January 5, 2019

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Aquaman” Stays Strong, Solid Start For “Escape Room”


Box office years typically start slow, with strong holds for holiday openings, and that’s proving to be the case for 2019 as well.  AQUAMAN (DC/Warners) will retain its crown, as early numbers at Deadline indicate a 46% decline on its 3rd Friday to $9.1M, which should mean a $30M weekend, and a path that should lead it to $300M in the US.  With its gangbusters business overseas, it’s the top-grossing film worldwide for this incarnation of the DC universe.

ESCAPE ROOM (Columbia/Sony), the lone wide opening of the weekend, won’t challenge Aquaman, but it’s off to a solid start with $7.7M on Friday (including $2.3M from Thursday, with shows starting unusually early at 4PM).  A $17M weekend could well lead to profitability on a reported $9M production cost and moderate marketing expenses.

MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Disney) continues to be underwhelming, with a 51% Friday-to-Friday drop to $5.1M and a $16M weekend.  It seems likely to end up at $160-170M in the US, and will unexpectedly find itself in need of major international appeal just to hit profit.

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (Sony Animation/Columbia/Sony) dropped 44% to $3.8M on its 4th Friday, and a $13M weekend puts it on track for $160M in the US.  Although it was relatively inexpensive for the superhero genre with $200M in production/marketing costs, the profits won’t be big.

BUMBLEBEE (Paramount) was down 38% on its 4th Friday to $3.8M, on its way to a $13M weekend and $125M in the US, and so far not showing Transformers‘ giant overseas appeal.  With $250M in costs, it’s not clear that this will be a profitable venture.

THE MULE (BRON/Warners) is reaching its older audience, down just 30% on its 4th Friday to $2.8M, as it heads toward a $10M weekend and a real possibility of $100M in the US, a terrific result for a moderately budgeted production.  (And very possibly the highest-grossing film ever headlined by an 88-year old star.)

VICE (Annapurna) is holding well, down 36% Friday-to-Friday to $1.6M, but it wasn’t cheap to produce and has uncertain international reach, so a $6M weekend and $40M US total will leave it hoping for success at the Golden Globes and Oscars.

SECOND ACT (STX) remains modest, down 37% to $1.5M on its 3rd Friday, for a $5M weekend and likely $40M US total.

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (Disney) was down 38% to $1.5M on its 7th Friday, still tracking closely to Coco and on track for a $5M weekend and $200M US total.

Word of mouth has not been kind to HOLMES & WATSON (Columbia/Sony), down 60% from last Friday to $1M, and perhaps able to reach $3.5M for the weekend and $35M as a US total.

It’s worth noting that after 10 weeks in the market, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Regency/20th) increased its theatre count and is on its way to a $2M+ weekend, seemingly with enough stamina to reach $200M in the US (on top of $523M overseas), and primed for potential surprise wins with Golden Globe and PGA nominations.

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (Annapurna) expanded to 335 theatres for a weekend per-theatre average around $5K, not quite as strong as the $5900 The Favourite averaged at 441.  DESTROYER (Annapurna) widened to 6 theatres with an OK weekend $18K average.

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."