Weekend Box Office (May 25 - 28, 2018)
THIS WEEKEND Many movie fans chose to skip the fourth Star Wars movie in two and a half years as the new stand-alone saga Solo easily opened at number one, but generated disappointing numbers considering it is from one of the most popular film franchises of all-time. The young Han Solo film debuted to an estimated $103M over the four-day Memorial Day holiday frame falling far below the openings of all recent Star Wars movies. The Friday-to-Sunday portion was $84.8M.
In terms of all past films which opened over this long holiday weekend, Solo did not even crack the top five. Studios have long used Memorial Day to launch pricey event films, often from established franchises with built-in fan bases, to generate huge crowds at a time when people have extra time off. The new Star Wars story just did not generate the kind of interest that recent films from the series have. Comparing Friday-to-Sunday opening weekend figures, Solo opened 45% below Rogue One (also a stand-alone pic), 62% behind The Last Jedi, and 66% below The Force Awakens. Even Attack of the Clones had a bigger 4-day opening weekend with $110.2M at 2002 ticket prices over a non-holiday frame. Star Wars movies have always crushed box office records and generated some of the biggest numbers for their time periods. Solo just did not come close to the usual neighborhood.
Playing in 4,381 locations, the Ron Howard-directed actioner averaged a solid $23,511 over four days. Reviews were generally positive, but not glowing. The CinemaScore grade was an A- which fell a notch below the A grade earned by the three recent films in the series and instead matched the grades of each of the prequels. Demographic data from Disney showed the crowd to be 58% male and 64% over 25. 3D screens accounted for a low 19% of the gross.
Many factors contributed to Solo coming in well below expectations. While many fans loved Last Jedi, a large number were disappointed by the story and not in the mood for another film from a galaxy far, far away so soon. Lots of fans thought lead actor Alden Ehrenreich did not look like a young Harrison Ford and were not interested in the backstory for an iconic Hollywood character played by a new actor. And widespread news about the PG-13 film's original directors leaving and being replaced did not help spark excitement. This year has been consistently packed with big-budget action offerings so broader audiences have had plenty of other options in recent weeks making it crucial for Solo to be rock solid and deliver the goods in order to attract huge crowds. It just wasn't a must-see.
This is now four years in a row that Disney has launched a pricey event film on Memorial Day weekend only to be met with disappointing or disastrous results at the box office. 2015 had Tomorrowland, 2016 saw Alice Through the Looking Glass, and last year had Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales which posted strong numbers overseas, but domestically fell to the lowest levels for the five-film series. Next year, the studio has scheduled the live-action version of Aladdin starring Will Smith and will hope to see better fortunes.
The overseas debut for Solo was also not spectacular with $65M from 54 markets through Sunday. Fan interest in Star Wars has eroded in China and Solo ended up bombing with a mere $10.1M debut there this weekend. The U.K. was the only other market to break $10M with $10.3M. With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom starting its international roll-out in just over a week from now, the road ahead looks challenging for Solo. There is a good chance that it finishes its worldwide box office run below the $500M mark.
After its top spot debut, the foul-mouthed super hero sequel Deadpool 2 dropped sharply in its sophomore session taking second place with an estimated $55M over the long holiday weekend. The three-day take of $43.5M fell a steep 65% from opening weekend and that's with a Sunday dipping only 3% from Saturday thanks to the Monday holiday. Fox has banked $219.7M in the first 11 days and may be headed to a domestic final of roughly $290M.
Deadpool 2 brought in another $57M from overseas markets this weekend boosting the international take to $279.7M putting the global gross at a hair beneath the half-billion mark with $499.4M. The comic book hit opens in Japan next weekend. The two Deadpool movies should finish up with nearly $1.5 billion in combined global box office with the total combined production cost being under $200M.
Thanos took third as Avengers: Infinity War grossed an estimated $21.2M in its fifth weekend to boost Disney's cume up to a colossal $626.4M. The Marvel megahit now ranks as the number six domestic blockbuster of all-time surpassing both The Last Jedi and the original 2012 Avengers on the list. Infinity War looks to end its stateside run with roughly $660M challenging Titanic ($658.6M including 2012 3D re-release) for the number four spot, though the iceberg drama sold significantly more tickets.
Overseas markets kicked in another $32.5M over the Friday-to-Sunday weekend lifting the international total to an astounding $1.28 billion through Sunday with the global haul now surpassing $1.9 billion. In China, Infinity War has captured a stellar $336.8M making it the third largest Hollywood film of all-time there behind the last two Fast and Furious movies. Hitting $2 billion worldwide is still possible.
The trifecta of franchise action flicks was followed by a trio of female-led offerings. Mature women drove the comedy Book Club to a fourth place finish with an estimated $12.5M in its second weekend. Holding up well (off just 26% over the Friday-to-Sunday span), the Paramount release has collected $34.7M so far and hopes to keep playing throughout June. Melissa McCarthy's comedy Life of the Party followed with an estimated $6.9M over the long weekend raising the total for Warner Bros. to $40.9M.
Universal's thriller Breaking In dropped to an estimated $5.4M for a new total of $37M. The kidpic Show Dogs fell a good amount in its second weekend despite the school holiday and collected an estimated $4.6M putting Global Road at a weak $12.2M.
The comedy remake Overboard spent its fourth weekend in the top ten and grossed an estimated $4.3M for MGM and Lionsgate with the new sum rising to $42.8M. Horror sensation A Quiet Place took in an estimated $3M in its eighth frame boosting Paramount's robust gross to $180.7M domestic and $312.4M worldwide. The documentary RBG added some screens again and rounded out the top ten with an estimated $1.5M. Magnolia has taken in $6M to date.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $217.4M over the Friday-to-Monday weekend which was up 28% from last year's holiday when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opened at number one with $78.5M; and up 10% from 2016 when X-Men: Apocalypse debuted in the top spot with $79.8M.
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Compared to projections, Solo fell well below my four-day forecast of $146M.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: May 28, 2018 at 1:25PM ET
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