- Lionsgate’s “Midway” gets the surprise box office win this weekend, taking in $17.5 million.
- However, it’s the lowest opening weekend win for a November release since 1999’s “The Bone Collector.”
- Warner Bros.’ “Doctor Sleep” opened below expectations, bringing in only $14.1 million.
- Universal’s comedy “Last Christmas” brought in $11.6 million.
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It was a historically bad weekend at the domestic box office, as the winning figure was so low you had to go all the way back to a Denzel Washington/Angelina Jolie thriller from decades ago to find a comparison.
Lionsgate’s World War II movie “Midway” blew past its $12 million industry projection to win the weekend box office with an estimated $17.5 million. However, with a $100 million budget, it will need to put in more work for a profit to be made for its financiers (Lionsgate only picked up the movie’s US and UK rights).
The movie beat out Warner Bros.’ “The Shining” sequel, “Doctor Sleep,” which only brought in $14.1 million on 3,855 screens to come in second place. Projections had the movie bringing in around $25 million, but it turned out no one wanted to sit through a two-and-a-half-hour horror a week after Halloween.
The “Midway” win is the lowest opening weekend win for a November release since 1999’s “The Bone Collector,” which had a $16.7 million opening to win the November 5, 1999 weekend.
Historically, November is the time of year at the movie theaters where you have a mix of action tent poles and art house titles vying for awards consideration. So it’s not like audiences avoid this time of year, especially Veterans Day weekend. In that past, this holiday weekend has seen the launch of big titles like “The Grinch” last year (which had a $67.5 million opening and went on to earn over $500 million worldwide), and “Skyfall” in 2012 ($88.3 million and took in over $1 billion worldwide).
So why was this weekend a crash and burn for the industry?
As we already noted, the release for “Doctor Sleep” is a puzzling one, as it opened after Halloween. By this weekend, everyone was done with scary movies. Warner Bros. likely wanted to stay clear of Paramount opening “Terminator: Dark Fate” last week. But it turned out that wouldn’t have been a factor. “Dark Fate” has in no way lived up to the hype. After the weak $29 million opening last weekend, it followed that with a $10.8 million performance this weekend.
That’s two wide releases from major studios not holding its weight.
Universal is thinking long game with an early November release of “Last Christmas,” its holiday rom-com. The movie came in third place with a $11.6 million opening. Modestly budgeted (around $25 million), it will make its money back quicker than the above titles, but it’s another title this weekend audiences weren’t flocking to.
And Paramount’s John Cena family comedy “Playing with Fire” took in a respectable $12.8 million, but in no way can help the studio rebound from “Dark Fate.”
The box office should rebound next weekend with Sony opening “Charlie’s Angels” and Disney/Fox releasing “Ford v Ferrari,” but there isn’t going to be a “Joker”-sized hit until “Frozen II” takes over the multiplex on November 22.
Box office highlights:
- Amazon Studios’ “Honey Boy” had an impressive $62,000-plus per-screen average on four screens in its first weekend in theaters.
- “Jojo Rabbit” expanded to over 800 screens this weekend and took in $3.9 million. The Fox Searchlight title has brought in $9.1 million in four weeks.