On a busy movie holiday weekend, first let's get to the black films that opened - "Fences" and "Hidden Figures." For both films, the numbers are looking very good indeed. "Fences" opened wide yesterday (Christmas day) expanding from last week's 4 screens to over 2230 screens, and it pulled in just under $6.7 million, with a total of $11.5 million as of today.
Those are great numbers, and one wonders what the film might have done if it opened up wider last week, instead of on just four screens. But it was a smart move since most were going to see "Rogue One" anyway. With a small production budget (in Hollywood terms) of just under $24 million, "Fences" should be a box office hit for Paramount and Charles King's Marco Ventures.
As for "Hidden Figures," the news is actually even better. Opening yesterday on just 25 screens, the film made $515,500 yesterday, and, as of today $955,000, with a $38,200 per screen average, giving it the second highest per screen average this weekend after Martin Scorsese's "Silence," which had the highest per screen average of $45,000 on four screens.
Of course, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is the number film again this weekend with over $64 million and $318 million so far domestically, and $555 million worldwide. In second place was Universal/Illumination's animated film "Sing" which has made a total of $76 million since last Wednesday, and almost $100 million worldwide.
Sony's big sci-fi romance/adventure film "Passengers" did OK, opening with $30 million total. But with a reported production cost of $170 million, that practically ensures the film doesn't even remotely have a chance to break even, unless the overseas numbers are a lot better than hoped for. However, poor reviews and the casting of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence don't necessarily improve the film's chances of becoming a hit. Neither Pratt nor Lawrence have shown that they can bring audiences to the theater unless they're in a franchise hit such as "The Hunger Games" or "Jurassic World" and one could argue that those films would have done just as well with other actors in their lead roles.
And let's be honest, how many of you were eager to watch yet another sci-fi film where white people save the universe? Were there even any black people in the background in this film?
This brings to mind the issue of studios still relying on "star power" to make a film a success. Of course it doesn't hurt, and can help can a film enormously if you can get A-listers on board, but that's never been a guarantee that the film will eventually be a box office hit. Maybe even more so than ever. And even if a film casts a major star who has had a run of hit movies, eventually their luck will run out; it's bound to happen that they'll star in a stinker or three. Not even Kevin Hart can say all his films have been financial successes, and he's had one of longest streaks of hits in recent memory. We also dealt with Will Smith's challenges last week in extensive detail.
And that goes as well for the Warner Bros period gangster film "Live By Night" starring and directed by Ben Affleck, which opens wide next month, but opened poorly in limited release yesterday on 4 screens, with just $8,000 per screen.
The latest video game turned into a film "Assassin's Creed" has made $22.5 million as of today, but like "Passengers" with a budget of over $125 million, it's not likely to be a hit, unless it does spectacularly well overseas. And, by the way, when is Hollywood going to learn that films based on video games never do well at the box office? Why watch a movie based on a video game when you get the full experience by playing it at home?
Coming in fourth ahead of "Assassin's Creed" is the raunchy comedy "Why Him?" with James Franco and Bryan Cranston, which has made $16.7 million so far, despite bad reviews; not bad for the modesty budgeted comedy. And the musical "La La Land" which Oscar experts (or at least think they are) believe is the film to beat for the Best Picture Oscar next year, expanded to just over 730 screens for a domestic total of just over $17.5 million. Add that to the $17.5 million that film has also made overseas so far, and it has more than equaled its $30 million production budget.
As for "Collateral Beauty," the news continues to be dismal. The film has made only $18 million domestically to date, and a worldwide gross of just $36 million. And despite a very modest budget of $36 million, it looks unlikely to even break even when the worldwide box figures are added up. Yet another flop for Will Smith who still is in desperate need of a hit.
And finally "Moonlight" has grossed $12 million and looks like it's headed for a total domestic b.o. gross and just over $13 million when all is said and done. It's pretty good for an art house film played that played almost exclusively in urban cities. Not the $20 million that I predicted at first, but good enough for the under $5 million film; and it still has yet to open overseas. However it's clear the film did not play well in the "flyover states" as I was afraid it wouldn't.
This weekend's top 12 grossing films follow below:
1) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story BV $64,377,000 Total: $286,375,674
2) Sing Uni. $35,290,000 Total: $55,902,640
3) Passengers (2016) Sony $14,850,000 Total: $22,175,201
4) Why Him? Fox $11,050,000
5) Assassin's Creed Fox $10,280,000 Total: $17,772,398
6) Moana BV $7,402,000 Total: $180,434,191
7) Fences Par. $6,688,000 Total: $6,879,515
8) La La Land LG/S $5,729,400 Total: $13,611,711
9) Office Christmas Party Par. $5,115,000 Total: $42,153,602
10) Collateral Beauty WB (NL) $4,275,000 -Total: $15,276,500
11) Manchester by the Sea RAtt. $3,037,800 Total: $19,752,916
12) Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them WB $2,925,000 Total: $214,230,251