Studio Weekend Estimates: Midway Surprises at No. 1 w/ $17.5M; Doctor Sleep Underperforms w/ $14.1M; Playing With Fire ($12.8M) and Last Christmas ($11.6M) Post Respectable Debuts

This year, Veteran’s Day weekend at the box office came with a surprise twist.

In a frame that was down considerably from the same weekend last year –when The Grinch and Bohemian Rhapsody opened to strong numbers — WWII film Midway became the unexpected champion with an estimated gross of $17.5 million (and a projected $20 million over the four-day period), substantially more than industry observers predicted. Elsewhere, the weekend’s expected winner Doctor Sleep fell short of predictions that had it opening around the low $20 million range, while Last Christmas and Playing With Fire posted relatively healthy debuts.

Opening in 3,242 locations, Midway outshone its pre-release tracking to win the weekend with an audience that skewed heavily male (60%) and older (87% of the audience was over the age of 25). The studio smartly tied the film’s release to Veteran’s Day, which helped further boost its opening numbers, while word-of-mouth may have also been a factor given the “A” Cinemascore from opening-day audiences and a solid 91% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes despite not being beloved by critics, whose reviews amounted to a 41% score on the review aggregator. A recognizable cast including Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore and Woody Harrelson also served as a selling point, while a targeted promotional campaign via partnerships with the USO and Shell Gas Gold + (which offered a discounted Midway ticket program to its roughly 250,000 members via Atom Tickets) also helped lift the opening weekend total.

Of course, an opening of $17.5 million doesn’t look so hot once you factor in Midway’s $100 million reported budget, money that director Roland Emmerich notably raised outside the studio system (Lionsgate picked up U.S. and U.K. distribution rights but did not finance the film) from Chinese investors including Starlight Group (which funds Emmerich’s production company Centropolis) and foreign presales. Emmerich reportedly used the success of Mel Gibson’s 2016 war film Hacksaw Ridge — which also raised a considerable amount in foreign presales before going on to gross more than $175 million worldwide off a $40 million budget — to lure investors. That said, Midway has a budget over twice that amount, so it will need to boast strong legs against heavy competition in the weeks ahead to justify its considerable budget.

Opening in second place, Warner Bros.’ Doctor Sleep brought in a reported $14.1 million from 3,855 locations, a disappointment relative to expectations, particularly in light of recent successful Stephen King adaptations including the two blockbuster It entries and Pet Sematary, which opened to a healthy $24.5 million this past April. The decidedly lackluster debut for the $45 million budgeted film (as reported) is even more surprising given that it’s a sequel to one of the most famous horror films of all time — Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining — whose iconography and plotline are key elements in the new film adapted from King’s 2013 novel. Add to that strong reviews and a healthy “B+” Cinemascore (particularly strong for a film in the horror genre) and it’s truly one of the more unexpected disappointments of the year to date.

Paramount’s Playing With Fire opened in third place with an estimated $12.8 million from 3,125 locations, a decent debut for the $30 million-budgeted family comedy that had to go up against two strong holdovers in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and The Addams Family. The film certainly benefitted from the popularity of WWE wrestler-turned-actor John Cena, whose last comedy Blockers proved to be a healthy performer with a gross of over $60 million in North America. That said, the film’s Rotten Tomatoes average is a dismal 24% — a poor showing even for the family-comedy genre — so audience goodwill will need to sustain it in the two-week window before the certain-to-be-huge Frozen II hits multiplexes.

In fourth place, the Universal rom-com Last Christmas debuted to $11.6 million in 3,448 locations, a decent result for the Emilia Clarke-Henry Golding vehicle that could be primed for a leggy run this season given its holiday themes and popular lead stars. Though reviews for the film were rather negative (it’s at 49% on Rotten Tomatoes), this type of film tends to be more or less review-proof; what remains to be seen is whether Last Christmas can sustain through the coming weeks with a slew of buzzy new releases coming down the pike. Luckily, the reported pricetag on this one is just $25 million — roughly the budget of Clarke’s last rom-com Me Before You, which became a huge sleeper success in 2016 with a domestic total of over $56 million and a worldwide tally north of $200 million.

Falling all the way down to fifth place in its second weekend was last weekend’s No. 1 film Terminator: Dark Fate, which plummeted nearly 63% from its $29 million opening to an estimated $10.8 million in its sophomore frame. The Paramount sequel simply couldn’t break out beyond its core audience despite positive word-of-mouth among diehard fans, owing in large part to diminished goodwill for the once-mighty franchise following a string of poorly-received sequels. Dark Fate’s total now stands at just $48.5 million after ten days of release, roughly 30% behind the pace of 2015’s Terminator Genisys at the same point in its run.

After crossing the $300 million mark last week, Warner Bros.’ Joker continued strong with an estimated $9.2 million in its sixth weekend of release — down just 32% — bringing the total for the comic book thriller to a powerful $313.4 million.

Just behind Joker in seventh place was Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, which brought in an estimated $8 million in its fourth weekend of release. The total for the fantasy sequel now stands at $97.3 million — a far cry from the first film’s $185.8 million by the same point, though healthy overseas grosses have more or less kept the Angelina Jolie title afloat.

Coming in eighth place was Focus Features’ Harriet, which took in an estimated $7.2 million in its sophomore frame following last weekend’s better-than-expected $11.6 million opening — a drop of roughly 38%. The total for the Harriet Tubman biopic now stands at $23.4 million after ten days of release.

In ninth place, Halloween holdover Zombieland: Double Tap took in an estimated $4.3 million, bringing the total for Sony’s zom-com sequel to $66.6 million (roughly the same as its predecessor by the same point not adjusting for inflation). Finally in tenth, United Artists’ The Addams Family scored $4.2 million in its fifth weekend of release, giving the animated reboot a total of $91.4 million. 

Landing just outside the Top 10 was Fox Searchlight’s Jojo Rabbit, which expanded to 802 locations and brought in an estimated $3.9 million, bringing the total for the quirky comedy to $9.1 million to date. Look for the word-of-mouth sleeper to add more screens next weekend.

Limited Release:

Neon expanded Parasite to 603 locations and brought in an estimated $2.5 million, bringing the total for the acclaimed Korean dark comedy-thriller to an impressive $11.2 million to date.

Amazon Studios’ Honey Boy opened in 4 locations this weekend and grossed an estimated $288K for a healthy per-screen average of $72K. The critically-acclaimed film, written by and starring Transformers‘ Shia LaBeouf in a story based on his difficult upbringing, should expand wider next weekend.

On 15 screens, Kevin Smith’s Jay & Silent Bob Reboot brought in an estimated $284K (a per screen average of roughly $18K), giving the comedy follow-up $2.3 million to date.

Overseas Update:

Terminator: Dark Fate brought in an estimated $29.9 million overseas this weekend, bringing its international total to $150.9 million and its global cume to a disappointing $199.4 million. Totals to date include $44.8 million in China, $14.9 million in Korea and $8.3 million in the U.K.

Doctor Sleep brought in an estimated $13 million in 68 overseas markets after opening in a handful of European territories last weekend, bringing its international total to $20 million and its overseas tally to $34.1 million.

Joker added an estimated $20.3 million to its already-robust international total, lifting its overseas cume to $671.2 million and its worldwide total to $984.7 million — putting the Warner Bros. thriller right on the cusp of the  $1 billion mark, all without access to the coveted Chinese market. Look for the comic book blockbuster to surpass that milestone by next weekend.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil grossed an estimated $19.9 million internationally for a total of $333 million internationally and $430.3 million worldwide. That’s a reasonably healthy total for the Disney sequel, even as it pales in comparison to the first film’s final global total of $758 million. Country tallies include $48 million in China, $31.6 million in Russia and $22 million in Mexico.

Sunday’s Studio Weekend Estimates (Domestic)

FRI, NOV. 8 – SUN, NOV. 10

WIDE (1000+)

1 Midway $17,500,000 3,242 $5,398 $17,500,000 1 Lionsgate
2 Doctor Sleep $14,100,000 3,855 $3,658 $14,100,000 1 Warner Bros.
3 Playing with Fire $12,800,000 3,125 $4,096 $12,800,000 1 Paramount Pictures
4 Last Christmas $11,600,000 3,448 $3,364 $11,600,000 1 Universal Pictures
5 Terminator: Dark Fate $10,800,000 -63% 4,086 0 $2,643 $48,457,130 2 Paramount
6 Joker $9,200,000 -32% 2,806 -713 $3,279 $313,491,507 6 Warner Bros.
7 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil $8,002,000 -39% 3,201 -619 $2,500 $97,301,901 4 Disney
8 Harriet $7,230,000 -38% 2,186 127 $3,307 $23,463,140 2 Focus Features
9 Zombieland: Double Tap $4,315,000 -42% 2,427 -910 $1,778 $66,655,483 4 Sony Pictures
10 The Addams Family $4,200,000 -49% 2,674 -933 $1,571 $91,467,705 5 United Artists Releasing
11 Countdown $2,800,000 -51% 1,829 -846 $1,531 $22,232,505 3 STX Entertainment
12 Motherless Brooklyn $2,225,000 -36% 1,342 0 $1,658 $7,382,074 2 Warner Bros.
13 Black and Blue $1,875,000 -55% 1,129 -933 $1,661 $19,056,865 3 Sony / Screen Gems
14 Arctic Dogs $1,100,000 -62% 2,320 -524 $474 $4,868,346 2 Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures

LIMITED (100 — 999)

1 Jojo Rabbit $3,942,000 69% 802 546 $4,915 $9,117,882 4 Fox Searchlight
2 Parasite $2,552,000 0% 603 142 $4,232 $11,278,976 5 NEON
3 The Lighthouse $900,825 -54% 683 -295 $1,319 $8,897,456 4 A24
4 Downton Abbey $620,000 -47% 474 -438 $1,308 $95,657,915 8 Focus Features
5 Abominable $450,000 -58% 406 -731 $1,108 $59,213,085 7 Universal Pictures
6 Gemini Man $430,000 -77% 480 -1392 $896 $48,048,847 5 Paramount Pictures
7 Pain and Glory $397,722 20% 266 155 $1,495 $2,693,791 6 Sony Pictures Classics
8 The Current War $227,611 -81% 403 -679 $565 $5,711,920 3 101 Studios
9 Ad Astra $108,000 -47% 248 111 $435 $49,853,945 8 20th Century Fox
10 The Lion King $82,000 -26% 135 -23 $607 $543,463,945 17 Walt Disney Pictures

PLATFORM (1 — 99)

1 Better Days $1,034,341 70 $14,776 $1,034,341 1 Well Go USA Entertainment
2 Honey Boy $288,825 4 $72,206 $288,825 1 Amazon Studios
3 Jay & Silent Bob Reboot $278,754 23% 15 0 $18,584 $2,205,246 4 Fathom Events / Saban Films
4 Housefull 4 $124,000 -71% 85 -230 $1,459 $2,011,570 3 FIP
5 Toy Story 4 $52,000 -6% 89 -16 $584 $433,946,664 21 Disney
6 Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice $43,378 -53% 59 -35 $735 $4,072,073 10 Greenwich Entertainment
7 Frankie $24,227 -3% 22 11 $1,101 $86,094 3 Sony Pictures Classics
8 The Kingmaker $23,600 2 $11,800 $23,600 1 Greenwich Entertainment
9 Rambo: Last Blood $17,100 -76% 58 -147 $295 $44,741,245 8 Lionsgate
10 My Dear Liar $11,712 29 $404 $11,712 1 CMC
11 American Dharma $7,238 -1% 3 2 $2,413 $17,507 2 Utopia
12 A Fish in the Bathtub $1,237 3 $412 $1,237 1 Cohen Media Group