November 19, 2017

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 11.19.2017


OPENINGS:  Could JUSTICE LEAGUE (RatPac/DC/Warners) actually lose money?  That possibility exists after a worldwide opening (except Japan, not a huge superhero market) that hit only $281.5M, a number that sounds big only when it isn’t put up against $450M in production/marketing costs, not to mention other sunk expenses like distribution costs and interest.  In the US, Justice League was the anti-Avengers at $96M, less than half the Marvel mega-buster’s opening, and also the lowest start for any title in this incarnation of the DC universe.  The only semi-good news was that its 15% Saturday drop, while worse than Wonder Woman‘s 8%, was better than the 38% for Batman v Superman and the 41% for Suicide Squad.  Also, Thanksgiving will cushion next week’s fall in the US.  But Justice is still going to have a hard time getting past $250M at home, and embarrassingly, it probably won’t come close to Thor: Ragnarok, the 3rd installment of a Marvel subfranchise.  The numbers were bigger overseas with $185.5M, but that pales next to the $254M start for Batman v SupermanAquaman is already shot and Wonder Woman 2 is a relatively sure thing, but DC/Warners is going to have to do some heavy thinking about where the franchise goes next.

The feel-good box office story of the weekend was WONDER (Participant/Walden/Lionsgate), a low-budget crowdpleaser that vastly overperformed with $27.1M.  Although plenty of family movies will be arriving over the next several weeks, Wonder has its own niche as an all-quadrant drama, and if Lionsgate can hold onto its theatres, it could have a deep run through the holiday season.

THE STAR (Affirm/Sony) played to Christian audiences with an unexciting $10M (and like all round-number studio estimates, this one is suspect), and life is about to get tougher when Pixar’s Coco arrives on Tuesday night.

HOLDOVERS:  Justice League took a bite out of THOR: RAGNAROK (Marvel/Disney), which sank by 62% to $21.8M, although that’s not unusual for the 3rd weekend of whatever blockbuster opens first in November:  Doctor Strange lost 57% when it had to face Fantastic Beasts, and Thor: the Dark World fell 61% against Hunger Games: Catching FireRagnarok should still end up in the neighborhood of $300M in the US.  Overseas, it’s at $490.7M after a $24.1M weekend in all major markets.  Worldwide, it’s on track to land between the 2nd Guardians of the Galaxy ($863.6M) and the 1st ($773.3M), about 25% ahead of Dark World.

Like its predecessor, DADDY’S HOME 2 (Paramount) is attracting a family audience, and it lost 50% to $14.8M in its 2d weekend.  It should reach $80M in the US, but that’s still far below the first Daddy’s Home, which hit $150.4M in the US (with all of Christmas week as its playground), and it’s also not a thriving result compared to $175M+ in production/marketing costs.  It’s barely opened outside the US thus far.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (20th) is claiming a 52% drop to $13.8M, but that estimate assumes an incredibly strong Sunday (down 1% when everything else in the Top 10 is down at least 26%), so write it in very erasable pencil.  In any case, it’s on track for $80M in the US or thereabouts.  Overseas, it’s at $96.5M after a $20.7M weekend in 54 territories.  It should be moderately profitable on $150M or so in production/marketing costs.

A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS (H Brothers/STX) continues to hold well, down 40% to $6.9M in its 3rd weekend.  It should get to $65M+ in the US, and its costs were relatively controlled at $125M for production/marketing, but that will still be significantly below the $113.3M for the first Bad Moms.  It’s at a mild $26.6M overseas after a $5.1M weekend, although it still has some markets yet to open.  All in all, it doesn’t seem to have a path to a result that would make a 3rd installment likely.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The marquee opening of the weekend didn’t go well, as ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ (Columbia/Sony) had a tepid $16K average in  4 NY/LA theatres.  It’s worth noting that Denzel Washington seemed to do little press, perhaps held back for next week’s wide expansion.  LADY BIRD (A24) widened strongly to 238 theatres with a $10.6K per theatre average, almost exactly where Birdman was when it reached 231 theatres on its road to an Oscar win and $42.3M in the US.  3 BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (Fox Seachlight) expanded to 53 theatres with a $21K average, a tick behind the previous week of Birdman, which had averaged $28K at 50.  The theatre count for LOVING VINCENT (Good Deed) was unchanged at 212, but it had a notably strong hold with just a 23% drop, giving it a $1900 per-theatre average.  NOVITIATE (Sony Classics) expanded badly to 62 with a $1000 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Due to Thanksgiving, the openings begin on Wednesday with COCO (Pixar/Disney) and THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS (Bleecker Street), along with the wide release of Roman J. Israel, Esq., and the limited release of awards hopeful DARKEST HOUR (Focus/Universal).  On Friday, awards season welcomes one of its heaviest hitters as CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (Sony Classics), which was unveiled 10 months ago at Sundance and has seemingly played at every film festival since, finally hits theatres.


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."