Box Office: FORD V FERRARI drives off with the win in another dire weekend

Welcome to the Beat’s Weekend Box Office Recap!

In a decade or two, when writing about the fabled “Streaming Wars” of 2019-2020, the question is likely to come up about how it affected the theatrical box office, and the month of November 2019 will likely be in that conversation. This has been a month where almost nothing has worked theatrically, although this week’s #1 movie is somewhat of an anomaly.

There had been questions for months on how the introduction of Disney+ might affect the box office, especially James Mangold‘s racing biopic Ford v Ferrari, starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon, which Disney picked up with its purchase of 20th Century Fox earlier this year. Apparently, the fast-paced drama based on the true story of the 1963 Le Mans between auto companies and the race to build the world’s fastest sportscar, was sold as something that absolutely had to be seen on the big screen, and for once, it actually worked.

Ford v Ferrari made $2.1 million in Thursday previews, and then with its official opening into 3,528 theaters, it won Friday quite definitely with just under $11 million. It held well throughout the weekend with solid word-of-mouth and a fantastic A+ CinemaScore  to end its first weekend with an estimated $31 million. That’s pretty close to my own prediction on Wednesday.

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The new film from the Oscar-nominated Logan director premiered during festival season in September, playing at the Telluride and Toronto Film Fests where it began to receive solid, positive reviews – The Beat’s own Kyle Pinion wasn’t a fan. Although the buzz was fairly quiet for a few months, it picked up again as regional critics and awards voters began to see the movie, so it had some decent buzz going into its opening weekend. We’ll have to see if that and its relative success this weekend translates into awards and even Oscars.

To give you some sense how bad the box office has been, Ford v Ferrari‘s $31 million was more than the next three movies in the top 10 combined. This wouldn’t be that odd in a week with a big release (like next week’s Frozen 2), but it’s especially bad in what is supposed to historically be a great month to release movies.

Elizabeth Banks’ Charlie’s Angels reboot, starring Kristen StewartNaomi Scott and Ella Balinksa, should have been a moderate hit, especially considering how well the 2000 movie starring Cameron DiazDrew Barrymore and Lucy Liu fared. Nope. It was not to be for the female-driven action-comedy, as audiences flocked to do anything else but go to see it, and it bombed with $8.6 million to end up just behind last week’s Midway in third place. Basically, I way overestimated the brand and the popularity of Stewart and Banks to get women into theaters, but mixed-to-negative reviews didn’t help – The Beat‘s own Samantha Puc loved it. Moviegoers gave it  decent “B+” CinemaScore, but it clearly didn’t fare well against the launch of Disney+, nor will it be able to hold well against Disney’s Frozen 2 next week.

There have already been a few “what happened?” articles in relationship to Charlie’s Angels, but in my opinion, it was a combination of Sony Pictures failing to market the movie properly (or at all, if you ask some people), the lack of a proven name box office star ala the 2000 relaunch, and a general lack of interest in remakes of properties for the sake of nostalgia or in this case, virtue signaling. Sadly, Charlie’s Angels is going to be seen as a another big blow for moviegoers wanting female-driven action movies written and directed by women (in this case, Banks did both), and 2020 should be interesting with the likes of Birds of PreyBlack Widow and the sure-to-be-huge Wonder Woman 1984.

Roland Emmerich‘s war movie Midway, which pulled a surprise win last weekend, dropped to second place with $8.8 million (down 51%) with a total domestic gross of $35 million, not great for a super-patriotic American story that might not play as well in other territories.

Bill Condon‘s psychological thriller The Good Liar, starring Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen, opened meekly with $5.7 million in seventh place in 2,580 theaters, a lousy average of $2,194 per theater. That’s only slightly behind where I expected to land, as it clearly had a very specific audience of older moviegoers, who gave it a “B” CinemaScore, showing that maybe they didn’t appreciate some of the film’s bigger twists.

The rest of last week’s four new movies shuffled positions with the John Cena family comedy Playing With Fire pulling ahead with $8.5 million to take fourth place by such a small increment behind Charlie’s Angels that it could very well take third place when actuals are announced Monday. It has grossed $25.5 million so far.

Universal’s Last Christmas took fifth place with $6.7 million (down 37%) and $22.6 million after ten days. Warner Bros’ Doctor Sleep took a sharper 56% hit to plunge down to sixth place with $6.2 million and just $25 million overall.

Warners’ lack of success with many of its fall releases can be counter-balanced by Todd Phillips‘ Joker, which crossed the billion mark worldwide this weekend. It also dropped to eighth place with $5.6 million (down 39%) with its 7th weekend in the top 10 (a benchmark that Disney has achieved frequently over the past few years), and it has grossed $322.6 million domestically, which is fantastic for the lower-budget DC movie.

Speaking of Disney, the company’s only fall release so far, Angelina Jolie‘s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil crossed the $100 million mark domestically with $5.2 million this weekend, making it only the third movie to hit that benchmark this fall other than Joker and STXfilms’ Hustlers. Focus Features’ Downton Abbey is very close but is also losing theaters fast.

Just outside the top 10 after losing nearly 1,600 theaters in its third weekend, Paramount’s Terminator: Dark Fate is ending its pitiful run with $56.9 million with just $4.4 million this weekend. This is only a shame because the Tim Miller-directed relaunch was seen to be one of the better movies in that poor much-maligned franchise, but it was too little too late apparently.

A24’s ensemble drama Waves, directed by Trey Edward Shults (It Comes at Night), opened in four theaters in New York and L.A. to the tune of $144,562 or $36,141 per theater. Not a bad start at all.

This Week’s Top 10: 

Rank Last Week Rank Movie Studio Weekend Gross % Change Total Gross
1 New Ford V Ferrari 20th Century Fox $31 million N/A $31 million
2 1 Midway Lionsgate $8.8 million -51% $35.1 million
3 New Charlie’s Angels Sony $8.6 million N/A $8.6 million
4 3 Playing with Fire Paramount $8.5 million -33% $25.5 million
5 4 Last Christmas Universal $6.7 million -37% $22.6 million
6 2 Doctor Sleep Warner Bros. $6.2 million -56% $25 million
7 New The Good Liar Warner Bros. $5.7 million N/A $5.7 million
8 6 Joker Warner Bros. $5.7 million -39% $322.6 million
9 7 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Disney $5.2 million -38% $106 million
10 8 Harriet Focus Features $4.8 million  -35% $31.9 million

This week’s top 10 made an estimated $90.3 million which is down nearly $70 million from the same weekend last year when Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald topped the box office with $62.2 million, followed by Universal’s animated The Grinch with $38.6 million. Paramount’s Instant Family opened in fifth place with $14.5 million, followed by Fox’s crime-thriller Widows with $12.4 million in sixth place.

Check back on Wednesday for my weekly Box Office Preview, covering Disney’s animated sequel Frozen 2Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and  Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman in the crime-thriller 21 Bridges.

2 COMMENTS

  1. “it was a combination of Sony Pictures failing to market the movie properly”

    If by “properly” you mean “STOP WITH ALL THE #WOKE BS,” then I would agree.

    As for “Terminator: Dark Fate,” it actually had a bigger opening weekend than “Terminator: We Don’t Know How To Spell” but is now on track to make $20 or $30 million less in the U.S. That is practically the complete opposite of a good film undermined by franchise fatigue and instead indicates a film/studio/media that went out of its way to ALIENATE the existing audience for that franchise.

    Mike

  2. FORD VS. FERRARI is the seventh original movie not based on existing IP to open at No. 1. At this point last year, only four non-IP movies had opened in the top box-office spot.

    Maybe people are getting tired of endless sequels and reboots and want to see something new for a change. “Franchise fatigue,” as Mike said.

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