Wow. It has been a bizarre couple of weekends. Last week, Paramount’s ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ met with indifference. This week, it was Warner Brothers’ turn, as ‘Doctor Sleep’ failed to wake up audiences. Instead, a movie that most analysts saw opening at a distant fourth at best — Roland Emmerich’s ‘Midway’ — swooped to #1.
But to be clear, it was a lousy weekend overall, especially with four new competitors opening. ‘Midway’ took the top spot with only $17.5M. Critics hate it, with its Rotten Tomatoes score at a lousy 40%, but perhaps fueled by the Veterans Day holiday on Monday, audiences are kinder, with an A CinemaScore, and 4 out of 5 stars via PostTrak. As expected, older males made up the majority of crowds. Since Monday is technically a holiday, ‘Midway’ is expected to cross the $20M mark by the end of the day then. Not surprisingly, this picture isn’t performing well overseas.
Nick Jonas leads an all-star cast that also includes Darren Criss, Aaron Eckhart, Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Ed Skrein, and Patrick Wilson.
Critical reaction doesn’t seem to have been a factor, as ‘Doctor Sleep’ has gotten decent reviews — 73% fresh — and audience reaction was also good, B+ CinemaScore, and 4 stars via PostTrak. But it was expected to open in the neighborhood of $25M, and instead took in a groggy $14.1M. Part of that is due to the movie’s long run time– 2 hours and 31 minutes. That cuts into the number of showings, but it is also a deterrent to some potential audience members.
Unlike ‘Terminator’, there aren’t seven ‘The Shining’ movies, so it isn’t like audiences are sick of the brand. Perhaps a better comparison is 2017’s ‘Blade Runner 2049’. Like the original ‘Blade Runner’, ‘The Shining’ is considered a genre classic, but it doesn’t appear that enough younger people have seen it to justify a sequel. This is also more of a thriller– no jump scares. It isn’t tailored to the Millennial horror audience.
It also appears that director Mike Flanagan took some liberties with the book, and some fans don’t care for that. But, I doubt that has much to do with ‘Doctor Sleep’s weak box office performance. (I just honestly don’t think that many people still read.)
Ewan McGregor stars, and among his co-stars Rebecca Ferguson is being singled out for delivering a great performance, as the villain Rose the Hat.
Is it too early for a Christmas-themed love story? It might be. Paul Feig’s ‘Last Christmas’ and the John Cena-led family comedy ‘Playing with Fire’ were neck-and-neck until matinees gave the latter the edge, taking in $12.8M, versus ‘Last Christmas” $11.6M.
‘Playing with Fire’ is a kids movie, so its 24% RT score should come as no surprise. Audiences gave it a B+ CinemaScore, and 2½ stars, with kids under 12 giving it 4 stars.
Both it and ‘Last Christmas’ had small budgets of around $30M, so they should be fine at the end of their runs.
‘Last Christmas’ is too schmaltzy for critics, with its RT score at a lousy 49%. Audiences are only slightly more impressed, with a B- CinemaScore and 3 stars. There is a… twist that comes late in the movie, and it seems that audiences hate it. (Personally, I think that’s the only thing that kept this from being a Lifetime Christmas movie on the big screen, but I’m not really the target audience.)
Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, and Michelle Yeoh star. It’s possible that the London-setting and all-foreign cast may not have been as appealing in the U.S. as Universal might have hoped. They can’t all be ‘Love Actually’.
- Midway (Lionsgate/AGC) – $17.5M
- Doctor Sleep (Warner Brothers) – $14.1M
- Playing With Fire (Paramount) – $12.8M
- Last Christmas (Universal) – $11.6M
- Terminator: Dark Fate (Paramount/Skydance/Fox) – $10.1M
Next weekend sees the release of awards-contender ‘Ford v Ferrari’ and the reboot of ‘Charlie’s Angels’. Targeting older viewers, ‘The Good Liar’ stars Helen Mirren and Ian McKellan, and may prove to be successful counterprogramming, if those moviegoers don’t choose ‘Ford v Ferrari’ instead.
Check back to see how things work out.