“The Last Jedi” Scores Huge Pre-Christmas $68 Million Take While “Jumanji”s $50 Million Makes It King of the Jungle. This Weekend at the Box Office.

By Jim Amos | December 24, 2017 11:02 pm PST
Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool All the Money in the World Doctor Who Twice posters

Weekend Recap

OK, want the good “Star Wars” news or the bad? Let’s start with the bad. “The Last Jedi” suffered a 69% drop on this Christmas weekend but the good news is that it’s still good enough for a USD $68 million weekend and a domestic total of USD $365 mil. Everyone just relax and enjoy exactly the type of end of the year gross that was direly needed from the film and stop picking apart that it should have done better or maybe it’s not as good as the first “Star Wars” reboot. Take a deep breath. It’s gonna be ok.

Finishing in the place position was Sony’s “Jumanji” redux which brought in a hefty USD $50 million 5 day take. Two things are necessary to point out here. First off, hats off to Sony’s marketing department which did an outstanding job at making this the family event of the holidays. A perfectly respectable 77 Rotten Tomatoes score, coupled with an A- Cinemascore should enable the film to play well into and through January. The other point that needs to be made is a huge barrel full of kudos to the distribution department. Every, and I do mean every, large screen in each cinema complex was taken up by “The Last Jedi” so it was incumbent upon the Sony Distribution team to secure as many multiple screens as possible during a very busy Christmas playtime. The result? You simply cannot get to USD $50 million without a TON of extra screens. Well done by Adam, Janet and everyone at Sony. They knew what they needed to do to hit this mark and they did it.

Talk about looking at a glass as half full or half empty? I’m not sure what some of the industry outlets are smoking who proclaimed that “Pitch Perfect 3” was such a raging success. Their USD $20 million three day was, wait for it, USD $49 million less than PP2’s $69 million opening. Uh yeah, I get that Christmas weekend isn’t optimal for new openings but 15-year old girls aren’t exactly chock-a-block with office Christmas parties or last minute holiday grocery shopping. They could have made it to the multiplex a heck of a lot easier than, say, their parents. Sure, the holiday week will help the overall cume on the film but $20 million is hardly anything to, umm, sing about.

Elsewhere, “The Greatest Showman” wasn’t exactly roadshow with USD $13 mil for 3 days but at least it handily beat out both “Downsizing”, whose USD $4 million for 3 days and 7th place finish left them out of a playoff spot and WB’s “Father Figures” which could only muster USD $3 million for three days and is looking at relegation.

At the Art Houses
As expected, “The Post” racked up newsworthy numbers over the weekend, tallying USD $495,000 from nine locales, for an impressive USD $55,000 per location average. Neither “Hostiles” nor “Happy End” resonated with moviegoers as the former could only muster a PLA of USD $8,600 in 3 locations and the latter grossed USD $23,000 in 33 theatres. I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, you do the PLA math.

comScore Christmas weekend predictions
(Source: comScore)

Other Items of Note

  • If you read this space you know we love to showcase cool new theatres that don’t look like every other cinema and this week’s feature is of Surrey’s Everyman Oxted in the UK. Check out the amazing transformation here.
  • On the opposite side of the ledger there are some cinemas that just can’t keep with the times and though this may be blasphemy to many in New York the time has indeed come for the 6 screen Lincoln Plaza on Manhattan’s West Side to close. The cinema announced it has sold to investors. The theatre was a necessary evil, for lack of a better way to describe it. The operators never put a dime into the place and New Yorkers, quite frankly, deserve better. They should not be taken for granted. No one likes to sit in a theatre with obstructed view seating like the LP had.
  • The Event Cinema Conference will convene on February 7th in Vue Leicester Square, London. Speaking of Event Cinema, if you have an upcoming event you’d like mentioned in our EC section please shoot me the info. I’d be happy to include it.
  • 22 Network has finished its 2018 projections and they predict there will be 32 films that gross USD $100 million or more next year. That compares to 30 during 2017. Of the 32, 23 will be sequels, remakes or franchise entries while only 9 will be original content.
  • Netflix’s first big budget, franchise film, “Bright” starring Will Smith is being butchered by critics and viewers alike. Its current 30 Rotten Tomatoes score succinctly conveys that point. I guess they won’t be taking over Hollywood after all. Couple that with the disaster that was Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel” and the second half of 2017 wasn’t very kind to screaming services Netflix and Amazon.
  • Next up in our Oscar predictions segment is Best Actress. Thankfully this is one of the finest group of female performances in recent memory and getting to only five will be a challenge for the Academy. DEFINITES-Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards…”), Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”), Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”, which I highly recommend after seeing it this weekend), Meryl Streep (“The Post”). Then it’s a dogfight for the final spot between Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”), Jessica Chastain (“Molly’s Game”), Annette Bening (“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool), with an outside shot for both Judi Dench (“Victoria & Abdul”) and Emma Stone (“Battle of the Sexes”). Next week: Best Supporting Actor

This Coming Weekend – Wide Releases

“All the Money in the World” (Sony)—Unless you’ve been regenerating in a Tardis for the last month or so you know the story of this movie. Kevin Spacey was replaced by Christopher Plummer and somehow, director Ridley Scott was able to finish the film in time for Christmas. Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg also star.

The Verdict: The film received a nice little jump in tracking last week but has since taken a step back. The increase in volume of TV ads is usually a sign that a film isn’t projected to debut where a studio is projecting. The answer? Throw more money at it. As if Sony has all the money in the world, I guess. Hopefully the movie doesn’t get lost in the plethora of adult skewing titles this Christmas. Many in the industry are projecting a five day gross (it opens on Wednesday here in the States) in the $18 million range. I think that’s too high. Let’s go $13 mil for 5 days.

This Coming Weekend – Limited Avail Titles

“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” (SCL)– Annette Bening may be up for another Oscar nod (see above) in this drama revolving around a romance between a young actor (Jamie Bell) and a much older actress. Director Paul McGuigan is an odd choice for this kind of romantic drama as his prior efforts included “Lucky Number Slevin” and “Victor Frankenstein”.

Event Cinema

Make sure your sonic screwdrivers are charged and get ready for Wednesday’s “Twice Upon a Time” showing of the Doctor Who Christmas special.

CJ Quote of the Week
“God bless us. Everyone.”
–A Christmas Carol (1938)

Jim Amos
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