A surprisingly crowded mid-January weekend contains some genuine excitement, powered mainly by awards season.
By Tim Briody
January 12, 2020
With the Golden Globes last weekend and the Academy Award nominations announced tomorrow, we're in the thick of awards season, and while they generally don't have a large box office impact, where they do is for films that release later in the year and expand in January in hopes of nominations, and that's exactly what we've got this weekend.
After taking the biggest prize at the Golden Globes, 1917 expanded from 11 theaters (where it had been playing since Christmas Day) to 3,434 and earned a very solid $36.5 million. The Best Picture - Drama winner was very likely going to win the weekend anyway, but picking up some hardware absolutely put it on the map of some viewers who likely were unaware of it beforehand.
Despite lead roles going to nobody of fame in the US (which, since it's about the British front line in World War I, you can't really blame them for), 1917 also featured an ambitious filming technique, where it appears to be done as one continuous shot. Director Sam Mendes (who also won the Golden Globe for Best Director)'s gambit paid off as 1917 rates 90% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and it's expected to see Best Picture and Best Director nominations from the Academy tomorrow, which could lead to a strong hold next weekend, also helped by it being a holiday.
That slides Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to second place after three weekends, continuing to slide weekend-to-weekend, this time another 56% to $15 million and $478.1 million after four weekends. Now around $100 million behind The Last Jedi at this same point in release, it's actually much closer to where Rogue One was after four weekends (virtually even, really, at $477.3 million). The spinoff finished with $532.1 million and you have to think that's the absolute best case scenario for Episode IX at this point, though it's on pace for about $520 million right now.
Jumanji: The Next Level also finds the party's over, dipping 47% to $14 million and giving it $257.1 million in five weekends. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle had $316.4 million at this point and still plenty of life left in it as it made it to $400 million total. The Next Level is looking at $300 million total, which is still a big win for Sony.
Also expanding this weekend after a awards qualifying release is Just Mercy, a legal drama starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. It earned $10 million, which is just fine, considering it's not going to be nominated for anything come tomorrow (Foxx's name had been tossed around for Supporting Actor, but that category is *loaded* this year). Just Mercy earned decent reviews (82% Fresh) and found its audience thanks to the popularity of its cast. Budget information isn't available, but this likely wasn't that expensive to make so Warner Bros. will likely be happy with the outcome at the end, even if it didn't work as awards bait.
Our first opening film of the weekend makes 2020 0-2 on new releases (but there's hope for next weekend!) as comedy Like a Boss lands with $10 million. Compared to Just Mercy, Like a Boss was in more theaters and also generally hated by critics, rating just 21% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. Tiffany Haddish is still looking to duplicate the success of her 2017 breakout Girls Trip. It cost about $30 million to make and Like a Boss isn't gonna make that back in theaters (Just Mercy will have a higher final total as well).
Little Woman also looks forward to tomorrow with some Oscar nominations as it drops to sixth place with $7.6 million, down 44%. The Greta Gerwig film has $74 million after a Christmas Day opening. A likely Best Picture nomination will keep it afloat next weekend as it heads to $100 million.
Remember what I said about 2020 being 0/2 so far? Last weekend's new release, The Grudge, is already out of the top ten (down 69% to $3.5 million) and our other new release places seventh as Underwater earns just $7 million. A sci-fi horror film starring Kristen Stewart, it got weak reviews (53% Fresh) and audiences weren't fooled. To make matters worse, it wasn't made cheaply (at least $50 million) so this is a big loss for the Fox release, which Disney has already disavowed any knowledge of.
Frozen II's time is running out but it adds $5.7 million in its eighth weekend, giving it $459.3 million after eight weekends. We'll find it tomorrow if it's got a chance to make it two for two for Best Original Song at the Oscars. Signs point to yes.
Taking us home, Knives Out earns $5 million in its seventh weekend and has $139.6 million to date, while Spies in Disguise adds $5.1 million and has $54.6 million since Christmas.
The top 12 films this weekend earned $123.8 million, ahead of last year's $102.3 million when The Upside opened with $20.3 million on its way to $100 million.
Next week we get a holiday weekend and some rare January fireworks, with Bad Boys For Life, reuniting Martin Lawrence and Will Smith and hoping the concept isn't past its sell-by date, while Robert Downey, Jr. fulfills some odd contractual obligation with Dolittle.