Weekend Box Office: The Oscar Contenders Have Come To Play

The week after Thanksgiving — like Labor Day weekend and the week after Christmas — is typically a time when the studios don’t bother releasing worthwhile movies. Studios flood the box-office with blockbuster films during the lead-up to Thanksgiving so holdovers generally extend their muscle through the first week of December and beyond. That was no exception this year, as holdovers dominated the first six slots. However, beyond that, arthouse fare that had been enjoying limited-release runs expanded this weekend to fill the void.

Not that there was much of a void. In fact, this weekend is on track to perform more than 10 percent better than the same weekend last year, even though Coco is slightly behind where Moana was in 2016. Coco earned $500,000 less this weekend than Moana did in its second weekend, and after 12 days at the box office, Coco has earned $110 million and should continue to have a stranglehold on the kids demo until Ferdinand arrives along with Star Wars: The Last Jedi on December 15th. Coco is a superb film, and while it’s not quite as good as Moana, that’s only because Moana is one of the best animated features of the decade. Actually, so is Coco.

Second place this weekend goes to Justice League, which is slightly outperforming its time-slot competitor, so to speak, from 2016, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Justice League earned $15.8 million in its third weekend to bring its overall total to $197 million, which is not great. It’s got one more weekend to eke out a few million dollars before Star Wars comes along and eradicates it from the box office. Granted, it’s tracking ahead of Fantastic Beast, which ended with $235 million, but the expected $250 million for Justice League is more disappointing because Justice League’s international numbers are not nearly as good. Fantastic Beasts earned $580 million overseas while Justice League is sitting at $311 million. At this point, Wonder Woman’s $412 million is going to dwarf the box office of Justice League, which must mean that not even all of the Wonder Woman fans are willing to pay to see her in an ensemble film. Maybe they should have called it Wonder Woman and the Justice League.

Third place this weekend goes to the season’s big sleeper hit, Wonder, which has quietly now earned nearly $90 million on a $20 million price tag. With a $13.2 million haul, it only fell 42 percent from last weekend. It should easily dash across the $100 million mark. It may even surpass Split’s $138 million to become the second biggest sleeper of the year after Get Out.

Part of the reason that Justice League is underperforming is due to Thor: Ragnarok is stealing some of its box office dollars. It earned nearly $10 million in its fifth weekend. It should surpass the $300 million by next week.

Fifth and sixth place go to a couple of movies that continue to make money because I can only assume moviegoers have seen everything else. Daddy’s Home 2 has inexplicably crossed the $82 million mark after adding $7.45 million in its fourth week while Murder on the Orient Express has snoozed its way to the $85 million mark (more impressively, it’s made more than $200 million worldwide on a relatively modest $55 million budget).

Two of the year’s best movies, and early favorites in the Oscar run, took seventh and eighth place this week. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO expanded from big cities into small cities this weekend and earned an impressive $4.5 million in 1400 theaters. It should move into the suburbs next weekend, and it’s earned $13.6 million already on a $15 million budget. Some awards recognition could kick it into high gear. Lady Bird is already being feted on the awards circuit. It comes in this weekend with $4 million in 1100 theaters. It’s earned $16 million so far on a $10 million budget.

Beyond Ladybird and Three Billboards, a few other potential awards recipients warrant mentioning. The Disaster Artist opened in 19 theaters and earned a mighty fine $1.32 million, good for a $69,000 per theater average. That’s slightly better than the $66,000 per theater average of Call Me By Your Name, which continued to screen on only four theaters in its second weekend of limited release. Meanwhile, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water boasted an $85,000 per theater average on only two screens.

One movie that won’t be getting any awards recognition is Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel, which bombed with critics (a 40 percent from Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences, generating only a $21,000 per theater average in five locations.

For the record, ninth and tenth place this weekend went to The Star ($27 million cumulative) and Bad Mom’s Christmas ($65 million overall after 5 weeks.

Next weekend sees only one new wide release, the comedy Just Getting Started starring Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Rene Russo. It looks like an ad for an old folk’s home. Another Oscar contender, Margot Robbie’s I, Tonya, will also open in limited release.

(Via Deadline / Box Office Mojo)