When you have a powerhouse comic book film coming in a week, studios normally don’t even bother releasing other major films to compete in the week prior. And that’s exactly what happened this week, as most major studios are giving Warner Bros. a clear runway for next weekend’s “Joker.” The only studio to provide any sort of excitement this weekend was Universal, who released “Abominable,” which ended up winning the weekend with a less than stellar total.
Universal and Dreamworks Animation’s “Abominable” is the weekend’s box office champ with a $21 million opening. This isn’t a total that is going to set the box office on fire, but it is a solid start for the animated film, which carries a reported $75 million budget. Instead of going to the typical route of loading this film with A-list vocal talent, Uni/DWA went against the grain with a solid cast led by only a few big names, such as Sarah Paulson, Chloe Bennett, and Eddie Izzard.
Now, “Abominable” only has a couple of weeks to really hold the attention of the families looking for good, wholesome fun. On October 11, the film will compete against “The Addams Family,” which does go with an all-star cast and a well-known IP. So, if the Universal film wants to get to profitability, it’ll have to have a great hold next weekend and in the weeks to follow. Luckily for those involved with “Abominable,” the ‘A’ CinemaScore and strong 80% on Rotten Tomatoes points to some good word-of-mouth.
Outside of the animated film, the only other major debut was the Renee Zellweger film “Judy.” Debuting in only 461 theaters, the film still debuted in the top 10, with a $3 million domestic total. The Judy Garland biopic is coming off a successful festival debut and strong reviews. We’ll have to see how the film fares when it opens in more theaters in the weeks to come, but with this sort of debut, all signs are pointing to “Judy” having a decent box office future.
As for last week’s big films, the second weekends for “Downton Abbey,” “Rambo: Last Blood,” and “Ad Astra” were pretty decent. As far as the smallest drop, “Ad Astra” wins that category, losing only -47% from last weekend, for a $10 million second frame. The biggest drop belongs to ‘Last Blood,’ which fell a respectable -56% for a $8.6 million weekend. And last weekend’s surprise winner, “Downton Abbey,” dropped -53%, earning another $14.5 million. ‘Abbey’ is obviously doing the best of the bunch, and with the modest budget, the film is nothing but a big success. ‘Last Blood’ and “Ad Astra” debuted low and while these drops point to decent word-of-mouth, neither is necessarily living up to expectations, particularly the latter film with its budget reportedly in the $100 million range.
And once again, “Hustlers” continues its incredible box office run. This weekend, its third overall, the Jennifer Lopez film pulled in another $11.5 million, bringing its domestic total to $80.6 million. “Hustlers” is easily the biggest box office success story of the first part of fall. Sure, “It: Chapter Two” has a bigger box office total, but that’s hardly an apples-to-apples comparison. “Hustlers” has not only already earned 4x its $20 million budget but shows no signs of slowing down. If Lopez and writer-director Lorene Scafaria weren’t already awards season names, they are now.
Next weekend changes everything, as Warner Bros. finally releases “Joker” to the hungry masses, who have been without a comic book film since July’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Of course, with its R-rating and controversial plot, it’ll be interesting to see how much the recent publicity helps or hurts the film’s opening weekend. Either way, it’s expected that “Joker” will debut somewhere in the $80+ million range.
Here’s the entire domestic top 10 for September 27 to September 29:
1. Abominable – $21M (Debut)
2. Downton Abbey – $14.5M ($58.5M Overall)
3. Hustlers – $11.5M ($80.6M)
4. It: Chapter Two – $10.4M ($194M)
5. Ad Astra – $10M ($35.5M)
6. Rambo: Last Blood – $8.6M ($33M)
7. Judy – $3M (Debut)
8. Good Boys – $2M ($80M)
9. The Lion King – $1.6M ($540M)
10. Angel Has Fallen – $1.5M ($67M)