The 2020 box office keeps chugging along with positive results, despite a lackluster $120 million box office total for this weekend, which will likely place in the bottom third for this year’s results. But there’s continued evidence of real strength in the market.
Grosses were up about around 16% from the same weekend last year, typically a dead zone between a big-release holiday weekend and the Super Bowl, when studios don’t want their top films facing that on their second weekend. If box office stays on track, the market could sustain the promise of a better than expected year.
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Wide openers “The Gentlemen” (STX) and “The Turning” (Universal) were a decided improvement over the two duds opening last year (the quickly forgotten “The Kid Would Be King” and “Serenity”).
But the holdover heroes are led by repeating #1 “Bad Boys for Life.” It’s not unusual for older titles to perform better when the fresh product isn’t particularly competitive. But that a group of films sustained strong runs, covering a wide range of audiences –a most diverse mix, designed to appeal to selective ticket buyers– suggests a revival in moviegoing interest.
“Bad Boys For Life”had a drop of only 46% after the second best January opening ever, which is positive. Throw in that sequels normally are more front-loaded and this stands out even more. It now has $120 million domestic and more than $200 million worldwide (with several major foreign markets still to come), and appears headed for a $200 million total domestic alone. If so, it will be the first to hit that mark since the start of the wide release era in the late 1970s to open in January.
Also hitting $100 million, “1917” has a shot, particularly if it pulls in a strong Oscar haul, of reaching $200 million domestic. Technically a December release, it already had done nearly all its business this month. (The biggest in recent decades, also a January expansion, remains “American Sniper” at nearly $400 million.)
After a bigger than expected drop on its second wide weekend, “1917” more than stabilized with a 28% fall and repeat in second place. An older-appeal film with good word of mouth, Sam Mendes’ World War I film wis hitting its stride with the Oscars only two weeks away. It also could be getting help from the shorter season. Historically, when a film is seen as a top contender, casual ticket buyers often make it a priority before the show. With an abbreviated schedule this year, one concern — there might be less time for top nominees to prosper — is giving way to accelerated attention. And since this is a rare case of a frontrunner hitting its theatrical peak during the campaign, this could help its chances.
The two new films combined made up for no more than 15% of the weekend’s gross (last weekend the debuting titles were about half). The better performer was “The Gentlemen,” Guy Ritchie’s return to a Brit crime caper for guys with American Matthew McConaughey leading the UK fun as a marijuana baron who finds his empire in peril. The movie grossed $11 million, in range with expectations.
This looks like a good payoff for enterprising STX, who paid $7 million for domestic rights (plus a much higher marketing commitment) for what could be a $30 million haul before post-theatrical revenues kick in. Distributors don’t get rich at this level, but throw in results like this after a year with two $100 million films — “The Upside” and “Hustlers” — and this elevates a relatively new indie player as credible and deserving of respect from theaters.
With $7.3 million, DreamWorks’ “The Turning,” starring Mackenzie Davis, didn’t play as badly as the lowest expectations. The PG-13 modern version of the classic horror tale “The Turn of the Screw” got an F Cinemascore (similar to December’s Blumhouse movie “Black December,” also from Universal). Low-budget means not a big loss, but it’s another example of how the thriller genre is no longer a box-office guarantee.
As bad as its bad image, “Dolittle” (Universal) in its second weekend placed at $12 million. It actually fell less than “Bad Boys” — down 43%, getting it to a domestic $44 million total. Budgeted at $175 million before global marketing costs, it still will lose money, but it shows signs of some interest.
Stunningly, two titles dropped less than 20% — #5 “Jumanji: The Next Level” (Sony) fell only 19% as it approaches $300 million, while “Knives Out” (Lionsgate) was down 15% as it passed $150 million. “Little Women” (Sony) kept its drop to 26% as it heads to $100 million domestic with a shot of more than double that worldwide.
The Top Ten
1. Bad Boys for Life (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$34,000,000 (-46%) in 3,775 theaters (no change); PTA: $9,007; Cumulative: $120,644,000
2. 1917 (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #2
$15,800,000 (-28%) in 3,937 theaters (+325); PTA: $4,013; Cumulative: $103,883,000
3. Dolittle (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #3
$12,500,000 (-43%) in 4,155 theaters (no change); PTA: $3,008; Cumulative: $44,685,000
4. The Gentlemen (STX) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 51; Est. budget: $22 million
$11,030,000 in 2,165 theaters; PTA: $5,095; Cumulative: $11,030,000
5. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony) Week 7; Last weekend #4
$7,900,000 (-19%) in 3,121 theaters (-202); PTA: $2,531; Cumulative: $283,446,000
6. The Turning (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: F; Metacritic: 36; Est. budget: $12 million
$7,300,000 in 2,571 theaters; PTA: $2,839; Cumulative: $7,300,000
7. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney) Week 6; Last weekend #5
$5,173,000 (-38%) in 2,800 theaters (-258); PTA: $1,848; Cumulative: $501,583,000
8. Little Women (Sony) Week 5; Last weekend #6
$4,700,000 (-26%) in 2,528 theaters (+25); PTA: $1,85;9 Cumulative: $93,272,000
9. Just Mercy (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #7
$4,050,000 (-30%) in 2,408 theaters (-49); PTA: $1,684; Cumulative: $27,028,000
10. Knives Out (Lionsgate) Week 9; Last weekend #8
$3,650,000 (-15%) in 1,667 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,677; Cumulative: $151,865,000
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