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Awards Season Box Office: ‘Call Me By Your Name’ hits highest PTA of the year, ‘Wonder’ is a massive hit

Thanksgiving weekend is one of the biggest weekends of year at the box office but it’s also where many major awards season contenders make their start or go wider to capitalize on good word of mouth. For some, it ends up being a wildly failed effort and for others it can turn a commercial push into an awards one.

Call Me By Your Name, from Sony Pictures Classics, just earned a field-best six Independent Spirit Award nominations last week, and is now set to grab the title for highest per theater average of the year from Lady Bird with a total of $111,500 on each of its four screens (even above last year’s Moonlight, which had an October bow. Lady Bird, which has four Spirit Award noms, opened on four screens earlier this month to $91K.

Speaking of A24’s Lady Bird, the huge critical success (100% on Rotten Tomatoes with 160 reviews), the coming of age film starring two-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan now sits at $8.1M after 22 days. Should it do well this awards season it could fight for the crown as A24’s top grossing film, currently held by this year’s Best Picture winner Moonlight.

Fox Searchlight’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, in its 15th day of release, sits at $4.8M from 614 theaters. It might be a slower road to box office success but it’s clearly down the road if word of mouth is strong.

Darkest Hour, from Focus Features, starts its journey with a $61K Friday that will end up with a strong $40K+ per screen by the end of the weekend. The film, about the first three weeks of Winston Churchill being named Britain’s Prime Minister and having to manage the saving of hundreds of thousands of soldiers from Dunkirk, stars Gary Oldman as Churchill in a role and performance that has him locked for a Best Actor win. That alone will drive people to theaters in the coming months.

Sony Pictures’ decision to rush the production and release of Roman J. Israel, Esq. starring two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington isn’t proving to be a good game plan. After a debut at the Toronto Film Festival to mediocre reviews, the film went back into post-production to give it a 10-12 minute trim, eliminating an entire subplot. That didn’t seem to help as the film still has an awful 55% on Rotten Tomatoes. I have to imagine the title was enough to keep a lot of people away, even Washington’s most ardent fans. The actor has been a solid box office draw for decades but this will likely end up his lowest grossing film in 20 years. It’s looking at a dismal $6.4M over the 5-day holiday weekend from 1,669 theaters.

One of the most surprising box office flops of awards season is Last Flag Flying. The Amazon platform release might not have mattered and many people were suspecting that its LA/NY start was a coastal stumble but that middle America would respond the buddy dramedy. (Narrator: They did not.). The film sits at a measly $553K and $597 per theater average in its 22nd day of release from 98 theaters.

It’s not going unnoticed that Lionsgate’s Wonder, starring Jacob Tremblay and Oscar-winner Julia Roberts, is turning into one of the biggest box office successes of the year. Family friendly and benefitting from group sales of schools and churches, the film isn’t just sappy and audience-friendly it’s a critics hit too. The studio, which originally was seeing this as a commercial push, now has a potential awards film on its hand and is aiming for it. It could be this year’s stealth Oscar pick. Wonder will finish its second weekend of release with an A+ CinemaScore and nearly $70M.

Check back on Monday for full weekend actuals but for here are Friday’s numbers.

1. COCO 18.60 40.77 (new; $4,665 PTA from 3,987 theaters)
2. JUSTICE LEAGUE 16.50 147.32 (-57.1%)
3. WONDER 8.73 55.86 (-9.8%)
4. THOR: RAGNAROK 6.64 267.32 (+15.8%)
5. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS 5.23 66.48 (+28.1%)
6. DADDY’S HOME 2 4.98 64.39 (+26.1%)
7. THE STAR 2.77 17.92 (-0.2%)
8. A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS 1.81 56.55 (-21.9%)
9. ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. 1.80 3.56 (+7,780.2%; $1,078 PTA from 1,669 theaters)
10. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI 1.62 4.84 (+384.4%; $2,630 PTA from 614 theaters)

11. LADY BIRD 1.51 8.17 (+107.5%; $1,909 PTA from 791 theaters)
12. THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS 0.51 0.96 (new; $808 PTA from 626 theaters)

DARKEST HOUR 61,000 0.13 (new; $15,250 PTA from 4 theaters)
LAST FLAG FLYING 58,500 0.55 (+64.6%; $597 PTA from 98 theaters)

About Erik Anderson

Erik thanks his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards together since he was in the single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch.

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