After a few weekends of disappointing returns for tentpole releases, Fox delivered a pleasant surprise in the form of an over-performing original film, Ford v Ferrari, which grossed an excellent $30 million in its opening weekend, enough to take #1. The success of the movie is a welcome reprieve for several parties. For Fox, it is their first #1 opening since Alita: Battle Angel in February and its largest opening weekend since Bohemian Rhapsody last November. For the movie’s stars, it’s Christian Bale’s biggest non-franchise opening of all time, and Matt Damon’s second biggest, behind only The Martian.
And for Hollywood in general, it’s another good reminder that audiences are willing to come out for a film without any pre-existing IP attached if the marketing is enticing and reviews are strong – Ford is the year’s fourth original film to open above $30 million, after Us, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Hustlers. However, while those films appeared to be divisive with audiences after opening, with B/B- Cinemascores and Rotten Tomatoes Audience Scores below 75%, Ford is riding high with a rare A+ from Cinemascore and 99% Rotten Tomatoes Verified Audience Score. With the holiday season fast approaching, strong legs are likely to carry the film far, even with strong competition over the coming weeks like adult-aimed A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Knives Out, as well as general juggernaut Frozen II. Still, expect a final total north of $110 million for Ford, with potential to go even higher if it can stay in multiplexes through the holiday season and into awards season, where the movie could become a populist underdog.
If Ford was an example of how a gamble on an original property could pay off, the weekend’s other major opener showed how taking what seems like an easy bet on a proven property can go wrong. Opening in third place, Charlie’s Angels grossed a paltry $8.6 million over the weekend. That is almost $5 million below the opening day of the 2000 Charlie’s Angels adaptation, unadjusted for inflation. The opening weekend is only $225,000 above the opening weekend gross of Black & Blue, an original Sony release just three weeks ago that was released in 1,400 less theaters, made with one-fourth of Charlie’s budget.
There’s been a lot of handwringing over what went wrong, if the marketing was too vague, if it didn’t have enough big names, but the biggest point to take away from the disappointment of this reboot and Men in Black International over the summer, versus the inexplicable success for Sony of rebooting Jumanji two winters ago, is that if you don’t have a novel take on familiar material, audiences are not gonna come out for it. And while reviews for Charlie’s were more generally positive than MIB International, the film still failed to inspire much passion from anyone that saw it (the film scored a B+ from Cinemascore, slightly below the 2000 original and on par with the 2003 sequel, Full Throttle). The film will probably drop off pretty quickly after this weekend, so expect a final total around $21 million.
The last wide release of the weekend, The Good Liar, opened to an uneventful $5.7 million. The film seemed like an odd release for this time of year, all things considered: despite opening wide in November and starring the prestigious British duo of Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren, the movie was not positioned as an awards player, skipping all fall festivals and receiving mixed reviews. A film like this could have thrived earlier in the year, in the spring or summer when there are less options for adults to see at the multiplex, the way that the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movies or Mirren’s own Woman in Gold did in years past, even with underwhelming reviews. But for where it is now, the movie will probably shuffle out of theaters quietly and quickly in the next few weeks, finishing with a $16 million total.
With Ford over-performing, Midway took a sizable tumble in its second weekend, dropping 51% to $8.7 million, while still finishing just ahead of Charlie’s Angels. In a close fourth, Playing with Fire took advantage of the lack of new family offerings and had the best hold in the top 10, dropping only -33% to $8.55 million, although it will face tough competition when Frozen II opens next weekend. Rounding out the top 5, Last Christmas dropped -41% to $6.7 million, putting in doubt whether the movie will be able to hang onto multiplexes through the end of Thanksgiving to take advantage of the full Christmas season.
Outside of the top 10, a new platform release had a respectable start, while two October platform releases and Oscar hopefuls continued strong runs in wide release. Opening in four theaters, Waves grossed $144,562 for a $36,141 per-theater-average. That was one of the stronger PTAs for a new platform release this year, if on the lower end for distributor A24’s A-titles, more in the range of The Florida Project or Room. Meanwhile, Jojo Rabbit had a solid -29% drop to $2.8 million while adding almost 200 theaters, bringing its five week total to $13.6 million. Parasite kept its theater count practically flat but still managed the best hold of the weekend for any wide release, dropping only -25% to $1.9 million. Its six-week total is now up to $14.5 million, pushing it past The Tree of Life to become the third highest grossing Palme D’Or winner of the last 25 winners, behind only Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Pianist.
1. Ford v. Ferrari – $31 million (NEW)
2. Midway – $8.75 million (-51%)
3. Charlie’s Angels – 8.6 million (NEW)
4. Playing with Fire – $8.55 million (-33%)
5. Last Christmas – $6.7 million (-41%)
6. Doctor Sleep – $6.2 million (-56%)
7. The Good Liar – $5.7 million (NEW)
8. Joker – $5.6 million (-39%)
9. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – $5.2 million (-38%)
10. Harriet – $4.8 million (-35%)