January 6, 2019

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 1.6.2019


OPENINGS:  There weren’t a lot of significant changes from Friday night’s picture of the weekend box office.  The only wide opening, ESCAPE ROOM (Columbia/Sony), inevitably fell 13% on Saturday, considering its genre and its unusually early Thursday afternoon start.  Nevertheless, the $18M studio weekend estimate should stand up, and that’s a solid number for a low-budget release with targeted marketing.

HOLDOVERS:  AQUAMAN (DC/Warners) continued to rule the box office seas, down 41% to $30.7M in the US, and now on track for $320M.  That would still put it behind Wonder Woman, Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad here, but that shortfall is more than made up by its huge international success.  Aquaman had a $56.2M weekend in all major territories except Japan, with a $681M overseas total ($282.8M of that from China) that should bring the worldwide number well over $1B, already the biggest post-Dark Knight Rises DC title (not adjusted for inflation).

MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Disney) continues to perform a bit tepidly compared to expectations.  In the US, it dropped 44% to $15.8M, and a $170M total won’t even come close to the studio’s Ralph Breaks The Internet.  Overseas, it’s at $119.2M after a $23M weekend in 47 markets, which include most of the European locations where it was expected to shine.

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (Sony Animation/Columbia/Sony) held better, down 31% to $13M, but won’t get much higher than $160M in the US.  It hasn’t caught fire overseas, either, where it’s at $141.5M after an $11.7M weekend in 47 markets ($59.5M of that from China), with Japan and Brazil still to come.

BUMBLEBEE (Tencent/Paramount) lost 39% to $12.8M in the US, heading for an unexceptional $125M.  Overseas, it finally had its long-awaited China opening, which was an OK $59.4M (by comparison, the last Transformers opened there at $119.7M), for a $82.7M weekend in 67 territories and a $192M international total.

THE MULE (BRON/Warners) was down 26% to $9M (aided by a 15% boost in theatres), and should be able to reach an impressive $100M in the US on costs that were kept well under control.  It hasn’t yet arrived overseas.

VICE (Annapurna), a bit surprisingly, is getting strong word of mouth and had the best hold in the Top 10, down 25% to $5.8M.  Even if it reaches $50M in the US, profitability will be a challenge against $125M in production/marketing costs, but some big awards wins could change that quickly.  It also hasn’t traveled overseas yet.

SECOND ACT (STX) declined 33% to $4.9M, and might get to $45M in the US.  It has $9.9M after a $1.4M weekend in limited international release.

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (Disney) continues to track Coco fairly closely, down 30% to $4.7M, and likely to reach $200M in the US.  Overseas, it’s now in 32 territories, and has a $217.6M total after a $25M weekend.

HOLMES & WATSON (Columbia/Sony) fell 50% to $3.4M, and might reach $35M in the US.  Overseas, it’s at $7.1M after a $1.7M weekend in 14 markets.

The unstoppable BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Regency/20th) added 23% to its theatre count and actually went up 2% to $2.4M in its 10th weekend, as it sets its sights on $200M (and beating A Star Is Born, currently at $202.1M after a $600K weekend).  There’s no contest overseas, where Rhapsody is at an incredible $550M after a $16.9M weekend in 43 territories.  (Star Is Born is at $194.7M after a $2.3M weekend.)

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS (Focus/Universal) increased its theatre count by 25% and still lost 19% for the weekend to $2.2M, a $2100 per-theatre average.

THE FAVOURITE (Fox Searchlight) lost a few theatres and was also down 19% to $2M, with a somewhat better $2600 average.  Favourite, which also earned $5M in the UK for a $6.1M weekend and $7.5M international total, is better placed to enjoy some awards bumps.

LIMITED RELEASE:  IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (Annapurna) expanded to 335 theatres with a $5500 per-theatre average, considerably below the $12K average that 12 Years A Slave had at 410.  ON THE BASIS OF SEX (Focus/Universal) widened to 112 with a $15K average, which compares well to the $10K average Darkest Hour had at 84.  The single digit theatre counts were closely bunched:  DESTROYER (Annapurna), now at 6, averaged $18K; COLD WAR (Amazon), at 6, averaged $15.5K; and STAN & OLLIE (Sony Classics), at 8, averaged $12K.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The major studios are still holding their fire as the holiday releases play out.  A DOG’S WAY HOME (Columbia/Sony) aims at the family audience, while REPLICAS (Entertainment Studios) is low-budget sci-fi, and THE UPSIDE (STX) was at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival as a Weinstein Company release and then struggled to find a new home.




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."