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‘Joker’ Could Be Headed for $1 Billion, but ‘Gemini Man’ Is a Box-Office Disaster

Tom Brueggemann

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Pre-weekend gross assessments are always, at best, an educated guess. The public has a way of deciding for itself, and often at the last minute. “Joker” held better than expected, dropping 43% to $55 million. Most prognoses suggested $48 million or below (our guess was $50 million).

Then, consensus held that “Gemini Man” and “The Addams Family” would vie closely for second place. Instead, the animated reboot of comic-TV show-film franchise scored an easy victory over Ang Lee’s $135 million action film; even star Will Smith couldn’t prevent the disastrous initial numbers.

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It’s a quasi-holiday weekend with Columbus Day, which will likely to boost numbers Sunday and Monday. At $138 million, that’s about $40 million less than the 2018 holiday weekend, which took place a week earlier.

Year to date still shows the box office down about $525 million compared to 2018, over 5.5%, and it’s highly unlikely to make up that difference.

Not that it matters for Todd Phillips’ backstory of D.C. Comics’ most charismatic character. After its $96 million opening set an October record, its impressive 43% drop is on par with two superhero movies that became word-of-mouth favorites after strong openings: “Wonder Woman” and “Black Panther.”

That success was foretold by strong weekday numbers. Concerns about safety issues appear to have been for naught, and controversy often helps a film as long as there is strong favorable response mixed in with the naysayers. Worldwide, it’s now at $544 million for a film that cost a thrifty $65 million. It could approach $1 billion.

“Hotel Transylvania” paved the way for pre-Halloween animated films, although “The Addams Family” didn’t quite reach that level. Its opening was strong, but not close to the 1991 live-action film that opened to (adjusted) $52 million and ultimately $243 million domestic. Still, this return is a real boost for the revived United Artists (a combine that includes Annapurna, MGM, UA, and Orion titles). And it has the rest of the month to thrive.

Coming off of “Aladdin,” Will Smith’s failed venture into Denzel Washington-style action genre movies won’t hurt him much. For Ang Lee, however, he’s now floundered twice after a career high with “The Life of Pi.” His 2016 “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” failed to gross even $2 million in North America, but it could be brushed off. A $20 million opening for the costly “Gemini Man,” which likely tops out at $50 million domestic, is awful.

Even if it gets to $200 million worldwide, Paramount and its partners are looking at a major loss. What had been projected to gross around $30 million came in a third lower. Yes, reviews were awful, but this wasn’t aimed at a critic-influenced audience. The pull of “Joker” might have hurt but whatever caused it, the result is bad.

“Jexi” was far worse, as expected. The Adam Devine comedy took in a bit over $3 million in a low-key release that went nowhere. It’s a sad end to an otherwise strong run by CBS Films, which going forward will provide content for CBS All Access.

Three films with strong female appeal all held quite well. “Downton Abbey” placed highest at #5, down 39%. It should reach $100 million. “Hustlers” will be there in a few days. It dropped 40% and placed sixth. “Judy” dropped only 29% in its third weekend, for seventh place.

“Abominable” was fourth, down 48% and hurt by “Addams Family.” Although still viable, it will need foreign help, particularly in China, to get by.

Not in the Top Ten, but in 13th place is “Parasite,” the South Korean film that platformed in only three theaters for an incredible $376,000. More on this and other specialized films here.

The Top Ten

1. Joker (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$55,000,000 (-43%) in theaters (no change); PTA (per theater average): $12,574; Cumulative: $192,729,000

2. The Addams Family (United Artists) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 45; Est. budget: $(unknown)

$30,298,000 in 4,007 theaters; PTA: $7,561; Cumulative: $30,298,000

3. Gemini Man (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 39; Est. budget: $135 million

$20,500,000 in 3,642 theaters; PTA: $5,629; Cumulative: $20,500,000

4. Abomination (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$6,170,000 (-48%) in 3,496 theaters (-752); PTA: $1,765; Cumulative: $47,971,000

5. Downton Abbey (Focus) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$4,900,000 (-39%) in 3,018 theaters (-529); PTA: $1,623; Cumulative: $82,688,000

6. Hustlers (STX) Week 5; Last weekend #4

$3,850,000 (-40%) in 2,357 theaters (-673); PTA: $2,357; Cumulative: $98,015,000

7. Judy (Roadside Attractions) Week 3; Last weekend #6

$3,255,000 (-%) in 1,627 (+169); PTA: $2,001; Cumulative: $14,974,000

8. It: Chapter Two (Warner Bros.) Week 6; Last weekend #5

$3,225,000 (-29%) in 2,303 theaters (-860); PTA: $1,400; Cumulative: $207,135,000

9. Jexi (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 41; Est. budget: $5 million

$3,100,000 in 2,332 theaters; PTA: $1,329; Cumulative: $3,100,000

10. Ad Astra (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend #7

$1,947,000 (-53%) in 1,678 theaters (-1.232); PTA: $1,160; Cumulative: $47,035,000

 

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