The Spool / Box Office Report
Box Office Report: “Frozen 2”, “Knives Out” Rule Thanksgiving
Disney's sequel enjoys another robust weekend, while the Rian Johnson whodunit clues moviegoers to the joys of original crowdpleasers.
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Disney’s sequel enjoys another robust weekend, while Knives Out‘s box office clues moviegoers to the joys of original crowdpleasers.

Thanksgiving weekend was hustling and bustling this year, as Frozen II topped the frame with a 3-day gross of $86.7 million. That’s a tiny 33% dip from last weekend, an impressive hold even for movies that opened the weekend before Thanksgiving. For comparison’s sake, fellow pre-Thanksgiving tentpole The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Two dropped 48% in its second weekend while all the Twilight sequels fell 60+% in their second weekends. 

Such a strong hold meant that Frozen II also scored the biggest 3-day and 5-day sum for any film playing over Thanksgiving. The newest Walt Disney Animation Studios blockbuster has grossed $290.1 million after just ten days of release. 

The murderer in Knives Out may be a mystery but you don’t need to be a sleuth to know that this new Rian Johnson movie was a big hit over the weekend. Knives Out grossed $27 million over the three-day weekend and $41.7 million over the five-day frame. Only three non-Disney movies (both Creed titles and Four Christmases) have had better debuts over the Thanksgiving weekend frame. 

Blockbusters don’t have to be the only cinematic venue to deliver crowd-pleasing entertainment, as seen by the remarkable box office success of Knives Out. Depending on how many of its screens it can hold onto through December, it could end up crossing $100 million, an impressive achievement. In addition to being a win for original feature films, Knives Out‘s box office is also a major victory for Lionsgate: between this and John Wick 3, the studio is proving it can thrive beyond The Hunger Games. Being able to successfully market an original title like Knives Out is an especially promising sign for the long-term prospects of the studio.

Coming in third place in its third lap at the domestic box office was Ford v. Ferrari, which fell 11% over the weekend to take in another $13.9 million and a strong $81.8 million domestic cume. Right behind that racing film was A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which fell just 2% this weekend for a second-weekend haul of $12.9 million for a not too shabby ten-day domestic take of $35.3 million.

Another solid win for original films emerged at the domestic box office this weekend in the form of Queen & Slim, which opened to $11.7 million over the three-day frame and $15.8 million over the five-day frame. This makes Queen & Slim the only title of 2019 to open to over $10 million despite playing in under 2,000 locations (it’s currently showing in 1,690 locations). Not bad for a movie that didn’t have a big brand name to lean back on and a highly provocative premise. Universal gave this one some mighty distinctive marketing that ensured Queen & Slim could stand out in a crowded marketplace. At the very least, Queen & Slim should get to $35-40 million domestically, more than double its $17 million budget.

Experiencing the harshest weekend-to-weekend drop in the top ten by far was 21 Bridges, which fell 38% for a second-weekend take of $5.7 million and a ten-day domestic return of only $19.2 million. Meanwhile, Midway grossed $4.1 million (an 11% dip from last frame) for a domestic haul of $50.4 million while Playing with Fire tied that Roland Emmerich-directed holdover, thanks to it easing 9% for a fourth-weekend take of $4.1 million and a domestic gross of $39.1 million. If this John Cena family comedy doesn’t get obliterated over the next two weekends, there’s a chance it could do $50 million domestically, a decent return for this low-budget family comedy.

In ninth place was that rascally Joker, which danced its way to another $2 million (a 26% drop from last weekend) in its ninth weekend of domestic release. Having now grossed $330.6 million, this $50 million budgeted drama has narrowly exceeded the domestic performance of mega-budget DC Comics movie Batman v. Superman. Now there’s an unpredictable turn of events that even the Clown Prince of Crime couldn’t have concocted. Rounding out the top ten was Last Christmas, which continued to have sharp weekend-to-weekend drops for a Christmas-themed title as it dropped another 37% this frame for a fourth-weekend gross of only $1.96 million and $31.6 million domestically.

Harriet had a solid 18% hold this weekend as it took in $1.8 million in its fifth weekend for a $39.5 million total. The Good Liar was not a good box office performer this weekend, as it dropped a sharp 53% for a third weekend gross of only $1.6 million and a domestic cume of $14.9 million. 

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (still playing in over 990 locations, believe it or not) actually held decently over this frame, dipping just 34% for a seventh-weekend haul of $1.3 million, a domestic total of $111.5 million. Somehow, Charlie’s Angels is still playing in 3,156 locations and it took in $1.26 million from those theaters this weekend, a shocking 61% plummet from last weekend, for a per-theater average of just $399 and only $16.8 million in domestic box office returns.

Jojo Rabbit hopped its way to another $1.22 million this weekend (a 23% dip from last weekend) from 708 locations for a per-theater average of $1,727 and a domestic total of $18.3 million. Fellow arthouse hit Parasite dipped just 19% this weekend for an eighth-weekend gross of $1.02 million from 382 locations for a per-theater average of $2,670 and a total of $18.1 million. Soon it’ll become one of the rare foreign-language movies to cross $20 million domestically. 

(I’d tell you how many foreign-language movies have crossed that barrier directly, but Box Office Mojo has decided to keep that information from the public. Looks like Box Office Mojo cares about it making information accessible as much as its parent company, Amazon, cares about treating its employees properly.)

Doctor Sleep fell 50% this weekend to add $920,000 to its domestic gross of $30.5 million while Terminator: Dark Fate dropped 33% for a fifth-weekend gross of $839,744 and a domestic cume of $61.1 million. Dark Waters expanded into 94 locations this weekend and grossed $630,000 for a per-theater average of $6,702 and a ten-day domestic gross of $972,484. 

Honey Boy expanded out into 186 locations and grossed $390,000 for a per-theater average of $2,101 and a domestic total of $1.5 million. This one appears to be getting lost in the arthouse rush, as is Waves, which grossed only $140,000 from 47 locations for a per-theater average just under $3,000. Having grossed $557,000 after only seventeen days of release, the incoming wide release expansion of Waves on Friday does not appear to be poised for strong box office results. The new Michael Apted documentary 63 Up opened to $15,250 from a single movie theater.

The top ten movies this weekend grossed a total of $166.9 million. This weekend brought November 2019 to a total of approximately $1.025 billion. This makes November 2019 the fourth-biggest November ever despite the first three weekends of the month being so dismal. 2019 has now cracked $10 billion in terms of its yearly gross. 

If December 2019 can bring major box office (and a final Star Wars movie alone should be enough to make that happen), 2019 will likely be only the third year in history to have a yearly domestic cume north of $11 billion.