January 12, 2019

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “The Upside” Has Some, “Aquaman” Subsides, “On The Basis of Sex,” “Beale Street” Expand


THE UPSIDE (STX/Lantern) survived the wreckage of the Weinstein Company bankruptcy, and found an opening between the end of the holiday movie season and next week’s MLK weekend, poking through with what preliminary numbers at Deadline put at a Friday-winning $7M (including $1.1M from Thursday night).  That should propel it to a weekend win at $19M.  Notably, that would be about half the total box office of Green Book, a film with a similar story dynamic that’s been in release since Thanksgiving.  It’s not clear at this point how much word of mouth will sustain The Upside, and the shift in studios and split in rights between STX and Weinstein-inheritor Lantern make the economics hard to parse, but things are certainly looking brighter for the film than they’ve been since its 2017 production.

AQUAMAN (DC/Warners) finally swam into a wall despite medium-level new competition, down 52% from last Friday to $4.5M, for a $15M weekend.  The franchise entry should reach $315M in the US before it’s done, and will top $1B worldwide this weekend, already the biggest hit in this DC universe outside the US.

A DOG’S WAY HOME (Columbia/Sony) had a $3.3M Friday, and may get past $10M for the weekend.  That’s considerably below the start for 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose, which had a $5.3M opening day and $18.2M weekend.  Purpose was buoyed by word of mouth to a long run, and if the new canine drama can manage the same, it might reach $35M in the US.  Purpose, however, found its real money overseas (69% of its worldwide total), and we’ll see if Way Home can do the same.

ESCAPE ROOM (Columbia/Sony) fell 65% from last Friday to $2.6M, for a weekend that may hit $8M.  That would put it on track to get near $50M in the US, a fair haul for a low-budget thriller.

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (Sony Animation/Columbia/Sony) wasn’t boosted by its Golden Globe win, down 48% on its 5th Friday to $2.1M, on its way to a $7M weekend and a $160M US total that doesn’t match its stellar reviews.

ON THE BASIS OF SEX (Focus/Universal) expanded to wide release at 1923 theatres with $2M, for a $6M weekend.  That compares well to the $6.1M weekend that Darkest Hour had when it expanded to 1733 theatres in early 2018, although Darkest Hour had an Oscar-fueled lengthy run into March that Sex is unlikely to duplicate.

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (Annapurna) was less successful in its expansion to 1018 theatres, with an $800K Friday and a weekend that will get a bit above $2M, with an uncertain path past $15M in the US.

BUMBLEBEE (Tencent/Paramount) slowed by 57% to $1.7M on Friday, on its way to a $6M weekend and a so-so $120M in the US.

MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Disney) continued its mediocre run compared to expectations, down 66% from last Friday to $1.7M, for a $6M weekend and eventual $160M in the US.

THE MULE (BRON/Warners) lost 40% from last Friday to $1.6M, and with a $6M weekend it continues to suggest that it can reach $100M in the US before it’s done.

VICE (Annapurna) continues to hold well for a film with a polarizing subject, down 42% from last Friday to $1M for a $3.5M weekend, although a $45M US total will still leave it needing overseas help (probably awards-driven) to reach profit.

Last weekend’s big Golden Globe winners, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Regency/20th) and GREEN BOOK (DreamWorks/Participant/Universal) increased their theatre counts and saw upticks.  Rhapsody was up 22% to $900K from last Friday for a $3M weekend as it nears $200M in the US, while Green Book gained 22% to $600K for a $2M weekend, still battling to get past $45M in the US.

No one seems to quite understand what REPLICAS (Entertainment Services) is doing by undertaking the costs of a theatrical release at all, and a $900K Friday and $2.5M weekend will do nothing to answer that question.


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."