December 15, 2018

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Spider-Verse” Stings, “The Mule” Solid, “Mortal Engines” Crashes, “The Favourite” Expands


After two weeks of sloth, Hollywood started rolling out its pre-holiday product.  The weekend’s easy winner will be SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (Sony Animation/Columbia/Sony), which had a $12.6M Friday according to preliminary numbers at Deadline, including $3.5M from Thursday night.  That should give it a $35M+ weekend.  Projections after that are tough, because there aren’t a lot of films to compare it to, since the intersection of animation and superhero franchise is a fairly new one, and Spider-Verse is considerably more modest than The Incredibles 2 with its $182.7M opening and the live-action Spider-Man: Homecoming with its $117M.  In addition, this is the first pre-holiday weekend in December not to feature a giant Hobbit or Star Wars blockbuster since 2011.  Word of mouth should be strong, so the weekend number could go considerably higher than the current estimate.  Beginning next week, Spider-Verse will have the benefit of the mammoth holiday family trade, and its US total could easily climb past $150M.

THE MULE (Bron/Warners) is aimed at the diametrically opposite audience from Spider-Verse, but older viewers, like the very young, often give a film legs.  The Mule had a $5.7M opening day, which could give it a $17M weekend.  It has the potential for a healthy holiday run, but its word-of-mouth may suffer from the fact that it’s mostly a low-key character study, and not the action movie its marketing promises.  With a relatively moderate $100M in production/worldwide marketing costs, it should in any case have a good chance of finding profit.

The same can’t be said for MORTAL ENGINES (MRC/Perfect World/Universal), which carries $200M+ in costs and managed just $2.8M on opening day for a $7M weekend.  Even the holidays won’t rescue a loser that big, and its early international returns haven’t been promising either, although it hasn’t yet arrived in China.

THE GRINCH (lllumination/Universal) continues to hold strongly, down 17% to $2.7M on its 6th Friday for a $12.5M weekend.  With the holidays dead ahead, it may have the potential to pass $300M in the US.

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (Disney) isn’t holding as well, down 42% to $2M on its 4th Friday for a $9M weekend.  It’s falling more steeply than 2016’s Moana, and is more likely to end up around Coco‘s $209.7M in the US.

CREED II (MGM/New Line/Warners) dropped 48% to $1.4M on its 4th Friday for a $5M weekend, on its way to $125M in the US, which would be nearly a 15% bump over the first Creed.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Regency/20th) is riding Golden Globe and SAG nominations as well as its own word of mouth, down 32% to $1.1M on its 7th Friday for a $4M weekend.  If it can hold onto its theatres through the holidays, it would have a shot of pulling past $200M in the US.

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (Warners) declined 44% on its 5th Friday to $1M, heading for a $4M weekend and a hope of passing $175M in the US, down 25% from the first Beasts.

INSTANT FAMILY (Paramount) is holding on, down 35% to $1M on its 5th Friday for a $3.5M weekend, and a US total that might get to $75M with some holiday help.

ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL (20th), the PG-13 recut of Deadpool 2, isn’t attracting much interest with a $750K Friday and a weekend that might not get much past $2M (which would be a $3.3M total since its opening on Wednesday).  Costs were minimal, but there seems to be little audience for a tamed Deadpool.

GREEN BOOK (DreamWorks/Participant/Universal) added just a few theatres and dropped 34% from last Friday to $700K, headed for a $2.5M weekend.  Now that the major pre-Oscar nominations are out, it’s not clear what the film is waiting for if it’s planning a wider expansion beyond its current 1215-theatre run.

THE FAVOURITE (Fox Searchlight) widened to a near-wide 439 theatres and earned $700K on Friday, en route to a $2.5M weekend, or $5700 per theatre.  That’s roughly the same average Victoria & Abdul had at a wider 732 theatres.

Early numbers on the 4-theatre opening for IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (Annapurna) estimate its weekend per-theatre average at $65K (boosted by in-theatre Q&As), a solid start but below the exclusive opening averages for The Favourite ($105.6K) and Moonlight ($100.5K).


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."