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Box Office Breakdown: “1917” Shatters Expectations in Post-Globe-Win Wide Release

This past weekend was stacked with new wide releases helping kick off the new year after only “The Grudge” offered something fresh in the opening weekend of 2020. Two potential award season contenders expanded to wide release including the now-Golden Globe winning “1917” while two other brand new films looked the challenge holdovers as four of the big five studios introduced projects to the masses. After surprising by winning the two biggest awards at the Globes, was “1917” able to capitalize on the buzz and earn a successful opening or did another film find its way to the top? Let’s find out in this week’s Box Office Breakdown for the second weekend of January 2020.

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After scoring the Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director honors at the Golden Globes, “1917” officially opened to mass audiences after only being shown in eleven theaters for its first two weeks. Universal’s latest success after a monster 2019, “1917” technically became a 2019 release in order to qualify for the awards but mainstream audiences had to wait a while to see it and turned out in a big way to support the World War I flick to the tune of $36.5 million. This is over $10 million above original expectations for the film and beat out most industry high marks showing that Golden Globe success can still be a driver for great box office numbers even in an age where the masses seem to have turned on award shows. Worldwide the film has reached over $60 million and obtained excellent scores from both critics and audiences. With the Oscar nominations being announced today revealing ten nominations for the war flick, Sam Mendes’ love letter to his grandfather’s World War I stories could be the first major box office smash of 2020 if the award’s buzz continues to generate interest. You can read my review of “1917” by clicking here…spoiler alert, it was awesome.

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Second and third place belonged to some familiar names. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” finally relinquished its top spot with a $15 million weekend, much less than half of “1917’s” take. “Jumanji: The Next Level” fell to third with $14 million. In fourth and fifth we actually have an undecided battle too close to call. The new comedy “Like a Boss” and the expanded wide release of “Just Mercy” each drew $10 million over the weekend making the battle a virtual tie without Monday actuals. While I’ve decided to skip “Like a Boss” I do plan on seeing “Just Mercy” very soon especially seeing as the film just picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay this morning. These two films forced “Little Women” out of the top five to sixth while in seventh we have the final new entry in the top ten for the weekend, “Underwater”. I chose to see this 20th Century Fox “Alien”-esque horror flick and I rather enjoyed it. You can read my full review by clicking here. However, I seem to have been in a minority of people interested in what it had to offer. “Underwater” sank in its debut only earning $7 million as the latest flop in Fox’s holdovers releases after Disney’s acquisition. Rounding out the top ten were Disney’s “Frozen II” followed by “Knives Out” and “Spies in Disguise”. Last week’s only new film, “The Grudge” was bumped from the top ten in only its second weekend while “Uncut Gems”, “Bombshell” and “Cats” also fell into the teens.

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It will be fun to see how much holdover potential “1917” has especially in light of its ten Oscar nominations. But it’s got some heavy competition to hold off. Two new films with big names will challenges this coming weekend. Sony will release the third, and allegedly final, “Bad Boys” movie “Bay Boys for Life” with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence returning to their iconic roles that have been dormant since 2003. Robert Downey, Jr. will make his first big screen appearance since his final moments as Tony Stark in “Avengers: Endgame” last year as the titular doctor who can speak to animals in the cinematic reboot of the D.r Doolittle character simply called “Doolittle” from Universal. We’ll see if either of these features are able to wrestle the lead from “1917” this time next week.

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