November 20, 2016

Behind the Weekend US/Worldwide Box Office – 11/20/16


OPENINGS:  The economics for FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (Warners) will probably put the film at $600-700M worldwide against roughly $350M in costs.  That’s a profitable place to be, although not quite as strong as Suicide Squad, which has reached $745.6M worldwide on similar costs.  For the weekend, Warners is predicting $75M in the US, which includes an optimistic view of Sunday (the film dropped 12% on Saturday, and the studio is projecting the best hold in the Top 10 for today), but even if it hits that number, it will be lower than any of the Harry Potter opening weekends–even the ones that opened on Wednesdays, meaning that their weekend days were the 3d-5th days of release.   Beasts is at $143.3M overseas, of which about $23M was earned through midweek openings, and it still has China and Japan (a huge Harry Potter market) to arrive next week.  Early indications are that Beasts is drawing an older audience than the Potter movies did (i.e., the original fans have aged with the franchise), which may suggest a leggy run, or that the family crowd may wait for home viewing.  As with its DC movies, Fantastic Beasts looks like a Warners franchise that can’t quite match Disney’s mastery of the form.

THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (STX) made no headway against the Fantastic Beasts behemoth, managing just $4.8M for the weekend, and it will have to hope that word of mouth can keep it in theatres for a few weeks.

BLEED FOR THIS (Open Road) tried to counterprogram for an older male audience, and could only turn up $2.4M, which isn’t good news for Miles Teller’s attempts to prove himself as a leading man.

BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK (LStar/Studio 8/TriStar/Sony) had a catastrophic expansion to 1176 theatres for a miniscule $930K weekend.  If Sony had managed to find more than 2 theatres in the country that could show the film in its intended 120 frames-per-second format, it might have drawn some curiosity-seekers, but the studio was left with nothing to sell to the vast majority of the country.  The only mildly bright spot for Billy Lynn is $20M earned in China, which suggests there may be an international market for the film.

MOONLIGHT (A24) expanded fairly well to a barely-wide 650 theatres with a $2400 per-theatre weekend average.  That’s similar to the $2600 average Boyhood earned when it reached 771 theatres, and Moonlight, which like Boyhood is expected to receive plenty of attention from the critics awards that are just around the corner, could have a similar mid $20M trajectory, not much compared to more mainstream indies like Spotlight ($45.1M) or Birdman ($42.3M), but an excellent result for a tiny-budgeted personal film.

HOLDOVERS:  With one exception, all the recent arrivals were dented by the appearance of Fantastic BeastsDOCTOR STRANGE (Marvel/Disney) took a 59% hit to $17.7M, and should end up at $210-220M in the US, just above the $206.3M that Marvel had with its other November opening, Thor: The Dark World.  Overseas, Strange is at $390M after a $26M weekend, and it should reach $650-700M worldwide, not quite at Guardians of the Galaxy‘s $773.3M level, but well ahead of Ant-Man‘s $519.3M.

TROLLS (DreamWorks Animation/20th) lost 50% to $17.5M, and should hit $150M in the US, unless it’s blindsided by Moana next weekend.  The overseas results, though, are problematic, with $145.1M after a $11.4M weekend in almost the entire world.  Animated movies customarily earn the bulk of their box office outside the US, but Trolls is going to be more like 50/50, making franchise plans a tough call.

ARRIVAL (FilmNation/Paramount) dropped 51% to $11.8M, and is headed to a respectable $65-70M in the US.  However, that puts it nowhere near prior fall sci-fi hits like Gravity ($274.1M) and The Martian ($228.4M), and it runs the danger of dropping out of awards contention.  Its international run is still in its first stages, and it has $21.8M after a $6.4M weekend.

ALMOST CHRISTMAS (Universal) didn’t show much in the way of box office legs, dropping 54% to $7M, on its way to $40M in the US.  That compares to $70.5M for 2013’s The Best Man Holiday, and $49.1M for 2007’s This Christmas.

The single exception to the reign of Fantastic Beasts was HACKSAW RIDGE (Summit/Lionsgate), which slipped just 37% in its 3rd weekend to $6.8M, putting it in line for a solid $55M in the US.  It’s a result that bodes well for Patriots Day, the next adult-aimed mix of heroism and historical violence to come down the pike.

LIMITED RELEASE:  NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (Focus/Universal) started its run in an unusually wide 37 theatres with a fair $13K per-theatre average.  It’s also opened in some overseas markets, and already has $5M after a $1.6M weekend in 11 territories, not bad for an art film.  MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Amazon/Roadside) had a more conventional opening in 4 NY/LA exclusives, and averaged a very fine $60K, a foundation the superb but bleak film needed before setting out to attract a wider universe of moviegoers.  LOVING (Focus/Universal) had an OK expansion to 137 theatres with a $6200 average.  ELLE (Sony Classics) widened to 24 theatres with a $5400 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The biggest Thanksgiving opening is MOANA (Disney Animation), but a trio of arrivals will aim at an older audience:  romantic thriller ALLIED (Paramount), Warren Beatty’s long-awaited RULES DON’T APPLY (Regency/20th), and R-rated comedy BAD SANTA 2 (Broad Green).  On Friday, two more awards hopefuls begin limited release, LION (Weinstein) and MISS SLOANE (Europa).

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."