-37%) in 2,264 theaters (-504); PTA: $1,883; Cumulative: $170,445,000

10. Hellboy (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend: #3

$3,880,000 (-68%) in 3,303 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,175; Cumulative: $19,276,000

 

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