Disney Relay Team Takes Third Leg, Now Passes Baton to Star Wars. This Weekend at the Box Office.

By Jim Amos | December 10, 2017 2:23 pm PST
Star Wars: The Last Jedi & Ferdinand

Weekend Recap
The third time provided to be (another) charm as “Coco” easily swept to its third consecutive weekly win at the box office this past weekend. The Pixar offering raked in another USD $18.3 million, bringing its overall take to $135 million here in North America and USD $254 million internationally.

Lionsgate’s “Wonder” just keeps hanging in there and crossed the $100 million mark on Sunday but the real eye opener was the debut for James Franco’s “Disaster Artist” which was as far from a disaster as one gets, laughing up a $6.4 opening on only 840 screens, a terrific start for the A24 film. It’s been a lovely holiday season so far for A24 as their “Lady Bird” enjoyed another robust weekend as well and is only USD $5 million away from becoming the company’s highest grossing film in its short history. Hopefully Lady Bird enjoys that title as it appears “Disaster Artist” will snatch that crown back from them in a few short weeks.

The other wide opening this week was Broad Green’s “Just Getting Started” which actually never did get started and limped home with a USD $3.1 million debut. I’d have to dig deep for a week where there was only one 2,000 print new release and that release landed at #10 for the week.

At the Art Houses
In its first four locations, “I, Tonya” proved that celluloid is mightier than the lead pipe, grossing USD $245,000 for a per location average of USD $61,000. The film is propelled by the wide array of exceptional performances, notably from Allison Janney, Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan and the uproarious Paul Walter Hauser as half-wit Shawn Eckhart.

Elsewhere, Sony Classics’ “Call Me By Your Name” continues to amaze with another USD $291,000 in 9 locations this week while Amazon’s “Wonder Wheel” from director Woody Allen had its wheels come off, grossing a mere USD $135,000 this weekend in 47 locations.

Box Office Chart - December 8, 2017
  (Source: comScore)

Other Items of Note

  • It seems that as we come to the end of 2017 reporters have officially run out of story ideas. The “best” film industry story of the week is this beauty from NBC detailing how moviegoers are avoiding cinemas in droves for streaming. Coming from a tv outlet like NBC this really is calling the kettle black, because if it’s a part of the entertainment industry that knows something about customers abandoning its product like critics at a “Mother!” screening, it’s the major TV networks.
  • Cinemark this week announced the first subscription program from one of the three major circuits in the US. Check out this article from CJ for details and J. Sperling Reich’s analysis:
  • 10 days before release, John Travolta’s “Gotti” had its distribution rights pulled back from Lionsgate by the film’s producers. No word on a new date or a specific reason, although it is rumored that producers were not told the film would only go out in limited release. One would think that was something that was discussed, oh perhaps, 100 times prior to 10 days before release. I envision weekly meetings where Lionsgate reps keep telling the Gotti guys, “you know, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you for a few weeks now but I just can’t seem to remember. Oh well, it’ll come to me.”
  • The private research firm 22 Network projects that there will be 19 films that will gross USD $100 million or more during the first three quarters of next year. That compares to 20 in 2017 and 19 in 2016
  • It’s never too early for a Best Picture nomination guess list. Here’s how it looks at this point– CERTAINTIES: “Dunkirk,” “Call Me By Your Name,” “Get Out,” “The Shape of Water,” “The Post,” “Three Billboards,” “Lady Bird.” POSSIBLES: “Wonder Woman,” “The Big Sick,” “Darkest Hour,” “Phantom Thread,” “Mudbound.” SPOILERS: “Greatest Showman,” “The Florida Project.” Next week-Best Actor and Actress
  • The Theatre Historical Society, located in downtown Pittsburgh, is in desperate need of funding before the end of the year in order to maintain its vast collection of archival movie theatre memorabilia. The society celebrates, documents and promotes the architectural, cultural and social relevance of America’s historic theatres. If you would like to donate please click here for more info.
  • Nice move by Fox to partner with The Gentle Barn, a rescue sanctuary for abused animals north of Los Angeles by adopting a bull calf, which they named Ferdinand, of course. The calf joins a family of animals at the Barn which teaches children to have compassion for all beings. Well done, Fox.

Next Weekend – Wide Releases
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (BV)—You might have heard of this film. With tracking and moviegoer anticipation that busted through the roof some time ago, the latest Star Wars adventure is as close to a sure thing as we get in this industry. Rian Johnson, who made his mark directing 2012’s “Looper”, steps into the director’s chair and John Boyega, having been rescued from Atlanta snow in time for the movie’s premiere, and Daisy Ridley are back along with Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac and Laura Dern. Oh by the way, people are already waiting in line for Thursday showings at the Chinese in Hollywood.

The Verdict: “The Force Awakens” brought the franchise back in 2015 to the tune of USD $247 million for an opening, USD $936 million domestic and USD $1.13 billion internationally. “Rogue One” was not entirely a true Star Wars entry but still opened to USD $155 million, totaling USD $532 million here in the States and a dyslexic USD $523 million overseas. Guessing that this falls somewhere between the two is something even Eddie who bags groceries at the Piggly Wiggly could accurately predict. USD $220 million is the unofficial over/under in the industry and we will go over, but only slightly. USD $221 million.

“Ferdinand” (Fox)—A beloved children’s classic penned by Munro Leaf in 1936, Ferdinand is a bull who decides that he’s not cut out for bullfighting and, along with the help of his animal buddies makes the proverbial break for it. Director Carlos Saldanha knows his way around animated tales, having helmed “Ice Age,” “Rio” and their sequels. The movie also features top level vocal talents, including John Cena (as our title character), Kate McKinnon, David Tennant, Anthony Anderson and, taking a break from hawking greasy pizza, Payton Manning.

The Verdict: Hoping that most kiddies will have seen “Coco” by the time Friday rolls around, Fox should have a success on its hands, one that should easily play through the holidays. The movie is receiving social media help from several anti-animal cruelty groups who love the storyline and can finally suggest a mainstream movie to deliver a message to those young and old about animal rights. Your little known fact for the day: Ferdinand The Bull started out as a Disney short, first shown in 1938. Although the film will undoubtedly gross significantly more overseas than here in the States it should still reach USD $100 million with a debut somewhere in the USD $25 million range.

Next Weekend – Limited Avail Titles
Nothing of note this week unless you count the Chinese entry, “The Thousand Faces of Dunjia”. This will provide you a calm before the Christmas week release storm, so everyone go cleanse your collective palettes.

Event Cinema
The Event Cinema schedule is a bit thin as we barrel towards Christmas with only the 50th anniversary of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” on Sunday and Wednesday and next Sunday’s Bolshoi Ballet presentation of “The Nutcracker”

CJ Quote of the Week
“Tell me, Tex Ma’am, are you in show business?” “No ma’am” “Then why don’t you get your fwiggin feet off the stage!”
–Blazing Saddles (1974)

Jim Amos
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