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Weekend Box Office: WONKA is Sugary Sweet in 1st Place

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Wonka, courtesy of Warner Bros.

#1 = Wonka

Warner Bros.’ fantasy musical took a bite out of the box office with a first place debut of $39.0M.

That’s higher than comparable openings of December family-friendly musicals from the past decade:

  • +25% above 2014’s Into the Woods = $31.0M
  • +65% above 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns = $23.5M
  • 2.45x 2014’s Annie = $15.8M
  • 4.42x 2017’s The Greatest Showman = $8.8M (though its final $174.3M domestic total could be tough to match)

Wonka also opens above the final totals of two December-released musicals from the past five years:

  • +1% above the final total for 2021’s West Side Story = $38.5M
  • +43% above the final total for 2019’s Cats = $27.1M

Audience demographics

Wonka’s opening weekend stats include:

  • 51% female
  • 54% white, 24% Hispanic, 9% black, 8% Asian
  • 33% of revenue from premium formats
  • “A-” CinemaScore

While most films see their highest-grossing cinema location in either New York City or Los Angeles, Wonka’s was the Megaplex Jordan Commons in Salt Lake City, Utah.

#2 = The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

In its fifth frame, Lionsgate’s dystopian action prequel declined -37% to $5.8M.

Through 31 days, it’s earned $145.2M. While nobody expected it to earn as much as the four original Hunger Games films, it’s running better through the same point in release than its opening weekend would have predicted:

  • -59% below 2012’s The Hunger Games with $357.0M, after opening -70%
  • -61% below 2013’s Catching Fire with $371.7M, after opening -71%
  • -49% below 2014’s Mockingjay Part 1 with $289.3M, after opening -63%
  • -43% below 2015’s Mockingjay Part 2 with $254.4M, after opening -56%

Songbirds is also running -30% behind 2016’s Harry Potter spinoff prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them through the same point in release, with $207.7M—an improvement from its -40% opening.

Read Boxoffice PRO’s interview with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes director Francis Lawrence here:

https://www.boxofficepro.com/fading-snow-director-francis-lawrence-on-kindling-the-franchise-with-origin-story-the-hunger-games-the-ballad-of-songbirds-and-snakes/ 

#3 = The Boy and the Heron

Last frame, GKIDS’ and Studio Ghibli’s Japanese-language anime from director Hayao Miyazaki grabbed $13.0M and first place.

By last Tuesday, its fifth day of release, it had already become Miyazaki’s top-grossing film at the domestic box office.

Now in its sophomore frame, it falls -60% to $5.1M. Compared to other Miyazaki films, that sophomore drop is considerably steeper than:

  • 2002’s Spirited Away = -18%
  • 2009’s Ponyo = -32%
  • 2005’s Howl’s Moving Castle = -33%
  • 2014’s The Wind Rises = -41%

Compared to some other anime openings of recent years, Heron also falls steeper than:

  • 2012’s The Secret World of Arrietty = -33%
  • 2017’s Your Name. = -55%

However, it declines more mildly than the sophomore drops for:

  • 2019’s Weathering with You = -63%
  • April’s Suzume = -68%
  • 2022’s One Piece Film: Red = -84%

#4 = Godzilla Minus One

In its third frame, Toho International’s Japanese-language monster movie experiences a drop of “minus” 43% to $4.8M.

Through 17 days, it’s earned $34.2M. While Warner Bros.’ recent Godzilla films never provided an attainable benchmark for Minus One in terms of box office, the film is running better through the same point in release than its opening weekend would have predicted:

  • -81% below 2014’s Godzilla with $185.2M, after opening -87%
  • -63% below 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters with $94.3M, after opening -76%
  • -54% below 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong with $74.9M, after opening -64%

#5 = Trolls Band Together

In its fifth frame, Universal’s animated three-quel saw a -34% decline to $4.0M.

Through 31 days, Band has earned $88.6M. Through the same point in release, that’s -37% behind 2016’s Trolls with $135.4M, slightly worse than its -35% opening weekend.

Limited releases

Last frame, Searchlight Pictures’ Poor Things opened to $661K in nine theaters. Its $73,470 per-theater average ranks #3 of the year so far, behind only June’s Asteroid City with $142K and April’s Beau is Afraid with $80K.

Now in its sophomore frame, Poor grossed $1.2M in 82 theaters, for a $15,548 sophomore frame average.

Amazon MGM Studios’ comedy American Fiction began with an estimated $227K in seven theaters. Its $32,411 per-theater average ranks #13 of the year so far.

A24’s drama The Zone of Interest sparked much “interest” with a $124,791 debut in four theaters. Its $31,198 per-theater average ranks #14 of the year so far.


Weekend comparisons

Total box office this weekend comes in around $72.6M.

Here’s how this weekend compares to last weekend, the same weekend last year, and the same weekend in the last pre-pandemic year of 2019:

Weekend

Total

This weekend is:

Leader

Last weekend

$70.8M

+2%

The Boy and the Heron = $13.0M

Same weekend in 2022

$152.9M

-52%

Avatar: The Way of Water = $134.1M

Same weekend in 2019

$117.8M

-38%

Jumanji: The Next Level = $59.2M

YTD comparisons

Year-to-date box office stands around $8.47B.

Here’s how that compares to last year and the last pre-pandemic year of 2019:

Year

YTD total

2023 YTD now:

After last weekend:

Trend

2022

$6.87B

+23.1%

+23.1%

Even

2019

$10.50B

-19.4%

-19.3%

Down

Top distributors

Grouped by parent company, the YTD leaders are:

  1. Disney + 20th Century + Searchlight + Star: $1.88B
  2. Universal + Focus Features: $1.86B
  3. Warner Bros.: $1.18B
  4. Sony Pictures + Sony Classics + Crunchyroll + Affirm: $963.1M
  5. Paramount: $840.3M

Sunday’s Studio Weekend Estimates:

Title  Estimated weekend  % change Locations Location change Average  Total  Weekend Distributor
Wonka $39,000,000   4,203   $9,279 $39,000,000 1 Warner Bros.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes $5,800,000 -38% 3,291 -374 $1,762 $145,238,861 5 Lionsgate
The Boy and the Heron $5,172,602 -60% 2,325 120 $2,225 $23,143,285 2 GKIDS
Godzilla Minus One $4,880,000 -43% 2,622 82 $1,861 $34,257,586 3 Toho International
Trolls Band Together $4,000,000 -34% 3,157 -294 $1,267 $88,663,000 5 Universal
Wish $3,200,000 -40% 3,100 -310 $1,032 $54,274,572 4 Walt Disney
Napoleon $2,225,000 -46% 2,601 -749 $855 $57,025,000 4 Sony Pictures
Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé $2,000,000 -63% 1,723 -819 $1,161 $30,886,297 3 AMC Theatres Distribution + Variance
Poor Things $1,275,000 93% 82 73 $15,549 $2,221,764 2 Searchlight [Disney]
The Shift $1,016,217 -52% 1,583 -832 $642 $10,645,849 3 Angel Studios
Silent Night $727,560 -57% 1,172 -701 $621 $7,298,687 3 Lionsgate
Thanksgiving $515,000 -57% 1,107 -918 $465 $31,437,000 5 Sony Pictures
The Marvels $514,000 -62% 960 -740 $535 $84,009,561 6 Walt Disney
Waitress: The Musical $483,287 -83% 1,117 -97 $433 $4,842,232 2 Bleecker Street
The Holdovers $400,000 -40% 587 -336 $681 $17,197,000 8 Focus Features [Universal]
Die Hard [35th anniversary] $350,000 -63% 1,355   $258 $85,599,440   20th Century Studios [Disney]
American Fiction $226,874   7   $32,411 $226,874 1 MGM
Eileen $201,500 -66% 558 26 $361 $1,231,553 3 Neon
Dream Scenario $137,824 -77% 323 -927 $427 $5,434,594 6 A24
The Zone of Interest $124,791   4   $31,198 $124,791 1 A24
Journey to Bethlehem $90,000 -39% 272 -183 $331 $6,641,000 6 Sony Pictures
Killers of the Flower Moon $89,000 -54% 132 -115 $674 $67,113,000 9 Paramount
Radical $62,000 -48% 99 -51 $626 $8,547,059 7 Pantelion Films
Priscilla $46,644 -62% 115 -115 $406 $20,817,953 8 A24
Anatomy of a Fall $35,000 -4% 35 -11 $1,000 $3,637,180 10 Neon
Five Nights at Freddy’s $35,000 -67% 103 -162 $340 $137,251,000 8 Universal
Love Actually [20th anniversary] $25,000 -91% 124 -803 $202 $60,073,000   Universal
Next Goal Wins $24,000 -71% 105 -85 $229 $6,695,511 5 Searchlight [Disney]
Oppenheimer $24,000 -93% 122 -1,194 $197 $326,058,000 22 Universal
Anselm $17,500 -59% 2   $8,750 $73,741 2 Janus Films

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