Sunday, December 17, 2017

"This Is Getting Out of Hand! Now There Are Two of Them!": Star Wars: The Last Jedi Avoids Sophomore Slump And Has Massive Box Office Bow

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a movie whose box office performance I was most curious to see given how prior sequels to big record-breaking blockbusters had performed in the past. Most movies that open to over $150 million end up having sequels that open below their predecessors, with the occasional exception of something like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (which went up 5% from the first Hunger Games) and The Dark Knight Rises (which went up 1.5% from The Dark Knight). The Last Jedi was down from The Force Awakens (how could it not?) but that's the only real complaint you could lob at the title as it ended up generating a massive $220 million opening weekend.

That's the second biggest opening weekend in history, only behind The Force Awakens, the fourth biggest opening weekend in history when adjusting for inflation (The Avengers and Jurassic World edge it out in attendance) and the second biggest opening weekend in Star Wars history even when adjusted for inflation (though the prequels all debuted on a Thursday, thus burning off demand for their opening weekends). Needless to say, this is a massive bow that demonstrates, along with Rogue One making over $530 million just last year despite starring no established characters of the main Star Wars movies, that these Star Wars movies have officially cemented themselves as must-see cinematic events and not just one-time nostalgia trips.

The good news for The Last Jedi was that people absolutely loved The Force Awakens and its characters and trailers promising new & exciting developments for them assured viewers that they weren't just repeating stuff from The Force Awakens. An omnipresent marketing campaign combined with positive buzz from The Force Awakens ensured that The Last Jedi was destined for massive box office. If it holds like Rogue One last year, it would make around $755 million domestically and if it holds any better than that over the lucrative holiday season, it's gonna end up surpassing $760 million haul of Rogue One to become the second biggest movie ever at the domestic box office.

In second place was fellow newcomer Ferdinand, which grossed $13.3 million, by far the lowest-grossing opening weekend in history for Blue Sky Studios and the first time one of their titles has opened beneath $20 million. Of course, family movies opening in December leg out far better than they would at other times of the year; the fourth Chipmunks movie opened against The Force Awakens two years ago and opened to $14.2 million before doing 6 times its opening weekend for an 85 million haul while Charlotte's Web opened in this same December 15th corridor and did 7.3 times its opening weekend for an $82.9 million haul. Ferdinand's a more expensive project than those two though (it's got a $111 million budget) and has greater box office expectations placed to it being a computer-animated family movie. Plus, competition from The Greatest Showman and Jumanji means the future could be tough for Ferdinand, though it'll probably still crack $80 million here domestically.

Coco felt the brunt of Star Wars and Ferdinand in its fourth weekend of release by going down 45%, a greater fourth weekend dip than Tangled and Moana, but it still managed another $10 million for a $150.8 million domestic total so far. Fellow November 2017 family movie Wonder held quite well this frame, going down only 36% to gross another $5.4 million for a $109.2 million domestic total. This one's had one of the most impressive box office runs of 2017 and it's nowhere near done yet. Meanwhile, Justice League had the second-biggest weekend-to-weekend drop in the top twelve by going down 57% to gross another $4.1 million for a domestic haul of $219.4 million. I'm wagering this one ends its domestic run in the vicinity of $235-240 million. Meanwhile, Daddy's Home 2 once again showed remarkable box office stamina by easing only 36% this frame to gross another $3.8 million for a $96.3 million domestic haul. If this one doesn't lose all of its screens next weekend, it could crack $110 million domestically.

Thor: Ragnarok dropped 52% this weekend, on par with the 51% Doctor Strange dropped in the face of Rogue One last year, and grossed another $2.9 million, bringing its domestic haul to $306.3 million. Dropping more than expected this frame was The Disaster Artist, which dropped 58% to add another $2.6 million to its domestic run that now stands at a solid $12.9 million. Will it become only the fifth A24 movie ever to gross over $20 million? That depends on how many of its screens it can hold onto next weekend. Murder On The Orient Express chugged into ninth place this weekend, dropping 52% to add another $2.4 million to a domestic run that now stands at a great $97.2 million. Rounding out the top ten was Lady Bird, which was one of only three titles in the top 12 to drop under 40% from last weekend by going down only 39% to gross another $2.1 million, bringing its domestic gross to $25.9 million, making it the second biggest A24 movie of all-time.

The Star was nestled right outside of the top ten and managed to gross another $1.7 million, a 52% drop from last weekend, and now this one's grossed $35.3 million. No word yet on how last weekend's new wide release Just Getting Started performed this weekend, Broad Green Pictures has not reported any box office figures from that film yet. Anywho, The Shape of Water expanded into 158 theaters and continued its strong box office run by grossing $1.73 million for an $11,000 per-theater average. Guillermo Del Toro's newest movie has grossed $3.6 million so far and seems poised and ready for a strong wide release opening weekend this coming Friday. Fellow Holiday Season 2017 Fox Searchlight title Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was right behind Shape of Water with a $1.6 million gross this weekend, a 43% drop from last weekend, that gives the Martin McDonagh movie a $21.3 million domestic gross. It is now only the seventh movie of 2017 to start its domestic run in limited release and end up grossing over $20 million domestically.

Darkest Hour actually held quite well this weekend as it expanded into 84 theaters and grossed $850,000 for a per-theater average of $10,119. This one's amassed a domestic total of $2.3 million so far. Call Me By Your Name finally did a major location expansion this week, going into 30 theaters, and grossed $491,933 for a per-theater average of $16,398 and a domestic gross so far of $2 million. Wonder Wheel did not see the same level of success in its expansion into 536 theaters as it grossed only $472,216 for a dismal per-theater average of only $881. With $851,470 grossed after 17 days of release, at least this one will end up grossing over $1 million domestically, but this is still an anemic box office run, no question about it. I, Tonya dipped only 33% in its second weekend as it grossed $175,189 from 5 locations for a per-theater average of $35,238. After several weeks of high-profile limited release bows, this weekend was more muted, with the biggest of the new limited releases being The Ballad of Lefty Brown, which bowed in 2 locations just as it debuted on DirectTV on-demand services and grossed $6,115 for a per-theater average of $3,058. Finally, GKIDS new release
Birdboy: The Forgotten Child had a lackluster bow of only $5,684 from 4 locations for per-theater average of $1,421.

The top 12 movies this weekend grossed a total of $270.4 million, the biggest 50th weekend of any given year and the third biggest weekend of all-time. Looks like 2017, which has grossed $10.27 billion so far and is now running ahead of every other year in history except for 2016, is going out on a high note in terms of domestic box office performance.

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