Midway Wins Surprise Top Spot
Veterans Day weekend (Nov. 8-10) at the box office came with a surprise twist. In a weekend that was down considerably from the same weekend last year – when The Grinch and Bohemian Rhapsody led to strong numbers — WWII film Midway was the unexpected champion with a gross of $17.90 million, substantially more than expected. Elsewhere, the weekend’s expected winner Doctor Sleep fell short of predictions that had it opening around the low-$20 million range, while Last Christmas andPlaying With Fire posted relatively healthy debuts.
Lionsgate Films’ Midway exceeded expectations to win the weekend with an audience that skewed 60% male and 87% older than 25. The studio tied the film’s release to Veterans Day, which helped further boost its opening numbers, while word-of-mouth may have also been a factor given the excellent scores from opening-day audiences despite not being beloved by critics. A recognizable cast including Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore and Woody Harrelson also served as a selling point, while a targeted promotional campaign via partnerships with the USO and Shell Gas Gold + (which offered a discounted Midway ticket program to its roughly 250,000 members via Atom Tickets) also helped lift the opening weekend total.
Of course, an opening of $17.90 million doesn’t look so hot once you factor in Midway’s $100 million reported budget, money that director Roland Emmerich notably raised outside the studio system from Chinese investors including Starlight Group, which funds Emmerich’s production company Centropolis, and foreign presales. Emmerich reportedly used the success of Mel Gibson’s 2016 war film Hacksaw Ridge, which also raised a considerable amount in foreign presales before going on to gross $175.30 million worldwide off a $40 million budget, to lure investors. That said, Midway has a budget more than double that amount, so it will need to stick around against heavy competition in the weeks ahead to justify its considerable budget.
Opening in second place, Warner Bros. Pictures’ Doctor Sleep took in $14.11 million, a disappointment relative to expectations, particularly in light of recent successful Stephen King adaptations including the two blockbuster It entries and Pet Sematary, which opened to a healthy $24.50 million this past April.
The decidedly lackluster debut for the $45 million budget film is even more surprising given that it is a sequel to one of the most famous horror films of all time — Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, whose iconography and plotline are key elements in the new film adapted from King’s 2013 novel. Add to that strong reviews and healthy audience scores, particularly strong for a film in the horror genre, and it is truly one of the more unexpected disappointments of the year so far.
Paramount Pictures’ Playing with Fire opened in third place with $12.72 million, a decent debut for the $30 million-budget family comedy that had to go up against two strong holdovers in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and The Addams Family. The film certainly benefitted from the popularity of WWE wrestler-turned-actor John Cena, whose last comedy Blockers proved to be a healthy performer with a gross of more than $60 million in North America. That said, the film got poor critical reviews, even for the family-comedy genre, so audience goodwill will need to sustain it in the two-week window before the certain-to-be-huge Frozen II hits theaters.
In fourth place, Universal Pictrures’ rom-com Last Christmas opened with $11.44 million, a decent result for the Emilia Clarke-Henry Golding movie that could be primed for a long run this season given its holiday theme and popular lead stars. Although reviews for the film were rather negative, this type of film tends to be more or less review-proof. What remains to be seen is whether Last Christmas can sustain through the coming weeks with a slew of buzzy new releases coming down the pike. Luckily, the reported price for this one is just $25 million, roughly the budget of Clarke’s last rom-com Me Before You, which became a huge sleeper success in 2016 with a domestic total of more than $56 million and a worldwide tally north of $200 million.
Falling to fifth place in its second weekend from the top spot the previous weekend was Terminator: Dark Fate, which plummeted 62.8% from its $29.03 million opening to $10.81 million. The Paramount sequel couldn’t break out beyond its core audience despite positive word-of-mouth among diehard fans, owing in large part to diminished goodwill for the once-mighty franchise following a string of poorly-received sequels. Dark Fate’s domestic total now stands at just $48.47 million after 10 days, roughly 30% behind 2015’s Terminator Genisys at the same point.
After crossing the $300 million mark last week, Warner Bros.’ Joker continued strong with $9.22 million in its sixth weekend, down 31.7% bringing the domestic total for the comic book thriller to a powerful $313.51 million.
Just behind Joker in seventh place was Walt Disney Studios’ Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, which earned $8.41 million in its fourth weekend, a drop of 35.8%. The domestic total for the fantasy sequel now stands at $97.71 million, a far cry from the original film’s $185.8 million at the same point, although healthy overseas grosses have more or less kept the Angelina Jolie film afloat.
Coming in eighth place was Focus Features’ Harriet, which took in $7.41 million in second weekend following the previous weekend’s better-than-expected $11.68 million deubt, a drop of 36.6%. The total for the Harriet Tubman biopic now stands at $23.64 million after 10 days.
In ninth place, Halloween holdover Zombieland: Double Tap took in $4.30 million, a drop of 42.1%, bringing the total for Sony Pictures’ sequel to $66.64 million — roughly the same as its predecessor at the same point not adjusting for inflation. Rounding out the Top 10 was United Artists Releasing’s The Addams Family with $4.16 million in its fifth weekend, a fall of 49.9%, giving the animated reboot a North American total of $91.43 million.
This coming weekend sees the debut of 20th Century Fox’s Ford v Ferrari starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, Sony’s latest adaption of Charlie’s Angels and Warner Bros.’ release of New Line’s The Good Liar with Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen.
The top 10 films grossed $100.48 million. That is 1.2% ahead of the previous weekend’s $99.33 million total. However, it was 34.2% behind last year’s $152.59 million, when The Grinch debuted with $67.57 million. Total box office year-to-date stands at $9.45 billion. That is 6.3% behind last year.
Nov. 8-10, 2019
|This Week||Last Week||Movie||Weekend Gross||Cumulative Gross||Weeks|
|3||New||Playing with Fire||$12.72M||$12.72M||1|
|5||1||Terminator: Dark Fate||$10.81M||$48.47M||2|
|7||3||Maleficent: Mistress of Evil||$8.41M||$97.71M||4|
|9||6||Zombieland: Double Tap||$4.30M||$66.64M||4|
|10||5||The Addams Family||$4.16M||$91.43M||5|
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.