‘Downton Abbey’ takes the $30m opening crown in competitive weekend
While a gaggle of 4 films in the 2nd to 5th positions had just $2m between them this weekend, the real story sat at the top of the Box Office charts, as ‘Downton Abbey’ earned a whopping $31m – a Focus Features opening record. It was followed by fellow new releases ‘Ad Astra’ and ‘Rambo: Last Blood’, who were practically inseparable in their sub-$20m starts, while ‘It: Chapter 2’ and ‘Hustlers’ similarly finished neck-and-neck to round off a competitive top 5.
How did the new releases get on?
It was meant to be a tighter weekend, but the competitors were truly trounced by the regal ‘Downton Abbey’. The film, directed by Michael Engler, release earned an unprecedented $31m to smash through most pre-release forecasts, as well as the $28.7m grossed by ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ from 2017 – an opening it wasn’t expected to surpass.
Why did ‘Downton’ do so well? It was partly helped by its massive fanbase, for a start. It was not only one of the most critically acclaimed shows in modern history, but also one of the most popular, which translated strongly into ticket sales (Fandango 1st day presales outstripped ‘Mamma Mia 2’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’). ‘Downton’s opening was always to have a higher floor, especially considering its audience is one consistently under-served in cinema.
Its audience? Older women. ‘Downton’s viewership this weekend was 74% female, with the majority being over the age of 35. ‘Downton’ was thus an event, the regathering of characters you’d fallen in love with that haven’t been seen on-screen for nearly half a decade.
Still, the film had to be good. Boasting an A on Cinemascore and 85% on the Tomatometer, both audiences and critics sung the ‘Downton’s praises on its way to its record opening. It also provides a small glimmer of hope for the film’s Box Office legs in coming weeks as concern looms over a potentially front-loaded run; close to 50% of the film’s opening weekend gross came in by Friday night (although this included $4m+ worth of preview showings). Although this does drop doubts as to whether ‘Downton’ can reach that $100m domestic total target, its strong start ensures a sure-fire success for Focus Features, and a likely sequel in the next few years.
The same can’t be said for both ‘Ad Astra’ or ‘Rambo: Last Blood’, whose $19m openings aren’t befitting of films dragging bloated budgets of $80m+ and $50m respectively. ‘Ad Astra’ struggled to lift off on release, earning just $7.1m on its opening day, and finishing Sunday night just $3m ahead of another astronaut-flop, ‘First Man’.
While the critics loved ‘Ad Astra’ (shown by its 83% on RT), audiences were cooler on the film, with its 45% audience score only further reinforced by its B- on Cinemascore. Unless you’re boasting the visuals and the thrills of a ‘Gravity’, or the potential of a franchise, it’s difficult to truly understand Fox’s decision to spend close to $100m on it, especially with no clear audience during a weekend where both ‘Downton’ and ‘Last Blood’ wore their viewership on their sleeves. Expect no staying power from this one, as ‘Ad Astra’ looks to bomb.
It fared a little better internationally, earning $26m from 44 countries (including $2.8m in the UK). ‘Downton’, in its 2nd weekend overseas, earned a respectable $10m for a $62m worldwide total. ‘Rambo: Last Blood’ brought in $9m internationally, a tepid start for the Lionsgate release. It fared a little better domestically, with ‘Last Blood’s $18.9m opening marking the 2nd largest in the franchise (behind 1985’s ‘Last Blood Part 2’). That’s about as good as it gets however, with its 31% on Rotten Tomatoes and B+ on Cinemascore condemning the film to a legless run, becoming the 2nd flop of the weekend.
How did the others do?
The battles weren’t just between the new releases. ‘It Chapter Two’ and ‘Hustlers’ grappled for 4th spot, earning $17m each to continue their impressive runs.
‘It Chapter Two’ now sits on a running domestic total of $178.9m – the 6th highest-grossing horror in U.S. history (behind ‘A Quiet Place’, ‘The Excorcist’, ‘I Am Legend’, ‘Jaws’, and ‘It’). ‘Hustlers’, in the meantime, hit $62.4m stateside, becoming STX’s 4th biggest hit, behind only ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’, ‘The Upside’, and ‘Bad Moms’.
Other notables from the weekend
- Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ becomes the 11th highest-grossing film in U.S. history, overtaking ‘The Dark Knight’ with $537.7m.
- The film has also left the top 5 after 9 consecutive weekends. Only ‘The Force Awakens’ (9), and ‘Frozen’ (11) have equalled or bettered this record this decade.
- Universal’s ‘Good Boys’ is officially the biggest comedy of 2019 domestically, leapfrogging ‘A Madea Family Funeral’ with $77.4m.
- ‘Angel Has Fallen’ becomes the 2nd biggest domestic hit of the franchise with $64.7m.
- Warner Bros flop ‘The Goldfinch’ suffers the 3rd biggest 2nd weekend drop of 2019, with -71.6%.
- ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ becomes only the 3rd Tarantino pic to earn over $200m
|Rank||Last Week Rank||Film||STUDIO||Total U.S. Gross||Weekend Gross||Weekend drop||JUMPCUT’s prediction||Week number|
|1||New!||Downton Abbey||Focus Features||$31m||$31m||–||$27m||1|
|3||New!||Rambo: Last Blood||Lionsgate||$18.9m||$18.9m||–||$17.5m||1|
|4||1||It Chapter Two||Warner Bros||$178.9m||$17m||-57.1%||$19m||3|
|6||5||The Lion King||Disney||$537.7m||$2.7m||-26.6%||$2.7m||10|
|8||3||Angel Has Fallen||Lionsgate||$64.7m||$2.4m||-46.4%||$2.8m||5|
|10||6||Hobbs & Shaw||Universal||$170.6m||$1.5m||-47.8%||$2m||8|