Universal Pictures ‘1917’

Among other new offerings, ‘Like a Boss’ and ‘Just Mercy’ are in a close race for fourth place, while ‘Underwater’ got lost.

Sam Mendes’ 1917 won the Friday box office with a victorious $14 million for a projected $37 million U.S. weekend, well ahead of expectations and one of the best nationwide starts ever for the month of January.

The acclaimed World War I drama, which had been tracking for a $20 million to $25 million weekend, also ends the reign of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, that had topped the charts since blasting off Dec. 20.

Powered by older adults, 1917 is no doubt getting a boost from its top Golden Globe wins last weekend. The Amblin and Universal release also showed plenty of promise when first opening on Christmas Day in 11 theaters in seven cities. The film received an A- CinemaScore from Friday’s audience. More than 50 percent of ticket buyers were 35 or older, while 60 percent were male.

The period war epic, costing roughly $90 million to produce before marketing, was filmed to appear as if it were unfolding in one continuous shot (the cinematographer was Roger Deakins).

Rise of Skywalker, which has grossed north of $950 million globally, will come in No. 2 in its fourth weekend with an estimated $15 million to $16 million, followed by fellow holdover Jumanji: The Next Level with $13 million to $14 million in its fifth weekend.

Paramount’s Like a Boss, the first R-rated studio comedy of 2020, opened to $3.9 million on Friday for a projected $11 million domestic debut. The Michael Arteta-directed pic stars Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek, and tells the tale of two best friends whose beauty company is targeted by a cosmetics titan.

Like a Boss has been lambasted by critics, but fared somewhat better with audiences, who gave it a B CinemaScore. Two-thirds of Friday’s ticket buyers were female, while 65 percent were 35 and younger.

The comedy is in a close race for fourth place with legal drama Just Mercy, another awards hopeful that opened in select cinemas over the holidays before expanding nationwide on Friday to $3.7 million.

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Just Mercy — earning a coveted A+ CinemaScore, stars Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. Almost half of Friday ticket buyers were 50 and older.

Little Women remains a crowd-pleaser in its third outing. The Oscar hopeful and breakout box office hit is on course for a $7 million-plus weekend for a domestic total of roughly $75 million through Sunday.

Sci-fi thriller Underwater, starring Kristen Stewart, is getting lost in its domestic opening after receiving a C CinemaScore and divided reviews. The pic grossed $2.5 million on Friday for a projected $6 million to $7 million launch, a worrisome start for a movie that cost $50 million to make before marketing.

Chernin Entertainment produced Underwater, which was fully financed by TSG and is being distributed by Disney. The movie, also starring T.J. Miller and Vincent Cassel, follows a team of researchers who encounter mysterious creatures at the bottom of the ocean after an earthquake cripples their subterranean lab.

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: 1917 built on a great start following Thursday evening previews, ultimately bringing in an estimated $13.97 million on Friday (including $3.25 million from previews) and is now expected to bring in north of $36 million for the three-day. Added to that, the film received an “A-” CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Paramount’s Like a Boss brought in $3.9 million on Friday (including $1 million from previews) and is expected to deliver an $11+ million three-day performance. The film received a “B” CinemaScore from opening day crowds.

Looking at a top five finish is WB’s expansion of Just Mercy, which brought in an estimated $3.65 million on Friday as it is now looking at a three-day performance around $10.5 million. The film received an “A+” CinemaScore.

Lastly, Fox’s Underwater brought in an estimated $2.49 million on Friday and is expected to finish with $6.6 million for the weekend. The film received a “C” CinemaScore.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Universal’s 1917 is off to a great start, bringing in $3.25 million from Thursday evening previews, which began at 7PM in 2,900 theaters. The performance is well ahead of the $1.2 million in previews Fury brought in, ahead of the $1.7 million in previews for Lone Survivor, nearly 4x the $850k in previews for Unbroken and actually ahead of the $2.3 million in previews for The Revenant. The film goes wide in 3,434 locations today and is already looking as if it might smash Mojo’s $35 million forecast.

Paramount’s Like a Boss delivered a solid $1 million from previews last night in 2,428 locations with showings beginning at 7PM. This tops the $600k in previews for star Tiffany Haddish‘s Nobody’s Fool with opened with $13.7 million and just behind the $1.25 million in previews for What Men Want, which opened with $18.2 million.

WB’s Just Mercy brought in $800k from Thursday evening previews, which compares favorably to our pre-weekend comp Harriet, which brought in $600k ahead of its $11.6 million three-day debut.

Fox’s Underwater delivered $500K from Thursday evening previews, which is just below the $515k The Forest brought in ahead of a $12.7 million opening while trailing the $800k Life kicked off its $12.5 million debut.

We’ll take a closer look at things tomorrow morning once Friday estimates come in. For now you can check out our weekend preview below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: This weekend sees a couple new wide releases in Fox’s PG-13 thriller Underwater and Paramount’s R-rated comedy Like a Boss, but most of the attention will be on Universal’s 1917, which looks to follow-up its Golden Globe wins this past Sunday with a #1 finish as it expands nationwide this weekend. Also expanding is WB’s well-reviewed drama Just Mercy as it too kicked off its release with a limited run in December and now goes nationwide.

After Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker sat atop the weekend box office for three straight weeks it’s time for a new #1 and this weekend it appears Universal’s 1917 will take those honors with ease as the recent Golden Globe winner for Best Director (Sam Mendes) and Best Picture – Drama expands from the 11 locations it has played in for just over two weeks and will now go nationwide into over 3,400 theaters. The studio is anticipating a performance around $20 million, but tracking as of last week had a range of anywhere from $21-25 million and that was before the film took home top honors at the Globes.

As Mendes said while accepting the Golden Globe for the film’s win for Best Picture – Drama, “This is a huge thing for this movie.” Huge indeed. The win has had a notable impact on the film’s IMDb page view performance, which was already impressive leading up to the film’s win. 1917 is outpacing the likes of Unbroken ($30.2m opening) and Fury ($23.7m opening) and is competitive when compared to Lone Survivor ($37.8m opening) when looking at the page views over the two weeks leading up to wide release. That said, the momentum this film is enjoying only bolsters its weekend prospects along with a 90% critical rating and a 95% audience rating on RottenTomatoes as well as a 8.6/10 user rating on IMDb. All told, we’re anticipating a $35+ million performance and won’t be the least shocked to see it go even higher.

In second place we expect to find something of an interesting tug of war between Sony’s Jumanji: The Next Level and Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. At this time we’re giving a slight edge to Skywalker, looking at a $17.3 million weekend compared to a $16.7 million weekend for Jumanji, but those positions could obviously flip once Sunday comes around. Should our forecast hold we’re expecting Jumanji to finish just shy of $260 million by the end of the weekend while Skywalker tops $480 million.

In fourth we expect to find the first of the weekend’s brand new wide releases in Paramount’s R-rated comedy Like a Boss starring Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek. The film will debut in 3,078 locations and while reviews haven’t been positive — 26% on RottenTomatoes — we’re expecting this one to hold its own this weekend. The studio is anticipating a debut in the low double digit millions, which more-or-less lines up with tracking from last week. We’ve been looking at comps such as What Men Want, Fist Fight and Haddish’s 2019 comedy Nobody’s Fool and Like a Boss is pacing very similarly to all three over the two weeks leading up to release when looking at IMDb page view performance. The only thing that has us holding back from forecasting a $15+ million performance are the reviews, as audiences could shy away over Saturday and Sunday of word of mouth follows the critical lead. All told, we are expecting a performance around $13+ million for the $29 million production.

Rounding out the top five we have Sony’s Little Women, dipping around -26.5% this weekend for a $10 million three-day. Should that forecast hold we’re looking at a domestic cume topping $75 million by the end of the weekend. The question is, can not only Little Women hold on that well, but might WB’s nationwide expansion of Just Mercy top it?

While WB hasn’t replied with expectations for Just Mercy‘s nationwide expansion this weekend, tracking as of last week was for a performance anywhere from $10-12 million as the film expands into over 2,300 theaters. A look at IMDb page view performance for the film shows it pacing favorably when placed side-by-side with last November’s release of Harriet, which opened with $11.6 million. Given that film wasn’t a platform release we’re going to lower our expectations slightly, looking for a $9.5 million three-day performance, but given the film’s impressive 82% rating on RottenTomatoes, “A+” CinemaScore from limited audiences and 99% audience score at RottenTomatoes this could very easily hit double digits and finish in the weekend top five.

Further down the list we have Fox’s underwater thriller Underwater starring Kristen Stewart and debuting in over 2,791 locations with the studio looking for a potential debut nearing double digits. We, however, are having a hard time finding any reason to expect a performance that high. A look at IMDb page views shows the film pacing behind previous January releases such as The Boy ($10.7m opening) and The Forest ($12.7m opening) as well as the 2017 March release Life ($12.5m opening). The best comp we’ve found is the 2017 remake of Flatliners, which opened with $6.5 million from 2,552 locations. Underwater is outpacing that film over the two weeks leading up to release and considering competition from Sony’s holdover The Grudge and the negative reviews so far, we’re going out with a forecast around $5-6 million.

This weekend’s forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • 1917 (3,434 theaters) – $35.0 M
  • Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (4,279 theaters) – $17.3 M
  • Jumanji: The Next Level (3,904 theaters) – $16.7 M
  • Like a Boss (3,078 theaters) – $13.0 M
  • Little Women (3,216 theaters) – $10.0 M
  • Just Mercy (2,375 theaters) – $9.5 M
  • Frozen II (2,655 theaters) – $7.7 M
  • Knives Out (2,060 theaters) – $6.4 M
  • Underwater (2,791 theaters) – $6.0 M
  • Spies in Disguise (2,671 theaters) – $5.2 M