Friday 11:27PM 2nd update/writethru: The weekend box office is so slow that Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet and Universal/Ilumination’s The Grinch are now in a staring contest for first place with a little over $15M a piece. Ralph 2 has a bit of the edge over Grinch with a Friday take of $3.5M to $3.3M. The toon throw-down may even extend into Sunday since both Ralph 2 and Grinch could tie Saturday with $7.1M a piece.
Whichever title wins, an interesting piece of B.O. trivia here is that it will rep the first time in box office history that two animated films have ruled the top two spots at the weekend B.O. for two weekends in a row. All previous instances where two feature toons shared the top two spots (i.e. Brave and Madagascar 3 in June 22-24, 2012; Beowulf and Bee Movie in Nov. 16-18, 2007; The Incredibles and Polar Express during Nov. 12-14, 2004 and A Bug’s Life and Rugrats Movie over Nov. 27-29, 1998) were only confined to one weekend and never extended into a second.
Ralph 2‘s total by Sunday could be at $140M which would be 3% ahead of Coco at the same point in time (final domestic was $209.7M) and 3% behind Moana (final stateside $248.7M). This puts the Disney sequel’s final domestic tally between $215M-$240M, and at the rate that Grinch is going, industry projections figure the Green Guy could beat the Big Lug with a final between $245M-$250M.
Meanwhile MGM/New Line’s Creed II follows in third with $9.4M in weekend 3, -43%, for a total by Sunday of $95.5M, pacing 20% ahead of Creed at the same point in its B.O. cycle (final domestic $109.7M).
Again, there’s zero wide entries this weekend as studios prefer to blow their P&A closer to Christmas when there’s a greater chance of moviegoers attending. Holiday activities are currently stealing moviegoers away and it’s not worth the investment to introduce anything new. We were in a slightly similar situation last weekend with Screen Gem’s The Possession of Hannah Grace in play at 2,065 locations. In its second outing, the horror movie is earning an estimated $3.4M in 8th place, -47%, which is great for a horror film as they tend to sink on average -60% in weekend two.
Interestingly enough last weekend wasn’t the lowest grossing-one for 2018 with total ticket sales per ComScore of $118.2M. YTD the weekend B.O. low water mark belongs to the third weekend of September, 21-23, which totaled $92.1M. Still in what is shaping up to be a record year at the domestic box office with north of $11.4 billion, that wasn’t a bad low when you consider that four weekends in 2017 made less than $90M each with the penultimate weekend of summer, Aug. 25-27 bottoming out with $69.3M.
Distributors with potential awards contenders took advantage of this weekend’s slowdown and either launched new titles in New York and Los Angeles, or widened a title in response to its recent Golden Globes nominations.
Of the holdovers, Universal/Participant Media/DreamWorks’ Green Book is truly hanging in there fueled by 5 Golden Globe noms and an additional 116 theaters (for a total of 1,181), down only 6% in weekend 4 with an estimated $3.6M in 7th and a running total that’s close to $20M.
Warner Bros.’ A Star Is Born which also counts 5 noms for Best Drama, Best Actress Drama Lady Gaga, Best Actor Drama Bradley Cooper, Best Director Cooper (it’s the first time since Kevin Costner’s 1990 western Dances With Wolves that a director/actor/best picture trifecta has been nominated at the Globes) and the original song “Shallow” is seeing a 32% surge thanks to its Imax runs for a 10th weekend of $2.4M in 11th and running total of $197M.
Fox Searchlight’s expansion of Yorgos Lanthimos’ period comedy The Favourite from 34 to 91 locations off five Golden Globe noms for Best Comedy, Best Actress Olivia Colman, two Best Supporting Actresses with Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone and Best Screenplay is eyeing $1.6M in 12th, which is very good when you consider other female-skewing platform comps with similar weekend locations: The Theory of Everything earned $1.5M at 140 theaters in its weekend 3, Wild did $1.5M at 116 locations in weekend 2, and Atonement made $1.8M at 117 sites in weekend 2.
Of the prolific frosh specialty fare, Focus Features’ Mary Queen of Scots is doing the best out with $178K at four NY/LA locations and a current estimated screen average of $44,6K — and that’s without any Golden Globe noms. At Thanksgiving last year, the label launched The Darkest Hour, warmed by Gary Oldman’s sublime turn as Winston Churchill, which debuted to $175K and a $43,7K screen average. That movie rode Oldman’s awards momentum all the way to $56.4M at the domestic B.O. which turned out to be Joe Wright’s highest grossing pic in U.S/Canada. Mary has a low Rotten Tomatoes score of 68% fresh, and if it doesn’t earn any kudos, it may not see the same fate as Darkest Hour.
Roadside Attractions’ Ben Is Back starring Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts about a drug addicted teenager who shows up at his family’s home on Christmas Eve is currently estimated to make $83K at four NY/LA sites for a per screen of $20,7K which isn’t great when you consider that the opening per screen for Hedges’ Manchester by the Sea was $64K at 4 theaters, Roberts’ August: Osage County was $35,8K at 5, and Amazon’s recent Beautiful Boy (another tale of teenage drug addiction that earned Timothee Chalamet a Supporting Actor Golden Globe nom) opened to a $54,7K average at 4 sites. Ben Is Back has an 85% certified fresh RT score.
NEON’s dark drama Vox Lux which stars Natalie Portman as a school shooting survivor-turned-pop star isn’t so great with an estimated $18,9K at 6 locations or $114K. Portman’s Jackie, another dark tale about JFK’s widowed First Lady, posted a $55,7K opening screen average or $278K at 5 theaters. Vox Lux also has a low RT score of 66% fresh.
Universal also has the 25th anniversary re-release of Oscar winner Schindler’s List at 1,029 theaters and it’s only bringing in $703K. That’s not spectacular for a re-release, but we have to consider the fact that it’s a serious drama, and it’s typically the blockbusters or the dashing epics (like Lawrence of Arabia) that receive a polished major studido re-release. No real comps here. Steven Spielberg’s 40th Anniversary re-release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind made $1.7M over the 2017 Labor Day three-day at 901 locations which was also timed to a DVD re-release.