Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis
December 22, 2018
And so this is Christmas.
Yes, the holiday movie season has arrived, with its bonanza of box office. Something to remember is that the monster openings of movies like Star Wars are anomalies. Usually, movies debuting during this time of year start slowly and then gain momentum, taking advantage of people's vacation time as they get out with family and friends to catch a movie, one of the easiest, least controversial group activities there is.
Let's start with the film that will have the biggest opening weekend take but will likely not win out over the long haul. Aquaman, a movie that was once a joke movie within the Entourage universe, is now a reality. The character first appeared in Justice League, played by a fun and funny Jason Momoa. Now, I'm not saying that a 68 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes is earth-shattering, but it's pretty darned good by current DC standards. But that's certainly good enough to generate interest.
Aquaman started with $28 million yesterday, including $9 million from Thursday evening. The film also earned $4.7 million in Amazon Prime member screenings prior to this weekend. That means the "true" Friday is $19 million, and tells us that Aquaman should be headed for a debut weekend right around $68 million. It should be fine all weekend since Christmas Eve is on Monday (though that day will deflate some as people travel).
Second place goes to Bumblebee, the newest film in the Transformers franchise - and one that is shockingly rated 93 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. It really feels like a throwback sort of movie for the Stranger Things crowd, and reviews actually say that it should have real appeal for fans of the original series (which is a refreshing change from the reaction to the various Michael Bay productions). Bumblebee's $8.5 million yesterday includes $2.2 million from Thursday previews. Let's call it $20 million for the weekend, and a movie to watch as the leggy season begins.
Mary Poppins Returns debuted on Wednesday, taking in $8.8 million before the weekend began. Yesterday, the Disney sequel added $6.7 million, which should lead to an overall weekend take of $21 million or so. It'll be close between this one and Bumblebee for Friday-to-Sunday, but Mary Poppins Returns should be the big winner for the holiday season.
There was also another new movie that you might have been unaware of. Second Act, starring Jennifer Lopez in an Internship type thing, earned $2.5 million. It's not going to have much of an impact long-term, and should come in with a weekend total of $7.5 million.
Welcome to Marwen might have had high ambitions at a point, but scathing reviews pretty much squashed any notion that it would be either an awards contender or a moneymaker. It earned $909,000 yesterday and might wind up with $3 million for the weekend.
Last week's winner, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, declined 62 percent to $4.9 million. The weekend total should be right around $16 million. That may be a bit of a steep fall, but it should straighten out over the next several days.
Also new last week was Clint Eastwood's The Mule, which only declined 27 percent. With $4.3 million yesterday, it's poised to do quite well over the holiday season.
Watch The Grinch through the holiday season. It has already earned $245 million prior to yesterday, and added $2.4 million on Friday (only a 15 percent decline). I wouldn't be surprised to see $8-10 million for the weekend, although once Christmas is done, we'll definitely see it drop off.