Happy New Year to you all, fellow box office geeks. 2018 is here, and we’re in that strange month for film where we’ll finally see wide releases for those hot Oscar favourites but not much in the way of blockbusters until Spring arrives. Never fear, for there is much to appreciate in the first official box office report of the year.
Topping off the charts is Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which took in $36m from 3,800 theatres. It’s already made close to three times its budget domestically, and it’s secured The Rock’s status as one of the true box office gods of the modern Hollywood age. Few people can open movies on name alone these days, but he’s pulling it off. Stronger than expected reviews helped, as did a desire to keep kids busy before they were all sent back to school.
It missed number one, but Insidious: The Last Key still debuted at number 2 with $29.2m from 3116 theatres. Blumhouse’s low budget horror franchise business plan has yielded gold for years now. It’s no wonder they’re allegedly the favourites to take over the already aborted Dark Universe over at Universal Studios. That’s also the second largest opening weekend for a film in the franchise, although it helped that new competition was so scarce. It is pretty cool to see scream queen Lin Shaye become a box office darling in her 70s too.
Calm down with your ‘baww it’s a flop’ fake news people, because Star Wars: The Last Jedi is holding in strong at number 3. The 55% drop is higher than expected, but with $572m in the bank domestically after 4 weeks and its status as the 13th highest grossing film of all time after a month, I don’t think Disney will have any restless nights. There are risks with their Star Wars strategy - releasing a new film every year will lead to fatigue at some point, and these are pricey films to make - but calm down with the ‘Rian Johnson killed the franchise’ fury. I didn’t have time to touch upon this before the year ended but 2017 was a bizarre time for the box office. North American audience numbers were at shocking lows,the viability of the Chinese model came into serious question, and previous dead certs for profit fell disastrously short. We ended 2017 with neither Justice League nor Transformers: The Last Knight in the top 10 highest grossing films of the year. If you’d told anyone that would be the case 12 months ago, they’d think you’d lost it.
The rest of this week’s top 10 are old releases, with some interesting surprises and some predictable choices. Did anyone predict that The Greatest Showman would make $75m domestically in 3 weeks?! Pitch Perfect 3 was expected to do well, but with those awful reviews, it was still a surprise to see it gross $85m in the same amount of time. Blue Sky’s animated take on the classic tale Ferdinand has been sluggish: $70m in 4 weeks, on a budget of $111m. Given 21st Century Fox’s takeover by Disney includes ownership of the animation studio, expect some changes to be made there. Or for them to just completely be folded into Walt Disney Animation. Jessica Chastain and Aaron Sorkin’s poker drama Molly’s Game jumped from 13 to 7 after its expansion to 1600 theatres. It grossed $7m, sitting above Darkest Hour, which took in $6.35m. Expect Sorkin to find a way to mansplain to you what that means.
Pixar’s Coco stays strong at number 9 with an extra $5.5m, taking its domestic gross to $192m. Ridley Scott’s All The Money in the World falls to number 10 with $3.1m. Reviews have been respectable, although it seems all that hype over the actor replacement reshoots hasn’t done much in terms of publicity. Its domestic gross is currently at around $20m, which is solid, and it should make its money back internationally, although given the reshoots, we can’t say for sure how big that budget actually was.
One of the biggest jumps of the week came from I, Tonya, which made $2.4m in its fifth week after opening to an added 193 theatres. That’s a 297% increase from the previous week’s intake. This is a film whose buzz with audiences and critics alike has been growing steadily. Early word from awards voters is strong too, so this could be a dark horse in an already competitive year. Hell, it’s already done better this week than many of the awards favourites. Alexander Payne’s Downsizing slumped hard with only $2.1m this week. In three weeks, it’s made about $22m domestically, from a $68m budget. Big risk for Paramount, and like giving mother! a wide release, it doesn’t seem to be paying off.
This week sees the release of the latest Liam Neeson punch-fest, The Commuter, the effortlessly charming sequel to Paddington, and Taraji P. Henson kicking all the arses in Proud Mary.
You can check out the rest of the weekend box office here.
What films did you watch this week? If you were sucked into the Jumanji game, which character would you be? What colour do you like your milk? Do you think Aaron Sorkin knows the definition of ‘mansplaining’? Are you ready for Tonya Harding to get the full Marcia Clark public rehabilitation? Answers in the comments.