Weekend Box Office (December 20 - 22, 2019)

by Sujit Chawla

THIS WEEKEND The final chapter in the Skywalker Saga opened to huge numbers, except when compared to the most recent films in the Skywalker Saga. Better than Cats at least.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opened to $175.5M this weekend, according to estimates, from 4,406 theaters for a per screen average of $39,832. This is currently the 12th highest opening weekend in history. Unfortunately, it fell far behind the $220M opening of The Last Jedi from 2017 and the $247.9M opening of The Force Awakens from 2015. Critics were mixed and even opening weekend audiences gave the film a B+ CinemaScore, behind the A grades both of the previous films received. Overseas the film opened with $198M for a worldwide launch of $374M. It's strange to feel that a $175.5M opening is "weak" but could Star Wars fatigue finally be settling in? What does this mean for the future of the franchise? All that being said, the holiday season is known for allowing films to make more money over a longer period of time so when all is said and done, we may forget about the opening and just concentrate on the final numbers.

Falling 56% in its second weekend into second place was the action-comedy sequel Jumanji: The Next Level which took in an estimated $26M bringing its total up to $101.9M. The original film took in an astounding $50M in its second weekend back in 2017, nearly taking down The Last Jedi which was in its third weekend. Welcome to the Jungle ended its run with $404M, showing remarkable legs during the holiday season and into the new year. It doesn't appear The Next Level will have the same legs, but a final total in the $200 range is certainly doable.

Disney was back in third place with the animated sequel Frozen II which added an additional $12.3M this weekend, according to estimates, bringing its cume up to $386M after five weekends. Worldwide its total stands at an amazing $1.1B with more to come. It currently stands at #29 on the all-time worldwide charts.

There are flops. And then there's Cats. The $95M movie musical crashed and burned this weekend taking in a paltry $6.5M from 3,380 theaters for a per screen average of $1,923. Critics ravaged the film while audiences gave it a poor C+ CinemaScore. Now, a couple of years ago another movie musical, The Greatest Showman, debuted with only $8.8M before a long and magical run that saw it finish with $174M. That film however had an A grade from audiences and mixed reviews from critics. I don't think Cats is going to come within sniffing distance of even $30M when all is said and done making it one big, expensive flop.

The best hold in the top 10 went to Knives Out which slipped only 33% this weekend to an estimated $6.1M, bringing its total up to $89.5M after a month in theaters. A visit to the $100M club is certainly in order. Awards-hopeful Bombshell took in an estimated $5M this weekend from 1,408 theaters for a per screen average of $3,429, good, but not great. Critics are on the positive side of mixed but it may not be enough for this one to break through with better reviewed adult oriented films still to come. Speaking of movies that didn't hit, Clint Eastwood's Richard Jewell fell 45% in its second weekend to an estimated $2.56M after a poor opening. It doesn't appear this one will stick around either this season, unless it somehow picks up some awards buzz over the next couple of weeks.

Queen & Slim took the eighth position this week with an estimated $1.85M, bringing its total up to $36.6M after a month. The Universal seasonal horror film Black Christmas fell hard in its second weekend, dropping 57% to an estimated $1.8M, bringing its total up to $7.2M. The last time this film was remade, in 2006, it ended up with $16M. Rounding out the top 10 was Ford v Ferrari which added an addtional $1.8M, according to estimates, breaking through the $100M barrier with a total of $102M after six weeks.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $239.6M which was up 47% from last year when Aquaman debuted at number one with $67.8M; and up 46% from 2017 when Star Wars: The Last Jedi remained on top with $68.5M in its second weekend.

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Last Updated: December 22, 2019 at 2:30PM ET

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