March 12, 2018
Box Office Report: No ‘Wrinkle’ Effect as ‘Panther’ Rules Fourth Straight Weekend
Here’s your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Black Panther – $41.1 million ($562.0 million total)
2. A Wrinkle in Time – $33.3 million ($33.3 million total)
3. The Strangers: Prey at Night – $10.4 million ($10.4 million total)
4. Red Sparrow – $8.1 million ($31.1 million total)
5. Game Night – $7.9 million ($45.0 million total)
6. Peter Rabbit – $6.8 million ($93.4 million total)
7. Death Wish – $6.6 million ($23.8 million total)
8. The Hurricane Heist – $3.1 million ($3.1 million total)
9. Annihilation – $3.1 million ($26.0 million total)
10. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – $2.7 million ($397.2 million total)
The Big Stories
The top two movies at the box office this weekend were directed by African-Americans. What a day it will be when that is not a historical fact we need to recite but just a commonality amongst filmmakers making a good living. This is not the heyday of Spike Lee and John Singleton, but a time when Disney has Ryan Coogler and Ava Duvernay at the helm of their mega-adaptations aimed at boys and girls alike. Though it may be disappointing for some to even suggest a shred of comparison between the two, the numbers are what they are and suggest two films headed in very different directions.
There’s A Wrinkle Here
A lot can usually be substantiated by the way a film opens. It’s all in how you look at when it opens, what it’s up against and how audiences and critics react, coupled with how films of its time generally end up. We may have heard a lot about how A Wrinkle in Time was a beloved book in many of our younger days, though it has also been labeled as an unfilmable work. Given the reaction of many critics who have contributed just a 42% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, perhaps that is indeed the case. But that number is hardly the end-all of any film, especially one with built-in fans. Both Peter Rabbit and Fifty Shades Freed are headed for the $100 million mark, perhaps as soon as next weekend.
There should be no added pressure for Duvernay’s film to succeed, but we all know how the microscope turns in our society. Leaving aside all that, we should simply look at the numbers and how they measure up to other films in its wheelhouse. Right now it’s about exactly on par with Where the Wild Things Are, another children’s classic that was turned into a high work of art by Spike Jonze, according to some (it still only managed a 72% at RT.) But its $32.6 million only made about another $39 million total in October 2009. The first Percy Jackson film opened in February 2010 to $31.2 million and finished with just $88.7 million. Other big fantasy adaptations opening in the non-summer or holiday seasons, like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Jack the Giant Slayer, did not turn over great word-of-mouth after less-than-stellar openings. Disney is hoping for more of a Bridge to Terabithia return, which started with just $22.5 million and finished with $82.2 million in February 2007. Tomb Raider, Pacific Rim Uprising and Ready Player One will appeal more to boys than girls going forward, so if A Wrinkle In Time can keep its younger female audience, then it may still be able to stretch past $100 million, matching its budget and hoping its international appeal can get it into the plus column.
Tales of the Top Ten
They were a lot more movies opening this weekend than you probably realized. Given their paltry returns, it is clear interest was not piqued by any of them. The Strangers: Prey at Night opened to just $10.4 million, less than half of the $20.9 million the original made in May ten years ago. Critics were not too enthused with the film (except, strangely enough, in Chicago) but its 35% isn’t much further than the 45% the first film got (and yet you find many say positive things about it.) Rob Cohen’s ridiculous The Hurricane Heist (25% at RT) and Nash Edgerton’s Gringo (39%) could not pull six million between them and barely entered the Top Ten. Gringo’s $2.8 million is a low bar for STX Entertainment for a release on over 2,000 screens; lower than both Hardcore Henry ($5.1 million) and The Space Between Us ($3.7 million), neither of which finished with $10 million. Even Entertainment Studios’ Friend Request opened to $2 million, just about a million less than Hurricane.
But the big story is clearly still Black Panther, holding off the Wrinkle challenge and busting past Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight to become the seventh highest-grossing domestic title ever. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is next with $619 million and The Avengers will fall the same week or day at $623 million. It has also now joined the billion dollar club (the 33rd film ever to do so) and it is only doing so now with the help of China, where it the third best Marvel opening day ever. The money will continue to pour in.
The same cannot be said for Fox’s Red Sparrow, where $50 million domestic does not even look viable. It has made another $31 million internationally and will need about another $97 million over there to break even. Game Night is holding well enough to hit $50 million by next weekend. Death Wish is headed over $30 million but not much more; a number that fans of Annihilation could count as a minor moral victory. It currently stands at $26 million and may be able to squeak out one more week in the Top Ten. It’s still a shame that Paramount did not allow critics to embrace it sooner than it did; it would have at least produced a stronger opening. Let’s hope they do not do the same with another ambitious sci-fi thriller, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place, which will open April 6 after an enthusiastic opening night response at SXSW.
[Box office figures via Box Office Mojo.]