“Ford v Ferrari” left its box office competitors in the dust as the historical sports drama from Disney and 20th Century Fox sped its way to $31 million in North America.
Directed by James Mangold and starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon, “Ford v Ferrari” debuted ahead of expectations thanks to strong word-of-mouth from moviegoers. However, those promising ticket sales weren’t enough to offset disappointing starts from fellow high-profile newcomers, “Charlie’s Angels” and “The Good Liar,” pushing the domestic box office down over 6% from last year, according to Comscore.
Sony’s action comedy “Charlie’s Angels” sputtered out of the gate with an uninspiring $8.6 million from 3,452 venues, landing in third place between Lionsgate’s war drama “Midway” ($8.75 million) and Paramount’s family film “Playing With Fire” ($8.5 million). Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ thriller “The Good Liar” narrowly cracked the top 10, finishing in eighth place with $5.6 million from 2,439 theaters.
“Ford v Ferrari” secured a rare A+ CinemaScore, the highest marks among new nationwide offerings. That kind of praise from ticket buyers indicates the racing drama should have a long life in theaters, a good sign considering the Chernin Entertainment-produced movie carries a $100 million price tag. “Ford v Ferrari” enticed a mostly older male crowd: Men accounted for 62% of ticket buyers, while nearly 80% were over the age of 25.
“We knew it was a real crowd pleaser,” said Cathleen Taff, Disney’s president of global distribution. “With the caliber of talent from director James Mangold and Christian Bale and Matt Damon, it felt like a must-see movie. We’re thrilled to see it breaking out.”
International moviegoers, as well as potential Oscar buzz, should also help drive the film toward profitability. “Ford v Ferrari” launched overseas this weekend with $21 million, pushing its global tally to $52.4 million. If it’s able to sustain momentum, “Ford v Ferrari” looks to be a major victory for Fox under its new owners at Disney, as well as the first commercial success since the studios merged earlier this year.
It was undoubtably a busy weekend for the company given the debut of Disney Plus, the studio’s newly launched streaming service. But Taff notes that Disney is “still committed to the big screen in every way,” adding that the success of “Ford v Ferrari” demonstrates “there’s an appetite for great original dramas on the big screen.”
“Ford v Ferrari” tells the true story of the automotive team at Ford, led by designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and his British driver Ken Miles (Bale), as they build a race car attempting to beat the legendary Ferrari in the prestigious Le Mans race.
“Charlie’s Angels,” however, wasn’t able to entice its core audience of younger females and arrived well behind domestic box office projections (the studio was anticipating a start closer to $13 million). Though co-financing partners will help offset any potential losses for Sony, “Charlie’s Angels” will now rely on overseas audiences to help recoup its $48 million production budget. At the international box office, the film bowed with $19 million.
Despite mostly positive reviews and a B+ CinemaScore, analysts note that “Charlie’s Angels,” joining the likes of recent underperforming blockbuster-hopefuls like “Doctor Sleep” and “Terminator: Dark Fate,” is yet another indication that familiar IP doesn’t always translate into commercial appeal.
Elizabeth Banks wrote and directed “Charlie’s Angels” — starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska — the third big-screen adaptation of the classic action series. The newest chapter sees the Angels going global to halt the spread of a dangerous new technology that could threaten the world. Banks portrays one of the many Bosleys, while Sam Claflin, Patrick Stewart and Noah Centineo joined the cast.
“The Good Liar” also failed to be much of a draw for its target demographic, potentially competing with “Ford v Ferrari” for attention among adult audiences. Over 60% of moviegoers were above 50 years old, a group that doesn’t routinely turn up in force on opening weekend. But mediocre reviews, along with a B CinemaScore, doesn’t bode well for its future in multiplexes. Directed by Bill Condon and starring Ian McKellen as a con artist who targets a wealthy widow (Hellen Mirren), “The Good Liar” is the latest literary adaptation from Warner Bros. that hasn’t been able to fill seats in theaters. In recent weeks, “The Goldfinch,” “Motherless Brooklyn” and “Doctor Sleep” were all major misfires. “Doctor Sleep” suffered a massive 57% decline in its second weekend, pulling in $6.1 million for a domestic total of $25 million.
It’s not all bad news on the Warner Bros. lot. This weekend, “Joker” officially became the first R-rated movie in history to gross over $1 billion at the global box office. All the more impressive, it’s only the third movie ever to reach that milestone without a release in China, one of the world’s biggest moviegoing markets.
Universal’s romantic comedy “Last Christmas” rounded out the top five, generating $6.7 million for a domestic total of $22.5 million. After 10 days in theaters, “Midway” has earned $35 while “Playing With Fire” pocketed $25 million.
At the specialty box office, A24’s “Waves” kicked off with $144,562 from four venues in New York and Los Angeles, equating to a strong $36,140 per location. Trey Edward Shults wrote and directed the acclaimed drama about a South Florida family coming together in the face of tragedy. The studio will continue to slowly roll out the film nationwide into the holiday season.
Among awards hopefuls, Fox Searchlight and Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” picked up $2.8 million when it expanded to 995 theaters. To date, the World War II satire has brought in $13.59 million in North America.
Other notable expansions include Amazon Studio’s “Honey Boy,” which amassed $210,617 from 14 screens, averaging $12,389 from each venue. Based on Shia LaBeouf’s childhood, the movie has made $584,713 in limited release.
“The momentum behind ‘Honey Boy’ furthers this weekend and is growing stronger looking into next weekend’s 15 market expansion,” said Amazon marketing and distribution executive Vincent Scordino. “We’re seeing more diverse and commercial audiences turnout this week which is encouraging as the film steadily pushes forward on its awards path reaching nationwide the weekend of Golden Globe nominations.”