‘Midway’ Tops Friday Box Office As ‘Doctor Sleep’ And ‘Last Christmas’ Disappoint - Forbes

‘Midway’ Tops Friday Box Office As ‘Doctor Sleep’ And ‘Last Christmas’ Disappoint - Forbes
In a genuine surprise, the top movie of last night, and presumably the weekend, is Lionsgate’s Midway. Roland Emmerich’s (depending on who you ask) $70-$100 million World War II actioner came into theaters with little buzzy and mixed-negative reviews, along with a cast where the biggest “butts-in-seats-star” was Nick Jonas. Nonetheless, the film (which I will catch on Monday as I like most of Emmerich’s action dramas) earned $6.35 million yesterday, including $925,000 in Thursday previews, for a likely $17.5 million opening weekend.

That’s not a blow-out debut, but it’s a fine showing for a movie that most of us underestimated and for which Lionsgate is mostly on the hook only for U.S. and UK distribution. The film, which stars Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Etsushi Toyokawa, Tadanobu Asano, Luke Kleintank, Jun Kunimura, Darren Criss, Keean Johnson, Alexander Ludwig, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid and Woody Harrelson, earned an A from Cinemascore.  Lionsgate is hoping for legs akin to Hacksaw Ridge, which grossed $67.2 million domestic in November of 2016 from a $15.19 million debut.

 It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, as the Andrew Garfield war actioner had better reviews, Oscar nominations and the “Let’s write about Mel Gibson” factor pushing it into the new year. Still, even a 3x multiplier and $53 million domestic cume would be solid presuming that the film does well enough overseas. Its status as the top movie of the weekend is more about Doctor Sleep underperforming, but a mild win is a mild win.

Ewan McGregor in Doctor Sleep

Warner Bros.

Alas, Warner Bros.’ Doctor Sleep fell victim to Blade Runner 2049 syndrome. By that I mean the sequel to The Shining was heavily marketed specifically to fans of Stephen King’s 1979 book and Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 movie, to the point where it didn’t offer that much else to general audiences. Truth be told, I wasn’t that concerned going into the weekend, since a performance akin to Blade Runner 2049 ($89 million domestic and $242 million worldwide) would have been fine on Doctor Sleep’s $45 million budget.

Perhaps I drank the Kool-Aid a little bit this time, but audiences clearly didn’t care about the property. The Ewan McGregor/Kyliegh Curran/Rebecca Ferguson/Cliff Curtis horror flick, which is a hard R and runs 152 minutes, earned just $5.2 million yesterday, including $1.5 million in Thursday previews. That positions the Mike Flanagan-directed chiller, itself an adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 novel and acting as essentially a sequel to three versions of The Shining (the book, the first movie, and the ABC mini-series), for a disappointing $14.4 million opening weekend.

We’re still only talking about a $45 million flick that could play better overseas, but this is one of those scary situations where an IP/brand adaptation performs noticeably worse than a proverbial original in the same respective genre. Think Storks playing better than LEGO Ninjago Movie, with the lesson in this case being that the Stephen King name isn’t enough to drive audiences otherwise uninterested in the movie. I wasn’t high on the movie, but there’s plenty to appreciate and, if you’re a fan, it’s not like WB was thinking about The Shining 3 had this performed better.

Paramount’s Playing With Fire slightly overperformed yesterday, earning $3.53 million on Friday. That positions the John Cena/Brianna Hildebrand/Keegan-Michael Key/John Leguizamo/Judy Greer/Tyler Mane/Dennis Haysbert kiddie comedy for an okay $12.5 million opening weekend. And with that cast, I frankly don’t care if the PG-rated “firefighters look after displaced kids” comedy isn’t all that good, and I’ll probably see it tonight or tomorrow as my younger kids are very much into it.

Henry Golding and Emilia Clarke in Paul Feig and Emma Thompson s Last Christmas


Universal’s Last Christmas stumbled out of the gate, with a $3.448 million opening day, including $575,000 in Thursday previews. That positions the Paul Feig-directed romantic comedy for a $12 million opening, not great for a holiday-themed comedy that got plenty of media attention in the run up to release. Alas, the reviews weren’t great and much of the publicity for the Emilia Clarke/Henry Golding/Michelle Yeoh/Emma Thompson flick centered on whether or not the trailer gave away a major third-act twist.

Without going into details, this is a situation where Universal’s marketing probably should have lied their butts off, in terms of offering scenes in the marketing never intended to be in the final film and/or doing something to throw pundits off the scent. Anyway, the good news is that this (around) $30 million comedy may leg out in the holiday season. And it’s always possible that this distinctly British melodrama will pull a Richard Curtis overseas and end up globally successful.

In platform debut news, Amazon’s acclaimed Honey Boy opened in four theaters yesterday with a solid $110,000 Friday gross. That positions the autobiographical Shia LeBeouf flick (where he plays his own father) for a $360,000 weekend and boffo $88,443 per-theater average. That’s a great start.

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I ve studied the film industry, both academically and informally, and with an emphasis in box office analysis, for nearly 30 years. I have extensively written about all
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