weekend box office

Earning $45 million, Disney’s live-action ‘Dumbo’ flew to #1, but it was a lower flight than expected.  (Disney hoped that it would break $50M.)  With a production budget of $170M, ‘Dumbo’ may end up losing money.  Audiences that saw it loved it, giving it an A- CinemaScore, but only 3½ stars on PostTrak (out of five).  Among parents and children under 12, it did better on PostTrak with 4½ stars.  Critics basically hate it, with it sitting at 50% on Rotten Tomatoes.  There was also very little heat on social media, compared to other big Disney releases.  (Stars Colin Farrell and Eva Green aren’t even on social media to hype it.)

Disney has been on a roll with its live-action remakes of its animated classics, and there are two more potential blockbusters, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’ arriving later this year.  But ‘Dumbo’ is a much more dated property– the original, Disney’s second animated movie, was released in 1941.  It hasn’t been re-released on the big screen since 1976.  And the original hasn’t aged well due to the inclusion of racially insensitive material.  It also lacked the glitz of the likes of ‘Beauty & The Beast’, and the fun of ‘The Jungle Book’.  As Deadline‘s Anthony D’Alessandro asked, “However, what does Dumbo sell? Sadness, animal cruelty, loss of parents. Who wants to line up for that?”  From the first trailer, this looked like a complete tearjerker.

Good word-of-mouth might have helped push ‘Dumbo’ in weeks to come, but we’re now into the competitive summer season, and next week sees the release of ‘Shazam!’ and ‘Pet Sematary’.  Obviously, the latter isn’t aimed at the same audience, but the family demographic is definitely going to pounce on ‘Shazam!’, which looks breezy, funny, and modern, over Tim Burton’s somber old school period piece.

Last week’s #1 movie, ‘Us’ took in $33.6M, down 52%, but for a horror movie, that’s actually pretty good.  And as I predicted last week, this one was probably going to be front-loaded because fans of Jordan Peele’s would want to see ‘Us’ before others could spoil it on social media.

‘Captain Marvel’ is hanging in there at #3, with ‘Five Feet Apart’ at #4.

Next to ‘Dumbo’, the highest-charting new movie was the abortion drama ‘Unplanned’ at #5.  Even though the film is faith-based, its R rating and the touchy subject matter made it hard to market.  Studio PureFlix was unable to secure ads on cable or even on Christian radio.  It also had its Twitter account suspended.  (It has since been restored.)  But a large majority of this audience doesn’t use social media anyway, as that has never been an accurate predictor for faith-based films.  The audience that turned out for it gave it a glowing 4-star PostTrak score.


  1. Dumbo (Disney) – $45M
  2. Us (Universal) – $33.6M
  3. Captain Marvel (Disney) – $20.5M
  4. Five Feet Apart (CBS Films/Lionsgate) — $6.2M
  5. Unplanned (PureFlix) – $6.1M

Matthew McConaughey’s new pot comedy ‘The Beach Bum’ marks the lowest opening of his career, earning just $1.7M on over 1,000 screens.  That’s even lower than ‘Mud’ made in 2012.  That smaller pic made $2.2M on only 363 screens.  ‘The Beach Bum’s budget was only $5M, but it still looks like a loss.

Next week, two major movies are opening.  ‘Shazam!’ should easily take #1, but ‘Pet Sematary’ may prove a threat by appealing to a different audience.  Both movies have scored well on Rotten Tomatoes.  ‘Shazam!’ has an outstanding 93%, while ‘Pet Sematary’ has 80%, which is actually great for a horror movie.  It got an excellent reception at SXSW, with many declaring it an improvement on the 1989 version.

Check back to see who comes out on top!