Christmas Day entries ‘Little Women’ and ‘Uncut Gems’ both sparkled when unwrapping in theaters nationwide.
In a needed year-end gift for Hollywood after a tumultuous year at the box office, moviegoers embraced a flurry of movies over Christmas — with Cats being a notable exception to the tale.
J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was the biggest beneficiary, earning an estimated $135 million for the five-day holiday for a 10-day North American total of $361.8 million. After opening 20 percent behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi last weekend, Skywalker has almost caught up with its predecessor as it heads for the $1 billion mark in a fitting end to Disney’s unprecedented domination at the 2019 box office.
Internationally, Skywalker remained atop the chart with another $94.3 million for a foreign tally of $263 million and $724.8 million globally.
Year-end movies can expect to amass significant grosses throughout the coming week and weekend. So far, overall revenue for the Christmas corridor is up over 2018 — when there was no Star Wars pic — helping to trim the year-over-year deficit, although 2019 domestic revenue will still be down by as much as 4 percent over last year’s record $11.9 billion. The reverse is true at the international level, where revenue is projected to hit an all-time high of $30 billion, per Comscore.
Sony had two notable Christmas wins: Jumanji: The Next Level, which came in No. 2 with five-day earnings of $59 million for a domestic tally of $175.5 million, well ahead of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle at the same point in that film’s run. Overseas, Jumanji 2 grossed another $61.6 million for a worldwide haul of $771.5 million.
Sony and New Regency’s Little Women adaptation — directed by Greta Gerwig and opening Christmas Day — also delivered plenty of cheer, posting a five-day debut of $29 million, well ahead of projections. As expected, the pic was fueled by females, who made up nearly 70 percent of ticket buyers. Little Women also skewed older, with more than half the audience over 35.
Internationally, the Sony release debuted to $6.3 million in Spain and the U.K.
Little Women placed No. 4 in North America behind Rise of Skywalker, Jumanji 2 and Walt Disney Animation’s box office hit Frozen 2, which earned another $16 million-plus for the five days to pass up the first Frozen domestically and finish Sunday with a North American total of $420 million. And the sequel, with a worldwide tally of $1.217 billion, will soon pass up the first film’s global cume of $1.274 billion, not adjusted for inflation.
One yuletide offering that failed to win over audiences was Tom Hooper’s Cats, which debuted to $6.6 million last weekend. Universal and Working Title were hopeful that the family friendly musical would pick up as the holiday unfolded — much as The Greatest Showman did two years ago — but that wasn’t to be.
The $100 million event pic, which couldn’t crack the top five, came in at No. 8 with $8.8 million for the five days for a toothless domestic total of $17.9 million. It also isn’t faring well overseas so far, where it earned another $13.6 million for a global cume of $38.4 million.
Instead, kids and families went for Christmas Day opener Spies in Disguise, an animated kids pic voiced by Will Smith and Tom Holland. The Fox and Disney release, produced by Chernin Entertainment, posted a five-day debut of $22.1 million for a fifth-place finish. Overseas, it launched with $16 million for $38.1 million worldwide.
The third new film debuting nationwide Dec. 25 was A24’s Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler. The male-fueled dramedy, placing No. 7, sparkled with a five-day gross of $18.8 million for an early domestic total of $20 million despite getting pelted with a C+ Cinemascore. More than 60 percent of ticket buyers were under the age of 35.
Rian Johnson’s Knives Out — which has jumped the $100 million mark domestically and $200 million globally in a notable milestone for an original title — came in at No. 6 for the five-day holiday with $9.7 million for Lionsgate, MRC and T-Street. (MRC shares a parent company, Valence Media, with The Hollywood Reporter.) The movie’s global tally through Sunday is $214 million.
Lionsgate and Jay Roach’s Fox News drama Bombshell, which expanded nationwide last weekend, was somewhat sluggish in its sophomore outing with $4.7 million for a domestic total of $15.6 million.
Bombshell placed at No. 9, followed by Clint Eastwood’s troubled new film, Richard Jewell, which finished Sunday with a 10-day domestic total of $16.1 million.
In select cities, Bombshell and Richard Jewell faced competition for adult eyeballs from Sam Mendes’ World War I epic 1917 and Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. The latter two films launched Wednesday in 11 and four theaters, respectively.
From Amblin and Universal, 1917 posted an impressive five-day location average of $91,636 or more after securing an A CinemaScore. Warner Bros.’ Just Mercy, landing an A+ CinemaScore, reported a pleasing location average of $57,000.