Weekend Box Office (December 21 - 23, 2018)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND DC was back in the number one spot as the super hero adventure Aquaman debuted on top with an estimated $67.4M for a total of $72.1M when including previews from before the regular release. Warner Bros. averaged a strong $16,339 from 4,125 locations including premium screens like 4DX and IMAX.

The opening weekend figure did not beat out the debuts of last year's DCEU films Justice League ($93.8M) and Wonder Woman ($103.3M), however all films opening at this time of year right before Christmas typically see much of their audience wait until later to come out since distractions like shopping, travel, and holiday events get in the way. From Christmas to New Year's, everyday is a Saturday at the box office and tremendous numbers lie ahead for all films in the marketplace. Studios know this and patiently wait for the crowds to come.

Aquaman earned reviews that were generally positive and audiences polled by CinemaScore gave an A-. Studio data showed that the crowd was 55% male and 58% over 25 which was pretty standard for a comic book movie. Given the calendar ahead, the Atlantis actioner may very well hit $100M on Christmas Day, pass $150M on Friday, and be north of $200M on January 1. Finishing with over $300M domestic is certainly possible with the holidays ahead.

Overseas markets saw new launches and combined for a stellar $91.3M weekend propelling the offshore cume to $410.7M and the global tally to $482.8M. China leads all markets with a stunning $232.8M after 17 days and now stands as the seventh biggest Hollywood blockbuster of all-time there. The worldwide total may break $700M by New Year's Day and markets like Australia, Italy and Japan are still to come.

Disney opened its musical sequel Mary Poppins Returns and took second place with an estimated $22.2M weekend and $31M over the five days since its Wednesday launch. Reviews were generally good and the PG-rated film skewed 59% female and 61% over 25. The CinemaScore was a nice A-. Families should keep coming out for this one over the coming week.

The well-reviewed action spinoff Bumblebee debuted close behind in third place with an estimated $21M averaging $5,915 from 3,550 locations. An origin story from the Transformers franchise, this one did not have a summer release and did not open at those levels. Instead Paramount is getting started before the holiday break and expects to play through the winter. The A- CinemaScore could mean good legs ahead as audiences that have abandoned this franchise start to get back in again. Overseas markets opened to $31.1M with several key markets still to come such as China on January 4.

With the intense wave of new competition coming in, Sony's critically-acclaimed animated super hero flick Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse tumbled 53% in its second weekend to an estimated $16.7M. The cume is now $64.8M and the studio hopes that strong buzz will keep customers coming in over the holidays. The film opened well in China this weekend with $26.1M which was the fourth best debut of all-time there for a U.S. toon. International is at $64.8M putting global at $129.6M.

Clint Eastwood saw a shaky hold for his latest film The Mule which slipped 47% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.3M giving Warner Bros. $35M overall. In the final days before Christmas, moviegoers kept on buying tickets for The Grinch which did an estimated $8.2M, off 30%, putting Universal at a robust $253.2M.

Jennifer Lopez saw her latest comedy Second Act debut in seventh with an estimated $6.5M from 2,607 locations for a mild $2,493 average. Playing to an adult female target audience, the STX release aims to make its connection from Christmas Day onwards once its target crowd becomes more available. The PG-13 film skewed 70% female and 75% over 25. Reviews were lackluster but paying audiences were generally satisfied as the CinemaScore was a decent B+. 16 years ago, Lopez opened Maid in Manhattan to $18.7M in mid December and legged her way to a $94M final.

Disney followed with its toon sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet which fell 50% to an estimated $4.6M boosting the cume to $162.1M with the school holidays ahead. Dead on arrival was Steve Carell's new film Welcome to Marwen from director Robert Zemeckis which grossed only $2.4M, according to estimates for a dismal $1,235 average from 1,911 sites. With bad reviews, no awards buzz, and heavy competition, there was no interest for this Universal release. Focus expanded nationally its awards hopeful period piece Mary Queen of Scots from 66 to 795 locations and grossed an estimated $2.2M for a mild $2,818 average. Cume is $3.5M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $160.5M which was off 2% from last year when Star Wars: The Last Jedi remained at number one with $71.6M; and down 3% from 2016 when Rogue One stayed in the top spot with $64M.

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Compared to projections, Aquaman came in below my $85M forecast while Bumblebee and Mary Poppins Returns were both close to my predictions of $20M and $19M, respectively. Second Act and Welcome to Marwen opened below my projections of $10M and $5M.


Last Updated: December 23, 2018 at 12:30PM ET

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