By Tim Briody
December 31, 2017
We finish 2017 with some clear winners and losers as we wrap up the annual 12 Days of Box Office.
The top film of the weekend is, of course, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, with an estimated $52.4 million for the weekend, giving it $517.1 million after 17 days in theaters. By the time you read this on Sunday, it will have passed Beauty and the Beast as the #1 film of 2017, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. That’s three straight years now the #1 movie of the year has been a Star Wars film, and all three released in December (and the two main story movies did it within the calendar year). Next year, the Han Solo movie gets a Memorial Day release. I still think they should have just gone ahead and released all of them in December, so we’ll see if Star Wars can go for the four-peat next year.
The Last Jedi did drop 27% from last weekend, but that’s acceptable considering the larger numbers and amount of box office it had already taken in. Even The Force Awakens dropped 40% on the weekend in what’s a very friendly frame for holdovers. Those criticizing the decisions made by Rian Johnson in The Last Jedi will point to this weekend drop and claim that the difference in box office is the reason why, but those who follow box office know better. The Force Awakens was an event. The Last Jedi, while still great in my opinion, felt ever so slightly less special. It happens to virtually every sequel. As I’ve stated before, we knew The Last Jedi was not going to duplicate the performance of The Force Awakens, but it’s still going to cross $600 million some time in January. Oh, and it’s already over $1 billion worldwide. Anyone who didn’t like The Last Jedi and claims the Star Wars brand is damaged is wearing the crazy pants.
In a much closer second place than anticipated, and the clear biggest winner among the holiday releases, is Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, earning $50.5 million on the weekend, up 49% from last weekend. It now has a massive $169.8 million in the bank after two weekends. All but three films in the top ten saw increases from last weekend, when Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday and most kids were still in school until Friday. For some reason, Sony has been coy with the daily earnings, but the Jumanji reboot is a huge hit and another win for both The Rock and Kevin Hart. Jumanji is headed to the $200 million mark by the end of next weekend, the 12th 2017 film to do that.
Third goes to Pitch Perfect 3, and it’s actually one of the losers among the Christmas releases, with a weekend of $17.7 million, down 11% from its opening weekend, which is a major cause for concern. After two weekends, it has earned $64.2 million. That doesn’t seem bad, but consider Pitch Perfect 2 opened to $69.2 million in 2015 and it’s actually yet to match the $65 million total gross of the first film (which was a sleeper hit and caught on huge on DVD/Netflix), though it will do that on New Year’s Day. With a Christmas release, Universal clearly had high hopes for the return of the Barden Bellas, but an underwhelming opening weekend is made worse by a decline over New Year’s weekend, which generally only happens if you’re Star Wars. Pitch Perfect 2 earned $183.7 million, but Pitch Perfect 3 isn’t getting to $100 million.
On the other hand, in fourth place we have a textbook example of how The 12 Days of Box Office can help a film’s fortunes. Hugh Jackman’s The Greatest Showman earned $15.2 million on the weekend, up a remarkable 73% from last weekend’s $8.8 million. The musical based on the life of P.T. Barnum did not really excite critics (only 55% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes), but the family-friendly film was the largest beneficiary of people having more time to see films during the week and the weekend, as it’s now earned $48.7 million in two weekends. That’s a good recovery for what seemed like a disappointing opening weekend.