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Box Office Breakdown: “Onward” Wins Weekend But Falls Short of Expectations

Well the opening weekend for Pixar’s first film of the new decade wasn’t the spectacular showing the studio is used to, but it was a still a solid weekend in spite of fears that the coronavirus would impact theater audiences and despite controversy over the film’s minuscule inclusion of the studio’s first openly gay character on screen. “Onward” owned the weekend easily while other newcomers helped shuffle a relatively stagnant top ten as the industry exits the dump months and moves into the spring movie season and pre-blockbuster rush. Let’s look at how everything shook out in this week’s Box Office Breakdown for the second weekend of March 2020.

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“Onward” scored a $40 million domestic debut which is on the low end of Pixar’s track record and the lowest end of pre-weekend expectations. Despite positive reviews and word of mouth it seems that some audiences chose to avoid the film due to the announcement that a very minor blink-and-you’ll-miss-her character was a member of the LGBTQ community. While there were fears that the coronavirus would impact theater viewership “Onward” was the only film of the weekend that lagged so far behind its expected audience highs. That doesn’t make “Onward” a failure though as school vacation is on the horizon and could lead to strong holdover numbers for the animated feature. Overseas the film earned $28 million with a few markets yet to see the film’s debut including China which has yet to see a release date announced due, likely, to the impact of the coronavirus on the country. You can read my review of “Onward” by clicking here.

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Coming in second was last week’s winner “The Invisible Man” which earned over $15 million in its sophomore weekend. That brings the horror feature to over $52 million domestically which is a huge win for Universal Studios after several flops over the last three months and two previously failed attempts to revitalize their Universal Monsters brand. Internationally the film earned another $17.3 million. In third was the second new entry into the top five for the weekend, “The Way Back”. The Ben Affleck-led sports drama earned $8 million domestically in its opening weekend, right in the sweet spot of expectations, on the strength of positive reviews especially for Affleck’s performance. You can read my review of that film by clicking here. Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” finished fourth while “The Call of the Wild” ended its third week in fifth.

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In the back half of the top ten we find the expanded release of “Emma”. The latest cinematic version of Jane Austen’s novel expanded to over 1,500 theaters in its second weekend earning $5 million for a total two-weekend gross of $6.9 million domestically. The film has also earned $14 million overseas to date. You can read my review to see what I thought by clicking here. Rounding out the top ten in descending order were “Bad Boys for Life” which finally became the first film to crack the $200 million mark domestically in 2020, “Birds of Prey”, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” and “My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising”. Golden Globe winner “1917” and horror letdowns “The Boy II” and “Fantasy Island” all dropped out of the top ten.

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“Onward” will have some interesting and somewhat unpredictable competition this weekend with three new movies entering wide release. The religious themed “I Still Believe” will debut from Lionsgate, the Vin Diesel-led comic book adaptation “Bloodshot” will hit the big screen and “The Hunt” will finally be released after controversy over its violence and politically-charged commentary led it to be tabled in 2019. We’ll take a look this time next week to see if any of them have the muscle to take down Pixar.

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