The last weekend of 2018 is the most wonderful weekend of the year, as long as you're a movie playing in theaters. Nearly everything sees a holiday bump and the declines are absolutely respectable (with one logical exception). Aquaman continues to be the big holiday winner in this Star Wars-less December.
by Tim Briody
December 30, 2018
It's a second weekend of $51.5 million for Aquaman, giving the DC film $188.7 million in two weekends. A 24% weekend decline is a completely acceptable outcome here; superhero movies are pretty much never known for their legs. After the $68 million opening weekend, Aquaman got a big bump to $22 million on Christmas Day and each day since then it's been a mid-upper teens performer. New Year's Eve is typically depressed, but New Year's Day will have Aquaman clear $200 million with ease, as it's probably a weekend away from crossing Justice League's $229 million - which shows had badly Zack Snyder messed that one up. The wheels tend to come off quickly post-holiday season, but Aquaman is going to make a run at $300 million, and the next target after Justice League is Man of Steel's $291 million.
Mary Poppins Returns holds in second place with $28 million, a 19% increase from last weekend. It's got $98.9 million after two weekends. Get used to seeing a musical released every Christmas now, after last year's The Greatest Showman and now this performance. While Disney was probably very worried about the film after last weekend, the weekday returns were incredibly strong since Christmas Day, taking in $10 million each of the other weekdays. It's likely still a notch below their expectations, but the magic of the last week shows how much a film's fortunes can improve. Crossing $100 million on Monday, it's headed to at least $150 million, with more if it can survive the post-holiday weekend largely intact.
Bumblebee adds $20.5 million, down just 5% from opening weekend, giving it $66.7 million in two weekends. I'm actually wondering if calling the film "Transformers: Bumblebee" would have been helpful or harmful to the total. Despite great reviews and decent word-of-mouth, it's still headed for less than what The Last Knight did in 2017, which was only $130.1 million. I think it shows how Michael Bay completely killed the franchise with that one. It's doing...okay overseas so far, but it's yet to open in China (which pretty much is why we got so many Transformers sequels to begin with), so that is truly the make or break point when we look back at this one and if there will be future spinoffs.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse crosses $100 million in style with $18.3 million, an 11% increase from last weekend. It's got $103.6 million in three weekends. Sony should be really happy with this total, and word-of-mouth is still going strong, as crowded as the Christmas box office got. I think it's headed to $150 million, which would ensure that we get a sequel.
The Mule is another big holiday week winner, up 24% to $11.7 million and giving it $60.7 million in three weekends. Clint Eastwood's film found the older/adult audiences during the holiday and made this one a bigger hit than many expected, even after it was left out in the cold in terms of awards.
The Christmas Day openers seeing their first full weekend land in sixth and seventh, which is good for one and not so great for the other. Vice takes sixth place with $7.7 million and $17.6 million since Christmas Day. The Dick Cheney biopic (featuring a ridiculous transformation by Christian Bale) was buoyed by mostly positive reviews and a fair amount of awards attention, with nominations expected for Bale and Amy Adams, as well as a chance at Best Picture, Director and Screenplay nominations, since it's gotten all of those from the Golden Globes. Also, in just six days of box office, it's become Annapurna Pictures' biggest film ever as distributor, surpassing Sorry to Bother You ($17.4 million).
Seventh we find Holmes and Watson, a comedic misfire from Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. After a $6.4 million Christmas Day, things fell off a cliff from there and it earned $7.3 million for the weekend and $19.7 million in six days. Sporting an impressive 9% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, the atrocious reviews kept people away during a time when there's plenty to see. It's pretty much doomed after this weekend, and will struggle to about $35 million.
Jennifer Lopez's Second Act adds $7.2 million (up 11%) in its second weekend, giving it $21.7 million total. It's just one of those movies that's there, but boosted majorly by the holiday season, and would have missed rather poorly had it come out at any other time. It was made pretty cheaply (just $16 million reported budget) so STX is going to come out ahead on this one after it finishes with around $40 million.
Ralph Breaks the Internet saw the biggest boost this weekend, increasing 39% to $6.5 million and giving it $175.7 million after six weekends in theaters. The Thanksgiving release is still behind the original's total, and also still behind previous Disney Thanksgiving releases Moana ($210 million) and Coco ($179.8 million). This was pretty much the last hurrah for the Wreck-It Ralph sequel, as most of the target audience has seen it already. It's not getting to $200 million (even though Coco did) and will barely surpass the original's $189.4 million. Still, I don't see why Disney would be upset with this performance.
Wrapping up the top ten this weekend with the biggest drop on the list, and the most expected one is The Grinch nosediving post-Christmas, falling 50% to $4.2 million. Don't feel too bad for it, though, as it's got $265.5 million in eight weekends. This has shown an audience for Dr. Seuss adaptations, and Universal would be wise to line up future projects behind the 2020 Cat in the Hat film.
We flip the calendar this week and next weekend does find us with a new release as horror entry Escape Room will become the highest grossing film of 2019 for a week or two. Come experience the joy of small sample sizes!