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Box Office: RISE OF SKYWALKER loses over $100 million in 2nd weekend, while LITTLE WOMEN makes strong debut

Welcome to the Beat’s Weekend Box Office Recap!

Christmas week was mostly okay at the box office, but it wasn’t due to the presence of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which took a much steeper plunge in its second weekend than anyone expected, while still claiming $700 million worldwide in just ten days. Although the finale to the trilogy begun by director J.J. Abrams  (and end of the Skywalker saga begun by Lucas 38 years earlier) did decent business over the week with few people begin at work or school, it saw a noticeable decrease on its second weekend as other new movies grabbed some of its attention.

The Rise of Skywalker went into the weekend with nearly $290 million after sporting the second best Christmas Eve and Christmas Day numbers ever, but its $26.2 million Friday pointed to a much softer weekend. Sure enough, it ended up with just $72 million, down over $100 million from its opening (down roughly 59%). So far, the movie has amassed $361.8 million domestically in ten days, which is still great even if lower than previous installments. My $83 million second weekend prediction for the end of the franchise ended up being lower than most projections but was still higher than where the movie ended up, at least according to Sunday estimates.

It’s hard to use Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a comparison, since it opened a week earlier in December 2017, and its second weekend was the one right before Christmas. It actually had a much worse 67% drop in its second weekend but a smaller 27% drop from the weekend before to the one after Christmas. The Last Jedi had grossed $368 million by the end of its second weekend, so Rise of Skywalker is only slightly behind it domestically.

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The Rise of Skywalker added another $94.3 million internationally this weekend so that its overseas total nearly matches its domestic with $363 million, giving it $724 million after less than two wees.

Oddly, The Last Jedi had to take on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle during most of its run, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has to contend with its sequel Jumanji: The Next Level, which spent its second weekend at #2 with $35.3 million, up 33%, bringing its three week domestic take to $175.5 million. It still has a ways to go before achieving the $400 million of its predecessor, but it also has some strong competition coming in January. It also made another $61.6 million overseas, so that it’s own global total is $471.5 million.

It looks like there might be a tight race for third place with Disney’s animated sequel Frozen II getting some serious competition from Greta Gerwig‘s Little Women, which The Beat‘s Hannah Lodge called the “final must-see film of a decade that’s seen a huge amount of changes for women.” Starring Saoirse Ronan, who was nominated for an Oscar for her title role in Gerwig’s Lady BirdEmma Watson, Florence PughTimothée Chalamet, Laura Dern and more, Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s popular novel opened on Christmas Day in 3,308 theaters to take third place with $6.4 million. It then continued to bring in business with an estimated $16.5 million over the three-day weekend and $29 million in its first five days. That’s pretty impressive when you realize that Lady Bird made less than $50 million domestically, although Gerwig was clearly working with a known brand while adapting Little Women.

Frozen II fell just behind Gerwig’s movie with $16.5 million – with only a $25,000 difference according to estimates, expect things to change once actual are reported on Monday – as it took fourth place with 27% more than its previous week. The animated sequel crossed the $400 million mark domestically over the holiday week and now has grossed $421.3 million, which is more than the original Frozen in 2013. It’s also Disney’s fifth movie this year alone to cross that benchmark.  Frozen II also continues to do well overseas with another $42.2 million added this weekend to bring its global total to $1.2 billion.

On the other hand, 20th Century Fox’s animated movie Spies in Disguise, featuring the voices of Will Smith and Tom Holland, opened rather meagerly this week with $4.8 million on Christmas Day and an estimated $13.2 million in 3,500 theaters over the weekend. The movie has made about $22 million over its first five days — not great and definitely less than I expected it might make due to its name cast and being solid programming for the holiday week with no school. The animated movie received a decent “A-” CinemaScore, so maybe it can continue to bring in business until the next family film, Universal’s Dolittle, opens on January 17.

Rian Johnson‘s (seemingly inadvertent) revenge continues, as his star-studded The Last Jedi follow-up Knives Out continues to do huge business despite the presence of a sequel to his own Star Wars movie and other strong releases. This weekend, it bumped up 50% from the weekend before Christmas with $9.7 million after crossing the $100 million mark earlier in the week.

Uncut Gems
A24

The Safdie Brothers’ new crime-thriller Uncut Gems was expected to do decently due to the presence of its lead star, Adam Sandler, making his first live action in theaters in quite a few years. It had already made a million in limited release before A24 expanded it into 2,348 theaters on Christmas Day. Unlike the other movies, it also had Tuesday previews and the $1.1 million from those previews helped it make a solid $5.9 million on Christmas Day. It fell a bit on Thursday and a little more on Friday but still made a solid $9.5 million in its first weekend of wide release, doing quite a bit better than I expected. Somewhat shockingly (or not), the Safdies’ latest receives a less-than-great “C+” CinemaScore, probably from all the regular Sandler fans who were shocked how different the movie was from his usual fare. That didn’t seem to bother The Beat‘s Kyle Pinion, who included Uncut Gems in his annual top 10 films.

Universal Pictures’ musical Cats is deader than dead. After a terrible opening last week, it took a 25% drop, which on most weekends wouldn’t be bad, but on the weekend after Christmas where millions are flocking to movie theaters, the negative reviews and word-of-mouth clearly did their job. The $100 million-budgeted Tom Hooper disaster has grossed less than $18 million domestically, and if it doesn’t start losing theaters this coming Friday, it will probably lose a LOT if not all of its theaters on January 10.

Universal had much better luck this weekend with the platform release of Sam Mendes‘ WWI movie, 1917, which opened in 11 theaters on Christmas Day with a strong awards push that helped it make $570,000 for the weekend ($51,818 per theater) and ending its first five days with a cool million. It will expand nationwide on January 10, giving The Rise of Skywalker and some of the other big holiday movies to run their course.

Warner Bros. gave Destin Cretton‘s adaptation of Just Mercy, starring Michael B. JordanBrie Larson and Jamie Foxx, a platform release into four theaters in New York and L.A. where it took in $111,000 over the weekend and $229,000 in its first five days. More importantly, the movie received an “A+” CinemaScore, which shows that it might have solid enough word-of-mouth to help its nationwide expansion on January 10.

Almost 11 months after it premiered and was picked up at Sundance, NEON released the prison drama Clemency, starring Alfre Woodard and Aldis Hodge, in just two theaters, presumably one in New York and one in L.A. It brought in $37,000 or roughly $18,500 per theater, a slightly lower per-theater than the similar Just Mercy.

This Week’s Top 10: 

Rank Last Week Rank Movie Studio Weekend Gross % Change Total Gross
1 1 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Disney/Lucasfilm $72 million -59% $361.8 million
2 2 Jumanji: The Next Level Sony $35.3 million +33% $175.5 million
3 New Little Women Sony $16.5 million N/A $29 million
4 3 Frozen II Disney $16.5 million +27% $421.3 million
5 New Spies in Disguise 20th Century Fox $13.2 million -33% $22.1 million
6 5 Knives Out Lionsgate $9.7 million +50% $110.2 million
7 15 Uncut Gems A24 $9.5 million +3,856% $20 million
8 4 Cats Universal $4.8 million -25% $17.8 million
9 6 Bombshell Lionsgate $4.7 million -8% $15.8 million
10 7 Richard Jewell Warner Bros. $3 million  +17% $16.1 million

Last year, the weekend after Christmas saw the top 10 making $165.7 million, about $20 million less than this week’s top 10. In that case, the top 5 movies remained in place while new movies, Vice and the comedy Holmes and Watson, both opened with less than $8 million for sixth and seventh place. Aquaman was #1 with $50 million but that was just 23% down from its opening weekend, compared to The Rise of Skywalker’s second weekend drop.

Check back on Tuesday (tomorrow!) for next week’s Box Office Preview, which will cover Screen Gems’ new attempt at remaking the J-horror classic, The Grudge. Otherwise, that’s it for 2019… here’s to 2020!

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Are the ‘Look at me! Aren’t I so clever!” contrarians who praised “The Last Jedi” now willing to admit they were wrong? I mean, it’s pretty undeniable now that SOMETHING seriously damaged the franchise and it wasn’t Russian bots on Facebook.

    Mike

  2. A $16 million opening is not “strong” by any measure. Jumanji just did double that in its third weekend. Little Women is clearly an art house film, however the studio tries to market it, and won’t do even $50 million gross in the US,

  3. Mbunge:

    What “damaged” the franchise is audience burn-out, caused by 5 movies in 4 years. There were only 9 Star Wars movies from 1977 to 2005. Then 5 from 2015 to 2019. Disney’s greed got out of hand.

    I know there are gung-ho fans who would pay to see a new SW movie every month, if they could be made that quickly. But most people seem fine with SW being a “once in a while” thing.

    SW will continue in one form or another, though it may move largely to TV and streaming. Disney isn’t about to let the franchise die.

    James Van Hise:

    “Little Women” is expected to pass $50M in the U.S. this weekend.

  4. Correction: there were 6 Star Wars movies from ’77 to ’05, not 9.

    “Are the ‘Look at me! Aren’t I so clever!” contrarians who praised “The Last Jedi” now willing to admit they were wrong? ”

    I guess a “contrarian” is anyone who disagrees with Mike, because we know he represents all of fandom …

  5. This has nothing to do with burnout. These are just mostly mediocre movies following the original b-movie trilogy.

  6. JC, people have been paying to see mediocre movies ever since movies were created. Quality has NOTHING to do with box-office success or failure.

    The list of great movies that were financial losers in their initial release is long and distinguished: The General, The Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, It’s a Wonderful Life, Vertigo, Raging Bull, King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Almost Famous, etc.

  7. The bickering among Star Wars “fans” (who are mostly competing to express the most vitriolic hatred) has really soured me on this franchise.

    I’m bailing out, guys. If you want to gripe about Rian Johnson, J.J. Abrams or, who knows, Ron Howard “ruining” your childhood by “destroying” SW, that’s your problem. There are other entertainment options, with less toxic fandoms.

Comments are closed.