4th Update, Sunday AM writethru after Saturday AM post: While it’s been widely forecast that 2020 will be a down year at the box office due to less Disney franchise IP on the schedule, the first weekend of the year, per Comscore, cleared $141.2M. That is lower than what we were seeing yesterday because of the fact that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker‘s third weekend is coming in below its Friday mid-day estimate of $37M+, now with $33.7M. Industry sources believe it’s higher at $34.2M.
Skywalker‘s total per Disney is at $450.8M, 13% behind Last Jedi, which had already crossed the half billion mark in US/Canada by its 17th day of release. Again, the 17th day of release for Last Jedi happened to be New Year’s Eve in its run. Saturday was up for Skywalker over Friday, with $14.3M, +30%, just not as high as many were hoping. Some believe that Skywalker can still make it to $600M, but it could be shorter than that. Global for Skywalker now stands at $919M, and will become Disney’s 7th pic from 2019 to cross the $1 billion mark.
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Still, the first weekend of 2020 is a tad up over the same period a year ago by +2%. By the way, just because it might be a down year at the 2020 box office doesn’t mean it will be a down year when it comes to the profitability from studio tentpoles.
According to Comscore, last January made $819.4M, -15% from 2018. Four Januarys have posted $1 billion-plus ticket sales: 2010 with $1.067B, thanks to the carryover of Avatar, which made $312.1M for the month; 2016, with $1.043B boosted by Star Wars: The Force Awakens carryover, which made $243.8M in the month; 2009, which grossed $1.016B due to carryovers like Marley and Me, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and January movies Paul Blart and Gran Torino; and 2015, which cleared $1 billion largely due to American Sniper. With 70% of colleges off and K-12 schools on break as well, we remain in a healthy area of the box office, further boosted by the MLK holiday down the road.
As the first release of the decade and 2020, Screen Gems/Sony’s The Grudge didn’t cut it, with an ‘F’ CinemaScore and an opening at the lower end of its industry projections of $11.3M — the lowest take ever in Sony’s reboots of the Japanese horror series, the 2004 Sarah Michelle Gellar version having a spectacular 3-day of $39.1M and the 2006 sequel opening to $20.8M. Unfortunately, another attempted wet blanket remake from the Sony library in the wake of last year’s Charlie’s Angels and Men in Black International. I hear from sources that The Grudge cost more than $10M, around $12M-$14M net, and at that level could lose money.
Paramount ran into this problem back in 2017 when they tried to reignite interest in The Ring franchise with Rings (based on the Japanese horror series), which didn’t hook anyone with a $13M opening, $27.7M domestic final. Horror fans who are fans of the original foreign language horror film may be forgiving toward the first US reboot, but not the second one. Or, at least, that’s what this small trend indicates. As such, look for Grudge to wind up stateside with a mid $20M final, losing some money.
Typically, there is a bit of discrepancy between CinemaScore and Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak audience exits. But these two services agree with the latter, giving Grudge a 1/2 star. The last time a horror film at the onset of the year nabbed an ‘F’ grade was Paramount’s The Devil Inside from the first weekend of 2012. But that $1M movie actually opened phenomenally against such poor exits with $33.7M, and a final domestic of $53.2M (that’s when you could open a movie against a poor Rotten Tomatoes score, Devil with 6% — remember those days?). In recent memory, Darren Aronofsky’s 2017 artsy genre pic mother! was nailed with a ‘F’ Cinemascore.
Though Grudge previews were good at $1.8M, bringing the fans out, they hated it immediately, with a 1/2 star on Thursday night’s PostTrak. Friday turned in $5.3M and, as expected, it declined from there with a $3.8M Saturday, -28%. Sony fared much better a year ago with the opening of their PG-13 horror movie The Escape Room, which made $18.2M.
Why are audiences so ticked off at Grudge? Says RelishMix, who spotted negative chatter on social, “Fans of horror films are established as some of the most loyal and discussion prone of all genres – and The Grudge proves that sentiment, with fans comparing this version to early ones, both made in the U.S. and Japan. But, even fans have issues with this latest version of the Grudge movies. The consensus of fans and more casual moviegoers alike is how can another one of these films be made ‘so soon.’ It seems like there’s a limit in the audience’s mind for some film franchises – beloved as they are – that sometimes it’s just too soon for another entry. Plus, this version has not helped itself with its confusing messaging as to the very plot line. Even horror fans are asking, is this a remake, a reboot, or some kind of chapter in between the originals? And… ‘where is Sarah Michelle Geller?’ as she might be receiving more convo than any cast member from this 2020 version.”
Sony hopped Grudge around the calendar, and quite often when a studio does this, it spells trouble. Initially, Grudge was to play on Aug. 16 last year, then June 21, before being pushed to this weekend. Grudge played best in the West and Southwest, where the pic is delivering 42% of its ticket sales (vs the norm of 32.7% for all other films) along with a 28% Hispanic audience turnout. Males showed up at 53%, with 52% under 25 and 41% between 18-24. Caucasians repped 39% of all moviegoers, with 19% African American and 14% Asian. The mix was 39% Caucasian, 28% Hispanic, 19% African American, & 14% Asian/Other.
The social media dynamics of Grudge really didn’t scare any excitement up. Pic’s overall social media universe of 76.1M was behind the genre average of 82M before opening weekend. There are hardly any stars pushing the pic on social, with John Cho doing his part. “The movie’s key social media measures are not indicating a target audience engaged with the material,” reports RelishMix. Viral rate for Grudge is 7:1, while the average horror pic’s viral video rate is 25:1. “Further, the average daily YouTube views are coming in at 13.6K for top clips – normally 27.7K. And, several of these clips are either unlisted by the studio, or they are certainly ad-supported leading up to this weekend’s open. Similarly, new average daily Facebook additions are in the hundreds, not the usual 1.7K,” says RelishMix.
Other than that bad news for Sony, they can celebrate with spots 2 and 3 on the weekend chart, thanks to a solid counter-programming formula against Skywalker: Jumanji: The Next Level in 2nd with $26.5M (the same gross as the sequel’s second weekend!), -25%, and $236.2M total and Little Women in 3rd with $13.5M, -19% with $60M by Sunday.
Also, Lionsgate’s Knives Out continues to be a huge sleeper for Lionsgate and MRC with $9M in weekend 6, with the best hold of any movie in the top 10, -9%. Pic’s domestic is at $130.2M, and has a good shot at beating the domestic total of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ($141M). WW for the Rian Johnson-directed, Ram Bergman produced whodunit is at $247.4M. Read our deep dive on Knives Out here. Today at the Golden Globes Knives Up is up for Best Comedy/Musical, Daniel Craig in the Best Actor Comedy/Musical category, and Ana de Armas in the Best Actress slot.
A24’s Uncut Gems stands at a running total of $36.8M in its 4th weekend. The Safdie Brothers’ movie is already A24’s third-highest ever, and will, in time, become its second-highest grossing, besting Hereditary ($44M). Some box office sources are confident that the Adam Sandler feature can even become the NY distributor’s highest grossing of all-time stateside with $55M, beating their Oscar-nominated Lady Bird ($48.9M).
Sunday morning studio-reported estimates:
Weekend B.O. For Jan. 3-5
Saturday morning Estimates:
Box Office For Jan. 3-5
2nd Update, Friday midday: As expected, Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is continuing to dominate the box office with a third weekend take of $37.2M, -49% for a running total by Sunday of $454.3M. That third weekend take is lower than the low $40M range that was expected. Again, part of Skywalker falling behind Last Jedi has a lot to do with Christmas and New Year’s Day falling later in the latter’s run, which boosted grosses greatly. Friday for the J.J. Abrams-directed movie looks like $11.1M, -57%, still at 4,406 theaters.
Sony’s Jumanji: The Next Level will have a higher second weekend than the studio’s reboot of The Grudge, $24.55M to $13M. The Next Level looks to stand at $234.1M by Sunday at 4,134 locations. Grudge is in play at 2,642. Hopefully last night’s poor exits don’t drag the Nicolas Pesce’s weekend outlook down further. Friday for the reboot is around $5.3M including Thursday night’s $1.8M previews.
Sony also owns the No. 4 spot with the second weekend of Greta Gerwig’s Little Women with a $4.1M Friday at 3,308, -28% and a 3-day of $12M, running total of $58.4M.
Disney’s Frozen 2 refuses to die or suffer frost bite at the B.O. in weekend 7 with $11M at 3,175, with $449.5M by Sunday. That domestic total is currently 12% ahead of Frozen which finaled at $400.7M.
Fox/Disney/Blue Sky’s Spies in Disguise is seeing a second weekend of $10.4M (-22%) after a $3.2M second Friday for a running total by Sunday of $47M.
1st Update, Friday 7:22AM: Nicolas Pesce’s reboot of Sony’s R-rated The Grudge drew $1.8M at 2,393 locations last night that began at 7PM. Industry estimates believe this will put the Sam Raimi production somewhere in the teens for the weekend, but Sony is forecasting $9M. Grudge‘s Thursday is off from the studio’s Escape Room last year, but that was PG-13 with showtimes starting at 4PM for a $2.3M preview night. Escape Room overperformed its $10M-$14M expectations with a $18.2M opening for a No. 2 debut.
The bad news here for Grudge is that PostTrak exits were atrocious with a 1/2 star. Keep in mind, fans are typically the ones to show up first. This could potentially impact Grudge projections, putting them exactly where Sony sees them. Males over 25 at 30% were last night’s biggest crowd for The Grudge, followed by men under 25 (27%), females under 25 (25%) and then women over 25 (18%). Don’t Breathe, another R-rated Screen Gems movie like Grudge, posted $1.875M but that was off great reviews (88% certified fresh) and opened to $26.4M. Grudge reviews at 17% rotten are just a bit better than the horrible reviews that Paramount’s reboot of The Ring, 2017’s Rings, earned at 8%. Grudge reportedly cost $10M before P&A.
Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has posted its first single day digit gross in its 14th day of release with $9.2M, -46% from yesterday for a two-week total of $417M, now -10% behind Last Jedi. The ninth-quel is expected to pull in a third weekend in the $40Ms for another No. 1 win.
The last two weeks of the year are traditionally lucrative for the theatrical and exhibition business, and this year for all movies, since Skywalker opened on Dec. 20, we’re looking at $863.9M through yesterday. That’s 14% ahead of the same two-week period a year ago in 2018 (Dec. 21-Jan. 3) but it’s -17% compared to the banner holiday year, 2015, when Force Awakens led all titles to $1.04 billion for Dec. 18-31 period.
Sony’s Jumanji: The Next Level earned $6.7M yesterday, -39%, for a $69.4M third week and running total of $209.7M. Little Women, also from Sony, made $3.6M, -15% in 3rd place for a running total in its ninth day of $34M. Frozen 2 in 4th place grossed $3.4M, -32% for a running total of $438.5M. Fox/Blue Sky/Disney’s Spies in Disguise made $2.9M, -33%, for a week of $27.8M, and a nine-day gross of $36.7M.
Uncut Gems became A24’s third highest grossing film ever with $29M after Lady Bird ($48.9M) and Hereditary ($44M), clicking past the distributor’s previous 3rd highest grossing movie, Oscar Best Picture winner Moonlight ($27.9M).
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