March 2019 Box Office Recap
By Steven Slater
April 11, 2019
Welcome to Box Office Prophets Movie Club! Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Check out some previews for our coming attractions, and don’t forget to sign up for the BOP Platinum Credit Card, which gets you prognostication, performance metrics, and possibly percolating popcorn concessions. See all your favorite hosts, read the best movie blogs, and you’ll have a chance to win a night on the town with the biggest movie stars! We hope to see you again soon, and remember, if you see anything suspicious, please report it immediately to a crew member wearing the lime green uniform. Now let’s rewind a bit, and see what happened last month. Watch out for that third step exiting the theater, it’s a doozy!
1) Captain Marvel
Opening Weekend: $153.4 M
Monthly Total: $354 M
The top film for March is a foregone conclusion, as Captain Marvel zooms ahead of anything else released this year. January and February were rather weak compared to previous years, but March always had the ace up its sleeve. Captain Marvel had a very good opening for an origin film, second only to Black Panther, the seventh highest opening in the MCU pantheon, and was already the eighth highest grossing Marvel movie by the end of the month. In April it has surpassed a billion dollars worldwide, and will definitely cross the $400 million mark stateside. While not performing quite as well as Wonder Woman when it comes to weekend drops, the larger opening weekend means it will probably eclipse the DC female superhero’s box office. Captain Marvel is also acting as an excellent bridge between the Phase 3 saga that is wrapping up shortly, and the as-yet-unknown Phase 4 that is gearing up. Disney has to be breathing a sigh of relief, since their entire year could have gone down the toilet had Captain Marvel done poorly. Really. I mean it.
In terms of the broader MCU, Captain Marvel shows the entire franchise is still on an upward trajectory. It is likely the first of three billion-dollar Marvel films for 2019 at the global box office, and the largest opening weekend of all time is likely to go to Avengers: Endgame within the next couple weeks. With each successive film, and with more and more ancillary projects, Marvel further cements its domination. Regardless of their merits as works of art, or whether you are sick of comic book movies or are overjoyed at their pervasiveness, without the MCU box office would be in a much worse place.
Opening Weekend: $71.1 M
Monthly Total: $127.8 M
The number two film for March is actually the much bigger story, as the Jordan Peele Universe (JPU) notched a huge win. His debut film, Get Out, broke out big time, as evidenced by it’s minuscule $4 million budget, opening with $33 million and earring a ludicrous $176 million, capped off by an Oscar win for Original Screenplay. That was truly one of the all-time largest profit margins, percentage-wise. Peele’s follow-up, Us, is playing in the same wheelhouse, including it’s producer Jason Blum and modest budget of $20 million. Even though it did not break out to the same degree as Get Out, Us exceeded expectations with an incredible opening weekend of $71.1 million, over twice that of Get Out. This may sound like small potatoes in an age where about one movie per year opens over $200 million, but with almost all modern blockbusters there are no original stories. Even Christopher Nolan’s largest opening weekend for an original film is $62.8 million for Inception. That puts Peele in rarified territory, having the number two opening weekend for an original property (not adjusting for inflation of course), right behind Avatar with it’s $77 million bow. If Peele can continue his streak, his films will command audience’s attention like few other filmmakers (I remember all the hype about M. Night Shyamalan after The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable and we all saw how that went...so let us be cautiously optimistic with Mr. Peele).
3) How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Monthly Total: $85.5 M
Running Total: $153.1 M
Dragons numero tres is our third highest grossing film for March, performing very much in line with the prior two titles. It also happens to be the highest grossing film for the year at the end of March, except for the elephant Captain Marvel. With over $150 million domestic and half a billion worldwide, this sweet little franchise has staked its claim time and again over the years. Dragons has been nothing if not consistent, in terms of box office and quality, a rare feat these days. It also acts as a bit of a swan song for Dreamworks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, as he stepped down after the sale to Universal, and this is the final property he had a hand in. It will not earn as much as either of the previous titles, given the slightly steeper weekend drops, but should instill Dragons as Dreamwork’s most fondly remembered property going forward. Until Boss Baby 2 hits us like a loaded diaper.
4) A Madea Family Funeral
Opening Weekend: $27.1 M
Monthly Total: $70 M
Let us all bow our heads and remember the life of Madea, a large black woman who took our hands in hers, and shouted shocking truths to unsuspecting followers. Actually, she just planned the funeral. Family Funeral opened on the higher end of Madea properties, with the fourth highest opening and the third highest domestic total so far. After nine films, this series has the staying power of a Marvel or Dragon’s film, Hallalujah! What might actually make these even more remarkable is that no Madea film has ever opened in more than the 2,442 theaters Funeral opened in. This means Madea had a higher per screen average than Dumbo, higher than LEGO Movie 2, and almost as high as Dragon’s 3. Yeah I know, maybe we should all start dressing up as women.
Opening Weekend: $46 M
Monthly Total: $46 M
Every once in a while Disney can still whiff, and this time I blame the overall tired quality of Tim Burton’s recent work. Dumbo is ostensibly a family film, and yet it might have the worst second weekend drop of anything even remotely attached to that genre, falling over 60% the first weekend in April. Also of note is that it’s Saturday performance during opening weekend was barely above it’s Friday gross, also a huge warning sign for a family film. It will be lucky to reach $100 million domestic, which sours the mood with a $170 million budget. Worldwide total may prop this up to some extent, but there is nothing that will get this film in the black. Just as Solo missed to such an extent that it froze all future Star Wars Stories productions, Dumbo may put future live-action Disney remakes in limbo, outside of those already coming out this year. Aladdin suddenly has a lot more riding on its shoulders, since The Lion King should be an instant hit.
6) Wonder Park
Opening Weekend: $15.9 M
Monthly Total: $38 M
In sixth for March we have a lesser animated property, which is actually a bit of a rare beast these days. Wonder Park is a Nickelodeon film that managed to chart reasonably well, opening in the shadow of Captain Marvel and slotting in right above the seventh highest grossing film on this list. After a bit of bad buzz behind the scenes, Wonder Park shrugged it off and managed to open even while Dragons was still earning a few million per day. This makes LEGO’s $34 million open smart even more. Give Wonder Park a hair over $45 million in the end.
7) Five Feet Apart
Opening Weekend: $13.2 M
Monthly Total: $35.8 M
Coming in right behind Wonder Park, with very similar box office results, is the romantic teen drama Five Feet Apart, which I assume is based on a restraining order. Love conquers all obstacles! Opening just under Wonder Park as a bit of counter-programming to Captain Marvel, Five Feet Apart should ultimately out earn the Nickelodeon film by a few million. It probably will not make it to $55 million, which means it will be the third biggest movie from small distributor CBS Films.
8) Alita: Battle Angel
Monthly Total: $19.7 M
Running Total: $84.9 M
Our second holdover after Dragons is Alita, which has managed to defy expectations to some extent. After opening to just $28.5 million in February, Alita has squeezed out a multiplier above 3.0. Not only that, but China saved the film to some extent, as China is wont to do these days, earning over $133 million in the Land of the Red Dragon and giving it a global tally of more than $400 million. While not unheard of for films to bomb miserably in the United States but shine elsewhere (see: Warcraft), it must always be a pleasant surprise for filmmakers. If nothing else, Robert Rodriguez has his biggest film since Spy Kids 3D, and his biggest worldwide hit by far.
9) The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
Monthly Total: $19.6 M
Running Total: $104.7 M
Speaking of defying expections, The LEGO Movie 2 did so in the wrong direction. Believe it or not, this sequel with an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes will earn less than half of Alita at the global box office. That means less than $200 million, which is also less than half the original LEGO film earned. The only saving grace for this film may be that it has a relatively small budget for an animated title of around $99 million. Either way, this movie could not break out for what are maddeningly odd reasons. I blame handing it over to the director of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalo.
10) Green Book
Monthly Total: $13.3. M
Running Total: $84.5 M
It’s the movie that will not die! Believe it or not, Green Book is the tenth highest grossing film for the second month in a row! Obviously playing to older crowds who have the audacity not to rush out and see a film on opening weekend, Green Book has quietly earned a tidy sum since it’s opening weekend just before Thanksgiving. Consider it’s highest grossing day was January 26th, a full two months after opening. It had two days over $2 million in November, none in December, one in January, one in February and one in March! Word of mouth must be killer on some circuits, as box office is usually never this flat and steady. With a worldwide total of $300 million and counting, I think we can all start hoping for Dumb and Dum3er.
Falling just outside the top ten are Isn’t It Romantic with $12.4 million, Fighting with My Family with $12.3 million, Greta with $10.5 million, No Manches Frida 2 with $8 million, and Apollo 11 with $7.7 million. The top ten opening weekends in March are covered by those titles except for the seventh highest opener, Unplanned, and the tenth highest, Hotel Mumbai. Overall box office for March was finally in a decent spot for 2019, as this was the second largest March after 2017’s massive run with Beauty and the Beast. A total of $962.6 million was accrued at the domestic box office, with only about $200 million from holdovers after a lackluster February. As ever, Marvel films skew the results, as Captain Marvel had 43% of the opening weekend earnings, and 36% of the monthly box office in its coffers. I have little hope for next month, as April only gives us the teeny-weeny title Avengers: Endgame, which sounds like a really bad sequel to that Ralph Fiennes/Uma Thurman film.