More box office movie history was made as Disney’s “Frozen 2” continues dominating the theaters while “Playmobil: The Movie,” ranked as one of the biggest wide-release flop films ever. The animated family film failed to break into the Top 10 despite playing at over 2,300 locations. “Frozen 2” had little competition to keep it from keeping it’s top slot while blanketing multiplexes for the third straight weekend, continuing its reign at No. 1 with $34.7 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The Walt Disney Co. animated sequel has already grossed $919.7 million worldwide. It will soon become the sixth Disney release this year to cross $1 billion, a record sure to grow to seven once “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” hits theaters later this month. Early next week, Disney will cross $10 billion at the global box office this year.
But the weekend overall at the box office was yet another disappointing one for the movie industry. A handful of under-performing releases and a relatively thin wide-release schedule hasn’t helped the 5.6% slide in domestic ticket sales from last year, according to data firm Comscore.
The first weekend of December is historically slow, and this year was no different with only one new nationwide film opening.
This weekend produced an outright flop in “Playmobil: The Movie,” the week’s only new wide release. The STX Films release was never expected to do well, but it bombed so thoroughly that it will rank among the worst-performing wide-releases ever. It grossed $668,000 in 2,337 venues, giving it a per-theater average of just $286.
A handful of companies combined to produce the $75 million French film, including Wild Bunch and Pathe. STXfilms, which acquired domestic rights to “Playmobil” after Open Road Films imploded, doesn’t have any equity in the family pic and kept the marketing spend to roughly $3 million, according to insiders. A slew of companies were involved in making the film, including Wild Bunch, Pathe and the Paris-based On Animation. In the U.S., almost every chain save for locales such as the ArcLight and Pacific Theaters offered the discounted price of $5.
“We are in a business that focuses on growing box office gross. But in this case we were looking beyond that. We were working closely with our exhibitor partners on a strategy to stimulate not only gross but growth within our business,” STXfilms distribution chief Grayson said in a statement. “We have many challenges these days with growing attendance and this was an attempt at stimulating growth through experimentation with a value pricing model.”
“Playmobil’s” voice cast includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, Kenan Thompson, Meghan Trainor and Daniel Radcliffe. The movie has already played overseas, where it has earned less than $13 million.
The top five films were almost unchanged from last weekend.
Rian Johnson’s acclaimed, star-studded whodunit “Knives Out” remained in second place with $14.2 million, declining a modest 47% in its second week of release. With $63.5 million cumulatively and $124.1 million worldwide, the Lionsgate release has been one of the season’s bright spots.
So has James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari,” which stayed in third place with $6.5 million over its fourth weekend. The racing drama, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, has sped to a global take of $168 million for Disney, which acquired the film’s original studio, 20th Century Fox, earlier this year. The film cost about $100 million to make.
Melina Matsoukas’ outlaw romance “Queen & Slim” moved up to fourth in its second week with $6.5 million, swapping places with Marielle Heller’s Mister Rogers drama “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” ($5.2 million in its third weekend).
Todd Haynes’ true-story legal drama “Dark Waters,” starring Mark Ruffalo as a defense attorney who takes on the DuPont chemical company, expanded nationwide from 94 to 2,011 theaters. The Focus Features release made $4.1 million Friday through Sunday.
That puts “Dark Waters” in sixth place — a modest result given that it was critically well-received (it holds a 93 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and has recognizable stars in Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins.
A handful of other holdovers competed for the sales not claimed by “Frozen 2,” before the biggest December releases (like “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”) arrive later in the month.
Celine Sciamma’s acclaimed period romance “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” opened at two locations with a very strong $33,552 per-theater average. Neon will release the French film wider in February.
Some of the weekend’s most widespread movie watching may have been on Netflix, though the streaming service doesn’t disclose viewership tallies or box-office receipts.
After a three-week theatrical run, Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” one of the year’s most critically acclaimed films, began streaming Friday. On Friday, Nielsen said Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” last weekend drew an average audience of 13.6 million viewers from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1. Netflix has said Nielsen numbers, which only estimate U.S. viewership, reflect an incomplete picture.
Amazon likewise didn’t release ticket sales for “The Aeronauts,” which opened in 52 theaters over the weekend. Tom Harper’s film, which cost $40 million to make, stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as 19th century balloonists.
Amazon Studios likewise released “The Aeronauts” in 52 theaters, but isn’t reporting grosses since the film is getting a truncated release, much like Netflix titles do.
A week before it opens in North America, Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” debuted in 18 international countries where it made $52.5 million. The sequel to 2017′s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” which grossed $962 million worldwide, is expected to lead the box office next weekend.
North American Box Office
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.
1. “Frozen 2,” $34.7 million ($90.2 million international).
2. “Knives Out,” $14.2 million ($18 million international).
3. “Ford v Ferrari,” $6.5 million ($8.3 million international).
4. “Queen & Slim,” $6.5 million.
5. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” $5.2 million.
6. “Dark Waters,” $4.1 million.
7. “21 Bridges,” $2.9 million.
8. “Playing With Fire,” $2 million.
9. “Midway,” $1.9 million.
10. “Joker,” $1 million.