While Ford v Ferrari gave the box office a much-needed jolt last weekend, this weekend Hollywood is hoping that business will fully spring back to life with, hopefully, the release of the first $100+ million openers in four months. Frozen II, the much-anticipated follow-up to the highest grossing original animated film of all time in America, and the biggest animated film of all time worldwide (give or take this year’s “virtual production” of The Lion King). While there have been animated releases in the last few months both modestly successful (The Addams Family), disappointing (Abominable) and disastrous (remember Arctic Dogs from three weeks ago?), Frozen II is pretty easily the biggest event animated film since Toy Story 4 launched in June, and could rival its current stance as the biggest animated release of 2019 (again, give or take Lion King).
Early tracking has consistently put the movie’s opening above $100 million, but determining where specifically a film like this will land can be difficult. Seven animated films have opened above $100 million, six of which, much like Frozen II, were sequels to massively successful and beloved predecessors (Incredibles 2, Finding Dory, and two Shrek and Toy Story sequels each). Per Fandango, Frozen II has outpaced all of these movies in pre-sales, but it is possible that those pre-sales will be spread out over the next two weekends, with Thanksgiving just around the corner. Still, with pre-release hype this strong, expect an opening weekend around $130 million, enough for the fifth biggest November opening of all time and the third biggest animated opening of all time, behind only Incredibles 2 and Finding Dory.
It is interesting to note that of the year’s top ten opening weekends thus far, only three (Aladdin, Toy Story 4, Spider-Man: Far from Home) faced any sort of counter-programming, mostly of the R-rated variety (Brightburn/Booksmart, Child’s Play, Midsommar). This weekend however, Sony/TriStar will aim to counter-program Frozen II with another PG-rated release, the Mister Rogers-focused drama A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The first trailer for the film went viral, with nearly 60 million views in two days across all platforms, and reviews for the film have been very positive, with a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and 80 on Metacritic. However, only nine movies have ever opened above $20 million when released the same weekend as a $100+ million opener, which means Beautiful Day may have an uphill battle in breaking out this first weekend. The film may also have a smaller rush factor from older audiences with the surprise breakouts of Midway and Ford v Ferrari over the last two weekends. Expect a first weekend around $19 million.
Providing the R-rated counter-programming this weekend to those two release is STX, with the release of 21 Bridges. Originally scheduled for late September, the film was delayed when STX decided to put all of its chips on Hustlers, a move that worked out for the struggling distributor when it grossed over $100 million. Judging from reviews for 21 Bridges (37% on Rotten Tomatoes, 47 on Metacritic), that appears to have been the right move. Granted, the presence of Chadwick Boseman in his first post-Black Panther role, and the touting of the Russo Brothers as producers on the film might help boost its profile a little, but don’t expect much more than $11 million for the weekend.
Holdovers: The pre-Thanksgiving weekend tends to be rough on holdovers even in the absence of a mega-opener, as we learned last year when the disappointing start for Fantastic Beasts 2 didn’t prevent every holdover from dropping at least -43%. Expect similar results this weekend, especially with Frozen II set to blow up. Even Ford v Ferrari, with its A+ Cinemascore, will probably drop closer to 50% than it would on most weekends. However, the setback will be temporary, with all movies likely to experience boosted weekday numbers before soft drops next weekend.
1. Frozen II – $130 million (NEW)
2. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – $19 million (NEW)
3. Ford v Ferrari – $16.7 million (-47%)
4. 21 Bridges – $11 million (NEW)
5. Midway – $4.1 million (-52%)
6. Playing with Fire – $3.7 million (-56%)
7. Last Christmas – $3.6 million (-45%)
8. Charlie’s Angels – $3.5 million (-58%)
9. Joker – $2.9 million (-46%)
10. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – $2.8 million (-42%)