The first weekend of 2020 brings one new doomed wide release, but most things that aren’t Star Wars (or Cats) hold well in the post-holiday weekend.
By Tim Briody
January 5, 2020
As Kim Hollis alluded to yesterday, this is a very uncertain year ahead of us at the box office. Star Wars is over. The Avengers is finished. There are Marvel entries, sure, but there are very few sure fire winners on the calendar this year, and nothing to the level of Endgame or Infinity War. Heck, right now the safest best for the #1 film of the year is going to be the Wonder Woman sequel, and even that’s iffy. We’ll see if Disney has some tricks up its sleeve to save the box office once again.
In a fairly close race, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker wins the first weekend of 2020 with $33.7 million, giving it a total of $450.7 million in three weekends. While after last weekend it was only a few million behind The Last Jedi, the gap is significantly wider after this weekend, as Episode VIII was at $517.2 million after 17 days in theaters. That’s mostly due to the calendar configuration, as The Last Jedi had a full Christmas week of box office to pull well ahead of The Rise of Skywalker. Right now, it’s looking to finish around $100 million short of The Last Jedi’s total of $620 million, but it would need to not drop another 50% next weekend to ensure that.
Jumanji: The Next Level keeps rolling with a 25% decline to $26.5 million, giving it $236.2 million in four weekends. That’s a solid post-holiday hold, which wasn’t a guarantee the second time around. It’s $50 million behind Welcome to the Jungle at this point, but this is still found money and a badly needed tentpole for Sony. I hope they made sure they have options on the cast for the three-quel (a Jumanji MMO maybe? Or perhaps freemium app?).
Little Women also holds well, dipping just 19% to $13.5 million and earning a strong $60 million since its Christmas Day release. The Greta Gerwig film is by far the best “adult” option in theaters, as well as being strongly targeted at women (unlike, say, this edition of Star Wars). It cost only $40 million, and is likely up for some Oscar nominations, though tonight the only major award nomination at the Golden Globes is for Saoirse Ronan for Best Actress. Either way, the critical and commercial reception have established Gerwig as one of the best young directors today.
The only new release this weekend was The Grudge, a remake of the 2004 American remake of a 2002 Japanese horror film. Earning $11.3 million for the weekend, it’s the number one movie of 2020 (by default, but still). The good news is it was only made for $10 million. The bad news is that it earned a rare F CinemaScore, so even getting to $20 million is probably a big ask at this point.
Frozen II also escapes the holiday season largely intact, adding $11.2 million in its seventh weekend, sending it to $449.8 million to date. While not as culturally saturating as the original Frozen, it was pretty inevitable that the second film would top it in box office.
Spies in Disguise couldn’t get out of Frozen II’s shadow over the holidays, but it does earn $10 million in its second weekend and has $46.7 million since Christmas Day. The animated entry with the voices of Will Smith and Tom Holland had a $100 million price tag, so it does look like Disney will be taking a hit on this one, though they can blame it on it being a Fox acquisition.
The best hold of the weekend goes to Knives Out, adding $9 million in its sixth weekend and giving it $130.2 million to date. The word-of-mouth kept it afloat through the holidays despite opening at Thanksgiving, and Rian Johnson is probably just a wee bit smug over the reception to Knives Out against how Star Wars was received.
Uncut Gems slides just 18% to $7.8 million after expanding wide on Christmas Day and has $37.8 million to date. It's now just $11 million shy of being A24's biggest film ever and it should get there. Despite some viewers being confused about the Adam Sandler dark thriller, those who know what they’re buying a ticket for walk away impressed, though right now he’s still a coin flip as to if he’ll get the Oscar nomination some think he deserves.
Bombshell adds $4 million (down 15%) after another small expansion to 1,721 theaters. It’s not a big box office hit but will certainly get a couple of acting nominations for Charlize Theron and Margo Robbie, both of whom are up for Golden Globes as well.
And Cats takes us home this weekend, as even the 12 Days of Box Office couldn’t save it from being an all-time disaster. It’s like the opposite of The Greatest Showman. It earns $2.6 million for the weekend and has $24.6 million in three weekends. With a reported $100 million budget, it’s one of the bigger flops of 2019.
The top 12 films this weekend earned $133.3 million, just ahead of last year’s $123.3 million when Aquaman led with $31 million and Escape Room kicked off the year with $18.2 million. I don’t think there’s going to be many weeks this year when that’s the case, though.
Things get a little exciting next weekend as we get four new releases and wide expansions, led by the wide release of World War I movie 1917 and its “looks like a continuous shot” gimmick, legal drama Just Mercy starring Michael B. Jordan, horror entry Underwater and Tiffany Haddish comedy Like A Boss, as we see if The Grudge can hold onto its title of biggest movie of the year!