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‘Ford v Ferrari’ Outpaces the Box Office, While ‘Charlie’s Angels’ Is Hellish

Christian Bale and Matt Damon ran laps around the competition, but the weekend was down 40% compared to 2018. Will "Frozen 2" reverse the trend?

Christian Bale in "Ford v Ferrari"

Christian Bale in “Ford v Ferrari”

Twentieth Century Fox

“Ford v Ferrari” roared to a very strong start as an original film that targeted adult audiences. At $31 million (which actually seems a little low; don’t be surprised if higher is reported Monday), it would be good news any week. This one, it owns the track practically by itself.

Theaters fervently hope that, starting with “Frozen 2” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” the holiday lineup reverses course. This weekend will see about an $110 million total across North America theaters, compare to $175 million last year — a 40% drop. At this point, no one’s looking to make up the gap between 2018 and 2019; that’s impossible. Performing at par for the rest of the year would be a victory.

“Ford v Ferrari”

James Mangold’s $100 million biopic with Matt Damon and Christian Bale as car designer and racer didn’t set records, but it’s a good performance that ranks as a significant achievement. It’s an original film that appeals to mainly to mature adults, mostly men — 62%, per Disney. These days, most films that target older audiences skew female.

Perhaps its most crucial achievement is scoring a victory for the 20th Century Fox side of the Disney colossus after multiple disappointments — perhaps giving strength to the argument that there’s room for films that fall well outside the parent company’s preferences for franchises, sequels, and brands.

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“Ford v Ferrari”  was originally slated for a summer release; for some, the post-takeover delay suggested doubts, or lack of interest. Instead, it was pitch perfect, especially given its prospects for Oscar nominations. The older male demo speaks to the Academy, and the A+ Cinemascore buttressed a sense of audience interest (as does the Saturday uptick from Friday).

It now heads into the Thanksgiving period, where older audiences go to movies in earnest and when family gatherings encourage word of mouth. Don’t be surprised if this hits $100 million with ease. By Disney standards, it’s not a big moneymaker — but if it continues to hold its own, and competes for Best Picture, it will accomplish something few Disney-brand films have done.

"Charlie's Angels"

“Charlie’s Angels”

Sony

Meanwhile, “Charlie’s Angels” surpassed already dismal expectations. Opening estimates were under $15 million, and the bottom fell out: It’s in third place with under $9 million. Did we need this retread of a 1970s TV series and a franchise that produced two films nearly 20 years ago? Yes, it has the talented Elizabeth Banks, who produced the “Pitch Perfect” franchise (and directed the second, a huge hit). It saw the return of Kristen Stewart to a studio vehicle after regular acclaim in independent films. But neither could overcome the sense of malaise and rejection of something like this.

 The $50 million budget wasn’t a killer, but this still will be a significant loss. Perhaps more concerning is so many similar films are in the pipeline, although it looks like a wise move for Paramount to shift the “Beverly Hills Cop” reboot with Eddie Murphy to Netflix.

“The Good Liar”

Remember Miramax/Weinstein Co.? It wasn’t that long ago, was it? “The Good Liar” from Bill Condon (Oscar winner for “Gods and Monsters,” director of the blockbuster “Beauty and the Beast”) is a relic from that era, starring Helen Mirren and Ian McKellan together for the first time as octogenarians who connect during a crime plot.

Reviews were not good, but back in the day of Harvey Weinstein this would have been pushed as an awards film. Here, Warners (releasing from New Line Cinema, with a modest financial involvement) skipped festivals, gave it appropriate ads, got the right theaters, and did its best.

That turns out to be under $6 million, which is not a disaster (that’s what the more highly touted “The Goldfinch” did its entire run). And it did show its appeal with a 45% jump Saturday from Friday, the best of the three openers, which should give it chance of hanging on its best theaters through Thanksgiving. But next year and beyond, expect similar titles — if they are made at all — to be showcased on HBO’s streaming site.

"Joker"

“Joker”

Warner Bros.

But never mind. Warners’ “Joker” still doing well in its sixth week and on Friday it passed the $1 billion mark worldwide. That’s the seventh title to do so this year, but it’s the first one that wasn’t a Marvel movie or produced by Disney — and the exceedingly rare example of a rated-R film to hit that mark, all without playing China. (Among prior examples, adjusted for inflation: “The Exorcist” and “The Godfather.”)

Among last week’s four openers, the family comedy “Playing With Fire” dropped the least, down 33%. Last week’s #1, “Midway,” dropped 51%, and as of now edges out “Charlie’s Angels.” Universal’s rom-com “Last Christmas” from Paul Feig dropped 41%, passable. But “Doctor Sleep” fared the worst, down 56%, and likely to fall short of $40 million domestic.

The Top Ten

1. Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic:; Est. budget: $96 million

$31,037,000 in 3,528 theaters; PTA: $8,797; Cumulative: $31,037,000

2. Midway (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$8,750,000 (-51%) in 3,242 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,699; Cumulative: $35,141,000

3. Charlie’s Angels (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic:; Est. budget: $50 million

$8,600,000 in 3,452 theaters; PTA: $2,491; Cumulative: $8,600,000

4. Playing With Fire (Paramount) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$8,550,000 (-33%) in 3,185 theaters (+60); PTA: $2,736; Cumulative: $25,498,000

5. Last Christmas (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$6,700,000 (-41%) in 3,454 theaters (+6); PTA: $1,603; Cumulative: $22,575,000

6. Doctor Sleep (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$6,181,000 (-56%) in 3,855 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,603; Cumulative: $25,039,000

7. The Good Liar (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic:; Est. budget: $10 million

$5,656,000 in 2,439 theaters; PTA: $2,319; Cumulative: $5,656,000

8. Joker (Warner Bros.) Week 7; Last weekend #6

$5,635,000 (-39%) in 2,337 theaters (-469); PTA: $2,411; Cumulative: $322,600,000

9. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #7

$5,247,000 (-38%) in 2,549 theaters (-652); PTA: $2,058; Cumulative: $106,040,000

10. Harriet (Focus) Week 3; Last weekend #8

$4,780,000 (-35%) in 2,011 theaters (-175); PTA: $2,377; Cumulative: $31,883,000

 

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