Universal has finished off a strong third quarter of 2019 at the box office with “Abominable,” the co-production between DreamWorks Animation and China’s Pearl Studio that earned a solid $20.8 million opening weekend from 4,242 screens.
This is the second straight year that a Yeti-themed animated film has hit theaters at the end of September. Last year, that offering was Warner Bros.’ “Smallfoot,” which opened to $23 million and went on to gross $83 million domestic and $214 million worldwide. “Abominable” has the word of mouth needed to post similar numbers — 80% on Rotten Tomatoes and an A on CinemaScore — but will face competition for family audiences down the line with “The Addams Family” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” which open Oct. 10 and Oct. 17 respectively.
Overseas, “Abominable” added $10.2 million from 30 territories. China is not included in this total, as Pearl Studio is handling distribution as part of a deal that also saw the animation outlet co-finance the movie’s $70 million budget.
Overall, this has been a solid two months for Universal, with “Hobbs & Shaw” passing $750 million in global grosses this past weekend, while “Abominable” and “Good Boys” joined fellow studio release “Us” as the only three original films to open to No. 1 on the box office charts.
And while Focus Features is not officially counted towards the studio’s $1.12 billion annual domestic total, the Universal indie wing is continuing to do well with “Downton Abbey,” grossing $14.5 million in its second weekend to bring its 10-day domestic total to $58.5 million. Counting “Downton,” eight Universal films have topped the charts so far this year.
The other big release this weekend was Roadside Attractions’ “Judy,” a biopic about the final month of Judy Garland’s career that is earning awards buzz for lead star Renee Zellweger. Released on 461 screens, the film took the No. 7 spot on this weekend’s charts with $3.1 million for an approximate per screen average of $6,725. Reception for the film has been strong with an 83% Rotten Tomatoes critics score and a 93% audience score.
In third is STX’s “Hustlers,” which just beat out second-weekend holdovers “Rambo: Last Blood” and “Ad Astra” with $11.5 million in its third weekend. Women are continuing to turn out for Lorene Scafaria’s film, as it now holds an $80 million cume. If and when it hits $100 million, 2019 will become the first ever year in which STX had two films hit that milestone, with the other being the Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart dramedy “The Upside.”
Fox’s “Ad Astra” and Warner Bros./New Line’s “It: Chapter Two” complete the top five, both with approximately $10 million grossed this weekend. “Chapter Two” is being given the edge on current charts with $10.2 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its domestic total to $193 million and its global total to $414 million. “Ad Astra” has a 10-day total of $35 million and a global total of $89 million against a reported budget of $80 million before reshoots.
Sitting between “Ad Astra” and “Judy” at No. 6 is Lionsgate’s “Rambo: Last Blood” with $8.5 million, dropping 55% from the action film’s $18.8 million opening. Its 10-day total of $33.1 million is slightly ahead of the raw $29.9 million grossed by the last “Rambo” film in 2008, though that figure comes to $37.5 million after inflation adjustment.
Next weekend will see the release of the much-publicized “Joker,” which won the Golden Lion at Venice but has been beset by headlines about military advisories warning of possible alt-right violence inspired by the film. It was also announced that it will not be screened at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 people were killed in a 2012 mass shooting during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Despite this, analysts still project an $80 million-plus opening for the R-rated film, which would top the October opening weekend record set last year by “Venom” at $80.2 million.