The specialty box office space was hustling and bustling on the holiday weekend, as moviegoers came out to theaters after unwrapping gifts, eating endless amounts of Christmas cookies, or just wanting to take a desperate break from family fun time. A handful of limited releases performed strongly over the five-day Christmas weekend.
Universal and DreamWorks Pictures’ 1917 kicked off its limited release in 11 North American theaters in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, DC and Toronto, opening to a stellar three-day estimate of $570,000, and a five-day cume of $1,008,000, with a per-screen average of $91,636 since opening on Christmas Day. The numbers are practically meeting box office expectations. It was on track to earn an estimated $600,000-$625,000 for the three-day weekend, with a per-theater average of $55,000. To no surprise, we hear that the Arclight in Hollywood and Lincoln Square in New York topped the list, while the film has a Cinemascore of A and is riding on a solid 90% at Rotten Tomatoes.
This is an incredible start to the Sam Mendes-directed World War I one-shot epic, with panache from iconic cinematographer Roger Deakins and starring George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman. The film, which opens wide on January 10, was already garnering buzz from its early screenings, and has been a critical success, with a spot on AFI and the National Board of Review’s lists for the top films of the year. It also has been nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Score, and has received Critics’ Choice nominations. The intense war drama is in a confident position with what we can expect from its peak award season box office performance.
The Warner Bros. pic Just Mercy opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas Day, with a five-day weekend estimated gross of $218,000, and a three-day weekend estimated gross of $105,000, a very great limited opening for the prison reform drama, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and starring box office draws Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx.
The film, which is based on the book by real-life defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, is a narrative that is very much in the zeitgeist, as the country becomes more cognizant of the need for prison reform and examination of those who have been wrongfully convicted. The film has been bolstered by audience Q&As and the fact that the film made history as the first major studio film to implement the inclusion rider, which mandates women, people of color, LGBTQ people and other under-represented groups be considered for key on-screen and behind-the-scenes jobs.
Just Mercy earned a certified fresh rating with an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes with a 98% audience score as well as an A+ CinemaScore. With its poignant story of advocacy, the film earned Jamie Foxx a SAG Award nomination, and the National Board of Review honored it with the Freedom of Expression Award. The respectable box office numbers are a solid foundation before the film opens wide on January 10, 2020.
Also adding to the prison reform conversation is Chinonye Chukwu’s death row drama Clemency, which opened on December 27 in New York at the Angelika Theater, as well as The Landmark in Los Angeles. The Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner put a stake in the specialty box office space with an estimated weekend gross of $37,078, with a $18,539 per-screen average. The film was also boosted by Q&As at Los Angeles screenings with director Chukwu and the film’s stars, Alfre Woodard and Aldis Hodge. Clemency garnered Gotham Award acting nominations for Woodard and Hodge, and landed a trio of Film Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Female Lead for Woodard, Best Screenplay for Chukwu, as well as Best Feature. This only gives more fuel to Neon’s noteworthy tank of incredible titles of 2019.
Elsewhere, Well Go USA released Ip Man 4: The Finale in 70 theaters on Christmas Day. The bookend to the Chinese martial arts franchise directed by Wilson Yip Wai-Shun and starring Donnie Yen earned an amazing estimated gross of $1,443,692 during the five-day holiday weekend, with strong numbers across the country, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Chicago and Chicago. With its one-million-dollar performance over the holidays, it proves that the fandom is still alive and well for the cult franchise.
Rounding out new releases are Sony Pictures Classics’s The Song of Names, directed by François Girard and starring Tim Roth and Clive Owen. The World War II drama had a limited opening on 10 screens and had an estimated five-day cume of $78,770. Eone’s French-language comedy Merci Pour Tout opened in 58 theaters with a five-day cume of $471,000, while Raj Mehta’s Hindi-language comedy Good Newwz netted $1,470,000 in its release.
1917 (Universal Pictures) – Week 1 [11 Theaters] Weekend $570,000, Average $51,818, Cume $1,008,000
Clemency (Neon) – Week 1 [2 Screens] Weekend/Cume $37,078, Average $18,539
Good Newwz (Zee Studios) – Week 1 [231 Theaters] Weekend/Cume $1,470,000, Average $6,364
Ip Man 4: The Finale (Well Go USA) – Week 1 [68 Theaters] Weekend $680,000, Average $10,000, Cume $1,443,692
Just Mercy (Warner Bros.) – Week 1 [4 Theaters] Weekend $105,000, Average $26,250, Cume $218,000
Merci Pour Tout (eOne) – Week 1 [58 Theaters] Weekend $271,000, Average $4,672, Cume $471,000
The Song of the Names (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 1 [10 Screens] Weekend $41,156, Average $4,116, Cume $78,770
Dabangg 3 (Yash Raj Films) – Week 2 [294 Theaters] Weekend $341,000, Average $1,160, Cume $2,642,000
Invisible Life (Amazon Studios) – Week 2 [2 Theaters] Weekend $6,202, Average $3,101, Cume $21,137
Prati Roju Pandage (Sarigama Cinemas) – Week 2 [95 Theaters] Weekend $106,000, Average $1,116, Cume $604,000
Bombshell (Lionsgate) – Week 3 [1,480 Theaters] Weekend $4,571,000, Average $3,089, Cume $15,515,000
Dark Waters (Focus Features) – Week 6 [140 Theaters] Weekend $175,000 Average $1,250, Cume $10,532,000
A Hidden Life (Fox Searchlight) – Week 3 [118 Theaters] Weekend $202,000, Average $1,712, Cume $750,000
Uncut Gems (A24) – Week 3 [2,348 Screens] Weekend $9,552,812, Average $4,068, Cume $20,000,002
Pain and Glory (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 13 [41 Screens] Weekend $47,899, Average $1,168, Cume $3,855,241
Parasite (Neon) – Week 12 [170 Screens] Weekend $552,957, Average $3,253, Cume $22,328,632