Box Office: Sam Mendes’ 1917 is a bonafide hit, as it kicks STAR WARS to the curb

Welcome to the Beat’s Weekend Box Office Recap!

It was a rather strange weekend at the box office with the holidays officially being over and everyone being back to work and school. There were two brand-new wide releases that failed to get much attention away from two movies that expanded nationwide after fairly healthy limited runs over Christmas.

Sam Mendes‘ World War I movie 1917 managed to capitalize on its (to some) surprising Golden Globe wins a week ago Sunday to deliver a massive $36.5 million (estimated) as Universal Pictures expanded it into 3,434 theaters. After taking in a fantastic $3.2 million in Thursday previews, 1917 won Friday with nearly $14 million, shadowing all the other new and returning releases.  For a comparison,  Leonardo DiCaprio‘s The Revenant expanded nationwide into 3,375 theaters four years ago and made $39.8 million, but that had the A-List Dicaprio while 1917 starred the lesser-known George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman with brief appearances by Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch. It actually did better than most expected, including myself.

We’ll have to see how Mendes’ well-regarded movie — currently at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes — continues to do over the next month of awards season leading up to the Oscars after multiple nominations on Monday morning, but it has a good shot at making $100 million domestically, especially once it expands into more IMAX theaters at the end of the month. 1917 received an “A-” CinemaScore from audiences, which isn’t too bad.

JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker just hasn’t been able to maintain the level of business as previous movies in the current Lucasfilm lexicon, as it dropped to second place in its fourth weekend with just $15 million, down 56% from last weekend. After four weeks in theaters, the franchise “finale” has grossed $477.6 million domestically, which is about $100 million less than The Last Jedi grossed in its four weeks. I have no doubts that it can cross the $500 million mark.  Overseas, the movie has done only slightly better, adding another $24.2 million this weekend to bring its international total to $511.4 million. With $989.6 million grossed globally, it will soon be Disney’s eighth movie of 2019 to hit the billion mark worldwide.

Sony’s sequel Jumanji: The Next Level continues to hold better from week to week, and while it dropped to third place with $14 million this weekend (down 47%), we honestly could see it surpass The Rise of Skywalker next weekend as history starts to repeat itself, since that’s what happened with the previous “Jumanji” movie vis-a-vis The Last Jedi. So far, the Dwayne JohnsonKevin Hart vehicle has grossed $257.1 million domestically and with another $22.6 million added internationally this weekend, it’s at $671 million globally.

There actually was a bonafide photo finish for fourth place between two of the other new nationwide release, Paramount’s R-rated comedy Like A Boss and Warner Bros’ Just Mercy, each reporting an estimated $10 million.

Starring Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek, Like A Boss came into the weekend with far worse reviews, opening in just over 3,000 theaters after making a million in Thursday previews.  While it was touch and go whether it would beat Just Mercy, it’s still too close to tell based on estimates. The comedy got a “B” CinemaScore, which means that audiences didn’t care for the movie much more than the critics.

That wasn’t the case with Just Mercy, which scared a rarer “A+” at CinemaScore with stories about celebrity buyouts of the adaptation of the bestselling book by Destin Daniel Cretton (who is directing Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), which starred Michael B. Jordan as real-life criminal rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, sa well as Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx. It made $3.6 million on Friday compared to Like A Boss‘ $3.9 million but one can probably expect it to do fairly well over the next few weeks even without any significant awards nominations.

Greta Gerwig‘s Little Women, starring Saoirse Ronan, continues to do well despite not winning as much early awards season love as other movies. It added another $7.7 million this weekend as it dropped to sixth place with a whopping $74 million grossed in North America. With another $8.1 million made overseas, Gerwig’s second feature film has crossed the $100 million mark worldwide.

Things didn’t go as well for Kristen Stewart‘s deep-sea thriller Underwater, released by 20th CenturY Fox into 2,791 theaters, as it opened slow with just $500,000 in theaters but managed to build on that business thanks to mixed reviews to end its first weekend at #7 with $7 million, roughly $2,500 per theater. That’s pretty bad even for a relatively lower-costing movie, but it will still be relying on overseas business to make that money back. Underwater got a “C” CinemaScore, which is pretty bad but not nearly as bad as last week’s The Grudge.

The top 10 was rounded out by Disney’s Frozen II, which was finally knocked out of the top five after 7 weeks there; Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out, still doing fantastic business after a nomination from the PGA (Producers Guild) earlier in the week; and Fox’s Spies in Disguise, which failed to find much of an audience as it departs the top 10 with less than $55 million amassed over the holidays. (The Will Smith-Tom Holland starrer is doing only slightly better overseas with $60.4 million.)

In case you wondered what happened to the horror reboot The Grudge, it took a massive 69% plunge right out of the top 10 to 12th place with $3.5 million. In other words, it’s dead, Jim. It’s hard to improve on a poor opening when you get an “F” CinemaScore, as The Grudge did. (That’s also less than the $3.6 million made by Adam Sandler‘s Uncut Gems in its third weekend.)

This Week’s Top 10: 

Rank Last Week Rank Movie Studio Weekend Gross % Change Total Gross
1 17 1917 Universal $36.5 million +5,809% $450.8 million
2 1 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Disney/Lucasfilm $15.1 million -56% $236.2 million
3 2 Jumanji: The Next Level Sony $14 million -47% $46.4 million
4 New Like a Boss Paramount $10 million N/A $10 million
5 29 Just Mercy Warner Bros. $10 million +12,952% $10.4 million
6 3 Little Women Sony $7.7 million -44% $46.7 million
7 New Underwater 20th Century Fox $7 million N/A $7 million
8 4 Frozen II Walt Disney Pictures $5.8 -51% $7 million
9 7 Knives Out Lionsgate $5.7 million -36% $24.6 million
10 6 Spies in Disguise 20th Century Fox $5.1 million  -51% $24.7 million

Last year, the box office was topped by the comedy The Upside, starring Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston, which was picked up by STXfilms from the defunct Weinstein Company, and it did decently with $20.4 million. The other new movies didn’t fare as well with Universal’s A Dog’s Way Home opening in third place with $11.3 million and Keanu Reeves‘ Replicas bombing out with just $2.5 million outside the top 10. The top 10 grossed $97 million, which is about $20 million less than this weekend, so yes, folks, the box office is starting the year up from last year. Trust me. It won’t last.

Check back on Wednesday for the Box Office Preview, which will take a look at Will Smith and Kevin Hart‘s reunion as Bad Boys for Life and Robert Downey Jr. taking on another literally character for the family fantasy-adventure, Dolittle.


  1. “The Rise of Skywalker” is now likely to make less money than “Rogue One.” Yeah, it’s still a lot of money but probably at least 300 to 500 million dollars less than they expected or hoped for.

    Score one for the gatekeepers.


  2. “Score one for the gatekeepers.”

    Gatekeepers? Is that some private fan jargon?

    I saw “1917” yesterday and while it’s technically superb, it reminded me a bit too much of “Gallipoli” and “Saving Private Ryan” (but with a somewhat happier ending).

    BTW, if you want to see a great WWI movie that makes the British military look very bad, see “Gallipoli.”

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