December 17, 2017

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 12.17.2017


OPENINGS:  STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Lucasfilm/Disney) had an excellent Saturday for a blockbuster of its size, dropping 39% from Friday, where The Force Awakens had fallen 43%.  That cemented Last Jedi as the 2nd-highest opening in US history at $220M (down 11% from Force Awakens)–and that studio estimate may even be a tad conservative, because it assumes a 20% Sunday drop where Force Awakens lost just 11%.  In any case, Last Jedi is on track to beat Avatar‘s $760.5M and become the #2 film in US box office history.  The overseas results are similarly huge, but slightly more downbeat in that Last Jedi‘s $230M opening is a steeper 23% below Force Awakens‘ $281M.  (Neither film’s opening weekend included China.)  This is a small disappointment for Disney, which had hoped to build the franchise’s international base after Force Awakens earned 55% of its worldwide total outside the US and Rogue One‘s worldwide split was 50/50.  (By way of comparison, the overseas number was 59% for The Avengers, 61% for Jurassic World, and 73% for Avatar.)  Of course, this is a very high-class problem to have, since even at its current proportion, Last Jedi should be one of the Top 5 films in history worldwide.

FERDINAND (Blue Sky/20th) hoped to pick up the families with children too young for the PG-13 Last Jedi, but its $13.3M start was below the $14.3M for Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, which ran the same strategy against Force AwakensFerdinand may leg it to $80M by the end of the holidays, but that’s still not much for a film that reportedly cost about $225M for production and marketing.  Overseas, it had a $6.2M start in 18 territories.

WONDER WHEEL (Amazon) inched into what will probably be a short stay in wide release, expanding to 536 theatres.  Its $900 per-theatre average was awful, and it’s likely to end up in the US at the $4M level of Woody Allen’s Irrational Man.  (Although even that film, it should be noted, earned $23.4M overseas, so it may have broken even.)

HOLDOVERS:  COCO (Pixar/Disney) was dented by 46% with the arrival of Ferdinand, for a $10M weekend (Moana dropped only 31% on its parallel weekend), and it should reach $220M in the US with healthy holiday business.  Overseas, it’s at $297.4M after a $27.4M weekend in only 36 markets, so there’s plenty of upside to come.

WONDER (Participant/Walden/Lionsgate) had one of the best holds in the Top 10, down 36% to $5.4M, and if it can hold on to its theatres through the holidays, it might reach $135M.  It’s now in 60 overseas territories, and it has $44.4M after a $9.4M weekend.

JUSTICE LEAGUE (RatPac/DC/Warners) fell 57% to $4.2M, and might get to $235M in the US, far from where it was expected to land.  Internationally, it had a $5.3M weekend and is at $414.5M.  It may reach $675M worldwide, which would probably put it just on the edge of breakeven, but unquestionably a massive disappointment.

DADDY’S HOME 2 (Paramount) held well in its 6th weekend, down 36% to $3.8M, and possibly on track for $115M in the US.  Overseas, it had a $5.9M weekend in 59 markets and has totaled $61M.  It’s running well below the $150.4M/$92.4M pace of the first Daddy’s Home.

The arrival of Last Jedi hit its studio stablemate THOR: RAGNAROK (Marvel/Disney) with a 53% weekend rop to $3M, although it will still reach for $320M in the US.  It’s at $535.4M overseas, but it may not get past the $863.6M worldwide total of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, which would leave it at #7 among Marvel entries.

THE DISASTER ARTIST (A24) is proving to be extremely front-loaded.  Despite growing its theatre count by 20%, it fell 59% to $2.6M, and may start limping before the holidays are over, as it hopes for some love in the Comedy/Musical categories at the Golden Globes in January.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (20th) fell 52% to $2.5M, and may reach $110M in the US.  It’s a smash overseas, though, where it’s at $200.7M after a $10.8M weekend in 52 markets.

LADY BIRD (A24) slashed its theatre count by 39%, and that’s also the percentage drop for the weekend (to $2.1M), meaning it held steady on a per-theatre basis with a $2200 average.  3 BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (Fox Searchlight) similarly cut its theatre count by 42%, and it too held its per-theatre average, down 43% for the weekend to $1.6M.  Both films are waiting for the next wave of awards to roll in.

For completists, last weekend’s flop JUST GETTING STARTED (Broad Green) plunged 69% to under $1M, and can only hope to reach $10M in the US.

LIMITED RELEASE:  No new openings, but several key expansions this weekend.  THE SHAPE OF WATER (Fox Searchlight) widened to 158 theatres with an $11K average, which is better than the $7200 that Moonlight averaged at 176.  DARKEST HOUR (Focus/Universal) averaged $10K, but at just 84 theatres, considerably below Moonlight‘s $15K at 83.  CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (Sony Classics) continued its slow path forward, now at 30 theatres, where it averaged $16K, half the $32K average Lady Bird had at 37.  I, TONYA (Neon) added 1 theatre for a total of 5, and its $35K average was down heavily from last week’s $66K.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The holiday rush has arrived.  It begins on Wednesday with the arrivals of THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (20th) and JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Columbia/Sony), and continues on Friday with DOWNSIZING (Paramount), FATHER FIGURES (Warners) and PITCH PERFECT 2 (Universal), as well as the limited releases of THE POST (20th), HAPPY END (Sony Classics) and HOSTILES (Entertainment Studios).

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."