Box Office Report: “Frozen 2” Beats the Bitter November Cold

Frozen 2 FROZEN 2 - In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2, Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven journey far beyond the gates of Arendelle in search of answers. Featuring the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, “Frozen 2” opens in U.S. theaters November 22. © 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Frozen 2 breaks the ice of November’s box-office chill — and the year’s downward trend of family movie sequels.

2019 has not been kind to family movie sequels. The follow-ups to titles like The LEGO Movie, The Angry Birds Movie and The Secret Life of Pets all underperformed heavily. Going into this weekend, it was reasonable to wonder if Frozen II would be the newest example of a family movie sequel to come up short at the box office. 

Turns out, audiences were more than happy to let it go one more time (eh? eh?) as Frozen II opened to a fantastic $127 million, the biggest opening weekend ever for an animated movie opening outside of summertime. It’s also the fifth-biggest November opening weekend in history and the biggest November opening weekend in six years.

After three consecutive weekends of middling November box office, Frozen II reaffirms how important it is to have widely appealing movies in the marketplace. Not all sequels are created equal and a follow-up to the widely beloved Frozen held way more appeal to the general public than more Terminator and Charlie’s Angels movies. 

Plus, unlike the generic marketing campaigns for so many family movie sequels from this year, Frozen II had promotional materials delicately balancing beloved familiar elements as well as new storytelling material. Disney usually releases its animated fare over Thanksgiving rather than the weekend before, so it’s hard to predict how well Frozen II holds over the next few weekends, but it seems poised for at least $360 million domestically. 

In second place was holdover Ford v. Ferrari, which fell 49% to gross another $16 million. After 10 days of release, this James Mangold directorial effort has grossed $57.9 million domestically. How it holds over the coming weekend will be what really determines what final domestic haul this racecar title goes home with.

Next up, we have A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a newcomer that opened to $13.5 million. That’s not exactly an ideal opening, considering how it’s one of the lower openings for a Tom Hanks vehicle in recent years (it only opened $500,000 better than Larry Crowne). However, if any movie is gonna benefit from the forthcoming holiday week, it’s gonna be a Mister Rogers movie. The next seven days will really determine the box office trajectory of Marielle Heller’s latest.

On the other hand, fellow newcomer 21 Bridges already appears to be down for the count after a $9.3 million debut. Action movies don’t tend to hold as well over the Thanksgiving frame as inspirational dramas, so this Chadwick Boseman vehicle likely won’t make up much ground over the next few days. Despite starring the leading man of the biggest movie of 2018 domestically, 21 Bridges had little to distinguish itself in its marketing and it got ignored by general audiences as a result.

Moving on exclusively to holdovers, Midway fell 45% for a third-weekend gross of $4.7 million and a domestic haul of $43.1 million while Playing with Fire also dropped 45% while adding $4.6 million to a domestic haul that now stands at $31.6 million. 

The Good Liar dropped 40% after its underwhelming bow last weekend and managed to gross $3.3 million for an $11.7 million., Charlie’s Angels fell a steep 62% for a second-weekend haul of only $3.1 million and a ten-day domestic haul of just $13.9 million.

Last Christmas is having surprisingly steep weekend-to-weekend drops for a Yuletide-themed title. In its third weekend of release, it dropped 53% to add $3 million to its domestic haul of only $27.7 million. Rounding out the top ten was Joker, which fell 47% for a ninth-weekend gross of $2.8 million and a gargantuan domestic gross of $326.9 million. 

In its fourth weekend of release, Harriet fell 50% to gross another $2.3 million for a domestic gross of $36 million. Doctor Sleep lost 2,379 theaters this weekend and that sent it spiraling down 69% in its third weekend of release. Grossing another $1.8 million, Doctor Sleep has now grossed $28.7 million domestically.

In its third weekend of wide release, Jojo Rabbit grossed another $1.5 million for a $16 million domestic gross. It should become only the fourth limited release of 2019 to crack $20 million domestically in short order. 

Meanwhile, Parasite kept on chugging with $1.21 million from 433 locations for a per-theater average of $2,814 and a domestic gross of $16.4 million. That actually puts it ahead of Terminator: Dark Fate this frame, which fell a whopping 72% from last weekend for a fourth-weekend gross of $1.2 million and a domestic gross of $59.5 million. 

Honey Boy expanded into 44 locations this weekend and grossed $269,280 for a per-theater average of $6,120 and a domestic haul of $939,677. Waves also expanded its theater count this weekend, with that title going into 21 locations and grossing $168,760 for a per-theater average of $8,036 and a domestic gross of $335,991. 

Moving on to a limited release newcomer, Dark Waters opened in 4 locations this frame and grossed $110,000 for a per-theater average of $27,500. Varda by Agnes also bowed in 2 locations this weekend and grossed $12,644 for a per-theater average of $6,322.

Before we wrap up, let’s take a look at three titles that are making money at the box office in unique ways. Firstly, Knives Out held some advanced screenings on Friday and Saturday before its wide release launch on Wednesday and grossed an extremely promising $2 million. 

The other titles worth looking at are Netflix releases. Now, Netflix does not release official box office information for their titles but IndieWire has pulled off a magic trick of sorts by managing to score box office estimates for how these Netflix titles do.

Per their sources, The Irishman took in $1.2 million this weekend from 200 locations, actually a not bad at all sum that brings the films domestic haul up to $4.2 million. The Irishman will soon become one of the few 2019 titles to crack $5 million domestically without ever going into wide release. 

Fellow Netflix title Marriage Story grossed $340,000 from 85 locations this weekend for a 17-day domestic haul of $540,000. As seen by this underwhelming sum for the newest Noah Baumbach feature, Irishman’s strong grosses seem to be the exception rather than the rule for most Netflix titles playing theatrically.

The top twelve movies this weekend grossed a massive total of $187.5 million, the biggest weekend at the domestic box office in four months. Frozen II almost single-handily saved the November 2019 box office. Combining that fact with the fact that the majority of the few titles to do well in November 2019 were also Disney titles (Ford v. Ferrari and Jojo Rabbit) is a reminder of just how dominant Disney has become.

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