Falling stars, grudges & impressive women abound over the first box office weekend of 2020.
For the first weekend of 2020, holdover titles held unusually well for the first weekend of January. Unless that first weekend incorporates New Year’s Day, usually this is the weekend where titles return to more normal 40-45% drops after a few weeks of holiday-boosted grosses. Instead, nine of the eleven holdovers in the top twelve had sub-35% drops from last weekend. The two exceptions to this were Cats and, unexpectedly, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The mixed word-of-mouth that made that blockbuster’s opening weekend noticeably front loaded seems to be kicking in again.
Dropping 53% this weekend, The Rise of Skywalker grossed another $33.7 million. That’s a noticeably larger third-weekend decline than the 40% drop Aquaman saw on this same weekend last year, while it’s also 36% behind the $52.5 million third-weekend gross of The Last Jedi. Having grossed $450.7 million after seventeen days of release, it appears The Rise of Skywalker is on track for a final domestic gross around the $532 million lifetime domestic haul of Rogue One, though there’s a chance it ends up slightly below that 2016 Star Wars title.
Holding far better this frame was Jumanji: The Next Level, which dropped just 24% this frame for a fourth-weekend gross of $26.5 million for a $236.2 million domestic total. This one’s been utterly impressive in its weekend-to-weekend retention and appears on track for a fantastic final domestic gross of $275-285 million. Meanwhile, Little Women had an outstanding 19% second-weekend decline this frame. Grossing another $13.5 million, Little Women has grossed an excellent $60 million after twelve days of release. It remains to be seen if this Greta Gerwig directorial effort can hold on well enough through January 2020 to cross $100 million domestically, but even an $85-90 million domestic gross would be a major victory for this title.
We now go to our first new release of 2020, The Grudge. Opening in the first weekend of January slot has proved to be a great place to launch horror films in the last decade, including last year’s sleeper hit Escape Room (that one, like The Grudge, is a Sony title). The Grudge was the rare horror movie to outright misfire in this time frame as it opened to just $11.3 million. Looking over Box Office Mojo’s list of Horror Remakes, this debut is 6% behind the $12 million bow of House of Wax from May 2005 and down 13% from the $13 million opening weekend of Rings from February 2017. Thanks to its F CinemaScore, The Grudge will likely vanish quickly and struggle to crack $25 million domestically.
Rounding out the top five was Frozen II, which fell 33% this frame to add another $11.2 million to its massive domestic cume of $449.8 million. Even better, its worldwide box office haul has hit $1.325 billion, surpassing the first Frozen to become the biggest non-Lion King (2019) animated movie of all-time at the worldwide box office. Meanwhile, fellow animated Disney movie holdover Spies in Disguise fell 24%, a great second-weekend hold, but it gave the title a second-weekend haul of just $10.08 million. The opening weekend numbers for this spy comedy were so meek that even a solid hold like this one can’t do much to mitigate its lackluster box office trajectory. After twelve days of release, this Blue Sky Studios release has only generated $46.7 million domestically, putting it on track to become one of the lowest-grossing Blue Sky movies ever domestically despite having a prime Christmas Day release date and a ton of star power at its back.
Knives Out had the smallest weekend-to-weekend decline in the top ten this weekend as it dipped just 9% in its sixth-weekend of release. Taking in another $9 million, this Rian Johnson feature has now grossed $130.2 million and has a good shot at cracking $150 million domestically. Next up was Uncut Gems. Despite being a gruesome crime thriller that received a C+ CinemaScore, it actually had a better second-weekend hold than Spies in Disguise. Life is funny sometimes. Anywho, Uncut Gems fell only 21% this weekend to add $7.4 million to its domestic gross. Looks like this feature will soon become the first A24 release to crack $50 million domestically.
Bombshell fell just 15% this weekend for a third-weekend gross of $4 million and an okay but not exceptional domestic gross to date of $24.5 million. Rounding out the top ten was Cats, one of the few titles this weekend to not have a grand weekend-to-weekend hold. Instead, those Jellicle critters dropped 46% for a third-weekend haul of $2.6 million and a disastrous domestic cume of $24.6 million. Richard Jewell was another holdover not doing so well this weekend as it dropped 45% for a fourth-weekend intake of $1.7 million and a domestic gross of just $21.2 million.
More recent releases may be struggling to hold on, but much older titles flourished this weekend. Ford v. Ferrari dipped just 6% this weekend, giving it an eighth weekend gross of $1.6 million and an impressive $109.9 million domestic gross. Meanwhile, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood dipped just 14% this weekend, giving it another $1.22 million for a $58.8 million domestic haul, while Queen & Slim grossed $1.21 million (a 29% drop from last weekend) for a domestic gross of $42.7 million. November holdovers usually sink like a stone by the end of December due to these older films having to give up their screens to Christmastime newcomers. Kudos, then, to this trio of holdovers for managing to hold on so well into the new year.
Speaking of impressive holdovers, Parasite expanded back into 222 theaters and grossed a whopping $888,122 for a per-theater average of $4,000, its biggest per-theater average in two months. Parasite has now taken in $23.9 million and is far from done with its domestic box office run, especially with an inevitably large crop of Oscar nominations likely in its future. 1917 didn’t alter its theater count (eleven locations) from last weekend, yet it still managed to increase 2% from last weekend. This new Sam Mendes feature scored a $590,000 victory this weekend (for a per-theater average of $53,636) for a staggering $2.27 million ten-day domestic total from playing in just eleven locations.
Award season buzz seems to have given Jojo Rabbit a boost this frame as it increased 41% from last weekend for a twelfth-weekend gross of $358,000 and a domestic gross to date of $21.5 million. Fellow Fox Searchlight holdover A Hidden Life expanded into 149 locations this weekend and grossed $264,000 for a per-theater average of $1,771 and a domestic total of $1.2 million. In its second weekend of release, Just Mercy fell 31% but still took in a solid $75,000 for a promising per-theater average of $18,750 and a ten-day domestic total of $400,000. Finally, Clemency expanded into nine locations this weekend and took in $32,011 (a 9% dip from last weekend) for a per-theater average of $3,556 and a domestic gross of $78,551.
The top ten movies this weekend grossed a total of $129.6 million, a 10% increase over this same weekend last year, when Aquaman ruled over the domestic box office for a third time. It’s also up from comparable weekends in 2015 and in 2017, meaning 2020’s domestic box office is off to a good start. One final note on the 2019 domestic box office before we fully move into a new year: the yearly gross for 2019 ended up at $11.3 billion. That’s down 4.8% from 2018’s yearly domestic box office high, but still the third-biggest yearly domestic box office haul of all-time.