Liam Neeson is THE COMMUTER. Courtesy Lionsgate.

 

 

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE retained the number slot this weekend. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI may be the leader of the Christmas pack, but Sony’s JUMANJI reboot has been the real surprise, finding favor with both critics and audiences, and likely starting a new franchise for the studio. The picture also just enjoyed a $40 million launch in China.

There were also several newcomers this frame. Coming off a very successful limited release, Steven Spielberg’s THE POST expanded into 2800 theatres and netted a solid $18.6 million. The film’s “A” Cinemascore indicates that THE POST should be able to play right through the Oscar season. After spending the last few years mostly making serious fare, Liam Neeson is back with another actioner. THE COMMUTER had a so-so debut, grossing $13.5 million on 2900 screens.

INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY took the usual horror movie dive, declining 59% for fourth spot, followed by THE GREATEST SHOWMAN and LAST JEDI. Originally to have been released by the Weinstein Company, but dropped in the wake of that company’s woes, PADDINGTON 2 had a disappointing $10.6 million opening for Warner Brothers. However, the film’s “A” Cinemascore suggests that word of mouth could help keep it around longer than those opening numbers suggest.

Not screened for critics, Sony’s PROUD MARY landed in 8th with a reasonably good total of $10 million. PITCH PERFECT 3 and DARKEST HOUR rounded out the list.

The above reflects the regular weekend totals and do not include the extra revenue that studios will garner in America via the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

The coming weeks have quite a few new titles coming your way, which will make it harder for movies with so-so box office to retain screens. Opening next weekend are two actioners, the Chris Hemsworth war feature 12 STRONG and Gerard Butler in DEN OF THIEVES, along with the drama FOREVER MY GIRL.

This week’s trailer is THE COMMUTER:

Lin Shaye in INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY. Courtesy Universal.

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE has not matched the numbers generated by STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, but it has easily proven to be the Christmas season’s second biggest success. This weekend, it once again moved past JEDI in the box office standings, earning the #1 spot with $36 million. That’s a drop of only 28%, indicating that word of mouth is proving to be extremely favorable.

January is a typical month for horror titles, and Universal/Blumhouse’s INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY continues that collaboration’s winning streak. Despite being the fourth entry in that serious, audiences are clearly still interested as the picture generated $29 million, nearly three times its production cost. However, the B- Cinemascore suggests it will still exit multiplexes in about the same time as most horror sequels.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI landed in third with $23.5 million. While the movie has passed the $1 billion mark worldwide, a lackluster $28.7 million debut in China still comes as a disappointment to the Mouse House.

Critics hated it, but audiences are still going to see THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, which sold $13.8 million in tickets for a $75 million domestic total thus far. Two of the season’s underperformers, PITCH PERFECT 3 and FERDINAND, followed in 5th and 6th, while STX’s expansion of MOLLY’S GAME placed 7th with a solid $7 million. Sony’s ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD now officially earns the title of biggest holiday season flop with a 10th place showing and a mere $20 million after two weeks.

Some notable openers next weekend, including the annual Liam Neeson January action pic (THE COMMUTER), PROUD MARY, and PADDINGTON 2 (which changed hands from the beleaguered Weinstein Company to Warner Brothers), plus expansions of Steven Spielberg’s THE POST, I, TONYA, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s THE PHANTOM THREAD.

Data courtesy Box Office Mojo.

This week’s featured trailer: INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY

Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, and Karen Gillan in JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE. Courtesy Sony.

 

The Christmas holidays proceeded more or less along expectations, though the negative rumblings among STAR WARS fans over THE LAST JEDI took a greater toll than expected. The Disney feature plunged 69% in weekend 2, followed by a more manageable 26% drop in weekend 3. While no one’s idea of a flop, the film has proven more divisive than expected, with fans overall holding the picture in lower regard than critics.

Sony’s JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE more than held its own against the Lucasfilm juggernaut, grossing $169.6 million after only two weeks. Overcoming largely negative reviews, PITCH PERFECT 3 still trails its predecessors, but the movie’s $63.3 million total to date is reasonable, considering its relatively low $45 million cost. Still, unless foreign and ancillaries come through in a big way, it’s tough to image a fourth installment. Also enduring the wrath of critics, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN landed in fourth with $49.1 million to date. This is better than expected, but still a long way from profit.

The three other wide Christmas releases had less success. Finishing off a terrible year for Paramount, DOWNSIZING crashed and burned with $17.2 million after 14 days. That’s only one quarter of its production costs. Sony’s ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD received a great deal of publicity following the last minute decision to remove Kevin Spacey from the picture in favor of quickie reshoots with Christopher Plummer. However, that news was not enough to sell many tickets. The Ridley Scott feature made only $12.7 million in its first week. Landing hardest, however, was Warner’s gross out comedy FATHER FIGURES, with only $12.9 million after two weeks.

On the specialty front, Focus’ DARKEST HOUR continues along with $18 million after six weeks of release. Oscar buzz for star Gary Oldman should keep it in theatres at least until the end of January. Guillermo Del Toro’s THE SHAPE OF WATER is performing similarly, netting $15.7 million after five weeks.

Trailer for JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

Data courtesy Box Office Mojo.

Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill in STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI. Courtesy Walt Disney.

The latest entry in the STAR WARS saga is finally here and the fans were certainly ready for it. After an incredible $45 million gross from preview screenings on Thursday, the film went on to pull in $220 million, which places it second to only STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS as the highest opening weekend in history.

Critics and Cinemascore ranked the movie highly, though there is a surprising disparity between critical and moviegoer response on the Rotten Tomatoes site, with 93% of critics liking the picture, but only 56% of audiences agreeing. This is very unusual for a megabuck blockbuster. Subsequent reports suggest that this may be the work of bots and an individual who has an axe to grind with Disney. The picture also rolled out internationally in most major markets (China being the notable exception), adding an additional $230 million to that total.

Believe it or not, there were other movies debuting this weekend, too. Fox’s animated feature FERDINAND presumably served as counter programming for families unable to get into sold out screenings of STAR WARS. The film was not particularly liked by critics, though audiences were more receptive, giving FERDINAND an “A” Cinemascore. We should say, the audiences that turned up liked it because the scheduling was not successful: the movie’s $13.3 million opening is, by far, the lowest for any recent Fox animated movie. Once people have seen THE LAST JEDI, numbers might improve, but it definitely seems like a swing and a miss, and draws into question the logic of opening anything other than art house fare against STAR WARS. The film’s overseas bow was similarly lackluster, though luckily for Fox, it only represented a small portion of screens. The picture will expand into an additional 44 markets next weekend.

Data courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

COCO. Courtesy Wat Disney/Pixar.

 

 

 

Pixar’s COCO retained the #1 spot for the third weekend in a row. Of course, this was not a surprise given that there was only one new wide release and it was not widely publicized. That lack of new competition will change in a big way during the next frame when STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI bows on over 4000 screens and will likely dominate the box office for the next 3-4 weeks.

COCO added $18.6 million to its domestic take, which is now just under $136 million and about $390 million worldwide. JUSTICE LEAGUE was second with $9.5 million. The movie has now passed the $200 million mark at home, plus another $400 million overseas, but remains a disappointment for Warner Brothers. Articles from several different industry sources, including Variety, speculated this week that the studio will announce a major shake-up in their DC films creative team in an attempt to course correct.

Lionsgate’s WONDER continued to be the sleeper success of the fall season, adding $8.5 million for third. A24 successfully expanded THE DISASTER ARTIST to 840 screens and earned $6.4 million. This suggests that the picture may have sufficient legs to play throughout the holidays, though it is not clear yet whether it will expand much wider, given the intense competition for screens in the coming weeks.

Another A24 success, LADY BIRD, continued to score with audiences, grossing $3.5 million for the sixth spot. Neon’s I, TONYA also impressed in limited release, netting $246,000 on only four screens.

The stiff of the weekend was also its only wide opening. JUST GETTING STARTED, from the struggling Broad Green Pictures, grossed a miserable $3.2 million. Audiences gave it a “C” Cinemascore and the critics who bothered to review it were almost uniformly negative, so this one will be a distant memory by the time January rolls around.

Data courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

 

Dave Franco (left) and James Franco in THE DISASTER ARTIST. Courtesy A24.

The majors offered up no new wide releases this weekend, which left plenty of room for the remaining films to draw more patrons. Pixar/Disney’s COCO repeated in the #1 spot, declining only 49% for a second frame take of $26.1 million. Warner’s JUSTICE LEAGUE continued to perform below expectations, dropping 60% for $16.5 million and a domestic take thus far of $197 million. Lionsgate’s WONDER continued to live up to its name, adding $12.5 million to a domestic tally that will cross the $100 million mark later this week. THOR: RAGNAROK continued along in week 5 with $9.7 million and $291.4 million and counting. DADDY’S HOME 2 rounded out the top 5 with $7.5 million and $83 million to date.

Also benefiting from the dearth of new multiplex fare were the specialty titles. LADY BIRD and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI continued to draw well, the widening release pattern paying off for both titles.

However, the big news came via the incredibly successful bow of THE DISASTER ARTIST. Originally financed by Warner Brothers/New Line, the movie was farmed out to A24 when WB wasn’t sure of how to market it. Well, the studio may well be regretting that decision given the high interest the movie has generated in the weeks prior to its release, and its opening numbers. The picture managed a $1.2 million opener and 12th place finish on only 19 screens nationwide. It will be expanding new weekend and looks like a solid contender in what will be a very busy Christmas.

Also drawing impressively was Fox Searchlight’s THE SHAPE OF WATER, which bowed with $167,000 on only two screens. A bit less impressive was Woody Allen’s WONDER WHEEL, the debut solo release from Amazon Studios, which brought in $141,000 on five screens. The 20th anniversary re-release of TITANIC did moderate business, grossing $415,000 on 87 screens.

Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill in STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI. Courtesy Walt Disney.

 

The Christmas movie season is already underway even though it isn’t even December until tomorrow. You may have already seen THOR: RAGNAROK, JUSTICE LEAGUE, or COCO, but they are just the start of a very packed schedule over the coming weeks.

Here is a quick look at just a few of the cinematic treats on the way this holiday season:

Dec. 8: THE SHAPE OF WATER (Fox Searchlight)
Guillermo Del Toro’s latest is a dark fantasy that has received comparisons to his classic PAN’S LABYRINTH, and Oscar talk for star Sally Hawkins.

Dec. 8: I, TONYA (30West)
Margot Robbie IS Tonya Harding in this nasty and funny look at the notorious figure skater’s life.

Dec. 15: STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Walt Disney)
Almost certainly the season’s premiere blockbuster. It’s also the longest STAR WARS film to date at 152 minutes.

Dec. 15: FERDINAND (Fox)
COCO is not the only big animated movie this season. John Cena and Kate McKinnon lead the voice cast for this story of a friendly bull who is mistaken for a dangerous beast.

Dec. 22: THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (Fox)
Hugh Jackman leaves superheroes behind and returns to his musical blockbuster roots for this look at the life of circus impresario P.T. Barnum.

Dec. 22: THE POST  (Fox)
Steven Spielberg’s latest is getting raves, and offers a powerhouse cast, including Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep.

Dec. 22: JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Sony)
Dwayne Johnson heads up the cast of this remake of the ’90s Robin Williams fantasy/comedy classic.

Dec. 22: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (Sony)
This Ridley Scott look at the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III made headlines recently when it was announced that the film would undergo rushed re-shoots with Christopher Plummer replacing disgraced co-star Kevin Spacey. As of this writing, it is still scheduled to open on Dec. 22nd.

COCO. Courtesy Walt Disney.

The US Thanksgiving long weekend is the traditional start to the Christmas movie season and, once again, Walt Disney dominated. COCO, the latest from Pixar, topped the chart with a five day total of $71.2 million. That, coupled with an A+ Cinemascore, pretty much guarantees this will play right until January on a large number of screens.

JUSTICE LEAGUE was featured in several major news pieces over the past few days, most speculating that the film which was supposed to truly launch the DC Universe may end up being a money loser for Warner Brothers to the tune of $50-$100 million. It grossed an additional $59.6 million over the five day.

Lionsgate’s sleeper WONDER continued to be just that, nabbing third place with $32.2 million and $70 million to date. That was enough to top THOR: RAGNAROK, which added another $25 million to its coffers for 4th. The final spot in the top 5 went to DADDY’S HOME 2 with $18.6 million.

Less commercial titles had varying results. Sony’s expansion of the Denzel Washington vehicle ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ did a so-so $6.2 million for 9th spot, while Fox Searchlight’s THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI brought in $5.85 million on 614 screens. LADY BIRD dropped out of the top 10, but continues to do quite well, adding an additional $5.37 million. STX Entertainment’s THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS brought in a limp $1.8 million on 626 screens, justifying the company’s cautious release plans.

Some more specialty titles (including Guillermo Del Toro’s much anticipated THE SHAPE OF WATER) bow next weekend, but things are fairly quiet in terms of wide releases until the middle of December, with STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI hitting theatres on December 15th. As of this writing, Ridley Scott’s ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, currently undergoing hurried reshoots to replace Kevin Spacey, is still scheduled to open on December 22nd.

Data courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

 

Ezra Miller, Ben Affleck, and Gal Gadot in JUSTICE LEAGUE. Courtesy Warner Brothers.

Warner Brothers has a lot riding on JUSTICE LEAGUE. The DC equivalent of Marvel’s AVENGERS, the film had a moderately troubled production. Director Zack Synder’s initial cut was deemed unsatisfactory by the studio and then he had to depart the movie due to a family tragedy. AVENGERS director Joss Whedon was brought in to supervise re-writes and re-shoots. The result is a film that cost in the neighborhood of $300 million and is the lynch pin for the DC extended universe.

JUSTICE LEAGUE finally opened this past weekend to $96 million. That sounds solid, but is actually pretty distressing for WB. BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE chalked up $166 million, while WONDER WOMAN had an opening frame take of $103 million. It should stand to reason that a movie with five superheroes should have them lining up around the block. However, the $96 million result was $15-20 million short of industry projections and unless the film does substantial overseas business, WB will have to rely heavily on the ancillary revenues just to break even. That certainly does not bode well for future films and there is undoubtedly a major strategy meeting underway on how to proceed.

$96 million, of course, was still enough to top the box office. Second place was snatched by Lionsgate’s dramatic sleeper WONDER, which delivered a terrific $27 million. That result, and strong reviews, suggests that it will more than hold its own over the coming weeks.

THOR: RAGNAROK is still going strong, netting $21.7 million in weekend #3. DADDY’S HOME 2 and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS rounded out the top five.

On the indie front, Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut LADY BIRD continues to do remarkably well for A24. The upstart indie expanded the movie to 238 screens for an additional $2.5 million and a #8 finish. It also continues to have a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Data courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

THOR: RAGNAROK repeated at the top of the North American box office, declining 55%, but still bringing in $56.6 million. The picture is also drawing in big crowds overseas for a worldwide total to date of $650 million. Its reign as box office king will likely end as Warner/DC’s JUSTICE LEAGUE opens in a few days, but Disney/Marvel has to be very happy with how this decidedly light-hearted entry is doing.

Critics despised it, but DADDY’S HOME 2 managed second place with a solid $30 million, enough to come out ahead of Kenneth Branagh’s lush remake of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, which took $28.2 million. That is above projections for the latter, but the film’s “B” Cinemascore is a bit worrying and suggests that it will not have legs. By comparison, the far less sophisticated DADDY’S HOME 2 earned an “A-“.

Another comedy that critics turned their noses up at, A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS held very well, declining only 31%. This suggests that the Mila Kunis vehicle will play well into the holiday season, a relief for hit and miss distributor STX Entertainment.

Also hanging on is JIGSAW, which is dropping, but not quite as quickly as many horror sequels. The Lionsgate nasty added an another $3.4 for a global total of about $80 million. Not bad for a production that only cost 1/8th of that. We can likely expect more entries in the years to come.

A24 expanded LADY BIRD to 37 locations and managed an excellent $1.25 million. The results are good enough that the company plans to take on the big boys by opening the picture nationwide over the Thanksgiving holiday.

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI also performed admirably in limited release, grossing $320,000 at just four locations. Fox Searchlight is pleased enough with these results and the positive critical response to have the movie in about 400 locations in time for Thanksgiving.

Data courtesy Box Office Mojo.

Kenneth Branagh and mustache in MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.