Universal’s release strategy for DreamWorks’ “1917” has paid off. After a limited Christmas Day release and a Golden Globe Best Picture win, Sam Mendes’ World War I film went wide this weekend and beat expectations with a $36.5 million opening from 3,434 screens.
When added to the film’s $2.7 million limited domestic run and a $21.1 million overseas start, “1917” has a global total of $60.3 million, topping the $59.4 million total earned by Universal’s other December release, “Cats,” from four weeks of wide release. With a reported budget of $90 million, “1917” should more-than make back its budget, as it is expected to earn multiple Oscar nominations and continue to draw in audiences over the next several weeks.
Audience breakdown for “1917” skewed 65% white and 60% male. But age demographics were fairly even, with 25-34 leading at 29% while 18-24 and 55+ demos were evenly represented at 18%. Reception has stayed strong with an A- CinemaScore grade and a 90% Rotten Tomatoes score.
Holiday holdovers take second and third this weekend, with “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” taking second with $15 million and a $478 million total after four weekends, and “Jumanji: The Next Level” taking third with $14 million and a $257 million total after five weekends.
Completing the Top 5 are the Paramount comedy “Like a Boss” and the Warner Bros. racial justice drama “Just Mercy,” both neck-and-neck for the No. 4 spot with openings of around $10 million, meeting tracking expectations.
While figures for the two films are similar, reception has been very different. “Like a Boss” was panned by critics with a 22% on Rotten Tomatoes and only scored decently with audiences with a B on CinemaScore and a 3/5 on Postrak. “Just Mercy,” meanwhile, earned an 81% Rotten Tomatoes score to go with an A+ CinemaScore and 5/5 on Postrak.
The film also has won over celebrities like Kobe Bryant, Common, John Legend, Lena Waithe, and Kanye and Kim Kardashian West, all of whom have bought out theaters to allow people to watch “Just Mercy” for free. While the film won’t have a presence on the Oscar nomination list, this overwhelmingly positive word of mouth should help it leg out well, especially during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend when audiences have turned out for films about social justice like “Selma” and “Hidden Figures.”
Outside the Top 5, Sony’s “Little Women” is in sixth with $7.6 million and a total of $74 million as it hopes to push well past $100 million domestic after Oscar nominations arrive tomorrow. Below it is Fox’s “Underwater,” a $50 million suspense thriller that will flop with just an estimated $7 million opening. It’s the second high-profile flop in two months for lead star Kristen Stewart after “Charlie’s Angels” bombed in November. The film, which had distribution taken over by Disney, has a C on CinemaScore and 53% on Rotten Tomatoes.