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.

To the surprise of no one, THOR: RAGNAROK reigned supreme at the domestic box office, bringing in a thunderous $121 million and getting the holiday movie season off to a solid start. The good news didn’t stop there: the movie’s simultaneous opening in China also exceeded expectations with $55.6 million. Overall, the foreign markets (some of which got the film a week early) have contributed $306 million to the coffers of Marvel’s latest.

Second place went to A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS, the sequel to the surprise hit starring Mila Kunis. The original proved to have long legs and that is clearly what STX is hoping for here as well. The $17 million opening is good, but not great, and both audiences and critics are rating this entry a bit lower.

JIGSAW took the usual horror movie plunge in its second frame, still good enough for $6.7 million and a 3rd place showing. Also from Lionsgate, BOO 2! did an additional $4.7 million for 4th.

Mid-range debuters LBJ and LADY BIRD had widely varying results. The Rob Reiner/Woody Harrelson biopic opened on 659 screens to a limp $1.1 million, while LADY BIRD had only four screens, but grossed a walloping $375,000.

As we mentioned, the holiday movie season is underway and the major films will be coming fast and furious during the coming weeks. Next weekend sees DADDY’S HOME 2 and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS as the main contenders, while November 14th will find another superhero heavy hitter entering the ring when JUSTICE LEAGUE opens. The big title for the American Thanksgiving long weekend is the Disney animated film COCO (November 22nd).

For those keeping track, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI debuts on December 15th, though possibly not at a theatre near you as some exhibitors are blanching at Disney’s booking terms, a repeat of what happened a few months back with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2. That film end up losing a number of drive-in engagements as a result.

Data courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

Chris Hemsworth in THOR: RAGNAROK. Courtesy Disney/Marvel.

JIGSAW, the eighth entry in Lionsgate’s SAW series, topped the box office this weekend with $16.3 million. That is hardly a stellar number, but it was enough to garner the #1 spot in one of the weakest frames of the year. Many potential ticketbuyers decided to stay home and watch either the World Series or the release of STRANGER THINGS season 2 on Netflix, and that was all-too-apparent in the numbers.

The weekend’s other newcomers fared pretty disastrously. It is hard to imagine a Matt Damon comedy directed by George Clooney debuting in 9th place with only $2.8 million, but SUBURBICON did just that. Savaged by critics and hit with a D- Cinemascore, this is undoubtedly one of the year’s biggest debacles and another flop for the struggling Paramount. Universal’s THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE fared a bit better, with $3.7 million, but is clearly not long for theatres either.

Tyler Perry’s BOO 2 managed a second place showing, followed by the struggling GEOSTORM, which is doing much better overseas following a solid debut in China. HAPPY DEATH DAY took fourth, while BLADE RUNNER 2049 managed fifth. The latter also opened in China and Japan this weekend, disappointing in the former, but earning the #1 spot in the latter. However, even winning the Japanese market will not help much as the country only contributed an additional $2.7 million. The worldwide total for the film now stands at about $217 million.

Things will undoubtedly pick up next weekend with the domestic debut of THOR: RAGNAROK, which opened in a number of international territories on Friday, hauling in an impressive $100 million. In contrast to the sometimes slower roll out afforded to franchise pictures, this one will be in almost 100% of worldwide markets within just two weeks of its debut.

Data courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

The latest round of would-be victims in JIGSAW. Courtesy Lionsgate.

Horror once again took the box office this weekend, but with a twist. This scares this time came with a decidedly comedic feel as Tyler Perry’s farce BOO 2: A MADEA HALLOWEEN earned the number one spot with a solid $21.2 million. Distributor Lionsgate ruled the Halloween season for many years via the SAW series, which is also returning this coming weekend with a new installment after a seven-year hiatus.

Other newcomers had a rough time. The expensive, long-delayed GEOSTORM showed that Warner Brothers’ apprehension was justified, grossing a drizzly $13.3 million. Overseas (where star Gerard Butler is a much bigger draw) was a lot more receptive, contributing an additional $49 million, but there is still a long way to go for this one to make it into the black.

Sony’s firefighting thriller ONLY THE BRAVE got an even damper reception, getting only $6 million for fifth place, a notch below the struggling BLADE RUNNER 2049, which once again fell over 50%.

However, the worst news was reserved for Universal’s THE SNOWMAN, which landed in 8th spot. The troubled production already opened overseas to very negative reviews and got an equally hostile reception here. It unspooled to virtually empty seats, with only $3.4 million worth of tickets sold. The bad reception was a essentially a foregone conclusion after an interview last week with director Tomas Alfredson in which he admitted that the rushed schedule meant that he wasn’t able to shoot 10-15% of the script. The results have been widely derided as incoherent and nonsensical.

Pure Flix’s faith-based film SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME had a strong Friday and then dropped off a cliff the next day, suggesting church group pre-sales aimed at opening day. Audiences outside of that demographic are showing very little interest and the movie ended up with the #12 spot and $2.6 million.

Data courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

Tyler Perry (left) in BOO 2: A MADEA HALLOWEEN. Courtesy Lionsgate.

Trying to forecast box office results in 2017 has not been an easy task. If there are any blue chips genres left, it would be superhero films and horror movies, proving that younger audiences are still the deciding factor these days. In the wake of IT’s gargantuan success, horror came through again this weekend with Universal/Blumhouse’s HAPPY DEATH DAY taking the number one spot away from BLADE RUNNER 2049. The PG-13 effort grossed a solid $26.5 million, which is more than five times its $4.8 million production costs.

Any hope that BLADE RUNNER 2049 might benefit from solid word-of-mouth and bounce back from its disappointing opening weekend disappeared as the sequel dropped more than 50%, adding only $15.1 million to a two-week domestic total of just over $60 million. It is doing better overseas with $98 million to date, but the profit margin looks to be increasingly further away.

Adding screens also help Fox’s THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US, which still declined by 46.5% and had to settle for a fifth place finish.

Jackie Chan returned to American movie screens with this first wide release in years and the results were better than expected. STX’s THE FOREIGNER brought in $12.8 million for a third-place finish, which is about $3 million above projections. Not surprisingly, given the storyline, the audience skewed older.

Results in the specialty market were rather disappointing. Open Road’s MARSHALL bowed on 821 screens for a so-so $3 million opening, while the very well-reviewed PROFESSOR MARSTEN AND THE WONDER WOMEN was another disappointment for Annapurna Pictures, bringing in a poor $727,000 on over 1200 screens.

The second half of October has a couple of promising titles (Tyler Perry’s BOO! sequel and SUBURBICON) as well a few also-rans (Warner’s long-delayed GEOSTORM and Universal’s THE SNOWMAN, currently bombing overseas) and a couple of maybes (JIGSAW, Lionsgate’s revival of their SAW horror series, and Sony’s firefighting thriller ONLY THE BRAVE).

HAPPY DEATH DAY. Courtesy Universal.

It was an open question as to how BLADE RUNNER 2049 would do. Arriving 35 years after its groundbreaking forerunner, could the $150 million sequel capture the public imagination in the way that Ridley Scott’s original has become one of the most celebrated science fiction movies ever made? There was plenty of buzz and critics were largely favourable, but the film failed to entice the youth market necessary to make such expensive productions successful these days. The vast majority of ticket buyers were well over the 19-25-year-old age bracket, and the movie fell well short of the general prediction of a $50 million opening weekend.

Final totals for BLADE RUNNER 2049’s three-day (plus Thursday previews) frame come in at $32.8 million. Warner Bros. is handling the film in the United States and Canada, while Sony has it in the rest of the world. The latter company opened it in over 60% of its future territories at the same time as the North American bow, enjoying better results with $49.2 million. Still, the film will need to perform very well in remaining territories, such as Japan and China, to be profitable. It is unlikely that a third film will result, though the first BLADE RUNNER underperformed back in 1982 before building a huge cult following, so it is premature to say that this one had little impact.

In other news, the 20th Century Fox drama THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US had a modest debut with $10.6 million. Warner’s horror juggernaut IT continued to perform well, finishing third and crossing the $300 million domestic box office mark.

The specialty market enjoyed a particularly notable debut with A24’s THE FLORIDA PROJECT. Premiering on four screens in New York and Los Angeles, the indie grossed a towering $158,000, an average of $39,000 per screen and far above anything else out there this week. A24 will gradually roll the movie out wider in the coming weeks.

Ana de Armas and Ryan Gosling in BLADE RUNNER 2049. Courtesy Warner Brothers.

September ended with a photo finish at the box office. For quite a while, it was not clear which movie would come out on top in a three-way heat between IT, AMERICAN MADE, and KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE.

When the dust settled, the wildly successful Stephen King adaptation reclaimed the number one spot with $17.3 million. Second place went to the Tom Cruise action comedy AMERICAN MADE, which grossed $17,016,000, just enough to best KINGSMAN, which did exactly $17 million.

The frame’s other newcomer, Sony’s very long in coming follow-up to 1990’s FLATLINERS (which boasts the exact same title), well, flatlined with a limp $6.7 million. Critics also did not respond well, giving the movie a 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That, combined with only moderate audience response at screenings, pretty much guarantees this will not make it to the recovery room.

The LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE continues to be a disappointment for Warner Bros., declining 41% and bringing in another $12 million.

The 1970s comedy drama BATTLE OF THE SEXES added an additional 1200 screens and $3.4 million to its total. Critics have largely liked the picture, which should play well into the fall and represents a win for Fox Searchlight.

Also on the specialty front, Focus expanded VICTORIA AND ABDUL, netting solid results that suggest it will also continue to be a draw for a number of weeks.

After a very weak August, the domestic box office has rebounded considerably, thanks in no small part to IT. Warner Bros. is hoping for another winner this weekend with the much-anticipated BLADE RUNNER 2049. Critical response thus far has been extremely positive, but it remains to be seen how audiences will react to the heady, reportedly slow-paced film which clocks in at a challenging 164 minutes, almost 50 minutes longer than its 1982 predecessor.

Tom Cruise in AMERICAN MADE. Courtesy Universal.

 

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE emerged victorious this weekend, somewhat surprisingly considering the solid performances of the previous two Lego movies. However, THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE seriously underperformed with only $21.2 million, a surprisingly weak start to what had been a solid franchise up to the point. It also failed to garner the strong critical response the previous two films enjoyed. That total was only good enough for third place, behind the same studio’s IT, which held firm with a strong third weekend of $30 million. It is now the highest grossing horror film ever, not counting for inflation.

Although it did not quite hit expectations, 20th Century Fox’s KINGSMAN sequel still held its own with a very good $39 million, a slight improvement over its forerunner’s opening frame. Critics also did not care so much for this one, though that does not seem to have had any notable impact thus far.

AMERICAN ASSASSIN, from Lionsgate and CBS films, fell 58%, but still managed to get fourth place, with THE Reese Witherspoon vehicle HOME AGAIN taking fifth with a mediocre $3.3 million.

Although horror has been a strong draw this year, it is clear that not every genre offering is resonating with audiences. Entertainment Studios had a surprise hit with their first release, 47 METERS DOWN, but lightning did not strike twice with the teen chiller FRIEND REQUEST. Long-delayed (it opened in Europe 18 months ago), the picture did not find very many takers this weekend, grossing a limp $2.4 million for seventh place, an average of less than $1000 per screen.

Roadside Attractions’ Boston Marathon bombing drama STRONGER had a solid debut in limited release with $1.7 million gross and a 9th place showing. Fox Searchlight’s BATTLE OF THE SEXES only debuted on 21 screens, but enjoyed a per screen average of $25,000. It will gradually expand wider over the coming weeks.

Jeff Bridges in KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE. Courtesy 20th Century Fox.