Some Warner Bros. executives may be experiencing some Wizard Angst right now given that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald only debuted to $62.2 million domestically, or at least, they’d be experiencing that until they saw the massive $191 million it took in overseas, giving it a $253 million worldwide haul to date, the 38th biggest worldwide box office opening weekend in history. In the U.S. though, the newest Fantastic Beasts films didn’t fare so well, scoring the lowest opening weekend for a movie topping the pre-Thanksgiving weekend frame since 2007 and having a 17% lower domestic opening weekend than its predecessor despite costing 11% more to produce. Good thing they hired Johnny Depp for this project or else it might have come in shy of expectations domestically!
The overseas numbers are probably still good enough (despite it also coming in under expectations in the U.K. and in China) here that Warner Bros. may yet decide to march onward with the other three Fantastic Beasts movies, but it’s obvious that in the U.S. this series is just not resonating with the broader public. Having seen it yesterday, it’s easy to see why, this stuff is extended pieces of Harry Potter lore so dense even I, a Harry Potter nut, couldn’t keep track of everything. No wonder then that The Crimes of Grindelwald was a more frontloaded creation than its predecessor, it’s likely just appealing to the fans and no one else. That means that, even if it holds exactly like its predecessor and does 3.15 times its opening weekend, The Crimes of Grindelwald will still be the first Harry Potter movie to miss $200 million domestically.
In second place, The Grinch kept on spreading Yuletide misery as it took in another $38.1 million, a 44% drop from last weekend, for a fantastic domestic gross of $126.5 million to date, running 5% ahead of The Lorax at the same point. Fellow holdover Bohemian Rhapsody dropped another 49% this frame, grossing another $15.7 million in the process to bring its domestic haul to a whopping $127.8 million.
The newest Fantastic Beasts movie wasn’t the only new wide release to come in under expectations as Instant Family grossed just $14.7 million this frame, one of the weaker opening weekends for a Mark Wahlberg vehicle and a really poor start given its surprisingly hefty $48 million pricetag. It’s easy to see why Paramount Pictures shifted this one from its original February 2019 release date to this pre-Thanksgiving perch given how well similar live-action family movies (namely The Blind Side and last year’s Wonder) did in this slot, but those had more distinctive and previously established stories to work with whereas the rushed marketing campaign for Instant Family (which started just back in November) didn’t have that advantage. Plus, there’s a lot of competition for family dollars in the marketplace right now between The Grinch and the impending Ralph Breaks the Internet and Instant Family just couldn’t keep up.
Also disappointing was Widows with a $12.3 million bow, which is a subpar debut for a heist movie, coming in just behind the $12.6 million bow of 1998’s Ronin and the $12.7 million debut of 1995’s Get Shorty. Critics were raving about Widows for months but the marketing just couldn’t get audiences onboard with the project, which has a long way to go before it becomes profitable on a $42 million budget, though this one has a better shot at getting there eventually then Instant Family simply because Widows is likely going to garner awards attention in the future that might boost its box office.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms continued to have abnormally large weekend-to-weekend falls for a Christmas-themed title as it dropped another 53% for a third-weekend of $4.6 million for a domestic total of just $43.8 million. Meanwhile, A Star Is Born finally had a weekend-to-weekend drop of more than 30% as it dropped 46% this weekend (that’s slightly larger than the 43% drop seen by The Martian in its pre-Thanksgiving frame) to gross another $4.3 million for a $185.8 million domestic haul. A Star Is Born had one of the better holds for a holdover title in the top 12, the norm seemed to be hefty drops for all titles all across the domestic box office, which can be chalked up to movie theaters pushing movies out of screens to make room for newcomers. Overlord, for instance, dropped 62% for a second-weekend gross of just $3.8 million for a meek domestic gross of just $17.7 million. That was better than The Girl in the Spider’s Web though, which fell a massive 68% for only a $2.5 million second-weekend and a domestic haul of just $13.2 million. Rounding out the top ten was Nobody’s Fool, which also fell over 60% this weekend, 66% to be precise, for a third-weekend haul of $2.2 million and a $28.8 million domestic total.
In its seventh weekend of release, Venom dropped 60%, adding $1.9 million to an outstanding domestic gross of $210 million. Boy Erased expanded into 409 locations this weekend and grossed $1.2 million for a per-theater average of $3,130. This one’s now in way more theaters at the same point than the two titles I’ve been using as comparisons for it, The Theory of Everything and Loving, in the last two weeks, but this is a weaker per-theater average than the ones seen by either of these titles when they went into similar theater counts. Boy Erased has now grossed only $2.6 million and seems to be burning out fast. We shall see if it can cross $10 million domestically. Can You Ever Forgive Me? also seems to be fading fast as it grossed $880,000 from 555 locations for a per-theater average of just $1,586 and a domestic total of only $5 million.
Those two weren’t the only arthouse features to struggle this weekend. A Private War expanded into 865 locations and grossed just $725,000 for a per-theater average of $838 and one of the worst wide-release opening weekends of 2018. This Rosamund Pike biopic has grossed just $1 million domestically. Are we gonna ever give Rosamund Pike a big movie to headline? In its sixth weekend of release, Beautiful Boy fell 59% to add $587,016 to its domestic gross of just $6.4 million. Even arthouse sleeper hit Free Solo wasn’t impervious to the larger weekend-to-weekend drops that plagued holdovers this weekend, though for this title a larger drop meant a still solid 35% decrease and another $491,825, bringing its domestic gross to $8.9 million, pushing it ever closer to that $10 million domestic box office mark.
Green Book debuted in limited release this weekend before going into wide release on Wednesday, a last-minute release date adjustment that resulted in a measly $312,000 opening weekend from 25 locations for a per-theater average of $12,480. Obviously, the wide release is the big target here, but this is a weaker start for this film that I think may struggle to stand out in a crowded marketplace when it goes into 1,000+ locations on Wednesday. Also debuting this weekend was At Eternity’s Gate, which grossed a decent $92,000 from 4 locations for a per-theater average of $23,000. Finally, The Front Runner continued to struggle in limited release with a second weekend gross of $72,000 from 22 locations for a per-theater average of $3,273 and a domestic gross of just $162,169. Like Green Book, The Front Runner goes into theaters everywhere on Wednesday and the forecast is not looking good for this Gary Hart biopic’s chances for domestic box office success.
The top 12 movies this weekend grossed a total of $163.9 million, the fifth biggest 46th weekend of any given year and above-average for a pre-Thanksgiving weekend despite the trio of wide release newcomers disappointing domestically.