March 18, 2018

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 3.18.2018


OPENINGS:  TOMB RAIDER (MGM/Warners) was a reboot that no one asked for, and although franchise movies aren’t star vehicles, the casting of Alicia Vikander in the lead didn’t excite anyone either.  Its $23.5M US weekend won’t get it very far in recouping $200M+ in production/marketing costs.  Things are better overseas, where Tomb Raider earned $84.5M (for a total $102.5M with last week’s scattered openings), but $41M of that number is from an OK China opening, and it’s now playing in all major markets except Japan.  That leaves its prospects of getting past even $300M worldwide uncertain, particularly because it faces direct competition immediately from Pacific Rim: Uprising.

The surprise of the weekend was I CAN ONLY IMAGINE (Roadside), the biggest Christian hit in some time with a $17.1M opening that surpassed all expectations.  (That number includes a very strong Sunday estimate, but since the film courts a churchgoing audience, that may be justified.)  Using The Shack as a precedent ($16.2M opening/$57.4M US total), Imagine has a good chance of passing $60M, which would make it one of the Top 10 films for that niche, and would be hugely profitable for a production that may have as little in $25M in all-in costs, thanks to its focused marketing campaign.

The success of I Can Only Imagine overshadowed LOVE, SIMON (Temple Hill/20th), which did fairly well with $11.5M, but has a steeper hill to climb due to somewhat higher production costs and a much more expensive big-studio marketing spend that may put expenses at $75M or so all-in.  Simon will hope that word of mouth can keep it in wide circulation for another month at least.

7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE (Focus/Universal) marked the 2nd time in as many weeks (after Thoroughbreds) that Focus has seemingly thrown up its hands and put a new release into the nether world of a 500-1000 theatre start.  Entebbe was probably intended as a cross between a prestige historical drama and a thriller, but there was little star value to promote, and the reviews were brutal, leaving it with a $1.6M opening at 838 theatres, a sad $1900 per-theatre average for the weekend.

HOLDOVERS:  BLACK PANTHER (Marvel/Disney) because the 1st movie since Avatar to top the US box office for 5 consecutive weeks, dipping a mere 34% to $27M.  It’s at $605.4M here, and will hope to pass Titanic‘s $659.4M to become the #3 film of all time.  Overseas, it’s at $577.1M, after a $30M weekend in all major territories, and it’s likely to be the rare action blockbuster to earn more domestically than internationally–although with a $1.3B worldwide total in sight, enough to put it in the Top 10 around the globe, Disney will be fine with that.

A WRINKLE IN TIME (Disney) fell steeply for a family fantasy adventure, down 50% to $16.6M (by comparison, The Jungle Book dropped 40% in its 2nd weekend), and now may struggle to reach $100M in the US.  Disney’s international strategy is to move very slowly, and it’s at $10.6M overseas, where it will need to thrive to have any hope of avoiding red ink.

GAME NIGHT (New Line/Warners) continues to own the comedy market, down a slim 29% in its 4th weekend to $5.6M, and now on track to hit $65M in the US.  That’s still not tremendous against $100M+ in worldwide costs, and its current $30.5M international total is unexciting, but it’s not out of the race.

PETER RABBIT (Sony Animation/Columbia/Sony) is also solid with its audience, down 23% in its 6th weekend to $5.2M, on track for $120M.  Peter finally opened in its UK home market with a strong $9.5M, the lion’s share of a $15.5M weekend in 22 territories with much of the world still to come.

RED SPARROW (20th) fell 48% in its 3rd weekend to $4.5M, and probably won’t get to $50M in the US.  Things aren’t much better overseas, where it’s at $66.6M after an $8.9M weekend in 72 markets.

DEATH WISH (MGM) dropped 49% to $3.4M in its 3rd weekend, unlikely to reach $40M in the US, with no international openings yet.

Last weekend’s openings didn’t look any better a week later.  STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT (Aviron) had a standard 54% plunge for low-budget horror, down to $4.8M with a final destination under $30M.  THE HURRICANE HEIST (Entertainment Studios) dropped an ugly 66% to $1M, and may not hit $8M.  GRINGO (Amazon/STX) fell an even worse 77% to $600K, and probably won’t reach $6M.  THOROUGHBREDS (Focus/Universal) lost 62% to $500K, and may not see $5M.

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Columbia/Sony) hit its final US milestone of $400M, down 40% in its 13th weekend to $1.7M.  It also has $539.4M overseas.

LIMITED RELEASE:  THE DEATH OF STALIN (IFC) expanded very well to 32 theatres with an $18K per-theatre weekend average.  FLOWER (The Orchard) is claiming a solid $19K average at 3, but that number is hugely front-loaded (half the weekend total came from Friday alone), and it includes an extremely aggressive Sunday estimate.  JOURNEY’S END (Good Deed) started with a soft $3200 average at 2.  A FANTASTIC WOMAN (Sony Classics), now at 190 theatres, averaged $1100.  THE LEISURE SEEKER (Sony Classics) averaged $3K at 49.  FOXTROT (Sony Classics) averaged $4400 at 12.

NEXT WEEKEND:  A plethora of titles, with the most likely challenger to Black Panther being PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING (Legendary/Universal).  Also on tap:  thriller UNSANE (Bleecker Street), family sequel SHERLOCK GNOMES (Paramount), YA romance MIDNIGHT SUN (Open Road), and the very Christian PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST (Affirm/Sony).  In addition, Wes Anderson’s ISLE OF DOGS (Fox Searchlight) begins in limited release.

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."