January 12, 2020

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 1.12.2020


OPENINGS:  The release strategy for 1917 (Universal) has gone just about perfectly, culminating in a $36.5M wide opening weekend that was significantly ahead of industry expectations.  Universal screened the film to critics and guild groups at the end of November, unveiled it in limited release on Christmas Day with the benefit of strong reviews, and has watched the acclaim build through the rounds of guild nominations, with a surprise win at the Golden Globes as the perfect set-up to this weekend.  Word of mouth should be strong and good news is expected from tomorrow’s Oscar nominations, so 1917 should have several healthy weeks in front of it, although it still faces challenges because of its $150M+ production/marketing costs  Overseas, things are a bit more subdued, with $19.9M from 30 territories.

LIKE A BOSS (Paramount) is one of two arrivals to claim a $10M weekend, but its number includes a typical Sunday decline, so it may be more likely to stand up in finals.  Whether the total is a bit higher or lower, that’s not a great start for a comedy with $75M in production/marketing costs and dubious international appeal.  By comparison, Nobody’s Fool opened with $13.7M, and What Men Want was at $18.2M.  No openings yet overseas.

JUST MERCY (Warners) is the other purported $10M wide opening, but that studio estimate depends on having the best Sunday hold in the Top 10, so we’ll see how things shake out tomorrow.  Just Mercy tried a similar strategy to 1917 (although Mercy was initially shown at Toronto), but to much softer results.  Word of mouth should be a help, but it’s not expected to get much support from the Oscar nominations, so a US total much higher than $30M may be a stretch.  There have been no overseas openings to date.

UNDERWATER (TSG/20th/Disney) lived down to its title with a $7M opening against $100M or so in total costs.  It also barely made a ripple overseas with $7.1M in 22 markets.  If Kristen Stewart is going to pursue the strategy of one indie for herself, one mainstream production for her bankability, she’s going to need to choose the latter titles with more care.

DOLITTLE (Universal), the long-delayed reboot of the reboot that’s accumulated something like $300M in total costs, arrives in the US this week, but opened early in a few international territories with $8.1M, mostly from South Korea.

HOLDOVERS:  STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (Lucasfilm/Disney) fell another 56% to $15.1M, and now seems unlikely to get much higher than $510M in the US, which would be down 18% from The Last Jedi.  It may not reach $1.1B worldwide, with international at $511.2M after a $24.2M weekend.  At that level, its worldwide total will be below all 3 of 2019’s Marvel releases.

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL (Columbia/Sony) dropped 47% to $14M, on track for $285M in the US, which would be down 29% from its predecessor.  Overseas, it’s at $414M after a $22.6M weekend, and will probably end up around 20% below the last Jumanji.

LITTLE WOMEN (Columbia/Sony) continued to hold well, down 44% to $7.7M as it heads to perhaps $90M in the US, with potential upside if the Oscar nominations are kind.  It’s still in limited release overseas, where it’s at $33.2M.

FROZEN 2 (Disney) lost 51% to $5.8M, on its way to $475M in the US, which would be up almost 20% from the first Frozen.  It has $912M overseas.

KNIVES OUT (MRC/Lionsgate) was again the season’s word of mouth smash, down just 36% to $5.7M in its 7th weekend as it climbed toward $150M in the US.  It also has $125.8M overseas.

SPIES IN DISGUISE (Blue Sky/20th/Disney) dropped 51% to $5.1M and may reach $65M in the US.  It’s at a similarly mediocre $60.4M overseas.

UNCUT GEMS (A24) is making its way toward $50M in the US after a 54% drop to $3.5M.  International release is still to come.

THE GRUDGE (Columbia/Sony) plunged 69% to $3.5M after last week’s opening, and probably won’t see $25M in the US.  It has a dim $11.2M overseas.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Oscar hopeful LES MISERABLES (Amazon) opened with a quiet $6100 per-theatre weekend average at 4.  THE SONG OF NAMES (Sony Classics) expanded to 70 with a $1400 average.  INVISIBLE LIFE (Amazon) averaged $1K at 18.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The long MLK holiday weekend brings the year’s purported first big openings, although that means Dolittle and the belated sequel BAD BOYS FOR LIFE (Columbia/Sony).



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."