Sunday, May 26, 2019

Disney's Never Had A 2010s Memorial Day Box Office Hit Like Aladdin While Fellow Newcomers BrightBurn And Booksmart Underperform

Note: all figures discussed in this article are three-day weekend estimates. Four-day Memorial Day weekend box office grosses are not discussed here.

The past few months, I’ve been convinced that Aladdin would end up being Disney’s big summertime box office misfire, which just goes to show you that there is one universal truth in this world: I know nothing. Aladdin ended up surpassing all expectations with a whopping $86.1 million bow, the sixth biggest three-day bow for a Memorial Day new release ever. It’s also the fourth-biggest opening weekend for a live-action Disney remake, only The Jungle Book ($102 million), Alice in Wonderland ($116 million) and Beauty and the Beast ($174 million) did better. It’s also the second-biggest opening weekend ever for Will Smith, only Suicide Squad had a bigger bow for the actor. This $86.1 million bow means Aladdin had the biggest opening weekend for a 2019 movie that isn't set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and means that Disney has three biggest opening weekends of 2019.

Though early marketing for Aladdin drew skepticism from many (including myself, hence why I was so dubious of its box office prospects), Aladdin’s overall marketing approach ended up effectively tapping into lots of nostalgia for the beloved 1992 Disney film while also promising loads of spectacle in the form of elaborate musical numbers. This resulted in a box office hit that finally put an end to Disney’s 2010s Memorial Day weekend cold streak. Disney has released plenty of box office duds like Tomorrowland and Solo in this holiday frame in recent year, but Aladdin certainly turned that box office trend around. Even with plenty of family movie competition headed its way in the next few weeks, it’d be shocking if Aladdin didn’t crack $250 million domestically.

In second place comes last weekends box office victor, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, which had a 57% drop from last weekend. That's a bigger second-weekend drop than either of the other John Wick movies, but Parabellum had a much larger opening weekend than those two films, so the larger drop is excusable. Taking in another $24.3 million, Parabellum has a ten-day gross of $100.9 million, making it only the thirteen Lionsgate movie to cross $100 million domestically. Next was Avengers: Endgame, which dropped 43% for a fifth-weekend gross of $16.8 million, a smaller fifth-weekend gross than Avengers: Infinity War. Endgame has grossed $798.1 million as of today and will become only the second movie to gross over $800 million domestically (not taking into inflation) tomorrow. Pokemon: Detective Pikachu fell another 47% this weekend for a third-weekend gross of $13.3 million and a domestic total of $116.1 million.

Next, we come to our two other wide release newcomers, neither of which performed like they were supposed to, though they're both cheap enough productions that their financial losses will be minimal. First was BrightBurn, which grossed only $7.5 million. Despite the presence of Elizabeth Banks and James Gunn, as well as opening over the Memorial Day weekend, BrightBurn only opened 23% bigger than fellow Screen Gems horror title The Possession of Hannah Grace. Doing a dark take on the Superman set-up just didn't have much appeal for moviegoers, though a bigger problem was likely that moviegoers looking for horror likely are waiting for next weekends more high-profile Ma, which has also been marketed to look more cheekily fun than the grim marketing for BrightBurn.

And then there was Booksmart, which opened to only $6.5 million, the sixth-worst opening weekend of 2019 for a movie opening in over 2,500 locations. It's also one of the weaker openings for a movie in the R-Rated Youth subgenre, coming in $300,000 behind the opening weekend of Youth in Revolt and only $500,000 ahead of the bow of The Girl Next Door. R-rated comedies about High Schoolers is always tricky business since the audience its aimed at is typically too young to see it alone. The most successful entries in this subgenre, American Pie and SuperBad, managed to avoid this problem by marketing themselves in a manner evoking nostalgia (the latter film even used a retro Columbia Pictures logo in its trailers to cement this), their marketing was aimed at people with memories of being teenagers rather than actual teenagers. Booksmart's marketing, meanwhile, was definitely aimed at the young people of today, creating some issues for it in its quest of achieving box office success. On a personal editorial note, everybody go see Booksmart, I just saw it this morning and it's amazing and wonderful and hysterical.

Moving onto holdovers, A Dog's Journey fell 49% to gross another $4 million for a 10-day domestic total of $14.9 million, which is below the $18.2 million opening weekend of A Dog's Purpose. The Hustle actually had the smallest weekend-to-weekend drop in the top ten as it fell only 38% to gross another $3.8 million for a $29.8 million domestic total. The Intruder fell another 43% in its third weekend of release to gross another $2.2 million for a domestic gross of $31.9 million. Rounding out the top ten was Long Shot, which dropped 53% for a fourth-weekend gross of $1.5 million for only a $28.9 million domestic gross. Dumbo got attached to a bunch of drive-in screenings of Aladdin, allowing it increase a whopping 238% from last weekend to gross another $1 million for a $112.7 million domestic gross.

The Sun Is Also a Star fell a whopping 69% from opening weekend to gross another $775,000 for only a $4.2 million domestic gross. Meanwhile, Poms also dropped a steep 69% for a third-weekend gross of $660,000 for only a $12.3 million domestic gross while fellow STX Entertainment holdover Uglydolls dropped 65% for a fourth-weekend haul of $610,000 and a domestic gross of $18.8 million. Holding better than those holdovers was The Biggest Little Farm, which grossed $492,350 (a 78% increase from last weekend) from 180 locations for a per-theater average of $2,735 and a $1 million domestic gross to date. The Curse of La Llorona, meanwhile, dropped 51% for a sixth-weekend gross of $435,000 and a domestic gross of $53.7 million. The White Crow expanded into 356 locations this frame but only gross $357,361 for a meager per-theater average of $1,004 and a domestic total of $1.1 million.

Tolkien lost 1,312 locations this weekend and ended up dropping 80% for a third-weekend gross of only $147,000 and a domestic haul of $4.3 million. Amazing Grace, after eight weekends of release, cracked $4 million by grossing another $145,200 (a 34% dip from last weekend) for a domestic gross of exactly $4 million. The Souvenir grossed $141,496 from 23 locations for a per-theater average of $6,152 and a domestic total of $253,152 while All Is True grossed $138,207 from 64 locations for a per-theater average of $2,159 for a domestic total of $295,062. Non-Fiction expanded into 60 locations to gross another $124,318 bringing it up to a domestic total of $315,188 while Photograph expanded into 124 locations to gross only $119,564 for a per-theater average of just $964 and a domestic total of $169,374.

Moving onto a bevy of limited release newcomers, Echo in the Canyon got off to a surprisingly strong start with a $103,716 from 2 locations for a per-theater average of $51,858, the best opening weekend per-theater-average ever for a title released by Greenwhich. India's Most Wanted opened to $100,000 from 110 locations for a per-theater average of $909 while The Tomorrow Man opened to only $19,327 from 4 locations for a per-theater average of $4,832. The Proposal grossed $12,100 from a single location and Halston, also playing in a solitary location, opened to $11,824. The Spy Behind Home Plate opened to $10,250 from one movie theater, Woodstock: Three Days That Defined A Generation grossed $8,150 from 2 locations for a per-theater average of $4,075 while, finally, Diamantino opened to $6,412 from a single movie theater.

The top 12 movies this weekend grossed a total of $168.1 million, down about 5% from this same weekend last year when Solo: A Star Wars Story began its box office run. May 2019 has now grossed $907.1 million, meaning there's no chance this month manages to beat out the $1.141 billion gross of May 2013 to become the biggest May ever. However, May 2019 should easily clear $1 billion, becoming only the eighth May in history to clear $1 billion.

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