Weekend Box Office The Grinch

NOTE: Technically this is a four day weekend in the US, due to the Veteran’s Day holiday, so the weekend box office figures presented are projections as of this writing, Sunday afternoon.

Universal Pictures’ ‘The Grinch’ stole an estimated $66 million over three days and is projected to hit or exceed $70 million by the end of Monday, due to schools and some businesses being closed.  That makes this the highest-grossing Christmas-themed opening of all time, topping previous champ, the 2000 Ron Howard-directed live-action adaptation, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ starring Jim Carrey.  The new computer-animated version was directed by Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier and features Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role.  The cast also includes Cameron Seely as Cindy-Lou Who, Pharrell Williams as the Narrator plus Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson and Angela Lansbury.

This opening is shy of those of other Illuminations animated pictures, like ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ and ‘Minions’ which have debuted north of $100M, but is on par with the likes of ‘Despicable Me’ and ‘Sing’.

‘The Grinch’ had to make do with only a portion of large format/IMAX screens, as about 600 are devoted to horror film ‘Overlord’ with a small fraction going to last week’s #1, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.  Critics don’t care for ‘The Grinch’, with it only earning a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, but bear in mind that the 2000 movie, which is considered a “classic” to many, only earned a 52%.  Neither movie is intended for critics or snobs.  They are for families.  Audiences ranked it at A- via CinemaScore and four and a half stars through PostTrak.

Last week’s champion (my friends), ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is over-indexing for a second weekend, thanks to excellent word of mouth from fans who were rocked by the picture last weekend.  The Freddie Mercury biopic will earn an additional $30.8M bringing its US total to $100M.

And even though Halloween was two weeks ago, fans turned out for the fright-fest ‘Overlord’, which earned $10.1M.  Its budget was $38M, so this opening isn’t as strong as Paramount may have hoped.  The fact that it is a hybrid– a World War II drama mixed with a zombie/monster flick– means that it may only appeal to hardcore horror fans.  The same goes for its gore, which will frighten some away.  But it is a critical darling with an 80% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes.  Audiences were a little tepid, with a B CinemaScore and three stars on PostTrak.

Stephen King sang the praises of new director Julius Avery, who has only directed one previous film, the 2014 crime drama ‘Son of a Gun’.  Via Twitter, King compared him to Steven Spielberg, writing:

Disney’s flop ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ managed to hang in at #4 with $9.5M, edging out one of the weekend’s other major releases.

‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story’ earned $7.7-8M, and an insider stated “Even if this film grosses 70% overseas, it’s hard to see it breaking even.”  Its budget was $43M, more modest than that of 2011’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s $90M.  ‘Dragon Tattoo’ starred Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, with Craig being the marquee star.

‘The Crown’s Claire Foy headlines ‘Spider’s Web’ but is not a known enough name to draw theatergoers.  As Deadline puts it, Foy’s cyberpunk hacker Lisbeth Salander “is less a vigilante for abused women in this film and more so a superhero spy, a sell-out whose own queerness has been dialed down.”  Critics trashed it, with a low 43% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes.  (Both the 2011 Sony version of ‘Dragon Tattoo’ and the 2009 Swedish original have sweet 86% rankings.)  Audiences gave it a decent enough B CinemaScore.  According to social media monitor Relish Mix, many are confused as to why Rooney Mara isn’t playing Salander and why Sony skipped the other Steig Larsson novels for this one, written by David Lagercrantz, after Larsson’s death, against the wishes of his partner and family.  There is also a feeling that this sequel is coming too late after the first movie, which wasn’t a huge hit.

With its $8M opening, it tied for fifth place with ‘A Star Is Born’ which came out an entire month ago.  This is a missed opportunity as early November can be a great time to release more adult-skewing pictures, which probably explains why ‘A Star Is Born’ is still hovering so high.  Last year, ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ opened to $28.2M around the same time.

  1. The Grinch (Universal/Illuminations) – $66M
  2. Bohemian Rhapsody (20th Century Fox/New Regency/GK Films) – $30.8M
  3. Overlord (Paramount) – $10.1M
  4. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (Disney) – $9.5M
  5. (tie) A Star Is Born (Warner Brothers)/’The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ (Sony/MGM/New Regency) – $8M

‘The Grinch’s reign may be short-lived as Warner Brothers rolls out ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’.  Two winters ago, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ opened to $75M which would me massive for most movies, but considering the investment, it was considered a mild disappointment.  As noted at the time, this opening was also weaker than that of WB’s ‘Suicide Squad’ whose $133.6M opening was also viewed as lackluster.

WB and writer JK Rowling have plans for five movies in this series.  How well ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ performs may determine whether or not Rowling gets to see that vision through.  In most cases, sequels perform weaker than originals, but with it being the 20th anniversary of ‘Harry Potter’, perhaps that will fuel interest in this picture.

Also hitting theaters are the Wark Wahlberg/Rose Byrne heartwarming family comedy ‘Instant Family’, and buzzy crime thriller ‘Widows’ from director Steve McQueen.

The winter movie season is getting as competitive as spring/summer.  November 23 will see the release of Disney’s ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’, ‘Creed II’, ‘Robin Hood’ and awards-bait ‘Green Book’.  Keep checking back to see how the dust settles.