Weekend Box Office

Weekend Box Office: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Brings Biggest Opening of Quentin Tarantino's Career

Plus: The Lion King has the ninth-best second weekend of all time, and Spider-Man: Far From Home crosses the billion-dollar line.

by | July 28, 2019 | Comments

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio star in Columbia Pictures “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
(Photo by Columbia Pictures)

Disney remained in full dominance at the box office this weekend, though Quentin Tarantino had the biggest opening of his career and a shot at his fourth $100 million grosser.

King of the Crop

The Lion King
(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

No surprise that Disney’s The Lion King was able to hold on to the No. 1 slot this week. Even with a 60 percent drop, the animated film was still able to haul in $78 million. That is the ninth-best second weekend of all time, and with $353 million in the bank it is good enough for eighth place after ten days of release. Incredibles 2 last year had $349.7 million and the live-action Beauty and the Beast was at $319 million in 2017. They now move down to ninth and tenth all-time. All signs right now suggest Jon Favreau’s redo is headed north of $600 million domestic. It is over $962 million worldwide to date and already 47th on the all-time chart.

Once Upon a Time…

Generally, films about Hollywood and the industry do not draw the same reactions from the public as they do from critics and people in the know. Comedies such as Tropic Thunder, Get Shorty, and Bowfinger have done well enough, but more inside baseball stuff about the business, like Ed Wood and Hail, Caesar!, have not exactly attracted major interest. But throw in two of the most recognizable names in front of the camera and a third behind it and all of a sudden you have Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which earned the biggest opening of Quentin Tarantino’s career with $40.35 million. Better even than his last go-round with Brad Pitt in August 2009 when Inglourious Basterds opened to $38.05 million. However, it may be the other star that is the true secret sauce.

Leonardo DiCaprio is as safe a bet these days in casting original projects. Directors like Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan help, but the Oscar winner also elevated Baz Luhrmann and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu to the biggest successes of their careers as well. DiCaprio’s last four films (including his supporting turn in Django Unchained) have grossed $116 million or higher. Go back a full decade to 2010 and you can make the streak six out of seven (with Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar being the sole outlier with just $37.3 million total). Inception ($62.7 million), The Great Gatsby ($50 million), and Shutter Island ($41 million) all opened higher, but that just means that Once Upon a Time… is the fourth-best opener of DiCaprio’s career, just as it is Pitt’s. World War Z ($66.4 million), Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($50.3 million), and Troy ($46.8 million) all opened higher. Pitt has had ten $100 million grossers as either a lead or co-lead. If you count Django, then DiCaprio has had ten as well. An opening like this certainly gives both actors a chance to take those numbers to 11.

The Top Ten And Beyond

Sony Pictures
(Photo by Sony Pictures)

Spider-Man: Far From Home crossed the billion-dollar line worldwide this week; it is the first Spidey film to do so. With $344 million after 27 days, the film overall is still right in line with $400 million grosser The Hunger Games and still a bit ahead of 2002’s Spider-Man. However, its fourth weekend of $12.2 million is well behind the respective $21 million and $28.5 million fourth weekends of those films, so it is fading a bit faster. Transformers: Dark of the Moon posted a $12 million fourth weekend as well, and finished with $352 million. Far From Home is still about $15 million ahead of that film’s place and is likely headed somewhere in the vicinity of Spider-Man 2’s $373 million. Worldwide it is currently the 32nd-best earner of all time and seems on track to pass Skyfall’s $1.108 billion and become Sony’s highest-grossing film ever.

Toy Story 4 is going to cross $400 million domestic next weekend, and after 38 days is the 18th-highest grosser ever. Its $9.8 million sixth weekend is better than 11 of the top 20 films on that list, and looks ready to finish north of $425 million. That will help get the film over a billion as it currently stands as the 56th-highest-grossing film ever worldwide. Ahead of it at the moment, globally, is Disney’s live-action Aladdin, which, with $1.009 billion in the bank, is the 39th-highest-grosser ever.

Finally, in limited release news, Lulu Wang’s The Farewell — still brandishing a perfect 100% on the Tomatometer — made it into the Top Ten this weekend. It is the first film not in wide release to hit the top ten since the weekend of Mar. 22-24 when No Manches Frida 2 grossed $1.77 million in 472 theaters. The Farewell is only in 135 theaters nationwide and grossed $1.55 million this weekend. How does that stack up to similar releases? That is better than A24’s Eighth Grade did last summer when it expanded to 158 theaters in weekend three and grossed $1.26 million. When Revolutionary Road jumped to the same number of theaters in its third weekend, it grossed $1.42 million that week and went on to gross $22.91 million total. Among a sample of some of the more successful indie releases between 125-150 theaters at this point, The Farewell is not quite up to the heights of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Midnight In Paris, but with $3.6 million after 17 days it is ahead of all the rest of them, including such notable titles as There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, and Thank You For Smoking. Next weekend’s nationwide expansion will paint a larger picture.

This Time Last Year

Mission" Impossible - Fallout © Paramount
(Photo by © Paramount)

It was Tom Cruise and Mission: Impossible – Fallout handily leading the way with a $61.23 million opening. That was more than the next five films in the top ten combined, including the disappointing bow for Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, which only began with $10.41 million. Both films were very well-liked with critics, scoring 97% and 91%, respectively. Last year’s entire Top Ten averaged 71% on the Tomatometer and the Top Ten grossed $143.33 million; just the 42nd-best among July weekends since 1990. This year’s Top Ten averaged 73.7% on the Tomatometer and grossed a total of $152.52 million, only the 34th best.

On the Vine: Hobbs & Shaw Hopes For Spinoff Success

For the third week in a row Hollywood is delivering just a single new wide release into theaters and it could be another big one. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw hopes to explode next week after the previous three films in the franchise opened to $97 million or higher. Will Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s partnership draw the loyal fanbase to similar numbers? Also next week, A24 expands Lulu Wang’s The Farewell nationwide. And look for other well-received Sundance fare in limited release, including Luce (95%) with Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, and Kelvin Harrison Jr., as well as Jennifer Kent’s follow-up to The Babadook, the revenge drama The Nightingale (82%).

The Full Top 10: Jul 26-28

  1. The Lion King (2019) 52% – $75.52 million ($350.77 million total)
  2. Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) 85% – $40.35 million ($40.35 million total)
  3. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) 91%$12.20 million ($344.45 million total)
  4. Toy Story 4 (2019) 97%$9.87 million ($395.62 million total)
  5. Crawl (2019) 83%$4.00 million ($31.46 million total)
  6. Yesterday (2019) 63%$3.00 million ($63.34 million total)
  7. Aladdin (2019) 57% – $2.78 million ($345.92 million total)
  8. Stuber (2019) 41%$1.67 million ($20.10 million total)
  9. Annabelle Comes Home (2019) 65%$1.56 million ($69.73 million total)
  10. The Farewell (2019) 98%$1.55 million ($3.68 million total)

Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

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