Sam Mendes’ “1917,” a war epic that unspools to look like one continuous shot, was a surprise winner at the Golden Globes Sunday night, taking home trophies for best motion picture drama and best director for Mendes.
That could prove to be a welcome injection of publicity as Universal expands the film to more than 3,000 theaters this weekend. The morning following the telecast, Fandango reported there was an immediate boost in ticket sales, noting “1917” was selling five times as many tickets as it did the prior weekend. (Granted, it was only open in 11 locations at the time.)
When “1917” does open nationwide, the film should bring in a respectable haul between $20 million and $25 million. But to justify its $90 million budget, the critical darling will have to sustain momentum throughout awards season, where it’s expected to be a big Oscar contender. After debuting in limited release on Christmas day, “1917” pulled in a tidy $2.28 million sum.
Awards season notoriety helped Universal’s “Green Book” steer its way to $321 million worldwide after scoring the Oscar for best picture. However, Academy love doesn’t always translate into commercial appeal. “1917” follows young British soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) tasked with the dangerous mission of delivering a message that could save hundreds of lives.
While the wide release of “1917” isn’t expected to break any opening weekend records for the month of January, a successful box office run will help alleviate casualties the studio suffered from “Cats.” Tom Hooper’s critically maligned musical has made $54 million to date, a dismal showing that’s expected to lose the studio up to $100 million.
“1917” is poised to take down Disney’s “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker,” which has dominated for three straight weekends. After four weeks in theaters, the third and final chapter in the sequel trilogy could add another $18 million to its domestic tally. Directed by J.J. Abrams, “Rise of Skywalker” has generated $454.6 million in the U.S. and $927.5 million worldwide as it nears the $1 billion mark.
Though holdovers from 2019 including “Jumanji: The Next Level,” “Little Women” and “Uncut Gems” are expected to command box office charts, two new movies will debut on the big screen.
Paramount’s “Like a Boss,” an R-rated comedy about two best friends (Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne) struggling to run their cosmetics company, could serve as counter-programming against “1917” and “Rise of Skywalker.” The movie opens in 3,000 theaters and should earn $10 million to $15 million million over the weekend.
Also new to multiplexes is “Underwater,” a thriller that’s shaping up to be a major box-office dud. The film, which Disney inherited after merging with Fox, is targeting a tepid single-digit debut around $8 million. “Underwater” stars Kirsten Stewart and follows a crew of researchers fighting for their lives after a wild creature threatens their subterranean work space. Produced by Chernin Entertainment, the film was financed by TSG for a reported $50 million.