Weekend Box Office (December 14 - 16, 2018)
THIS WEEKEND The webslinger was back in the number one spot at the box office as the animated adventure Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse opened on top with an estimated $35.4M setting itself up for what should be a long holiday run ahead. Animated films in December do not open at the same levels as they do during the other eleven months since families know they have an extended school break coming up between Christmas and New Year's which presents plenty of time to go out to the movies. Films play out over the long term and finish with a higher multiple.
Sony's strategy was to get it into the marketplace ahead of some of next week's action titles like Aquaman and Bumblebee and let positive buzz spread. Fans this weekend were loving Spider-Verse as the PG-rated film earned a rare A+ grade from CinemaScore which, along with its glowing reviews, will keep ticket buyers coming in for weeks. While the Spider-Man brand is among the most famous in the comic book world, this new film offers a new take and new style so the upfront turnout would not be the same as for past live-action films for this super hero.
Clint Eastwood quietly made his way to the second place spot with his latest offering The Mule which performed well opening to an estimated $17.2M from 2,588 sites for a solid $6,650 average. Reviews were mixed and there was no real awards chatter, but the R-rated film did bring out the Oscar winner's loyal fan base and pleased its target audience with an A- grade from CinemaScore. With the older audience base and the holidays coming up, good legs may result.
Universal's animated hit The Grinch eased only 23% to an estimated $11.6M in third place and boosted its stellar total to $239.3M with global now at $372.7M. Rival holiday season toon Ralph Breaks the Internet fell 41% to an estimated $9.6M after reigning at number one for three weeks. Disney has banked $154.5M domestic and $285.2M worldwide.
Crashing and burning in fifth place was the sci-fi actioner Mortal Engines which failed to excite movie audiences grossing an estimated $7.5M in its first weekend. The PG-13 title averaged a weak $2,417 from 3,103 locations for Universal. Marketed using producer Peter Jackson's name, Engines had no major starpower, no well-known brand, and weak reviews.
Creed II became the latest Rocky franchise film to join the $100M club by ranking sixth with an estimated $5.4M, off 46%, for a new tally of $104.9M for MGM. Fox's runaway hit Bohemian Rhapsody held well again dropping only 33% to an estimated $4.1M lifting the cume to an impressive $180.4M with hopes of cracking the double century mark as it plays through the holidays. With a monster $455.5M overseas, the Freddie Mercury smash has a global haul of $635.9M.
The Paramount comedy Instant Family followed with an estimated $3.7M, down 35%, for a $60.2M total. Falling 48% to an estimated $3.7M was the franchise flick Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald which has collected $151.7M for Warner Bros. to date. It is running 27% behind the pace of its 2016 predecessor, and the global take is now $595.9M. Showing legs, Green Book dipped 29% to an estimated $2.8M giving the Universal awards hopeful $24.7M to date.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $101M which was down a steep 62% from last year when Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened at number one with $220M; and down 50% from 2016 when Rogue One debuted in the top spot with $155.1M.
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Compared to projections, Spider-Man came in below my $41M forecast while The Mule powered ahead of my $11M prediction. Mortal Engines bowed weaker than my $11M projection.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Aquaman, Bumblebee, Mary Poppins Returns, Second Act and Welcome to Marwen all open.
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 16, 2018 at 1:00PM ET
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