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‘Frozen 2,’ ‘Knives Out,’ and ‘Queen & Slim’ Shine as ‘Playmobil’ Bottoms Out

After the second-worst box office weekend of 2019, theaters are ready for "Jumanji," "Star Wars," and the rest of the holiday onslaught.

Knives Out

“Knives Out”

Lionsgate / screencap

The ugly news first: The weekend’s sole wide opener, “Playmobil: The Movie,” opened to $660,000 in 2,337 theaters, placing No. 14 overall with a $282 per-theater average.

Even with that burden, however, this wasn’t the worst weekend of 2019. The Super Bowl weekend took that honor at $73.4 million, the worst performance that date saw in 19 years. At $87 million, this weekend is slightly up from last year.

Two hit films, “Frozen 2” and “Knives Out,” accounted for about 60% of the total, but several others helped keep grosses at parity. In its 10th weekend, “Joker” remains in the Top 10 and has already reached $321 million domestic. In its third weekend, “Frozen 2” is at $338 million domestic.

And while grosses remain more than $500 million below 2018, expect that shortfall to decline through the rest of the year. Next week four wide releases debut, led by “Jumanji: The Next Level,” along with “Richard Jewell,” “Black Christmas,” and “Bombshell;” these will easily best the $60 million earned by three new films last year. And there’s the new “Star Wars” along with “Cats” and “Little Women” still to come. For Disney, this will likely mean another billion in box office by the year’s end.

Universal

“Knives Out” dropped 47%, which is terrific. (Grosses are elevated post-Thanksgiving, and collapse right after.) It’s passed $63 million and positioned for major Christmas play, making it a smart $40 million  investment in Rian Johnson. Perhaps most valuable: It could make other franchise-successful directors pursue projects that bring them back to their creative roots.

We list “Queen & Slim” as tied for third for the weekend, with its estimated gross only $7,000 below “Ford v Ferrari.” Based on last Sunday’s comparative take, we expect “Queen” to end up third — but more importantly, at 45% it had the smallest drop this weekend among holdovers. And, compared to other films in the top five, it played at fewer than half the theaters. This film has momentum to spare.

Caitriona Balfe and Christian Bale in Twentieth Century Fox’s FORD V FERRARI.

“Ford v Ferrari”

Merrick Morton

Between the two other adult-appeal titles vying for longevity, “Ford v Ferrari” continues to have the edge with a 50% drop; “A Beautiful Day” dropped 56% and grossed $1.3 million less. Both will struggle to play through Christmas.

Behind them was the expansion of Todd Haynes’ “Dark Waters.” Focus saw an opening to get this to the widest possible audience, and earned a $4.1 million result that will give it a second full week. It’s as good a result as the distributor could have hoped for.

Next weekend, theaters and distributors enter the most lucrative and complicated weeks of the year. It won’t make up the gap from 2018, but it could be cut in half.

The Top Ten

1. Frozen 2 (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$34,670,000 (-60%) in 4,348 theaters (-52); PTA: $7,974; Cumulative: $337,595,000

2. Knives Out (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$14,150,000 (-47%) in 3,461 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,088; Cumulative: $63,487,000

3. (tie) Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$6,537,000 (-50%) in 3,746 theaters (+161); PTA: $1,745; Cumulative: $91,110,000

3.  (tie) Queen & Slim (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$6,530,000 (-45%) in 1,715 theaters (+25); PTA: $3,808; Cumulative: $26,894,000

5. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony) Week 5; Last weekend #5

$5,200,000 (-56%) in 3,491 theaters (+156); PTA: $1,490; Cumulative: $43,120,000

6. Dark Waters (Focus) Week 3; Last weekend #19

$4,100,000 (+560%) in 2,012 theaters (+1,918); PTA: $2,038; Cumulative: $5,285,000

7. 21 Bridges (STX) Week 3; Last weekend #6

$2,880,000 (-48%) in 2,465 theaters (-200); PTA: $1,168; Cumulative: $23,933,000

8. Playing With Fire (Paramount) Week 5; Last weekend #8

$2,000,000 (-53%) in 2,253 theaters (-426); PTA: $888; Cumulative: $41,982,000

9. Midway (Lionsgate) Week 5; Last weekend #7

$1,940,000 (-51%) in 2,100 theaters (-237); PTA: $924; Cumulative: $53,402,000

10. Joker (Warner Bros.) Week 10; Last weekend #10

$1,040,000 (-47%) in 1,262 theaters (-590); PTA: $1,088; Cumulative: $321,142,000

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