promotional still ”Ford V Ferrari”, courtesy 21st Century Fox

The awards/holiday season is ramping up with a mixture of genre pics and trophy hopefuls flowing into theaters for the balance of the calendar. This week was a prime example as we were given both serious dramatic fare and pulpy franchise fare. The results, as they like to say, were mixed. With a clear winner there will be a logjam with the films in the 2,3, and 4 positions being close enough that positions may change tomorrow when the actual returns are tabulated.

There are some rumblings in the executive offices as a number of either proven franchises have been faltering of late or original titles expected to generate serious interest have been bypassed. That’s not to say overall the box office is flagging, because hits still are found. It is just that the expected properties are failing more than working. It is almost as if the studios have to resort to art more than formulas when making films.

1. FORD V. FERRARI – $31.03 Million
This long-in-the-works drama is one of the remaining efforts from 20th Century Fox before the Disney takeover. It has been ushered along by studio executives and positioned as a serious contender for the Oscar season. Christian Bale and Matt Damon are getting raves, as is director James Mangold, who likely earned this job after the success of ‘’Logan’’. Critics have been raving, with over 90% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, and audiences gave it a supreme ‘’A+’’ CinemaScore. That will lead to it getting a regular draw throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, and this should see no problem crossing $100 million in the weeks ahead.

2. MIDWAY – $8.75m
Last week’s surprise winner had a decent if not electrifying second frame. This marks a healthy drop of just around -50%. While sporting a healthy budget of around $100 million it is still a long way off from turning a profit.

3. CHARLIE’S ANGELS – $8.6m
This is just a dismal return. As we featured this title on our recent episode of Disasters In The Making podcast we discussed the muted prospects, and we were actually underselling the disaster. This title came into the weekend with projections that were scaled back, with lowered expectations of maybe $12 million. To land with one-third of that depressed figure is an outright bomb of a film. There are numerous reasons behind this becoming a fiasco, from a troubled script, a cast beyond Kristen Stewart beyond largely anonymous, and departing from the action-heavy prior films and striving for more of a female-empowerment message. This is a major failure.

4. PLAYING WITH FIRE — $8.55m
This is a very strong hold for the family-friendly comedy with John Cena. For this light fare to actually challenge the new release is both a sign of strength and possibly benefitting from that film’s weakness.

5. LAST CHRISTMAS – $6.6m
A rather robust hold as it too drops only around forty percent over last week’s opening. Are there that many people without the Hallmark Channel???

6. DOCTOR SLEEP – $5.7m
Last week’s major disappointment has not righted things, as this represents a near sixty percent dip from that lowly perch. Complete avoidance by audiences.

7. THE GOOD LIAR – $5.65m
A respectable if not electrifying performance, this debuts on under 2,500 screens. The drama starring Helen Mirren and Ian McClellan has elderly con artists scheming against each other. There is a hoped-for awards season push for the leads.

8. JOKER – $5.63m
As expected for weeks now this shocker of a success has just earned over $1 billion globally as it continues to collect box office records.

9. MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL – $5.24m
The letdown for Disney has at least crossed $100 million domestically, but it has done the job overseas, netting over $350 million in foreign markets.

10. HARRIET – $4.78m
An unqualified surprise success for Focus Features, this takes the tally over $30 million.

11. TERMINATOR: DARK FATE – $4.65m
A bonus entry to illustrate how dismal this title has been in the franchise. In just its third week it falls from the top-10 and drops from 1,600 screens. While it has at least done better overseas — $175 million earned, versus just $56 million domestic — the losses are huge here for Paramount.