Wed. Oct 21st, 2020

Box Office Analysis (Jan. 17-19): ‘Bad Boys,’ Bad Boys Whatcha Gonna Do…Blow Up the Box Office

After 1917 became 2020’s first wide release breakout last weekend, Bad Boys for Life surpassed all tracking and expectations to deliver the first full-fledged blockbuster opening of 2020. The Sony release grossed an estimated $59.2 million over the 3-day weekend and $68.1 million over the 4-day. The latter number is the second largest MLK weekend gross of all time behind only American Sniper in 2015, and the former number is the largest opening weekend of all time for a proper January release (American Sniper opened in platform release in December 2014).

The first Bad Boys movie in over 16 years, the film seemed like a box office wildcard with its January release, usually a dumping ground for subpar sequels, and with two new directors taking over for the franchise’s divisive auteur, Michael Bay. However, the film had a strong, straight-forward marketing campaign that sold the action and comedy bantering of its two stars, and ended up having the best reviews in the franchise’s history, with a 76% Rotten Tomatoes score (which, incredibly, is also the best score for star Will Smith since Men in Black over 22 years ago). Audiences also enjoyed the film, giving it an ‘A’ Cinemascore (same as the first two movies), so while the film will probably have your standard sequel frontloading, a final total above $150 million looks likely, which would also push it past Paul Blart: Mall Cop to become the highest-grossing January release of all time.

If Bad Boys for Life marks 2020’s first proper blockbuster, the second place opener appears to have marked 2020’s first proper flop. Dolittle opened to an estimated $22.5 million over the 3-day weekend and $30 million over the 4-day. In the abstract those would be solid numbers for Robert Downey Jr.’s first non-Marvel film in over five years, and they would especially good numbers for a family film in January with some terrible reviews (the 18% on Rotten Tomatoes is the worst score for a Downey film since Gothika over 16 years ago). Unfortunately, with a reported $175 million price tag, that opening means that the film will need to rely on a massive overseas performance to save the film, although early numbers (including a $2.4 million opening in Australia) are not promising. As the only family film for the next month, legs might not be too harsh, but don’t expect a final total much above $70 million.

Falling to third place (although it could flip slots with Dolittle in the final numbers) was newly minted PGA winner 1917, dipping 40% in its second weekend of wide release to $22.1 million over the 3-day and $27 million over the 4-day. That drop is steeper than expected, especially compared to other January Oscar bait like The Revenant or Gran Torino or even American Sniper (which fell only -27.6% post-MLK opening weekend), but Bad Boys for Life made for stronger and more direct competition than anything those films faced in their sophomore weekends. With 1917 gaining strength in the Oscar race after its PGA win last night, the film will likely have softer drops over the next three weekends, which should push the film to a total around $115-125 million by Oscar night, where it could become the first $100+ million domestic grosser to win the top prize since Argo.

Speaking of the Oscars, several other Oscar nominees saw re-expansions and solid holds over the holiday weekend. Despite being the only Best Picture nominee to lose theaters this weekend, Little Women saw the second best hold of any film in the top 10, dropping only 24% to $5.9 million, a hold that should lock up a $100+ million final total for the film. Parasite and Jojo Rabbit had their widest releases yet, with Parasite grossing $1.7 million from 843 theaters and Jojo grossing $1.4 million from 1,005 theaters. Both films should cross the $30 million marks by Oscar Sunday in three weeks. Farther down the chart, Ford v Ferrari ($1.1 million 3-day) looks to add a few million more dollars to its grosses, while Once Upon a Time in Hollywood reentered wide release despite being available on home media, grossing $310,000 in 705 theaters.

One last opening of note this weekend was the official American release of the Japanese anime blockbuster Weathering with You. Distributor GKids took a unique process for releasing the film, holding “fan screenings” in 1,020 theaters on Wednesday and Thursday, where the film grossed $3 million and was the second highest grossing film on each day behind only 1917. On Friday the film went into a proper semi-wide release 486 theaters, where it grossed $1.7 million for the 3-day weekend and $2 million for the 4-day. With an estimated $5 million after six days, the film has already become the highest grossing American release by GKids ever, and has already outgrossed the $5 million American gross of Your Name, director Makoto Shinkai’s last film. The film will likely be significantly frontloaded, but a final total of $7-8 million would make it the 3rd highest grossing non-franchise anime film in America behind only Spirited Away and Ponyo.

3-Day Estimates
1. Bad Boys for Life – $59.2 million (NEW)
2. Dolittle – $22.5 million (NEW)
3. 1917 – $22.1 million (-40%)
4. Jumanji: The Next Level – $9.6 million (-32%)
5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – $8.4 million (-45%)
6. Just Mercy – $6 million (-38%)
7. Little Women – $5.9 million (-24%)
8. Knives out – $4.3 million (-24%)
9. Like a Boss – $3.8 million (-62%)
10. Frozen II – $3.7 million (-37%)

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