Box Office Report: 'Thor' Brings the Thunder Again, But 'Daddy' and 'Express' Make Noise Too

Box Office Report: 'Thor' Brings the Thunder Again, But 'Daddy' and 'Express' Make Noise Too

Nov 13, 2017

Thor: RagnarokHere's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Thor: Ragnarok - $56.6 million ($211.5 million total)
2. Daddy’s Home 2 - $30.0 million ($30.0 million total)
3. Murder on the Orient Express - $28.2 million ($28.2 million total)
4. A Bad Moms Christmas - $11.5 million ($39.8 million total)
5. Jigsaw - $3.4 million ($34.3 million total)
6. Tyler Perry’s Boo 2!: A Madea Halloween - $2.0 million ($45.9 million total)
7. Geostorm - $1.5 million ($31.6 million total)
8. Blade Runner 2049 - $1.4 million ($88.0 million total)
9. Happy Death Day - $1.3 million ($54.9 million total)
10. Lady Bird - $1.2 million ($1.7 million total)
The Big Stories
Thor: Ragnarok kicked off the holiday season in fine fashion last weekend with the sixth-highest November opening ever; behind three Twilights, a Hunger Games and a Harry Potter. Typically after such a kickoff the time comes for some alternative programming before the next mega-wannabe-blockbuster challenges everyone a week before Thanksgiving. Check out this chart of the second-weekend November openers:
Skyfall ($88.3), Thor: The Dark World ($85.7), Quantum of Solace ($67.5), 2012 ($65.2), 8 Mile ($51.2), Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls ($37.8), Interview with the Vampire ($36.3), Dumb and Dumber To ($36.1), Ransom ($34.2), Immortals ($32.2), Pokemon: The First Movie ($31.0), Bram Stoker’s Dracula ($30.5), Daddy’s Home 2 ($30.0), Murder on the Orient Express ($28.2), Master & Commander ($25.1), Jack and Jill ($25.0), Arrival ($23.4), The Polar Express ($23.3), Unstoppable ($22.6), Shallow Hal ($22.5), The Santa Clause ($19.3), Fred Claus ($18.5).
This year’s offerings give audiences something for adults who may still not have caught up with an 80 year-old novel and a 40-year old movie and a sequel geared towards families who may not have actually needed one. Regardless, both of them did fairly well and the November box office looks quite healthy.
Raise Your Hand If You Know the Ending
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express was indeed written in 1934 (when the new film actually takes place.) It was adapted into an Oscar-nominated (six nominations and one victory) film by Sidney Lumet in 1974. Alfred Molina starred as Hercule Poirot for a TV movie in 2001 and David Suchet’s Poirot took it on for British television in 2010. Not to mention there has been a Japanese miniseries and a video game. Shockingly enough though, Agatha Christie has not been adapted for an American theatrical release since Cannon Films attempted Ten Little Indians back in 1989 with Donald Pleasance, Brenda Vaccaro and Frank Stallone. The cast for Kenneth Branagh’s version is much more impressive even if its critical score is decidedly mixed.
The 2017 film slinked below a “fresh” rating to 59% at Rotten Tomatoes as the film’s reviews finally trickled in by Friday. But a $28.2 million weekend is a fine start for the film. (A matinee I attended on Friday was very well attended and there seemed to be genuine surprise by the ending.) It is hard to judge its potential progress moving forward, since the bulk of the November releases that have opened between $25-30 million have been family or animated films (The Muppets, Toy Story, The Santa Clause 2, Space Jam, The Rugrats Movie, Flubber, Bolt, Penguins of Madagascar, Aladdin). 
Of the seven other films, they have ranged as high as $128 million (Borat) down to $61 million (Ender’s Game). However, if we break it down to the most comparable films by opening gross and scores by RT and audiences (Bad Grandpa, Jarhead, The Purge: Anarchy, Starsky and Hutch, Step Brothers, The Interpreter), we’re looking at an average multiple of 2.90, which would give it a first estimate of $80 million. If it can manage that and then grab another $85 million overseas (where it's made $57.2 million so far), the $55 million production will be in the black for Fox.
More Like Granddaddy’s Home
Say what you will about Daddy’s Home, a 31%-approved comedy that is not exactly mentioned in the same breath as many of Will Ferrell’s more quoted comedies, but it remains the second highest-grossing live-action film of his career after just Elf. It was a huge surprise opening on Christmas Day in 2015 to over $38 million and went on to make over $150 million. Did it really need a sequel, though?
The answer from critics with a 13% is a resounding no. (The score has since risen to 16%.) The answer from a struggling Paramount is a necessary yes. Quite bluntly they NEED this movie. Greenlit four months after the release of the first movie, the film started filming just this past March to get it ready for a holiday release. Since the first film hit theaters, Paramount has had precisely three films they could label a success at the box office: 10 Cloverfield Lane, Arrival and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, thanks to $300 million in overseas sales. After a midyear populated by the failures of Ghost in the Shell, Baywatch and Transformers: The Last Knight, the writing is on the wall. They NEED Daddy’s Home 2.
So what did they do? They spent $69 million on the film. Somebody over at Paramount should have known that the law of averages on sequels to average movies at best suggest a lower overall take. Look no further than last week with A Bad Moms Christmas, who clearly knew to only raise their budget from $20 to $28 million. Daddy’s Home 2 went up from $50 million and now has to hope it makes roughly $207 million worldwide to turn a profit. The first film made $242 million and we’ve already established that $150 million was in the U.S. 
Even if we optimistically give it $75 million internationally, there is little chance the film is headed for over $130 million in the U.S., let alone maybe even $100 million. If we were to apply a similar formula as we did to Murder on the Orient Express, we can look at films that opened between $20-30 million with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 12-14%. That puts Daddy’s Home 2 in this territory.
After Earth, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, The Bounty Hunter, The Haunted Mansion, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Hide and Seek, Ice Age: Collision Course, Little Man, Safe Haven, The Ugly Truth, Zookeeper.
Ouch! Though the average multiple for that list is a strong 3.18, if you take the Chipmunks out of that it falls back down to 2.93. Still, Paramount would like to be optimistic. Except that the stronger average only extends to $95 million. That means it would be looking for $112 million internationally. And what was the highest international gross ever for a live-action Will Ferrell film? Daddy’s Home. With $92 million.
Tales of the Top Ten (and Beyond)
Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok was once again the story at the box office. A 54% dip is about right, though it could take a comparable one next weekend as well when Justice League opens. So where does a domestic take of $211 million put the big guy, aside from helping its international take to over $650 million?
International alone has already surpassed Wonder Woman and Logan and is now only $35 million away from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Well, it is slightly ahead of Spider-Man: Homecoming, which ended up with over $334 million, in part to a lackluster August where it could just grow and grow. There is really little doubt now that the $300 million milestone is inevitable. A pace similar to Homecoming would actually bring Ragnarok to within $50 million of the combined grosses of the first two Thor films. 
The rest of the Top Ten does not deserve a lot of commentary. Earning $44 million in overseas sales, Jigsaw is a success for Lionsgate. Warner Bros.’ Geostorm is about to pass $200 million worldwide, but is still about $150 million away from getting out of the red alongside Blade Runner 2049
However, the Top Ten does have a real winner this week with the very impressive inclusion of A24’s Lady Bird, which in just 37 theaters pulled in a cool $1.2 million. You would have to go back to 2011 to find two movies that pulled off such a feat in their opening weekend, let alone its first expansion. Alexander Payne’s The Descendants opened to $1.19 million in 29 theaters and Kevin Hart’s concert film Laugh At My Pain opened to $1.9 million in just 98. The response to Greta Gerwig’s film has been tremendous and may even find itself a potential Best Picture nominee. If the audiences continue to show up at this pace, it will be hard to ignore.
In other Best Picture news, Martin McDonaugh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Misouri opened to $320,000 in just four theaters. That’s the second best four-theater opening of the year, behind just the $375,612 of, you guessed it, Lady Bird.

If you want to listen to Erik Childress’ Holiday Box Office Prediction Show, you can download the podcast.
Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.
[Box office figures via Box Office Mojo.]

Categories: Features, Geek, Indie, Box office
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