Welcome back to the Beat’s weekly Box Office Preview!

After a couple incredibly lame weekends this month, it’s up to Disney to once again save the box office with a sequel to one of its biggest animated hits, which is somewhat ironic as some may think that streaming services like Disney+ may be hurting the box office, as seen this past weekend.

FROZEN 2 (Walt Disney Pictures)

Frozen 2
Walt Disney Pictures

Voice Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Alan Tudyk, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Evan Rachel Wood, Jason Ritter, Ciaran Hinds, Jeremy Sisto, Martha Plimpton, Rachel Matthews, Anthony Molina
Directed By: Chris Buck (Frozen, Surf’s Up, Tarzan), Jennifer Lee (Frozen)
MPAA Rating:  PG

Expected to be one of the bigger blockbusters of the holiday movie season is Disney’s sequel to one of their bigger recent non-Pixar animated hits. After a single weekend opening at L.A.’s El Capitan Theater, Frozen hit 3,742 theaters nationwide on November 27, 2013 where it made $93.9 million over the five-day Thanksgiving break. Oddly, it ended up in second place against the second weekend of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but it took over first place the following weekend and ended up back at #1 after Christmas. The movie stuck around for many months, ending up with $400 million domestic and twice that amount overseas to end up with $1.2 billion globally.

That’s pretty great, but the movie then had even more of an afterlife after winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, as well as one for its catch original song “Let It Go.” No, Disney not only brought it to Broadway and other theaters worldwide as a musical but also turned it into an ice show. These three things guarantee that lots of young girls and boys are now teenagers who will remember those songs fondly, which will make Frozen 2 more than a “kids’ movie” persé but a bonafide PG family film.

The best comparison for Frozen 2 might be last year’s Wreck It Ralph sequel, which followed the original movie by six years. The 2012 Wreck It Ralph made $49 million its opening weekend earlier in November but ended up with $189.4 million total with a nice holiday bump. Last year’s Ralph Breaks the Internet opened with slightly more over the Thanksgiving weekend with $84.7 million and $56.2 million over the three-day weekend. Frozen 2 is a little different since it’s a sequel opening the week before Thanksgiving rather than Thanksgiving although Frozen had a much bigger impact on pop culture (especially among 4-year-old girls) than Wreck It Ralph.

Granted, many might wait to see Frozen 2 until Thanksgiving next week, since families will all be together, but that won’t stop people who have been waiting six years for more of Kristen Bell’s Anna and Idina Menzel’s Elsa to be reunited. In fact, all the original voice cast are back with a few new additions, voiced by Evan Rachel Wood and Jason Ritter.

So far, reviews for Frozen 2 have been decent even if the sequel is much darker than the first movie. (The Beat’s Hannah Lodge has reviewed the movie, as well.) What’s interesting is that in this case, the Disney+ in the room will be a huge boost for Frozen 2, since many people will have a chance to rewatch the original movie on the streaming service before this weekend, and that should help give Frozen 2a nice bump even if ticket sales have already been great.

Frozen 2 is guaranteed to have a $100 million opening, but I’ll up that to somewhere in the $120 to 130 million zone, and with Thanksgiving next weekend, this could very well be yet another $400 million hit for Disney this year. For those keeping count, that would be the studio’s fifth movie this year to reach that milestone.


Beautiful Day
Sony/Tristar Pictures

Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Christine Lahti, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Cooper, Enrico Colantoni, STammy Blanchard
Directed By: Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Diary of a Teenage Girl)
MPAA Rating: PG

I’m not really sure if a movie about Mr. Fred Rogers, starring Tom Hanks in that role, could be considered “counter-programming” to Frozen 2. It will definitely veer towards older people who remember watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on television, but this isn’t a straight-up biopic as much as it’s the story of an Esquire journalist (played by Matthew Rhys from The Americans) who was sent to write a piece on Rogers but ended up becoming friends and even getting some helpful family therapy in the bargain.

The movie is directed by Marielle Heller, who got quite a bit of attention for last year’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant, which received three Oscar nominations. Comic book fans might remember Heller as the director of Diary of a Teenage Girl, based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel of the same name.

Since Tom Hanks is the biggest factor in this movie doing well, let’s look at a few…

Recent Tom Hanks “Biopics”

The Post (Dec. 22, 2017)
Opening Weekend: $19.4 million (first week in wide release Jan. 12 after limited release)
Domestic Total: $81.9 million

The Circle (April 28, 2017)
Opening Weekend $9 million
Domestic Total: $20.5 million

Sully (Sept 9, 2016)
Opening Weekend: $35 million
Domestic Total: $125.1 million 

Saving Mr. Banks (Dec. 13, 2013)
Opening Weekend: $9.3 million (first week of wide release after a platform release)
Domestic Total: $83.3 million 

Captain Phillips (Oct. 11, 2013)
Opening Weekend: $25.7 million
Domestic Total: $107.1 million

Other than The Circle – which really isn’t a biopic persé, and had Hanks in even a smaller role than Beautiful Day – Hanks has had quite a good amount of success with this type of movie, most of them grossing $80 million or more, although Clint Eastwood’s Sully had the biggest opening, followed by Captain Phillips. It’s interesting to note that Hanks has had his best success adding his voice to Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story” series including this year’s Toy Story 4 . (That’s one of the $400 million Disney movies mentioned above.) Hanks even played Walt Disney himself in 2013’s Saving Mr. Banks (now on Disney+), though he now finds himself going up against the Disney just months after having another hit with the studio.

What’s also interesting is that this is a straight-up PG family film, going up against the sequel to one of the biggest family films in recent years, so this might keep Beautiful Dayfrom attaining the $20 million plus opening of some of Hanks’ other films, even if Mr. Rogers may be better known. Okay, maybe not more known than Walt Disney.

At least the movie has had excellent reviews since it debuted at the Toronto Film Festival, and reviews will certainly help it do well among an older audience compared to movies that aren’t as critically-received or wait until the last minute for reviews (like last week’s The Good Liar).

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood seems like another Hanks movie that will open rather softly (more like Saving Mr. Banks) but then build word-of-mouth, so that it will stick around well into the holidays, especially if Hanks or the movie starts getting awards nominations in December. As of now, I think it will make roughly $15 to 17 million this weekend but could end up with $70 million or more by the end of its run.

21 BRIDGES (STXfilms)

21 Bridges

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, J.K. Simmons, Sienna Miller, Keith David, Stephan James, Christian Isaiah, Michael Antonio
Directed By: Brian Kirk (Middletown, episodes of Penny Dreadful, Game of Thrones and other series)
MPAA Rating: R

The next bit of counter-programming actually IS counter-programming, since it’s doubtful anyone interested in seeing Frozen 2might be interested in this R-rated crime-thriller produced by the Russo Brothers of Marvel fame, which is also Brian Kirk’s first feature as a director in 13 years. (He’s directed plenty of popular TV shows since then.)

The big selling point is that it’s one of Chadwick Boseman’s rare non-Marvel movies after taking on the mantle of King T’Challa aka Black Panther. In the movie, he plays André, a New York detective investigating the murder of eight NYC police during a drugdealer heist, along with a detective from narcotics, played by Sienna Miller. Oscar winner J.K. Simmons plays the captain of their division who wants them to catch the two killers before 5AM. Oh, yeah, and they somehow manage to shut down all the bridges and trains in/out of Manhattan so the killers can’t leave. Stephan James from last year’s If Beale Street Could Talk plays one of the robbers.

Boseman’s last non-Marvel movie was 2017’s Marshall, in which he played lawyer Thurgood Marshall. It was a decent historical drama which didn’t make much of a mark, making just $10 million in the United States after a $3 million opening. That’s considerably less than Focus Features’ Harriet, although that also received a wider release.  Another comparison is the recent police thriller Black and Blue, which failed to make much of a mark, opening with just $8.4 million in 2,062 theaters with only around $20 million grossed.

I’m not sure if being set in New York City will make much of a difference, but STXfilms is giving the movie a much wider release into over 2,800 theaters. While it might have more appeal to urban audiences than other movies in theaters, I’m not sure it can really eke out much more than $10 million this weekend. This just hasn’t been a good month to release a movie that isn’t as strong as other options already in theaters.

This Week’s Box Office Predictions:

  1. Frozen 2 (Walt Disney) – $135 million N/A (up 7 million)*
  2. Ford vs. Ferrari (20thCentury Fox) – $19 million -40%
  3. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/Tristar) – $17 million N/A (up .2 million)*
  4. 21 Bridges (SPXfilms) – $10 million N/A (down .2 million)
  5. Midway (Lionsgate) – $4.5 million -47%
  6. Playing with Fire (Paramount) – $4.2 million -50%
  7. Charlie’s Angels  (Sony) – $4 million -52%
  8. Last Christmas (Universal) – $3.2 million -48% (down .6 million)*
  9. Joker (Warner Bros.) – $2.8 million -48% (down .5 million)*
  10. The Good Liar (Warner Bros) – $2.7 million -52%

*UPDATE: Some updated theater counts mean some updated numbers with Frozen 2 opening in 4,400 theaters, another huge bit of theatrical oversaturation by the Walt Disney Company. Other films like Joker and Last Christmas are losing a tone of theaters.

Focus Features will release Todd Haynes’ new political drama Dark Waters, starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway, into select cities, but I personally would recommend seeking out the doc Varda by Agnès, an amazing self-profile of the late French filmmaker Agnès Varda, who died earlier this year but not before creating an amazing filmography which she explores in this insightful doc.

Next week, it’s Thanksgiving weekend, and you have a couple choices to go see with the family, either Rian Johnson’s dark ensemble comedy whodunit Knives Out or the Lena Waithe-penned drama Queen and Slim, starring Daniel Kaluuya andJodie Turner-Smith.