‘1917’ Dominates Box Office Battlefield

With the New Year well underway, it was a changing of the guard this weekend at theaters across North America. Of the four new films opening on Friday, Universal’s Golden Globe winner 1917 had no trouble becoming the nation’s top film. Fellow new arrivals Just Mercy and Like a Boss found themselves duking it out for fourth place while Underwater drowned right out of the gate.

Following its wildly successful limited run that began on Christmas Day, 1917 expanded to 3,404 theaters Friday where it went on to earn an estimated $36.5 million. The overall domestic total for the $90 million production is $39.2 million.

The wide release of 1917 was perfectly situated between last Sunday’s Golden Globes –where the film won Best Picture: Drama and Best Director for Sam Mendes- and the upcoming Oscar nominations, which will be announced on Monday morning.

Reviews have been strong for 1917.  The drama scored a 90% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, a 79/100 on Metacritic and an “A-“ from ticket buyers polled on CinemaScore. The combination of strong notices and award consideration should help push 1917 well past the $100 million mark in North America and considerably more overseas.

Speaking of which, 1917 has earned an estimated $21.1 million from 30 international markets so far. Leading the way, not surprisingly, was the United Kingdom with $9.5 million, a U.K. record for a non-sequel opening in January.

Feeling the box office force of 1917 was Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which landed in second place with an estimated $15 million from 4,279 theaters. Down 56%, the ninth and final chapter in the Skywalker Saga has collected $478 million after one month. Fading fast, Skywalker will be lucky to make it to the $525-530 million mark by the end of its run.

Overseas, The Rise of Skywalker has fared slightly better so far, earning $511.4 million after one month. With $989.6 million in the global bank to date, Skywalker should cross the billion-dollar milestone within the next week. A great gross, but well below the previous two chapters of the recent Sequel Trilogy.

In third place with a $14 million weekend haul from 3,904 venues was Sony’s Jumanji: The Next Level. Off 47% from one week ago, the action comedy sequel has brought in $257.1 million so far. The Next Level is working its way to a $290 million final from North American theaters. Jumanji 3 has also earned $375 million overseas.

Two films found themselves tied for fourth place (actual numbers will be released on Monday afternoon). First up with $10 million from 2,375 theaters was Warner’s acclaimed legal drama Just Mercy. Combined with a two-week limited run that began on Christmas Day, Just Mercy’s overall gross is now at $10.4 million.

Feedback was strong for the Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx headliner. Mercy scored with the critics, who gave it an 82% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and a 68/100 on Metacritic. But it’s with the public where the movie really connected. They gave Just Mercy a great “A+” on CinemaScore.

Also reporting a weekend gross of $10 million from 3,078 theaters was Paramount’s Like a Boss. The R-rated comedy starring Rose Byrne, Tiffany Haddish and Salma Hayek got pink-slipped by the critics -21% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and a 32/100 on Metacritic- but shown a little bit of love from the public, who gave the $29 million production a “B” on CinemaScore.

  1.  Little Women (Sony) $7.65 million (-44%); $74 million
  2.  Underwater (Fox/Disney) $7 million

Shot three years ago, this waterlogged sci-fi flick starring Kristen Stewart was quietly dumped into 2,791 this weekend where it was met with bad reviews and an Abyss-mal “C” letter grade from viewers on CinemaScore.

  1. Frozen II (Disney) $5.76 million (-51%); $459 million
  2. Knives Out (Lionsgate) $5.72 million (-36%); $139.6 million
  3. Spies in Disguise (Fox/Disney) $5.1 million (-51%); $54.6 million

For the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday next weekend, Sony will debut Bad Boys for Life and Universal will open Dolittle. Watch for 1917 to battle it out for the top spot with Bad Boys 3.

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