December 16, 2017

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “The Last Jedi” Conquers The Cosmos, “Ferdinand” Meek, “Shape of Water” Expands


STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Lucasfilm/Disney) was expected to be gigantic, but not quite as huge as 2015’s The Force Awakens, which benefited from a decade of pent-up expectations.  That’s exactly where it’s heading, as preliminary numbers at Deadline have Friday at $100.4M, of which $45M is from Thursday night.  That opening day is 16% below Force Awakens, and if that pattern holds through the weekend, Last Jedi will be at $208M, neck-and-neck with Jurassic World ($208.8M) and The Avengers ($207.4M) to rank as somewhere between #2-#4 among the biggest openings of all time.  There’s possibility for upside, though, because so far Last Jedi is less front-loaded than Force Awakens (Jedi‘s Thursday night was 45% of its total “opening day,” while for Force Awakens it was 48%), and if things continue to play out that way, the weekend could be perhaps $10M higher.  In any case, of course, Last Jedi is a box office monster, heading for $750M+ in the US, which could push it past Avatar‘s $760.5M as the 2nd-highest grosser in US history.

FERDINAND (Blue Sky/20th) attempted to pick up Last Jedi‘s scraps among families with small children, much as Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Road Chip did against Force Awakens.  But even with that low standard, Ferdinand is lacking with a $3.8M Friday, 7% below Road Chip‘s opening day.  Ferdinand might have a $13M weekend, and even though it will have a holiday-driven multiple, it still may not get past $80M in the US, the 3rd worst of Blue Sky’s 13 releases, ahead of Ice Age: Collision Course and The Book Of Life.

Aside from Last Jedi, Ferdinand faced competition from the 4th weekend of COCO (Pixar/Disney), which dropped 50% from last Friday to $2.1M, on track for a $9M weekend and a $230M US total.

WONDER (Participant/Walden/Lionsgate) fell 44% from last Friday to $1.4M for a $5M weekend, as it heads to $125M in the US.

More embarrassment was heaped on JUSTICE LEAGUE (RatPac/DC/Warners) as it fell behind the low-budget Wonder on their mutual 5th Fridays, down 60% from last week to $1M as it reaches for a $3.5-4M weekend and a $235M US total.

DADDY’S HOME 2 (Paramount), THOR: RAGNAROK (Marvel/Disney) and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (20th) all had $700-800K Fridays for $2.5-3M weekends.  Daddy’s Home and Murder are within reach of $100M in the US, while Ragnarok is aiming to top $320M before it’s done.

THE DISASTER ARTIST (A24) is proving to be rather frontloaded.  Although it increased its theatre count by 20% over last week, its Friday was down an ugly 68% from last week to $850K, and it may not get much higher than $2M for the weekend, a thin $2000 per-theatre average.

LADY BIRD (A24) and 3 BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (Fox Searchlight) both slashed their theatre counts by about 40%, to around 950 remaining houses.  Lady Bird‘s weekend per-theatre average should be in the neighborhood of $1750, and 3 Billboards will be around $1400.  The first wave of awards season is about done, so both are now waiting for January, when they’re hoping Golden Globes and SAG Awards are in their path as the Oscar nominations approach.

THE SHAPE OF WATER (Fox Searchlight) expanded to 158 theatres, where it’s headed for an OK $10K weekend per-theatre average.  That’s considerably below the $17K average 12 Years A Slave had when it was in 123 theatres.

DARKEST HOUR (Focus/Universal) widened to 84, and should have a mediocre $8500 weekend average.  That doesn’t compare well to the $14K average Victoria & Abdul had at 77.  The film needs Gary Oldman to start winning some Best Actor awards.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (Sony Classics) is continuing its very cautious release, now in 30 theatres, where it should average $20K for the weekend.  Compare that to the $32.5K average Lady Bird had at 37.

I, TONYA (Neon) added 1 additional theatre for a total of 5, and it may average $30K for the weekend, down more than 50% from last weekend’s $66K 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."