Ford v Ferrari left its competition in the rearview mirror, racing to an estimated 31 million dollars debut at the box office in a No. 1 finish that counted as a win for big-budget originality.
James Mangold’s racing drama rode into the weekend with strong reviews and Oscar buzz for its leads, Christian Bale and Matt Damon. And audiences enthusiastically greeted it, giving the 98 million dollars movie an A+ CinemaScore. Ford v Ferrari, which dramatizes the Ford Motor Co.’s push to unseat perennial power Ferrari at France’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966, has been considered a rare kind of high-priced throwback built more on story, practical effects and star power than intellectual property.
Elizabeth Banks’ Charlie’s Angels reboot couldn’t keep up. The Sony Pictures release opened below expectations with 8.6 million dollars domestically and 19.3 million dollars overseas, according to studio estimates Sunday. Though the movie was relatively modestly budgeted at 48 million dollars, it fell well short of the 40.1 million dollars debut of the 2000’s Charlie’s Angels, with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. (The 2003 sequel opened similarly with 37.6 million dollars.)
Banks’ version of the 1976-1981 TV series gave the material a feminist spin. But Kristen Stewart was the sole widely known Angel, starring alongside Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska. And Charlie’s Angels couldn’t best the World War II movie Midway in its second week. It slotted in just ahead of Angels in second, with 8.8 million dollars.
Lately, at least, Hollywood’s efforts to dust off old intellectual property have been received with a shrug by moviegoers. November has already seen disappointing debuts for the Paramount Pictures sequel Terminator: Dark Fate (56.9 million dollars in three weeks) and Warner Bros.’ The Shining riff, Doctor Sleep (25 million dollars in two weeks).
That made the initial success of Ford v Ferrari stand out even more. The Walt Disney Co. release’s opening weekend, which included 21.4 million dollars internationally, has several laps to go before reaching profitability. But as an adult-oriented action film with excellent audience scores and awards attention, Ford v Ferrari is likely to play well for weeks to come.
“We knew that it was a real crowd-pleaser. Anywhere we played it, whether at festivals or screenings, people have come out responding so positively to it. We knew that we had a little jewel here,” said Cathleen Taff, Disney’s distribution chief. “James Mangold and the Fox team, combined with the talent behind it — Matt and Christian — it’s just a great, exciting, ambitious film. It’s exactly what you want to see on the big screen.”
Ford v Ferrari, made by 20th Century Fox before the company’s acquisition by Disney, is the biggest Fox hit yet released by Disney. Much of the studio’s previous Fox output, including Stuber and the X-Men film Dark Phoenix, has flopped. The Ford v Ferrari release comes sandwiched between two major Disney initiatives — the recently launched Disney+ streaming service, and the upcoming Frozen 2 release.
Warner Bros.’ The Good Liar, a mystery starring Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen, was the weekend’s other new wide release. It managed a modest 5.7 million dollars, adding to a string of underperforming adult-targeting releases for the studio, including Blinded by the Light, The Goldfinch and The Kitchen.
Those disappointments all pale, though, to the Warner success Joker. On Friday, it passed 1 billion dollars worldwide.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for data firm Comscore, applauded Ford v Ferrari as a quintessential crowd-pleaser, but noted the industry needs much more gas to chase down a 6.2% deficit to last year’s total domestic box office. This weekend, down 37% from the same weekend last year, didn’t help, either.
“Ford v Ferrari may have won the race this weekend, but the industry is still trying to get out of neutral,” Dergarabedian said. “We need Frozen to thaw out this box office.”
In limited release, Trey Edward Shults’ anguished family drama Waves opened on four screens in New York and Los Angeles with a 36,140 dollars per-screen average for A24.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. Ford v Ferrari, 31 million dollars (21.4 million dollars international).
2. Midway, 8.8 million dollars (5.3 million dollars international).
3. Charlie’s Angels, 8.6 million dollars (19.3 million dollars international).
4. Playing With Fire, 8.6 million dollars (1.3 million dollars international).
5. Last Christmas, 6.7 million dollars (8.6 million dollars international).
6. Doctor Sleep, 6.2 million dollars (5.2 million dollars international).
7. The Good Liar, 5.7 million dollars (1.5 million dollars international).
8. Joker, 5.6 million dollars (13 million dollars international).
9. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, 5.2 million dollars (11.8 million dollars international).
10. Harriet, 4.8 million dollars.
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