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411 Box Office Report: Doctor Sleep Stumbles as Midway Scores Surprise #1

November 10, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep was expected to win the box office this weekend, but it came up short as Midway overperformed for the top spot. The Roland Emmerich-directed war film claimed the top spot with $17.5 million, exceeding the low teens projection most had for the weekend. The film, which portrays the famous World War II Battle of Midway, ranks below the start of the director’s last film in Independence Day: Resurgence ($41 million) but no one expected that number. It is expected to bring in $20.05 million for the four-day Veterans Day weekend that includes Monday.

Midway was not the most anticipated film of the weekend by a pretty large margin, and the reviews didn’t do much to help it at a mediocre 41% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the movie capitalized as counter-programming to the blockbusters in theaters by targeting an older crowd. 87% of the audience was over 25, with a 60% male demographic skew. This is good news for the film, as films with older audiences tend to have better box office legs. Lionsgate also smartly targeted veterans with the marketing, with promotions that included a commemorative Battle of Midway pin for those who bought a ticket throughout the weekend, as well as USO-promoted local screenings in key markets last weekend.

The A CinemaScore also indicates good word of mouth. The film has a ways to go toward profit, as the budget was $100 million, but the strong hold throughout the weekend and the word of mouth should push it much higher than it was anticipated to. Overseas the film has a start of $4.5 million for a $22 million worldwide beginning. Domestically it should finish at around $65 million to $70 million if the word of mouth legs it out effectively enough.

Then there’s Doctor Sleep, which fell apart over the weekend and opened to just $14 million. That’s a mark drastically below the $25 million start it was aiming for, and represents a major faltering for Warner Bros. There’s a lot of surprise around this falling short, as reviews were good (74% on RT) and word of mouth was quite solid as well with a B+. For horror, that’s a strong audience score. But as it turns out, audiences just didn’t have any demand for this adaptation of Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining. A big part of the discussion was how the film was too long at 151 minutes, but lengthy runtimes didn’t kill a lot of other films.

Part of the problem is that Warner Bros. didn’t to enough to promote the movie. It wasn’t previewed at San Diego Comic-Con like many expected it would, and the film’s targeting of older audiences meant that it lost money to Midway. Overseas, the film is off to a slow start too with $20 million after opening a couple of weeks ago, for $34.1 million worldwide thus far on a $50 million budget plus marketing. Warner Bros. may not lose a lot of money on this, but it will not bring in profit and there is ultimately a $50 million ceiling for this one, with a lot of money left on the table.

John Cena’s Playing With Fire got off to a very solid start with $12.8 million over the three-day frame. The family comedy was predicted to open in the mid-to-high single digits, so this is a result that Paramount has to be happy with. It represents a feather in the cap of Cena, as it played well with families and improved its projections throughout the weekend.

Playing With Fire wasn’t a hit with critics, scoring a 24% on Rotten Tomatoes. But this was never basing its plans on good reviews, and the word of mouth is solid (if not spectacular) at a B+ CinemaScore. Playing With Fire has a very moderate budget at $30 million, and it should be able to get to profit from that. Right now the film looks likely to coast through next weekend before running smack into Frozen II and a $35 million or so final domestic gross seems likely, with possible overseas numbers (where it has $2.5 million thus far for $15.3 million worldwide) pushing it to profit.

A merely okay start came from the first holiday film of the year in the romantic comedy Last Christmas. The Emilia Clarke/Henry Golding film chalked up $11.8 million, which is a bit below the mid-teens opening most expected from it. It’s also a disappointment for a rom-com opening in a marketplace bereft of competition. This one may have opened too soon for the holidays, though it could also have longer legs because of that fact if Universal can hold onto theaters.

That said, the word of mouth is also far from great. Last Christmas, which had a mild score on RT of 49%, scored a cringe-worthy B- from those who saw it. That would be great for horror. For a rom-com, where a B to B+ is the norm, it’s bad news. As it stands, the film looks likely to close out in the $30 million to $35 million range domestically. Whether it can get to profit against its $20 million budget has yet to be seen. It added $3.1 million internationally in a few markets for a $14.7 million worldwide start.

One film that won’t be getting to profit is Terminator: Dark Fate, which followed its low start up with a complete systems crash in weekend two. The latest failed restart of the franchise brought in $10.8 million, down an ugly 63% from last weekend’s low start. That brings the film to $48.5 domestically and $199.4 million worldwide. While those overseas numbers look like much better news, it must be noted that they’re below the numbers that Terminator: Genisys — also not a success — had at this point. And with a $185 million budget, Dark Fate needs at least $500 million to break event. The domestic total looks to be around $80 million, which is a massive failure.

Meanwhile, Joker continues to stair-dance its way into the record books with a $9.2 million take, down just 32% in its sixth week. The DC Comics psychological thriller is now up to $313.5 million domestically and $984.7 million worldwide, making its $1 billion worldwide odds a sure thing. Put that up against its $55 to $60 million budget and you have a huge hit for Warner Bros, one that might take a bit of the sting out of Doctor Sleep bombing. Its domestic total should end up at around $330 million.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was down 39% in its fourth weekend with $8 million. That’s another decent hold for a film that could use it, moving it up to $97.3 million domestically and $430.3 million worldwide on a $170 million budget plus marketing. It’s a profitable film for Disney at this point thanks to the overseas gross, though the domestic numbers will continue to be looked at as a disappointment. It should end up domestically around $110 million.

Harriet performed well in its second weekend, down just 38% to $7.2 million. That’s exactly what Focus Features was hoping for with this film, which overperformed last weekend and is a full-fledged sleeper hit that could play into awards season as buzz builds for star Cynthia Erivo. The Harriet Tubman now stands at $23.5 million against its $17 million budget and could finish off as high as $45 million if it continues to play well, maybe even more depending on the award buzz.

Zombieland: Double Tap ticked down to $4.3 million in its fourth frame, down an okay 42%. The zombie comedy sequel now has $66.7 million domestically and $102 million worldwide, which are perfectly fine numbers against a $42 million production budget and marketing. The final domestic gross is still aiming for around $75 million.

The Addams Family closed out the top ten with $4.1 million, feeling the sting of Playing With Fire as it was down 51%. The animated family comedy is a hit for its studio though with $91.4 million domestically and $154.8 million worldwide. The budget was $40 million, and this should end its run at around $100 million.

Next weekend sees more contenders to the throne, with Ford v. Ferrari targeting the top spot with a $25 million to $30 million start. Charlie’s Angels should nail down around $15 million to $20 million, while thriller The Good Liar is looking at a single-digits start.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Midway – $17.5 million ($17.5 million total)
2. Doctor Sleep – $14.1 million ($14.1 million total)
3. Playing With Fire – $12.8 million ($12.8 million total)
4. Last Christmas – $11.6 million ($11.6 million total)
5. Terminator: Dark Fate – $10.8 million ($48.5 million total)
6. Joker – $9.2 million ($313.5 million total)
7. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – $8 million ($97.3 million total)
8. Harriet – $7.2 million ($23.5 million total)
9. Zombieland: Double Tap – $4.3 million ($66.7 million total)
10. The Addams Family – $4.1 million ($91.4 million total)