We're in the middle of November and while a high profile new release that's going to get plenty of awards attention does well, there's also a rebooted flop of the year contender and some other stuff as once again we wait for Disney to save us all.
By Tim Briody
November 17, 2019
With just a month and a half left to go in the year, it feels like we should have had more likely Oscar contenders by this point. While part of that is because there are two mortal locks that skipped theaters (outside of the minimal qualifying run that didn't report box office) for Netflix (The Irishman and Marriage Story), that's also because there really haven't been any. We've just spent the last month debating Joker's merits as a Best Picture contender because there hasn't been anything else out there (Once Upon A Time...in Hollywood is a very likely nominee, but that's about it so far).
That changed a little bit this weekend as Ford v. Ferrari opened to a solid $31 million for the weekend. That's not an amount that's going to blow anyone away, but considering how rough it's been for original ideas at the box office, this is fine.
Despite concerns about the run time (around two and a half hours), the seemingly dull subject matter and the fact that the cars don't explode (well, on purpose, anyway), audiences responded with an A+ CinemaScore, showing that it's definitely an major awards contender and reinforcing the appeal of the leads.
With strong reviews for the film (92% Fresh) and the performances of Matt Damon and Christian Bale (the latter in line for his fifth Oscar nomination), the Fox film (okay, Disney now, but still) did have a nearly $100 million budget but this is playing well with older audiences so that's actually a decent goal for Ford v Ferrari to reach over the next few weeks. It's probably a week early for it to reach the promised land of the holiday box office money train as a significant player, but it's sure going to try.
Second goes to last weekend's surprise winner, Midway. Dropping 51% to $8.7 million, it's got $35.1 million in two weekends. Considering a $100 million budget, that's not good. Overseas earnings are just kinda there and this one is not going to make its budget back in theaters at all.
Third goes to another opener this weekend, the reboot of Charlie's Angels. On paper, it was not the worst idea in the world. But a lot has changed in the 19 years (ugh) since the first film adaptation in 2000. That one had Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu and opened to $40 million and finished with $125 million.
This one, starring Kristen Stewart (you know, from the Twilight movies, uh, and those other really good reviewed movies she made recently that you didn't see), Naomi Scott (you know, from Aladdin) and Ella Balinska (you know, Ella Balinska) crashed and burned, killing the franchise right out of the gate with just $8.6 million.
With middling reviews (59% Fresh) and essentially zero star power in the cast (Twilight was seven years ago now, nobody bought a ticket to Aladdin for Jasmine, and also Ella Balinska was in the movie), and seemingly minimal marketing, Charlie's Angels was doomed from the get go. While they kept the budget to a reasonable $50 million, it's still going to be a big miss for Sony, who has had a pretty lousy year outside of Spider-Man: Far From Home.
The lowest drop in the top ten belongs to Playing with Fire, John Cena's family comedy. It slides just 33% to $8.5 million and has $25.4 million in two weeks. It cost $30 million to make and will get there soon enough, so Paramount will be happy with the final result from this one.
Last Christmas, the first holiday entry that was probably a week or two too early, slides 41% from opening weekend to $6.7 million and has $22.5 million in two weekends. Despite being able to correctly predict the twist from the trailer (and title), it's doing just fine as a date movie with a $30 million budget.
Doctor Sleep makes it two out of three for Stephen King adaptations in 2019, as it's not able to match the modest success of Pet Sematary or the big-but-not-quite-as-big-as-the-first-one success of IT Chapter Two. Instead, it drops 56% in its second weekend to $6.1 million and has $25 million to date. Doctor Sleep had a $55 million budget and it's not getting that back in theaters domestically (overseas earnings have been kinder, but this will sting for Warner Bros. in the end).
Our third opener lands in seventh place as The Good Liar earns $5.6 million. A crime thriller starring Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren directed by Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast, Dreamgirls, multiple films with McKellen, and also two Twilight films for some reason) sounds great, but something went wrong in the execution, where it earned 64% Fresh reviews. That puts an immediate end to any awards attention it might have gotten and it'll disappear quickly from here.
Joker continues to hang in there, adding $5.6 million in its seventh weekend and giving it a total of $322.5 million to date. It crossed $1 billion worldwide this weekend, which is something nobody saw coming a few months ago. In a down year, is this enough to get it significant awards attention? We're pretty close to finding out.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil earns $5.2 million in its fifth weekend, crossing $100 million midweek (the 24th film of 2019 to do so) as it now has $106 million to date. It's still a far cry from the $241.4 million Maleficent earned in 2014, but the rules have changed.
Harriet and not Terminator: Dark Fate (in 11th with $4.3 million and a contender for flop of the year) takes us home this weekend with $4.7 million and $31.8 million in three weekends. As of right now, it's on the outside looking in for a nomination (for star Cynthia Erivo), though.
So, your top 12 films this week earned a total of $98.2 million. On this weekend last year, the top films earned $164.5 million, led by Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald with $62.1 million. Now, to be a little bit fair, the comparison is somewhat uneven as this was the pre-Thanksgiving weekend and this year's calendar configuration has it a week later, and there's certainly a big film coming next weekend. But, that's just still not a good look for the box office right now, and how lousy things have been this year for nearly any movie that's not Disney and/or Marvel in a snapshot. Is it this also the Disney+ effect? Perhaps, but that absolutely can't be qualified. Not yet.
Oh, that big film coming next weekend? Frozen 2. Yep, Disney's here to rescue us all once again. Also released, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a Mister Rogers biopic starring Tom Hanks, the modern day Mister Rogers.