Weekend Box Office (December 25 - 27, 2020)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Accounting for 70% of all spending at the entire North American box office over the Christmas holiday weekend, the much-anticipated comic book sequel Wonder Woman 1984 rocketed to number one with an estimated $16.7M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. It was by far the biggest opening weekend of the pandemic era beating the $9.7M of The Croods: A New Age from Thanksgiving and the $9.4M of Tenet from the Labor Day frame when moviegoers finally had their first tentpole when cinemas reopened.

Making the WW84 result especially potent was the fact that it also released day and date at home for HBO Max subscribers at no additional cost. Still, the PG-13 epic managed to average a fantastic $7,764 from 2,151 locations - the type of average we haven't seen since pre-Covid times. Current conditions saw theaters still closed in several major markets such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Toronto as only 56% of the marketplace is currently open for business and Canada almost completely shut down with only 5% of its cinemas operating.

Add in seating capacity restrictions and it is easy to see how impressive the opening was under these circumstances. In recent weeks, new Hollywood releases were lucky to just get to $2-3M in the first weekend. Now for a big-budget action sequel, the numbers still need to be much higher in order to breakeven. But Covid times are requiring new calculations and Warner Bros. and HBO Max are expecting a surge in streaming subscribers, especially with all the studio's 2021 films following this same distribution strategy.

Early reviews for 1984 were very strong, but those published closer to release were more of a mixed bag. The B+ grade from CinemaScore was acceptable, but not as shiny as the A that its 2017 predecessor earned. That smash kicked off with a $103.3M opening weekend in the summer finishing with quadruple that amount at $412.6M with a global tally of $822M. The sequel will not have the same word of mouth going forward, but it will at least have a lucrative holiday week coming up which will allow it to cash in from DC fans who want that big screen experience, where available.

Fan experience is what it's all about - and will be central to 2021's box office comeback. Much of the Wonder Woman 1984 business came from premium formats like IMAX and Dolby plus more than 10,000 private cinema rentals where people had an entire showing all to themselves for their own small group. These popular options added greatly to the weekend's strong result. Given the calendar ahead, WW84 might be able to break the $30M domestic mark over New Year's weekend on its way to $40M+ and possibly $50M+.

Diana Prince opened overseas earlier and kept its international run going with holdovers plus new openings that brought in an estimated $19.4M this weekend. That raised the current totals to $68.3M offshore and $85M global as it breaks the $100M mark in the coming days. China has given good and bad news. It leads all markets with a $23.9M total, however its second weekend witnessed utter collapse with sales plunging by more than 90% thanks to mixed reactions and stiff local competition. Despite lockdowns in Europe and little business likely from that continent, Warners is hoping to take this one north of $200M worldwide led by the U.S., Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.

Tom Hanks rolled out his new film News of the World on Christmas Day and took second place for the weekend with an estimated $2.4M. Averaging $1,263 from 1,900 theaters, the PG-13 period drama was met with good reviews from critics and attracted a respectable audience. As an older-skewing film, the Universal release hopes to keep the sales going over the days and weeks ahead. CinemaScore grade was a B+.

Showing that some movies can co-exist in theaters and also at home simultaneously, Universal's The Croods: A New Age dropped only 17% in its fifth weekend to an estimated $1.7M while also losing 9% of its locations. The PG-rated pic's $1,002 average was quite commendable for the pandemic era, especially for a film which is one month old. The new Croods joined Tenet as the only movies in the Covid era to break $30M domestic. New totals are now $30.4M from North America, $67.9M international (led by China's $51.4M) and $98.3M global.

Sony's action adventure Monster Hunter fell from first to fourth place with an estimated $1.1M dropping 49% in its sophomore frame now that a more high profile tentpole has entered the market.

The critically acclaimed film Promising Young Woman opened in fifth place with an estimated $680,000 from 1,310 locations for a $519 average. Dark stories are tougher to sell at this time of year, but the Carey Mulligan revenge tale has earned strong reviews and awards buzz attracting an upscale crowd. Word of mouth has been positive which should keep it going over the holiday season.

The Lionsgate thriller Fatale dropped 28% to an estimated $660,000 putting the cume at $2M. Roadside Attractions opened Pinocchio to an estimated $275,000 from 764 sites for a $360 average this weekend.

Robert De Niro's hit comedy The War with Grandpa fell 47% to an estimated $91,000 giving 101 Studios $18.4M to date with the title now available at home on demand. Horror pic Freaky followed with an estimated $50,000, down a sharp 71%, giving Universal $8.7M as it nears the end of its run.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $23.8M which was down 87% from last year when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker remained at number one with $72.4M; and down 86% from 2018 when Aquaman stayed in the top spot with $52.1M.

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# Title Dec 25 - 27 Dec 18 - 20 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Wonder Woman 1984 $ 16,700,000 2,151 1 $ 7,764 $ 16,700,000 Warner Bros.
2 News of the World 2,400,000 1,900 1 1,263 2,400,000 Universal
3 The Croods: A New Age 1,730,000 2,080,000 -16.8 1,726 5 1,002 30,350,000 Universal
4 Monster Hunter 1,125,000 2,200,000 -48.9 1,817 2 619 4,216,000 Sony
5 Promising Young Woman 720,000 1,310 1 550 720,000 Focus
6 Fatale 659,825 918,112 -28.1 1,168 2 565 1,961,347 Lionsgate
7 Pinocchio 268,259 764 1 351 268,259 Roadside Attr.
8 The War with Grandpa 89,746 170,816 -47.5 515 12 174 18,445,303 101 Studios
9 Freaky 50,000 175,000 -71.4 255 10 196 8,660,000 Universal
10 Come Play 45,000 110,000 -59.1 123 9 366 9,472,000 Focus
Top 5 $ 22,675,000 $ 5,633,112 302.5
Top 10 23,787,830 6,250,928 280.5
Top 10 vs. 2019 23,787,830 186,817,165 -87.3
Top 10 vs. 2018 23,787,830 165,718,403 -85.6

Last Updated: December 31, 2020 at 1:00PM ET

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