Mon. Sep 21st, 2020

Box Office Analysis (Feb. 14-16): ‘Sonic’ flies past video game movie records as ‘Parasite’ infects the top 10

Parasite earns the biggest post-Oscars weekend gross for a Best Picture winner since The King’s Speech

February can sometimes be a pretty quiet month at the box office, but when Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day overlap together on a weekend, it can be a pretty lucrative 4 days for movies of all kinds. Such was the case this weekend, most of all for Sonic the Hedgehog, which opened to a massive $57 million over the three-day and an estimated $68 million over the four-day weekend. Both numbers place the film as the fourth biggest Presidents Day opening of all time, behind only Black PantherDeadpool, and Fifty Shades of Grey. That three-day weekend number also gives Sonic the biggest opening weekend of all time for a video game adaptation, beating last year’s Pokemon: Detective Pikachu.

This opening also provided Paramount with a much-needed win after a frustrating 2019, marked by a few low-budget non-events (Pet Semetary, What Men Want), high-budget flops (Gemini Man, Terminator: Dark Fate), and one of the most widely reviled trailers with the original Sonic trailer receiving so much pushback it inspired the studio launch a full-blown redesign of the Sonic character in the hopes of saving the film from being another high-profile flop. The move paid off in spades, giving Paramount their biggest opening weekend since Mission: Impossible – Fallout in July 2018 and their biggest opening for a non-sequel since 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And with an ‘A’ Cinemascore and a 95% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences seem to be loving the film as well. It will face some direct family competition over the coming weeks (Call of the Wild next weekend and Onward in three weekends), but with solid word-of-mouth and spring breaks in the month of March, expect a final total of at least $170 million, with the chance to go even higher if word-of-mouth keeps the film afloat.

The other three new wide releases angled to be different types of Valentine’s date night options, to mixed results. PG-13 horror flick Fantasy Island narrowing edged out PG-13 chick flick The Photograph for the #3 and #4 slots, with the two films grossing $12.4 and $12.3 million respectively, while Searchlight Pictures had its first post-name change release with the anti-romantic comedy Downhill, grossing an uneventful $4.7 million. Romance and horror tend to be the two genres that benefit most from the romantic holiday, so it makes sense that all three had strong opening days before dropping -24% to -41% on Saturday. The Photograph was the biggest crowd-please of the three easily with a ‘B+’ Cinemascore, so the film might find some life post-holidays with a final total close to $30 million. The other two were more icily received, with Fantasy Island scoring a ‘C-‘ and Downhill scoring a ‘D’. Expect both films to collapse after this weekend, with final totals around $24 million and $10 million respectively.

Dropping to #2 in its 2nd weekend, the newly titles Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey dipped -48% for a $17.1 million 3-day weekend. That drop was the largest for any film in the top 10 by a wide margin, but for a comic book adaptation that drop is well above-average. The two holidays certainly helped the film, particularly Valentine’s Day in Friday, with the film having the weakest Friday-to-Saturday hold of any non-opener, indicating the film was likely a popular date night option for the holiday. With a $59.3 million 10-day total, the film is still well behind where Warner Bros. was hoping the film would be at this point, but if the film manages another solid hold next weekend, a $100+ million total is not out of the question.

Most of the other holdovers in the top 10 have been hanging around for at least a month now, and as a result almost all of them had exceptionally strong holds. Bad Boys for Life dropped a mere -6% over the 3-day weekend to $11.3 million, and with a $181.3 million 5-week total, a $200+ million finish has become a lot more possible. Even with it losing Best Picture and Best Directing at the Oscars last weekend, 1917 saw another amazing hold, dropping only -12% to $8.1 million for a $144.4 million total, pushing it past Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to be the second highest grossing Best Picture nominee of 2019 (behind only Joker) and the third highest-grossing original film of 2019 (behind only Us and Knives Out). Jumanji: The Next Level actually increased +3% from last weekend for a $5.7 million weekend, becoming the 10th and final film of 2019 to cross the $300 million mark.

But perhaps the most exciting holdover news this weekend came for a film in its 19th weekend of release, as Parasite entered the weekend top 10 for the first time ever in its run, grossing $5.5 million over the three-day weekend. Despite being so far into its run, and being available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and VOD for over two weeks now, this was far and away the biggest weekend gross in the movie’s four-month run. It was also the biggest post-Oscars weekend gross for a Best Picture winner since The King’s Speech nine years ago. The film’s $44.3 million through Monday also pushes it past the final totals of recent Best Picture winners Birdman and Spotlight, and by the end of the week it will also pass the $44.7 million final total of The Artist. Best Picture winners tend to have big post-Oscars weekends and then collapse right afterwards, so there is a question of how much farther the film will go after the buzz around its historic win wears off. However, it is locked to become only the fourth foreign-language film ever to make over $50 million domestically, and it has a half-decent chance at passing Hero‘s $53.7 million total become the third biggest of all time, behind only Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life is Beautiful.

It ended up being an exciting weekend for distributor Neon even beyond Parasite, as Portrait of a Lady on Fire finally had its proper opening weekend, grossing $440,907 from 22 theaters. After France chose Les Miserables as their official submission for the Oscars’ International Feature category, Neon chose to only give Portrait a one-week Oscar-qualifying release in December (, and hold off on a proper release until February. The move appears to have paid off, as a $20,041 per-theater-average is a pretty exceptional number for a February limited release, and almost certainly higher than what the film would have done in a crowded December marketplace where more Oscar-friendly options would have crowded it out. And while Les Miserables made the final five in the International Feature category at the Oscars, Portrait will have the last laugh at the American box office: that three-day weekend gross is already higher than Les Miserables‘s 35-day total of $326,655.

3-day Estimates
1. Sonic the Hedgehog – $57 million (NEW)
2. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey – $17.1 million (-48%)
3. Fantasy Island – $12.4 million (NEW)
4. The Photograph – $12.3 million (NEW)
5. Bad Boys for Life – $11.3 million (-6%)
6. 1917 – $8.1 million (-12%)
7. Jumanji: The Next Level – $5.7 million (+3%)
8. Parasite – $5.5 million (+234%)
9. Dolittle – $5.05 million (-23%)
10. Downhill – $4.7 million (NEW)

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