It was an unexpectedly exciting weekend at the box office this weekend, which seems to have given us everything: two new openers, one a surprise breakout hit, the other an unfortunate flop; a holdover that has defied all reasonable expectations; and a new limited release that kicked off what could be a long and healthy run with a record-breaking opening.
In first place, Joker held on for a second weekend in a row with a jaw-dropping $55 million weekend. That is a mere -43% from its first weekend, an outstanding hold for such a large opener, and even more astounding considering it is a comic book movie. In face, among comic book movies that opened to over $60 million, it is the second best drop ever, behind only the 2002 Spider-Man, and better than holds for famously leggy hits like Wonder Woman and Black Panther.
What does this mean for its future prospects? The sky is the limit, frankly. The film could still drop 40-50% for a couple more weekends – the first Deadpool and IT films (the other two massive R-rated openers) also had strong second weekend holds from first weekend hype, but then took a couple more weekends to stabilize after that. Or perhaps the movie is more like the aforementioned Wonder Woman and Black Panther, or even an early October word-of-mouth hit like Gone Girl or The Martian, and the film will now enjoy sub-40% drops from here on out. With minimal direct competition the next couple weeks (aside form maybe Zombieland 2), stabilization seems more likely, so the film should somewhere north of $300+ million. And with an incredible hold overseas that puts its current worldwide total at $543.9 million, a $1 billion final total has become more likely than not, which would make it the first ever R-rated movie to cross that mark.
In second place, The Addams Family defied most expectations (certainly my own expectations) with a $30.3 million opening. That is far and away the biggest opening weekend ever for the new-ish distributor United Artists Releasing (the distributing venture shared between MGM and Annapurna), and by the end of the week it should top The Hustle as their highest grossing release ever. The opening weekend speaks to the ongoing appeal of this particular brand – while there were only two theatrical releases starring the titular family, they remain Halloween family staples, so an updated version seemed bound to have some wide ranging appeal, even if reviews for the film were middling at best. Maleficent might cut a little into its audience next weekend, but it should still hold well as Halloween approaches, and is the only major animated movie in release until Frozen II, so the film should be able to leg its way out to $100 million total.
In third place, Gemini Man opened to a rough $20.5 million. Now in most cases, an opening weekend for an original property with primarily negative reviews would have be a solid start – it is actually star Will Smith’s best opening for an original film in six years. Unfortunately much like Smith’s last sizable original opener, After Earth, film film has a massive budget ($138 million) that it is not highly unlikely to make back in the domestic market, and now must pray for an overseas breakout in order to break even. That’s not impossible, as the film just had a solid $39 million launch in foreign markets, but it’s not gonna be enough to convince studios to invest this much in high frame rate filmmaking, one of the primary reason for that massive budget.
The non-Joker holdovers how solid holds for the most part, outside of Abominable, which felt the Addams Family breakout the worst by dropping over 48%. The best hold in the top 10 belonged to Judy, dropping a mere 29%, and with almost zero competition for older audiences until fellow Best Actress competitor Harriet opens in three weekends, it’s almost locked to become Roadside’s third biggest release of all time, behind only Amazon co-production Manchester By the Sea and Can Only Imagine.
But even with all of the excitement in wide release, the story of the weekend came from only three theaters, as Parasite shattered some records in its first weekend of what promises to be a long theatrical run. The Neon release made an estimated $376,264 from those three theaters, for a per-theater-average of $125,421. That is the ninth biggest per-theater-average of all time for a live-action movie (it’s the biggest since La La Land nearly three years ago), and it nearly doubles the per-theater-average record for a foreign language film. If you want just one comparison to see how much stronger Parasite was than most other foreign language releases, consider this: in the 22 days between its opening day and the Oscar nomination announcement (during which was the entire 2012 holiday season), Amour made $371,137 from three theaters. Parasite just outgrossed that in three days (speaking of Palme D’Or winners, this was also the fifth biggest opening weekend ever for a winner of the prize, behind only four wide releases).
So where does Parasite go from here? Most films with a per-theater-average that high tend to be films just waiting to go wide almost immediately (The Master, Steve Jobs, American Hustle), but Neon will continue to tread carefully, expanding the film to only a few new markets over the next couple of weekends. However, with buzz at a fever pitch right now, Neon will want to avoid taking too long to expand the film and losing that buzz, the way Sony Classics did with Call Me By Your Name two years ago. Where will its final total land? That’s another major mystery. Aside form Red State, the lowest grossing movie to ever have a per-theater-average above $100,000 was Inside Llewyn Davis, with $13.2 million. A final total that low would still make Parasite the third biggest foreign language film of the decade, behind only Instructions Not Included and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. All I feel comfortable predicting now is a final total somewhere north of $10 million.
1. Joker – $55 million (-42.8%) $192,728,787
2. The Addams Family – $30.3 million (NEW) $30,298,000
3. Gemini Man – $20.5 million (NEW) $20,500,000
4. Abominable – $6.2 million (-48.2%) $47,971,350
5. Downton Abbey – $4.9 million (-38.7%) $82,687,590
6. Hustlers – $3.85 million (-39.8%) $98,015,339
7. Judy – $3.25 million (-29.2%) $14,974,204
8. IT: Chapter Two – $3.2 million (-39.4%) $207,135,424
9. Jexi – $3.1 million (NEW) $3,100,000
10. Ad Astra – $1.95 million (-53.5%) $47,035,432