December 26, 2021

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 12.26.2021


A few notes:  this week’s newcomers opened along a range of dates, including Tuesday night, Wednesday, Friday night and Saturday, and those scheduling decisions had an affect on the totals below.  Also, the fact that Friday was Christmas Eve lowered the day’s ticket sales, probably by 30% or so.  (Something similar will apply to New Year’s Eve next week.)

OPENINGS:  SING 2 (Illumination/Universal), the only true family movie in the market, is also the only one of the week’s half-dozen arrivals with anything good to report.  It opened on Wednesday and has $41M in its first 5 days (that number also includes around $1.6M from Thanksgiving weekend previews), $23.8M of that from the 3-day weekend.  It should have about $75M by the end of the holidays, and ultimately pass $100M in the US.  However, that’s quite dim compared to the $270.4M earned by the original Sing in 2016, a signpost of where the non-Spider-Man box office stands these days.  Overseas, Sing 2 has $248M after a $19.2M weekend in 22 territories.

THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS (Warners, also on HBO Max) was heavily front-loaded, with $6.4M on its Wednesday opening.  None of its weekend days were even 75% of that number, giving it a total $12M 3-day weekend, and a 5-day total at $22.5M.  (By comparison, the Sing 2 Wednesday number was about 1/3 of the 3-day weekend total.)  The steep drop may be due in part to intense fan interest, part to mixed word of mouth, and part to the HBO Max release, but it means Resurrection is likely headed to about $40M by January 2 and perhaps a $60M US total, far below its 3 predecessors (respectively at $171.5M/$281.6M/$139.3M).  It’s the last film currently scheduled for a simultaneous theatrical/HBO Max release.  Overseas, Resurrections has $47.3M after a $35.2M weekend, and it has the advantage of a confirmed China release date in mid-January, a relative rarity these days for Hollywood productions.

After that, the bottom fell out.  THE KING’S MAN (20th/Disney) became the latest of Disney’s inherited Fox assets to bomb badly at the box office, with $6.4M over the 3-day weekend and a $10M 5-day total.  It may not reach $25M in the US, which won’t even pay for its marketing campaign.  Things aren’t much better overseas, with $6.9M in 7 territories.

AMERICAN UNDERDOG (Lionsgate) is having a very odd box office trajectory.  While every other movie on the board had a Saturday-to-Sunday drop of 17% or less (a few even went up on Sunday), Underdog plunged 52% from Christmas Day for a $6.2M 2-day total.  This suggests that opening day was flooded with group engagements (possibly church-related, given the film’s genre), and absent word of mouth that expands from its core audience, the film may only reach $20-25M in the US.

LICORICE PIZZA (UA/MGM) finally widened after a month at 4 NY/LA 70mm showcases, now at the lower end of wide release at 786 theatres.  Its $2.3M start over 2 days wasn’t anything to rave about, but on a per-theater basis it was at least higher than the other Saturday openings.  A footnote:  Phantom Thread didn’t expand past 62 theaters until mid-January, when it earned $3.2M at 896, and it was then able to capitalize on its unexpectedly strong showing in the Oscar nominations, with roughly 2/3 of its $21M total coming after the announcements.

The small-scale, adult-aimed A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN (Columbia/Sony) was probably best distributed via streaming, and it’s possible that Sony’s deal with director Denzel Washington required a theatrical release.  The film opened very quietly with $2.2M in 2 days, and may not get much past $10M in the US.

HOLDOVERS:  Of course, there was the rest of the box office, and then there was SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME (Marvel/Columbia/Sony), which has reached $1.05B worldwide, the first billion-dollar movie of the pandemic era.  In the US, it dropped 69% to a still-staggering $81.5M.  That’s a heavy Weekend 2 drop compared with other December blockbusters, similar to the 68% decline for The Last Jedi, but worse than The Force Awakens (40%), Rogue One (59%), and  Rise of Skywalker (59%), but of course those didn’t open in the midst of a pandemic.  Currently, it appears that No Way Home will end up in the $650-700M range in the US, in line with Avengers: Infinity War‘s $678.8M and Black Panther‘s $700.4M.  The international piece of its $1.05B total is $587.1M after a $121.4M weekend, with Japan still to open (but no release scheduled in China).

WEST SIDE STORY (20th/Disney) dropped 23% to $2.8M in its 3rd weekend, and might reach a grim $35M in the US.  It also has $12.7M overseas.

ENCANTO (Disney, also on Disney+) more or less relinquished the holiday family theatrical crowd to Sing 2 by dropping on Disney+.  It fell 69% to $2M in its 5th weekend, and may not get to $100M in the US.  It has $105M overseas.

NIGHTMARE ALLEY (Searchlight/Disney), yet another legacy Fox flop, dropped 54% to $1.3M in its 2nd weekend, and may have to stretch to reach $10M in the US.

GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE (Columbia/Sony) lost almost half its theaters to new openings, and crashed by 63% to $1.3M in its 6th weekend, now aiming at $125M in the US.  (That would put it slightly below the $128.4M for the 2016 installment, which had a considerably larger production budget.)  Overseas, Afterlife is much softer with $56.4M.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Once again, the Indian-language niche was impressive, with a $1.8M weekend for ’83 (Reliance) in just 481 theaters.  RED ROCKET (A24) expanded from 16 theaters to 377, but barely more than doubled its weekend total to $175K, which resulted in a 91% per-theater plunge to $460.  PARALLEL MOTHERS (Sony Classics) opened at 3 NY/LA arthouses with an OK $14K average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The only scheduled opening is the limited release of awards hopeful JOCKEY (Sony Classics).

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."