Weekend Box Office (December 22 - 24, 2017)
THIS WEEKEND The Christmas holiday frame was led by Luke Skywalker and company as Star Wars: The Last Jedi remained at number one while a barrage of new and expanding films filled up the rest of the top ten. There were casualties of box office war as the overcrowded marketplace did not have room for all.
Grossing an estimated $68.5M in its second weekend, Last Jedi propelled its ten-day cume to a robust $365.1M. However, the decline of 69% was quite steep. Christmas Eve is a slower day at the box office because of last-minute holiday traveling and shopping plus many theaters close early and offer fewer showtimes. This impacts all films at the box office this Sunday and explains a portion of the Jedi drop, but also the tentpole sequel is eroding faster with much of the audience coming out upfront.
Last year, Rogue One fell 59% on its second weekend. It would not be a fair comparison since it included both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, a much more powerful day at the turnstiles. Between the yuletide holiday and New Year's, every day plays like a Saturday so there is plenty of potential ahead for Jedi, and all other films too.
But to examine a more appropriate comparison, Rogue One grossed $318.1M in its first 11 days which included both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Disney is projecting an additional $32.2M for Jedi on Monday's holiday for an 11-day total of $397.3M. That would put Jedi at 25% above the pace of Rogue One after 11 days, even though the opening weekend was 42% bigger. And the estimated four-day holiday weekend gross of $100.7M for Jedi is only slightly better than the $96.1M four-day for Rogue One a year ago.
Compared to The Force Awakens, Jedi opened 11% behind but through 11 days it will be down 30%. So the new Star Wars is slowing down its pace. Still, the road ahead sees Episode VIII breaking the $500M mark in its third weekend and possibly surpassing $550M through New Year's Day which would make it 2017's top-grossing blockbuster. A domestic final in the $650-675M range looks possible now.
Overseas, The Last Jedi grossed an estimated $75.1M this weekend, off 67% from the opening frame. Through Sunday, the international cume is $380.3M while the worldwide tally has climbed up to $745.4M with a shot at passing the $800M barrier on Christmas night. The $1 billion mark could be cracked on Friday or Saturday with more to go including the entire China release which begins on January 5th.
Sony scored a big holiday hit with the action adventure reboot Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle which opened with strength in second place grossing an estimated $34M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $50.6M to date since its mid-week launch. That made for a muscular $9,031 average over three days from 3,765 locations. The PG-13 action comedy had broad appeal offering popcorn fun to all audiences and ticket buyers certainly connected, especially those not interested in a space adventure. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black provided plenty of starpower and as a bonus, reviews were quite good. That doesn't always happen with films of this type.
Studio data put the crowd at 56% male and 55% under 25. With strong audience buzz and the lucrative holidays ahead, Jumanji may break $100M by Friday surpassing the $100.5M of the Robin Williams film of the same name from 22 years ago this same month. International markets opened well too with $49.5M from 53 markets.
The comedy threequel Pitch Perfect 3 bowed in the number three spot with an estimated $20.5M from 3,447 locations for a $5,947 average. That amounted to less than one third of the $69.2M debut of part 2 from May 2015. Certainly Christmas Eve falling on the weekend had an impact, but for the most part, fan interest has subsided substantially. Universal was met with lackluster reviews for this PG-13 chapter which intends to close the franchise. Young women were the driving force again as studio data showed that the crowd was 69% female, 57% under 25, and 55% white. Saturday tumbled a troubling 37% from opening day (by far the most of any major film this weekend) indicating a rocky road ahead.
Opening in fourth place was the Hugh Jackman musical The Greatest Showman which took in an estimated $8.6M over three days and $13.2M over the five days since its Wednesday debut. The PG-rated film averaged a mild $2,861 from 3,006 sites over the weekend period. Critics have had mixed feelings for the P.T. Barnum pic, however paying audiences are giving a thumbs up with an encouraging A CinemaScore grade. That bodes well for the school holidays ahead especially since this is not a film that audiences need to rush out and see upfront. Showman could possibly climb to the neighborhood of $50M by the time schools reopen on January 2.
A pair of holdover toons followed. Fox's Ferdinand fell 47% in its second weekend to an estimated $7.1M lifting the total to $26.5M. Disney watched its Pixar offering Coco slide 48% to an estimated $5.2M and $161.3M domestic to date with global at a solid $486.3M. Both films plan to score good daily grosses over the coming week with kids out of school.
Audiences ignored Matt Damon's new film Downsizing which opened poorly with an estimated $4.6M from 2,668 locations for a weak $1,724 average. Reviews were not very good and those who did see the R-rated film were not pleased as it earned a low C grade from CinemaScore. Studio research from Paramount showed an audience that was 51% male and 60% over 30. Awards contender Darkest Hour expanded nationally and jumped into the top ten with an estimated $4.2M from 806 sites for a good $5,149 average. Focus has banked $8.8M so far.
Warner Bros. got nowhere with its R-rated comedy Father Figures which was dead on arrival with an estimated $3.2M from 2,902 sites for a poor $1,103 average. Reviews were negative and audiences had an abundant amount of other choices during this crowded frame. Expanding nationwide was one of the top Oscar contenders The Shape of Water which grossed an estimated $3.1M from 726 locations for a $4,201 average. Fox Searchlight has $7.6M and counting.
Getting off to a sturdy platform start was Steven Spielberg's acclaimed film The Post starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks which, to no surprise, has been generating Academy Awards buzz. The Fox release did an estimated $495,000 from just nine theaters for a stellar $55,000 average. Post goes nationwide on January 12.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $158.8M which was off 4% from last year when Rogue One stayed at number one with $64M; and down 42% from 2015 when The Force Awakens remained in the top spot with $149.2M.
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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: December 24, 2017 at 4:30PM ET
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