The Spool / Box Office Report
Box Office Report: “Maleficent” Loses Its Magic, “Zombieland” Rises
The Disney sequel gets a modest #1 spot, while Zombieland: Double Tap scares up a respectable opening weekend.
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The Disney sequel gets a modest #1 spot, while Zombieland: Double Tap scares up a respectable opening weekend.

We’ve crossed over into the Upside-Down, folks. A box office landscape where mid-budget adult-skewing titles are making big bucks while a Disney blockbuster is struggling? What other explanation is there? Whatever the reasoning is, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil topped the box office but struggled with only $36 million, a 47% drop from the opening weekend of the first Maleficent. It’s also the lowest opening weekend for a 2019 Disney title (exempting Penguins), though it did hold on to more of its predecessors opening weekend compared to Alice Through the Looking Glass, which is damning with faint praise if I ever heard it.

For general moviegoers, the prospect of seeing their favorite animated characters in live-action confines is a one-time delight. It’s a very prosperous one-time but it rarely lasts more than once. Just ask The Smurfs. Or the Ninja Turtles. Or Scooby-Doo. The list goes on and on. Maleficent is no different, especially since Disney waited so long to make a sequel and failed to create a marketing campaign that made this one look markedly different from its predecessor. The fact that this is the rare Autumn where there’s genuinely no shortage of family movie options in the marketplace further limited Maleficent’s chances of soaring at the domestic box office. The biggest takeaway from this weekend should be that Disney should maybe pump the brakes on that Aladdin sequel that’s in development. 

Finally dropping from the top spot at the domestic box office was Joker, which dropped 48% this weekend and took in another $29 million bringing its domestic gross up to a massive $247 million. It’s official, Joker is gonna crack $300 million domestically and it’s also already cleared $737 million worldwide. Could $1 billion be in the cards for Joker? Depends on how well it holds in the weeks to come but it won’t have any trouble surpassing the $785 million worldwide haul of Deadpool 2 to become the biggest R-rated movie of all-time worldwide. 

Zombieland 2: Double Tap managed to open to $26.7 million this frame, another recent win (following Good Boys) for R-rated comedies at the domestic box office. It also managed to open 8% better than the first Zombieland, a feat that doesn’t always transpire for sequels, as Maleficent: Mistress of Evil demonstrated this weekend. Zombieland was a genuinely beloved movie, though, and the lead actors of the film (especially Emma Stone) have only gotten more famous in the years since its release. Combine that with a dearth of comedic offerings in the marketplace and Zombieland 2 became an example of a sequel that actually managed to make a mint at the domestic box office.

The Addams Family fell 47% this frame, for a second-weekend gross of $16 million and a ten-day domestic gross of $56.8 million. Though not the greatest second-weekend hold by the standards of non-summer family movies, it’s still a decent hold that makes it likely this new take on this creepy kooky family is headed for a domestic total in the $80-85 million vicinity. Gemini Man fell 59% this frame to gross another $8.5 million for only $36 million domestically after ten days of release. It’d be shocking if Gemini Man managed to get much higher than $50 million in its domestic release. Abominable dropped another 42% this frame for a fourth-weekend gross of $3.5 million for a $53.9 million domestic gross. It’s uncertain at this point if Abominable will narrowly surpass the $64.6 million domestic haul of Flushed Away to avoid becoming the lowest-grossing computer-animated DreamWorks Animation title ever.

Now the highest-grossing Focus Features title ever domestically, Downton Abbey fell 37% this frame to add $3 million to its domestic haul that now stands at $88.6 million.  Judy dropped another 36% this frame for another $2.055 million and a domestic haul of $19 million. Right behind Judy this frame was Hustlers, which grossed another $2.050 million (a 47% drop from last weekend) for a domestic total of $101.8 million, making it only the third STX Films title ever to crack $100 million domestically. Rounding out the top ten was It: Chapter Two, which fell another 52% for a seventh-weekend haul of $1.5 million for a domestic total of $209.6 million.

Right outside the top ten this weekend was Parasite, which grossed $1.24 million from 33 locations for a per-theater average of $37,616. It’s truly impressive that Parasite was able to crack the top ten despite playing in so few locations while its second-weekend per-theater average is ahead of all but seven of the biggest limited release opening-weekend per-theater-average of 2019. Needless to say, these achievements and its $1.8 million ten-day domestic haul all bode extremely well for this movie’s long-term theatrical prospects.

Jexi fell 61% this weekend to add $1.2 million for a 10-day domestic total of just $5.7 million. Pain & Glory continued to do robust business in limited release, grossing another $463,532 from 67 locations for a per-theater average of $6,918 for a $1.1 million domestic total. The Lighthouse kicked off its theatrical voyage with a great $419,764 from 8 locations for a per-theater average of $52,471, the sixth-best limited release opening weekend per-theater average of 2019 and the third-best limited release opening weekend ever for an A24 title

Willem Dafoe and his spilled beans weren’t the only successful arthouse box office bow this weekend, as Jojo Rabbit also debuted this weekend with a wonderful $350,000 from 5 theaters for a per-theater average of $70,000, the third-best limited release opening weekend per-theater average of 2019. Fox Searchlight has found great box office success with their past October releases and Jojo Rabbit seems poised to follow in the footsteps of those titles. The Cave opened to $22,100 from 2 locations for a per-theater average of $11,050 while Immortal Hero opened to $18,845 from 12 locations for a per-theater average of $1,570.

The top twelve movies this weekend grossed a total of $131.1 million, down 18% from this same weekend last year when Halloween debuted with the second-biggest October opening weekend in history. It’s still the second-biggest weekend ever for this time of the year. October 2019 has currently grossed about $579 million, ahead of all other October’s at the same point save for October 2018.

Can October 2019 manage to surpass October 2018 to become the biggest October in history? Interestingly, there’s a chance it could, a trio (quarter if we count the wide release expansion of The Lighthouse) arrive this coming weekend, all of which are more high-profile than last year’s final weekend of October who’s only new wide releases were a Gerard Butler submarine movie and a Pure Flix military drama. October 2019 has been surpassing expectations in every regard so far save for Gemini Man and Maleficent; let’s see if its final weekend can do the same.