The first new movie of the decade is unlikely to be revisited in 2029 for any Best-Of retrospectives. Nor will it be anything but a blip on the box office radar, a disappointment to a studio hoping to bring back a franchise that already died a quick death once before. On the other hand, movies still hanging around from the previous decade are climbing both the yearly and all-time charts. That includes a sequel and a different remake from the same studio on a very favorable path.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker leads the pack for a third straight week as people play a half-full/half-empty game with where it stands. Yes, it is still well behind the pace of The Last Jedi, which had grossed $517.21 million after 17 days; ROS is at $450.79 million. One can look at release timing given that The Last Jedi had a December 15 launch in 2017, which put Christmas on its 11th day, boosting its total following what was the second-largest opening of all-time. Skywalker has been behind since the jump and yet, with another $33.74 million this weekend, it has the eighth-best total ever after 17 days. In that time it is already the 19th highest-grossing domestic film of all-time (and could be in the top 15 by the end of next weekend). The film is still waiting to join the Billion Dollar Club, as it rose to over $918 million globally this weekend. The Force Awakens, at the time, was the fastest film to $1 billion, getting there in just 12 days (Avengers: Endgame did it in 11 this summer). The Last Jedi was the third-fastest in 2017, getting there during its third weekend.
Sony’s The Grudge reboot earns its place here not because it may be a big financial loser – the budget is reportedly only $10 million – but because there were clearly bigger hopes even than the $9-$15 million projections it had. Also going into this weekend it had a strong $1.8 million in Thursday previews. But with just $11.3 million, the movie’s first-weekend haul ranks as the worst weekend total for a January release with previews over $1 million. The previous low was Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’s $13.6 million; the second-lowest was last year’s Escape Room ($18.23 million). The Grudge’s number is also on the low-end of attempted franchise reboots, but still ahead of 2019’s Hellboy ($12.04 million), 2011’s Conan the Barbarian ($10.02 million), 2016’s Blair Witch ($9.57 million), and 2019’s Charlie’s Angels ($8.35 million). Those films all had final gross multiples between 1.81 and 2.17. 2019’s Child’s Play opened to $14.09 million and finished with just $29.20 million, a multiple of just 2.07. That would put The Grudge on pace for a final tally between $20 million and $25 million, which would be less than Rings finished with in 2017.
Sony did not have much luck with The Grudge this weekend but their other films are doing quite well. Jumanji: The Next Level may be $26 million off Welcome to the Jungle’s pace after 24 days ($262.22 million), but it is right behind it on the all-time December chart – 10th place in fact – at this period, well outpacing the last two Hobbit films, which finished with $255 and $258 million, respectively. All the films above The Next Level on the 24-day list grossed over $300 million. Only Titanic and The Fellowship of the Ring had grossed less at this point and went over the milestone. The Next Level’s $28 million weekend is almost identical to Welcome to the Jungle’s fourth weekend and is the fifth-best weekend four for a December release ever, nearly $12 million higher than even the first Lord of the Rings film.
Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is hoping to just get that first $100 million and it took a solid step this week. Only one film has ever opened in December, reached $60 million in 12 days, and failed to make it to $100 million (that would be 2008’s Valkyrie). Little Women just reached $60.5 million. Though its $13.57 million is on the lower end of the 12-day releases that grossed between $50-$60 million, it is just over a week away from a likely slew of Oscar nominations that will no doubt boost its profile as one of the films to see over the next five weeks.
Over on the animated front, Disney’s Frozen II continues to trend up the charts. The sequel is about to cross $450 million with another $11.29 million added this weekend. But more importantly, it has just crossed $1.32 billion, $50 million more than the first film, which now makes it the highest-grossing animated film ever. With another $78 million, it will pass Avengers: Age of Ultron and enter the top 10 movies of all time. Fox’s Spies in Disguise is not going to get anywhere near those numbers. What it is near are the numbers for The Adventures of Tintin, which had $47.47 million after 12 days following a $11.43 million second weekend; Spies is up to $46.72 million after an $10.08 million weekend. Tintin finished with $77.59 million, which would not be a great number for the $100 million production.
Two of the great box office stories of the season are also still playing out. Rian Johnson’s Knives Out just crossed $130 million and is going to pass Once Upon a Time In Hollywood to become the second-highest grossing original film of the year. (Jordan Peele’s Us is number 1.) A total of $150 million is not out of the realm of possibility and $250 million globally is inevitable. Also doing great is Josh and Benny Safdie’s Uncut Gems. The Adam Sandler thriller grossed $7.4 million in its second week of wide release for a total of $36.48 million. It is behind just Lady Bird ($48.95 million) and Hereditary ($44.06 million) on A24’s all-time chart and soon it will become their highest-grossing film in their seven-year history.
James Wan’s Aquaman led the way for a third straight week with $31 million, driving its total to over $260 million. As with this week, a horror film was the sole new release to kick off the New Year and a new franchise may have been born with Escape Room: It finished second with $18.23 million and its sequel is due out this August. The top five was rounded out by Mary Poppins Returns ($15.86 million), Bumblebee ($13.20 million), and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ($13.12 million). The top 10 films grossed a total of $119 million, which was the best three-day weekend total of 2019 for the next eight weeks until Captain Marvel gave the box office a boost on March 8. The films averaged 66.4% on the Tomatometer. This year’s top 10 grossed an estimated $129.68 million and averaged 66.6% with critics.
A loaded January weekend is likely to be led by one of two expansions. Sam Mendes’ 1917 has been doing solid business in limited release and should take the number 1 spot from not just its new challengers but from Star Wars as well. Just Mercy is also headed into wide release and may draw some pre-awards interest. Brand-new 2020 releases include the sci-fi horror film, Underwater, with Kristen Stewart, which is hoping to draw more interest than Charlie’s Angels did. Then there is the comedy, Like a Boss, with Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, and Salma Hayek. Finally, 2019 layover, The Informer, with Joel Kinnaman will get a limited release after moving around on the schedule.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image: © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, © Lucasfilm