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411 Box Office Report: Ford v Ferrari Slams The Competition For #1, Charlie’s Angels Stumbles

November 17, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Ford v Ferrari

It was by no means a photo finish at the box office this weekend, as Ford v Ferrari dominated with a big #1 bow. The period racing drama soared to a $31 million opening weekend, blasting past tracking that suggested a $25 million start, to take the top spot. This is an impressive debut for the film, which nailed down the best start for Matt Damon since 2016’s Jason Bourne ($59.2 million) and for Christian Bale since The Dark Knight Rises ($160.9 million) back in 2012. It also represents another big win for director James Mangold, for which the film was the follow-up to Logan.

Ford v Ferrari is a rarity at the box office: a blockbuster-budgeted film that doesn’t rely on franchise appeal or big action sequences. Obviously there’s plenty of racing in the movie, but the studio marketed the film more on the story of two American visionaries backed by Ford and going up against Ferrari, as well as Damon and Bale’s star power. The gamble paid off, and gives 20th Century Fox its first hit since being acquired by Disney after films like Ad Astra, Terminator: Dark Fate, Dark Phoenix and many others failed. Part of that relied on critical buzz; at 92%, it’s one of the best-reviewed films of the year. You can add in some stellar word of mouth, with CinemaScore recording a rare A+ from filmgoers.

There’s no denying that this was a risk; it was an expensive film at a $97 million budget before marketing, with an American-centric story that would traditionally have a limited overseas box office appeal. But thus far, it’s holding up well. Releasing in 41 major markets, the film racked up $21.4 million for a $52.4 million worldwide start. Keep in mind that while that doesn’t sound great against that budget, this is a film that is expected to have serious legs at this point. Domestically, it should make it to around $120 million and if it has award attention, it could make some big money overseas as well. (See: American Sniper, which scored $197.2 million internationally.) This looks to have be a drama that will leg itself into being a decently profitable film for Fox, a welcome sign for a studio that has struggled under its Disney tenure.

Midway came in at #2 with $8.8 million, down 51% from its opening weekend bow. That’s a little bit higher than might have been expected for this Roland Emmerich-directed war film, but it’s still performing on the high end of expectations at the moment. The film has a higher drop than other recent war films like Dunkirk (44%) and Hacksaw Ridge (30%), though those were both awards contenders and Midway’s start was boosted by coinciding with Veterans Day. The film now has $35.1 million domestically and $64 million worldwide against a $100 million budget. Overseas numbers will have to pick up for this to find a profit margin against its $100 million budget; its domestic total looks like a likely $50 million or so.

Sony Pictures’ Charlie’s Angels revival fell flat with audiences, coming in at a very disappointing $8.6 million. That’s terrible for a film that was expected to be in the mid-teens to $20 million range. It’s way, way below the $40.1 million start for the first revival of the franchise in 2000, as well as that film’s sequel Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle which brought in $37.6 million to start in 2003.

There are a whole host of reasons why this film fell flat; development issues, the amount of time since the franchise was last on screen, a lackluster marketing campaign all factor in. But the simplest and primary answer is simply that this is another example of an IP being rebooted when no one wanted it. And this isn’t the first time Charlie’s Angels has fallen on its face. ABC rebooted the series back in 2011, but it was a disaster and got cancelled after just four episodes due to low ratings. Sony may have been able to spur up a little extra interest if they’d leaned more on the fact that this is technically a continuation of the original franchise, but that wasn’t done. The reviews were okay (60% on RT) but didn’t help much, and the same can be said for the B+ CinemaScore.

Ultimately, there’s no way to spin this as anything but a failure. The film is coming up a bit short overseas as well, where it’s brought in $19.3 million in 26 markets. That gives it a $27.9 million worldwide first weekend take which is in no way good. The film does have a small silver lining in that it cost less than is typical for action films at $48 million, but there’s no real chance this is going to be profitable. Domestically it should close out at around $25 million or so and the international numbers aren’t enough to pull it into profit.

John Cena’s Playing With Fire held on well after last weekend’s strong start. The family comedy brought in $8.6 million, down just 33% from last weekend’s $12.8 million overperformance. The movie now sits at $25.5 million domestically and $40 million worldwide, very good numbers against its $30 million budget. This one will get bit hard by a certain snow queen next weekend, but should still come in at around $40 million or so domestically by the time it leaves theaters and will be a profitable movie for Paramount.

Last Christmas had a predictable 41% drop in its second weekend to score $6.7 million. That puts the holiday rom-com at a mediocre $22.6 million domestically and $35.6 million worldwide, with a $35 million domestic total still in sight. It’s doing okay internationally so it might be able to find breakeven against a $20 million budget plus P&A, though if it does it’ll be close.

Doctor Sleep took a hit it could not afford to take considering its poor opening weekend. The Stephen King sequel nailed down $6.2 million, a 56% drop from its ugly start. That puts this $50 million-budgeted film at $25 million domestically and $53.8 million worldwide, with little chance of it making any profit. The movie is probably going to end its domestic run at around $40 million to $45 million, a huge disappointment for Warner Bros.

Coming in at #7 was counterprogramming The Good Liar, which got off to a $5.7 million start. That’s not bad for an inexpensive thriller ($10 million budget) and considering it was only mildly liked at a 64% RT score and a B CinemaScore. This is the kind of film that is made more for moderate performance on a worldwide level, and it’s doing just that at $3.9 million internationally for a $9.6 million worldwide opening weekend. It should finish its domestic run at around $15 million or a bit higher, with the overseas totals bringing it to minor profit.

Joker was down just 39% in its seventh week, bringing in $5.6 million. The DC Comics-inspired thriller now has $322.6 million domestically and $1.016 billion worldwide, putting it well within reach of Aquaman’s $335.1 million domestic total. Of course, Joker cost literally a fraction of Aquaman’s budget which makes this an enormous hit for DC and Warner Bros.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil dropped 38% in its fifth weekend with $5.2 million. The live-action sequel is looking at profit thanks to some good legs, now sitting at $106 million domestically and $458.9 million worldwide on a $170 million budget plus marketing. It should end up domestically around $115 million to $120 million.

Harriet closed out the top ten with a decent third weekend, off 35% to $4.8 million. The Harriet Tubman biopic is waiting to see how award season plays out, but for now it looks like a solid film for Focus at $31.9 million against its $17 million budget. The final take could go as high as $45 million or more depending on how the rest of the year goes.

Next weekend will see Frozen II take over the top spot with ease. The anticipated Disney sequel is expected to open with around $120 million to $130 million. The Mr. Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is hoping for a high teens to $20 million start, while Chadwick Boseman’s action-thriller 21 Bridges should bring in around $8 million to $10 million.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Ford v Ferrari – $31 million ($31 million total)
2. Midway – $8.8 million ($35.1 million total)
3. Charlie’s Angels – $8.6 million ($8.8 million total)
4. Playing With Fire – $8.6 million ($25.5 million total)
5. Last Christmas – $6.7 million ($22.6 million total)
6. Doctor Sleep – $6.2 million ($25 million total)
7. The Good Liar – $5.7 million ($5.7 million total)
8. Joker – $5.6 million ($322.6 million total)
9. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – $5.2 million ($106 million total)
10. Harriet – $4.8 million ($31.9 million total)