Box Office: THE GRUDGE dies a gruesome death while returning movies thrive

Welcome to the Beat’s Weekend Box Office Recap!

There was only one new movie opening the first weekend of 2020, and it was Sony/Screen Gem’s horror sequel/reboot, The Grudge, which failed to find much of an audience. But we’ll get back to that in a bit, so we can talk about the returning movies, most of which fared better with many people still on holiday break.

Lucasfilms’ trilogy ender Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, while still getting all sorts of internet flack and rumors of filmmaker discontent, remained atop the box office with $33.7 million, down 53% in its third weekend. So far, JJ Abrams’ finale has grossed $451 million domestically, and it added another $50.5 million overseas to bring its worldwide cume to $919 million. The Rise of Skywalker will soon be Disney’s SEVENTH billion dollar global blockbuster for last year, setting a new precedent that may be a long time before we see it matched.

Second place went to Sony Pictures’ sequel Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Dwayne JohnsonKevin Hart and more, taking in $26.5 million in its fourth weekend, down 25% from the previous weekend. It has grossed $236 million domestically so far, which is a far cry from the $400 million of its predecessor.

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Surprisingly, Sony’s Little Women, adapted and directed by Greta Gerwig, held up even better, dropping just 19% in its second weekend to remain in third place with $13.6 million. The well-received adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel has grossed $60 million domestically in less than two weeks, which is quite unheard of for a drama, especially one  that is possibly the fourth or fifth film version of the book. Although the movie was mostly ignored by the Golden Globes (other than the film’s star, Saoirse Ronan), we’ll have to see over the next couple days whether various industry guilds start pushing Little Women closer to a number of Oscar nominations, which will be announced on Monday, January 13.

Now let’s get back to The Grudge, which was expected to take third place but might even struggle to keep fourth place once actuals arrive on Monday afternoon. Directed by Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother), the horror flick tried to revive the franchise based on the J-horror classic, Ju-on: The Grudge. Once again produced by Sam Raimi‘s Ghost House Pictures, the movie starred Andrea RiseboroughJohn ChoDemián Bichir, Lin ShayeBetty Gilpin and Jacki Weaver, but that didn’t help the movie make more than $11.3 million (estimated) over the weekend. Although the movie did well in previews on Thursday with $1.8 million, business quickly died down on Friday once reviews started coming out.

Even worse than all the negative reviews – including my own mixed review – was the fact that audiences absolutely loathed the movie, giving it the worst CinemaScore possible: a very rare “F.” Personally, I thought the movie might open better, but maybe not being PG-13 did limit its audience. Fortunately, the movie only cost $10 million before marketing, so it won’t have to make more than $20 million to break even, but that seems unlikely with word-of-mouth likely to be very bad.

That opening doesn’t put The Grudge too far ahead of Disney’s animated hit sequel, Frozen II, which took in just less than $11.3 million in its seventh weekend, putting it in fifth place — again, according to estimates. With less than $10,000 between the movies, the order can change by Monday afternoon. Even so, the movie has also made almost $450 million domestically and with the $42.4 million it made overseas, Frozen II is now the highest-grossing animated movie ever, going by its worldwide take of $1.3 billion. That’s just one more record that Disney set or broke for 2019.

20th Century Fox’s Spies in Disguise dropped to sixth place with $10.1 million, down 24% from its opening weekend to bring its domestic total to $46.7 million in just under two weeks. Definitely not great, but clearly, the competition from its parent company’s Frozen II made it a tougher sell to moviegoers. It made another $15.8 million overseas this weekend, which brings its global total to $89 million. Also, not great.

Rian Johnson‘s star-studded “who-donut” Knives Out continues to be one of the biggest surprise hits of the holidays for Lionsgate. With the smallest drop of the weekend (down 7%), it remained in seventh place with $9 million. It has grossed $130 million so far with no signs of going away anytime soon as word-of-mouth is keeping the movie ahead of many previous non-Disney Thanksgiving releases. There is already word that Johnson is writing a second movie to star Daniel Craig‘s Benoit Blanc detective character.

The Safdie Brothers‘ Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler, also held up well from its debut last weekend, dropping just 19% to eighth place with $7.8 million and $36.8 million total. It looks very likely that the movie might eventually top A24’s highest-grossing release, which ironically enough, was Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird with just under $50 million.

Poor, poor Cats. Universal’s musical disaster had the second biggest drop in the top 10 after Star Wars, down 46% to $2.6 million and just barely holding onto the top 10 in its third weekend. Having made less than $25 million in North America, the chances of Cats losing a good percentage of its 2,902 theaters next weekend is inevitable.

Sam Mendes‘ 1917 continued to do well in its limited release in 11 theaters, bringing in $590,000  – that was more than its opening weekend – to bring its total to $2.3 million. Warner Bros’ crime-drama Just Mercy, starring Michael B. JordanJamie Foxx and Brie Larson took in $76,000 in four New York/LA theaters with $400,000 total. Both movies are expanding nationwide this coming Friday.

In a weekend just before more inevitable awards and nominations are announced, Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho‘s Parasite continues to bring in business with another $888,000 in 222 theaters with a total domestic gross of $23.9 million.

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 $33.7 million -53% $450.8 million
2 2 Jumanji: The Next Level Sony $26.5 million -25% $236.2 million
3 3 Little Women Sony $13.6 million -19% $46.4 million
4 New The Grudge Sony/Screen Gems $11.3 million N/A $11.3 million
5 4 Frozen II Walt Disney Pictures $11.3 million -33% $449.9 million
6 5 Spies in Disguise 20th Century Fox $10.1 million -24% $46.7 million
7 7 Knives Out Lionsgate $9 million -7% $130.3 million
8 6 Uncut Gems A24 $7.8 million -19% $36.8 million
9 9 Bombshell Lionsgate $4.1 million -15% $24.6 million
10 8 Cats Universal $2.6 million  -46% $24.7 million

Last year, the top 10 grossed $119 million with the only new movie being Sony’s horror film Escape Room, which fared far better than The Grudge with an $18 million opening. This year’s top 10 is up about $10 million from last year, so that’s good.

Check back on Wednesday for the Box Office Preview, looking at four new movies opening or expanding nationwide, including Sam Mendes’ 1917, the prison drama Just Mercy, the R-rated comedy Like a Boss, and Kristen Stewart‘s thriller, Underwater.

1 COMMENT

  1. I think people are sick of these horror remakes. People still like horror, but they prefer something original like MIDSOMMAR.

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