Written by Dapo Olowu
After two weeks of no new major releases, we’d be forgiven for expecting ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ to open big this Box Office weekend, or at least break the $40m barrier.
Still, it swung in at $35.4m, meaning it takes the record as December’s biggest ever animated start anyway, beating out the likes of ‘Sing’ from 2016 ($35.3m). ‘Sing’ makes for an apt comparison – its $75m budget is just a shade under ‘Spider-Man’s $90m, and the musical’s eventual $270.4m domestic finish potentially signals a long, leggy ‘Jumanji’-like run for the Sony animation.
For such a run to be had, however, ‘Spider-Man’ must benefit from overwhelmingly positive word of mouth reviews – which it has in excess. Boasting 97% on the Tomatometer and an A+ on Cinemascore, the film, which stars the voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld and others, could breakout in coming weekends, although heavy competition in the form of ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Bumblebee’ should definitely stifle its attempts.
Internationally, ‘Spider-Man’ earned $21m from 44 markets, yet won’t be making the front pages just yet, due to the continued runaway success of Warner Bros’ ‘Aquaman’, which brought in a whopping $126.4m in its second weekend overseas.
To date, its non-U.S. total stands at $261.3m, and includes a DCEU-record $190m from China. To put this into perspective, it’s already Warner Bros’ second biggest film there ever (after ‘Ready Player One’), and only ‘Age of Ultron’, ‘Venom’, and ‘Infinity War’ stand in its way of becoming the country’s biggest superhero movie of all time.
With its U.S. release perfectly timed for this coming Friday, we could genuinely see ‘Aquaman’ swim to levels never before seen by the DCEU, and could even hit the $1bn mark.
With much smaller ambitions comes Clint Eastwood’s crime drama ‘The Mule’, which opened to a solid $17.5m. It’s an opening that marks Eastwood’s 5th biggest as a director, and 3rd biggest as an actor (inflation aside), as well as his biggest of the year, comfortably seeing out his February effort ’The 15:17 to Paris’ ($12.6m).
While many may balk at its seemingly pricey $50m production cost, Eastwood and those over at WB will be quietly optimistic at the potential for it grow in coming weekends, as it looks to appeal to a crowd uninterested in upcoming (and current) major action blockbusters. Its A- on Cinemascore implies a film highly-rated among audiences that were practically all (88%) over the age of 25, so perhaps we may see a ‘Book Club’-type performance here.
It wasn’t all good news in the Box Office, however. Universal’s ‘Mortal Engines’, the YA steampunk dystopian adaptation of the 2001 novel, failed to get started at the domestic Box Office, spluttering in with a miserable $7.6m.
Two things of note here: firstly, that ‘Mortal Engines’ has somehow outdone ‘Robin Hood’ as the flop of the season, and secondly, that Universal and co. decided it wise to spend $100m+ on a YA dystopian, as if ‘The Darkest Minds’, ‘The 5th Wave’, and ‘Allegiant’ haven’t already put the struggling genre out of its misery in recent memory. Regardless, it’ll be a real surprise to see this one reach $30m, or even be around by early January.
Finally, in the battle for 10th spot between ‘Green Book’, Deadpool-lite ‘Once Upon a Deadpool’, and ‘The Favourite’, it was ‘Green Book’ who prevailed and kept its place in the ranks, earning $2.8m in its 5th weekend of release.
Next weekend sees ‘Aquaman’ come up against the might of ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ and ‘Bumblebee’. Can the latter cause an upset, or will Warner Bros earn its 10th chart-topper of the year? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.