Illumination/Universal’s “The Grinch” has struck a chord with family audiences, earning a strong $66 million opening weekend from 4,141 screens to take the top spot on the box office charts. Universal reports that it is the largest opening weekend for a Christmas themed film in box office history.
With “Nutcracker and the Four Realms” failing to get any traction with families — it has yet to make back its $130 million budget with $96.7 million grossed globally after 10 days in theaters — “The Grinch” had almost all the attention of its core demographic, thanks in large part to an aggressive ad campaign that featured wisecracking billboards and TV spots that started airing all the way back during the Winter Olympics in February.
A strong profit for this $75 million animated film is assured, but the big challenge now will be to avoid a large drop-off in the coming weekends as other major family films get ready to enter theaters. Next weekend will see the arrival of “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” which may be a PG-13 film but may still gain the interest of younger kids with its connections to the “Harry Potter” films. After that will be “Ralph Breaks the Internet” on Thanksgiving, and that release will definitely be a direct competitor to “The Grinch” for kid interest.
One film that won’t have to worry too much about competition is Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which dropped just 41 percent from last weekend’s $51 million opening for a $30 million total. That means the Queen biopic is less than $600,000 away from a $100 million 10-day domestic total, and will hit that mark either after Monday’s box office rolls in or possibly after actual weekend totals are reported.
Below “Grinch” and “Bohemian” are Paramount’s “Overlord” and Sony’s “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” two films that are hitting tracker projections but are falling short of the mid-teens opening they really needed for a solid start. “Overlord” is third on the charts with $10 million from 2,859 screens against a $38 million budget.