7:54 AM PST 11/10/2019
Courtesy of Warner Bros.; Reiner Bajo
‘Midway,’ ‘Doctor Sleep’
‘Doctor Sleep’ stalls out at $14.1 million, while ‘Playing With Fire’ beats ‘Last Christmas’ in the weekend’s second upset.
Veterans Day weekend was a washout at the North American box office as an army of new movies disappointed.
Roland Emmerich’s pricey World War II epic Midway may have topped the chart with a better-than-expected $17.5 million in a surprise upset over horror-thriller Doctor Sleep, but it was somewhat of a hollow victory considering Midway’s $100 million budget (luckily, U.S. and U.K. distributor Lionsgate carved out a deal that will leave the studio in the black).
Warner Bros.’ Doctor Sleep — a sequel to The Shining — had been expected to easily win the weekend with $25 million or more. Instead, the Stephen King adaptation debuted to a sleepy $14.1 million.
A big chunk of frequent moviegoers aren’t well-versed in The Shining mythology, which opened in theaters 39 years ago, and felt no urgency to see the R-rated sequel, starring Ewan McGregor as a grown-up Danny Torrance. There was also the issue of Doctor Sleep’s running time of roughly 151 minutes, and a post-Halloween release.
Midway, chronicling the famous battle in the Pacific between American and Japanese forces, is billed as one of the most expensive indie projects ever made, and was financed primarily by Chinese money and foreign sales. Emmerich is hopeful that Midway will follow the course of Mel Gibson’s World War II pic Hacksaw Ridge, which grossed $175.2 million globally, including a robust $62 million in China, where audiences were drawn in by the scenes of the Japanese being defeated. (One difference: Hacksaw Ridge was a key player in the Oscar race.)
The film from AGC Studios stars Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, Ed Skrein and Nick Jonas. Lionsgate timed the movie’s U.S. release to Veteran’s Day, and the studio is predicting a four-day gross of $20.1 million.
In a second upset of the weekend, Paramount’s family friendly Playing With Fire beat Universal’s early holiday rom-com Last Christmas, starring Henry Golding and Emilia Clarke.
Playing With Fire grossed an estimated $12.8 million, ahead of pre-release tracking. The film, directed by Andy Fickman, stars John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane as a group of firefighters who face their most challenging job yet: babysitting.
Last Christmas debuted on the low end of expectations with $11.6 million. The Universal pic, directed by Paul Feig from a script by Emma Thompson, cost a modest $30 million to produce. The film, inspired by the famous George Michael and Wham! song, also stars Thompson and Michelle Yeoh.
In terms of audience grades, Midway earned an A despite being ravaged by many critics. Doctor Sleep and Playing with Fire each received by a B+, while Last Christmas received a lukewarm B-.
At the specialty box office, Amazon Studios opened Honey Boy in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Filmmaker Alma Har’el’s critically acclaimed film, written by and starring Shia LaBeouf, posted a strong theater average of $62,000 or more.
More to come.