The pre-Christmas theater results did not fill up the stocking.
With Christmas imminent, it is a time for the blockbusters to arrive, and this year’s early gifts were somewhat disappointing, and some so bad you want to take them back for an exchange. With only a couple of exceptions the holiday frame to this point has been more disappointing than exciting.
There is still Christmas day and the final weekend ahead, but to this point the yearly box office looks to be down a few percentage points from 2018’s total. There have been some tremendous performers — most of those from Disney — which have papered over some notable failures, but overall the year has been healthy, if not robust. This weekend seems emblematic of that characteristi
1. STAR WARS EPISODE IX- THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – $175.5 Million Let’s not pretend this is not a tremendous figure. It is the third highest December opening ever — no other titles have even reached $1 million in the month — and it stands as the twelfth biggest opening all time. So yes, this is huge. But, it is Star Wars and in the pantheon of those titles it has to be judged, and there are some bad signs. Following the past two entries (‘’The Force Awakens’’, and ‘’The Last Jedi’’) failing to crack – $200 million is telling. Projections were adjusted ahead of the weekend to around – $190 million, but then Saturday saw a steeper than expected dropoff, a sign that the normal practice of repeat viewings by hardcore fans was tapering off. This can also be seen in the CinemaScore coming in at ‘’B+’’, lowest of the Star Wars titles.
There are at least two other reasons this is looked at as a disappointing return. ‘’Last Jedi’’ had some very bad post-release impressions by fans, so much so that director Rian Johnson was notably taken off of ‘’Skywalker’’, and J.J. Abrams brought back. For this one to perform well below what is a largely negatively regarded title — it has opened about $45 million below the debut of ‘’LJ’’ — is a bad sign. Also why this is a bad figure is this is the film that is closing out the official series. Most would expect the film that is the culmination of four decades of films in the epic space opera would be an explosive performer, not an also-ran within the Star Wars canon. Don’t weep for Disney, they are doing fine here, it is just that the beloved series appears to be ending not with wild applause but something closer to a shrug.
2. JUMANJI-THE NEXT LEVEL – $26.13m
Holding relatively well after a surprisingly strong open last weekend. The -55% drop is about average for this type of film in week two, but considering the size of the competition it becomes more impressive. The previous installment was also situated against a ‘’Star Wars’’ title and it went on to have a remarkably long run of success in theaters. This sequel has hit the $100 million mark already and is looking as if it can replicate a little bit of that same stamina.
3. FROZEN 2 – $12.3M
It is now edging its way to a $400 million haul stateside and has already crossed over the $1 billion mark globally, after just one month in release. In the coming weeks it should pass the original in both of those categories.
4. CATS – $6.5m
This one was at one point supposed to be a possible consideration for awards season, on par with the director’s translation of another stage production, ‘’Les Mis’’. It has become anything but that, and it has been so bad the critics have tried to outdo each other in describing how bad. Problems were seen with the trailers from this summer, then it missed awards nomination windows as it was being digitally retooled for the release. News is Universal was sending out even new revised versions of the film this Friday. Thought at one point to earn maybe $15 million in its debut the numbers on Friday pointed to something just under $8 million, and then Saturday saw a double-digit drop from its premiere. The budget is estimated to be in the $90 million range. This is as dismal a return as it gets.
5. KNIVES OUT – $6.12m
At least Rian Johnson can lick his wounds with this bit of success. The adult whodunnit has been a steady crowd pleaser and is unexpectedly going to earn over $100 million.
6. BOMBSHELL – $5.07m
The drama centering on the Fox News sex scandal expanded into just under 1,500 screens. This is a bit underwhelming considering all of the Oscar talk for the cast and the free media coverage it has been receiving from sympathetic press outlets.
7. RICHARD JEWELL – $2.56m
The other media-based critique has what is normally a strong hold, losing -45% in week two, except it had a dismal opening, and there is going to be a lot of awards season help needed to prop it up for the coming weeks, which appears a bit of a longshot as of now.
8. QUEEN AND SLIM – $1.85m
Once again, it manages to just linger as other notable titles losing over 1,000 screens drop off the list.
9. BLACK CHRISTMAS – $1.8.m
Last week’s biggest dud of a release sees a drop of -57%. A $10 million total in its stocking is looking like a miracle at this stage.
10. FORD V. FERRARI – $1.8m
Had plenty in the tank to last for 6 weeks, and clearing now $100 million locally, and almost doubling that total worldwide.