Box Office: MALEFICENT wins the weekend with only $36 million, JOKER still going strong

Welcome to the Beat’s Weekend Box Office Recap!

It was the battle of the sequels at the box office this weekend as Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil took on Sony’s Zombieland: Double Tap, five and ten years respectively after their original movies.

Once again starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning and joined by Michelle Pfeiffer, Maleficent came into the weekend with weak reviews and predictions that were well below the original movie’s $69 million opening in 2014. After making $12.5 million Friday (including $2.3 million in Thursday previews), the Disney fantasy sequel made an estimated $36 million for the weekend, which is nearly half the opening of the movie. Audiences apparently liked the movie more than critics giving Jolie’s sequel an “A” CinemaScore, which means that the movie could continue to bring in business, although there’s plenty of family competition coming up in November.

Second place went to Todd Phillips’ Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, with $29.2 million, down almost 48% since last week (which isn’t bad), as it has now grossed nearly $250 million just in North America. It’s nearly doubled that amount overseas with $77.8 million made this weekend to make up $490 million of the now $737.5 million worldwide gross. That seems like a great number for a movie that probably didn’t cost as much as a typical “comic book movie” – which it certainly is not – and it might make much more if it’s in the awards race, as some have suspected since it won the top price at Venice. The question is whether it will do well enough that Warner Bros. (let alone Phillips and Phoenix) will want to make a sequel.

Reuniting the entire cast of the 2009 hit, Zombieland: Double Tap made more in Thursday previews than Maleficent with $2.8 million but fell behind Friday with $10.5 million and ended up grossing $26.7 million over the weekend. That’s right in the range of my prediction on Wednesday, and just ahead of the $24.7 million opening for the original movie. The Zombieland sequel received better reviews than Maleficent but a lower “B+” CinemaScore, although it generally feels like most people feel better about this sequel.

United Artist Releasing’s animated The Addams Family dropped 47% to fourth place with $16 million, bringing its domestic total to $56.8 million. That’s still great for the fledgling distributor especially if it’s able to maintain that business for the next few weeks.

Paramount’s sci-fi action thriller Gemini Man, starring Will Smith, took a much steeper 59% plunge in its second weekend to take fifth place with $8.5 million and $36.5 million domestic gross so far. Considering the movie reportedly cost $138 million, the Ang Lee movie will be relying heavily on international audiences, and sure enough, it’s already grossed $82.2 million overseas.

Abominable took sixth place with $3.5 million and $53.9 million grossed in four weeks, which is absolutely abysmal for DreamWorks Animation, a studio trying to remain relevant while trying out new and original ideas, rather than churning out sequel after sequel like other studios we won’t name.

This season has been full of milestones, and a few more were crossed off the list this past week. The first one is that Focus Features officially has its highest-grossing hit in the PBS spin-off Downton Abbey, which has grossed $88.6 million including this past weekend’s $3.1 million. Focus’ previous highest-grosser was… Ang Lee‘s Brokeback Mountain, which grossed $83 million after opening in December 2005 and earned the filmmaker his first Academy Award.

This weekend’s other major milestone was the success Roadside Attractions has had with Renée Zellwegger as Judy Garland in Judy, which remained in the top 10 in 7th place with $2 million, having grossed $19 million so far. That might not seem like much, but it’s the second movie this year to place in the top 10 for the long-running indie distributor. It’s also likely to join The Peanut Butter Falcon to cross $20 million, making them only the fourth and fifth Roadside movies to achieve that amount. We’ll have to see if Roadside can ride Judy all the way to Oscar night with Zellwegger expected to be nominated for her performance.

STXfilm’s Hustlers also crossed the $100 million mark on Friday with $101.9 million after coming out just behind Judy for the weekend. This makes the female-driven crime drama the third movie ever from STXfilms to cross that mark and the second one this year, hopefully making up for other disappointments.

Bong Joon-ho‘s acclaimed Parasite expanded into 33 theaters on Friday and it achieved a tenth place showing on Friday but fell behind It: Chapter Two for the weekend with $1.2 million ($37,616 per theater) to take 11th place. If Parasite is able to break into the Top 10, it will be the first movie from distributor NEON to do so, and it will be interesting how much NEON decides to expand the movie and when it will be available to see nationwide. It might be wise for NEON to wait until the movie begins to receive a multitude of critics’ awards in early December to do such an expansion. It’s good to note that the last foreign film to do this well (maybe ironically?) was Ang Lee‘s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000, and that ended up grossing $128 million, although it opened in December and only expanded into over 1,000 theaters in February. That movie won four Oscars including Best Foreign Language film, while Lee received his first Oscar nomination as director. That’s clearly a good precursor for Director Bong and Parasite‘s awards chances.

Regardless, this has been a great year for the fairly-new distributor as it has had success with three documentaries: Apollo 11Biggest Little Farm and Amazing Grace. The only real movie that hasn’t done well for NEON is Harmony Korine‘s The Beach Bum, starring Matthew McConaughey, which is also its only movie that was released into over 1,000 theaters.

Two other auteur-driven movies were released moderately on Friday after receiving raves at the festivals where they premiered. Robert Eggers‘ The Lighthouse, starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, opened with $419,000 in eight theaters or $52,700 per theater, which is a fairly solid base for distributor A24 to expand the movie, even though it might not fare as well in a nationwide release.

Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi went in a different direction with the comedy in Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight), co-starring Scarlett JohanssonSam RockwellRebel WilsonStephen Merchant and newcomer Roman Griffin Davis. It grossed $350,000 this weekend in five theaters with an average of $70,000 per theater, so it made less than The Lighthouse but averaged more per theater.

This Week’s Top 10: 

Rank Last Week Rank Movie Studio Weekend Gross % Change Total Gross
1 New Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Disney $36 million N/A $36 million
2 1 Joker Warner Bros. $29.2 million -48% $247.2 million
3 New Zombieland: Double Tap Sony $26.7 million N/A $26.7 million
4 2 The Addams Family U.A. Releasing $16.1 million -47% $56.8 million
5 3 Gemini Man Paramount $8.5 million -59% $36.5 million
6 4 Abominable DreamWorks $3.5 million -42% $53.9 million
7 5 Downton Abbey Focus Features $3.1 million -37% $88.6 million
8 5 Judy Roadside Attractions $2.1 million -36%
$19 million
9 6 Hustlers STXfilms $2.0 million -47% $101.8 million
10 8 It: Chapter Two New Line/WB $1.5 million  -52% $209.7 million

Last year, Universal and Blumhouse Pictures teamed up to bring Jamie Lee Curtis back for David Gordon Green‘s Halloween sequel/reboot, which won the weekend with $76.2 million. Since that was more than both Maleficent and Zombieland sequels put together, last year’s top 10 was almost $30 million more than this week’s top 10.

Check back on Wednesday for my weekly Box Office Preview with three new movies this week: Screen Gems’ police thriller Black and Blue, the APP horror movie Countdown and the historic drama The Current War, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Holland.