After some interesting September weekends, we conclude the month with just one new wide release, but also one sure fire Oscar contender arriving in limited release.
By Tim Briody
September 29, 2019
Abominable is the new release this weekend. An animated entry from DreamWorks animation (whose most recent release was February's How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World), it's the first animated release since mid-August's Angry Birds Movie 2 (I bet you forgot that existed), so there's certainly some pent-up demand a family film that's not The Lion King. Still, it's hard out here for an original IP and Abominable also evokes memories of last year's Smallfoot (released on this same weekend), so its ceiling was pretty limited.
Abominable wins the weekend with $20.8 million. That's certainly less than what Universal was hoping for here, but it's not worst case scenario numbers. (Smallfoot opened with $23 million). Reviews were all right (80% Fresh) but that's something that rarely moves the needle when it comes to animated movies. The two things in its favor here are a relatively reasonable budget ($75 million) and the co-production by Pearl Studio, a Chinese-based studio, something which is also prevalent through the film as most of the minor voice roles are performed by Chinese actors. That means it should get a strong overseas push and there's no bigger film market than China right now. While Abominable is probably headed to $75 million total (Smallfoot finished with $83 million), it's the overseas earnings that will help it in the end, such is box office in 2019.
Downtown Abbey takes a big second weekend hit as clearly the show's fans turned out opening weekend (who knew a British drama had fangirls?) as it falls 53% to $14.5 million and $58.5 million in two weekends. It's still a huge hit relative to its reported $20 million budget. Worldwide earnings, boosted of course by its native United Kingdom, have sent it over $100 million.
Hustlers recovers from its second weekend drop with a 32% decline to $11.4 million and $80.6 million in three weekends. That's good enough to get it to $100 million in the next few weekends, which keeps it in awards consideration, because that's how that works.
As we get ready for another clown movie, IT: Chapter Two earns $10.4 million in its fourth weekend and a total of $193.9 million to date. It'll cross $200 million next weekend and is still on pace to come in at $100 million behind IT.
Ad Astra also stumbles a bit in its second weekend, falling 47% to $10.1 million and giving it $35.5 million in two weekends. The Brad Pitt drama evokes thoughts of last year's First Man, which had acclaim but didn't exactly find an audience. Ad Astra appears destined for the same fate.
Rambo: Last Blood fares the worst of last weekend's openers, as was expected. The Stallone pic falls 55% to $8.5 million and $33.1 million in two weekends. I still have no answers as to why this exists.
Seventh place goes to Judy, earning $3 million in just 461 theaters. Starring Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland as she prepares for a run of concerts in London just a few months before her death, Judy officially begins the awards season in earnest. Despite decent but not glowing reviews (84% Fresh), many critics have suggested that the Best Actress race is already over and everyone else should go home. While we will go through the inevitable cycle of backlash and backlash to the backlash, that's where we are right now. Box office wise, this isn't an out of this world per screen average for Judy; it's only in the top ten because the bottom have is a bunch of super old movies at this point. Judy should be expanding over the next few weekends, and should stick around for a little while, as the next few weekends mostly consist of one big release.
Wrapping things up this week, Good Boys adds $2 million in its seventh weekend and has $80.3 million, The Lion King spends an 11th weekend in the top ten with $1.5 million and $540 million to date, and Angel Has Fallen takes us home with $1.5 million and $67.1 million in six weekends.
The top twelve films earned $86.2 million this weekend. Last year's top movies, led by Kevin Hart's Night School (and also featuring the aforementioned Smallfoot) earned $94.6 million.
We turn the calendar to October next weekend and what that brings us is Joker, a character study of the perennial Batman villain, played by Joaquin Phoenix.