Box Office: ABOMINABLE is the #1 movie… and the best way to describe its opening weekend

Welcome to the Beat’s weekly Weekend Box Office Recap!

The last weekend of September was a bit of a let-down after three weeks of substantial hits. That’s what happens when you go out of your way to make something original… and you’re the THIRD animated movie with that “original” concept in the course of a year.

Maybe DreamWorks Animation and their new parent company Universal should have waited a bit or been more aware of what was going on in the world of animation before putting its new feature Abominable on the same weekend in which Warner Animation opened Littlefoot last year.

Featuring the voice of Chloe Bennett from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the fantasy adventure was the first animated movie to be fronted by an asian female character since Disney’s Mulan way back in 1998. The cast also included the voices of Albert Tsai (Fresh Off the Boat), Tenzing TrainorEddie Izzard and Sarah Paulson.

Abominable made just $650,000 in Thursday previews and $5.7 million for its first full day, and it did decently enough over the weekend to goose that up to an estimated $20.8 million over its first weekend. For comparisons, Abominable is the lowest opener for a DreamWorks Animation film since 2006’s Flushed Away, which was made in conjunction with Aardman. DWA has had a number of other $20 to 25 million openers in the past decade, including 2013’s Turbo ($21.3 million opening), 2014’s Penguins of Madagascar ($25.5 million) and 2017’s Captain Underpants ($23.2 million). All three of those opened in more lucrative periods for family films, but DWA was looking at the success of Sony Animation’s first two “Hotel Transylvania” movies and others that have done very well in late September.

The movie did fine both with audiences, getting an “A” on CinemaScore, and with critics, but for whatever reason, family audiences weren’t having any of it, despite there not being a strong family film since Disney opened The Lion King two months ago. It should have done much better. This has to be disappointing for Universal, who had decent success with their first DWA release, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World earlier this year, doing better than their own animated release, The Secret Life of Pets 2 over the summer. Abominable is Uni’s first original non-sequel DWA release, and it just didn’t find the immediate audience as their sequels. Next up is 2020’s Trolls World Tour (another sequel) and then The Croods 2 for the holidays in December — but Abominable underperforming might keep DWA from greenlighting more original animated films.

Focus Features’ period dramedy hit Downtown Abbey, continuing from the popular PBS series, dropped to second place with $14.5 million, down 53%, having grossed $58.5 million over its first eleven days.

As expected, STXfilms’ Hustlers rebounded after dropping to fifth place, moving back up to third with $11.5 million, as it crossed the $80 million mark in its third weekend.

New Line’s horror hit It: Chapter Two also held its ground in fourth place with $10.4 million (down 39%), as it inches closer to the $200 million mark with $193.9 million in its first month. It’s not likely to match the $327 million domestic of the first chapter, although it’s doing slightly better overseas with $223.5 million grossed so far.

Brad Pitt‘s outer space epic Ad Astra from 20th Century Fox added another $10.1 million this weekend (down 47%) to take fifth place with $35.5 million grossed so far.

Sylvester Stallone‘s Rambo: Last Blood (Lionsgate) had a bigger 55% second-weekend drop to sixth with $8.6 million and $33.1 million grossed so far.

The only other moderately wide release that got into the top 10 was the Roadside Attractions biopic Judy, starring Renée Zellwegger as the beloved film and star star Judy Garland. It opened in 461 theaters Friday and did well enough to take in an estimated $3.1 million over the weekend for seventh place.

The only other release of any import this weekend was Takashi Miike‘s crime-thriller First Love, which Well Go USA released into two theaters — one in New York and one in L.A. — where it brought in a moderate $24,150 or about $12,000 per theater.

This Week’s Top 10: 

Rank Last Week Rank Movie Studio Weekend Gross % Change Total Gross
1 New Abominable DreamWorks/Universal $20.9 million N/A $20.9 million
2 1 Downton Abbey Focus Features $14.5 million -53% $58.5 million
3 4 Hustlers STXfilms $11.5 million -32% $80.6 million
4 4 It: Chapter Two New Line/WB $10.4 million -39% $193.9 million
5 2 Ad Astra Fox $10.1 million -47% $35.5 million
6 3 Rambo: Last Blood Lionsgate $8.6 million -55% $33.1 million
7 New Judy Roadside Attractions $3.1 million N/A $3.1 million
8 3 Good Boys Universal $2 million -22%
$80.4 million
9 7 The Lion King Disney $1.6 million -40% $540 million
10 6 Angel Has Fallen Lionsgate $1.5 million  -36% $67.2 million

With stronger releases this weekend last year, the top 10 was down by almost $10 million accordingly, with the Kevin Hart-Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School opening at #1 with $27.3 million, followed by the similar animated feature Littlefoot with $23 million. CBS Films’ horror film Hell Fest opened in sixth place with just $5 million.

Check back on Wednesday for my weekly Box Office Preview which will once again be just about one movie, and that’s Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker.