The big question in the minds of many heading into this weekend was whether Brad Pitt’s Ad Astra or Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo: Last Blood could overtake Jennifer Lopez’s Hustlers after its strong opening weekend last week.
It turns out that both films managed to overtake Hustlers, and yet, neither of the films finished in first place this weekend. That honor went to, of all movies, the feature film sequel to the television series, Downton Abbey. Wow. Not only did Downton Abbey best Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lopez, and Sylvester Stallone at the box office by opening with a whopping $31 million, it also gave Focus Features its biggest opening ever. If this success of Downton Abbey comes as a surprise, it might be because 50 percent of the audience was over the age of 45. In fact, according to Deadline, screenings after 8 p.m. were more sparsely attended because its target audience had already gone to bed.
Nevertheless, it’s a huge win for Focus Features, whose previous record holder for best opening weekend was Insidious Chapter 3, which opened with $22.6 million back in 2015. Downton Abbey, however, was barely even on my radar, and yet reviewing critics adored it (85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and audiences liked it even more, as the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes reads 96 percent, which is promising for the film’s future prospects, as well. Moreover, the success of Downton Abbey in theaters probably also bodes well for the eventual Rick Grimes’ The Walking Dead movies, based on a series with much bigger ratings. Don’t be surprised if we continue to see even more of these (I am holding out for an eventual Succession movie, or a Righteous Gemstones musical prequel starring Walton Goggins).
Meanwhile, Brad Pitt’s Ad Astra did pull down OK numbers, or at least within expectations. The film earned a decent $19.2 million, which was at the higher end of projections. However, the space movie cost over $100 million after reshoots, so $19.2 million is not going to get it to break-even without a lot of help from the international market. Critics did like the movie (82 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences were less enthused (they gave it a B- on Cinemascore and only a 42 percent on the RT audience meter). There are definitely some great sequences in the film, but it is thematically driven and on the slow side, so it’s obviously not the crowd-pleaser that was Gravity. Moreover, despite the raves coming out of the film festival circuit, I doubt it ends up a Best Picture contender, though Brad Pitt seems like a shoe-on for a Best Actor nod.
Pitt won’t have to worry about competition from Sylvester Stallone, who returned with another — presumably final — chapter in the Rambo series. Rambo: Last Blood scored $19 million at the box office this weekend, slightly better than the $18.2 million 2008’s Rambo earned. Critics did not buy into it (31 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), although audiences liked it better. It scored a B Cinemascore, down from the A- of the previous effort, and a solid 84 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It cost half as much as Ad Astra, however, so it’s in much better shape financially.
With $17 million in its second weekend, Jennifer Lopez’s Hustlers has earned a very impressive $62.5 million, as the film held well in spite of the slew of new competition. It’s now tripled its $20 million budget in only 10 days. It’s also added another $10 million overseas, so far.
Meanwhile, in its third weekend, IT Chapter 2, did a respectable $15.3 million to bring its total to $177 million. Those are great numbers for a horror film, it’s just that they’re not great numbers for an IT film, as the last entry scored nearly double that in its third weekend ($29 million) and after the same amount of time in theaters had already crossed the $260 million mark. It has also earned $205 million overseas.
The bottom five in this week’s top ten barely warrants mention, as none of those entries even broke $3 million at the box office, although they have all been around for at least five weeks now. Lion King, in fact, led the way among those in the bottom half with $2.58 million in its tenth weekend, bringing its total to $537 million. Good Boys came in seventh with $2.56 million and $77 million overall. In its fifth week, Angel Has Fallen has earned $65 million after a $2.4 million weekend. After five weeks, Overcomer is still in nearly 2000 theaters, where the film earned $1.48 million to bring its total to $31.5 million. Finally, Hobbs & Shaw grabbed one more weekend in the top ten — its eighth — after earning $1.46 million to bring its domestic total to $170 million.
After three exciting weekends at the box office led by IT Chapter 2, Hustlers, and Downton Abbey, most of the studios are backing away next weekend. The only new wide release is the animated Abominable, which should clean up with the kid demo, who are probably starved for entertaining movies at this point, since Angry Birds 2 over a month ago was the last movie geared toward that market.