December 16, 2018

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 12.16.2018

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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OPENINGS:  The $35.4M weekend result for SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (Sony Animation/Columbia/Sony) was in keeping with its Friday projections, and the expectation is that it will thrive through the holidays.  Its 3% Saturday bump, though, which is low for a family animated movie (The Grinch jumped 47% on its 2nd day of release) but great for a superhero entry (Spider-Man: Homecoming dropped 27% on Day 2) makes it unclear exactly what the Spider-Verse constituency is.  The critically praised film should certainly end up above $150M in the US, with enormous potential upside.  Spider-Verse launched internationally in 44 markets (not yet including China) with a mild $21M.

THE MULE (Bron/Warners) also held with expectations at a $17.2M weekend.  That’s high for a Clint Eastwood project, although since he’s only had 2 other acting roles in the past decade, comparisons are fuzzy.  It’s worth noting, though, that Mule‘s 18% Saturday bump was considerably lower than the Day 2 results for Trouble With the Curve (+27%) and Gran Torino (+51%), suggesting that the new film isn’t hitting its older-audience target as much as his previous efforts did, and that word of mouth may be uneven.  It should still be fine in comparison with its moderate cost, however, thanks to the upcoming holiday rush.  International release hasn’t yet begun.

The disaster of the weekend was MORTAL ENGINES (MRC/Perfect World/Universal) and its $7.5M US debut.  Even with holiday audiences on their way, Engines is unlikely to reach $50M in the US against $200M+ in production/marketing costs.  It won’t be saved overseas, either, where it’s at a dismal $34.8M after an $11.5M weekend in 54 territories.

ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL (20th), the PG-13 recut of Deadpool 2, was basically a curiosity at $2.6M ($3.9M since its Wednesday opening).  It’s scheduled to leave theatres on December 24, and even though this was a bargain basement enterprise, there was national advertising behind it, so it’s going to be a breakeven proposition at best.

AQUAMAN (DC/Warners) is still days away from its US opening (although it earned $2.9M in advance screenings available only to Amazon Prime members), but it’s already a smash hit overseas, with $261.3M to date after a $126.4M weekend in 43 markets, with $189.2M of that total from China.

HOLDOVERS:  THE GRINCH (Illumination/Universal) is still riding the family audience with a terrific 23% drop to $11.6M in Weekend 6, a velocity that may bring it to $300M in the US with the holiday rush factored in.  It’s less powerful overseas, with $133.4M after a $23.3M weekend in 61 territories that included China and Japan.

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (Disney) dropped 41% to $9.6M in its 4th weekend, on its way to $210M or so in the US.  It’s still in gradual release overseas in 32 territories (including China), where it’s at $130.7M after a $7.9M weekend.

CREED II (MGM/New Line/Warners) fell 46% to $5.4M in its 4th weekend, better than the 51% drop for the first Creed in the parallel weeekend.  It should reach $125M in the US, and has $27M overseas to date.

The unstoppable BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Regency/20th) declined 33% to $4.1M in its 7th weekend, and is capable of reaching $200M in the US.  It’s a much bigger blockbuster overseas, where it’s at $455.5M after a $20M weekend in 58 territories.

INSTANT FAMILY (Paramount) is holding well at its modest level, down 35% to $3.7M in its 5th weekend, and perhaps able to get past $75M in the US if it can hold onto its theatres.  It has $8M in limited international release.

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (Warners) fell 48% to $3.7M in its 5th weekend, and may not have the stamina to hit $175M in the US.  The numbers are much larger overseas, where it’s at $444.2M after an $11.8M weekend in all major markets, but a $675M worldwide total will be down 17% from the first Beasts, with a profit margin that’s none too wide considering the costs of these epics.

GREEN BOOK (DreamWorks/Participant/Universal) is still in just 1215 theatres after 5 weeks of release, and it dropped 29% to $2.9M, with an uncertain future beyond $40M in the US.  It’s barely tested international release to date.

LIMITED RELEASE:  IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (Annapurna) arrived with a $55K per-theatre average at 4 NY/LA locations (boosted by a heavy program of in-theatre Q&As), and while that’s a solid number, it’s 45% below the launch of director Barry Jenkins’ MoonlightTHE FAVOURITE (Fox Searchlight) jumped to a near-wide 439 theatres with a $5900 per-theatre average, roughly the same average that Victoria and Abdul had at 732, the level of theatres that Favourite plans to reach next week.  MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS (Focus/Universal) expanded to 66 theatres with a $10.6K average, not in the same league as Favourite‘s $16.5K average at 91.  VOX LUX (Neon) had an awful expansion to 325 theatres with a $750 average.  BEN IS BACK (Roadside) widened to 29 with a dim $5K average.  ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE (Orion/MGM), now in 138 theatres, averaged $1000.  The controversial THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT (IFC, also available via VOD) averaged $1200 at 33.  CAPERNAUM (Sony Classics) averaged $9200 in its launch at 3 theatres in NY/LA.

NEXT WEEK:  One of the holiday season’s biggest titles arrives on Wednesday with the landing of MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Disney).  On Friday,  Aquaman finally arrives on these shores, joined by Transformers prequel/spin-off BUMBLEBEE (Paramount), Jennifer Lopez vehicle SECOND ACT (STX), and the off-beat WELCOME TO MARWEN (Universal).  Limited releases include COLD WAR (Amazon).

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."