There’s no other way to put this, other than it was a lousy weekend at the box office on this Veteran’s Day Weekend, which is not a bad weekend to release a film. There’s been a number of hits released on Veteran’s Day weekend, including two massively successful James Bond movies (Skyfall and Quantum Solace), a couple of Jim Carrey films (Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and Dumb and Dumber To), and last year’s The Grinch (the one without Jim Carrey). Unfortunately, Mike Flanagan’s sequel to Stephen King’s The Shining, Doctor Sleep is not going to be among those hits. In fact, adjusted for inflation, the $14.1 million it earned this weekend places it around the 29th best Veteran’s Day opening ever, earning about the same inflation-comparable amount that that Meet Joe Black opened with back on November 1998.
It wasn’t due to a poor critical reception. In fact, Doctor Sleep is playing well with critics (73 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences, too, who gave it a B+ Cinemascore, which is terrific for a horror film. It’s hard to say exactly what went wrong with Doctor Sleep, although I will admit that I haven’t seen it yet because it’s two-and-a-half hours long, and the last Stephen King movie that clocked in over two-and-a-half-hours, IT: Chapter 2, felt very long. I still plan to see Doctor Sleep, mind you, mostly because I have heard nothing but terrific things about Rebecca Ferguson in the film. Still, a $14.1 million opening on a film with around a $50 million budget isn’t good, particularly in light of the massive openings of Stephen King’s IT films.
Doctor Sleep cannot even brag about opening at the top of this weekend’s box office, because that honor fell to Roland Emmerich’s Midway, which earned the top spot mostly by virtue of its competition faring worse than it. Midway cost around $100 million to produce and it earned an only okay $17.5 million, which is still better than the studio was expecting. Reviews haven’t been great (40 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences have loved it (A Cinemascore) and it’s doing well in Middle America over Veteran’s Day. Fortunately, Emmerich’s films also tend to do well overseas, and this one is going to need to do spectacularly well to make up for its mediocre performance here.
Two other new entries fell into the so-so category. The family film Playing with Fire starring John Cena and Keegan Michael-Key came in third place with $12.8 million with dismal reviews (24 percent) but happy audiences, who gave the film an A Cinemascore. Emilia Clarke’s The Last Christmas earned about what one might expect from a holiday romcom with a crazy twist ending that as many critics like as don’t (50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). It fetched $11.6 million, but this one probably has decent legs — as most Christmas films do — and should be able to at least earn its $30 million budget back and then some once it is released internationally.
Terminator: Dark Fate could not rebound in its second weekend. In fact, it tumbled 65 percent and is looking at a $10.1 million second weekend to bring its total to $47 million, although it’s doing very good numbers overseas, which might even earn it another sequel. Joker, meanwhile, will not go away, hanging in at number six this weekend $9.2 million to bring its total to $313 million.
More holdovers took the final four spots. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has quietly nearly earned $100 million ($97 million) after a $8.5 million fourth week, plus roughly triple that overseas. With $6.9 million, Harriet has earned a decent $23 million after ten days on a modest $17 million budget. Zombieland 2: Double Tap stuck around for one more week, earning $4.2 million and bringing its total to $66 million, while The Addams Family collected $4 million in its fifth week to bring its total to $91 million, plus about half of that overseas, all of which is fine for an animated film budgeted at $40 million.
It is worth noting that Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit came in at number 11 with $3.9 million after expanding into 826 theaters. Honey Boy, written and starring Shia LaBeouf — who is playing his own father in the film — also did incredibly well, earning $312,000 in only four venues.
Next weekend is another crowded one hoping to fare better than this one. Ford vs. Ferrari, which looks like the best Dad movie of 2019, opens against Kristen Stewart’s Charlie’s Angels and The Good Liar starring Ian McKellan and Helen Mirren.