A busy slate of debuts kicks off November in impressive fashion.
Coming off of a record October for total box office there is a bit of excited expectation in Hollywood that the very flush 2018 will continue with a surging close to the calendar. There seem to be enough of the serious crossover dramas (trophy-worthy films with audience appeal) to couple with the usual seasonal blockbusters (“Aquaman” is arriving) that things should make for a green Christmas.
This weekend serves as a transition of sorts, as studios begin their focus on both the holiday season and the year-end awards notoriety. In the latter category, we’ll be seeing more boutique titles given small releases in order to qualify for nominations, the intent being that any critics-circle love and hoped-for nominations from major awards will then lead to audience interest and expanded releases to draw more ticket sales. Here are the numbers from the first week of the eleventh month.
1. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – $50 Million
This was a heavily anticipated release, indicated by exceeding projections. Studio Fox initially called for a $35 million debut, but that began getting scaled up to $40 million by industry wonks by Friday. The studio had great faith in the product, actually moving the release date forward from its original Christmastime date. Audiences agreed, grading the film with an “A” CinemaScore. This will give it decent momentum going into the Thanksgiving week and then if star Rami Malek can receive expected acting nominations that will only help in the longer run. This was a long-in-the-works production, with an initial casting of Sacha Baron Cohen in the lead and director Brian Singer getting fired over artistic differences last winter. (He still bears the directing credit.) It will be worth watching if Singer, and other aspects of the film get nominations. In the end the eight year process seems to have paid off, as the $55 million budget means profits will be ahead.
2. THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS – $19.52m
This is close to a crashing debut for the Disney live-action retelling of the holiday classic. Big names are involved, with director Lasse Hallstrom and other skilled members, and a budget basically double that of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Many questions will be asked about why this failed to latch on, but one will be a tight schedule for the studio. Disney has the “Wreck-It Ralph” sequel for Thanksgiving, and its reimagined “Mary Poppins” release for Christmas, so this haad to get parked a little too early on the schedule.
3. NOBODY’S FOOL – $14.0m
The pairing of Tyler Perry and the currently hot Tiffany Haddish seemed almost inevitable, but this is a rather disappointing result for Perry, especially with a popular commodity. Paramount gave it targeted marketing and featured the comedic actress heavily, so this is regarded as a lesser debut than expected.
4. A STAR IS BORN – $11.1m
The Bradley Cooper project has been a smash and will start drawing professional accolades in the coming weeks. The movie has even been accepted overseas, taking in over $100 million.
5. HALLOWEEN – $11.01
The expected drop off following the titular holiday, a steep -65%, but there is still a sign of lingering strength. Still in the top-5 it has now drawn $150 million. Adjusting for inflation it only lags behind the original (+$180 million AFI) among the ten other versions that have been released.
6. VENOM – $7.85m
Sony’s hit entry to create its own Marvel universe has been on a tear, as it is just shy of $200 million domestic. Foreign sales have been even bigger, drawing over $300 million additional.
7. SMALLFOOT – $3.80m
A slight surprise of strength here. The Warners animated yeti yarn has done decently over its 6 week run, outlasting more boutique films. (Note, “First Man” has already dropped off of the list.)
8. GOOSEBUMPS 2 – $3.7m
The fright fest for the young set still got a few kids in the seats. It will be shedding screens heavily by next week. It still has an outside shot at hitting $50 million.
9. HUNTER KILLER – $3.52m
Dropping below the meager estimate for its second week. The Gerard Butler submarine misfire is sinking fast. (Sorry, could not be avoided.) A submersion from a weak debut means it still has not even drawn $13 million in total.
10. THE HATE U GIVE -$3.41m
The Fox drama is hoping to get some dramatic performance nominations, and that could lead to a re-release, or expansion following. It has done a respectable $23+ million for the smaller production.