The last Box Office weekend of the 2nd biggest March in history saw 3 new wide releases offer up 3 very different sets of results, led by ‘Dumbo’s mediocre $46m opening. Controversial Christian drama ‘Unplanned’ hit $6.4m, becoming studio Pure Flix’s 2nd biggest opening of all time, while Matthew McConaughey vehicle ‘The Beach Bum’ became the actor’s lowest wide start, with just $1.8m.

 

How did the new releases get on?

Ending the weekend well below our $50m+ forecasts was Tim Burton’s ‘Dumbo’, whose uninspiring opening will certainly ask questions about Disney’s remake model. To many, ‘Dumbo’s opening disappointed, as only ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ ($26.9m) and ‘Pete’s Dragon’ ($21.5m) sit below it as the lowest opener in Disney’s live-action reimagined cinematic universe.

Many will blame the fact that ‘Dumbo’s based on a 78-year-old IP, coupled with a mixed reception to Disney’s current bombardment of remakes. Reviews have ranged from stellar to terrible (characterised by its 50% on RT and A- on Cinemascore), sending weak signals to a general audience still high off the successes of ‘Captain Marvel’, and ‘How to Train Your Dragon 3’ earlier this year.

Its budget is a hindrance too. Disney spending $170m harkens back to November, where ‘Wreck it Ralph 2’s $175m production cost put it at a severe disadvantage when looking to earn a theatrical profit. ‘Dumbo’ now finds itself quickly trying to stay afloat due to Disney’s lack of thrift, with a $400m+ total the likely target to break-even.

The earning potential for a film about a flying circus elephant again calls into question the decision of spending nearly $200m to produce, but also asks to temper expectations. CGI animals as leads see differing results at the Box Office, so for ‘Dumbo’ to beat the likes of ‘Paddington’ ($268m worldwide), and ‘Peter Rabbit’ ($351.3m) may mark a job well done in itself. Its $46m opening sets up nicely for a tidy $150m domestic finish, and its overseas opening of $71m (including $10.7m from China) fired the film to a solid $116m worldwide start. ‘Dumbo’ may just be on the right track to fly high.

The true surprise of the weekend goes to ‘Unplanned’, the Christian drama from Pure Flix studios. The controversial title was banned from most running ads on most major TV networks (apart from Fox) due to it’s staunch anti-abortion nature, and was slapped with an R-rating, only to exceed expectations with a $6.4m start from only 1,000 cinemas. It marks Pure Flix’s 2nd biggest opening ever, after ‘God’s Not Dead 2’s $7.6m start in 2016. Whether it can reach ‘GND2’s $20.8m domestic total is another question entirely, but after this weekend’s results, nothing can be ruled out.

Hotel Mumbai’, starring Dev Patel and Armie Hammer, opened wide into over 900 cinemas after entering 4 last weekend. The thriller grossed $3.2m for a $3.3m running total, moving it ahead of stoner-comedy ‘The Beach Bum’s $1.8m. ‘The Beach Bum’ featured the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Isla Fisher, Snoop Dogg, Jonah Hill, and Zac Efron, but this A-list cast couldn’t stop the film from becoming McConaughey’s lowest grossing wide release. It’s the latest in a string of flops for the Oscar winner, after ‘Serenity’, ‘White Boy Rick’, ‘The Dark Tower’, and ‘Gold’ have seemingly stalled his re-emergence. ‘The Beach Bum’ also ends March as the lowest opening of the year so far, beating out Keanu Reeves’ ‘Replicas’ from January.

 

How did the others do?

Us’ put up a good fight in 2nd place, grossing $33.2m for a $128m running total. For such an anticipated horror movie, we’d have expected a drop -60% or more, but its blockbuster-like 53% showcases its astounding Box Office run. Peele’s filmography now averages out at around $150m domestically, and will only rise as the weekends pass. The film will break the $200m global total by next week, and may even become the first horror since ‘It’ (and one of only 3 ever) to hit that same mark domestically.