December 29, 2019

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 12.29.2019


OPENINGS:  LITTLE WOMEN (Columbia/Sony) had a solid start with $16.5M over the 3-day weekend ($29M since Wednesday).  The next week will be particularly difficult to predict because of the midweek holiday, after which schools will mostly remain closed but some adults will be going back to work.  If Little Women can reach $50M by next Sunday, it could be on track for $75M in the US, with potential upside if the film gets more love from the Oscars than it did from the Golden Globes and SAG, against $120M or so in production/marketing costs.  The source IP is very American, making international more of a question mark, and so far has only opened in 2 markets with a $6.3M launch.

SPIES IN DISGUISE (Blue Sky/20th/Disney) was put in an odd position after Disney’s acquisition of 20th, shifting from what would have been a major counterprogramming play from a competing studio to very much an afterthought for Disney.  The result was a $13.2M weekend ($22.1M since Wednesday), which may bring it to a mediocre $60M in the US.  Things aren’t more enthusiastic overseas, where the start was $16M in 32 territories.

UNCUT GEMS (A24) expanded to wide release, and was frontloaded as “serious” Adam Sandler pictures tend to be, with a 43% drop on Thursday.  The numbers stabilized after that, putting it at $9.6M for the weekend and $20M to date.  It should reach $40-45M in the US (more if Sandler can get an Oscar nomination), around the same level of his far more expensive Spanglish and a bit below his highest-grossing non-comedy Funny People.  It hasn’t yet opened overseas.

HOLDOVERS:  Comparisons for STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (Lucasfilm/Disney) are tough, not just because of the midweek holiday but because Skywalker opened in a different place on the calendar than The Last Jedi, so that its first 10 days included most of the rich holiday period, while Last Jedi had only reached Christmas Eve.  The latter day is one of the weakest of the holiday span, which explains in part why Skywalker dropped 59% to $72M in its 2nd weekend, while Jedi was down 68% (also to $72M).  After 10 days, Skywalker is at $361.8M compared to Jedi‘s $368.2M, but Skywalker is going to find it increasingly difficult to keep up the pace after January 1.  At the moment, it appears as though Skywalker will end up around $575M in the US, down 7% from Jedi, which is a strong hold but raises the question of whether Lucasfilm, by retrofitting Skywalker to reduce Jedi‘s place in the canon, was fixing something that wasn’t broken.  Overseas, Skywalker is at $363M after a $94.3M weekend in virtually all markets, and also seems likely to finish a bit below Jedi‘s $712.4M.

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL (Columbia/Sony) feasted on the family holiday audience, up 33% from last weekend to $35.3M.  The last Jumanji had remarkable word of mouth, more than doubling the amount it had earned by New Year’s Day for a $404.5M US total.  Next Level is well ahead of its predecessor’s 10-day total ($175.5M vs. $136.6M), but the day-by-day weekend numbers are much lower ($11-12M vs $17-19M), suggesting that the phenomenon won’t repeat, which may leave Next Level around $275M in the US.  The previous Jumanji earned 58% of its total revenue overseas, and Next Level is even farther ahead, with $296M outside the US representing 64% of its global total, after a $61.6M weekend in just about all major markets.

FROZEN 2 (Disney) enjoyed a 27% holiday bump to $16.5M, on its way to $450M+ in the US, which would be up 12% from the first Frozen.  It’s at a massive $796.3M overseas after a $42.2M weekend, and should pass its predecessor’s $873.5M as well.

KNIVES OUT (MRC/Lionsgate) jumped 50% to $9.7M in its 5th weekend, and may reach a robust $135M in the US.  It’s also doing well overseas, where it’s at $104.6M.

CATS (Universal) couldn’t even draw a holiday audience, down 27% from last weekend to a horrible $4.8M, and en route to $35M or so in the US on a $200M investment.  Things were little better overseas, where it’s at $20.6M after a $13.6M weekend in 39 territories.

BOMBSHELL (Lionsgate) didn’t generate much excitement, down 8% to $4.7M and off the pace of last year’s Vice, which totaled $47.8M in the US.  Bombshell will hope for a second wind when the Oscar nominations are announced.

RICHARD JEWELL (Warners) had a 17% bump, but that still put the weekend at a weak $3M, and it’s unlikely to get much past $25M in the US.  It hasn’t yet opened overseas.

LIMITED RELEASE:  1917 (Universal) opened well with a $52K per-theatre average at 11 over the 3-day weekend, but this was no low-budget indie (reports indicate a $90M cost for production alone), so its wide opening on January 10 needs to be big.  JUST MERCY (Warners) was softer with a $28K average at 4.  CLEMENCY (Neon) opened at 2 with a $19K average.  THE SONG OF NAMES (Sony Classics) was quiet with a $4K average at 10.  A HIDDEN LIFE (Fox Searchlight/Disney) widened to 118 with a dim $1800 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  As is Hollywood’s custom, the new year will be christened with low-end horror, this time the latest version of THE GRUDGE (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."