Weekend Box Office January 6-8: A Solid Opening for ‘Hidden Figures’ (Continued Strong Word of Mouth Should Give It Legs)


“Hidden Figures”

With 2016 now officially behind us, as a new year of movies begins, all the box office numbers for last year have been added up, poked and prodded, and the results say that 2016 was the biggest year ever domestically in total box office numbers.

In 2016 the total box office in the U.S. hit $11.4 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) which is an increase from 2015 which had box office totals of $11.3 billion. A lot of people went to the movies last year which poses an interesting dilemma and a question or two.

Without question, the overall consensus is that 2016 was simply one truly lousy year for movies. There were a lot of expensive flops and major box office disappointments; so there’s no question that audiences were voicing their opinions about the quality of films that were released by not showing up to see them, hurting box office.

In 2015, total domestic box office was up over 7% from 2014 in which box office totals actually went down from the previous year, 2013, by over 5%. However in 2016, box office totals went up a measly 2% over 2015. So yes, even though last year was a record breaking year, it was only just barely.

And keep in mind that 2016 was a record breaking year in large part due to just nine movies that each grossed over $300 million domestically, which was a record. But what if those films hadn’t done so well? One could argue then that the box office totals would have actually gone down instead of up. And with 2017 looking to be another lackluster year in terms of Hollywood studio releases, with yet another year of endless sequels, remakes and reboots, the question is whether audiences will show up after being burned so many times with similar kinds of movies last year? Will films such as “The Fate of the Furious”, “Despicable Me 3”, and “Justice League” also pull in huge numbers in 2017, or will audiences finally say with their dollars that they have had their fill?

As for this weekend, I’ll give you just one guess which film was number one… Of course it was yet again “Rogue One”. Though the film’s box office fell almost 56% from last weekend, it did well enough to stay on top for another week with $21.9 million, for almost half-a-billion-dollars domestically to date, aiming for a billion worldwide with $914.4 million so far.

But in a very close second was “Hidden Figures” which earned a solid $21.8 million. In fact, the film actually beat “Rogue One” on Friday out-grossing it by $1.5 million. But those “Star Wars” geeks had their say and “Rogue One” beat “Hidden Figures” on Saturday and won the weekend, but just by a whisker. Although “Figures” had the highest per-screen average for any film in the top 20 this weekend, and was made on a very modest production budget of $25 million (though it looks like it cost twice that amount on the screen); the extremely positive word of mouth that it’s getting should help it become a very successful and profitable film for Fox.

Meanwhile “Fences” dropped from last week’s 6th place to 9th with $4.7 million, and $40.6 million so far to date. Not bad for the also very modestly budgeted film; and it looks like it will top out around the $55 million mark.

One question this weekend that remains unanswered is, who exactly was asking for yet another “Underworld” movie? The 5th film in the franchise, “Underworld: Blood Wars,” opened this weekend in the USA, and I’ll bet no one can tell the difference between this one and all the others that came before it. With the exception of the 3rd film (“Underworld: Rise of the Lycans”), they all starred Kate Beckinsale who you would think would have given up the lead role a long time ago, unless her phone stopped ringing.

The first “Underworld” movie, which came out 14 years ago in 2003, was a very modestly made film that became a surprise box office sleeper hit. And since then, for more than a decade, they studio (Screen Gems) has cranked one out about every 3 years, typically releasing them in January when they seem to think no one is looking I suppose. However, the films average out around $55-60 million domestically in box office, and perform well overseas, proving what we have already suspected – that the French have no taste.

And for this cold weekend in January, we are treated to another “Underworld” movie, which came in fourth place with $13.1 million, which is the lowest opening to date for films in the franchise, by $10-12 million less, meaning that this could finally bring an end to the series. That is unless those French filmgoers go crazy for it like that did the other films.

The top 12 grossing movies for the weekend follow below:

1) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story BV $21,972,000 Total: $477,273,354
2) Hidden Figures Fox $21,800,000 Total: $24,754,178
3) Sing Uni. $19,573,670 Total: $213,373,315
4) Underworld: Blood Wars SGem $13,100,000 Total: $13,100,000
5) La La Land LG/S $10,000,000 Total: $51,656,587
6) Passengers Sony $8,800,000 Total: $80,893,043
7) Why Him? Fox $6,500,000 Total: $48,559,553
8) Moana BV $6,413,000 Total: $225,394,182
9) Fences Par. $4,700,000 Total: $40,663,264
10) Assassin’s Creed Fox $3,800,000 Total: $49,505,783
11) Manchester by the Sea RAtt. $2,473,985 Total: $33,814,342
12) Lion Wein. $2,021,000 -11.1% 600 +75 $3,368 Total: $9,813,719


  1. What should also be considered that these are the Sunday estimates. They release “final” figures on Monday. So these numbers may be adjusted. Hidden Figures could get a Sunday boost from the after Sunday crowd. There’s a chance it takes the #1 spot outright.

    • Wrong…. Church folks have a one stop shop after Sunday service… home to eat their Sunday dinner, the BEST meal of the week.

    • You’re right “Figures” wound up just edging out Rogue One for the No. 1 position this weekend by Monday morning with $22.8 million. It could have been higher if not for the winter storm that hit the South this weekend. Interestingly according to surveys 43% of those who saw the film were white while 37% of the filmgoers were black

      • Interesting but not unexpected. As Eric said, Hidden Figure stayed in the guidelines… was a formula if you will, of attracting white viewers to a “black” film.

        To that point, like The Butler and The Help, if it’s understood who the “boss” really is, and the black characters appropriately smile and crack snide jokes and even sing while under duress, showing that they were “safe” and nonthreatening negros, that’s the formula for attracting white viewers.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed hidden figure for what a was an educational film, the acting was superb especially the three leading ladies, a movie worth your time and money.

    • Oh yes it was. Great to see Janae, Octavia, and Taraji bring it. Especially that scene with Taraji, you know which scene I’m talking about. Nice to see Taraji not doing the empire/cookie thing. Executives, take note of these fine actors.

      • Yes, taraji acted out a person who kept their dignity in check in a fit of anger and frustration so damn good.

  3. Fences’ Oscar nominations including for best picture will keep it around longer than what’s projected above. Oscar nominations comes out Jan 24th. It will also be released overseas. Btw, I really wished Hidden Figures dethroned Rogue One!

  4. This article makes little sense. First, the writer says that “Without question, the overall consensus is that 2016 was simply one truly lousy year for movies.” Whose overall consensus? Not the box office which the writer already states is up, and not the critics who have touted films like Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea as some of the best films in recent memory. The writer argues that audiences are growing tired of sequels and reboots, but the numbers don’t reflect that. The top box office list for 2016 is dominated by sequels (Captain America, Finding Dory), reboots/ offshoots (Rogue 1, Deadpool, Batman v Superman, Dr. Strange, Suicide Squad) and children’s films (Zootopia, Secret Life of Pets, Jungle Book). The US audience has shown no sign of moving away from these kinds of films. The writer has tried to twist the facts to fit his own hypothesis.

    • “There were a lot of expensive flops and major box office disappointments; so there’s no question that audiences were voicing their opinions about the quality of films that were released by not showing up to see them, hurting box office.”

      He literally says it in the sentence following the one your complaining about. HE also says that if not for the 9 films that grossed $300mi each then box office totals for 2016 would’ve gone down not up.

  5. Hidden Figures follows the same kind of formula as other period movies like “42”, but it wasn’t often that I found myself wanting the film to be any more unique or different. All of the elements seemed to work like they were supposed to. The music score and soundtrack, for instance, is well-placed throughout the movie, and the production design I think also is very good. I enjoyed Kevin Costner like I always do, but the last time I really liked Taraji was in Talk to Me, so I was pleasantly surprised with her performance in this movie. And I must say Janelle was more than tolerable. The only criticism I would have is for the number of composite characters and story situations that were not completely factual. Still a great movie.

  6. Congrats to Hidden Figures and Fences! Here’s hoping that Taraji scores her first Oscar nom in the lead actress category! I hope Viola Davis scores one in that category as well!

  7. “In 2016 the total box office in the U.S. hit $11.4 billion (that’s billion with a “b”)”

    WOW ( that’s wow with a capital OMG!). But hold that thought. Before we get caught-up in those numbers, I have something to say about this–> “Without question, the overall consensus is that 2016 was simply one truly lousy year for movies.” .Well, to that point I have a song that expresses my feelings.

    Nobody knows the trouble that I’ve seen
    Nobody knows my sorrow
    Nobody knows the trouble that I’ve seen
    Glory hallelujiah.

    Well, box office returns are one thing, but my moviegoing pleasures are at an all time low as well.. On the black film front, the following list of top money getting movies brings tears to my eyes.

    1 – “Central Intelligence” WB (NL) $127,440,871
    2 – “Ride Along 2” Uni. $90,862,685
    3 – “Boo! A Madea Halloween” LGF $73,206,343
    4 – “Barbershop: The Next Cut” WB (NL) $54,030,051
    5 – “Almost Christmas” Uni. $41,782,465
    6 – “When the Bough Breaks” SGem $29,747,603
    7 – “Kevin Hart: What Now?” Uni. $23,574,605
    8* – “Race” (2016) Focus $19,115,191
    9 – “Collateral Beauty” WB (NL) $17,376,500
    10 – “The Birth of a Nation” FoxS $15,861,566
    11 – “Moonlight” (2016) A24 $12,048,413
    12 -“Fifty Shades of Black” ORF $11,686,940
    13 – “The Perfect Match” LGF $9,669,521
    14 – “Meet the Blacks” Free $9,097,072
    15 – “Queen of Katwe” BV $8,814,329
    16 – “Loving” Focus $7,349,687
    17 – “Southside with You” RAtt. $6,304,223
    18 – “Miles Ahead” SPC $2,610,896
    19 – “The Bounce Back” VPD $321,910
    20 – “The Fits” Osci. $166,425

    WOW…. OMG… can you feel me now? There’s not one movie on that list that I would recommend to anyone. What about this week’s “Hidden Figures” and Fences? Well, to be honest, Fences was “OK” and Denzel’s performance was my least favorite of all his movies. He looked as if he was “acting”. Viola could win an Oscar for her performance but we’ll see what the Golden Globe voters have to say about that.

    Hidden Figures… no, no and no way will they, and should they win anything. That sappy melodrama reminds me of other productions in which Octavia “dookie pie” Spencer and Kevin Costner were in (Black or White, The Help, McFarland). I mean, damn, must all of our stories be told in a slap happy narrative? You know, this type of film plays into the stereotype in which The Last Poets spoke of in their poem “When The Revolution Comes”. In the last stanza they repeat “you-and-I-know, nigg*s will Party and Bullsh*t… Party and Bullsh*t, Nigg*s love to Party and Bullsh*t… Party and Bullsh*t…. Party and Bullsh*t…

    And could someone tell me why Janelle is in the movie? Come on now, popularity is the name of this game, not an acting resume. Anyway, as I was saying, this has truly been a piss pour year for black films. And no, since Sergio didn’t mention “Moonlight”, I don’t wanna talk about either.

    Well, I will say don’t look for it to carry home a basket of awards.

    • I’m don’t have any official numbers but I ASSUME S&A is fairly popular. So when you say “there’s not one movie I would recommend”, that’s incentive for Hollywood to green light even less P.O.C narratives.

    • “And can someone tell me why Janelle is in the movie?” She moved to New York City to study drama at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, attending a performing arts camp called Freedom Theatre, which is the oldest African-American theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. i.e. She has training. A little research doesn’t hurt.

      The movie was good but could of been great. The whole police scene set the precedent for the rest of the movie. Here three women have to struggle during the course of the movie. I’m not sure why the car was stranded on the side of the road, then Octavia starts it quickly. To show the future struggle the women would endure, I think the writer should of had the cop not believe who they were and FOLLOW them to their job to get some WHITE acknowledgement that they were who they said they were. You ladies are helping our boys get to the moon, you’re okay with me?! What? Now let’s see if black women get hired for more projects instead of the usual….only time will tell.

      • “A little research doesn’t hurt.”

        Shanna, don’t start no mess with me. 🙂 And look, you still didn’t answer my question. You can “teach” a monkey a few tricks.

        Anyway, I was suggesting (as I said) Janelle is not a seasoned actor. So I believe her inclusion (regardless of her training) is what is known as “stunt casting” based on her popularity factor.

        I saw her in “Moonlight” which confirmed my belief that she’s not ready for prime time. Granted, many, like you, enjoy seeing her (and that’s cool) but I stand on my position.

        And, I see that you don’t mind sappy, predictable plots, huh. I need a bit more seriousness and less predictability in my movie watching experience.

        Lastly, do you really believe this one film will change how black women are perceived? Did you vote for Trump?

        • You so funny carey. Everyone Janelle isn’t seasoned. Janelle is more seasoned than common. Ooops. And you must of lost your mind, me voting for chump? I knew going in who wrote figures. Was the corniness in the movie producer notes? Was John Glenn the only mercury astronaut who chatted with the black mathematicians? I don’t know, guess I gotta do some research on my own. You’re talking to someone who sat and watched ‘The Butler.’ It was good to see black women and they DIDN’T HAVE TO SERVE.

          • What do you mean I’m funny? What do you mean, you mean the way I talk? What? Funny how? What’s funny about it? What did ya say? You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fu*ked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to freakin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?

            I don’t know, you said it. You said I’m funny. How the pluck am I funny, what the heck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what’s funny!

            *LOL* I got you Shanna. Those lines — as some probably caught — are from the movie Goodfellas”. That short actor, Danny Devito said them to another gangster who he was trying to intimidate. Did you catch it?

            Anyway, I saw the Butler as well. That was another ham fisted, corny, sappy film. And you’re right, Janelle and the rest didn’t have to bend their back and shuffle along, but thanks to a bit of creative writing we didn’t see the whole (real) story of how they were required to “hold their peace” to keep their jobs.

            re; Common, he is a better actor than Janelle, and more seasoned. Heck he has been in more films than the number of years Janelle has been living.

            Okay, I stretched that a bit but the boy has been working for quite some time. In fact, he was the best thing about the movie LUV.

            Anyway, we will have to let it lay. I mean, you love what you love and that’s all that should matter.

            I leave you with the words from a song that says it all:

            I Can’t Make You Love Me

            ‘Cause I can’t make you love me [or that movie] if you don’t / You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t

            bye now

  8. Correction: I enjoyed “Southside with You” but it was uneventful. And “Loving” had its moments but neither actor deserves special attention, imo. And I did laugh while watching the top 4 films (all comedies).

    I have not seen “Queen of Katwe”. So what should I ascertain from it’s “poor” box office?

  9. I enjoyed Hidden Figures. I like it much more than 42 or Race. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

    • Cherish, would you share what you enjoyed about the movie?

      I think I know why you didn’t enjoy 42 or Race, but I don’t know if it was the acting, the story, the inspiration or the subtle messages in “hidden Figures” that won you over? Or, it could be a combination of things. Or, it could be as simple as you were hungry for a black film other than a comedy or one with a slave narrative?

      • I’m going to call it a great film. Not because it was a masterpiece in film-making. It was just a good feeling film that left you feeling good, positive, and inspired. Right balance of positivity, challenges faced, a little corny (barely though – unless you have extreme low tolerance for it) and just overall good. Good steady acting (not a fan of Janell Monae’ acting but she was OK). Good pace – holds your attention from beginning to end. Didn’t beat you over the head with their overcoming adversity. Drama focused on the success of the space flight, along with whether or not these fine ladies will be recognized for their work and contribution. I have to say it’s been a long I walked out the theatre feeling that positive and good, wanting to recommend it to everyone. Like I said, not a masterpiece. It’s a great good film.

        • I understand. Sometimes it’s all about how it makes “you” feel.


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