Movies

Weekend Box Office: ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ Takes On ‘Daddy’s Home 2’

There was little question about what movie would take the number one spot this weekend. It was only a matter of by how much. Thor: Ragnarok continues its assault on the North American box office this weekend, pulling in another $56 million in its second weekend to cross the $200 million mark after 10 days. The movie has also added $354 million from foreign ticket sales before this weekend, which means it will likely cross the $600 million mark worldwide after two weekends. That is all the more remarkable because Thor: The Dark World only amassed $644 million in its entire worldwide campaign. Marvel made all the right moves with Ragnarok, starting with the hire of Taika Waititi who, it is worth nothing again, had made a $13 million worldwide from his last three movies combined. Marvel took a gamble, and it paid off exceptionally.

The drama in this weekend’s box office did not come in who took first place, but in who will take second place. It looked initially like Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express would narrowly take second, clocking in with $28.2 million. I’ll be honest, too: I’m totally surprised by that number. The film hasn’t wowed critics (it sits at 59 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences are even less impressed (it received a B from Cinemascore). I thought negative headlines about Johnny Depp might also hurt the film, too, but the target demo — mostly Agatha Christie fans over the age of 50 — turned out in big numbers (in fact, the under-18 set only made up 16 percent of the audience despite the presence of Daisy Ridley). Anecdotally, my in-laws — who haven’t gone to the movie theater in at least five years — actually turned out to see this one, so there is clearly some box-office power in moviegoers over the age of 50.

With only a $55 million production budget and big numbers expected from worldwide audiences (especially in England), Murder on the Orient Express may well revive Agatha Christie movies on the big screen. Hopefully subsequent efforts will prove to be better than Orient. The lousy ending is likely responsible for the tepid B Cinemascore, and the film’s future prospects may be dimmed by poor word of mouth (that ending notwithstanding, it is a beautifully shot film).

In fact, poor word of mouth may have prevented Orient from hanging on to second place. Tracking for the Kenneth Branagh directed film fell over the weekend while strong word of mouth propelled Daddy’s Home 2 into second place with $30 million. Audiences clearly split with critics, who have given it a 16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes while social media has taken strong issue with the casting of Mel Gibson. Audiences, however, appear to be ready to welcome Gibson back in spite of the current cultural climate (his movie Hacksaw Ridge was also nominated for 6 Oscars last year, winning two).

The $30 million haul would not normally be considered a strong opening for a comedy with a $70 million budget, but Daddy’s Home 2 will likely play strongly throughout the holidays, pulling in sizable audiences at least through Thanksgiving. Likewise, Bad Mom’s Christmas, which opened with an OK $16.7 million last weekend, looks as though it will also play well through the holidays. It fell only 31 percent this weekend, adding another $11 million to bring its total close to $40 million after 10 days. This one, like the original Bad Mom’s, could play well for weeks and stick around in theaters throughout the entire holiday season.

The rest of this weekend’s top ten are all weakly performing holdovers. Jigsaw added $3.3 million ($34 million cumulative); Boo 2! A Madea Halloween added $2 million to brings its total to $45 million; Geostorm kicked in $1.4 million as it crosses the $30 million mark, and Blade Runner 2049 and Happy Death Day round out the top 9. They have earned $87 million and $59 million, respectively.

Tenth place goes to Lady Bird, which continues to put up huge numbers in limited release. Last weekend, it broke the record for per screen average for a female director, and this week the Greta Gerwig pic adds $1.1 million in only 37 theaters (for comparison’s sake, Happy Death Day earned $1.3 million in 1500 theaters). Lady Bird has definitely planted its flag as an Oscar frontrunner. It will probably compete against Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO which put up an impressive $72,000 per screen in only four theaters this weekend. Meanwhile, Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying is not performing as well, earning about a fifth of what Lady Bird earned in about the same number of theaters.

Next weekend, studios will cash in on the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday with Justice League (which has been getting positive notes on social media) and Julia Roberts’ Wonder, based on the delightful R.J.Palacio young adult novel. Sony Pics will also release the animated pic, The Star.

(Via Box Office Mojo, Deadline)

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