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A rough weekend for Oscar hopefuls at the Box Office

by Nathaniel R

What did you see over the weekend? Though a lot of Oscar hopefuls struggled, this weekend was but the preamble to a big holiday weekend so this coming week will tell a much broader story of which films the public is responding too. More commentary after the jump...

Weekend Box Office 
(Nov 16-18)

800+ screens
excluding prev. wide
1 🔺   Fantastic Beasts 2 $62.1 on 4163 screens *NEW*
1 🔺 Boy Erased $1.3 on 409 screens (cum. $2.6) Podcast 
Dr Seuss' The Grinch $38.5 on 4141 screens (cum. $126.9) Posterized 
2🔺 Can You Ever Forgive Me $893k on 555 screens (cum. $5) ReviewPodcast
Bohemian Rhapsody  $16 on 3810 screens  (cum. $128.2) ReviewPodcast
Beautiful Boy $582k on 558 screens 
(cum. $6.4) Podcast 
4 🔺 Instant Family $14.5 on 3286 screens *NEW*  Free Solo $467k on 187 screens (cum. $8.9)
5🔺Widows $12.3 on 2803 screens *NEW* Review, Podcast
5 🔺  Green Book $320k on 25 screens *NEW* Review, Podcast
6 The Nutcracker and... $4.7 on 2635 screens (cum. $43.9) Review 
Johnny English Strikes Again $115k on 77 screens (cum. $4.2)
A Star is Born $4.2 on 2010 screens (cum. $185.7) ReviewSoundtrackingPodcast
🔺Maria By Callas $96k on 29 screens (cum. $470k) 
Overlord $3.7 on 2859 screens (cum. $17.6)
Suspiria $95k on 53 screens (cum. $2.2) Podcast 
The Girl in the Spider's Web $2.5 (cum. $13.2) 
9 🔺 At Eternity's Gate $92k on 4 screens 
*NEW* Review
10 Burn the Stage: The Movie $2.4 (cum. $3.6) *NEW*
10 🔺 The Front Runner $75k on 22 screens (cum. $166k) ReviewPodcast
🔺 = new or expanding theater count
numbers (in millions unless otherwise noted) from box office mojo 


Some notes...

• About the disappointing returns for Oscar hopefuls. It doesn't necessarily spell doom. As Murtada pointed out on the podcast, if all the Oscar hopefuls are tanking, it might matter a lot less to each of them. On the other hand it's surely to early to tell about a lot of them since Oscar hopefuls tend to stay in theaters a long time (if not as huge swaths of them) and get several boosts along the way in public awareness if they start faring well with critics awards, top ten lists, word of mouth, or other nominations. The Front Runner and Green Book, for example are both star driven and will amp up publicity efforts when they expand. 

• That result for Widows though is a head-scratcher. With so many stars, an exciting trailer, and great reviews... what is it that kept the mainstream public from rushing to it?

• I found this bit interesting from box office mojo. Look at how closely Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born are performing. They're neck and neck, the main difference being that A Star is Born had a smaller budget and a smaller opening weekend but a better hold each weekend (thus far).


Free Solo is now losing screens but it's reasonable to hope that it will hit $10 million before it closes in what has been an inarguably sensational box office year for documentaries; if it hits $10 million it will be the FOURTH documentary this year to pass into 8 figures (by contrast just one did last year). Won't You Be My Neighbor ($22.6), RBG ($14), and Three Identical Strangers ($12.3) already accomplished that rare mark in 2018. Which of those four biggest dc hits do you think will manage Oscar nominations for Best Documentary?

• In a generally weak weekend for moviegoing, At Eternity's Gate had the best per screen average.

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Reader Comments (37)

I saw Widows this weekend and am sad to say that I felt a little underwhelmed. It's entertaining. I felt like it tried to weave a million different things in, and that it felt a little too effortful. The cast was good--surprisingly the standout for me was not Davis, who basically has been giving this performance every week on How to Get Away with Murder. Daniel Kaluuya and Elizabeth Debicki were MVPs--both were fabulous, and Kaluuya was genuinely terrifying.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

I saw Fantastic Beasts 2 and loved it!!!

loved it! loved it! it is my favorite blockbuster of the year till now.

I am going to see

Cold War
The Cake Maker
A Star is Born
First Man
Wild Life (probably)

till the end of the weekend. Can't wait!

no one ask, but I like to know from others TFE readers: till now, which are your favorites movies of the year?

mine: Incredibles 2, Fantastic Beasts 2, Ready Player One, Tully, Custody.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjon

Is The Front Runner even going to expand? My friend in Boston retweeted a notice from her local art theater stating that they had cancelled their expected showing.

I am seeing Free Solo today, Widows tomorrow, and Green Book on Friday, so yes, a lot of people do see movies Thanksgiving week. But A Star Is Born definitely looks good as it is chugging along as some of these expected hits disappoint.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I watched BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. It surprisingly reminded me of The Iron Lady and that is not a compliment.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterFR

I will probably see multiple movies over the holiday, and am hoping to catch Widows during that period. And hopefully A Star is Born also because I have not been the best moviegoer this year.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPoliVamp

I saw Beautiful Boy and while I admired the acting, the film is just too predictable, and too much of a PSA for confronting addiction. Most annoying of all was the fractured time line of the first half, which made no sense, in addition to being completely unnecessary.

Widows was great. Loved everything about it. Robert Duvall hasn't bestirred himself to give such a powerful performance in ages. His part is small but he gets in there and steals every scene he's in.

Border has to be one of the weirder movies of the year, and is completely successful - as comedy, as horror, as romance, as whatever the hell else it's trying to be. With all that uglifying makeup the two leads wear, I'll bet Charlize Theron is on the phone with her agent right now trying to get the lead in the American remake. Whether it gets an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film I don't know - it's such a competitive year - but I'm predicting it gets a Makeup & Hairstyle nomination. It's deserving.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

I think Widows was originally supposed to be come out in August or something and in retrospect it probably should have stuck to that. There are a ton of options in theaters right now and it sort of got lost in the shuffle.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMJS

Caught up on some oldies....

Paris is Burning and Klute with Jane Fonda & Donald Sutherland.... enjoyed Paris Is Burning....really interesting to watch and now I can't wait for Pose (Season #2)....

Klute was an interesting acting showcase by Fonda....

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterceebee

I saw CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? and WIDOWS and I expected to absolutely love them. Instead I just really, really liked them. That said the acting in both is TREMENDOUS and especially for WIDOWS I'm shocked at that box office result. The cast and that trailer should've at least guaranteed a better opening than what it did. The fact that it made LESS THAN the third weekend of BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is a bit of a travesty.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Didn't see any movie in the theatre.

Binge-watched Homecoming on Amazon Prime -- gripping and absorbing. Julia Roberts and Stephan James shine, but the MVPs were Shea Whigham and Marianne Jean-Baptiste.

Saw Episode 6 of The Romanoffs called "Panorama". Not sure what to make of it. The landscape is a major character in this episode. While I have been tolerant of the loose ends in other episodes and call it as idiomatic Matthew Weiner-isms, there is little to hold one's interest here except the landscapes and the languorous pace that show more of the sense of place than anything. The two leads are lovely to look at but a bit anodyne. The big reveal did not engage me, much less convince me. I am sure I'll see details in repeated viewing but I am not sure I will revisit anytime soon.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

Widows does not have any box office stars. Audiences are unimpressed. I feel bad for Viola, but I am not surprised it is tanking.

Thank God for Better Call Saul seasons I missed. The episodes are helping me get through the California fires.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJono

I really enjoyed "Widows" but I think it walks a line between trusting the audience enough not to underline everything and leaving genuine gaps and flaws. Sometimes it feels a little too screenwriting-handbook, and sometimes it goes on weird tangents that a more commercial film wouldn't think to include. It's a satisfying whole, somehow, but the actual content and structure is so spiky and choppy and strange.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

I am thankful for AMC A List and the continually diminishing yet still useful Moviepass. I had an incredible movie watching week - I caught Burning, Widows, Green Book, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and A Private War.

Burning was frustrating in the moment, but kept revisiting in my head for three days and I think was the best of those five films. I also really enjoyed The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - when you make six episodes, a couple are bound to be worse than the others and that was the case, but overall continued intriguing material from the Coens.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMike C

Widows - Terrific performances, riveting story if a bit far-fetched in execution. The performances, though, carry the film's premise about the messes women are left to clean. I loved Viola Davis and Elizabeth Debicki in this and I hope we see more of Cynthia Erivo in movies and hopefully singing in them. Grade: B+

Burning - A slow burn, emphasis on slow. It's a film that demands focus from the viewer. The entire film basically plays out in the viewer's mind as we analyze and interpret the motivations of each character. Like Widows, it's a social commentary on its particular setting. This one about the economic divide between the haves and have nots in Seoul. Grade: B

Cold War - A gorgeous, episodic history of a romance that is most likely doomed. It's a short film and left me wanting more time with these characters. Like Ida before it, the film left me cold even while admiring its artistry. Grade: B

Piercing - A one-note joke featuring a sensational performance by Mia Wasikowska. It has style, verve and a sense of humor, but the film doesn't try to do anything more with its premise. It feels like a wasted opportunity. Still, I think Nicolas Pesce is a promising filmmaker and will develop more substance as he goes along. Grade: C+

Everybody Knows - When Asghar Farhadi's films work, he is able to burrow into various human failings. His films are harrowing tragedies because his characters are so human. "Everybody Knows," though, isn't a great Farhadi film. While it features great work from both Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz and has a strong, riveting interplay between other characters, the film is nothing more than a sophisticated soap opera set in a lovely Spanish town. I grew frustrated with the film. Unlike "The Salesman' or "A Separation" where tragedy happens due to very human intentions, in "Everybody Knows" tragedy occurs because characters are acting stupid for some reason. Farhadi's hand of God is too apparent here. Grade: C+

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - It's an entertaining lark from the Coen Brothers. I very much enjoyed almost all of the six stories. It starts off hilariously with Tim Blake Nelson as the titular singing gunman and features one of the funniest killings I've ever seen. It was so funny I had to keep rewinding it. The James Franco one is fine but forgettable. The Liam Neeson one was tragic but also feels incomplete. The Coens save the best with the last three stories. Tom Waits is amazing as an old prospector. Zoe Kazan and Bill Heck lead an achingly romantic story set during a wagon train to Oregon. These two were my favorite. The latter's conclusion seems unfair but it's in keeping with the Coens' brand of nihilism. The last story set in a stagecoach is wonderfully eerie and features Tyne Daly and Brendan Gleeson. Grade: B+

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Did you guys really expected Widows to do better than that?

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Even the studio was hoping Widows would do better. But Viola is not a draw and the lady revenge concept seemed like a downer?

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSRB

I wasn't trying to be too cynical, but it's the same song every week. You can't feed audiences for almost two decades with reboots, sequels and Marvel and expect them to immediately recognize greatness.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Widows BO success rested on Viola and to a lesser extent McQueen but as someone pointed it's a downer of a film for this time of year plus as no one has yet pointed it's a 2 hr plus film and audiences are resistant to lengthy running times.

I we now to count Viola out she hasn't got the momentum so step forward all those most had ruled out Mulligan,Collette & Pike.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Mulligan and Pike are not getting in, and Collette still faces some big hurdles. Emily Blunt, however...

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

"That result for Widows though is a head-scratcher. With so many stars, an exciting trailer, and great reviews..." I have to say that I found the trailer underwhelming, and I'm not sure why. The cast is, of course, excellent, but they're not magnet-to-the-theater stars for most people (can you imagine an ordinary person beyond the coasts saying "lets go see the new Viola Davis flick?") As for that trailer... again... not sure why it underwhelmed me. Maybe it just seemed to me like the trailer for something you'd see on Netflix or Amazon prime or, more to the point, BBC America. Even the great reviews are kind of damning it with a kind of faint praise: "Only a genre film..."

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDan H

I think people really want cheering up at the cinema at the moment and it did look like BBC heist dram with low wattage actors and Viola doing a spin on her TV character although it's a good spin like her Fences performance was a spin on The Help/Doubt,the supporting cast all have moments though.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Jackie Brown was Tarantino's Pulp Fiction followup casting a Black actress in midlife as his lead. The people were hesitant and there were complaints about length and pacing. Both movies resolve themselves in very low stake ways. I think of Widows as a work of art that'll be fine for the foreseeable when people watch it at home.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Except no one will watch it on TV. It’s a major flop. Viola has bad B.O. and her collapse is complete.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJulia Roberts

Wildlife - I hope this settles well with me and I'm eager for a rewatch. I loved Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal. The cinematography is gorgeous and the production design is really subtle and effective. I don't buy how fast Carey Mulligan's transformation happens. It took me out of the movie and I think it's a problem in the writing and not her performance, but we'll see how I feel when I get around to rewatching it.

Widows - Here's the thing about Widows. It's delicious. It made me feel good. Life is short. If you want to live in a yurt, yurt it up. If you want to run a marathon, that sounds super hard, but ok. Just do you, whatever that is. If you want to give Elizabeth Debicki every award, GIVE HER EVERY AWARD. Elizabeth Debicki for Best Supporting Actress, because we can.

FBAWTFTTCOG - What a mess. I love the costumes and the production design and the little eyepopping moments of magic and creature design. I also love Newt. He is such an atypical protagonist and I would love to write a thinkpiece on masculinity, male fantasy protagonists and how much Newt subverts. But wowww, this felt like reading a vague wikipedia summary of an 1000 page book. Completely all over the place and very little makes sense. And it's a testament to how good Zoe Kratitz is that she makes one of the most ridiculous backstories I've ever seen in anything *almost* work.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterchasm301

I haven't seen Bohemian Rhapsody, but I wouldn't be shocked if Malek made some strides in the Best Actor race despite the reviews.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

I saw Bohemian Rhapsody.

I half-heartedly went into the theatre, thinking this is not really my thing.
But I loved it!

Spectacular music, great ensemble cast, heroic lead.

I liked its take on artistry being a process of change and reinvention. I liked the camaraderie of the band, and how different viewpoints can meet to create something original. I liked its view of the audience as individuals with multiple personas also, who also change, evolve, and risk.

It made me remember (again) how reactionary A Star is Born is, with it’s wtf message of the more Gaga-ish Lady Gaga becomes, the more “inauthentic” she is. As although authenticity is never changing, never experimenting, and conforming to a man’s view of what you “should” be.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteradri

I saw "Widows" this weekend and while I loved it, I completely understand why some audiences may not be feeling it as much. While It is a fairly standard action-thriller, the heavy themes involving race, gender and class may be too much for some who aren't looking for that in their popcorn fare.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony

I saw "Overlord" a WW 2-monster movie mash up which really should have been called "Night of the Nazi Zombies" Very gory and a bit too brutal- the movie does work on a horror level- great make up. The most interesting thing about is that the lead Jovan Adepo is black but no one in the film seems to make an issue of it -which is kind of strange for a film set in 1940s.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - largely toothless. A few stories were engaging but either ended abruptly or meandered. I was also disappointed that the cinematography was lacking; something you can usually rely on with the Coens but not in this case.

The Wife - she didn't have much in terms of material to work with but Glenn Close's performance was great. I can't believe people have Gaga in front of in terms of the Best Actress race.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

Re-watches of Inside Out and Taken and a first-timer in Bridget Jones' Baby (it was alright).

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Welllll... Wow. What a terrific theme, but what a disjointed movie. BOY ERASED.

The last 5 minutes saved the movie for me. The rest was dark ( cinematography ) and really poorly constructed.

We stayed until the end, but three groups of people left in the middle.

I have to do a shout out for Lucas Hedges... he is one of the best young leading men around.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrdf

rdf, Every time I see a movie where the cinematography seems "too dark" I just assume the projection system is to blame. There are at least two common reasons this happens and most theaters don't care to make sure their films are being projected with the correct luminosity. When I saw Wonderstruck, it looked like the image was being projected through a pair of "noir" pantyhose.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDan H

Thanks for the info... but this was the most elegant theater in Palm Springs! It was a bad movie. IMO

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrdf's a 2 hr plus film and audiences are resistant to lengthy running times.

WIDOWS was shorter than A STAR IS BORN and BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. So maybe they needed to add music? Oh, and it's also shorter than the top two highest grossing films of the year, BLACK PANTHER and INFINITY WAR (but of course that's comparing oranges to apples).

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

MDA about your last sentence, to quote Violet Chachki: "No one says that, but yes"

November 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHans

Saw Boy Erased which just got better as it went along. Loved Kidman (of course) and the last scene between Hedges and Crowe blew me away. Terrific film.

November 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

I saw PRACTICAL MAGIC for the first time since my childhood. I probably didn’t need to see it again.

Saw SUSPIRIA (2018) again on an even bigger screen. Still glad to be among those that love it.

WIDOWS... is fine. A letdown. It gets worse upon reflection and discussion. The men are boring. Viola is excellent, the other women are very good. Weak screenplay. It should’ve been a limited series, honestly.

November 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

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