December 30, 2018

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 12.30.2018


OPENINGS:  There were no new wide releases for New Year’s weekend, but a pair of lackluster films arrived for Christmas Day.  VICE (Annapurna) has $17.7M to date, $7.8M of it from this weekend, but it’s been quite frontloaded, dropping 40% on December 26 and staying at that general level ever since.  It should reach $22M by New Year’s Day, with an uncertain future after that, probably topping out at $40M unless it wins some major Golden Globes or Oscars.  Despite its indie vibe, Vice wasn’t inexpensive to produce, and with questionable international prospects, it could find breakeven hard to achieve without some awards help.

HOLMES & WATSON (Columbia/Sony) is worse off, with $7.3M for the weekend and $19.7M to date, even more frontloaded with a 46% drop on December 26.  Also, it stands to reason that a Will Ferrell comedy is supposed to be a more commercial prospect than the biography of a controversial US Vice President.  Holmes may hit $23M by Tuesday, but may run out of gas before $40M in the US.  (It has $4M after early international release in 8 territories.)  Ferrell doesn’t have any franchise comedies in his near future, so the level of his bankability may remain spotty.

HOLDOVERS:  AQUAMAN (DC/Warners) has owned the holiday movie season, down 24% to $51.6M in its 2nd weekend, and likely to be at $215M by New Year’s, with a solid chance of reaching a $300M US total.  We’ll never know how it would have fared in a non-holiday run (or if a Star Wars title had opened this season), but Warners will take the success where it finds it.  Aquaman is also big overseas, with $560M to date after an $85.4M weekend in 78 territories (Italy and Japan are still to come), although it should be noted that almost half that amount, $260.4M, comes from China alone, where Warners only receives 25% of each box office dollar.  Again, though, a hit is a hit, and Aquaman 2 will certainly be on its way.

MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Disney) gained 19% from last weekend to $28M, and should be at $110M or so by Tuesday.  For those looking to Poppins to have the kind of remarkable post-holiday run that The Greatest Showman enjoyed, however, it should be noted that Showman jumped an incredible 76% on the parallel weekend last year (and that was with a low New Year’s Eve Sunday).  Poppins is much more of a pre-sold property, and it seems to be heading toward an OK but moderately disappointing $175M in the US.  Overseas, it’s still in only 37 markets, but its numbers are also a bit soft, with $74.4M after a $28.9M weekend.

The good news for BUMBLEBEE (Tencent/Paramount) is that it was far less expensive to produce than its  Transformers brethren.  But despite the best reviews of the franchise, it lost 5% for the weekend to $20.5M, and should get over the $75M mark by Tuesday, heading for perhaps $125M in the US.  That would be roughly equivalent to the $130.2M for Transformers: The Last Knight, which cost at least $80M more to produce.  However, Last Knight earned $475.3M overseas, and Bumblebee is only at $90M after a $45.7M weekend in 55 territories.  That doesn’t include China, where Bumblebee opens next week and where Last Knight reaped $228.8M, but it has a great deal of ground to make up

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (Sony Animation/Columbia/Sony) is also finding it difficult to translate great reviews into a box office bonanza, up 11% in its 3rd weekend to $18.3M, and getting past $110M by New Year’s.  It may not go much beyond $150M in the US, the least successful Spider-Man entry thus far (although, as with Bumblebee, much less expensive to produce).  Overseas, it’s at $109.6M after a $27.4M weekend in 60 territories, with Brazil and Japan still to come, but it looks like it’s facing a worldwide total less than half of any previous Spider-Man.

THE MULE (BRON/Warners) rose 24% on its 3rd weekend to $11.8M, and should get over $65M by Tuesday, with prospects of $90M in the US.  That’s a comfortable number at Clint Eastwood’s budget point.  It hasn’t yet opened overseas.

SECOND ACT (STX) gained 11% to $7.2M, and might reach $25M by Tuesday, and $40M in the US.  It also has $6.6M after a $1.5M weekend in 37 overseas markets, and has little chance of seeing profit, even on modest costs.

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (Disney) had a handsome 39% bump in its 6th weekend to $6.5M, and may be near $180M by New Year’s, on its way to $200M or so in the US, with a very similar path to last year’s Coco.  It’s still in gradual release overseas, with $174.7M to date after a $13.7M weekend in 32 territories.

THE GRINCH (Illumination/Universal) lost its audience after Christmas Day, falling 50% to $4.2M, but still on track for $275M in the US.  It’s been less popular overseas, where it’s at $203.9M after a $17.5M weekend in 61 markets.  It should hit $500M worldwide, and with relatively moderate costs of $200M all-in, that will be quite profitable.

WELCOME TO MARWEN (DreamWorks/Participant/Universal) continued its ignominious run, down 5% from last weekend to $2.2M, and unlikely to get past $15M in the US.  It hasn’t yet arrived overseas.

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS (Focus/Universal) and THE FAVOURITE (Fox Searchlight) are in similar places, respectively at 841 theatres with a $2.7M weekend ($3200 per-theatre weekend average), and at 809 theatres with a $2.4M weekend ($3K weekend average).  Neither is very impressive compared to last year’s Darkest Hour, which earned $5.5M on the parallel weekend last year.  Mary has little awards traction, and will probably fade faster than The Favourite, which may take some big prizes at next week’s Globes.

LIMITED RELEASE:  ON THE BASIS OF SEX (Focus/Universal) had an OK $21K per-theatre weekend average at 33 theatres.  DESTROYER (Annapurna) was weaker with a $19.5K average at 3.  STAN & OLLIE (Sony Classics) averaged $16K at 5.  IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (Annapurna) expanded to 65 theatres with a quiet $12K average.  CAPERNAUM (Sony Classics), now at 9, averaged $3100.

NEXT WEEKEND:  As is typically the case, the new movie year will start with low-budget horror, in this case ESCAPE ROOM (Columbia/Sony).



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."