A pair of sequels entered theaters this weekend, though they weren't exactly the sequels anyone was asking for (are any sequels, really?), and the box office results certainly agree with that assessment.
by Tim Briody
October 20, 2019
You can point to 2014's Maleficent as the moment Disney realized live action adaptations of their classic animated films was a license to print money. Starring Angelina Jolie and portraying the Sleeping Beauty character as a tragic figure rather than a straight up villain, Maleficent was very successful, opening to $69.4 million and earning $241.4 million total, with a worldwide total of $750 million. You had to know a sequel was coming eventually, and five years later, we've got Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
Unfortunately for Disney, audiences were not exactly buying a second time around, as while Mistress of Evil wins the weekend, it does with a total of $36 million. That's a big step back from the opening weekend of the first one, and potentially a big problem for Disney, but it's saved by the overseas earnings, which give it $150 million worldwide in a weekend. Considering a reported $185 million budget, Maleficent needs all the help it can get, since it's probably looking at under $100 million domestic. Disney will just have to be happy with their $542 million from The Lion King, and their $355 million from Aladdin, and $858 million from Avengers: Endgame; woe is them.
Joker continues to be one of the more impressive box office stories of the year, earning $29.2 million (down 48%) in its third weekend and giving it $247.2 million to date. It's showing more legs than a comic book adaptation should, and is looking at getting to $300 million before it's done. Add in the surprisingly solid overseas earnings, which have it at $737 million worldwide, and it could flirt with the billion mark. Not bad for something that cost just $55 million. And once again, because this is how it works, it's willed itself into awards contention.
The weekend's other new wide release takes third as Zombieland: Double Tap earns $26.7 million. A 10 years later sequel to Zombieland, the comedy returns the four primary actors in Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin.
What I find most interesting about this is comparing the cast then and now. Eisenberg and Stone had mostly been in smaller supporting roles to that point and were still largely unknown (both were a year away from their true breakouts in The Social Network and Easy A, respectively), Harrelson was probably still best known as Woody from Cheers (though he was about to get an Oscar nomination for The Messenger, which released the following month; True Detective wouldn't air for another five years) and Breslin was the little girl from Little Miss Sunshine, at the time the only member of the main cast with an Oscar nomination. (They've had six since, with Stone winning once.) Zombieland opened to $24.7 million in October of 2009, putting Eisenberg and Stone on the map, reigniting Harrelson's career and establishing Breslin as more than a child actress. A $75.5 million total on a $24 million budget and a solid cult following on video meant a sequel had to happen eventually. For various reasons, it took ten years, but here we are.
Double Tap's weekend is not much of an increase from the original, and if you want to adjust for inflation, it's actually a decline. But things could've gone much worse considering how much has changed at the box office in ten years. Critics liked it but not as much as the first (68% Fresh), and a $42 million budget is a reasonable amount. Double Tap has more work to do than Zombieland to match the original's total, due to the change in box office trends.
The Addams Family falls 47% from its opening weekend to $16 million and has $56.8 million in two weekends. The reboot feels like found money for United Artists, with just a $24 million cost. The drop is a little higher than expected considering The Addams Family fits the theme for the Halloween season, but if the target audiences hasn't heard of the source material, they probably don't have much interest in it.
Will Smith and Ang Lee's Gemini Man is officially a flop with $8.5 million this weekend, a 59% fall from last weekend, and $36.5 million in two weeks. The battle of 2019 Will Smith vs. The Fresh Prince is one that nobody cares about. It's also done mediocre business overseas, and worldwide totals have it still yet to match its reported $138 million budget.
Abominable earns $3.5 million (down 42%) and has $53.9 million in four weekends. It's still lagging behind last year's Smallfoot, which earned $83.2 million, but it's made back its production budget when you include overseas earnings, so Universal is probably happy with how this one turned out.
Downton Abbey adds $3 million in its fifth weekend and has $88.6 million to date. If it can hang onto its screens for a few more weekends, there's just enough left in the tank for it to get to $100 million, which would be a rather impressive feat. It's also a big win for Focus/Universal, considering it only cost $20 million to make.
Judy continues to hold on, adding $2 million and giving it $19 million in four weekends, as we continue to wait for any other surefire Best Actress nominees to give Renee Zellweger some competition in the category.
Hustlers reaches the promised land in its sixth weekend with $2 million (down 47%) and $101.8 million to date, becoming the 22nd movie of 2019 to reach $100 million. That's a whole lotta singles. Hustlers joins a very rare club of original IP films that have made $100 million in the last few years.
It: Chapter Two wraps it up this week with $1.5 million and $209.6 million in seven weekends. It's a full $118 million behind It, but nobody's going to complain about this one.
The top 12 films this weekend earned an estimated $131.1 million. That's down from last year's $158.8 million when the Halloween reboot opened to a massive $76.2 million.
Next weekend bring us some sort of original ideas in horror entry Countdown (giving new meaning to "killer app") and police thriller Black and Blue.