Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis
November 17, 2018
Warner Bros. takes another trip back to the Wizarding World, but audiences still aren't nearly as warm to Newt Scamander as they ever were to Harry Potter. Meanwhile, Instant Family and Widows also debuted to softer-than-expected numbers as well, but no worries. Wreck-It Ralph is coming to save the day soon!
As mentioned, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald simply doesn't have the same oomph that the original Harry Potter films (or even its predecessor) did. Despite coming in with a terrific Thursday preview total of $9.1 million, it could only manage an overall Friday debut of $25.7 million. That means Fantastic Beasts had an "actual" Friday of just $16.8 million.
I think a few key issues have detracted from Fantastic Beast 2's chances. First, the original Newt Scamander film just wasn't quite so well-received as the Harry Potter series, even if it was a lot of fun and featured some marvelous performances, set pieces, and creatures. Second, since this story focuses on adult protagonists, it's harder for children to invest themselves in it (the opposite was true of the Potter films, as adults can always remember what it felt like to be a kid of Harry's age). And finally, reviews have just been brutal. The film is currently 40 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, mostly due to a scattered, unclear plot that takes away from some solid performances, interesting ideas, and wonderful production design.
With a deflated Friday, the remainder of the weekend might be tougher than expected, especially with those reviews. Even though I think WB would like to estimate the film at $65 million or so, I'm not sure it hits $60 million for the weekend. I *do* think that's where they'll estimate Fantastic Beasts, though. $60 million will be the announced total, but I wouldn't be surprised to see actuals closer to $57 million.
After $67.6 million last weekend, The Grinch falls 52 percent from its opening day Friday to $8.9 million. It's a family film that should continue to hold onto some traction as Christmas approaches. Let's say $40 million for the weekend.
Our second new opener is Instant Family, a comedy featuring Rose Byrne and Mark Wahlberg as a couple who decides to foster three children with the intent to adopt. With solid reviews (hovering around 80 percent at Rotten Tomatoes) and an A Cinemascore, this film might have performed better with a stronger marketing campaign. As it is, I knew it was approaching release date, but had no idea it was this weekend until yesterday.
A $4.5 million Friday means that Instant Family will have a slightly smaller-than-expected weekend of $12.6 million. I do think it will play well over the next few weeks, though, as the word-of-mouth has been outstanding.
Our final new wide release is Steve McQueen's heist film Widows, featuring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Garret Dillahunt, Carrie Coon, Jon Bernthal, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson. That's a crazy great group right there. Anyway, with $4.2 million yesterday, Widows is pacing toward an $11.7 million three-day portion of the weekend.