By Kim Hollis
November 10, 2019
Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. Man, writing about box office in 2019 has been a drag for about 75 percent of the weekends.
When you get to November and the best that your big new wide releases can pull off is a $17.5 million weekend, well, let's just say that we'll hope for better when Ford v. Ferrari arrives next weekend. At least Disney should save us with Frozen 2, though even they haven't been immune to surprise sequel badness (Maleficent).
With all that said, the movie at the top of the charts this weekend is Midway, a WWII movie from Roland Emmerich that stars just about everyone, including people who have been in your kitchen. Its $200 million budget probably had to account for a lot of salary, I suppose. Cast members included (deep breath) Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Luke Evans, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Aaron Eckhart, Keean Johnson, Nick Jonas, and Darren Criss. The film received middling reviews (40 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences enjoyed it enough to give it an A Cinemascore.
Nonetheless, a $17.5 million start isn't going to thrill anyone over at Lionsgate. I guess you can say that at least it got the jump by being the first war movie of the season, beating Sam Mendes' 1917 to the gate. No one's going to remember this one, though.
With Midway taking the victory, that means Doctor Sleep massively disappoints in second place. A lot of folks were thinking this film would debut to more than $30 million, but releasing a sequel to a classic horror film nearly 40 years after the fact was simply not the strategy Warner Bros. should have employed. Some of the commentary I've read notes that Doctor Sleep tries to bridge the gap between the film version of The Shining (directed by Stanley Kubrick) and Stephen King's novel. King brought Danny Torrance back in the book version of Doctor Sleep a few years ago, so a theatrical release was inevitable. With the way the world works, though, perhaps a Netflix or Amazon series would have suited it better.
Over the course of the weekend, Doctor Sleep earned $14.1 million, far below even the most conservative forecasts. I don't necessarily think we can blame much of anything here, other than perhaps to reconcile that clowns like Pennywise are super scary, but maybe women in hats like Rebecca Ferguson are not. Perhaps WB would have been best off rebooting entirely with a new version of The Shining first, but it would certainly have had to deal with comparisons to Kubrick's version - a daunting task indeed.
I feel pretty certain that Playing With Fire is lying like crazy about its final weekend total, because even if it is targeted to families and kids, I can't imagine that it *really* managed a 3.6 multiplier. Sure, Veteran's Day is tomorrow, which will inflate the Sunday a bit, but we didn't see that for the other movies. This John Cena abomination is 24 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, which is probably better than it deserves. "Haven't firefighters had it hard enough this fall?" is the quote that applies here (thanks to Katie Walsh of the Los Angeles Times).
With a $12.8 million weekend, Playing With Fire did poorly enough that we can hope people won't keep giving starring roles to Cena, though I suppose plenty of people will point to the Rock's early career and note that he continues to deliver his own fair share of clunkers. With the changing profitability in the filmmaking business, Cena might not get as many chances, though.
Fourth place goes to our last new wide release of the weekend. Last Christmas, featuring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, earned $11.6 million. I was a bit disappointed in reviews I read since it came from the brilliant mind of Emma Thompson, but there's really only so much you can do by basing your movie's story on the collected works of George Michael and Wham! With tepid reviews (49 percent fresh) and audience response (B- Cinemascore), this film will NOT be the romance that gets people through the holiday season.
Rounding out our top five is the film that topped the charts last weekend. Terminator: Dark Fate is another franchise that seems to have run its course, as it declined a hefty 63 percent from last weekend down to $10.8 million. Thus far, it has earned just $48.5 million, which makes me a bit sad considering that the original Terminator is one of my favorite movies ever. Ah, well. The more technology advances, the harder it is to take these things seriously. At least it has earned over $150 million internationally.
Joker continues to hang around in the top ten, adding yet another $9.2 million to its coffers this weekend. The weird Joaquin Phoenix film has now earned a grand total of $313.5 million domestically, and it is also drawing pretty darned close to the billion dollar mark for its worldwide earnings.
Seventh and eighth go to movies with females at their center. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil took in $8 million for the weekend and is now just short of $100 million domestically as it has earned $97.3 million. It's a bit of a rare mishap for Disney in 2019, though with international box office of $333 million, it's probably going to teeter on the edge of profitability. The eighth place film is Harriet from Focus Features, a historical drama about Harriet Tubman. It earned $7.2 million, down 38 percent from last weekend. So far, its domestic total comes to $23.5 million.
We close out the top ten with a couple of movies on their way out the door. Zombieland: Double Tap added $4.3 million to its domestic tally, bringing it to $66.7 million total. The Addams Family also manages one final weekend in the top ten with $4.1 million. It has quietly earned almost $100 million, currently sitting with $91.4 million total.