It looks as though Jordan Peele has established himself as a franchise draw. Following his breakout smash ‘Get Out’, which won him the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, fans turned out in droves for his sophomore outing, ‘Us’. The fright-fest raked in $70 million, making it the highest opening for an original horror movie ever, and the third-best following ‘It: Chapter One’ (an adaptation/remake, which opened with $123.4M) and last year’s ‘Halloween’ (a… seq-boot? that earned $76.2M on its opening weekend). This is also the second-best opening for an original live-action film since 2009 when ‘Avatar’ opened to $77M. ‘Us’ easily bested overly conservative estimates that it would only take in $45M.
In terms of quality, ‘Us‘ had a lot to live up to after ‘Get Out’ but overall, it hasn’t quite measured up. ‘Get Out’s exit polling resulted in an A- CinemaScore, with ‘Us’ getting a B, plus 3½ stars out of five through PostTrak. One reason for this reaction is the ending, which is polarizing audiences. And, that’s all I’ll say about that.
But there was concern that negative reactions might hamper ticket sales as the weekend wore on, but luckily that isn’t the case. For starters, most viewers were considerate enough to not get too spoiler-y on social media. And after ‘Get Out’, people wanted to see ‘Us’ for themselves and to draw their own conclusions.
‘Captain Marvel’ took in $34.5M in its third weekend and stepped down to #2. But that total helped it to zoom past the $300M mark at the domestic box office. It remains the #1 worldwide, however, and it has now made over $910M, bringing it very close to that magical $1 billion mark.
The rest of the Top Five was rounded out by ‘Five Feet Apart’, ‘Wonder Park’, and ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’.
- Us (Universal) – $70M
- Captain Marvel (Disney) – $34.5M
- Five Feet Apart (CBS Films/Lionsgate) — $9M
- Wonder Park (Paramount) — $7.9M
- How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Dreamworks Animation/Universal) – $6.8M
Warner Brothers offered paid previews of ‘Shazam!’ for Fandango users and racked up $3.3M and loads of good buzz, as those that checked it out reported that this is another lighthearted winner, following the billion dollar success of ‘Aquaman’. These types of previews are becoming more common as the market becomes more competitive. Viewers get the extra treat of seeing an anticipated flick before everyone else, and the studio benefits as these viewers spread the word that this is definitely worth checking out.
Previously, ‘Aquaman’ made $2.9M from early preview ticket sales, so ‘Shazam!’ is now the new champ, but this practice is so new that it’s impossible to draw a correlation between preview ticket sales and how well the movie will do when it actually opens. (‘Shazam!’ opens on April 5.)
Looking ahead, because ‘Us’ is so full of twists, it’s likely to be front-loaded, as people will want to see it before others can spoil it. That may result in a sizeable drop next week.
That could allow Disney’s live-action ‘Dumbo’ to soar to #1. Tim Burton directed this adaptation, with a cast including Burton’s stars ‘Batman Returns’ Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito, plus Colin Farrell and Eva Green. There haven’t been screenings for the press yet, so no word on what to expect, but Disney has a pretty stellar track record with these live-action adaptations.
Check back to see if ‘Dumbo’ can land at the top, or if ‘Us’ will continue to dominate.