Box Office Report: “Ford v. Ferrari” Takes Pole Position

Ford v. Ferrari Box Office This image released by 20th Century fox shows Christian Bale in a scene from "Ford v. Ferrari," in theaters on Nov. 15. (Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox via AP)

Your dad’s favorite racing movie races to a $31.5 million opening weekend.

It’s been eight months since Disney officially completed its acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s media properties, including movie studio 20th Century Fox. In that time, the majority of Fox movies Disney has released have come up short at the box office, a typical turn of events for features released by a movie studio that’s come under new management. It’s been a whole year since the last Fox title (Bohemian Rhapsody) to cross $100 million domestically, but that cold streak came to a halt this weekend, as Ford v. Ferrari ‘s box office managed a $31.5 million opening. This is an impressive bow on countless fronts, including how it’s only the second time in history (following Talladega Nights) that a movie about car racing not associated with either the Cars or Fast & Furious franchises opened to over $30 million.

This debut is especially notable for how big it is in the box office careers of its two leading men. For Damon, this is his ninth-biggest opening weekend ever, but discounting his Bourne and Ocean’s movies, The Martian is the only Matt Damon-headlined movie to have had a better bow in history. As for Christian Bale, it’s the biggest non-Batman/Terminator opening weekend ever for the former Newsie. It also looks like Ford v. Ferrari will be only the second non-Batman/Terminator movie ever for the actor (following American Hustle) to crack $100 million domestically.

Out of all the Fox titles Disney inherited, Ford v. Ferrari was always the one with the best chances of box office success. It was being released in the mid-November slot Fox used to turn Murder on the Orient Express into a sleeper hit two years ago, it’s got an easily explainable underdog premise, a marketing campaign heavy on lighthearted entertainment and plenty of intense racing sequences perfect for watching on the big screen. 

Wrap all that up with excellent reviews and a lack of other mass-appeal movies in the marketplace and that’s how you get the first Fox movie to top the domestic box office since Alita: Battle Angel in February 2019. With an A+ CinemaScore and a forthcoming holiday week at its back, look for Ford v. Ferrari to do at least $110-120 million domestically.

Believe it or not, there were other movies playing at the domestic box office this weekend! The second-biggest of these titles was Midway, which fell 51% from opening weekend to gross another $8.7 million for a $35.1 million ten-day domestic total.

Our next new release was Charlie’s Angels, which opened to a meek $8.6 million, considerably down from the opening weekends of prior Charlie’s Angels movies. This Elizabeth Banks directorial effort cost only $48 million to make, so the losses here won’t be excessive for Sony/Columbia, but this is still a disappointing bow for this motion picture. 

Much like Terminator: Dark Fate from a few weeks ago, Charlie’s Angels was the newest entry in a series that had long run its course. After two mediocre movies and a widely-derided ABC TV show revival, the Charlie’s Angels brand just didn’t have much allure to general audiences and the marketing for this new movie didn’t give viewers enough of a reason to get on board for a new adventure. 

Holdover Playing with Fire actually had a strong 33% dip this frame, grossing another $8.5 million in the process and bringing its domestic total to $25.4 million. Frozen II will knock this one back quite a bit next weekend, but if it can hold onto its screens through the Thanksgiving week, it could make a run at $45-50 million in its final domestic total. 

Also in its second weekend this frame was Last Christmas, which fell 41% to add $6.7 million to its domestic total that now stands at $22.5 million. That’s not an ideal drop for a Christmas-themed title, but at least it’s better than the 56% drop Doctor Sleep suffered in its second frame. That horror sequel grossed another $6.1 million this weekend, bringing it up to a $25 million domestic total.

Warner Bros. has been on a cold streak this Autumn when it comes to movies that don’t star clowns and such a cold streak befell their new thriller The Good Liar as well. This Bill Condon title grossed just $5.6 million this weekend, a poor showing for a title playing in over 2,400 locations and starring two big names like Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen. Mirren’s actually got a solid box office track record in recent years with sleeper hits like The Hundred-Foot Journey and Woman in Gold, so it’s surprising this one didn’t draw more audiences. 

The only real good news here is that The Good Liar will almost certainly hold nicely over the Thanksgiving holiday, it wouldn’t be surprising to see it end its domestic run just under or over $20 million, though that still would be an underwhelming box office sum for this title.

Moving back to holdovers, Joker made box office history this weekend by becoming the first R-rated movie in history to cross $1 billion at the worldwide box office. On the domestic front, this box office sensation eased another 39% for a seventh-weekend gross of $5.6 million for a $322.5 million domestic total. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil conjured up another $5.2 million this frame (a 38% drop from last weekend) for a $106 million domestic total. Rounding out the top ten was Harriet, which dipped 35% for a third-weekend gross of $4.7 million for $31.8 million domestic haul.

Terminator: Dark Fate sealed its doom this weekend with another sharp weekend-to-weekend drop, this time falling 60% for a third weekend gross of just $4.3 million and a domestic total of $56.8 million. Meanwhile, Jojo Rabbit dipped 29% this weekend, grossing $2.8 million from 995 locations for a per-theater average of $2,832 and a domestic total of $13.5 million. 

Zombieland: Double Tap fell 53% this weekend, giving it a fifth-weekend gross of $2 million and a domestic haul of $70.3 million. That puts it just ahead of Parasite, which grossed another $1.9 million this weekend (a 25% dip from last weekend) for a fantastic domestic haul of $14.4 million.

In what’s likely to be its last weekend in wide release, Motherless Brooklyn fell a whopping 77% from last weekend for a third-weekend gross of just $500,000 for a domestic haul of $8.8 million. It’s a crapshoot at this point if this Edward Norton-directed effort can crack $10 million domestically. 

Honey Boy expanded into 17 locations this weekend and grossed $210,617 for a per-theater average of $12,389 and a domestic gross of $12,389. Once again, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot drummed up great business, as it grossed $168,993 from just 10 locations for a per-theater average of $16,899 and a domestic total of $2.5 million.

Waves was the biggest of this weekend’s new releases, grossing $144,562 from 4 locations for a per-theater average of $36,141. That’s a bit lower than average in terms of the biggest opening weekends for November limited releases, but it’s still a solid bow and it could end up making a pretty penny if A24 handles its release over the next few weeks properly. Everybody’s Everything opened to $61,281 from 29 locations for a per-theater average of $2,113 while Mickey and the Bear debuted to $9,523 from a single theater.

The top twelve movies this weekend grossed approximately $97 million this weekend, down about 40% from this same weekend last year when the second Fantastic Beasts got off to an underwhelming start. Though Ford v. Ferrari and arthouse titles like Jojo Rabbit & Parasite have fared well this month, most of the other wide releases in November 2019 have delivered performances that range from disappointing to outright dismal. Things should pick up over the next two weeks, thanks to big titles like Frozen II and a holiday week. But November 2019’s status as one of the most disappointing box office months of the year seems assured.

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