The Spool / Box Office Report
Box Office: Paradoxically, “The Invisible Man” Is Widely Seen
A $29 million take spells success for the low-budget Universal horror film, proof that the Blumhouse model works.
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A $29 million box office take spells success for The Invisible Man, proof that the Blumhouse model works.

The Universal Monsters haven’t exactly been box office juggernauts in the last twenty years. The two Brendan Fraser Mummy sequels did fine, but Van Helsing, Dracula Untold and The Mummy (2017) all lost untold amounts of money. Taking these characters back to their roots as horror movie fixtures seems to have worked wonders as The Invisible Man opened to an excellent $29 million over this weekend. 

This is an impressive bow on a number of fronts. For one thing, it’s only 5% behind the opening of The Mummy (2017) despite costing $168 million less to make. For another, it’s the twelfth-biggest opening weekend ever for a Blumhouse title

On top of both of those impressive achievements, The Invisible Man proved to hold on well during the entire weekend. Some horror titles tend to be extremely frontloaded and subsequently make most of their money from their opening day grosses. But Invisible Man managed to have a substantial Friday-to-Saturday increase, indicating that this one is getting goosed by strong audience word-of-mouth. 

Keeping that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Invisible Man eventually reach an $80-85 million domestic total. Sorry Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll, Invisible Man doesn’t need you to be a box office hit.

In second place this weekend was Sonic the Hedgehog, which fell 39% from last weekend for a third-weekend sum of $16 million. Having now grossed $128.2 million domestically, Sonic will soon surpass the $144.1 million domestic haul of Detective Pikachu to become the biggest video game movie of all-time. 

In third place was Call of the Wild, which dropped 47% for a second-weekend gross of $13.2 million and a ten-day domestic haul of $45.8 million. Wild is performing better than expected, especially during its weekday business, but the title still has a ways to go until it can be profitable on a $135 million budget.

In recent years, Anime has consistently demonstrated remarkably strong domestic box office prowess and My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising continued that trend with a $6.3 million three-day opening weekend from 1,260 locations. Having grossed $9.6 million since Wednesday, Heroes Rising has already greatly exceeded the $5.7 million lifetime domestic gross of the last My Hero Academia movie. A primary takeaway from the surprise success of Heroes Rising is a good rule for box office matters as well as in life, in general: never ever underestimate the appeal of Anime.

Those Bad Boys for Life just kept on going with an impressive 26% dip this frame. Grossing another $4.3 million, Bad Boys has grossed $197.3 million domestically and is within spitting distance of $200 million domestically. Right behind Bad Boys was Birds of Prey, which dropped 40% to gross another $4.1 million for a $78.7 million domestic total. 

After breaking out in limited release last weekend, Impractical Jokers: The Movie expanded into 1,900 locations this frame, grossing another $3.5 million for a per-theater average of $1,863 for a ten-day domestic total of $6.6 million.

1917 is proving to have remarkable box office stamina. Nearly two months after it expanded into wide release, this Sam Mendes war title grossed another $2.67 million for a massive domestic total of $155.8 million. Just a few thousand dollars behind that two-month-old holdover was the second-weekend gross of Brahms: The Boy II. Falling 55% this weekend, Brahms grossed only $2.63 million for a ten-day domestic total of $9.7 million, $1.1 million behind the three-day opening weekend of its predecessor. 

Fellow horror movie holdover Fantasy Island dropped 45% this weekend, giving it another $2.3 million for a domestic gross of $24 million. Two-and-a-half-months into its box office run, audiences kept on playing Jumanji: The Next Level as it eased just 27% for a twelfth-weekend gross of $2.1 million for a mammoth $313.7 million domestic gross.

Best Picture winner Parasite crossed the $50 million domestic box office threshold this frame with a $1.5 million gross (a 50% drop from last weekend) for a domestic total of $51.5 million. Despite playing in only 97 locations, Emma. managed to gross over $1 million this weekend, $1.19 million to be precise. Garnering a per-theater average of $12,062, Emma. has already amassed $1.4 million domestically and appears poised for success when it expands into wide release on Friday. 

Next up we have The Gentleman, which had an unusually tiny weekend-to-weekend drop of just 13% this weekend. This gave the Guy Ritchie crime feature another $1.07 million for a $35.1 million domestic total, making it the tenth-biggest STX Films release ever domestically.

The Photograph continued its rapid domestic box office descent with a third-weekend drop of 62%. Grossing another $1.06 million, Photograph has now grossed $19.6 million domestically. Portrait of a Lady on Fire continued its impressive box office journey this weekend by grossing $730,000 from 268 locations for a per-theater average of $2,724. Having now grossed $2.4 million domestically, Portrait is now the tenth-biggest NEON release ever and still has plenty of gas left in its box office tank. 

Fellow NEON holdover The Lodge further expanded into 395 locations this weekend and grossed $256,000 for an underwhelming per-theater average of $648. This horror title has now grossed a solid $1.4 million domestically. Apparently, Amazon Studios expanded Seberg into 373 locations this weekend. I was totally unaware of this expansion until I started writing this piece so I can imagine how clueless general audiences were to this development. 

That cluelessness translated into a terrible $207,534 weekend for Seberg for a dismal per-theater average of $556 and a domestic total of $273,807. Amazon’s incompetence at launching the theatrical releases of movies continues on.

Downhill lost 1,634 locations this weekend and that resulted in a massive 88% third-weekend plunge. Grossing only $175,000 this frame, Downhill has only grossed $8.1 million domestically and has no chance of cracking $10 million domestically despite being a Will Ferrell vehicle that opened in over 2,300 locations. 

CatVideoFest 2020 stayed in 30 locations this weekend but grossed $157,000 (a 28% drop from last weekend) for a domestic gross to date of $397,787. Meanwhile, The Assistant grossed $105,090 from 155 locations for a per-theater average of $678 and a domestic total of $994,111. 

While those two holdovers held well, the news was far more dire for the three most high-profile arthouse newcomers of the weekend. One of those titles was Wendy, which opened to a disastrous $30,000 from 4 locations for a per-theater average of $7,500. That’s down there with Dom Hemingway and I Origins among the worst opening weekends ever for a Searchlight Pictures release. 

Next, Greed debuted to just $28,496 in 4 locations for a per-theater average of $7,124. Finally, Burden, a Sundance 2018 title about a “reformed” Klansman with a trailer that totally feels like it should be playing before a Tropic Thunder sequel, opened to a disastrous $19,742 from 5 locations for a per-theater average of $3,948.

The top 10 movies this weekend grossed a total of $81 million, the lowest ninth-weekend gross since 2009 when Madea Goes To Jail topped the box office in its second weekend of release. Once again, we see the need for a great array of titles in the marketplace rather than just relying on one title to carry everything. 

While The Invisible Man overperformed this weekend, it can’t prop up the domestic box office alone, neither could Birds of Prey three weeks ago or Call of the Wild last weekend.

Relying on a single title to be enough to lead the entire domestic box office marketplace to success is reasonable when it comes to those once-a-year tentpole titles like Avengers: Endgame. But for the rest of the year, you need a variety of titles to ensure that the domestic box office isn’t stuck in a rut. 

February 2020 relying on only one title a weekend is why, despite overperformers like Sonic the Hedgehog and The Invisible Man, the month came up short as a whole. Grossing approximately $632 million, February 2020 narrowly outgrossed the meager $624.4 million haul of February 2019. 2020 as a whole has grossed just over $1.5 billion domestically, putting it ahead of 2019’s domestic haul at the same point but considerably behind the year-to-date grosses of 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 at the same point.