Audiences were not done with the winners of the box office last week – including Joker and Maleficent – though they certainly did flip the script on a few of them. The DC villain overtook the Disney villain to reclaim his weekly crown, while Joker also celebrates an all-new crown as the highest-grossing R-rated film of all-time. The final weekend of October was certainly calm for the newcomers but the storm is coming soon as the Holiday movie season kicks off in earnest next week. Until then, the winners and losers of the Autumn season look pretty clear.
Joker is the King in more ways than one. It is the first movie to regain the number 1 spot at the box office after being dethroned since A Quiet Place did it in April 2018. With over $277 million on Sunday, it surpasses Gravity to become the highest-grossing film ever released in October and, as mentioned, it has also passed Deadpool 2 as the top R-rated grosser worldwide with over $790 million. The $18.7 million that Joker made in weekend four is higher than both Thor: Ragnarok ($16.86 million) and Iron Man 2 ($16.45 million), as well as Deadpool 2 ($14.41 million). That suggests Joker is headed for somewhere over $320 million domestic and on its way to over $900 million worldwide. Joker is going to have the biggest profit of the Autumn season by over three times more than Warner Brothers’ other big hit of the season, It: Chapter Two. Other winners include Focus Features’ Downton Abbey and STX’s Hustlers.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is in the running for an altogether different crown at the other end of the spectrum: that of one of the biggest bombs of the year. The international dollar is going to ultimately decide its final placement, but as of this weekend it has grossed just $65 million domestically and is in danger of not even crossing the $100 million line. (Its predecessor cleared $240 million.) The sequel is just a bit behind the 10-day grosses of Paranormal Activity 2 and Red Dragon, though it did gross a little more in weekend two than either of them. Those films, nevertheless, finished with only $84.75 million and $93.14 million, respectively.
Good news for the Mistress of Evil is that family films are in short supply until Frozen 2 opens on November 22; neither Arctic Dogs nor Playing with Fire is likely to draw much business away from it. But even if Maleficent can reach nine digits here, it is still going to need to reach about $450 million internationally to break even. Currently it has made $228 million outside of its North American total. Still, Mistress of Evil looks like its red in the ledger will still be less than that of Paramount’s Gemini Man, which remains about $260 million away from the black. That would make it the clear loser in an Autumn season in which it has had plenty of company, including The Goldfinch, Ad Astra, and Rambo: Last Blood.
Neither of this weekend’s new releases posted noteworthy grosses, but neither were heavily budgeted either. Sony’s Black and Blue was the more expensive of the two, costing $12 million, so an $8.3 million start means it is likely headed at best for $20-$25 million total, if that. The horror film Countdown cost about half as much at $6.5 million and at least passed that figure with $9 million. It is also likely to take a small loss if it is forgotten by audiences once Halloween comes and goes.
Two films still looking to get out of the red for the Autumn season remained in the top four and could see a decent showing leading up to Halloween next Thursday. Last week’s newcomer Zombieland: Double Tap is now up to nearly $47 million. The original film had $47.6 million after 10 days and grossed $14.8 million in its second weekend; the sequel dropped 57% and grossed just $11.6 million, so it appears it is headed to somewhere below the first film’s $75.59 million. The Addams Family is also having a nice little run and looks headed for over $90 million with an outside shot at reaching $100 million which, globally, is the number it needs to start turning a profit. Its total stands worldwide at $84 million.
In other direct battles this weekend, we had one between musicians Kanye West and Bruce Springsteen. Kanye’s 31-minute short, Jesus Is King, grossed $830,000 in 372 IMAX theaters, which charge a bit extra no matter what the length, for a per-theater-average of $2,231. The Boss’ full-length music doc, Western Stars, was in 345 non-IMAX theaters and grossed just $560,000 for a $1,623 PTA. Then there was the battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse in The Current War, labeled with “Director’s Cut” after the film spent two years on the shelf after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017 to mediocre reviews in the midst of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. It made just $2.73 million.
And that wasn’t all. There was also the showdown between Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse. Robert Eggers’ follow-up to The Witch expanded to 586 theaters and made the top 10 with a gross of $3.08 million. That is a better per-theater-average ($5,257) than the expansion of Sofia Coppola’s remake of The Beguiled in 2017, which started with $229,229 in four theaters and then grossed $3.16 million in 674 theaters. That film jumped up to its widest release the following week into 941 theaters and ultimately finished with $10.7 million. A24’s very first opening weekend wide launch was The Witch, which grossed $8.8 million in 2,046 theaters and finished with $25.13 million.
In other limited news, Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite (Certified Fresh at 99%) continued to stay strong as it expanded into 129 theaters with $1.81 million. Comparing to similar platforming strategies, it is certainly in some great company. Boogie Nights went from 30-to-124 theaters in weekend three and grossed $1.8 million. Here are others in Parasite’s realm:
The lowest-grossing film on that list overall was The Farewell with $17.67 million.
Finally, we’re looking at the second weekend of Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, which added another 50 theaters to last week’s launch of just five and grossed $1.04 million. That is right in line with Jason Reitman’s Thank You For Smoking, which Fox Searchlight saw gross $1,003,911 in 54 theaters after a $262,923 launch in five theaters. Other Fox Searchlight releases along these lines include Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which made $1,102,166 in 53 theaters after a $322,168 start in four theaters, and Birdman, which made $1.37 million (50 theaters) after $424,397 (four theaters). Jojo Rabbit is up to $1.5 million after 10 days of release.
The pre-Halloween weekend in 2018 was won by (what else?) David Gordon Green’s Halloween, which earned $31.4 million in its second weekend, crossing the $125 million line. A Star is Born was second with $14.03 million and Venom finished third with $10.65 million. The only newcomer to enter the top 10 was the Gerard Butler submarine thriller, Hunter Killer, which opened to just $6.65 million. Johnny English Strikes Again and the faith-based Indivisible opened in less than 1,000 theaters and grossed just $1.63 million and $1.50 million, respectively; Jonah Hill’s mid90s was expanded into 1,206 theaters and held the number 10 spot with $2.98 million. The top 10 films grossed a total of $90.99 million and averaged an even 65% on the Tomatometer; this year’s top 10 grossed $89.88 million and averaged 55%.
The holiday movie season officially begins and one film should have no problem ruling them all: Terminator: Dark Fate is primed to lead the way with both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton returning to the franchise. The movie is already earning solid reviews, particularly when compared to the previous sequels; its current Tomatometer score is 65%. Dark Fate started with $12.8 million overseas in 10 territories this weekend. The holiday season also means it is awards season and a couple of Oscar wannabes begin their runs next week: Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn and Harriet with Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman. Finally there is Entertainment Studios’ first animated release, Arctic Dogs, featuring the voice work of Jeremy Renner, James Franco, and Alec Baldwin, which is expected to be on the low end of animated openings.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]