This weekend's total box office gross was the worst of 2018. The holiday season is typically one of the busiest times of the year for moviegoing, but there are lull periods were business essentially grinds to a halt. After a bevy of highly-anticipated projects premiered in mid-November and over Thanksgiving, the last two weeks have seen no high-profile new releases. A handful of awards hopefuls expanded to more markets, but there was hardly anything that would leave a sizable impression at the multiplex.
The extreme lack of competition is good news for movies like Ralph Breaks the Internet and Creed II, which continue to hold well due to their positive buzz. However, with nothing fresh coming out to draw in the big crowds, theaters have had a pretty rough go of things lately. Case in point: this past weekend set a rather ignominious mark that (barring some unforeseen catastrophe) it will retain for what little time is left in the year.
According to Box Office Mojo, all the movies playing this weekend combined to gross $82.7 million total, which is by far the worst weekend of the year. Ralph Breaks the Internet led the charge for the third consecutive frame, earning $16.1 million. The rest of the top five was rounded out by The Grinch ($15.1 million), Creed II ($10.3 million), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ($6.8 million), and Bohemian Rhapsody ($6 million).
One of the main reasons for this development (besides no new wide releases) is the fact there frankly weren't many movies playing. Per Box Office Mojo's charts, only 38 titles screened over the weekend, down from 95 last weekend. It's virtually unheard of for theaters to be that low (100+ movies play for a majority of the year), so this weekend was never going to be one to break the bank. Even if there were more films showing, it likely wouldn't have made much of a difference. As popular as the holdovers are, they've already done most of their damage commercially and are starting to slow down a bit. Of course, some movies lend themselves to repeat viewings (which is how Black Panther crosses $700 million domestically), but Ralph and Creed II don't really fit that bill.
Theater exhibitors have little to reason to panic, of course. Next weekend will surely be a different story, with the critically-acclaimed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse opening alongside Clint Eastwood's The Mule and fantasy adaptation Mortal Engines. The floodgates will truly open over Christmas week, with the likes of Mary Poppins Returns, Aquaman, Bumblebee, and others all vying for ticket sales. There's bound to be something for everyone at the box office later in December, so this weekend is going to be a blip on the radar.
Source: Box Office Mojo